Friday, April 27, 2007

Sick and tired

It's been a little over a week and wouldn't you know it the sniffles and aches have set in with a vengeance. Take that silly runner, dare to run a marathon in the wind and cold will you?

The week started off well on Sunday past with a nice 10 mile amble around town. It was a beautiful sunny morning and the plan was to just jog around and enjoy the scenery. Took some time to map out the course profiles for our upcoming local Father's Day race. The Kids Race, now called the Future Series turns out to be 1.5 miles.
It's a nice loop and I'm looking forward to seeing those young faces pushing for the finish line on the long straightaway.

And here's the 5 mile loop for our race, that I did next. How do you like the 2nd 1/2 of this course? I then ran into a friend from work and finished off the run with a nice conversation as we happened to be heading my way.

Monday - sniffles starting...

Tues - still feeling sneezy but ran a few easy miles with the Tues fun run group. A total of 10 people showed and I took a group of run walkers on a 5k loop. They had a dog with them and I had some races with him as we looped back and forth on the trail we were on. It was nice to let the legs go a bit and there were no real aches or pains there at least.

Weds - feeling like crap, rest day anyway but stayed home and rested instead of doing volleyball

Thurs - more crappy cold, splitting headache and work going crazy still. I can't afford to get sick now with the workload that's on my plate right now

Fri - feeling slightly better but still sniffly and sore head and another crazy busy day at work. Only a few more days left to prepare for some major meetings and I'm really starting to feel sick and tired of it all. Getting close to the limit of what I can take without blowing up in more ways than one. After work there was time for a very quick 5 miler in the rain and wind (where did I see this before?) and the legs felt fresh and fast. Put the watch in my pocket and just ran like I needed in order to blow out the cobwebs and frustration of the long day. (5.3 miles in 40 min for 7:30 pace overall)

Might do a few easy miles in the morning but the plan is to get back on the road with Andrew on Sunday. I think it's time to stop moaning and complaining and to start scheming and planning for the next onslaught of the marathon monster. Onward!

Have a good weekend!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Moving on

Finally, a sunny warm day! Steph is home for the weekend and agreed to take her Dad for a little spin around town. This would be my very 1st recovery run since the marathon on Monday. We're both trying to show off our new shoes in case you wondered about the Charlie Chaplin pose. What a great day! Did I say it was sunny and warm? It got up to almost 20C by the end of the day but was 'only' about 10-12C when we did our little 3 mile run/walk. We had a nice chat and I felt great with no problems with my legs or feet. Wanted to do more but held back.

I still haven't figured out quite what 'went wrong' with my Boston race and probably never will but have made a list of the good and the bad. This will be my last mention of this because it's time to start getting ready with the next challenge which will be a leg of the Cabot Trail Relay race.

So here's the good or what I did right:
  • good training regime with plenty of long runs (18x20+) and average mileage of 60+/wk
  • diet and weight were good (same as last year)
  • pre-race routine was very relaxed and the same as previous years
  • felt mentally prepared and focused before race but was a little nervous
And what I didn't do or went wrong:
  • weather wasn't the best but nothing worse than anything I've trained in all winter
  • maybe not enough MP or tempo runs but I always say that
  • my workplace load and stress has been high lately but not really working crazy hours
  • 1/2 marathon 9 days before might have taken something out of my legs but ran it at less than planned MP
  • lack of stretching, strengthening and core work but that's not anything new
And that's it. We'll train harder and rest smarter the next time around. How's that for a plan? Onward and upward, we're moving on.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Boston Report - part 2 - the downfall

Well, maybe not a total downfall but things certainly were going downhill in a hurry after the 1/2 way point. It's two days later now and I'm still clueless as to what the %$@* happened to my legs. As I said before, there were signs early on that this was going to be tough day and it's a long way to the finish when that happens. I think back to Wineglass where everything was so easy, holding back for miles, hitting the 1/2 and still holding back, hitting 20 miles and still feeling great. Oh well, those are the runs you never forget and alway hope for.

Monday, however, was a day that I'd rather forget. Back to the race report; the conditions were actually fairly decent in the middle part of the course with some shelter with all the trees along the narrow road. There was at most light rain on occasion and gusty winds now and then but never a constant downpour or really strong headwind that we had feared. It certainly was nothing like Andrew and I had trained in a few weeks ago on one of our last Sunday runs or anything like the 'Cruel and unusual punishment' endured at KV Marathon in Oct. 2005. And of course the body and legs were not co-operating at all.

The next stretch that I can remember is the bit from 13-16 miles which is generally downhill though Wellesley and Lower Newton Falls. The crowds were again very good, appreciative, calling out names and handing out lots of goodies. I picked up a sponge to wipe my face with and then a treasure bag of jelly bean candies that provided a nice little sugar boost just before Hells Alley. This is the long open stretch up from mile 16-17 over route 128 which is all uphill and to me is the hardest part of the whole course and is barely mentioned in most course descriptions. There is also a Powergel station along here and I opted for a double latte flavor that nearly made me puke (shoulda stuck with chocolate). The turn at the fire station was crowded and noisy and the 1st official hill went by fairly easily despite my condition and feeling of doom. Actually, now that I think about it, the section hills from mile 17-21 actually were nice to me in a strange way. I was very tired, felt very slow, the legs were sore but not aching and running up was a nice change of pace. Everything was by heartrate and by setting my rpm max at 150 it was challenging to slow down and shorten the stride enough to hold it there. I didn't pass many people but also didn't get passed much either and felt good to see the miles finally counting down a bit. Heartbreak Hill itself was almost easy compared to the rest, but more likely it was the thought of "Only 5 miles to go and all downhill" (I wish that was really true, but it's not).

The last five were more of the same slow slog as my pace continued to slow like my friend Bruce. It looks like I was actually able to pickup the pace in the last 7k but perhaps this was more a result of the gradual downhills and trying to not get passed by every single runner on the course. This chart below shows our 5k split paces and demonstrates the slowdown with the hills and an increase at the finish as the horses can smell the barn.
What do I really remember about the last stretch? Not that much. The crowds were again loud and vocal, there was a huge party around the Boston College area, some of the fans were very funny with how they seemed so into the cheering and yelling. Maybe just jumping around to keep warm? I kept looking for the giant Citgo sign that marks the last mile of the course but it kept well hidden until the 24th mile. Then you run another mile with everyone telling you just one more mile, while you know it's not one mile until you are beside the giant marker along the road.

Finally, the last mile and still feelings of doubt, pain but knowing that I was going to make it without having to walk it in. It had really been a godsend that we had driven the course a few days before and I could remember the last few turns and twists in the route. Along this point before the final turn and straightaway on Boylston street I peeled off my jacket to reveal all my Canuck colors for the victory lap. It's an amazing finish and every runner should experience this last 1/2 mile of cheers and glory at least once in their running career. Nearing the finish I had a special treat as my name, town and country were called out on the PA. It gave me the energy to raise my arms and pump my fists. My main feeling as I finally crossed the line was not of disappointment but one of relief that it was finally over! What a long day and it's sooo good to stop and just walk slowly.

In the finish the area it was cold with the gusty winds and we moved along slowly gathering up a space blanket and then lined up to get our chips removed and receive our medals. At this point I began to feel woozy and nauseous and realized that I'd better sit down before I crashed to the ground. The volunteer was nice to offer me his chair as he removed my chip. It was difficult to get up after a little rest with my head between my knees but I managed to wobble on and find some food which helped to perk me up. The buses were a mess with crowds all trying to get their gear at the same time and but found Bruce waiting for me as we had planned. Again felt woozy but once we had our stuff and was able to change into warm clothes things started to improve. Once seated on the subway things were looking up even more. More water, chips and a cup of coffee later I was all charged up and ready to go.

That night it was another fantastic meal with my wonderful hosts but I'll save that for another post when I've got the pictures to go with it. Suffice to say that we are treated like royalty in Boston by our amazing hosts in Waltham. It might take another post to really figure out what happened with my race. All that training, 20 milers almost every weekend, speed work, hills etc and I need answers as to why. Time to review the training logs a bit.

Have a great week! The ice cream, brownies and beer are great!!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Boston report - part 1

Home at last after yet another Boston adventure. Don't know quite where to start, so how about the end first. Here are my results:

Not what I'd trained and hoped for and how I got there is a bit of a long story, in fact I wrote most of it by hand in the car on the drive back today with my new friends Bruce and Jim. Bruce, whom you saw in the photo with me on Sunday was the 4th New Brunswick runner with a time of 3:07. He had a good 1st 1/2 but faded in the 2nd half and said he might have gone out too hard with the leaders in the 1st corral. Jim was also top 10 with a 3:20 and was quite happy with his result but said (like all runners will) that he could have done better.

My story began at 5:15 when Bruce and I woke up for a light breakfast of cereal, coffee, juice and bagel before scooting down to the subway station and then to the Boston Commons where the buses pick up the runners. There was a light rain and the temps were moderate in the 40's, which was warmer than expected. We were on the buses by 7:00 for the long ride to Hopkinton. Once there we were lucky to get into the high school gym where we were able to lie down and relax for about an hour in relative comfort of warmth and dryness. There was even an unexpected discovery of porta-potties with short lineup that will be remembered for future events here. Around 9:20 they started chasing the runners out for the corrals and we made our last minute preparations with extra layers that could be removed and the final super protective garbage bag layer on the outside (plus bags over the shoes to protect the virgin Mizunos).

Dumped the gear at my bus (buses are numbered by bib#s) and made the 1/2 mile walk down to the start in a steady but almost warm light rain. It was now about 9:40 as I consumed my last drink of gatorade and saved the wide mouth bottle for convenient discrete usage before the start. Arrived at my corral in no time and moved toward the front to do a few stretches and final clothing adjustments as the final announcements and anthem played. Then to my surprise, Peter, who is the brother of one of my co-workers taps me on the shoulder and introduces himself! We both knew that we'd be in the same corral but I've never met him but I guess my famous Canada shorts gave me away! We had a nice little chat and I tried to give him a few pointers about the start but from his good finishing time of 3:25, I think he was quite prepared. It was feeling quite warm in the crowd and the rain was lessening a bit so the garbage bag got dumped about now.

Finally the start, though I don't remember the gun. Peter and I stuck together for a bit as we shuffled ahead taking about 3-4 minutes to get to the actual start line where you could finally start to jog along at an easy pace. At this point he sort of floated away looking back once or twice but I just waved him on as it would take too much effort to try to stick together. The crowds were surprisingly good in the starting area despite the weather and it was a good feeling to finally be off on the nice downhill 1st miles.

It's hard to remember the details of each mile but from the very beginning of this race I simply did not have a good feeling. Instead of the easy jogging, light on your legs effortless feeling that you almost come to expect (or hope for) after a decent taper and good training, from the very get go this marathon felt like 'work'. There was no pop or spring in the legs, the hamstrings felt tight and heavy and I just had a worried feeling. My plan was to do a cutdown first six miles with 1st 2 at 7:45, then 2 in 7:35 and finally 2 in 7:25 before settling down to 7:15's. This seemed to work for the 1st 10k but on reaching about 6 miles the realization began to set in that this was not going to be my day. The final clue was my average heartrate which had now pushed into the 150's or close to 90% of max and a level that I knew would be impossible to hold for long. The goal now became one of trying to maintain an even effort, keeping the heartrate below 150 and one of survival to the finish line in one piece. And only 20 miles to go! This is not going well...

The next few miles were uneventful as we wound our way through Framingham and Natick with the usual supportive cheering crowds at each street corner. The weather continued to be milder than expected but the gusty winds made it feel chilly and I was glad that I'd kept my windbreaker that could be zipped up when needed. However, the Canada shorts were still on display and the cheers for that helped to keep me moving along. The next big event, of course, was the cheering girls at Wellesley, also know as the scream tunnel. What they lacking in numbers this year seemed to be made up for in volume as the noise could be heard from about 1/4 mile away. Many were holding up signs for free kisses and hugs but I enjoyed lots of high fives and cheers of 'Go Canada' instead. Shortly after it was the quiet of mile 13 and the reality of my 1/2 split of only 1:40. There were still a few downhill miles ahead but the hopes of increasing or even maintaining this pace were quickly fading by now.

More analysis and part 2 coming up in the next episode. Right now I need another good sleep as the recovery progresses well.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

We're Ready!

Just time for a very quick update and forecast for tommorow with more details later.
We had a nice drive down, checked out the race course by driving from Hopkinton into downtown to the expo. Then found our way out to my friends in Waltham are being cared for like long lost sons and heroes.

We're now geared up and ready to go. The forecast is lousy but we're getting psyched.

Do we look keen or what?

I think my Canada colors are rubbing off on someone.

Bring it on!!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Last workout

4d 13hr and counting and feeling like time is running out.

Everything seems to be creaky, stiff, tired and there has been a hint of an impending cold or sore throat for a few days now. This lethargy is typical for me and it's the same story when I look back though my old logs. I never seem to feel on top of my game the week before and often not even until reaching the starting line on race day. So things are normal...

Just a couple of easier runs this week. On Monday it was just 5 miles at lunch-time with a few strides thrown in for good measure. Avg pace around 8:00 despite feeling tired and slow.

Today was the so-called dress rehearsal 7 mile run with a couple of miles at marathon pace where I was supposed to gear up with all my race day gear down to shoes, socks, shorts etc. Didn't happen. At least the wearing of The Shorts didn't happen today as I didn't want to scare the locals too much. Instead it was just my normal running gear including long pants and shirt for a cool but sunny day. Despite again feeling tired and slow the run went well with the MP miles in 6:52 and 7:14 with heartrate around 140. One thing that I will have to watch is going out too fast in the early miles with all the excitement. This is the classic marathoner's mistake which burns up his precious stores of glycogen early on before the muscles get properly warmed up. A good thing about Boston is the crowded start that should hold me back for the 1st few miles. I'm also planning on doing a progression buildup over the 1st 4-6 miles. This worked out at Wineglass and should be even easier to do with the downhill miles at the beginning of Boston. I'm rambling again... time to sign off and watch the hockey playoffs.

Don't forget to follow the Chasing Kimbia site as they prepare for Boston.

Oh, and my race number is 6678 so you want to track me on the BAA website on raceday, with splits about every 5k. Be patient as it sometimes gets swamped with all the hits.

Carry on!

Monday, April 09, 2007

6d 23hr 48m 39s

Just a quicky post this morning as the clock is ticking...

Also just time for a quick but slow 6 mile run around town in about 49:00 on heavy legs (wonder why?). It was 0C (32 F) with a brisk northwest breeze and otherwise a nice day for Feb/March but not for early April. Rather nondescript type jog/run with a stop to check on a friends cats. The only event of note was the little snow squall that showed up in the last mile but this is getting to be old boring news by now for most of the east coast and central states.

I took a day off yesterday (Sunday) on the advice of Coach who always has my best interests in mind. Besides my long run was taken care of on Saturday and a little rest would be better than pushing on tired legs. It's a good thing too because I was feeling a little tired and grumpy (but would never admit it) and the beer and ice-cream and chocolate tasted that much better.

The long term forecasts for Boston here and here and here are looking like it's going to be a cool cloudy day between 40-50F (4-10C) with a chance of showers. It's been a cool spring so far and it looks like the trend is going to hold for at least another week. That would be a welcome change from past years with temps in the 70's and 80's.

On an unrelated/related programming note. I'd like to recommend fellow bloggers try turning off their word verification to make it easier to put up comments. Madman Bob from Florida makes some good points in this regard and if you start getting spammed then just turn it on. You can also turn on moderation and then get the chance to approve each comment 1st. Just a thought.

So much for a short post. Have a great week!

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Like a thief in the night

Looking over his shoulder for oncoming danger. These masked bandits are kinda cute but so smart and destructive. We now have to bring in our bird feeders at dusk or the raccoon family will eat all the food and tear up the plastic feeders. We caught this guy in broad daylight about to climb the pole. Now should I be looking over my shoulder for trouble?

The plot thickens. Now surely a fun run with no markers, no water, no timing will be a good opportunity to get an easy run in with some company? I was immediately given a little 'talk' from Coach who reminded me of my inability to take it easy in race situations and that the real race is only a week away. "Pardon me. I didn't hear that. What did you say?"

Oh, and by the way, did I mention the hard 8 miler on Friday with 3x1 mile repeats? I'm a sucker for doing the workouts that are scheduled no matter what. If it's written, then it must be done right? After a 2 mile warmup the 1st mile went by in 6:35 going by effort alone with no watch in sight until the beep at the end. A short 2:00 jog and back the other way with the lactate making the legs heavy for a slow and disappointing 6:44 along a slight uphill. The final one was aided by an encounter with a friend running with his dog who agreed to go with me. Little did he know that it was going to be a race. Again, I just went hard by effort focusing on my breathing and rhythm and soon the sounds of my now opponent's breathing were fading. Final mile in 6:19! Finished with an easy 2 miles home.

That night amidst a flurry of email with Andrew and (No Show) Jon I get a 2nd lecture regarding my inability not to race. Is there a pattern here that I'm missing?

Saturday morning we arrived at the race run about 15 minutes before the start to see, surprise, surprise a little sign up booth, water, race run numbers! Surely, this must be a race right Andrew?? (who showed up a few minutes later). After a few announcements over a PA system (another sign of race in progress) the horn went off and so were we. The 1st mile went by at a slow jog and a loop back to collect Andrew who was somehow lost in the crowd enjoying the sunshine (I think). Soon enough we were cruising along enjoying each others company and the miles were clicking off nicely around 7:40 or so. A little fast but still not out of control, yet.

"I think he's slowing down, we'll get him on the 2nd half" says Andrew.

"It's not a race" I remind him.

A few miles later we catch up to Chris whom Andrew immediately befriends before beginning to lay the hammer down as the pace drops to 7:30's and below. We chat some more and the pace keeps increasing. Next mile in 7:25. Less chatting now. Andrew!! Next mile in 7:17. I guess it's a race now as our new 'friend' Chris is now hanging on for dear life. Andrew slows a bit over the next mile but when he sees I'm not interested in matching his pace, then he simply takes off and leaves us in the dust.

With about 2 miles left to go, it's just me and Chris and neither of us yet willing to call it a day. We did a little back and forth but on the last hill about 1/2 mile before the finish our new friend finally fades and I sneak away and follow Andrew in who had put 2 minutes on me over the last 2 miles. What fun!

The gory details look like this.
And don't forget to check out Andrew's point of view and all the trouble he gets me into.

And the countdown continues with 7 days to go. Have a great week!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Would you believe?

Taken today, April 5, 2006 2007 with 10 days to go.
Yes, it snowed, again. It is Canada and it's only April, I guess...
About 6-8 inches of heavy wet snow, perfect for making snow sculptures and such but I wasn't feeling too inclined after shoveling the driveway, again!

Very little to report on the running scene as it's week 2 of the taper plan with short little runs that seem more like an afterthought than anything serious. I had planned a couple of repeat miles today but this has been rescheduled until the roads clear up a bit.

Monday - rest day, feeling fine

Tues - 5 miles at 6:30am on the treadmill before heading up north to visit my Mom (all's well)

Weds- 7 miles after work on what was 'supposed' to be an easy run. However, it was a blow off some steam type run due to various work frustrations with the 1st 5 miles at close to marathon pace but feeling relaxed and easy with the heartrate low. Finished up with a few fun strides that made the legs feel fast.

Thurs - today with just another 5 miles easy on the treadmill as the roads and traffic were too dangerous to be out and about

Here's hoping this all melts quickly so I can get back on the roads again. Good running and Happy Easter!

Sunday, April 01, 2007

It's April!

See? The goldfish survived the winter but are still under protective netting to keep the leaves and raccoons out of the pond!
We have finches nesting in our shrubbery; the robins have arrived and the crocuses are up.
In fact if you watch very closely you will even spot the occasional Gardenus compulsivis poking around trying to tidy up the mess left by the long winter's nap. Hope that I don't get into trouble for telling.

First a little wrap up for the month of March. Finished off the last week with an easy 5 miles yesterday to give me 58 for the week and 287 for the month. Aced the plan for the week as far as mileage went but the hip issue prevented some of the quality stuff that was in the schedule. Things are almost back to normal for the 'injury' and now give it an 8 or 9 out of 10.

The 'long' run today of only 17 miles was completed here at home alone without much difficulty. I played it like the race day as far as the timing went and waited until after our Palm Sunday church service. After a snack of a 1/2 banana, 1/2 bagel and gatorade I was on the road by noon, only 1 hour later than guntime on the 16th (with adjustment for time zone). We had a great day here with bright sunshine but coolish temps around 4C and light-medium northwest winds. The 1st 7 miles were just at an easy pace as I made a loop around the town before a quick stop at home for more drinks and then heading out of town. The next 5 miles were a bit tougher, directly into the wind as I attempted to push the effort a bit. The last 5 with the wind now at my back went nicely and was able to drop the pace to 7:30's to finish the run in 2:17. No problems with the hip although it could be felt as a slight background noise and might interfere with full extension on my stride when I get moving faster. Rated as a good run and I'm looking forward to another easy week as the mileage will fall to the mid-40's.

You might be interested in checking out all the Canadians going to Boston from our province of New Brunswick. The Run NB site has the full list of all 84 runners and some predictions for top ten performances. I'm little miffed about not even getting a mention as I'm often close to the bubble but the competition is stiff and maybe that will just give more incentive to prove the critics wrong, eh?

In blogger land, we're all anxiously awaiting the results from Thomas in his 1st ultra (39.3 miles) at the Connemara marathon in Ireland. Go Thomas, you rock!

Have a great week!