Monday, July 30, 2007

Not a race report

Nuff said, no excuses, wimped out and stayed home this weekend. Well maybe a few excuses because for some reason I feel should at least explain the lack of a Grand Manan 1/2 marathon race report in the proceedings of my so called running career.

The decision was made actually the night before when I consciously refused to allow myself to prepare things like my gear, lay out breakfast and coffee and set the alarm in order to wake up in time to leave by 630 to catch the 730 ferry. Despite the obvious signals from the controlling brain my body still resisted and I had a rather sleepless night and was wide awake before 600am. I read this as the body saying "Lets go, I'm ready!" while the brain continued to resist and forced the body back to sleep. Maybe it was just as well that I took a break but somehow I felt like I was letting myself down a bit, and this for a race that had only race day registration and is close by (but with a 2.5hr travel time each way). I still can't put my finger on why the race got canned but I've felt a little less enthusiastic about my runs lately. Perhaps it's been the heat and humidity but just as likely it could be the marathon training program that I put together with no built in breaks or cutback weeks.

Plan B was a simple 10 mile run in just under 80 minutes with lots of heat and humidity, followed by a nice cool off dip in the pond, which has been a regular thing lately. It's really nice and refreshing to do this, even if the water temp is only a few degrees cooler than the air temp. It was 24C today in the pond and 26C air temp but my body temp was much warmer than that!

Total for the week of 61 miles with a canned tempo run and missed race. Not quite up to par but it'll have to do.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Belated birthday blogger

I thought that I'd share one of my humorous cards, especially since we had to hide the cake in the cupboard so Steph's cat wouldn't eat it. Don't you like the spacey eyes "Who me?"
The trip up to Bathurst was uneventful and I got to spend a few days at the beach and even got my feet wet after my run. The jellyfish were out in full force though and so a complete dunking just wasn't a good idea.
The main reason for the trip was to visit my Mom who is doing quite well and is in great spirits as always. I was even treated to a 2nd cake of the week and must say it was 'pretty good' but not as tasty as the homemade chocolate swirl that Jo and Steph whipped up before the trip.
Running has been on the difficult side all week and I can't quite place my finger on it. It might be the recent heat and humidity that has hung over our area lately.

Or... it might be something to do with the 3 hour test of endurance that Andrew and I battled through on Sunday. I don't really have much to say about that run other than it being a kind of vague bad memory that I'd like to forget. Andrew really does capture the essence of the run perfectly, but honestly, "I wasn't trying to kill you!". Everything, was going smoothly until our little mixup in the total elapsed time, followed by the awful realization that we were so wrong. Our minds had totally bought into the new time and as a result both of our bodies shut down at the appropriate time, which was unfortunately 1/2 hour before the run was ended. Make sense? You had to be there, but be happy you weren't. I spent the rest of the day collapsed on the couch.

Mon - rest day and travel to Bathurst

Tues - nice early morning 8 miles on the trails and quiet highway near our little cottage on the beach. My attempt to go for a swim afterwards was frustrated by the swarms of jellyfish

Weds - an early start back home via a roundabout scenic route through some nice backroads arriving home late in the afternoon with temps in the 30ies plus humidity. Slacked off with a slow easy 5 mile slog later that evening.

Thurs - tried to get some hillwork in today and did 4 repeats in about 1:30 each of the Katies Cove hill. The heat and humidity again got the best of me and I felt this workout could have been harder. At the time when doing the repeats you question what the hell you are doing pushing up this crazy steep hill over and over. And then when you're done the question is 'Was that enough?'. Maybe, maybe not, considering the mileage and general fatigue levels of late.

Fri- definitely this was going to be just an easy hour run from the starting gun at 9am. The temperature and humidity were already climbing and I was happy to just do an easy 7 miles followed by a cool off dip in the pond.

Sat - the plan for the morning is to travel to Grand Manan for a 1/2 marathon but right now I'm on the fence debating what to do. The heat and humidity should not be an issue on the island which is a 1.5 hour ferry ride away. Do I really need another hard effort like this to tell me where my fitness is at or should I slack off and put my feet up? If I'm going to go it's time to get my act together soon and start. We'll just have to wait and see if I can get up in time to make the ferry.

Meanwhile, it's time for more cake and ice cream. Hope you're all having a great week!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Maximum 70

It's been another good week of vacation and I'm not really looking forward to going back in a week's time. I was able to get a few chores cleaned up and finally finished the retaining wall on the back of our house. The only problem is the little chipmunk who seems to think he still owns the place and refuses to move out. It was very heavy work moving the big timbers around and I spent most of Saturday afternoon getting the last pieces finished. My reward was a nice cool shower and a beer as I rested up for Sunday's big run with Andrew.

The past running week was excellent too with all planned runs according to the schedule (more or less). After the excellent 21 miler with Andrew last Sunday the week went like this:

Monday - rest day; tired and heavy legs but worked on retaining wall and the heavy timbers

Tues - still with heavy legs from Sunday and so I delayed my big workout for a day, replacing it with an easy 1hr run (7.5 mi) and then spent the rest of the day on the 'wall'

Weds - a workout of 6-7 x 1 mile cruise repeats that I've been dreading for weeks now. It was 1st scheduled a few weeks ago but was canned due to recovery from the 1/2 marathon. As Andrew has noted the mental aspects of preparing for feared planned workouts are usually much worse than the actual performance itself. The idea of these cruise reps is to run at a pace slightly faster than marathon pace with rest breaks between each mile. It's not a long continuous effort and so you should be able to manage it without breaking down the body too much and be able to go at it again the next day. So, after a 1 mile warmup it was do or die time and I started churning away on my out and back hilly route going out of town. The 1st mile went by in 7:13, followed by a 1:30 jog break and felt like I was only firing on 4 out of 8 cylinders. Next in 7:12, followed by a 7:01, 7:11, 7:14 but stopped at 6 when the last came in at 7:33 (uphill). I've got slow marathoners legs and seem to be losing my speed as the legs and engine had little pop today. I'm hoping that this workout will improve as I go along and plan to do it on the same route the next time around.

Thurs - staple mid-week semi-long run of 2 hours with a little over 14 miles covered. It was a nice slow run during the late morning on my loops and trails around town. The weather was perfect at 15C with fog and mist and a bit of light rain. I saw a deer with her baby fawn and enjoyed 2 episodes of Phedippidations with Steve Runner. No problems except my right hamstring which has been very tight and affected my stride for the 1st mile or so until it loosened up.

Friday - 10 miles while doing my current favorite workout which is a fartlek run with 1, 2, 3 min hard efforts broken up with 2-4 minute easy breaks while running wherever I please. These are very enjoyable, non-stressful runs where I can just stride out easily or with some purpose where I work on maintaining good form and just enjoying the movement. I had some issues with my hamstring again which started cramping on one of the efforts and so had to ease up on the last few.

Sat - just and easy 1 hour run with a little over 7.5 miles covered. While I was finishing my run I knew that my weekly mileage was approaching this number (see picture below) and decided that you all needed to see another goofy picture of me holding up the sign.

So the total for the week was 70 miles in 9.5 hrs of running. Not a bad week at all but nothing in comparison to what our friend Jamie and his buddy Ultra-Flash: Stephen did at the Vermont 100 this past weekend. Congrats you animals! They are both 'Beyond Category' in my books.

Gotta go now. Here's a picture of my birthday cake to be, safely in the cupboard to protect it from one Cody cat. I'm now off to Bathurst to visit my Mom for a few days and will be staying at my sisters cottage on the beach.

See you later and have a great week.

ps. Andrew and I had a 'sick' 3 hour run on Sunday past which had us both in the 'HOK" position at the end, despite running slowly. More on 'that' later.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Weekly (actually training) report

It's been another nice long week of vacation with plenty of home tasks to keep me busy (or not). I've started work on the retaining wall and Jo spent most of her efforts in moving some of the pond plumbing further into the trees. My job was mainly that of being Mike the plumber and routing the piping to meet the barrel at it's new location, almost out of sight.
Another exploit, from just yesterday, was my participation in a course on race course measurement which was put on by Run New Brunswick for interested race directors. Our instructor Bernie Conway, is the Chief Certifier for Canada and a member of AIMS which works in support of race course certification. It was a pretty cool introduction to the nitty gritty details of the hows and whys with lots of hands on practical stuff. I took lots of pictures which are now posted here and will be getting my Grade C certificate which allows me to measure local and regional courses and apply for final certification of these courses.

Here we are using a steel tape to accurately lay out and measure our calibration course of 300m which was then used to calibrate our bicycles with a Jones counter. All the details are on the AIMS website if you're so inclined.

Running? Training? Oh yeah, time for plenty of that too and was able to get all the planned workouts and runs per the MDI training schedule.

Monday - rest day, slept in a bit and took it easy with some light gardening with Jo

Tues - workout of 8 miles at marathon pace over a 10 mile run which went very well. After a 1 mi warm up I did a 3 mile cutdown in pace at 30sec, 20sec and 10sec slower than MP before doing 5 miles at MP. Average pace of 7:17 and heartrate of 151 which was right on target. The hilly course that I did this test on had an effect on the pace but the effort was OK and I felt that I could have managed a few more without much problem.

Weds - just an easy 60 minutes in the early morning with perfect cool temperature of 14C and plenty of fog and mist to add to the air conditioned effect

Thurs - 2hr run with about 15 miles covered at an easy pace with the heartrate in the easy zone (<135) . Again great weather conditions were the order of the day. (16C with fog and mist)

Friday - 9 miles with a total of 15 minutes of hard effort on this fartlek run. After an easy warmup I put in efforts of 1, 2 or 3 minutes with similar breaks between. I rather look forward to and enjoy this kind of semi-unstructured running which is done entirely by effort while running through various roads and trails. The run went well but there were some complaints from my hamstrings and butt which are a bit tight and sore.

Sat - up early at 6am after staying over with my sister in Saint John so I wouldn't have to travel so far for the measurement course. Ended up doing a 6 mile loop which was a bit longer than expected and barely got back in time for a quick shower before heading out to the course.

Weekly total of 65 miles in 8hr 48min and avg pace of 8:10 for all runs.

Sunday - the new week starts and today I was able to run with Andrew once again at Boyden Lake. It's been quite a while since we've been able to hook up here due to conflicting schedules mostly. The last time we ran here it was the incident of the Ticking Time Bomb but this time around there was less damage done and the run has been named the Zany Zones run by my running compatriot.

The goal today was to take it 'easy' and for the most part we managed to meet this goal. However, 21 miles is still a long way and it takes a long time at our slower than normal pace and my body was complaining mightily by the end for it to be over. Total of 2 hr 53 minute and avg heartrate of 129 by my watch. It was great to catch up with Andrew and to finally be able to congratulate him in person on his big race win earlier in the month. Besides the hills, most of my hr peaks in the graph above are due to the many jokes Andrew was telling. More running, less jokes? Not a chance! However, it was good to finish and I've spent most of the rest of the day collapsed on the couch enjoying the FIFA under 20 soccer and Tour de France.

It was a good day. Have a great week!

Monday, July 09, 2007

Weekly (hardly training) update

It's been a week since the last update and my holidays seem to be slipping away already. I usually have a few around the home projects to keep me occupied but the large pile of heavy timbers for the new retaining wall still remains undisturbed. Maybe tomorrow... Other than that, I've had a chance to chill out, sleep in, recover from the 1/2, clean my motorbike, help Jo with her heavy lifting around the garden and of course slip in a few runs.

Monday (last week)- rest day, woke up at the usual time, sore feet due to blister from race, worked in garden

Tues - my 1st real day of vacation and just did an easy 1 hour loop around town. The run felt good at 1st but then the legs felt strangely sore and tired in the deep parts of the muscles. It was nice to run in the early morning with lots of shade and cool ocean breeze.

Weds - feeling a bit better today but still recovering and so opted for the fartlek run with surges from 1 to 3 minutes and similar 2-4 min easier bits while running over hill and dale around my usual outer town loop. A total of 15 minutes of harder running over 8 miles and was feeling a little weary at the end.

Thurs - this was meant to be a 90-120 min run and managed 103 in the wind and rain. I considered waiting for later in the day and probably should have because it did clear up. Instead I ended up toughing out a bit of a sloggy run with legs again tiring at the end.

Friday - here's where the hardly training comes in. "The Plan" called for 7x1mi cruise reps this week which is at a speed somewhere between my tempo pace and marathon pace and would likely be around 7:00/mile. It didn't happen. Instead it was just another early morning slog around town on semi-dead legs. Another recovery day I guess.

That night we drove Steph to Truro in preparation for her big move to PEI. What are parents for but to be at the beck and whim of their offspring? She did smile nicely and said pretty please, so how could we say no?

Sat - set the alarm for 630 so I'd have time for a quick run before it was time to pick up the U-haul trailer. Test drove my new Nike's and managed 6 miles, bringing the final weekly total up to 58. After that it was a lot of heavy lifting and the usual worry about whether or not it will all fit in the alloted space, but it did!

After checking that we had everything it was off to Pictou to catch the ferry to PEI and only a 45 minute drive away. It saved a ton of time and wear and tear on the van which seemed to struggle with the heavy load, especially on the hills. We had a beautiful calm crossing and I took a ton of pictures with the clouds and scenery adding to the beauty.

Then, another 45 minute drive and more work unloading and carrying stuff up one flight of stairs at her new place. It's a great spot, nice and clean, close to everything, in a quiet neighborhood and Steph seemed very happy with it. But what hard work! We managed to get it unloaded in short order but were very tired that evening after our meal.

Sunday - alarm for 630am again and it was very hard to get going. First made a run to Tim's for coffee and was able to get on the road by 730 for my planned 2hr 45min run. You might think my legs were tired and weary, earlier in the week but it was nothing like they felt on this day. My long run turned into a pure test of endurance just keeping the forward momentum and making it one mile to the next. The only bonus was the cool cloudy conditions and being able to run entirely (except the 1st 1/4 mile) on the Confederation Trail which runs the length of the island and has 100's of kilometers or trail. I saw a few walkers, a couple of single runners and a gaggle of women doing their long run (gaggle because you could hear them coming ;-) and I know they went long because I met them again as I was finishing up. Towards the end of the run the skies opened up and I got thoroughly soaked for the last 3 miles. Total of 17 miles in 2:27 as I stumbled back to the apartment and a warm shower. Whew!

Monday (today) - still tired from the weekend. Thank God for rest days! Slept in this morning for a total of almost 9 hours sleep. Definitely on holiday now.

Have a great week!

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Canada Day 1/2 marathon

By the numbers 1:35:51, 7:17 pace, 148 average HR, placed in my age group with results here.

It was a great day for a race with blue skies and temps around 15C at the start, though it did warm up during the run. The course elevation profile are shown below in green and my HR is in red. Two things to notice, not a flat course with plenty of rolling hills (think MDI) and gradually increasing HR as I struggled to maintain my planned MDI goal pace of 7:15/mile.

I arrived about an hour before the race start with plenty of time to pickup my free technical t-shirt and then get in a decent 2.5 mile warmup. It was just an easy jog over the last mile of the course but it was good to refresh my memory of what the finish looked like. My plan for the day was to attempt to run at planned MP for the duration but started too fast and immediately knocked of a 6:50 opening downhill mile, which was quickly offset by a 7:43 uphill mile (see the profile) followed by a 6:55 3rd mile before finally hitting pace of 7:15 on the 4th mile.

About this point I linked up with one of the lead women who was also blessed with a pair of evil rascal kids who were following their Mom along on the course. The kids provided great entertainment, yelling from the car "Hi Mom, want a ride?". They also pulled out their powerful waterguns at the water stops and laughed hilariously at their poor mother running her heart out. We ran in range of each for most of the rest of the race, taking turns at the lead as our energies ebbed and flowed. I was working mainly at trying to maintain a fixed pace and was more or less successful until the final mile or two. One hill in particular knocked the stuffing out of me as I didn't easy up on the pace and paid the price at the top in not being able to recover. From that point on my legs seemed to lose their snap and it was a struggle in. However, looking at the profile once again it looks like there was a good reason (more hills). I finished just behind the same lady (it would have been silly to try to outsprint her) and just about a minute slower than my goal time of 1:35.

I'm fairly pleased with how this run/race turned out. While I didn't quite make my time, it did give me a good indication of my current fitness and what it will be like to run on a hilly undulating course. It's time to work on my speed endurance and the lack of tempo runs showed through in today's performance and will be something to work on this month before the Grand Manan 1/2 on July 28th. After the race I also signed up for the Saint John marathon which is on Sept. 23, and only 3 weeks before MDI. 5th Sun had a question about how I plan to run this race with 18 miles at planned MP so close to MDI. It's an interesting question as doing a marathon so close to your goal race is not something I'd recommend anybody to try at home. My plan is to do a 6 mile cutdown, followed by 12 miles at MP and then shutting things down and jogging in the last 8 miles (or better yet quitting at that point). We'll have to see how much self control that I'm able to muster when the time comes.

Update for last weeks running: another 60 miles in the book. Six runs with 8hr 12min total and avg pace of 8:09. No speedwork to speak of except for a fartlek run with a total of 15 minutes in harder efforts. And that's all he wrote. And I'm on holiday's for the month! Whoopee!!

Have a great week!