Thursday, March 29, 2007

Ow! That hurts !?

I'm afraid that I must have spoken too soon and jinxed myself. At least I've been given a good scare to make me realize how tenuous our hold on good health and fitness can be.

It all started with Sunday's long run with Andrew on our regular Boyden Lake loop. We met at the usual 6:30 time but this week started at the Farmer's Market in Perry which is normally our 1/2 way point. It was a nice sunny morning with the sun just starting to come up and the temperature was reasonable at -1C and little wind. We had a really nice run at what seemed to be a moderate to easy pace and after the main 17 mile loop had a quick pitstop at the van for drinks before adding 4 miles on the Sipayik trail to completely finish us off. It was very quiet the last few miles and I arrived at the cars in a heap. All I could say from my HOK position at the end was "It doesn't get any easier Andrew!" (21 miles in 2:51, 8:04 pace). Andrew's reply as he wolfed down the offered homemade chocolate brownies was typical: "Yeah, but we're running them faster now too". I spent the rest of the day at home, totally spent, mostly in the horizontal position, watching NCAA basketball and trying to recover. But no obvious aches and pains beside the usual general exhaustion.

Monday - just the usual rest day. The log says 'tired but otherwise ok'. Yeah, right!

Tues - I've been fiddling with my taper plan which is right out of Pfitzinger and trying to whittle away a few miles here and there so my weekly total will come down to something in the 60's. Today's run started on the plan at 8 but then got chopped to 6 with a few strides to remind the legs of future action. However, it didn't even get to that. The run was just an easy warmup and then I met up with a local beginner running group for a jog around Indian Point. It was nice to run with a group but the pace was more than a little too slow with a feeling of more running in place than striding out at all. Towards the end of the group run I began to get little niggly complaint from my hip area. I then headed off back home to finish my 6+ miles but barely managed more than a fast jog to finish. That evening I was limping around for no apparent reason. What the?

Weds - woke up with a very sore left hip area which felt like I'd fallen and bruised the muscle on the outside of my hip/butt area. Popped a few ibuprofen (which I never do) and limped off to work. The day's run of 9 miles with 5 at 1/2 marathon pace was looking to be a bit of a problem with this very sudden change in my health. Just to make things more interesting the wind decided it might be good idea to blow any remaining debris out of the woods. I figured the only way to counteract the effects of the 50-60k winds was to head into them and then attempt to run the faster part of the run on the return leg (or at least on one leg). The run started slowly with the hope that the leg and hip would warm up and not be an issue. It was a false hope and my dull ache was with me for the entire run. Not bad enough to stop me from running but enough to bother me and slightly change my stride. After the turn around the attempt at tempo was on the miserable side with barely 7:15's as a result. Cut the run short at 8 miles with only 4 tempo and immediately went to a limping walk. Arrggg! That night the hip was very sore and could not even sleep on that side. I have no idea where this came from. All I can point to is a lack of any stretching or core work regimen but it's a little late for that.

Thurs- bit of a sleepless night because I prefer to sleep on that (sore) side. Popped some more ibuprofen and seemed to improve slightly during the day. The weather with gale force winds continued so I went with an easy treadmill run tonite. Just 5 easy miles at 8:30 or so pace wearing the Boston race day shoes. This time the running seemed to improve the leg/hip and felt better as the run went on.

Now a few hours later it's almost completely gone, just a slight background noise that I can barely notice. Very strange and a bit scary at this point so close to the goal. Perhaps a bit of regular stretching each night as we watch the news is on the menu instead of extra ice cream?

Good running and take care!

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Still in one piece

The current Boston training cycle is nearly complete (not counting the taper) so perhaps it's time to tally up a bit. I'm 'still in one piece' with no real injuries or issues to speak of. My achilles soreness is long gone, there's an occasional sore side mainly due to a lack of stretching and ab work, and the knees and feet are fine. My weight is good, down from 166 to 161, which is where I'm usually at by early April. Stress wise, it's mostly due to a hectic work life lately that can be a bother but I'm doing my best to ignore it and not bring stuff home at night.

Here's what the weekly and long run mileage looks like since the Wineglass marathon in Oct. The weekly mileage is about 5-10 less than last year but the consistent series of long runs (due mostly to the Andrew influence) is something new this cycle. It amounts to 18x20+ mile runs since November and so at least that part of the training is covered off.

Training to finish off the week went 'ok'

Thurs - easy paced 8 mile recovery run after the good set of 800's on Weds. I felt tight and stiff at 1st but then smoothed out as the run went on. Pace was better (ie slower) around 8:20. I also got my number for Boston #6678, which in case you don't know puts me in the 6th corral as they order the runners by their qualifying times in corrals of 1000 runners. I was hoping to see the 5th corral for the 1st time with my hot new PB but it was not to be.

Friday - I think there is an affliction going around that prevents you from running at your prescribed marathon pace. Eric had it, and then Michael caught it, and even Run Faster-Marc had some difficulties and now it's here in Canada! For some reason it makes you crazy and unable to run at a moderately hard pace without getting totally out of control and the result is a real struggle towards the end of your marathon pace workout.

("Where is he going with this?" - Andrew is asking)

The modified plan workout was 2hr or about 15 miles with 3x3mi at marathon pace with 1mile recoveries. This is down from the original optimistic version of 15 with 12xMP that I'd written down in a fit of madness back in January. I came up with the revision after seeing Marc's run and thinking, "that's a more doable run", little did I know... Perfect sunny day, 10C (50F) with a medium nw wind 10-15mph, easy one mile warmup and off to the 'races'.

Mile one: 6:50! Idiot! you're going to pay for this!
Mile 2: 6:55, dummy, feeling the burn yet?
3 mile avg: 7:01 which is about 15 sec/mile too fast. I told you it was catching.

After an easy 1 mile recovery it was a return loop along the same course in reverse which was mostly flat but had a long stretch into the wind at the end. No splits for the 2nd 3 mile run but the average pace was again too fast at 7:08 and it was hard work and concentration for the entire way. If I ran and effort like this on race day I'd be lucky to get past the 1/2 way point.

Another easy 1 mile jog and the final loop was more of the same, too fast, too hard, no rhythm, and average pace 7:08. It's 'supposed' to feel moderately hard, almost easy, smooth, gliding, floating but not today. I'll be praying for the usual race day magic. Finished the 15 miles in 1:57 and rewarded myself with a nice Amber Red.

Today, Saturday was just an easy 7.5 miles to finish off the week at 68 miles. The plan went very well as I managed to get in 100% of the planned runs for the week. My Parrot predictor now tells me I'm at 3:12 which is the lowest yet and getting close to the target. Now it's time to rest up for the long run with Andrew in the morning. Now does anyone know where to get 'brown bread with Guinness' ice cream? Thomas??

Have a nice weekend.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Yasso 800's

It's been a tough week again with work putting on extra strain and the body is also tired and having a hard time keeping up. I've known for a few months that this was going to happen as I prepare for our annual assessment meetings and at the same time try to peak for Boston. Many of the training plans suggest reducing the life stressors somehow but that's not going to happen short of a vacation or taking stress leave.

Sunday it was home alone because of the torrential storm we had on the weekend. Andrew and I had canceled the Boyden run the day before because of forecast conditions and with his flooded basement, the run would have been aborted anyway. As it was, part of our road was also washed away in the downpour.

I used the run to test/practice a number of things for race day including the start time of the run, the shoes, the hills and the drink. By running alone it was easy to schedule the start to 11am (10est) which is new this year for Boston. The traditional noon start is now history and we may get some better running conditions before it heats up as seems to happen most years. The shoes are also easy since I've got identical pairs and will save one mainly for race day. The drink, Gatorade Endurance, is more of an issue since it's been hard to find locally. It was used at last year's Boston and gave me cramps and nausea and so was unable to drink much besides water. I tried it again on one of our long runs with the same result and so the plan today was to try a diluted (by 50%) mixture. This worked a lot better so I'll be grabbing water and gatorade during the race and doing an in-run mix and drink.

The run itself went reasonably well with an ipod for very poor company instead of Andrew and his jokes and stories. Nothing really special, just a long 18 miles in 2:26 with the last 8 attempted with more effort managing to increase the pace to only about 7:45 pace. Was it the wind, hills or just the cumulative load?

Monday - rest day

Tues - easy 1 hour run and 8 miles at about 8:08 pace. I was 'feeling' tired, stiff, sore and with the windy conditions this was way faster than necessary for a recovery run. It's very hard to dial down the slow easy pace and to save it for when needed.

Weds - the plan said 10x800. Now where did that come from? I've been building up my intervals over the past month and decided to fit in the so called Yasso 800's as a bit of a test. There is some debate about how predictive this workout is for your marathon but this runner was prepared to give it a go and perhaps gain some confidence for my goal time. So after another long day at work and still not feeling much like running hard I ventured out very tentatively. The 1st 2 miles went by rather easily and a few easy strides got me safely to the starting line. Click! The 1st one felt very easy with the 1/2 mile in 3:07 (1/2 mile is about 808m) and then started with just a 2:00 jog before turning and starting again. Next one in 3:13, back to reality! My average was now 3:10, which coincidentally is also my marathon goal, but a bunch more to go. It was a struggle holding the pace and the 2 minute rest seemed short but I finished and the overall average was .... yes, 3:10 and a range of 3:09-3:12 for each repeat after the 1st 2. The reward was the end of the workout and the slow, slow jog home. Total of 11.5 miles in 91 min. I was tired before, now I'm very tired. More ice cream?

Have a great week, spring is finally here!

Friday, March 16, 2007

Lucky 7's

It's been a busy week and time for a recap of how things went. The countdown clock says only 30 days left which means one more week of full training and then the 3 week taper. It's actually been a fairly normal week for a change with no travel, work trips, crazy meetings or anything really unusual here in our day to day life. The weather (until today) has been great and I was able to run in shorts and a long sleeve shirt for 3 of my runs with temps between 5 to 8C (40-45F) and only a bit of wind and rain (unlike the Sunday cold washing machine run).

Started off the week with my standard rest day on Monday and was feeling tired from the cumulative stress from the week before.

Tues was just an easy 8 miles for the 1st time this year in shorts. I tried to relax and just go easy but still came in at 8:00 pace despite feeling a bit stiff and sore.

Weds - and time to get serious again with some real effort. Before this run I was very apprehensive and nervous as to being rested enough to finish the workout. The run began with a nice long warmup run of about 3 miles and then clicked the watch to start a series of 7x1000m efforts at about 10k pace or 4:00/km with a 400m jog between each. This is actually slightly better than my 10k pr pace but it was an arbitrary goal for today's run. This run was done on the roads on the only flattish long piece of street we have around the main town core and I kept going back and forth passing the same people walking. They must wonder what that crazy older man is trying to do to himself!

The graph below shows the result from my garmin with the blue line as speed (mph) and the matching heartrate spiking and trying to keep up in red. Notice also how heartrate remained elevated afterwords on the final jog home. But back to the spurts and stops my times came in within a few seconds of the 4:00 goal for each kilometer and having the Garmin in lap mode (showing average pace) helped to keep me in the groove. They got progressively harder to do mentally and I only struggled to hold pace on the final run segment.

Hard, easy, right? The final mile or so at an easy pace was quite a nice relief.

Thursday found me pretty bagged but not overly stiff and sore, just a general tired and so it was a relief to just do an easy 8 mile recovery run. There was a light rain which made it a little on the cool side but that was ok. The pace was easy at 8:10 but probably still a little fast for recovery. It seems there's only one slow down speed in the legs.

Today Friday is the day for a medium long run and I had a choice of hills or marathon pace miles to make. With the cold temperatures and wind (back to -6C and windchill of -12C) I decided it would be difficult to hold a hard tempo pace on tired legs. Instead I opted for a staple of my Boston plan which is a series of hard downhill runs to teach the legs to run fast and to withstand the pounding of going down at speed.

The result below is what my killer hill workout looked like today with the green line for elevation in feet. The hill didn't grow during the workout but somehow the Garmin got tricked as one point. My hill of choice is the Bunny Hill (where all the bunnies live; gotta get a picture one day) which has about 200 ft of drop in a 1/2 mile. It finishes down by the beach which goes across to Minister's Island at low tide and usually has very little traffic.So... after a 5 mile warmup it was time to bite the bullet and run down the hill! Pace going down averaged 7:00 or less as I tried to hold back a bit and keep it near my marathon goal pace of 7:15. Unfortunately without a convenient elevator or car I then had to jog (slowly) back up the hill to begin again. The locals must think I've totally lost it by now. And repeat, hard down, easy up. And again, and again, etc. It was good to have the ipod along today to keep me occupied but eventually on the 6th repeat the legs started to complain about the abuse. Time to stop you say? No!! Now's the time to do another when the hurting is good and so seven it was! Followed by a struggle back up and another 2 miles to finish me off for the day at 15.

Result: sore tired legs that are shakey hours later going up and down stairs but will be that much more ready for the abuse that will come on April 16.

Plan for the Sat. is to just do an easy hour run which will bring me in around 70 miles for the week. After that, rest up for Sunday's run with Andrew again, weather depending as we're going to get slammed tonite and tomorrow with another nor'easter.

Have a great weekend! Time for ice cream here...

Monday, March 12, 2007

I can almost see the top of the mountain

Just a few more weeks and it will be all downhill to Boston but . . . well I could go on and on about how tough the winter has been and how hard it's been to get some of the training in but . . . that's all water under the bridge. What's done is done and just 2 more weeks of real training left! And then 3 weeks of winding things down and trying to stay sane.

Andrew and I 'survived' our 20 something mile run yesterday despite the cold rain that poured for the entire duration of near 3 hours. You know of course that it stopped almost immediately when the run was over. We did the usual Boyden Lake loop and were smart enough to park one vehicle at the 1/2 way point with a change of clothes and some drinks. We also were smart about the time change by completely ignoring it and not loosing any sleep from springing ahead and then having to start in the dark. The plan had included Jon who is all gung ho about starting his training up so he can smoke his new age group. However, he got sick the night before and couldn't make it, at least that's what his sleepy spouse told us (sorry guys).

With no more excuses of our own it was off into the pouring rain (about 5C or 40F) with only Andrew's witty conversation to keep me warm. Let me tell you, some of his jokes are pretty funny! This week the run was navigated in the easy (clockwise) direction and we both agreed that the hills are less mountainous this way. The 1st 1/2 went well with our main goal to run slow so that the 3 hours would come with less pain and suffering than by running faster and further. By the time we reached the van we were soaked to the bone and the change of clothes was very welcome. This is the 1st time I've ever switched jacket and running shirt in the middle of the run. Andrew astounded me by removing his long pants and going to shorts! What a madman! Within a mile the color of his legs were a perfect match with his red hair and orange hat! Brrrr!

The 2nd 1/2 of the run was more of the same, good conversation, lame jokes and a bit more traffic than normal. We didn't see our 1st car until 5 miles into the run but it was more frequent on the narrow hilly roads later on. I guess some people did 'spring ahead'. We were also amazed to see a truck driving on the lake but I suppose it's been cold enough lately that one day of rain won't be a problem. Nevertheless we struggled along and images of marathon pace miles quickly dissolved into a slowish shuffle to the vans (barely under 8:00 pace). I was able to convince A that 20+ was a better number than 19 and we did a slightly faster last 2 miles to finish in a cold shivering heap. Those chocolate brownies were sooo goood we barely tasted them!

Thus ends another sad story. I hope to run one of my long runs with somewhat fresh legs in the coming weeks but it might have to wait until taper time.

Have a good week all!

And if you like to smile check out the latest Chasing Kimbia video blogs. And also the regular Kimbia site.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Doing the work, sort of...

Trying my best to get the workouts in but the log tells me it was only 87% of the planned miles last week. The combination of a work trip and poor weather resulted in a total of 60 miles in 5 runs. Two of those were on the treadmill as I attempted to avoid the awful cold weather that had swooped down on us from the arctic. High winds and dangerous windchills were the result so indoors it was.
Today's run, seen here in graphic form included a jaunt across the ocean floor with the tide out and a series of hills which were a real struggle for the legs. This was meant to be an easy recovery run in preparation for yet another long run on Sunday morning with Andrew and Jon. The main challenge will be figuring out the time zones and time of day with Daylight Savings kicking in tonite. Our final decision was to pretend the clocks stayed the same and to meet at the same time, 630 EST (730 Atlantic Canadian), meaning I get to sleep in a bit! (Yes!!)

  • Tues - 8 miles easy on the treadmill
  • Weds - work trip, brought running gear but no treadmill at hotel, -30C windchill
  • Thurs - 8 mile on treadmill with 8x800m at 3:20 to 3:30
  • Friday - 15 miles with 8 attempted at marathon pace (managed 740 only) on dead legs
  • Sat - 9 miles easy on dead, tired legs
  • Sun - plan for 21 or more (thinking I need a 3 hr run) with last x at MP
Have a good weekend! Wish me luck on the long run.

For inspiration and pure fun check out the Chasing Kimbia blog and videos. Kenya, Kenya, Kenya!

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Yet another long run

Or how about "The Long and Winding Road" which was one of the more appropriate song titles that was on my ipod today? Whatever, another 20 miler is now in the books and it's nice to sit now by the fireplace with my glass of Keith's Amber Ale with pizza in the oven for supper. Actually my glass is empty, perhaps I need a refill. Hydration is key to recovery, right?

Marathon and Beyond has a great article in the most recent Jan/Feb issue (see table of contents for articles summary) by Guy Avery on goal setting and training which has got me thinking about the obvious that "you can't do on race day what you haven't trained for". Which comes back to today's long run which was meant to stress and simulate conditions that will occur on April 16th. Namely I will get tired and sore and will dearly want to stop but there will still be 5 or 6 more miles to go. I like to say that the main purpose of the long run is to get to the last few miles where you are (usually) tired. Granted, there are days when it's a slog from the 1st step but what you do in training while tired will pay dividends on race day both mentally and physically.

Today's run was done from home as my usual Boyden Lake route was canceled with Andrew who was away for most of the week and not up to another long one. Maybe next week, I miss the company. However, only about 1/2 mile into the run I ran into a friend from work who I was surprised to see on the roads. Les is just getting into running and is preparing for his very 1st race, a 1/2 marathon at the Bluenose International Marathon in Halifax on May 20th. We ran together for a couple of miles and then continued our separate ways, Les to his warm home and myself for 17 more miles. But it was a nice break; long runs go so much quicker with company.

Back to my music and listening to some podcasts as I did 2 loops of the town for 12 miles before refilling my gatorade and heading out of town on the highway for the real meat of the run. The next 4 miles were at a slightly faster pace (close to 8:00) and into the steady 10mph wind with temps around 34C (felt a bit cool). Finally it was time to turn for home and to see what was left in the tank for the last 4 miles which I hoped to do around marathon pace. There was still a bit of energy left as I managed 7:26, 7:28, 7:19 and 7:08 with heartrate slowly climbing (along with the hills). It was sooo nice to stop! Another one in the books....

Oh yeah, recap for last week was 6 runs for 70 miles and a Parrot Predictor now falling to 3:20. I think there is hope for my goal of 3:10 if I can just make it through the next 3 weeks in one piece and then begin the taper. Time now for some delicious Chocolate Fudge Crackle vanilla ice cream, mmmm! Not good for the diet but the furnace is hot tonite.

Happy running!

Friday, March 02, 2007

Snow Day

Yup, it's still winter here and we'll just have to make do and put up with it for a few more weeks. They did a pre-emptive strike at the local schools shutting them down for the day, even though it didn't even start to snow until noon and very little accumulation until about mid-afternoon. I guess they just want to be extra cautious, "But in my day, we never got a day off ...".

So what am I doing out in this you ask? Why didn't I play it smart and get my run in early before it all started? Well a couple of reasons, #1: hate to get up early (only for the long runs), #2: still feeling the effects from the interval workout on Tues with a bit of general tiredness and not looking forward to the ambitious plan in my log for today.

As I posted before, things were great on my 90 minute run on Weds, the day after my mile intervals as I sailed along at an easy pace of 8:10/mi. However, the next day the old DOMS (delayed onset muscle syndrome) kicked in and things were very slow and stiff. All I could manage was a 1hr run at about 8:25 pace but at least the heartrate stayed low. Bonus was the nice sunny day with temperature just around the freezing point (almost balmy!).

Back to the plan. Today it called for a 2 hour run with 6 miles at marathon pace. Sheesh! Maybe if I delay long enough the coach will give me a pass. Oh, I'm the coach! No free pass today. Besides it's not that cold and not accumulating much so let's try the roads 1st. Maybe, I could do part of the run outside in the fresh snow and then finish with the fast miles on the treadmill. Oh and I'd forgot to mention that I'd worked thru lunch and left work early so I could run before the real storm hit. After even more time-wasting, window gazing at the dark clouds and snow, gatorade mixing, and setting up the treadmill along with a change of clothes it was time to go. The 1st part of the run, which turned out to be about 8 miles, was actually rather nice. The temperature was only about -1C (30F) and the driving wind and snow was only an issue for a few open spots where it felt like running in molasses. Besides that I just cruised along at an easy pace mostly on the deserted side roads in town. There wasn't much accumulation yet (less than an inch) and so the footing was good for the most part but not anything to try faster running on. The picture was taken just as I got back from the 1st part of my run.

It was then a quick change and on the awaiting treadmill. After a 1/2 mile warmup it was straight into 6 miles at about marathon pace where I slowly ramped the pace up from 7:30 to 7:13. Ended up with average pace of 7:18 and heartrate of 143 although it was getting to be harder work for the last two miles. All in all it was a decent workout and managed to get my money's worth once again.

Hope you're running is also going well.