Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Boyden Lake revisited

Sunday's run was a welcome return to our old haunts around Boyden Lake. Andrew and I met up early around 7am, just after the sun had come up. It was a perfect sunny day with mild temperatures and light winds. After a short discussion about the correct time of day (Andrew's office clock was out by 2 hours) and the right direction we were on our way.

You can see our route around the lake here as plotted up by the active trainer website and it comes out quite accurate to what our garmins calculated. We ended up with a nice 13.3 miles in 1:47 (8:01 pace) and never really pushed the pace at all. The whole way it seemed like we were just at a jog/trot and the conversation stream never ended. It was a great run as usual but no real big highlights to tell, very little traffic, calm sunny and almost warm, got a little tired and stiff at the end but otherwise felt fine. We're both looking forward to many more (and longer) runs like this over the coming fall and winter but it'll be a few more weeks until I can get back due to some travel trips I've got planned.

Monday - rest day, annual medical checkup with my family doctor and all systems are go. There are issues in my family history that I need to keep a close eye one and so it's a good idea to do this on a regular basis.

Tues - easy 5 mile run on my bango-tight legs. I'm going to get some physio or massage soon to deal with this soon before it gets any worse. Still the easy pace came in at 7:44 while trying to go slow.

Weds - another easy run or 6 miles (7:56 pace) while trying my best to keep the heart rate down low below 135. It's not easy to run that slow/easy but I tried. Avg HR=137

Tomorrow we're off to Ottawa for a long weekend and we'll get to visit with the 'boys' and I'll also be able to run some of my favorite trails in the National Capital area. They treat runners and bikers very well there!

See you later and have a good run!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Recovery week 2 (and still creaky)

This is the latest addition to our living room, an original watercolor we picked up when down to Mount Desert Island. It's a local scene by a local artist that's just the right size to fit over our fireplace mantel but more importantly we both liked it!

My running this past week has deliberately been reduced and low key. I've been doing alternate days of rest and running in an effort to get fully recovered before I start building up some base mileage for Boston. One consistent factor that seems to remain is an overall tightness and some deep soreness in the legs. Until this is gone and the legs start to feel fresh after my short easy runs I won't consider the recovery phase over. Right now I'm planning on 4 weeks of just easy running.

This past week:
Sunday - 1 hour run, slow pace and got very tight and stiff by the end of it
Monday - rest
Tues - easy 5 miles, about 8min pace, again tiring and sore at end of run
Weds - rest
Thur - 1 hour+, 8mile run, again very tight legs and had to stop and stretch at 6 miles after I developed some cramping in the calves and hamstrings. I was able to continue but only at a very easy pace.
Fri - another rest day
Sat - easy 5 miles, a bit better today with the legs tight at first but better later in the run. I was then 'recruited' to jump in the pond to help put it away for the winter but used waders instead of bare legs in the cold water (about 10-15C).

I was reading Nate Jenkins blog last week and was blown away by some of his numbers, especially the amount of marathon pace or faster that he had done in the past 6 weeks (103 miles). It was a rainy day in St Andrews today and I had some time to go through my training log to see how I compared. Of course my average mileage was only 50/week over the past 20 weeks, compared to Nate's 100+ for 30 weeks. However, I kept up in the amount of faster running with about 70 miles at or faster than marathon pace for the 6 weeks before MDI. On average this worked out to 25% of total mileage which was more than I expected. Anyway I thought it was interesting and you can see it in the plot above.

Boyden Lake calls for the morning and Andrew and I are planning a shorter run. We'll probably do about 90+ minutes and 12 miles at a nice easy pace (are you reading this Andrew??).

If you get a chance please give a shout out to Kate who is all nerved up to run her 2nd marathon in Auckland, New Zealand. And don't forget Grellan who is running his 4th marathon in Dublin but is on tender hooks due to some injury issues. Good luck to them and others who are racing or preparing to race!

Have a great week all!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Gone Loco

Finally got off my lazy butt and out for the 1st little run since the MDI marathon. The pictures are now up on the website and you can find Andrew, Marc, Jamie, Katy and me. I also got to try out my new Loco shoes which I picked up at the expo for a good deal. So why Loco running shoes? Maybe it matches my needs being lightweight, functional, in a style that stays the same and of course the price was right. I tried them on for fit and did a little jog in the parking lot but held back from wearing them the next day. But I easily could have as they worked perfectly for today's run.

Since MDI, there has been no running, taking 3 days off, as much to rest up the mentally as physically. There has actually only been some minor soreness and I could easily have run on any of the days but it's finally time to take some time off. The next 4 weeks will just be very easy runs with alternate days of running and rest and adding in extra days or miles, only if the urge is irresistible. Yesterday's 'jog' was all of 4 miles in just under 32 minutes despite trying to keep the pace slow. It just seems that my falling off the bus or plane pace is stuck at 8min/mile lately... I also hopped into the cool pond after the jog/run and it was cold at first but felt really nice after a few minutes. Should I try this in the winter after my 20 milers? (I don't think so)

Not much else going on. Took the day off today and it's supposed to pour rain tomorrow but should clear by Sunday. In a couple of weeks we'll probably start the Boyden Lake winter long run routine again and I'm looking forward to that already.

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

MDI remembered

The race itself is still playing itself out in my mind as one of the best marathon experiences of my career to date. It wasn't especially fast and there were no age group prizes or awards to be had but the memory of it seems to be seared into my brain for some reason that's hard to explain. The chance to run with good friends was the key factor and even though we didn't get to finish together as I had 1st dreamed, the journey to the finish line was varied and interesting for each of us. I would venture to say that each of the Three Blind Moose and the Mountain Goat were totally recharged by the experience and ready to move on to future goals with even more energy and enthusiasm.

Pre-race and the start:
I arrived at the village green near the start about 50 minutes before the start with plenty of time to find Jamie and then we both were directed to Andrew's nice warm room by his kind daughter. We relaxed there, a mere 50 ft from the start line, until Lauren said that it was 10 minutes to 8 and shouldn't we get going? Grudgingly we agreed and shuffled along to search for the still missing Marc. Moments before the gun we met up, shook hands and then were off like a herd of turtles. Given the little lecture the night before by 'Joannie', we had reconsidered the idea of running the entire race together and our plan for the day was somewhat 'open' at this point. My personal plan had ranged from either running with Jamie as long as I could to hanging with Marc and Andrew and conserve energy for the 2nd half. The 2nd option seemed much more palatable especially given my short recovery since Saint John.

Mile 1-12:
This 1st part of the marathon was much like our long runs together but for some reason we lost Andrew almost immediately off the back despite our pedestrian pace. You can read Andrew's report for his reasoning but we normally do lose him in the woods for awhile on any 'normal' long run (so par for the course). Marc and I cruised along nicely and before we knew it 5 miles had passed and the pace had dropped without any noticeable effort. It's always a good sign when you barely notice the mile marks and they still seem to be coming quickly. About this point we were joined by our lost friend and the next few miles were a confusion of jokes, laughs and continuous conversation as we passed runner after runner in full flight. At one point our man Andrew decided he needed to stretch his legs and started to pull away from us. Again, this little episode is nicely described by in A's blog as I sprinted ahead to reel him back in. He literally tells it like it happened as I told him to 'stop and wait for Marc!' Amazingly, he did and the next thing we were cruising along in formation for some of the best pictures ever taken of the 3 Blind Moose. A now worn out phrase, but simply 'priceless' is a close description.

Mile 12 to 17:
After our encounter with our friendly race photographer, 'all bets were off' and we slowly drifted apart as we began to focus on our own pace and individual running. No words were exchanged and soon we were all out of sight of each other. I found myself comfortably at 7:45-7:55 pace over the next 8 miles as I passed the 1/2 in 1:50:43 and continuously overtook runner after runner. At one point counting 'roadkill' was a distraction but I kept loosing count and gave it up for awhile. The scenery along the course was amazing with the fall colors, the dark blue-black ocean water, and skies. Before I knew it we were at the end of the closed to traffic section of the course along the fjord and it was another nice encounter with my personal coach and photographer.
Miles 17-21:
More 7:50's as I continued to feel good and pass runner after runner. Only rarely do I remember a marathon feeling this smooth for so long into the race. The course was getting hillier now and there was a steep little rise right at mile 20 that took some extra work but the reward was a good crowd, another photo and a nice downhill next mile in 7:47.
Miles 21-25:
This was where the course turns into a real brute with a long string of hills that just keep coming at you. The runner traffic had now thinned a bit but my passing ways continued and I had not been passed since leaving Marc back at mile 12 or so. Despite increased effort the pace now slipped to 8:05 to 8:20 as I tackled each mile, each hill and each runner one at a time.
One nice interlude was an accordion player near the top of a stretch of hills near mile 23 that helped to keep my spirits up. My legs were now starting to tighten and almost cramp but some quick 'on-the-fly' rubs seemed to help loosen things enough to provide relief. My goal to get to mile 24 and enjoy the downhill finish was dashed when reaching this point I saw only another stretch of seemingly unending hills! I had misread the course profile and had another mile to go up before relief was to be had. Head down again and I soldiered on looking for more roadkill.

Mile 25 to finish:
Was that footsteps I heard? I finally reached the landmark 'Top of the Hill Restaurant' where the course finally started to go DOWN nicely for a solid mile. Still knocking off runners but either that's an echo of my footsteps or I'm getting tracked down myself... I don't look back and start to increase my pace as much as the downhill grade will permit. A quick glance confirms that the pursuer is for real and a female looking strong and fresh. Damn, I don't want to be racing the last mile like this! Mile 25 in 7:13. The course now leveled out slightly with a slight rise (aka hill) with the finish still out of sight. We were also zig-zagging past more runners, traffic cones, traffic cops etc as I continued to do my best to keep her at bay. She remained one step behind as finally the finish stretch came into sight. We both now picked up the pace even more and the sprint to the finish began. It I was going to be passed now it was going to have to be earned and in the final few meters I managed to pull away slightly at the end. It felt more like the end of a 200m sprint than a marathon as my legs went wobbly for the final few steps.

After we both got over our gasping for air we shook hands and high fived each other on a good finish. My competitor placed 2nd in her age group for the 19-29 women. What a crazy way to finish a marathon (last 0.15 mile at 6:15 pace)!

It's now 2 days later and my recovery is going really well. I'm already thinking of when and how to get that 1st little run in and whether I'll be able to fit in another 10k or something before the end of the year. But first more recovery for a few weeks and then slowly get back into some easy running for a few months before gearing up for Boston.

Photos from the pre-race tour of the course, the guest speakers at the pasta dinner and the race itself are here for your viewing enjoyment. The race results are here.

Have a good week! It's been quite a ride so far.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

MDI marathon

What an absolutely gorgeous marathon course and a perfect weather day to boot! We had temperatures between 42-52F (6-12C) with mostly overcast and light-medium winds from 10-15mph.
We were honored to have Maine native and 1984 Olympic gold medalist Joan Benoit-Samuelson speak at the pasta supper. She gave a great talk and had some good advice that we all took to heart.

I just have time to post a few pics and comments for now with more analysis later. The 3 Blind Moose and the Mountain Goat all started with different criteria for success. Jamie was the 1st across the line in a strong 3:21.

And here are the 3 Blind Moose all together at the 11.5 mile mark.
Andrew looking good around 17 miles. Andrew finished next in a 3:2x (24-28 something not sure)
Here's Jamie around the 17 mile mark just steaming along.
Our new friend Katie, a friend of Jamie's had a great race and got her BQ too!

Here is the end of my sprint finish with the girl who pushed me really hard over the last mile just behind. I hadn't been passed since mile 11 or so and wasn't going to get 'chicked' at the very end of the race! I finished in 3:34:16 with a 7 minute -ve split. Oh the joys of starting slow and easy but it was still a long way to the final finish line.

More analysis later, but right now I have a filet mignon steak waiting for me somewhere in Bar Harbor, gotta go!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

More easy running (aka taper)

This past weekend was a holiday, Thanksgiving here in Canada and Columbus Day in the USA. It's our 1st holiday 'Home Alone' with just the two of us and we had a nice quiet time at home and not traveling for a change. It would have been fun to have some of the 'kids' here but that was not to be and so we had a small turkey and dressed up a table for two instead!

Running wise things have been rather quiet. I found a few pictures that were taken of me at the Saint John marathon on Sept. 23 and I don't look 1/4 as bad as I felt at the time. This is close to about mile 25 and I remember just praying for the finish line to come quickly so the hurting could stop. Makes you wonder why we continue to do this to ourselves doesn't it? Maybe we're all striving for that 'perfect' race where the effortless feeling in the 1st few miles can last forever or maybe we're just deluding ourselves.
I did see the camera and tried my best to hold my form as best I could...
Counting 1, 2, 3, 4, . . .
This past week at work we were part of the World Record Walk where everyone got out of the office for a few minutes and did a 1 kilometer walk. I helped a bit with the organizing part by setting up a safe route, validating numbers (we had 41 from a staff of about 60) and sending in the paperwork to the main event site.

ORN's since the marathon on Sept. 23
Week 1: 3 rest days, 3 mile jog, rest day, 5k race (20:31 chip)
Week 2: 11 mi, rest, 5mi, rest, 5mi, rest, 5mi for a total of 26.7 mile for the week!
Week 3: 13.1 mi, rest, 5mi so far. Plan for rest of week is 4mi ,rest ,3mi ,rest and MDI marathon on Sunday.

Be sure to visit and send cheers to Thomas in Ireland, who set a huge 16 minute PR, Mike in Arizona who 'should' have set a new personal best and Dallen in Chicago who was in great form but got absolutely hammered by the weather and thankfully survived in one piece. We expect big things from our friends in blogland and the efforts they put in are sometimes amazing to behold. I'm relieved that they all made it through safe and sound and will go on to fight the good race another day.

Have a great week all!