Sunday, March 30, 2008

Cool running

After a 4 week lay off due to weather and various commitments I finally got back together for a great long run with the guys at Boyden Lake this morning. It was a lovely sunny day with starting temperature of -5C (23F) but a cool north wind of 10-20mph made us happy we had an extra layer on and warm headgear. It warmed up a bit during the almost 3 hour run as we covered 20 miles over hill and dale but not a whole lot, barely reaching the freezing point.
I'm amazed that this shot turned out as we roll along at full stride. Notice the shadow taking our picture for us! Maybe I can use this new technique come Boston in a few weeks?

Lot's of good conversation today with the topics of food and banking at the forefront. We did squeeze in a few funny stories about trunk monkeys (warning you may laugh until you cry) and 101 year old marathoners and of course Andrew's jokes (groan). But you have to take the good with the bad, I guess.

Post run pose after Jon was finally able to pick up his hat off the ground.

It was 'A beautiful 20 miles'. Great fun guys!

My official taper now begins. Have a nice week all.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Sweet and not so 'sweet'

Thursday was a perfect day for a run as the weather has finally moderated a bit. The temperatures this week have been close to or just above the freezing point on most days with a substantial warming from morning to afternoon. It made it all the way to +5C on this day and I nearly broke out the shorts but had forgot to pack them.
A day later... and not so perfect. A view from the historic blockhouse in St. Andrews looking towards the town wharf. Today it was just around the freezing point all day with white 'rain' falling gently and melting on impact for the most part. Eventually the temperature dropped and we got a bit of accumulation.
Running this week has been more on track and will be giving myself an 8 out of 10 for workouts completed vs the actual plan. I did everything as scheduled except for missing a 4 mile recovery run and not being able to hit my paces during the interval workout on Tues. I got bonus points for some extra repeat hills on my medium long run and for maintaining the regimen of stretching and Trigger Point self massage. Total of 63 miles in 6 runs and now at 777 miles YTD ( a nice lucky number).

Sunday - 18 miles in 2:39, sore tight legs, breaking in new shoes reserved for the big day

Monday - rest, feeling ok

Tues - slept in and skipped 4mi pre work run (sleep was deemed better training than running). Then ran 6 easy miles at lunchtime and felt almost good with no leg issues.

Weds - 11 miles with 6x1200m in 5:10 to 5:40 on the roads. The goal was closer to 5:00 but the hills, wind and tight hams conspired to make it less. Overall it was a good tough run but felt a little unpleasantly tired afterwards.

Thurs - the glorious sun and warm temps as shown above. Ran a slightly up-tempo pace 9 miles including 6 with a co-worker. I was trying to take it easy but the pace crept up a bit as we jabbered away. If you can still talk while running up hills it must be slow enough, right?

Friday - 14 miles in 2:00 (see snow scene above) nice and easy, feeling decent and being very gentle on the legs while listening to some good music and podcasts. Finished off with 3 x 0.5 mile downhill repeats at marathon pace on the Bunny Hill to begin to remind the legs of the downhill punishment that will be coming soon. Log says 'Decent run for a change!'

Sat- very very easy 5 mile loop around town feeling stiff around the hip joints

I keep looking at my training numbers over the past few years and was trying to find some 'predictor' for success at Boston besides the weather. You might be interested in this plot of average monthly mileage for the 4 lead-up months (December-March) versus my finish time. The 2004 heatwave year with a 3:48 finish from 235 mi/month average was excluded. I'd say the relationship of More Miles = Better Finish Time seems to hold up for me. March is now almost done and so I was able to plot out the current year average of 260 mi/month and it's resulting prediction. It's lower than I'd like but you can't argue with hard numbers, now can you? At least it will give me a goal to shoot for in the realm of the possible. Just about 3 weeks left to go now and I'm still hoping to stick in a race of some kind to give a better indicator of fitness than just overall volume of work. I've got a few possible options but will have to wait and see what is feasible to do with the travel involved. Have a nice week out there, spring is in the air!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Death of Smoochie and Friend

It's a sad story. While doing some pond repairs to the light box that keeps an open air hole for the goldfish we made the unfortunate discovery of two little ice encrusted fish.
Poor guys, they were only about 1 year old and didn't have official 'names' but will now be known as Smoochy and Friend. Only a few weeks to go and they'd be happily chewing away on mosquito larvae and the latest crop of baby fish. It's a cruel world.
But the world is not all bad if you like chocolate, ice cream and beer (all at once too). This was my dessert at the pub last week and no I didn't deserve it and my doctor would freak at the cholesterol and calories but I like to live by the 'furnace burns hot' theory when it comes to running and eating. Mmmmm! Note, this was preceded by a Guinness or two (remember it was dessert).

Seriously, the running is going fairly well for Boston. This past week I was able to get in a total of 54 miles for which I get a 7 out of 10 for effort. Missed my speed workout, dropped one day of running due to travel and work and no 8-15k race available to run and so the lower grade. I got extra points for the good marathon paced effort last Sunday with 14 miles right on pace as part of the long run.

The bib numbers are now up for Boston and I scored #6812 this year. Remember that all numbers (except for the elites who get assigned numbers below 100) are based on each runners qualifying time and are assigned starting at 1000. You then are allowed entry in your starting corral of 1000 runners and placed with runners of similar Q times. Just before the start they remove the barriers between corrals and then there's lots of squeezing around to get near the front.
Since I like numbers I decided to show this plot of bib number for my 8 Boston's along with the resulting finish time compared to qualifying time. The goal has been to run at least as fast as my entry time but you can see this does not happen much. I was only able to do it once in 2002 when we had a perfect overcast, cool, calm day and everything worked out. Other than that, you can see some of my excuses like heat waves and nor'easters and the fact that I just can't seem to produce results on the big day.

The goal this year is to again try for my BQ time of 3:15 but I'll call success anything close to average (see green bar). Finishing is also success and running this race is always worth the effort. Still, we work so hard to qualify and get invited, then have to suffer through the winter training only to meet the unpredictable conditions on the day of the race. We like to run well at Boston and all you can do is prepare as best you can and hope for a good day.

Enough whining but I wasn't really complaining. I'll take what comes and make the best of it. Have a great week all!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Moncton travels

Busy busy but always can find time to run and stop for a picture or two. This is in Moncton, NB.
And this is besides the Petitcodiac River. You are looking at ice walls and a tidal stream that runs up from the Bay of Fundy.

And then I ran across the strangest sights I've seen in many runs... I heard this quack, quack noise in the middle of suburban Moncton and looked up to see a parking lot full of Mallard ducks!!! I'm not sure if they were being fed or not but I ended up taking pictures on 2 passes but the location. Easily several hundred ducks crammed in a small area. Very strange.
Running log notes
Sunday - 17 miles with 14 miles in 1:45:03 or 7:30 pace (+3sec) Tough love but felt good after.
Monday - day off but work day meetings from hell (survived). St. Paddies Day and visited 2 pubs that evening ;-)
Tues - 9 miles in 1:19 on very hard slippery sidewalks of Moncton (sore legs after). Also a very nice meal with filet mignon.
Weds - just 5 quick miles followed by another nice meal at the same Irish pub. Guinness is so smooth after a nice run.

And that's all she wrote! See you later!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

By the numbers

Work is crazy but still getting most of the runs in.
Sunday - 18 miles on a grey windy day (see above)
Monday- rest
Tues - 11 miles with 6x1000 in about 4:15 each; Trigger Point arrived to work on legs
Weds- tired and sore; 6 miles only
Thurs- 12 miles
Friday - 5 easy
Sat - 8 miles easy

Total of 60 for the week, 660 YTD, 5 weeks to go.

Off to Moncton for meetings all week. After that I get a break. Have a great week!

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Another week gone by

Is it really only a bit more than 6 weeks to go? That seems like so little time to do the final bits of preparation for Boston. I can't imagine that spring will finally be here and all the hard work will be ready to be tested on one of the toughest courses going. The past week has gone reasonably well (now that it's over) as I dodged a couple of winter storms and juggled runs to suit. The picture is from one of the better days, on Friday, looking over towards Pleasant Point and Eastport across the Bay.

Monday - after Sunday's disaster, this was a welcome break from running. I was extremely sore just sitting at my desk and finally broke down and ordered some massage tools from Trigger Point.

Tues - 9 miles with a modified workout doing 600m bursts at 5k speed after an easy 2 mile warmup. Instead of doing them continuously with 90sec jog breaks, my body convinced me to do them with 1000m breaks, starting at each mile marker. The workout was more of a fartlek than VO2 max but it did get the legs moving faster at least. It was a nice day with temps at +5C and light winds.

Weds - a nasty day with sleet, snow, rain, freezing rain and repeat. The roads were very treacherous and I delayed my mid-week run opting for 5 easy miles on the treadmill instead. It was nice to be dry and warm inside while watching the freezing rain slowly bend the trees further and further. Thankfully it turned to rain soon enough and there was little damage and no power outages.

Thurs - time for my least favorite run from the Pfitz training schedule but the medium long 14 miler went much better than usual. Despite starting late, feeling tired and rundown and running home after a long day at from work, this run was a surprise. It started out slow and the legs were still very tight and stiff but after a few miles I was able to roll a bit better. The pace wasn't great except for a few downhill miles close to 8:00 but the heartrate was low and the weather was nice today (+1C , calm and sunny). I was late for supper but my understanding better half didn't give me any grief over it.

Friday - just an easy 6 mile loop around town with a couple of photo op stops (see above). It was +4C, sunny and calm and might have got away with shorts but didn't (wimp).

Sat - the schedule calls for a 8-15k race and there's nothing like that for hundreds of miles. Plan B was simply to run a tempo/race effort for the given distance and see what I could make of it. I believe that the lack of race efforts before Boston has compromised my performances in the past and hope to fix that this year in two ways. First is to actually do a couple of short races (there are some 5-8k runs coming up locally for RunNB) and second is to really work at pushing the pace on my tempo runs where the workout calls for it. It's much harder to turn it on when running alone as compared to being in a race and getting pushed along by your fellow competitors but that's what you get for living in the boonies.

So, after a 2 mile warmup I walked up to the imaginary start line on Cedar Lane and proceeded run as fast as possible for the next 5 miles. I'm not sure if the Garmin misfired or what, but the 1st mile was in 6:32. I'll take it and then made my way down the Bar Road before heading for the hotel and around the Point. Next mile at 7 flat seemed more reasonable and was followed by several more very close to it. Five miles in 34:37 with avg heartrate of 155 was a satisfactory result. Then finished off the run with a couple of easy miles to get a total of 9 for the workout. It was a nice morning in the lull between storms and the leg/butt felt fine. Tonite is calling for a messy storm and so we've called off the long run in Boyden.

Another week is in the books. Total of 60 miles in 8.5 hours of roadwork. I also did a resting heart rate test this morning and it's down to 40 from 42 the last time it was checked. It gives me a base for watching for an elevation indicating something coming on or over-training. So far so good have a great week.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Failed Run

It looked pretty today...
And I found a new angle for the hotel
But the conditions were really on the nasty side today. The road was snow covered, slippery and slushy and the wind was blowing a gale, almost stopping me in my tracks in places. The run started out alright as I spent some time running slowly around some of the back streets of town but there was very little spring in my tired legs. The slipping backwards with every step didn't help much either despite using Yaktrax for extra grip. These are fine on ice but don't do alot in slush and light snow cover.

Today's schedule called for 22 miles but I found myself back home for a gatorade refill after 11 miles. It was with great difficulty that I headed out for another loop of the town at an even slower pace than ever. This time around the wind stopped me in my tracks several times and I found myself walking but still miles from home. Then decided to pack it in and headed back home with the intention of finishing off the run on the treadmill. Arrived back home with 17 miles in the bank but after walking for 10 minutes on the mill I finally threw in the towel and hit the showers. It was a tough day at the races. Time to recuperate...

I hope your day went better than mine. Have a good week.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Stormy weather

An ocean view this morning as the strong southeast winds announced the coming snowstorm. When the east wind blows here it invariably means nasty will follow very shortly. Forecast is for heavy wet snow overnight and into midday Sunday which will put the kibosh on my long run with the Boyden gang.

This mornings windswept run was a very easy 5 mile of recovery at 9:00+ minute pace after Friday's very tough run (more on that later). It took about 2 miles to just get loosened and warmed up as I felt aches and pains in new places today. Instead of the butt and hams, my hips were very tight, a feeling very similar to what I'd get after a hard race. A good sign that a decent effort was delivered the day before as the body was pushed and is now recovering. A nice bonus on todays run was the addition of my new Ipod Shuffle and the latest episode of the podcast Phedippidations. You should check out Steve Runner and his rambling diatribes for good company on your long runs. I'll be taking better care of this new ipod after ruining my last one in a rainy stormy long run last fall.

Yesterday, Friday was my key workout for the week with the scheduled 'Lactate Threshold: 12mi w/7mi @ 1/2 marathon race pace'. Just slightly harder than the 11 w/6mi @1/2 from 3 weeks ago and a chance to compare results. I ran this from work, leaving early after working through lunch. The 1st 2 miles were just a slow jog to gradually loosen my tight legs up. They've been exceptionally tight and sore lately and it was even bugging me to sit at my chair. It's now officially time to order my runner repair kit from Trigger Point. This comes highly recommended by my much faster (and slightly younger ;-) Tri-cousin, Garry from Alberta, who swears by it. He calls it a 'good hurt'.

Back to the run, not feeling too badly really, just a little tired and not too keen on doing the next 7 miles. 1st mile: slightly down and then up in 7:14 while feeling comfortable and in control. Next mile: mostly downhill/flat in 7:02 while trying to hold back and conserve energy for later. Mile 3: flat but into slight wind (-8C or 15F) working it a bit in 7:15. Next miles were more and more work just focusing on the effort with occasional glances at the watch in lap mode showing average lap pace for each mile. Splits of 7:18, 7:11, 7:16 and final one of 7:19 as I was able to count past 5 this time. Average pace of 7:13 and heartrate of 152 compares poorly with the last time of 7:10/148. I'd like to blame it on accumulated stress on sore/tired legs, continuous 7 miles, extra layers for the cold but it still was an acceptable effort. Finished off 3 miles at slow recovery pace to a warm home, toasty fireplace and a lovely glass of Castel del Papa homemade wine. Perfect!

Another good week completed with 65 miles logged. I'm trying to follow the schedule to the letter to get the desired benefit of both the hard and easy efforts and it seems to be working. Have a nice weekend and keep warm by the fire!