Wednesday, February 28, 2007

coming around

After a couple of tough weeks both mentally and physically it looks like things are finally starting to come around. The grind of weather, work and trying to get my running fitted in have been a bit wearing to say the least but in the last few days we caught a little bit of a break with warmer temperatures. In fact we've had daytime highs above freezing now for two entire days in a row and you'd think that it was summer or at least closer to spring. However, the forecast for the weekend is a blizzard with 20+ cm (that's about a foot) of nice white fluffy stuff. Local forecasters call it 'Sheila's Brush', ha! I think winter has a few tricks left yet up her sleeve...

Legend of Sheila's Brush
Sheila's Brush is the last of winter usually around St. Patricks day. The snow is a result of Sheila's sweeping. Legend has it that Sheila was St. Patrick's wife, sister or mother. Sometimes a storm before"Paddy's" Day is called Patrick and Sheila.

But speaking of coming around I had a workout yesterday that made me think I might be finally getting into decent condition. I had taken Monday off, as per usual, and didn't really feeling any ill effects from the Sunday long run besides the usual residual tiredness.

However, my penciled in workout for Tues of 4x1 miles had me a little nervous all day. Am I rested enough? Do I really want to do that many? How hard/fast should I go? My 800m repeats last week were barely at 6:40 pace on the treadmill, what can I possible aim for today? Even the sunshine and calm winds had little effect on my dark mood. "Are you running outside today?" my wife asked as we got home after work. "I'm not sure, I'll figure it out when I get dressed" was my reply and the next thing I knew I was breathing fresh air and slowly jogging down the road towards what felt like impending doom.

Finally, after a 1.5 mile easy jog, I'm lined up by the high school at the start line of our annual Father's Day race. Ready, set, go! Click the watch, roll down the slight incline, these new shoes feel good, this isn't so bad, 1/2 mile gone and pace is looking good, watch the form, save it for the next three, click, 6:38, whoa that was unexpected! Easy 1/4 mile jog, meet a walker going the other way, turn and start the next repeat, blast by the walker, hold back now, cruise around the Point ignoring the fantastic view on a calm sunny day, now uphill slightly and working harder to hold pace, holding on to form, click, 6:35! Next one in 6:32, meeting a jogger during the recovery and then worked hard to catch him on the final one in 6:36. I'll take my roadkill where ever it comes. Finished with a couple of easy miles with a very content feeling. I've got no idea where this came from but it gives me a standard that will be fun to try to maintain and improve on over the next several weeks.

Today I was no worse for wear as I had expected to at least have some stiffness or tightness in the legs but nothing. We had another lovely mild day (anything above freezing is a bonus) but not yet shorts weather. Managed a nice relaxing 11 mile easy run in about 90 minutes and heartrate low at 128 average. The run felt smooth and easy as I enjoyed some old Beatles music on the ipod.

Thus February ends with 248 miles in the bank and now at 500 thus far for the year. It just seems to get better and better. Good running all!

Sunday, February 25, 2007

It doesn't get any easier

I don't know where to start, 20 milers in 15 of the last 16 weeks but "It just doesn't get any easier!" Just ask Andrew who bonked and collapsed in a heap in his car after surviving today's run; I wasn't too far behind.

Today's run started cold and windy (-5C and NW 30-40km/hr) so we decided to head north, doing our regular Boyden Lake loop in reverse, in order to avoid some of the windy open spaces along the route. It proved to be a good idea as our pace in the 1st 10 miles was a bit quicker (around 7:40) with the wind mostly at our back and the hills down. However, this later became our undoing as the 2nd 1/2 of the run seemed to be mostly into the (stupid) wind and uphill. Whether it was the quicker 1st 1/2 pace, a lack of pre-run carbs or just us being wimpy, we'll never know. Things did get very quiet 2nd 1/2, which is very unusual with A and the pace slowed too, which was a welcome relief for my weary legs. Maybe next time we'll borrow a snowmobile. Tough run but we got it done (mostly).

Thus ended another week of training with only 7 weeks to go now.

A few other highlights during the past week. Total of 62 miles in 6 runs, 3 on the treadmill due to winter blues and the nasty weather. Time for spring is coming soon, happier running ahead!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Drag days of winter

I never thought you'd hear this come from me but this stupid winter is for the birds!! In the last week we've had 2 snowstorms, there have been 3 snow days for Andrew and the temperature has barely improved one iota. Yuck! And the slippery, slushy roads are driving me crazy too.

Positive note: received my confirmation acceptance card from the BAA today. (55 days to go)

Back to the rant, Sunday's long run was a slog fest from the get go. It was snowing when I started and snowing when finished but it did let up during the run. On the positive side it wasn't -20C with a crazy windchill and my ipod was charged up with a few podcasts to keep me occupied during the run. Negative side again; roads were very greasy and required the Yaktraxs for the 1st 15 miles of the run. I only took them off during the final push home along the highway as my feet started to complain about being cramped in so much. Anyway 20 miles mostly a steady easy paced run but got very tired over the last few miles. Then literally collapsed on the couch for the rest of the day. Enough said.

On Monday we had another storm here with schools closed and very high winds with blizzard conditions. Work still went on as normal though... so I walked the mile in across the field instead of venturing out with the car. Today with the roads still snow covered and 1/2 plowed I decided to take it easy and use the treadmill option again. It's not necessarily always an easy option but at least you don't have to work about getting hit by snowplows or falling and risking injury. But I did just take it easy with an hour of running at recovery pace.

Hang in there winter runners, only a few more weeks till spring.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Sunday's are good days

First, here's a nice link to the Ottawa Ice Sculpture competition. Click on a carver in the list and you can see the design and some great pictures of the best ones. The competition is ongoing with the masters competition and the amazing snow sculptures can be seen here.

Second, I've been a real slacker with keeping up to date on my blog lately. It's been ridiculous again at work and the first thing that seems to go is writing up the latest happenings. Even my blogline reading and commenting is way behind. However, I'm keeping up the running end of things no matter what and with only 8 weeks to go the end is in sight.

Rewind to last Sunday which seems like ages ago now. The three amigos got in a super fun run on our standard Boyden Lake loop with a Sipayik Trail loop thrown in for good measure. The conditions were decent with good footing, light winds but a little on the cold side at -15C (5F).

Oh yeah, just to put my 2 cents worth about my comment at our little break at the Farmers Market. I must have been getting a little impatient about all the stretching and lolligagging or something as I started up the road with "Let's get this show on the road!". Didn't realize what an impression that this made on 'the boys' but they quickly fell into line and then proceeded to crank things up and put the 'old man' in his place.

Lots of good conversation made it seem like a short easy run but it got a little tough in the last mile or so. I was just hanging on for dear life as Marc picked it up when he started to smell the apple pie and brownies waiting for us at the car. I spent the rest of the day flaked out on the couch rehydrating with whatever could be found in the fridge.

Monday - rest day
Tues - hill workout (profile above) on a local incline called 'The Bunny Hill', not because it's easy but because a local resident raises rabbits and there are often bunnies along the roadside. I only noted one today but maybe they were indoors with the cold and windchill of -25C (-15F). Today's 11 mile slogfest was brutal with the wind but I was well dressed for it (love my new balaclava) and the roads were mostly bare. The hill section of the run was a set of 4x 1/2 mile downhill efforts at a cruising marathon pace which ended up close to 6:30/mile with the steep incline. Slow jog up and repeat then finish with an easy run back to the start.

Weds - another dumb work trip which messed up our Valentines Day plans at home. I now have a big IOU to make up. We had to leave early in order to beat the snow storm that was barrelling up the coast from Downeast no less (not from the Great White North). When we got to Dartmouth there was time to get in an 8 mile run along with a few strides and another run was in the books.

Thurs - up early to get a run in before the meetings but the streets and sidewalks were treacherous with ice and snow. Even with the good old Yaktrax it was tough sledding but managed 6.5 miles without falling down. Pace was near 9 minute though.

Friday - home at last again but the roads are barely plowed and my medium long run was a true slug/slog fest. Again it would have been un-runnable without the Yaks and still nearly fell a few times on the slick roads as I barely managed to get in 11 slow miles with a nasty north wind blowing. I totally agree with Andrew's sentiment, "Enough already with this winter cold".

Sat- blew off any attempt to run in the cold and jumped on the treadmill for a change of pace. After a few miles warmup and a few pickups I was able to put in 5 miles at marathon pace (7:18 avg) and with heartrate below 150. It felt good to move a little faster for a change in just shorts.

Total for the week of 66 miles with 97% of my plan completed. The week was a repeat of what I'd intended last week as the next 5 weeks will be aimed at race preparation. I'm considering running the Hypothermic 1/2 marathon next Sunday in Saint John but may hold off and see how bad (or good) the weather is going to be.

Have a great week everyone!

Saturday, February 10, 2007

What a crazy week!

The week started out on Sunday in Ottawa amongst the ice sculptures which were pretty cool! But instead of a long run it was 8 miles of skating on the canal and my streak of 12 long runs of 20+ was ended.
Another neat sculpture which stands about 5 feet high.

But back to reality a few days later with a work trip to Dartmouth, NS. Winter really has quite a grip on us now as we've been in the deep deep freeze for about 2 weeks now with no end in site. I was able to get a 7 miles in early on Tuesday before our meetings but it was a might nippy at -28C with the wind. Any thoughts of going fast or too long were quickly squashed as I was on a tight schedule.

On Weds there was a bit more time before starting our trip back home so was able to fit in a decent hill workout in downtown Dartmouth. After a 3 mile easy warmup I found myself at the foot of the Maple Street hill which is well know by local runners and an unwelcome part of the annual Bluenose marathon. My workout plan called for 6 hills and that's what I was able to pull off but the urge to walk became quite strong after about 3 of these at about 3 minutes up and 2 minutes jogs back down. The hills and valleys in elevation and heartrate tell the story. Finished the run with another 3 miles back to the hotel.

Thurs - back home at last and just an easy 8 miles on heavy legs. Also submitted my Boston application and received a little bonus cheque for my age group placing at Wineglass. A little late but that's fine.

Friday - another cool day with winds and windchill near -20C and waited till later in the day to get my medium long run of 15 miles in. Ran it as an out and back figuring to run into the wind on the way out and do my marathon pace miles on the return leg. But somehow it seemed that the wind was shifting continually and was in my face during most of the way. Still managed to get in 5 miles at just under MP at 7:30 pace and heartrate of only 147 avg. It was work but quite manageable despite the weather and all the layers. Maybe the new shoes helped!

Here are the new shoes, Mizuno Wave Riders and this is pair #23 for this brand. They work very well for me and I can easily get 500-800 miles on them before it's time for fresh ones. Bought 2 pair so that I can save one for the marathon.

Today was just a short 1 hour run to give the legs an easy day before the long run planned with Marc and Andrew on Sunday. It was cold again but I've got the layering thing down pretty good now.

Total for the past week was only 53 miles for 73% of my planned week. Oh well, at least my Parrot predictor is coming down to near the 3:30 mark. Actually looking at my plan, next week is scheduled to be a rest week but since I've slacked off so much this week, maybe I'll call this a rest week and just repeat what I'd planned last week. Does that make any sense? I'll bounce it off 'the boys' in the morning and see what they think.

Happy running!

Monday, February 05, 2007

Ottawa report

I'll try to keep this short but it might be hard as there is so much to fit in and not enough time. As you can see I made it to Ottawa and found the canal nicely frozen for winter fun.

The trip up was eventful and with a lucky last minute flight change I got an upgrade and 1st class service on the flight up. My treatment by Air Canada was exceptional and very different from the poor service that Phil got a few weeks ago. The short story was that I arrived early, well fed and raring to go for a run around the city before the meetings began.

So quickly out the door of the downtown hotel I was soon on one of the many running trails in Ottawa. This one goes down the Rideau River past the parliament buildings and then down by the canal. I ran on the sidewalks for the most part doing the entire route while watching the skaters on the ice. I attempted to run along the ice for a short bit but found it was too slippery for even the Yaktraxs and quickly got back on the road. Ended up with a nice 12.5 miles on a perfect calm and almost mild day with temps around -5C.

That night, fantastic beer and meal at Pub Italia with my son. This restaurant has over 200 beers on it's menu, you get a beer list booklet and we sampled only a couple; Satans Killer Red from Kingdom of Fire (malty amber red beer) and an Erdinger Dunkel from Germany (very smooth dark wheat beer). And the food was good too!

Saturday - up early for another jaunt on the trails but this time I headed up the river searching out new unexplored territory. Due to some construction and blocked access I proceeded to get a little bit lost or should I say misdirected before finding my way as far as the Champlain bridge before turning back for the hotel. The hour plus run was very slow due to the snow packed and lightly traveled route that I took. Total for the week was 67 miles and more or less on track, just missed the tempo run.

Saturday night, Saturday night, Saturday night at the hockey game with the Ottawa Senators and the Toronto Maple Leafs !!!! We were so lucky to get tickets and the game was unbelievable. Sold out 20,000+, almost as many Toronto fans as Ottawa and an exciting 2-2 game which went to overtime and a shootout! To bad the home team lost but we got our moneys worth, WoW!

Sunday morning - blown long run but instead we were up early and on the canal by 7am for some great pictures and uncrowded skating. Total of 8 miles return trip on the ice which was in great condition. The temp was cool around -15C but there was little wind and we were very well dressed. It didn't even hurt when I crashed one time when distracted by the view. Also spent some time at the ice sculptures which were very impressive.

I flew home later that day but this time had to endure the coach class with little or no elbow room. Thankfully I wasn't between large bodies and the trip was only about an hour. But the streak of 20 milers has finally come to an end with no obvious way to fit one in before the weekend.

I'm now in Dartmouth, NS for an emergency work meeting and my running will be catch as catch can for the next few days. I was only told about it when arriving at work this morning and basically just repacked my bag and headed out once again. Took only enough time to put in a quick 5 miles on the treadmill before hitting the road once again.

Have a good week out there! I hope to get caught up soon!!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Ottawa bound

Believe it or not I did survive the weekend and am still able to kick the can down the road. Now on the road again with a trip to Ottawa for work aka union business so I'll get a chance to visit my oldest son. Another bonus is that it is the Winterlude festival and the Rideau canal is open for skating. It lays claim to being the world's longest skateway and my skates are sharpened and ready to go.

Very short post this week with things sort of working on the running front. My legs are still sore today (Thurs) from Sunday's brutal downhills.

Monday - day off and very tired and sore just walking around

Tues - easy 8 mile loop in the cold and wind. The legs were extremely stiff, especially on the downhills

Weds - 11 mile run with 4miles at marathon pace (avg pace about 7:20) Again the legs were sore but was able to get the pace up for the MP portion of the run. I also underdressed and paid the price by being chilled after the run. At least I was able to curl up around the fire.

Thurs - easy 8 miles again but it was a very tired and slow run.

Now visiting with my sister and will be flying off early in the morning. Hope to get a quick run in when I land in Ottawa before the meetings later in the afternoon. Wish me luck at staying upright on the canal!