Monday, April 28, 2008

Ummmmm, yeah

In the thrift store today I saw an employee removing clothes from the rack and stuffing them into a shopping cart.

Me: What happens to those clothes?

Employee: We ship them to third world countries. Like Africa.


Primal Fear

Last night's dinner. 'Nuff said.

Today's run: 5 miles at 135 BPM. The Vancouver marathon is this weekend so I'm going to take it easy on the intensity this week. An hour easy on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and the legs will feel plenty fresh for Sunday morning.

Below is Violet getting ready to roll out. She's more excited than she looks.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Today's Run 75 min@ 150bpm = 9 miles

Give or take. I did it on the tready at the Y and the crazy thing shut down into warmup mode at 60 minutes. Had to start it up again but didnt make note of the exact mileage before I did. Legs felt OK, ankles were stiff for the first couple miles. I tweaked something in my kidney area Wednesday when I was stretching and it was still sore today but getting better. Light stretch after today's run. Have been using the 'indigenous people stretch' that I saw at Mark's Daily Apple and I can finally squat down without falling over backwards! Good thing too, because camping season is coming!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

For Simon

Today's run and more race pics

Today easy jogging 50 minutes at 135BPM. About 9:22/mile. Easy, easy effort and about 30 seconds per mile faster at same HR against when I started this type of training.

Here's some more pics of the race on Sunday. A great big thanks to Natasha from work who walked the 10K and was wise enough to bring along her camera!

Anybody need a T-shirt? I've always wondered what happens to all these shirts. About 10 blocks from here is the poorest neighbourhood in the country. I hope they found their way over. Below is a pic looking towards the start line from near the back.

This stretch of road was part of the bike course in last summer's ITU event. Simon Whitfield out-kicked Andy Potts at the line to take the win and then hopped a helicopter to fly back to Victoria for the birth of his daughter. Brian and I were standing right at the finish line with only an empty transition area between us and the athletes. I've volunteered for this summer's ITU worlds here in Vancouver and look forward to another great race.

Some scenery shots. A great day in a beautiful city. If there was surf in the bay, it couldn't get any better. That big white bubble in the pic below is BC Place, the site of the opening ceremonies for the 2010 winter Olympics.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Biggest in North America!

Here's Brian looking pumped to be almost finished our 20 mile run on Sunday morning. This is taken about mile 17 or so. My pace is about where the road meets the horizon at the back of the pic. It was a great day all around. Bri and I left my place at about 6:30 and took it really easy over the 7 miles between my place and the skytrain. Here's a couple at the station and on the way to the race. Looking and feeling fresh!

Just a few folks waiting to get their tickets for the train. Note the abundance of reflective tape. An unusual amount even for Vancouver.

Truth be told, for having participated in North America's largest 10K (that's right, Peachtree!) , I'm embarrassed to say that I have no pics of the actual race. We were held up waiting for some folks at the train station and barely got downtown in time to check our backpacks before the race started. Gear check for the race was several Purolator cube vans with plastic bags color coded depending on the color of your race bib. When we arrived at gear check, there was some dude on a walkie talkie shouting at the driver to close the door and get going. I barely managed to get my backpack stuffed into the bag and on the truck. It cost five bucks and I literally threw $5 worth of coins into the truck along with my bag.

The race itself was pretty uneventful. Brian and I somehow ended up in the wrong corral and started with the group behind us. The race had over 59K participants so you can imagine it's a little crowded. Including a stop to er, relieve myself in an alley run time was about 47 min or so. I mostly wanted to run and have a good time and it was pretty clear from the get go that it wouldn't be a day to run fast. I was pretty pumped that even after a 7 mile 'warm-up' and a 45 minute train ride mt legs still felt really, really fresh. i ran the last mile at a little under 7 minutes and felt really relaxed and smooth. I just cruised it in, knowing that there were still 7 more miles on tap.

After the race, went to gear check and it was a gong show. So many people, so many bags, not enough volunteers. It was cool though, cause we were feeling good and the weather was nice. Bit of a scare though when we got our gear check bag back and there wasn't a backpack in it. My wallet, Brian's wallet, 2 cameras, a camel back, a pile of other running stuff was in that backpack! A volunteer let me 'backstage' and I finally found it, just sitting untagged. Sweet!

The post race expo was an insane mass of people so Gunner and I took advantage of the good weather to walk around downtown a bit, grab a coffee and hit a grocery store to grab a bite. Elected to buy muffins instead of ClifBars. A choice that would come back to bite us.

After a pretty good effort at the 10K, a long train ride, and a lunch of muffins, coffee and blueberry juice, the run back started slowly! Lots of sloshing in the belly and a good side stitch for the first mile. After that we just took our time, chatting and enjoying what was a beauty day in Vancouver. Sunny, warm, a perfect day for a long run.

Hope the weather cooperates two weeks from now when Brian, Parmi and I run the Vancouver marathon.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


Garmin batteries were dead again after a full charge Monday and only 45 min of usage on Tuesday. What the?!?!?!?
7 miles easy today, felt great, legs were springy. Worked some strides in and felt smooth and fast.
Could be that my HR was higher than usual but todayI thought things felt faster at a lower effort.
Looking forward to this weekend's 20 mile morning including the 55000 particpant Sun Run. Pics to come.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Sunday long run: lessons slowly learned

Garmin batteries died today AGAIN about a mile from my house so I have no pace/ HR data from today's run. Slow runner, even slower learner. Hopefully one of those things will change! It would turn on just long enough to tell me the time before it crapped out again, and even that only lasted until just beyond halfway. I know I ran slow enough to keep my heart rate below threshold. Breathing was easy, walked up the hills, took only water and finished feeling pretty fresh and not mentally stunned like after some long runs. Plenty o' glycogen left to fuel the brain when you take it easy. Total run time about three hours, 18 miles or so.
The iPod was fully charged and here's the list of albums I worked through today. I may make this a feature of Sunday morning posts. I used to get lots of new music and preview it in the car on my way to work and since my CD played gave it up I have been missing it.

Modest Mouse-We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank
First time all the way through this one for me. Knew a couple singles from radio play. Lots there, some really, really catchy tunes. Will for sure have another listen or two.

Blitzen Trapper-Wild Mountain Nation
Another first timer. Not sure how to classify it. Psychedelic country? But in a good way.

Wolf Parade-Apologies To The Queen Mary
Older but one of my all time favorites. Best band to come out of Montreal. Yes, better than them.

M.Ward-Post War
Great album, A cool commentary about the effects of war without actually mentioning the war itself. Mellow and largely acoustic. Good for a long run.

Friday, April 11, 2008

This just in: I'm slow!

So, after some reading and some research I've decided to take my training down a drastically different path. I have mixed emotions about the change: on the one hand, I wish that I had come across this research 20 weeks ago, on the other hand, I'm glad to have found it when I did with 30+ weeks to go before my qualifying race in Seattle in November and lot's of time for the changes to have the desired effect. One thing is for sure, regardless of the timing of the changes, I'm sure that I'll be a faster, stronger athlete because of them. Just not right away...
Ever since I starting reading Lucho and Chuckie V.'s blogs I had the feeling that there was something I was missing in regards to my training. It also led me to believe that although I had a sweet piece of tech in my Garmin 305 I really wasn't using to the extent that I could. Sure, I uploaded my run data into Motion Based, but after that I just looked at the cool terrain maps from Google earth. Of all the features, it was the heart rate monitor that baffled me most. Pace, distance, elevation, all things I was familiar with. Heart rate, ummmmm.....yeah. It's beating. That's good, right?
Anyways, I started digging around trying to find what I could about heart rate training theory. Long story short, EVERYTHING I read told me that I was training at heart rates that were too high. Brian and I did the Conconi lactate threshold test which confirmed what I had been reading.
I wasn't totally convinced to make big changes until I came across 'Hadd's approach to distance training'. His was the first paper I read that thoroughly explained the benefits of training at lower heart rates and how to determine if an individual athlete stood to gain from that approach. Finally, a paper that didn't just tell me what would work, but offered a way to see if it would work for me!
Hadd's paper asserts that low heart rate training builds a stronger aerobic engine. Nothing new there. He goes on to say that an indicator of a weak aerobic engine is the lack of correlation between an athlete's short races and their longer ones. In other words, we know that our pace gets slower the longer we run, but it should get slower at a somewhat predictable rate. I think the numbers were 15 seconds a mile slower each time the distance is doubled.
This was what really turned the light on for me! I had always looked at those VO2 max/race time estimate charts with a huge degree of skepticism. There was no way I could run as fast as predicted over the marathon distance based on my shorter distance times. I just figured I was over performing at the shorter distances and left it at that. Personal best 5K time: 18.04. Personal best marathon: 3:34. Yeah, no relationship. Now I know why and more importantly I know what I have to do to fix it.
So, I did some math to figure out where my HR should be and the last couple days I have been running at the suggested low aerobic heart rate to get a feel for it. Research says that I will feel really, really slow and will need to be disciplined to keep the HR down consistently over time to see the desired results. I can't tell you how true that is. Average pace per mile this morning at 135BPM was 10min/mile!!!!!
Broken, definitely. But not for long.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Conconi Test, Karvonen Formula and a little extra sleep

Been fighting something off the last couple days. Not feeling sick but picked up a cough that I can't shake. Schedule called for 18 miles today but based on the results of a couple HR tests that I ran last week I'm feeling that mileage might be the problem. If thats the case then more miles are for sure NOT the solution. The body said 'sleep' and today I was wise to listen.

I guess technically it's not the miles that might be the trouble but rather the intensity that I have been running them. I haven't had a chance to chart the data from the Conconi test but the results did show an obvious plateau for me at 157 BPM. Brian's data was less conclusive. There were two flat spots on his curve, one at approx 150 and another near 160. I have the raw data at work so my apologies for not being more accurate with the report at this time. Anyways, one of the arguments against the validity of the Conconi test is that not all people show an obvious deflection which is what we see with the data from Brian and I.

The point is that whatever the knocks against the test FOR SOME PEOPLE, it yielded a nice flat spot for me. And I have been training above this line for basically the last 20 weeks.

I also calculated my 70-80% heart rate targets using my resting heart rate, max rate and the Karvonen formula and came up with a range of 149-160 BPM.
Last week's long run shows me with an average heart rate of 157 BPM over 16 miles BUT only because the first 5 miles I was well below average. Average heart rate for the first five miles was 147 which means that I ran well above average for the last 11: average BPM 163.

If Conconi test shows anerobic threshold at 157 BPM, which not coincidentally is EXACTLY 85% of my measured max heart rate of 185, then the only thing I can conclude is that I have been running too fast too soon.

What this means for my training from here on out, I can't say except that it won't be more of the same.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Conconi Test

Brian and I ran the Conconi Test at the YMCA this AM. Full results once I get the graph plotted.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Lydiard is my sherpa

It's a funny thing sometimes: the more you learn about something the more you realize what you still have to learn. It's like getting a real sense of the size of a mountain in the distance as you approach it. How it looks from afar is nothing like how it looks when you are standing at it's base. I knew it was big but...

This is kind of how I have been feeling about my training lately. The more I learn about training protocol, the more blogs that I read, the more articles about lactate threshold, heart rate zones etc. the more I get the feeling that my current plan may be incomplete and/or inadequate.

With that in mind, I sought out to find some research online about some of the more popular schools of thought when it comes to running training and came across Arthur Lydiard's 'Athletic Training' paper. This was one of the first schools of thought that was sited on the web pages I came across and although his methods seem to have produced some impressive results, they are not without some controversy.

And I'm off on the never ending approach of the summit.