Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Chugging along

All is relatively quiet here lately as I continue to put in the miles on a 'run as you please' basis with no particular plan or goal in mind at the moment. Not unlike the local deer who seem to have a 'go as you please' attitude when wandering around the town. It's not unusual to see 6 or more in a group just casually walking across the street going from one backyard garden to another.
I was playing around with my data in Sporttracks and came up with this monthly plot of total miles, average pace and average heartrate over the past year. It seems that the trend has been down for the most part which is good and reflects getting in better shape and also getting the iron issue under control. The last month has just been easy running of 30-40 miles per week which is seen in the lower average heartrate and slightly slower pace. This is just fine with me for now until I work out my plans and goal races for 2011. Thinking about a doing a good marathon and another shot at the sub-20 5k but these are both very vague ideas at the moment. The main 'plan' is to just run decent miles to build a good base with a few fun 'efforts' like hills, tempo or progression runs thrown in to keep things interesting.

Meanwhile I continue to log all my runs on the DailyMile site which is a great community of runners and tri-athletes and an easy way to post my day to day activities. You should try it if you haven't already joined in! Hope to see some of you there...

Happy running!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

End of the Season

It's been a busy and good running season for me with 13 races completed. Curious at how my end of season 1/2 marathon pace was faster than my April 5k! Must have been doing some things right!

My goals were achieved at all of the distances except the marathon but I wouldn't exchange the Big Sur experience for any time goal! It's been a great season for me and there have been a few unexpected bonuses like the nice little piece of hardware from this past weekend's race for getting my age group ;-)
But... we're never totally satisfied are we? Take this last race at Moncton Legs for Literacy. It seems that I've yet to learn how to race the 5k. My splits as usual went from too fast, to slow and then to even slower before buckling down a tiny bit before final 'sprint' finish. The overall time of 21:26 was barely faster than the 1st 5k in my last 1/2 marathon race from a week ago! The 1st k in 3:50 was the usual suicidal killer which got me in a hole that was hard to get out of and the rest of the race was basically just hanging on and trying not to get passed.

At least there was no sprint finish required as you can see in the video. Trevor was also here in the same race and got 2nd in his age group! His improvements are amazing over the past year. Results are here.
It's now time for a break from the racing but not from running. I'll be setting some new goals for next year which will include another go at the sub-20 5k and other distances as well. This time I'm going to try to put together a more coherent plan which will come together over the winter as Andrew & I work at building up our base. I might even run a spring marathon before kicking into some 5-10k race training for the summer. This time I won't let little things like a sore back or a long trip on a boat keep me from doing what is needed to get to the goal.

A few quotes to remind you that:

"There's no such thing as bad weather, just soft people."
Bill Bowerman

"Train, don't strain."
Arthur Lydiard

Have a great week and good running!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Running Scared

The horn went I took off like a scared rabbit and never looked back...
Given my recent training or the lack thereof, the pace was suicidal and I knew it...

1st kilometer in 3:56!

I'm running in the KV 1/2 marathon and started faster than my 5k pace! Next k, still downhill in 4:07, still way too fast. 5 kilometers goes by in 21:26, just 24 sec slower than my all out 5k time from 3 weeks earlier! 10k in 44:06, OK slowing now but that's still only 50 secs off my seasons best?

By this point I was getting very worried that the wheels where going to fall off at any minute and it would be a long suffer-fest to drag myself home. So I just carried on going one kilometer at a time, feeling quite good, breathing steady except for the hills, legs feeling so good that I barely felt them. Just waiting for the wheels to come off...

But they never did and I can't explain why because they should have given the suicide start. I really ran in fear from the 10k mark on because I was nearly certain that the pace was way beyond my assumed fitness level and body condition. The hills had an effect on some of my splits but was able to turn over the legs on the downhill and hold the pace. After not being passed for nearly the entire race I did do some jostling over the last few k including a sprint finish which I lost (again) to some young whippersnapper. Heard him coming but couldn't switch gears in time as I finished 11th overall with a very pleasing 1:36:15.

These are my 1k splits vs average pace showing the 'too fast' start, good 1st 10k with some slowing over the 2nd 1/2 but mostly in line with the hills. The results are now posted at the Run NB website and it shows that I was nipped at the line by only 1 second by the 30-something age runner. He'll pay next time!

Again, very happy with the result because the last few weeks had been very poor in terms of training since the 5k race on Sept 26. Immediately after this event my back 'went out' with what felt like nerve pain rather than a muscle pull. As a result I didn't run for 4 days and the weekly mileage plummeted to 20-25 instead of the usual 40 or so and most of those miles were slow and painful as the back complained vigorously. Thankfully it did ease somewhat over the last week and running but not stopping to stretch seemed to be better for it than my normal stretching routine after the 1st mile or two. Maybe being a little under-trained was better than trying to cram a bunch of training in like we all prefer to do? Who knows? The result was unexpected and I'll take it and move on!

Next race is a 5k this coming weekend in Moncton. I'll get a chance to see Trevor again who had a fine MDI marathon last weekend in Bar Harbor. Just have to convince him that he has a BQ or more in him and to start working his way there! Jamie also had an awesome race at MDI which is reputed as one of the toughest marathons on the east coast. He did it in style getting his 1st ever well earned BQ on this great course!

That's it, have a great week and keep on running!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


Excuses? I'm not usually one for making them up and like to take responsibility if things don't go exactly as planned. But I do have a few that I'd like to try... I went fishing on a herring boat and we caught a more than a few fish and the captain was so happy that he wouldn't let me off the boat because I brought such good luck. Actually he did let me go but it's a great picture that I wanted to show off from a recent trip I was on.
On Sunday I ran the 5k at the Fredericton Fall Classic. My final time of 21:02 was decent enough and I placed well but was only slightly faster than my race on July 1 over 2 months ago. You would have thought that there might have been some slight improvement given the training that I'd put in. It appears that the 10 day sea-trip layoff was just too much to make up for.
Maybe, I didn't run hard enough, although it felt hard during the process. My splits were terrible with a fast 1st kilometer in 3:58, followed by a steady decline with splits of 4:06, 4:18 and 4:28 before finally getting my act together a little bit for a final k in 4:09. I don't remember many little details like Thomas can seem to come up with during his races. The weather was near perfect around 10C with little wind and I had a couple of people to draft off during the 1st 2.5k where we were running with the 10k crowd. The turnaround near the 3k mark required a couple of sharp turns and we then ran back against the flow with very few people around me. I was not passed after the 2nd k until about the 3.5k mark when one female high school runner put some distance on me (separate 5k HS race). I almost caught her in the final k when she actually took a little walk break to look around for her competitors but at least it gave me a target to shoot for. My final stretch of the run was good but I was left with the feeling that I had let down a bit too much in the middle and did not push like I might have. Oh well!

Meanwhile, Trevor had a great race setting a personal best and looking good for his upcoming marathon at Mount Desert Island. It's a tough but beautiful and rewarding course and a very well run race that I know he will totally enjoy with his family. We did a nice little warmup jog before the race and talked about him not being sure of how he was going to do. I told him all the training could surprise him with an unexpected result since he's done the work in recent months. Nothing shabby with a nice shiny PB is there Trevor?

However, things went downhill for me immediately on finishing when my lower back seized up just steps after stopping. I hobbled over to the massage tent for treatment which helped but did not alleviate the pain. Where this came from I have no idea and now two days later it's still with me and there has been no running. How can you go from running fast (sort of) to being barely able to walk!? My usual remedies of beer and ice cream have had only minimal effects but I'm trying my best.

Meanwhile there is a 1/2 marathon coming up in a few more short weeks, not to mention a little holiday trip to visit the two sons in Ontario and probably another work trip bouncing from boat to boat. Life does go on! Here's hope the back clicks back into position soon and I'll be back to normal (whatever that is) sooner rather than later.

Have a good week as I'm heading for the freezer now!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

No excuses!

No I didn't ride off into the sunset... but we did have some lovely sunrises.
And no we didn't have to abandon ship, although we did do the drill... It's been a rather hectic several weeks now with my sea trip / research survey taking 11 days out of my running schedule. The weather was ideal until a little hurricane called Earl decided to chase us off the water.
Speaking of being chased, here I am at a recent race, the Hampton 5 miler where I was chased and passed here right in sight of the finish line. I hate it when they hang back for the last kilometer and then make a break for the finish and go zooming by me but I had nothing to respond with. It was a decent time considering my layoff with a 34:40, nearly the same as the Blueberry Run a month before.

So, I'm slowly getting back up to speed and I'm now planning for a 5k race this coming weekend. This was going to be a goal race but with the lack of consistent workouts, realistically it will be another test and a goal post on the way to the finish of the season which is only 1 month away. I'm also signed up for a 1/2 marathon on Oct. 17 and might do another 5 or 10k the week after that.

Right, so no excuses, we'll just have to see what happens, prepare as best I can and hope for the best. Have a great week!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Progress report

Another weekend, another race to report on. This time it was the Machais Blueberry 5 miler where rumor has it they used to give away blueberry pies to the age group winners! Unfortunately not this year and with a 3rd place in my age category with a 34:44 it was not in the cards anyway. I was still pleased with this result after the subpar 35:42, two weeks previously in the Calais race. 'The shorts' also made another surprise appearance as Coach has yet to hide or burn them on me.
Postrace, here are the Boys of Boyden with Jonathan on the left getting 1st in the 50-59 age group (but no pie). On my left is Austin/Ozzie who place 2nd overall with a 29:xx time at age 56! His son is on very the right and ran a good race in the 35 minute range.
My race was fairly uneventful as I had been forewarned by the hills and allowed it to take me out to a fast start. This was a hilly course as indicated by my splits with a 6:30 1st mile, followed by the next one in 7:30 with a long grinding uphill. At this point I was passed by a very tall runner who I then latched onto over the next mile before finally repassing as his pace flagged. Only one other runner went by me after the 1st mile and this was in the 4th mile which featured a steady climb as I struggled to not go over my redline (heartrate was pushing over 90% for almost the entire race). The race finished with a 1/4 mile downhill which explains the crazy split for the last bit of the race (according to Garmin) and I placed 17th overall with the results now posted here.

My training seems to be progressing nicely and I've added some harder interval workouts with the advice of a local running coach. The plan is to peak for a couple of fall races with the main goal in the 5k where I'm aiming to break my lifetime PB of 20:01. There, it's now out in the open and you can hold me to making the attempt!

We (my coach and I) think this is a doable goal with my most recent 10k indicating a 20:49 as my current fitness level. The workouts so far have been tough but I've managed to do a series of 8x1k repeats in 4:00 avg with good rest between each. This past week I did 5x800+m and 5x400+m on a 440yd track and was successful with average times of 3:09 and 1:31. I use the '+' on the distances because the old 1/4 mile track was overgrown and my Garmin was telling me it was more like 410m and 820m per interval.

This coming week I'll try my speedwork on another track (400m this time) that may be in better condition but then I get a monkey wrench thrown into my plans as I have to go out on a fishing survey for 11 days for work. It's a research trip to work on herring spawning grounds and we'll be unlikely to see land until the trip is over. There might be a treadmill on board but it's hard to say if it will be any good to do hard workouts on. I can always work on my pushups and flexibility?! We'll have to see what happens and maybe the rest break will do wonders both mentally and physically.

Oh yes, this morning's semi-long run of 13.2 miles was interesting in 'running into' a displaced person from Australia looking for directions! Actually he's in training for the Melbourne marathon and was on the return leg of a 20 miler when we hooked up for the last 10k for a nice chat. I even discovered we had mutual acquaintances (he's married to the daughter of someone from our church). We even had a little 'argument' about who was pushing the pace with both of us saying 'I was just trying to keep up with you'. A very nice fellow and I now have a place to stay if we ever go to southern Australia ;-)

That's it for now. It might be awhile before there's much to report on but then again we might catch some unusual fish and I'll have to make a special update.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Bling Bling weekend

The weekend started out with what felt like a sub-par performance at the Calais International 5 mile road race where I managed a 35:42 where my goal was to go sub-35. On reflection a top 10 finish and 2nd in my age group with some 'bling' to show for it made it a lot easier to take (just kidding). This is a great event with two international border crossings over the 5 miles but the course is tough with hills that take the wind out of your sails and never let you get in a proper rhythm. It's never flat with either up or down and you can never quite get your breathe properly as your either battling one hill or trying to recover a tiny bit on the downhill bits. A friend who is also a local coach who sometimes helps me with my training was also at the race and he took a bunch of nice pictures for the race including a few in my new 'shorts'.

The weather was near perfect with temps in the low 20C range and only a slight wind. I was a little late getting to the race start and had only about 10 minutes to do a short jog for a warmup before we were sent off . Here I am, as I did battle in the early miles with these 2 runners would would eventually finish just ahead of me. The guy just out of the picture was my age group winner and the younger runner kept running into my line and rubbing elbows until finally pulling away.

Looking at my Garmin data after the fact is always interesting especially when questioning yourself on giving the proper effort on the day. Looking at this you'd have to say yes, but is it really possible to give 101% or maybe I need to readjust my maximum heart-rate a notch or two!? It certainly did go straight up and stay there for the duration although the end results were highly variable as seen in the next plot.
You might also get a kick out of my paces which were all over the map and generally followed the contours of this brute of a course (hills remember). Paces from 9 to 6min/mile while going at full throttle is crazy. Eventually the suffering ended and I got to hang out with the other runners and collect my little piece of hardware.

However, schmoozing after a race can also cause other problems which helps to explain the 2nd trophy above. My fast running friend Ozzie mentioned another race on the next day at the Pleasant Point native reserve which happens to be just a stones throw from where we do our Boyden long runs. A few emails to Andrew and we were 'on' for my 2nd race of the weekend instead of a longer run. In fact this event was only 5 miles from where Andrew lives so he got to sleep in today!

This time there was plenty of time for a warmup, as Andrew and I met up 1.5hrs before the race to get a few (5-6) miles in. Surprisingly my legs felt totally fine despite the previous days race. After our little warmup we signed up for the race and went out for yet another 1 mile jog instead of standing around waiting. Eventually the little race (only about a dozen runners but who's counting) was on and I struggled to keep up with Andrew and Ozzie over the 1st kilometer. Eventually I let them go and struggled on, now in 3rd place, while trying to hold onto pace. There were no footsteps behind so it was just me against the clock and my watch and I finished the 4 miles in 27:37 with a slightly better average pace than the day before.
The Garmin analysis shows more of the same highly variable pacing and hills but these hills were much flatter than those of the previous day (only 20-30 ft). I'm still amazed at how well the legs held up and was even more pleased to accept my 3rd place trophy. The morning was finished off with some nice chocolate cake, blueberry pie and coffee before heading home.

It was a great weekend! Hope yours was as well.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

10k birthday run

It's been a nice relaxing few weeks of holidays for me, most recently a few days in PEI visiting my one and only daughter. She's in her last year of vet school and had a little break in her studies so we were able to visit without interrupting her train of thought.

Speaking of which, I'd been thinking but not able to decide what race to run while here for the weekend. Last year I had done the 5k after just a few weeks back running after my operation. But this year the training has been more or less uninterrupted since the Big Sur marathon and I've been slowly ramping up both the mileage and intensity with a scattering of race 'tests' thrown in for good measure. So, 5k or 10k? I've been unable to choose until last night when my 'coach' suggested that I must be ready for a longer race with all the miles in the bank.

So 10k it was, for the Cox & Palmer Run for PEI Prostate Cancer in downtown Charlottetown, PEI. For some reason I was very hyper before this race and had trouble getting my warmup in with a few cursory strides after a 1-2k jog. Once the race started I took off like a scared cat with the 1st k in 4:08 instead of the desired 4:25 which I'd remembered to write in the palm of my hand. The next k settled in a bit with a 4:17 as I matched strides with the 3rd place lady and we rolled along for the next 5k with occasional switching of positions. At the 5k turnaround in 21:42 I was in 14th place and still hot on the heels of lady with the good pace.
The return 5k leg seemed much harder than the 1st 1/2 and I somehow managed to -ve split it by 9 seconds with a 21:33. There was alot of huffing and puffing, trying to stay on my 4:25 pace and eventually my 'lady-friend' (we did exchange a few words) fell off the pace during a slight downhill stretch on this basically flat course. I then overtook a male runner who offered little resistance and slowly drew in the 2nd overall female during the last 2k. She allowed me to pull up to her shoulder but with about 500m to go, pulled away in her sprint finish. You can see my slight increase of speed in the splits but watching from the sidelines it would not have been very obvious to anyone. Here's the downhill finish for your viewing amusement.

Final time of 43:15 (official times now up and I gained 2 seconds!) was a nice surprise and I'll take it as an unexpected 55th birthday present. I've now earned my beer, ice-cream and cake and look forward to a nice meal tonite with the family.

Cheers and keep on running so you never get old in mind or spirit!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Grand Manan 1/2 race report

For some reason I'm not able to come up with a catchy title for this post so I'll try to stick to the basics. It's not that there was nothing out of the ordinary for this race located on the island of Grand Manan a 1.5hr early morning ferry ride away from the mainland. The fog was so thick today that we couldn't see the wharf until we were within 50 feet of it but unfortunately a cool foggy day was not in store for the race.

Due to the remote location, this race usually has a small turnout of less than 50 runners but it is very well organized. The mid-summer weather out here in the middle of the Bay of Fundy is also 'usually' cool and foggy and the nearly flat route makes this a PR tempting course. As an added bonus they had also revised the route this year with the removal of the 'hill' (only 100 ft or so) in the out and back section for the 1/2.

After my usual cursory warmup of a 1/2 mile jog and stretching we were lined up at the start and sent on our merry way. By this time the fog had burned off and the sun was beating down on us unmercifully with no cooling sea breezes to speak of. Due to the small size of the race I had lined up at the front and went out with the expected race leader doing my best not to get overexcited and pass him right off. Despite trying to hold back the 1st kilometer went by in 4:24 and I found myself sitting in about 3th or 4th spot.

My plan for the race had been to try for 4:40 per kilometer pace which is the predicted speed for a 1:38 1/2 marathon based on my last 5k race. Of course like all other 'race plans' this was out the window almost from the get-go with the 2nd k in 4:35 at which point my Garmin decided to fog up on the inside and thumb it's nose at me (time to just run Mike!) So I just ran by feel trying to stay within myself knowing it was going to be a long hot run. I was almost immediately passed by 2 runners, including the 1st female but I resisted the temptation and just kept plugging away.

By the time I reached the 10k mark in about 46:40 (according to Garmin as the race marked it a bit short) the temptation to cut my losses and stop with the rest of the 10k runners was very strong with the increasing heat. The prospect of 11+ more kilometers at this effort in this heat (and did I mention the humidity) was daunting at best but I found other distractions (roadkill) to keep me going.

But 1st a couple of plots from SportTracks which I've just started to play around with. You can see my heartrate over the course of 13 miles showed a gradual increase which is more likely due to the effects of heartrate drift as a result of increasing body temperature in the humid, hot, still air and not so much from increasing effort (though I'd like to think so). I definitely did push it harder in the last k trying to get 3rd but more on that later.
This is another neat plot from SportTracks showing my kilometer splits compared with the overall average pace of 4:47/km (goal was 4:40). You can see I was under average pace (faster) for the 1st 7k, popped around for the next 4k and then above average (slower) for the next 10k. The final split of 0.2km was my 'sprint' for the line trying for 3rd but wasn't even close.

Some of that popping around was due to my overtaking a couple of slowing runners (roadkill) who had passed me earlier. I chatted with the lead female as I came up on her that "I didn't want to pass her" but she graciously allowed me to go by without tripping me into the ditch. At this point I was just slowing down less than the other runners and by the 16-17k mark I was able to overtake yet another 'cooked' runner who had gone out too fast for the conditions.

Since the final part of this course was a 5.5k out and back I was now able to determine that I was in 4th place overall with a chance for getting into the money for the top 3 men. My next target was only a couple of 100m ahead with about 3-4k to make up this distance. For some reason he ignored my mental pleas to stop and walk but then it seemed he was slowing in the final 2k. I pushed it as much as I was able but there was just not much left to give as I came to the final straight quite a bit short. My final time was 1:40:30 for 4th overall (with Garmin details here) and race results should come soon (here).

So, it was a good effort but not quite the result that I'd hoped for. My target was for a sub 1:38 with a range of 1:35 to 1:40 in my pre-race notes. It was just the heat and humidity that won out today and was not quite the PR course we'd hoped for. Talking with the other runners after the fact, we all seemed to share the same experience, too hot, too humid, no wind, oh well, try again next year.

That's all I got for now. My next race will be in a week's time on my 55th birthday. I'm doing either a 5 or 10k in Charlottetown, PEI, the same race I did last year on a nice dead-flat waterfront course. Wish me luck and good running!!

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Canada Day blast off

Long time no post but I thought it was about time to come out of the woodwork on a special occasion like Canada Day here in Canada. It was a perfect day for running with bright sunny skies and mild temperatures around 18C/65F . After arriving early in plenty of time to pickup my number, find a washroom and do a quick 1k warmup to stretch the legs I was good to go. I started fairly close to the front so as to not have to trip over people during my planned fast start with my eye on one kid with a big hat who tried to show me up here at the same race last year.

Over the past four weeks my training has been rolling along quite well with total mileage in the range of 35-45 miles per week with a longer run of 12-14 miles, one tempo run each week of 5 to 8k, and one speed workout each week with 800's, 1k or mile repeats. I've taken my paces from McMillans tables based on my most recent 10k of 46:00 back in May. My most recent speed workout of one week ago had 6x1km repeats with 800m recovery in an average time of 4:10/k. Granted you don't get 800m recoveries on race day but this workout did give me confidence that I had 'some' speed endurance at least.

So after a crowded start and some weaving about I was able to settle into a reasonable pace with the 1st km in 4:13. The next km was mostly head down going up the main hill in the course as I tried to hang onto my friend John who is a strong masters runner. He helped carry me along to the next kilometer split in a disappointing 4:36 which was the last time I looked at my watch as the lactic continued to build and my main concentration was simply running as hard as possible without 'blowing up'. It was a little deflating at this point to hear the 'pitter patter' of a runner gaining and passing me as I went sailing down the other side of the hill with my legs going as fast as I could make them go. Granted the runner, Mike Coyne, is a top masters runners with ranking in past years with Running Times but he is 5 years older than me and was running the 10k which started 200m behind us! Still it was a little hard to take.

Mike was almost the only runner to pass me the entire race but nearing the last km, more footsteps. The runner must have noted my panic because 'she' then said "Don't worry I'm only running the 5k!" I almost laughed but was able to gasp out that she was in for some competition. We then proceeded to exchange places a couple of times before she pulled ahead for a few meters as we finally neared the finish. As I said before, I had stopped looking at my watch after the poor 2nd km and was amazed to see the 21:00 just ticking over as we approached the line. Final time of 21:14 which equates to an 18:21 and a 70.7% age group rating which made my day. Results are now online and my Garmin story is here with the gory details.

Trevor was here for the 10k today and seemed to have a good day.
He ran solid even splits in my books as I say him cruise by the 1st time at 25 minutes and then finished in 11th overall (even if he got nipped at the line by a 5 year old doing the 5k! ). Sorry about that Trevor but you left yourself wide open for it.

I'm now keen to tweak my training plan for the rest of the summer and have already begun to look at slightly faster training paces based on today's result. The next planned race is either a 10k or 1/2 marathon in 2 weeks depending on how the long runs are going but there is lots of time to decide before then.

That's it for now. Have a great rest of Happy Canada Day or just a great day wherever you are!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Feeding Frenzy

This was the welcome scene at the end of the latest jaunt around the Boyden Lake area with Andrew and company. Nothing like coffee and homemade chocolate squares (aka Blondies) to cap off a nice early morning 12 mile run.

The running has been going well the past few weeks now that my dental 'problems' are finally behind me and I've been able to get some solid training in. The mileage is slowly creeping up to the mid-40's and I'm now trying to do 2 harder speed days each week. I'll keep at it until the next race tests which are planned in late June with a 5 miler and then a 5k or 10 miler on July 1. The goal races will be in Sept which give lots of time to get ready.
That's all I got for now, the gory details for my daily runs (see plot above) are in the sidebar, but the proof will be in the pudding when I finally get my racing shoes on again. Have a great week!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Running Doags of Boyden

It's not a typo, doags is a real word according to Wiktionary, which I just discovered through good old Google. Imagine what my grade 10 English teach would have thought of that sentence some xx years ago... fail!

But speaking of dogs, it was the hot topic for yesterday's run on the Boyden Lake roads with good olde Andrew and Trevor. Andrew is finally coming around from his calf/achilles problem and Trevor is winding down for an upcoming leg of the Cabot Trail relay race next weekend. Trevor's comment about midway through our 12 mile loop was something like "This is a nice quiet route but why is it there seems to be more dogs than cars!?" I think he's right. The dogs were all very good with 2 friendly labs looking to go for a little jog along with us but most were tied up and looking for something to bark at . The 2 little terriers, who went completely bonkers as we passed by their territory, at the end of the run were just the icing on the cake! Besides the animals, it was a perfect day for us running doags and we were able to get caught up on each others plans and strategies for the coming months. I won't spill any beans here just to keep up the suspense and will leave it to them to say.

My running is starting to come along with a total of 42 miles for the past week including a nice out and back tempo run on Thursday. This is one of my favorite type runs where I go out for a certain time or distance and then turn around and retrace my steps at a stronger pace and effort. This one was 30 minutes out and 26:30 back for a total of 7 miles at an 8:12 average pace. I always feel energized and refreshed after these and often use them when running with no specific goal in mind for the day. I'm also still on the alcohol free diet, which is a real pain (and I let my dentist know in no uncertain terms) but this should soon pass when I get off the medication. My face is also finally almost back to normal (after 2+ weeks) which is a great relief, as is being on solid food once again!

Besides this, I'm now looking forward to just 2 more weeks of work before a nice little holiday to visit family in Ontario. There will be lots of running and visiting going on as we travel here and there to cover all our bases. It should be lots of fun!

Have a great week and keep on running!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

That's More Like It!

Here I am finishing my 1st 10k of the season today in what felt like a respectable time of 46:09 (at least it was close to my current capability). I made it to the start and ran a more conservative plan this time (not blowing up in the 1st mile) and was 'not' passed by innumerable dogs and 10 year old kids. Results are now up and I have some race pics here.

But 1st a little more backstory... as my dental issues continued to plague me all last week culminating in yet another visit to the 'man' who deemed me a 'problem patient' and prescribed more drugs to fight the infection and swelling. Well the 'drugs' have kicked in and my face is now returning to normal but they had one undesirable side-effect of requiring me to avoid alcohol in any quantity or face severe nausea. The man has no heart! At least I can still eat ice cream!

Last week was up and down as far as the running went with a good tempo run on Tuesday including 3x1000m cruise intervals to test what felt like a good 10k effort. Besides this there was some easy runs and a day off at the instruction of Coach who was of the opinion that I'm rushing back into my training too quickly. On Saturday I managed to get together with my good buddy Andrew for a nice short run on a beautiful little trail in Calais. Andrew is recovering from a calf strain which sounded more like an Achilles strain as we talked it over. Hopefully some RICE will fix him up and we can get back to the Boyden runs again soon!

Back to today's little race... As you can see from the course profile this was not a flat, fast course, in fact it was advertised as 'rolling' with beautiful scenery! Beware when they say rolling! Kinda sounds like another race I did recently which had monster hills to go with the awesome views. We got to the race in lots of time for me to sign up and then scope out the 1st kilometer or so with the initial large incline (with a view of the golf course if you cared). I'm glad I did because it put the fear of lactic explosion into my old legs and helped me to try to hold back.

The 1st conservative kilometer went by in 4:40 and the 2nd with the hill was a well earned 5:00. After that there were some nice downs and ups and I worked at holding an even effort which had the result of my trading places back and forth depending on the up/down with a couple of runners over the rest of the race. One lady in particular (who finished just in front in picture) must have traded places with me 4 times during the race and I didn't want to make a spectacle of myself with a final pass at the line. The 5k mark went by in a nice 22:56 (only 30s slower than the Lincoln 5k fiasco) but I was thinking that I was not happy of doing 5 more kilometers at this effort. More hills and scenery kept me company over the next bit and besides trading places with the lady and getting annoyed with a guy jumping in the race to pace his friend for a mile or so I began to revert to counting in my head to keep the legs turning. The final 2k were a steady gradual uphill grind but I notice that the splits were also the fastest with 4:37 and 4:22 as we cruised into the finish gasping like fish out of water (myself at least).

So, a good race, good effort and I've now got some work to do if I want to get my 5-10k times down to low 20's or 40's by the end of the season. It should be interesting!
Have a great week!

Sunday, May 09, 2010


I was supposed to be racing a 10k in Fredericton today but my stars were out of alignment. It was the 1st time ever that I paid good money to enter a race but 'Did Not Start' for reasons outside my control (well sort of). I suppose it's better than a DNF because it is unlikely that I'd have made it more than a kilometer or so the way my head feels today.

It all started a week ago when looking at my calendar all was clear and a little 10k run might be an ideal way to start off the spring/summer running season. Checked out the website and yes, a nice flat fast course which would give a good indicator of current fitness to be used to guide my training. Ponied up the money and was good to go. I then began laying out a program of races through the summer with a goal of some faster times by the end of the season in the 5k/10k events. No idea at this point what these times might be but at least I had a plan forming. I even went out on Tues for my 1st fast run in ages with the good old 1-2-3 minute fartlek workout and was feeling ready to do more work.

But it was not to be...

On Weds my 'favorite' dentist called and said "Oh, we have an opening for your dental surgery on Thurs, can you come?"

"Mmmm, but will I be able to run in a race on Sunday 72 hrs later?" I asked.

"Oh sure, no problem" was the receptionist's cunning reply.

I was cornered and had no way out. So Thurs I faced the man once again and he bashed me once in upper jaw and twice in the lower jaw and then emptied my wallet (just like getting mugged?) 72 hours later after many pain killers and ice packs I'm left with a face that looks like I've gained 40 lb overnight and is still not recognizable to myself in the mirror. The only plus to all of this is being able to eat all the ice cream I want because it's hard to eat anything solid.

I had hoped that the swelling and pain would have subsided by this morning but it was not to be after a third very sleepless night of ice packs and trying to get comfortable. As a result about all I could manage this morning was walking down the stairs for more ice and so we stayed home instead of doing a fruitless 90 minute drive. Thus I get my 1st ever DNS instead of the likely DNF if I had actually managed to show up.

My friend Trevor however, did very well (results here) finishing with a PB in the 1/2 marathon of 1:48 and I'm looking forward to his story. I'm thinking the weather was on the cool side but good for running and hopefully it was not too windy and rainy as it was here at home.

On the plus side, my dental surgery schedule is now over with only some minor procedures to come over the next year or so. Also on the plus side, I can plan for the summer without the worry of getting 'mugged' again but first will have to find another race to get me started on the road.

Wish me luck, I need some right now. Have a good week!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Wow! Big Sur 1st thoughts

This course/race is all it was made out to be and more. Bart Yasso's comment that if you are going to do only 1 marathon in your life and this is the one to do couldn't be more true. I've run 24 marathons now including 10 Boston's and I'm afraid to say that I now have a new favorite marathon (sorry Ann).
It's going to take me awhile to process what happened today, so just a few pictures and some short comments on the race. I took over 60 pictures and video clips during the race including my favorite here below on the Bixby bridge. My camera guy is funny bossing me around...

I finished with a big smile on my face but it is hiding a lot of pain in those old legs! If you check out my Dailymile or Running Ahead sites where my splits and stuff are stored you will see the obvious story of going out well but then paying a 'price' over the last 6 miles... Final result was a 3:51:13 finish, 538 overall and 46 in age group which was not too far off from the 'attempted' 3:45.
But more on that later after I've had time to process it a bit. Overall, I'm happy with how it went. It's a gorgeous brute of a course that would require some very specific hill work to do well on and it certainly adds 10-20 minutes to your time for a flat course which I now believe.

Now if I could only figure out an easy way to upload all those crazy pictures to my Picasa website... Off to the post race party where I hope to run into another Canadian by the handle of R-Cane runner. Kudos also to Punk Rock Tri-Guy, and Runner's Rambles who also challenged the big hills (there were many hills) of Big Sur today.

Good times and happy days!

Ready to Roll!

Wow! Words do not describe this place properly. Truly spectacular, amazing, awe inspiring, definitely the Cape Breton of the west! We had time to drive the course from end to end and I'm in for quite an ordeal but plan to enjoy every minute of it. The weather is looking to be great with lighter winds than today, and moderate temps from 10 to 20C as things warm up.

They have a very early am start with the buses leaving from Monterey at 4am for the 645 start. Now freaking out a little bit, worrying about things that will work themselves out in the morning but I'm good to go and ready for action!

See you on the other side...

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Heading West

The bags are packed and all the work is done, including the 'work' work so that I was able to go in the 1st place and the 'road' work so that I'm ready for the fun that lies ahead at Big Sur. This picture is from the ferry in Halifax harbour here on the east coast. At the end of 2 days of meetings we took a break and the ferry across to the city for a nice meal and a relaxing evening out.

Not much happened over the past week workout wise until yesterday when I got my last marathon paced run in and this morning with a last 'long' run of only 12 miles. Both of these runs went very well and give me confidence that my goals are reasonable and achievable. The history of my MP workouts tells a tale of the ups and downs over the past 3-4 months but the key is I'm now running faster with less effort than when I started.
My goal will be to run at an easy effort with a heart-rate range of 130-140 which is 80-85% of max. I'm not going to stress out about the pace but expect it to come in around 8:00 to 8:45 depending on the hills. Today's long run which felt like a nice easy run came in at 8:40 pace with an average heartrate of 132. Again, I'll keep it below 140 so that I don't blow up early on and will take what comes.

Meanwhile, it's the Boston marathon weekend and the weather is looking on the coolish side but it should be good for some fast times. Good luck to Mark, E-Speed, Punk Rock Tri Guy, Runnrgrrl and R-cane to name only a few.

Have a nice week, I know that mine will be awesome (couldn't help but rub it in ) !!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Reality Check

I ran a 5k race on Sunday. It was a good wakeup call/reality check that I needed to let me know exactly where I am/am not at this point in my fitness and training. I finished way back in the pack with a time of 22:26 which was a considerable improvement from my last attempt at this distance where I only managed 24:00.
A very short race story: you see my memory fades with age...
1st mile was good but downhill and with the wind. However, unlike most of my races where I can find a good pace and not get passed there were runners, dogs, kids streaming past. In the 2nd mile I felt some slowing but was feeling decent and in a nice rhythm, even passing a few runners until the turn back for home around the 3k point. We made a turn up a little hill and into the strong wind which just killed me and I totally blew up! Breathing, legs and HR went all crazy as the pace dropped off and I struggled from here on in for the last 2k. A brutal uphill finish over the last 500m totally did me in as I was passed by more dogs and kids right to the finish. See the little kid in the picture about to nip me at the line! Sheesh! My splits were horrible and also tell the story with 6:44, 7:11 and 8:06 (ouch)!

Still, it was a good attempt at a race and I'm happy with the result considering how the winter has gone for me with my lack of energy problem (now resolved). With my legs finally getting under me I can't be too disappointed because a more conservative even paced strategy could easily have put me under 22 minutes. Looking at McMillan running calculator and others it at least puts me in the 'decent' marathon range of around 3:35 to 3:45. And besides, I've been training for a marathon and not a 5k so we can play on the safe side, slow down, take extra pictures and still run 'well'.

Now if I can just get through this last week of work....

Have a nice week!

Sunday, April 04, 2010

21 days, 22 miles

Time is flying by with just 3 more weeks to go before Big Sur. With spring finally arrived the pond has warmed up and our goldfish are becoming more active, even begging for food. When you put your fingers in the water they like to take nibbles. They haven't had a chance at my legs yet because the temperature is still only about 15C but they will soon. I was tempted to try it after today's long 22 miler but opted out because I was so stiff and sore at the end that it might have been hard to keep my balance on weakened shaky legs.
Meanwhile on the indoor scene, Jo's indoor plants do almost as well as her outdoor ones with new blooms on a regular basis from a bargain buy she got in January. I guess her green thumb works for all types of plants!
As I said, just 3 more weeks to go and training continues to go well. On Thursday I did my last significant marathon paced run with 9 miles at a slightly up-tempo effort. Going into this workout I didn't feel very ambitious but surprised myself once it got going. The route was exactly the same as the previous one on March 18 with an extra mile tacked on the end but the pace was much improved at basically the same effort (heartrate).
Today's last long run of 22 miles went very well, despite not quite 'feeling it' again at the start. Might have been some residual tiredness from the MP run, but the pace was still good, nearly identical to the last long run at 9:07/mile (vs 9:08 for 21 miles) and a lower average heartrate of 131 (vs 133). Mind you I was very tired at the end of the 3hr 20min and the legs had that last miles of the marathon feeling over the final 4-5 miles, but that's what I was out there trying to do. The things you do to yourself in order to be able to run a 'decent' marathon....

Well, that's enough for now, time for some more beer and ice cream. Have a great week!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Over the Hump

There are just 4 more weeks to go (today) before Big Sur (click here for a great video tour) and it's all downhill from now on. My build has been good but not up to my standards as in previous years due to various issues. There were the usual 'life is too busy' excuses, some unexpected travel, cursed dental visits but the main one was my lack of energy and resulting poor performances in regular training runs. And just to prove that I'm not making this up or 'talking though my hat' (where the heck did that come from?) here is some solid evidence with my average pace per week over the past 15 months.
You can see my 2009 Boston training and race where the paces were in the mid 8:30's, followed by some downtime and run-walking as I came back from surgery. Then things were stable with a slight improvement as I did the PEI marathon in mid-Oct but since then it's been a steady climb in the wrong direction, despite (or maybe because of) the increased training and mileage. While I understand that you have to run easy some times and can't expect training paces and race paces to come together, it has been very frustrating to not see much in the way of training effects over the past few months.

It turns out that part of my 'problem' was an iron deficiency resulting in anemia which my doctor is so far attributing to a diet lacking in red meat and enough of the leafy greens like spinach. He's been checking out the other possibilities which are not so good which might be causing anemia as a result of internal blood losses but put me on iron supplements in the meantime.

{from US Gov Office of Dietary Supplements (would you believe?)}
Iron and intense exercise:

Many men and women who engage in regular, intense exercise such as jogging, competitive swimming, and cycling have marginal or inadequate iron status [1,81-85]. Possible explanations include increased gastrointestinal blood loss after running and a greater turnover of red blood cells. Also, red blood cells within the foot can rupture while running. For these reasons, the need for iron may be 30% greater in those who engage in regular intense exercise [1].

Three groups of athletes may be at greatest risk of iron depletion and deficiency: female athletes, distance runners, and vegetarian athletes. It is particularly important for members of these groups to consume recommended amounts of iron and to pay attention to dietary factors that enhance iron absorption.

I guess I'm in the category of distance runner on a not so perfect diet (too many carbs and not enough protein) but getting back to the hump thing... it seems that those little red pills are finally starting to kick in with an excellent long run last weekend and a decent mile repeat workout this weekend. The repeats went well considering and my running log goes like this:

"Bitch of a workout with 10x1 mile at MP+30sec or so. Weather didn't help with the cold and wind but I had waited all day for it to improve. Started out -11C and very windy in AM. After short warmup got into the drill of 1 mile with .25mi jog rests or ~2:00. Tough going and was starting to feel like cutting it short but ran into A. Cooper who did mile 5-8 with me. Last 2 miles alone were not easy but still reasonable around 8:00 pace then very easy crawl home. Glad this workout is in the books but it was worth doing! Avg pace of 7:57 was an improvement from previous workout."

There are only 3 hard workouts (long run, MP run, repeat of above w/o) and one 5k race left before flying the coup for our nice holiday break. The closer it gets the more excited I'm getting which is a strange because there are no plans to race hard at Big Sur. The plan is to run 'well', have fun, take lots of pictures while enjoying the scenery and the course. The racing part will have to wait until later in the year.

Have a great week and keep on keeping on!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Signs of Spring

We've had a beautiful stretch of weather the past week or two with temps on the positive side every day and barely below freezing at night. Today was the 1st day of spring for us northerners and I guess the 1st day of fall for those who live way down under! The crocuses are up despite fears that our family of chipmunks might have destroyed all the bulbs last summer. The little beggars had dug up 1/2 the flower beds in their search for every last morsel of food for the cold winter. It seems that a few managed to survive or get misplaced/replanted.
Another sign of spring today was getting my motorcycle out of winter storage much earlier than usual. Typically we can still expect some cold weather and even snow into the month of April but when the sun shines you might as well make hay! I took it for a short spin around town and the old 1980 Gold Wing is still purring like a kitten. The wind even felt warm with the 17C/63F temps!
And on the running side, it seems like I'm finally starting to come around with a bit more 'spring' in my step! This past week of training included a 10 mile pace run where I was able to get the average pace down to 8:19 which was a nice improvement over recent weeks and also from the start of the program. It was a hard run on the roads with a lot of traffic and plenty of hills but I hear that Big Sur has a few hills, so no problem there.

Today's run was 21 miles on the long road out of town with a headwind and more hills to go along with the cool weather (only +2C/35F) but again, I hear Big Sur has headwinds too! It was the best long run of my build thus far and for once I didn't feel exhausted before even starting out. Perhaps those iron supplements are finally having a positive effect. Mind you, I was plenty tired at the end of 3hr 13 min but that is to be expected when you do that to yourself. The pace was nice and steady hovering just around 9:00 until the last 2 painful miles as the legs finally gave out. Only 2 more weeks of heavy training and then the taper which will now include a 5k race in Trevor's backyard. I think he's getting geared up for it, so it will be nice to run with him again.

That's it for now. Happy Spring or Fall as the case may be!