Saturday, September 29, 2007

Fall Classic (Recovery) 5k

It's only been 6 days since the marathon and the week has gone very well with only minimal soreness in the legs. I took 4 zeroes this week and my only other run on Thursday went by like a dream and so surely a little 5k run should be OK, right? The Fredericton Fall Classic which is only about 90 minutes away was the perfect opportunity to test my little theory.

Jo and I were up early and arrived in lots of time before the race. My warmup was a bit more legitimate today taking about 15 minutes, including some easy jogging, stretching and a few strides. Everything felt good except for some tightness in the right hamstring which got some extra attention by more stretches and rubbing. This is a fairly small race and so I was able to line up pretty well where I wanted about 5-6 rows back from the front and before we knew it, we were off to the races.

My only strategy today was to run strong but not to strain (especially with the soreness in the leg but it never bothered me during the race) and to see what happens. I haven't run a 5k in years and had no idea of what kind of time I should be running. Looking up my recent marathon time I get a predicted 5k time of 20:38 which is not too far off my (soft) PB of 20:01.

The 1st kilometer was a little fast in 3:58 with just a swarm of people and legs and feet as I tried to find my pace and not go into oxygen debt too quickly. The course starts on the streets and then goes on the city trail until the last 200m of the return to the finish. The next km in 4:09 was a bit more work and was entirely on the trail as I tried to hold a steady pace hanging on to the runner in front. Before I knew it 2.5 k and the 1/2 point had flown by and the effort seemed to continue to be sustainable but the next kilometer slowed a bit to 4:11 as we did a funny out and back and the turn around for home. I'm not sure what happened next as km 4 came in at a slowing 4:25 but around this point I started getting pushed from behind and could hear some heavy breathing.

Only 1k to go and all my effort focussed on my breathing and form and just getting to the next landmark, end of the bridge, only 2 more intersections, now the last stretch where I did the warmup, final turn, at last the finish in sight, still that heavy (female) breathing, don't panic, hold the form, 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10 (repeat) (again). At last the finish, I can't believe that just happened!!

The 5k results are here and all the 5k pics Jo and I took are here. More than pleased with the result and felt great after the run, though it was HOK position for a few seconds as I recovered. These short races are over almost before you know it though. Love it!

Apparently their may be a method to my madness because the winner last weeks Marathon by the Sea, Alex Coffin was also at the race. Alex is obviously a top local runner but he's also a running shop owner (check out his website) and a great guy who is very involved with sponsoring and supporting NB running. We talked a bit about his recovery and his plan for the race which were "going well and we'll see". Alex won today's Fall Classic 10k pulling away from the 2nd place guy in the last 200m. Since I finished early, I was able to get the finishing shot and lots more shots of the 10k finish are here.
I guess it's not only me who's crazy about running! I'm thinking of a 1.5-2 hour long run in the morning. Can't let this fitness slip away can I? Have a good week all!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Recovery going very well. Since the marathon on Sunday I didn't run a step or do a thing for 3 straight days although there was the temptation now and again. I'm really none the worse for wear besides a little soreness for the 1st day or so and some blistering around my big toe that was solved with a bandage until the swelling went down. There was none of this 'barely able to walk' syndrome or 'hard to walk down the stairs' and no need for ice or even ibuprofen. Strange but true!

Today, after work was my 1st effort at running and it went extremely well. I just did an easy loop of about 3 miles with no problem at all and it was a hard to not keep going a bit further. All signals were go, heartrate was low, effort was easy, cruising along at a nice pace, no obvious aches or pains; just some soreness in the deep leg muscles and around the hips. After just 27 minutes and barely even sweating the run was over before it barely started.

Curiously though, even a 1/2 hour jaunt gave me time to think a bit about things and some questions that have been put to me about my running and current plans for MDI. The general theme seems to be "Why run 2 marathons so close together?"Quinto Sol was curious when I 1st posted my plan back in June, Grellan wondered if I'm simply mad and Thomas has been more diplomatic and thought that I'd shown training marathons were doable before. So why did I do it and what is the plan for MDI?

  1. Why not?
  2. I had planned to run a fast marathon at MDI and use Saint John as a training run with 18 miles at marathon pace and then coast in but my training and fitness didn't warrant this. What I did end up doing was fairly close to my limit for the day but I didn't kill myself either as I was saving something for another day.
  3. There were lots of nice perks at SJ including free gear for doing the BQ thing and a chance to get in on the nice promotions for a Boston trip in the spring, plus I'd paid my two bucks!
  4. I guess I just Love 2 Run ;-)
MDI plans
  1. Have fun.
  2. Run with Marc, Andrew and Jamie. I was thinking that the best finish I could imagine at MDI would be the 3 Blind Moose crossing the finish line together with arms raised in joy!
  3. Support Marc (Like Lance). Remember at New York and all that Lance had to do was run? I was thinking Andrew and I could do that for Marc. "Water? Here you go Sir!", "More gatorade?", "Should I tell that lady to slow down and keep us company?", another joke? You know that Andrew is full of them. What do you think, Marc? It will be a blast!
  4. I can't wait ;-)
I signed up for another race tonite. There's a 5K in Fredericton on Saturday and I couldn't resist. I'm even going to take another day off tomorrow to rest up for it. I guess I just love to run...

Have a great week all.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

It just doesn't get any easier


It's over! The results are here.

3:25:45 which is an acceptable result considering my training (more later on the lack thereof)

5/14 in 50-59 age group and out of the medals but I won a box of chocolates and got a free hat for BQ'ing (again)

And it doesn't get any easier after 18 marathons and you'd think it might (more thoughts on this later too ;-)

Now for a few gory details before I keel over from a lack of beer and ice-cream.
Basic observations:
  1. Crazy zig-zagging figure 8'ish or maybe crazy 8 layout with lots of loops and turns where you'd run with the 5 or 10kers and then against traffic as the 1/2 marathoners came the other way. There was also a lot of overtaking of the 10k and 1/2 runners who had earlier cutoff's than we did. We got a good tour of the city if you happened to be looking around but my eyes were mostly on the pavement and runners in front of me.
  2. Heartrate, the reddish line shown as a % of max, was up there in the 80-90% range as I'd expect for this kind of effort but I paid little or no attention to it during the run. I ran by effort but more of a "what kind of effort can I sustain and make it to the finish line without crashing and burning (ie walking)
  3. Hills (green line)! Did I mention that any idiot that runs a marathon with hills is an .... idiot! Yes, me! Miles 20.5 to 24.5 were not fun to say the least. Why is it there always seems to be more uphill than downhill on a loop course?
We interrupt this blogcast for a delicious ice-cream break. Mmmm!!

The race or at least what bits stick out for me now:
  • Good starting weather conditions with fog and mist for 1st hour and then bright direct sun for the remainder bringing the temps from about 15C up to about 22C. Despite carrying a bottle and exchanging it along the route as well as drinking at most water stops (every 2 miles) I still got dehydrated
  • No warmup besides some stretching while standing in the bathroom line minutes before the start. The plan/idea was to do a cutdown warmup 1st 6 miles starting at 8:00 pace and working down to about 7:30 but this was quickly out the window with the 1st 2 miles in 7:30 each. Duhh!
  • With the 'warmup' behind me I settled in with a local Saint John runner, Vince who was going for about the same pace and times as me. We then proceeded to rattle off a bunch of 7:30's up until mile 10 when I backed off and told him to go ahead. He said, "Sure, see you later around mile 21 where you usually pass me" which turned out to be very prophetic.
  • For the next several miles I managed somewhere between 7:44 and 8:10 pace but it was really starting to seem like alot more work. I hooked up with a runner from PEI for a few miles but no luck today in finding any women to run with although I was passed by the #2 and was unable to respond. She couldn't have heard me anyway with the headphones plugged in.
  • Around mile 19-20 it really started to get difficult and I was reduced to simply putting one foot in front of the other and refusing to allow the body to overrule the mind and begin walking. My focus was on keeping the arms moving and counting exhales as the mile markers seemed to come slower and slower. And they did with the hilly section from mile 21-24 with splits of 813, 823 and 839 despite slowly increasing average heartrate.
  • Around mile 23 I rejoined with Vince as he expected and we struggled along together for another 1/2 mile before I completed the predicted pass as he faded a bit.
  • Mile 25 was a downhill 8:01 followed by a rolling struggle of 8:20 for mile 26. The final 0.2 was all downhill and the Garmin tells me it was sub-7 pace but that seems hard to believe.
  • The finish is always so sweet. Can I really stop now? And I don't think I could run another step.
After the finish, I didn't feel that great and started plying water and gatorade despite feeling a bit queasy. On the advice of one of the volunteers, "You look a little pale, Mike", I then made my way to the medical tent so I could at least sit down for a minute. It was so nice to sit down! After a bottle of H2O and sports drink I was checked over by the doctor and told that I could move on when I felt ready. Feeling a bit better I then attacked the food table with vigor, starting first with a very strong cup of Tim Horton's coffee and followed by basically everything on the menu.

Well that's all for now. I'm pleased with the result considering my checkered training over the summer. My mileage was good but there was a lack of much structured speed or marathon paced work. It might be time to take a bit of a break from all the training but that will have to wait until after MDI. It's only in 3 weeks but I can't wait to get on this beautiful course with my best running buddies and I'm sure my legs and feet (blisters) will heal by then ;-)

Have a great week all!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

MDI preview weekend

Beautiful seems inadequate to describe the Mount Desert Island marathon course. How about drop-dead gorgeous or breathtaking? It's the featured race of the month in this Oct's Runners World where they refer to the race as "The Big Sur of the East" which is high praise. But did they mention the hills? Oh yeah, there are hills and plenty of them but the scenery is definitely distracting too.
The plan called for a meeting of minds this weekend where the 3 Blind Moose and 1 Mountain Goat were going to take on the course in detail in preparation for the upcoming marathon in only 4 weeks. Jamie aka 'The Mountain Goat" has been very quick off the mark and has already put down his thoughts on our fun get together. While Marc and I were very comfortable in our dry hotel, with warm showers and tv with Red Sox coverage, this was the scene for Jamie and Andrew at the Blackwoods campground. Note the nice shiny tent in the background and the mini-tent for A up front. Now for a few gory details. After meeting up as scheduled on Saturday afternoon, we headed for the starting line which was conveniently located directly in front of our hotel. After a ready, set, go! we were off to the races, or at least the 1st 5.5 miles of the marathon course, and surprise, surprise there were some decent hills almost from the get go. It's a little scary way to start off a marathon and I'll have to remember to watch the effort over that 1st big climb on race day. It didn't seem to slow our group down too much today though as we cruised along at sub 8 minute pace. We had a good time, getting to know Jamie and mostly trying to keep up with the guy who comes by his goat status well deserved. That evening we had a great meal at the local pub with lots of pasta and beer as well as laughs and good times. We then hung out in the hotel room for a bit to plan the car shuttles and timing for the morning long run which was only hours away.

Morning and 530am wake up came before we knew it. After a car shuttle, coffee stop and water drops we were good to go by almost 7am and the story of this monster course continued exactly from where we left it only 14 hours before. It was still there though in all it's glory on this perfect morning. The weather was clear, cloudless and a bit cool (around 50F/10C) with us all in long sleeves to start. After some dancing around to get the group shots in sync we were off to the races once again. I have 2 more words for this course: relentless and distracting. The hills are just that, up/down, repeat but none of them are really that big. It's just that they keep coming and coming and there is little respite except for the distraction of the beauty of the ocean, forests and nature in general.
This is the course route and profile for the last 20.8 miles. Case closed ;-) Up/down repeat. The last few miles will be especially tough at the end of the marathon but your reward is a beautiful downhill finish (though a small incline near the end). We cruised the last mile at sub 7 today and from that you'd know we had a great run. Perfect weather, good friends, tough course but enough distractions to make it worthwhile!

I just had to stick in another pic from along the course route this morning from around mile 14 or so. Not bad, eh?It was a very good idea to do this test run and not go into the race cold. You can read and hear all about the course but there is nothing like experiencing it first hand. Right now, I can't wait for the race day to come so we can do this all over again. Great weekend and great run guys!

Have a fantastic week! I'm so stoked now!!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Home at last

We're finally back home after 10 days away in Ottawa and the surrounding area. After getting my son settled we took a few days to tour around the area a bit. We first checked out the Rideau Canal by following it south from the capital toward Kingston. It was a perfect day along a beautiful waterway and I took a bunch of pictures as usual. The canal is now designated as a World Heritage Site due to it's historic values and original structures. From the website press release:

"Built between 1826 and 1832, the Rideau Canal was originally designated as a Canadian national historic site in 1924. It has a high degree of authenticity and integrity, as it is the only canal dating from the great North American canal-building era of the early 19th century that remains operational along its original line and with most of its original structures intact. It is also one of the first canals designed specifically for steam-powered vessels. It is an outstanding technological achievement in terms of its ingenious design and its high-quality construction."

We then wandered around the Thousand Islands area and took one of the many boat tours that get you close to the action. The 1 hour boat ride included close up views of some impressive mansions and also some very small cottages which barely fit on their little piece of real estate. We then spent a bit of time in Kingston and visited Fort Henry before heading back to Ottawa for my conference.
Where we checked into our snazzy hotel at the conference location. This is the front desk to give you some idea of the decor which was simply incredible. I'm glad that I was a sponsored delegate here at the Hilton Lac-Leamy and not paying the shot myself. Simply crazy!
It was also conveniently located next to the network of trails that runs through the Gatineau. I only had to wake up, take the elevator down and step out the back door to be in the pathways and wooded trails. On the second day I even ran into a deer along the path, and this is in an area surrounded by highways and the city. Despite the travel and work I'm still getting the miles in still but not much else to write about. Total of 56 last week in 7 runs and including a longish 16 mile run on Sept 2.

So far this week I've got 18 miles in on Sunday before heading back on the long drive home. On the way thru Calais there was time to look up injured Andrew to firm up plans for our weekend scouting trip to Mount Desert Island. We're still going to run parts of the marathon course in preparation with Jamie and Marc also planning to come. It should be a fun weekend and hopefully the weather will co-operate and not rain too much.

Have a great week!

Monday, September 03, 2007

Ottawa trails and tales

Another busy week and we find ourselves in downtown Ottawa for the weekend and most of the week. I'm on holiday until Thursday when I'll be attending a science conference for a few days across the river in Hull. Meanwhile, we're staying with my oldest son who is renting a house very close to the downtown core, in fact it's only about a 15 minute walk (or an 8minute jog) to the Parliament Hill.
Ottawa is Canada's capital city and has a ton of greenspace, bike paths and trails for biking, running and walking enthusiasts. I'm always trying to explore new areas every time I come here and should have brought my bike to use on the off days or just to be able to search out new places. When we're across the river, I'm planning to do some trails in the Gatineau Park area.
Here we are in a park just a few minutes away from Chris's on a walk right past the Russian Embassy. I was wondering about all the iron gates around the place when I'd run by it earlier in the day. We're playing a Swedish game called Kubb where you're basically throwing sticks and trying to knock down other sticks. It's more complicated than that but at our level, that's the basic strategy.

The other main reason for this trip, besides being a holiday was to deliver my youngest son to Carleton university. It will be a great new adventure and learning/growing experience for him that we're sure he's going to enjoy. The move into his room was very painless, with lots of help from orientation people all dressed up in pirate costumes which is the theme for Frosh week.
He has a nice room on the 4th floor and didn't take too long to get all setup.
The good bye's were hard but with his big brother close by, he'll be fine.
Since we're staying around for the week, we hope to get a 1st week report on Frosh week on Friday night, which will should be interesting.

Running? Yeah, still pounding away but only got 52 miles in last week in 5 days of running with
two zeroes due to a regular rest day and the 11 hour driving day to Ottawa. At least there was a good long run of 20 miles last week and a 1/2 decent cutdown run midweek where I dropped the pace over the run to near marathon pace. It's now looking like I'm going to have to re-assess my goals for the SJ and MDI marathons which are coming up fast. Just not enough quality miles in the log to justify any attempt for a fast marathon, which was my initial goal.

Time to go. Have a great week all!