Sunday, October 26, 2008

Scheming & dreaming

Also known as, 'the post-marathon crazies' or 'what to do with all that spare time on your hands'. It's just because we're missing our daily shot of endorphins and need to fill in the time with running related planning. It seems to be addictive if you follow the crazy zig-zag plots by Andrew, or even more complex diagrams by Bricey, and then there's the 'sign up for the next marathon before he can even walk again'-Jamie but at least he has a plan in mind and is thinking of going with Pfitzinger's up to 70 mile per week

I can't point fingers too much, seeing as how I've also signed up for my next marathon (Boston) and also up for a 10k in Moncton this coming weekend. Checking over my race results since I turned 50 my 10k PB is 42:50 and would you believe what you get when you plug in my most recent marathon result into the McMillan running calculator? - 42:51! I have no choice but to go for it, now do I?

I also had some time today for some 'pretty' graphs...
This is my steady and consistant training since the 2 marathons in the fall of 2007. The black bars are races over the period, the green line is the maximum weekly long run and the red is overall mileage. It's fairly consistent with only one extra dip in Aug 2008 due to back to back travel weeks. Certainly a marked contrast with a certain other runner whose name we won't mention. So what's my plan? Don't know yet but have about 8 weeks to think about it and will take the time to gradually ramp up the mileage again.

Recovery week running:
Monday - Friday - all 0's but was feeling fine by Tues and wanting to lace up my shoes by Weds

Sat - 5 miles in 42:30 but feeling very achey and creaky (just like 'that other runner') and legs felt almost sore by the end. There is definitely some deeper damage and more healing is needed as per usual.

Sun - another zero. I was tempted to go early before the storm of wind and rain hit but held off and then was happy (as were the legs) to stay inside and scheme away

It's been a nice weekend and I'm off on a work road-trip for most of next week. The running gear will be packed but I'm not stressing about getting too many runs in. Hope you all have a nice week too!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Marathon pictures

Is he comparing carrot tops?
Marc loves vegetables.
And so does Mike! BTW that was the pace car for the marathon. Kinda cool we thought.

But by popular demand here are most of the pictures from the PEI marathon weekend located in 2 albums on Webshots. These were taken by myself and Jo, while these were done by Steph with her fancy camera.

Recovery goes extremely well and I was thinking about running already and this was my 1st real day off since Mondays are always days off. I've even thinking about doing a 10k in 2 weeks time in Moncton just for fun! How crazy are is that?

Monday, October 20, 2008

Hard to explain

It was a great weekend which started with 3 good buddies getting together for their annual marathon adventure. This year we settled on the PEI marathon which requires a crossing of the famous Confederation Bridge (seen here in the background).
The morning of the race dawned cool and WINDY? We had a cool northeast wind of 10-15km/hr that wasn't in the forecast but it started out at our backs and wasn't really much of a factor except that it made conditions a bit cold for spectators. Running in the 5-8C (40-45F) temps was actually just right for the runners.

Here are the 'boys' raring to go just minutes before the start.

Before the race and in practice running the course in July I'd found that this course divides nicely into 4 sections, the 1st 12k along the beach and to the edge of the provincial park, the next 9k through slightly rolling terrain to the 1/2 way and entrance to the trail, then the 13k rails to trail section, and finishing with 8.2k back on pavement and a hilly route into Charlottetown for the finish.

My plan had been to use the 1st 6 miles as a warmup with an orderly progression run and gradually increase to 7:40 pace by 6 miles but this went out the window literally the very second the gun went off as my Garmin screen went completely blank! This watch has been wonky lately and so it was a good thing that I had a plan B using my normal Timex wrist watch. However, with the course marked only in kilometers it required a few quick calculations and adjustments on the fly as I got going.
Of course, there's always time for pictures during a marathon and I liked the cool clouds in this shot in the early going before my camera got put away for good. I also got a few shots of the pace bunny and Marc but never saw a hair of Andrew until the finish. The 1st 12k went very easily as I monitored each kilometer and somewhat unsuccessfully tried to hold my pace slower than 4:45/k but the 4:30's just seemed to come out of the air. At the end of the park I passed my water belt and camera to Jo and Steph who are credited with all the remaining pics below. At this point I allowed myself to work a little harder while still trying to keep things under control and maintained a steady pace while continually passing runners. I only remember being passed once after about the 5k mark.
Here is Marc looking good around the 12k point.
And here is Andrew around the 15k mark 'Tucking in and waiting' for his new friend, 'Erik' from the Netherlands to make his move.
This is me at the same point, feeling good and having way too much fun. Just 5-8k later it was quite a different story (below). The 1/2 way point came before I knew it in 1:38:43, nicely under goal pace of 1:40 but also very close to the 1:38:04 time I had just posted in a 1/2 only 3 weeks ago. Now some might say that I was on track for disaster with such a fast start and an overly optimistic goal since this recent 1/2 only predicts about a 3:27 marathon at best. However, I felt that I had underperformed on a hilly course, with tired legs and a warm humid day. Today, with fresh legs and good conditions this 1st 1/2 left me feeling very strong and fresh but then I hit the trail....
Part 3: the trail was a struggle almost from the beginning. Immediately my splits started to slow and required substantially more effort to hold onto pace and in fact I only had one sub 4:45 split after this point in the race. At this point I was passed without resistance for the only time in the race since the early going and he went by me like I was standing still (perhaps a relay runner?). A bit later around the 30k mark more approaching footsteps but these remained on my heels for a few k before he came abreast and we started a conversation. Andre turned out to be a 1st timer and was wondering when the race was going to get hard (as in the wall). I told him he didn't have long to wait as we continued together for a few more clicks until reaching the end of the trail and a water station where he walked as I continued with cup in hand.
Andrew finishing strong and passing a bunch of 1/2 marathoners who started 1 hour after the marathoners.

Part 4- last 8k and finish. After loosing my new friend at the water station I didn't look back but rather ahead at a vast array of 'road-kill', mostly in the form of slow 1/2 marathoners who were joining our route for the last 5 miles. They gave me constant targets to knock off and I was able to slightly increase my pace despite the hilly terrain. My watch ran out of splits (max 30) and so I only have a split for my last 8.2k with an average pace of 4:47 for this section. I must have easily passed 100 1/2 marathoners but in the final hill before the 1.5 mile stretch run to the finish a marathoner finally appeared in my sights. I knew him from the start as a tall lanky grey haired possible age group competitor and could see that he was struggling. Again I did the water stop zoom-by (maybe a fast plod) but was past him and there was no sound of a struggle. The last kilometer was just a head down counting footsteps and trying to hold everything together affair as more 1/2 martathoners danced their way to the finish.
So, while Marc, Jamie and Grellan seemed to have 'off' days Andrew and I were turned 'on' for some reason. As far as marathons go, this one was reasonably 'easy' and I didn't have to really work until the last few miles where I actually picked up on my lagging pace.

21st marathon
6th best
1:06 off my target pace
1/2 marathon split of 1:38:43 only 39 sec slower than my 1/2 from just 3 weeks ago
3:40 positive split for the 2nd 1/2
last 8.2k in 39:17 (3 secs per kilometer slower than target pace)

1 satisfied runner, what more can I say? Well there is lots more to say but the 3 Blind Moose have already said it in hilarious detail after the race. I think my daughter now thinks we're all completely mad but it sounded funny to us. It was a great weekend!

Have a great week!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Final thoughts before PEI

The fall flowers continue to bloom but the days are getting shorter and colder. Only a very few short days to go now and the latest forecast calls for a very nice weekend with lots of sun but low temperatures with no wind mentioned.

Sunday: A mix of sun and cloud. Low plus 2C(36F). High 8C(46F).

Looks near perfect to me, so no excuses on the weather front. This week has been very easy as far as running goes but my work has jumped in quickly to take up any slack and so there has been little time to stew about not running. Today for example I was up at 630 to go out on the boat all day and by the time we got home tonite there was little chance that a 5mile recovery run was going to get done (or even needed for that matter). Rest and couch potatoe duties come first this late in the season.

But I have been doing a little running around...

Sunday - 13 miles (8:10 avg) with 8 mile progression to finish with 2xMP

Monday - rest

Tues - 5 miles easy (7:57) late in day after work and fencing to keep out the 'thieving deer'

Weds - 8 miles (7:51 avg) with 3xMP although only 2 were called for in the plan. Felt good and just kept rolling for one more (sorry, couldn't help myself)

Thurs - unscheduled day off but why not?

Friday - plan for an easy 5 with strides 'my' the golf course

Sat - plan is to drive to the Island for the marathon with the 3 Blind Moose and my poor wife

Sunday - plan is to ease into the 1st 6 miles as a progession run, run the next 6-7 under control despite the low hills that take you to the 1/2 way. The next 7-8 are on the rails to trails and I hope to be just holding back the effort and enjoying these nice middle miles as long as possible. The final 5 miles are a brute with the pavement and hills and will require courage and strength to hold pace. The final last mile is flat with a slight downhill and will be rewarding if I have anything left to finish strong. I'm really glad that I ran the course in July in 2 parts (part1 and part2) because it can be seen in my minds eye (plus geotagged route) and will help me know where I'm at and what is to come.

Goals? Hmm, 1st and foremost is to enjoy the weekend and the running with friends. As far as time goals, I already have my BQ for next year and this might just be a small improvement to give me a slightly better number and move up from maybe the 8th to the 7th corral. My latest 1/2 predicts something around a 3:25 but I think that maybe a 3:20 might be in the cards and is what I'm pacing myself for. Who knows? The training has been OK, though slack on the longer 20+ mile runs and we'll just have to give 'er and see what happens.

Wish me and my buddies luck and have a great weekend!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Red vs Blue

You may or may not have heard of the internet video comedy series Red vs. Blue. My two sons are great fans of it and we watched many of the show's hilarious antics on dvd last Christmas. But this is not about comedy; I have something more important to deal with, that is: what shoes to wear for the upcoming marathon? I happen to have 2 brand new pairs on the auction table...

a red pair, and ...


and a blue pair!

Both are yelling, Pick me! (I'm cuter) Pick me! (I'm faster)

And how did I manage to have such a luxury of choice you ask?

Well the red pair on the right are Mizuno Wave Precision 9's and purchased just a few weeks ago with the intention of being my marathon shoe after the usual break in of one or 2 longer runs and a minimum of miles. I've been running in Mizuno's for about 10 years now and being a latent manic compulsive type have numbered and kept track of the mileage on every pair. This would be pair #28 and with about 600miles/pair that works out to about 16,000 miles on the brand so far. Ouch, no wonder my leg hurts!

So why the 2nd blue pair? Well it turns out that a few weeks ago I get this email from a sales rep at New Balance, Harrisburg with the offer of my choice of shoes if I put up a link on my blog sidebar and to do a little review of them. Well who can turn down an offer for free shoes? After making sure it was a real offer (ie. don't look a gift horse in the mouth) I settled on the top of the line cushioned light weight model New Balance 1062 which have now been road tested with one easy recovery run thus far.

The results? Well they are a beautiful looking shoe with a roomy toe box and nice fit. I have high arches with stiff feet and this neutral, well cushioned shoe gave me a nice smooth ride. My easy 5 mile test run was at about 8:17/mile average pace but it also included a few fast striders with about 20-30sec of fast controlled running to loosen up the legs. This is where I got a pleasant surprise with how well cushioned these shoes really are. The faster I went the more I could feel the cushioning which felt like running on firm pillows and gave it a nice floating feeling. Cool, I like these shoes!

But final verdict, I have to go with Red for the marathon because they are my tried and true model/brand. If I had more time on my feet with the Blues they might have a good shot at bumping Red, but not this time so late in the plan to PEI. For now I'm looking forward to alternating them as one of my stock training shoes and will see how they endure the miles.

This was my view while stretching this morning after a 1 mile warmup during the final 13 mile longer run (wearing Red's). The sun was just peeking out at 730am and it was rather brisk at 4C and will likely be the same next week on the Island. The run went well but not great. I could feel some tighness in the legs (reminder to stretch at night). I ran the 1st 5 miles as an easy warm up and then did an 8 mile progression run getting down to sub-marathon pace by the end. The 'plan' had been to go at MP for the final 2 miles but my Garmin screen went blank and had to go by feel. I guess my body 'felt' like going 7:26 and 7:21 instead of the 7:40's that were intended. No harm done and it's only one more week of taper madness to go.

Have a nice week everyone!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Final efforts

I didn't have much luck this week with the x-rated herring video but managed to find some very scenic harbours while the wind blew up a storm.

This lobster trap was just sitting in a clearing on top of a cliff by the seashore looking pretty. You'd think that some tourist would have nabbed it and drove back to Ontario with it strapped to his roof but maybe this spot was just too much out of the way. BTW the design is very out of date with the new ones made of plastic coated metal and nowhere near as rustic looking.

And I did run into my fisherman friend and this was as close as I got to my herring this week. It was the end of a long day for him and he wasn't going out again for another 24 hours due to the weather and so my project was delayed.

On the running front I was able to get 8 miles in on Tuesday while in Dartmouth-Halifax before driving the roads for the rest of the day (as above). It was a cool morning and all the walkers were wearing winter coats, some with hats and mitts and while I was comfortable in shorts and a long sleeve tech shirt. My pace was brisk to counteract the cool wind but not too crazy.

Weds was just an easy 5 miles (this is supposed to be taper time) as I just meandered around my home town after work on a perfect calm mild fall day. The easy pace came back at a surprising 8:00min clip and I cooled my legs in the very cool pond at the end.

Today's run was of more substance as I attempt to stick in a few quality run and to also try to complete some aspects of the Pfitz plan that I've sort of been following for the last 16 weeks or so. He has the unusual workout of 8 miles with 3x1 mile at 5k effort with 2 min jog recoveries in all his schedules just 10 days out from the race. OK, fine I did my usual 1 mile warmup, followed by stretching and then another 1/2 mile jog to get myself out to a fairly flat section of road before starting.

The 1st mile felt good in 6:33 while running hard but not all out and just feeling out the legs. I took my time between efforts and allowed myself to climb a small hill before locating another reasonably flat section for the next mile which went by just as easily in 6:36 including a slowing turn around in the middle because this was done as an out and back run. Another slow section to climb back out of the valley and the final mile in 6:40 with a long gradual hill in the 2nd 1/2. It was very satisfying to still be able to knock out some good miles while not going all out. The effort was there and it was more a matter of working on my form and not getting distracted at the end so as to not slow down. Finished off the run with a nice easy 2 mile jog and noticed that the legs were now starting to show the effects with some soreness but otherwise was fine.

Only 9 more days until the PEI marathon now. I can't wait to get the Three Blind Moose (we even have our own wine) back together again and hope that my spouse can put up with all of our bad jokes and other silliness. It promises to be a great weekend no matter what happens weather wise or even running wise. Maybe I'll even take an extra day off tommorow to rest. What do you say?

And the prize for picking my brother in the previous post goes to DawnB! She must have seen some family resemblance as he is obviously not a runner like me. Now I just have to figure out what she gets for a prize. How about a free bottle of homemade wine but the catch is we have to do a race together to get it. That could easily happen too! Have a nice holiday weekend!

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Fall colours

It was a beautiful morning for a long run with the boys of Boyden one more time. With a 630am start it was still dark when I started the drive across the border but the sun was nicely up to begin taking the chill off by the time we got under way. The temperature was only 4C (40F) and didn't really warm up that much, though it was actually near ideal for running. We had a great run doing the usual 17 mile loop with speedy Ozzie keeping the pace honest today, though for him it was likely on the slow side. My watch clocked in at 2:15 and 8:01 average pace with some 7:30's in the last few miles as we neared the fig newtons and chocolate chip cookies.

The rest of the day was spent at home doing a few chores and beginning to get the house and yard ready for winter.

Quick summary of last weeks running:
Thurs - 6 miles easy paced in and around a thunder and lightning storm
Friday - another 6 easy miles feeling generally tired and worn out. Then travel to SJ for a carpentry project.
Sat - no run as I was in SJ helping my brother Barry put down a hardwood floor for my sister Carol.

Total miles for the week was 45.0 in 6 runs. Oh, that's kind of cool... I just checked the Garmin and it logged 6hrs of running with an average pace of 7:55/mile. I guess the 1/2 marathon on Sunday helped keep my numbers up.

Here is the workcrew including my bro and two bros-in-law. Can you pick out my sibling?

This coming week I'm away on another work travel trip with some experiments planned using some underwater camera equipment. I'm hoping to catch a few herring in-the-act of spawning while we shine bright lights and drag our camera around near the ocean bottom. Wish me luck, have a great week, and taper smart out there!

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Progress on progression

Recovery from the 1/2 marathon has gone well with just a bit of soreness in the quads on Monday. My hamstrings which had been bothering my all summer were fine during the race and I don't seem to have any other issues so far. There are a few pictures from the Saint John 1/2 marathon here including one good downhill shot where it looks like I'm actually moving well (looks can be deceiving).

On Monday my schedule called for a 7 mile run with 8x100m strides for good measure. The hour passed very easily with perfect sunny calm conditions in the late afternoon after work. I was feeling great despite some minor stiffness and had to watch myself from speeding up and running below 8 minute pace. The strides were a bit awkward and slow (as usual) but my form improved for the last few (again, as usual).

I almost canned today's 12 miler as I was feeling tired and lazy and was looking for excuses to get out of my mid-week medium long run. It's also was the last one for this training schedule and I'm happy to have them behind me. However, I did make the best of it and ended up getting in an excellent workout that has again left me 'pleasantly tired' and happy to just sit on the couch typing this little summary.

First a little background, back at Wineglass 2 years ago I used a gradual progression start as recommended in Guy Avery's marathon training program which calls for using the 1st 6 miles of the marathon as a warmup. I deliberately tried to go out slower by 30sec for the 1st 2 miles, 20 sec for the next 2 miles, and 10 sec slow for the next 2 before zeroing in to my then 7:30 marathon pace. The 1st 6 miles felt ridiculously slow but I managed to mostly hold back and ending up PR'ing that day and feeling great until about 24 miles. It worked for me then, so why not try it again but 1st you need to do a few practice runs and thus today's workout...

mile 1 - warmup and stretch
mile 2- another easy mile uphill mostly before starting the workout
mile 3-4: 8:10 desired pace (30 sec slower than MP) with actual paces of 8:07, 8:08 feeling very easy
mile 5-6: 8:00 desired (20 sec slow) with actual 7:59, 7:58 still feeling easy despite the rolling hills
mile 7-8: 7:50 desired (10 sec slow) with actual 7:24, 7:45 as I got too excited and misread the watch; starting to feel like I'm moving with purpose now
mile 9-12: 7:40 now at my 'new' realistic marathon pace which will give me about a 3:20. The road pitched up in the 1st mile and really made me work but I then settled in with miles at 7:44, 7:33, 7:34 and 7:32 feeling like the pace was quite manageable.

I was glad that I didn't have too much further to go today but then again my legs do have a valid reason to complain. My mind on the other hand was very happy to complete the practice exercise and look forward to a shorter versions of it over the next few weeks. The scheming and planning has begun! Have a great week.