Friday, September 24, 2010
Thursday, August 19, 2010
Getting back to it for real this week and I'm looking forward to trying my hand at XC this year. I'm pretty sure it's mostly cause I want an excuse to buy spikes but whatever. Running over the hills on the grass. Good times.
Spent a bunch of time hanging with the family getting outside and it's been rad. Did a little camping in Squamish just this side of Whistler. It was great times with a pile of families from church. First trip out with my new T2Plus from REI and it was a solid tent. Got a little rain, no leaks. Happy for the rain when it arrived, first few days were dang dusty. Group site had a huge dirt pile in the middle and the kids were pumped. And dirty.
Thursday, July 8, 2010
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Took down most music a while back after a visitor with ties to the music industry and a law degree stopped by. My desire to share this band's music with you has compelled me to break the silence. As always, comments/suggestions/thoughts are welcomed.
Thursday, May 27, 2010
Started riding my bike to work on a challenge from Gunner to see who could get to work under their own steam for the most consecutive days. I get one 'free' day a week to drive to take stuff back and forth: my suits, laundry like towels etc.
I should have asked for odds as his round trip is approx 3 miles and I'm 6.5 one way.
Weather here has been good. Dry for Vancouver this time of year and relatively warm as well. It's made for good cycling.
Not sure what I'll do through the summer. I've got my eye on a Cross Country series that runs in Fall which could be just the ticket to keep me motivated to train through BBQ season.
Regardless, should be a good summer and I'm hoping to head to Puerto Vallarta in October rocking decent 'fitness' read-abs! haha
Friday, May 14, 2010
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
The one thing that stands out to me when I remember the race in Boston is the influence that other people have had on my training and on my race. The blogger community has been so instructive and supportive that I hardly get embarrassed at all anymore when I refer to my 'internet friends'
I would never have attempted to qualify if it weren't for my friend Brian who believed that I could do it. Once I had been convinced, reluctantly that I could make a legit attempt at a BQ, I signed on with Tim, who trained me up enough to put up a qualifying time in Vegas December 2008.
And so, almost 2 years later, I found myself rolling through the hills of New England.
The most memorable thing about Boston is the amount of people who come out to support the race. There really isn't a single spot on the race course without spectators. In some places they were two, three rows deep on the fence and in downtown Boston they were stacked four, five rows deeps on the sidewalks. Really incredible support.
First mile was packed and I felt trapped. Were moving slow and I was constantly looking at my watch. First mile was about 7:20 and I knew I had to make up time.
I remembered some advice from Kerrie who told me to find a group that was running my pace and let them carry me along to a good time. Trouble was I started a few corrals back from anyone running 6:50's so the first 10 miles I spent running alone trying to hide from the wind on the rare occasion it blustered up and looking for a pack. I had the Garmin set to show only current pace, elapsed time and average pace. I kept pressing hoping to get that average down to 6:50 before half.
At halfway is Wellesley College and the sound gave me goosebumps. Yes, you can hear it before you get there. Yes, it sounds exactly like what you think it will sound like. One side of the road for 1/4 mile with screaming girls separated from the course by a crowd control fence. Adidas has seized on the marketing opportunity and many of these screaming collegians had branded signs that said 'Kiss me I'm_________________'. Kiss me I'm Irish, Kiss me I'm from Georgia, Kiss me I'm a senior (my vote for 'most likely to work'), Kiss me we're on TV (my vote for 'least likely to work'. Hello, I have a wife!). Loud, crazy, unbelievable. Chicks dig runners. Honest.
For me, Wellesley unofficially marked the end of 'things to look forward to'. The rest of the course had Heartbreak Hill, the stupid flippin Citgo sign and the last 6 miles, other wise known as 'things I would later realize I was right to be worried about'.
Halfway was also the next time a blogger's words popped into my head. I passed through half in 1:30:30, a 2 min PR for the half. I remembered Kerrie's post about her crushing defeat at the hands of GG in their last open marathon and Glenn's quote popped into my head 'I just set a PR in the half, I better slow down'. Kerrie's advice to GG, which would later come back to bite her in the ass, was that it was a race, and in a race you don't slow down on purpose. Well, i didn't slow down on purpose, but I did slow down. By mile 17, I was starting to fatigue and Kerrie's advice popped into my head again "Just turn off your brain and run". By the time I hit the rollers at mile 18-ish the downhill first half and aggressive pacing had taken their toll.
My quads were cooked and there was no turning off my brain. I started to cramp in the quads and calves and was bleeding speed all over the course. I was still moving but a sub 3 time slipping away.
Halfway up Heartbreak was the first and only time I stopped to walk in the race. My legs were done and I was losing it a bit mentally. For the last time that day, another person influenced the outcome of my race.
I was walking, staring into space trying to collect myself and will the legs to get going. The hill was half done and my legs were hella sore from the downhill pounding and cramping. Then, from the corner of my eye I noticed movement and a lady who I remember mostly as a voice and tiny 5'2" shadow takes a full step off the sidewalk onto the race course and angrily shouts into my ear, her surprise, disappointment and near disgust booming:
YOU'RE A TRAINED RUNNER!
I'd be willing to bet my next week's salary that she has experience coaching track athletes. Exactly what I needed to snap me back to reality.
Or course, the only thing I could do was start running again and as I chugged up the rest of the hill I could hear her shouting encouragement behind me.
Whoever you were, thanks for that.
By the top of Heartbreak, it was obvious the 3 hours had come and gone. I took a shot and it wasn't my day. I was okay with it but there was still a lot of race left. I'm sure that fatigue played a role in my decision, but with that goal gone I decided that I had two options: kill myself to run a 3:08 or try and enjoy the rest of my day in Boston as much as possible. I went with plan B.
Three things of note about the race course from mile 20 in:
1) It's downhill again. Not great news for the quads.
2) Boston College does not get the credit it deserves for the fan support. The course narrows and you essentially run through a tunnel of screaming college students. It was sweet, although a runner who went through before me later mentioned that he saw a soccer ball pop out of the crowd and onto the course. Hmmmmm.
3) There is a Citgo sign that is well, well, publicized for marking the last mile of the course. Well, what is not so well publicized is that you can see that freakin sign for 2 miles before you actually get there. Yeah, it's huge and you run at it, and run at it, and run at it and it never seems to get any closer. I get that it's an icon, and although I don't even know what Citgo is, I'm boycotting their products. ;)
Last 6 were coasting with the occasional burst to see if the legs were finished cramping. They weren't.
Jamie was waiting near the finish. I had my head on a swivel to try and spot her. Good luck, city was packed out. Grandstands at the finish line against the building in the middle of the frame.
She did snap a great shot of me just after trying to throw down a surge to the finish. Legs cramped and I basically stiff-legged it to try and keep moving and run out the cramps. Couldn't have timed it any worse! Gives a good idea of what the last few miles felt like. I'm mid screen in the red.
And that was it. The race was done and the goal of running Boston had been accomplished. Collected my medal, grabbed my food which was cleverly preloaded into a branded lunch bag, got changed, met Jamie.
Once back in Cambridge I realized that other people's influence over my race was done but influence over my day was not.
I had promised my Mom that I would get a photo of myself in my race bib and I hadn't done that yet. So, like any good son, I put my wet singlet back on and ran down the streets of Cambridge painfully recreating the race to get a photo for mom.
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
First, let me start by qualifying the title. I don't consider the race a failure. I'm not that guy who runs well but is always blathering about how he's slow. I have no illusions about being a 'fast guy' but recognize this run as a decent job and a major accomplishment. Certainly my best and fastest by 5 minutes. I just thought the contrast in the title was catchy, so if it's not totally accurate, whatevs. Poetic license.
Anyways, in so much as I did not meet the time goal I had set, the race did not go as planned. However, from the get go, the goal was a stretch and I knew it. The success came in that I laid it out going after it and I learned a lot in the process.
Also, let me say this: For those of you who haven't been out to Boston and have that as a goal, I encourage you to stay with the training, book the ticket, do what ever it is that you haven't done to help you get there. I'm not saying that every runner need aspire to Boston, but if you are considering it and there is something in the way, move it and get there. A very special place for a runner on Patriots Day.
Rode the bus 45 min out to the athlete's village staging area in Hopkinton with a guy who was staying at the same B&B as I was. Dude named Neil O'Brien(O'brian?), a great guy from Milwaukee who ended up running a 2:48. I'd link his blog but don't know if he has one. I could link you to his TripAdvisor review of the B&B?
Great to have company on the ride. It's a long trip even with the seamless logistical execution of transporting 27K runners 26+ miles across the state.
Even with someone to talk with the time spent on the highway driving from the finish line to the start can't help get in your head a little. Just a little. Here's Garmin's map of the run from the start on the left side to the finish in DT Boston. It's a ways.
Anyways, sit in the staging area for 2 hours then head to the runners corrals. Runners are segmented off 1000 in each corral, separated into two waves of 15,000 starting 30 minutes apart.
It's Patriots Day in Massachusetts so the race starts predictably with the national anthem. I had my hand over my heart in the port-o-potty line up simultaneously wondering why I felt patriotic hearing another nations anthem and whether I would make it through the line and to my corral by the time I was set to start. There were people peeing outside the johns but the race rule book said that doing so put you at risk of losing your start bib. I wasn't going to chance it.
Less predictable was the 'fly by' of two F-14 (F-16?) fighter jets immediately following the anthem. The coolest part was realizing that a plane can't hover and in a matter of seconds they went from unseen and unheard to screaming overhead, to out of sight again. Crazy fast. Cheriyot fast. Forgive me for not knowing the type of jet. In Canada, the military 'jets' we have are still biplanes.
My corral was 7000-8000. It was on a pretty serious uphill. That didn't jive with what I had heard about this being a downhill race. You couldn't see the start line from the corral but the PA was loud and clear and so was the crowd, also unseen as yet. What you could see was about 10-12,000 runners trailing off down the hill behind us and more streaming into the corrals behind them.
The gun goes off, and it's five minutes of shuffling before we actually cross the start line. I should say the timing pad, because there's also a start line painted on the road that says 'it all starts here'. I'm reminded that this race is legit by the huge ass boom camera that swoops down from 40 feet high to just barely above our heads as we cross the line, capturing the nervous excitement on the faces of the crowd of athletes. And then, you see the crowd, all the people of Hopkinton gathered on the steps of the Town Hall, or the Courthouse, or whatever it was. I can't actually remember whether the building was either of those things but it had the essence of them. It was grand, and old, and like only buildings like that can, it had gathered its people to its steps and its lawn and the people, the people they were psyched!
And it's only then that you see why everyone is always going off about the downhill nature of the course. The first hill is immediate and is so steep that the wheelchair start is half way down to prevent the chairs from flying out of control into the New England countryside, which is pretty much what I ended up doing
To be continued...
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Friday, April 16, 2010
Sunday, April 4, 2010
Similar workout scheduled tomorrow. Will try and get the data then.
Thursday, April 1, 2010
Week 22, two and a half weeks to go until we leave. I guess two weeks tomorrow until the plane leaves. Things are coming together and I'm feeling pretty good. Chart above is from long-ish run from Monday. It's no Lucho-esque effort, but I was pretty happy with it and the PE for this was pretty easy until the last push.
Still trying to settle on a race pace. Gunner has been pushing me to take a shot a 3 hours and Jamie is on board with that plan as well. I'd need to run 6:50's to get there.
Because of family and work commitments over the next little while this may be the last shot I have at a marathon for a while. I'm in better shape than in Vegas and there wont be as many pre race distractions. And I have had a sub 3 as a goal.
But, there is a voice in the back of my head that keeps after me about the level of my fitness and whether I'm fit enough to run sub 3. And if I can't shut that voice up in the next two weeks I'm not going to pull it off.
Anyways, now it's time to see what I'm made of. I really don't have anything to lose by throwing it into the fire and seeing what happens. Worst case scenario, I set a new PR in the half, blow up all over the place, have a nice walk through Boston and enjoy my week's vacation. Actually, that wouldn't be so bad. At least that would mean that I went after it. Worst case scenario is putting in all the training, getting to Boston, being close and not taking a shot or letting off the gas before blowing up because I'm worried about hurting too much later.
This is the part where a fast old lady from SK stops by the comments section and blows me up.
Anyways, I'm running a 4x10 minute threshold session and I'll be wearing the HR monitor. I'll put the charts up tomorrow. If there are any amateur internet physiologists out there that can see something in there, have a go.
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
The Manas are nice, they fit well ,they're very light compared to the Mizunos and are likely the shoe I'll run in Boston.
The RCs though, sweet baby, are they something special.
I have never owned a flat so that might be part of the juice but they feel really, really fast. Light and bendy and grippy. Super comfy with or without socks. Love em. Just love em. I'll run a few sessions between now and race day and try and gauge whether or not they'll hold up over 26. Website says optimal performance up to the half distance and I tend to believe that's accurate but they're so much fun to run in I might not be able to resist.
On a related note: I just tossed the Mizunos Iève been running in since I qualified for Boston back in December 2008. They were well beyond the recommended 500 mile replacement lifespan. I am sure that running those shoes into oblivion is what enabled me to successfully transition from a shoe that weighs 11oz to one that weighs 7. For those of you out there who might be thinking of going smaller, lighter, less as a result of the newly ignited debated about footwear, mechanics, efficiency, etc. take note: The difference between the two shoes is significant and if you switch without prep you will get injured. For me FOR ME, the progressive breakdown of the cushioning in my old shoes provided a gradual injury free transition.
Anyhoo, couple charts: weekly summary, first Q workout of this week. Felt good, ran well. Still trying to figure out pacing for Boston. I'm thinking sat 7:30- ish for the first half and then start cutting it down. Suggestions are welcome.
Sunday, March 7, 2010
Good week. Lighter mileage, about 50 or so. Legs felt good. Quicker paces were easy whether due to lighter mileage or increasing fitness I don't care.
Key workouts this week were:
a 40 minute tempo workout (where I somehow hit the lap key on the Garmin a couple minutes short?) which was supposed to be at 7:15's but felt easy and restrained at 7's
and an interval workout set for 6:45's which ended up nearer to 6:30's. Short intervals: 4:30 on 4 min rest and 3:00 on 2 min rest.
This week is the last 70 mile week between now and Boston. 5 weeks of training left. Booking my flight and getting my passport tomorrow. Things are coming into shape.
There have been a number of posts in the last while about running by feel. Lucho put one up, Kerrie Wlad wrote about training according to feel, Brandon Fuller wrote one about running fast when he felt like it, etc.
I'm hoping for some feedback on this topic because for those who do it well, it sounds like second nature but for those of us who do not it's a bit of a guessing game.
Because there are days that I run OK but feel like crap. And there are days that I feel like crap and run like crap. And there are days when I feel super fresh and can't really get going at all.
And when the training is heavy, I never feel all that great.
So, where does one begin? Can this skill be developed without spending years of running gadget free in the snowy mountains of Colorado? If so, how to start....
Feedback from gadget free, snowy mountain runners is welcome, as is advice from anyone else who has any to offer. I'm in a spot where I've become aware of the limiting effect of seeing those pace splits on the Garmin. That said, like many runners, I like a nice system and I'm a little uptight. After all, this post has three graphs in it!!!
Jamie and I were at the Saskatchewan pavilion for some of the Olympics. We were scheduled to be there on the Sunday of the gold medal men's hockey game until my parents got tickets to the closing ceremonies and we were short one set of babysitters. Thanks Dad!
Monday, February 22, 2010
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
About 8 1/2 weeks until race day. Lots of little things to take care of between now and then: book the plane tickets, get a new passport. You know, minor issues.
Training has been mixed. I've been training under the Daniels Elite marathon program. Daniels offers a 24 week training plan containing two quality days per week and supplemental easy/recovery mileage for the other days. Q1 day is usually a long run and Q2 is almost as long but has a stronger focus on interval/threshold type work. A typical Q1 long day would look something like this:
2 miles easy+
4 miles threshold +
10 miles easy +
4 miles threshold +
2 miles easy
for a total of 22 miles and 8 miles of quality effort. A Q2 day might not be much less mileage (maybe 17m) but with a higher proportion of quality work at threshold or interval pace.
In the body of the textbook, Daniels suggests that the percentage of weekly training at threshold or interval pace be capped so as to prevent over training and/or injury. For everyone except the elite/sub elite big mileage folks, the quality days listed above take a runner well above suggested weekly caps. For example, imagine a runner doing 50 miles as week. They would perform almost half their total weekly running on a single day with a full 20% of their weekly mileage coming as threshold work in a single session. It's not hard to imagine that runner getting smashed pretty quickly.
Daniels is a smart guy and a great coach and he understands that a healthy runner will get faster than an injured one so to get around the problem of athletes breaking themselves on distances and help the average runner train under the system, Daniels suggests that non-elite runners replace prescribed distances with time targets dependent on the pace. So, if the schedule calls for 1 mile of threshold running, a sub elite athlete could replace this with 5 minutes of threshold running. One mile of interval work equals 3 minutes etc. In this way, Daniels attempts to provide enough quality work without pushing the athlete beyond the suggested weekly quality caps and risking their health and ability to continue training.
So, our example above turns from 22 miles into something like this:
12 minutes easy +
20 minutes threshold +
60 minutes easy +
20 minutes threshold +
12 minutes easy
which for everyone but the elite will end up being quite a bit less than 22 miles.
I am most certainly sub elite. I have never run a 5 minute mile. I have never run a 100 mile week. I am certainly training using times not distances. Or am I?
Initially, that was my intention. But when I calculated total mileage based on timed running using my training paces, I didn't feel that the plan had me running far enough. Sure, the quality portion was appropriate but the total distance for long runs peaked at about 15-16 miles if I remember correctly. This didn't seem to me to be far enough and so I devised a compromise. A hybrid approach if you will. I would run all the prescribed easy pace miles as miles and substitute time goals for the quality work. That way, I would still run what I considered far enough on long days. So our example turned into something like this:
2 miles easy +
20 minutes threshold +
10 miles easy +
20 minutes threshold +
2 miles easy.
It's only about two miles less total mileage but the quality portion drops from 8 miles to about 6, a reduction of 25%
I had found a solution and for 6 weeks it worked brilliantly.
What is it about human beings that causes us to make the mistake of thinking that if a small amount of something is good, then a large amount of something must be even better?
You know where this is heading: Training is going well, I'm getting fitter, times are dropping, I'm not missing workouts or getting banged up. Of course the logical thing to do is switch it up.
If a little threshold running is good, then more must be better.
Next two weeks were great, hitting workouts feeling good.
Then, a little twinge in my calf, then some pain in my calf, then a little bit of grumpiness, then a lot of grumpiness, then some missed workouts, then a cold.
So, this week, I'm back to running by time. Kerrie wrote a great post this week about being patient. I wasn't and paid the price. Good news is the calf feels good, there is still lots of time until Boston and I'm confident that the training I am doing will get me to race day feeling fresh and healthy and ready to go.
Sunday, February 7, 2010
The rest of the week is easy running and a 10 mile tempo effort on Thursday.
Had a chance to preview some of the new music I picked up including the latest album by a group called Fanfarlo. They are from England and that's pretty well all I know about them. It took me a while to think of who it was they reminded me of but then I clued in: Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, indie rock darlings circa 2005.
Three songs this week. One from Fanfarlo and a couple from C.Y.H.S.Y's self titled debut from 2005.
Saturday, January 30, 2010
Week 13, 11 weeks till race day. Biggest mileage week for me ever. Just over 70. Legs feel good. Bit of a twinge in my right calf that I'll have to keep an eye on but otherwise feeling good.
Stopped wearing the HR strap for the key workouts because it was pretty uncomfortable and giving me a spot of chafing on my sternum. Long run was tough, ran on a dike next to the Pacific, 11 mile out and back, with the wind on the way out and fighting it all the way back. It's a hill without a summit. Effort equal to about 20 sec/mile faster pace. Good for the mind. Toughen up...
With the internet comes podcasts, and with podcasts comes new music. I DL'd about 10 albums today and will throw up some more good stuff once I've had a chance to listen to it all.
Today, something a little outside my usual sphere: a Canadian/Somalian rapper named K'Naan and two singles from his latest album 'Troubadour'. He was raised in Mogadishu until he was 13 and then moved to Toronto. Powerful perspective listening to someone with his background.