Saturday, September 30, 2006

Sweet sweet taper, bad bad food

Originally uploaded by yumkerun.
Well, a friend from Calgary was in town, and it called for a boys night. Going into the night that promised junky food and alcohol, I thought it'd be a good idea to limit the intake of alcohol adn do the same with the bad food.

Good intentions. I downed five beers last night, and when we got to Wayne Gretzky's (the restaurant / bar), we proceeded to order the ultimate platter (use your imagination), four lbs of chicken wings, chicken strips, perogies, cheese bread.. oh my god it was so bad.. and i don't mean it's so bad it's good, it was just bad...

I did hydrate with water thoughout the night, i'll give myself that. So this morning, setting out on my 32K (20 mile) run. Jelly and I made tentative plans to bump into each other during our long run and we crossed path at the 5 mile mark. We went our separate ways and we met at my place so we could get water.

Anyways, we did about 7 miles together and it was a nice way to finish my last long run. By the way, it was the first time she'd done more than 16 miles!

Total time was 3:18:29.

This week isn't over, with a 10 miler left tomorrow, but with this run over with, the taper has begun. Next weekend will be 12 miles/4 miles, followed by 8 miles/4 miles the weekend after that. It's time for the body to heal.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Obituary for a fellow runner...

As I was writing a few days ago, a man died on Sunday running the half. As it turns out, he had run Chicago a few years ago to raise money for a children's charity. Here's a nice obituary about Martin Poyser, a 'hairdresser and athlete'...


... I realize I haven't taken a day off since the half marathon, so i'm taking today adn tomorrow off. This weekend i'll be doing about 30 miles, so there's no shortage of running...

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Oh, that's what I look like

Originally uploaded by yumkerun.
Pictures from the race are out... I dished out a whack of cash last year for pictures so i'm just doing a little screen grab of this years to make up. I do like the running pic (as opposed to finishing pics) cause I can actually see what I look like when i'm running. Since the sun is against my face, i think this was somewhere between 12 and 17 kilometre mark.

Did the first weekday morning run in awhile, 8K (5 miles).

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The last big push

Actually, it doesn't feel much like a hard week -- yet. This is the last 50+ mile week and coming off the half-marathon race, I had hoped I'd recover fast enough to get going. Luckily, ice and epsom salts baths go a long way, as does my current conditioning.

Yesterday, I was still a bit sore, but I managed to get in an easy 5K (3 miles) on the water route. I also bought a new pair of shoes, so now I can rotate between two pairs until marathon day. Yesterday was also an odd day when my work life and running life collided. We were deciding on what features to pursue for the news site and one of the possible items was "marathon running, is it safe?" A 41-year-old died competing in the same half marathon I was running in and it was the third in Toronto in three years. It was very sad. So instead of assigning it to a researcher, I figured it'd be so much easier to write the story myself. I interviewed the Running Room's founder, a University of Toronto professor who researches marathon deaths and the race director for the waterfront marathon, who happened to be driving a bus that was carrying the elites ("Mexicans, Kenyans," he said) to Niagara Falls. Anyways, it's published here. Again, odd my journalistic life and running life would come into one... doesn't happen all that often.

Today, legs still felt a bit sore, but I set out on my 10 miler (16K) and it was fine. I ended up doing it in 1:24:38 with a pace of 8:23 miles or 5:13 kilometres.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Race report: Toronto Scotiabank Waterfront Half Marathon

Originally uploaded by yumkerun.
No, that's not me in the picture. I thought this was really cute. A mom was just finishing up her marathon (around 4:15) when her two kids joined her and helped her finish. Or, rather, she dragged them across the finish line. Click on the picture for a few other meagre shots from the start/finish area well after my race.

Anyways, here's the race report and it's long, i'm sorry: I knew going into this race that it'd be a good test before the Chicago Marathon. I could practice pacing, hydration, drafting, advancing from group to group. In other words, racing.

I prepped the same way i would prep for other races. I took a few days off running to get the tired legs some breathing room (I ran a 24 miler last Sunday). I carbo loaded late in the week and on Saturday, I did a lot of lying around and ate a nice meal.

Was in bed early and up very early to get my pre-race meal of a bagel and a banana, then was up again at 5:30. I left home at 6:20 and was at the race site about 20 minutes to start time. Wow, tonnes of people and it was dark since I was wearing my shades and the sun wasn't up.

I found an area to line up between the 1:30 and 1:40 zone, waited patiently and was very nervous. Not because of the racing, but I thought I had no sufficently done 'my business' and didn't want to hit the portapotties during the race.

My half marathon history puts my times at between 1:34:30 and 1:36:30, the latter is how I did this race last year. The big difference this time is that I'm not training for the half (my other halves were my 'big races' so I had trained for them). Therefore, I had not done enough long pace runs at 4:30Ks, as opposed to my marathon pace of 4:45K.

Off we went, and I tried to hold back. While everyone was wildly jockeying for position, I just found a good area to run in and find suitably fast people to run near. By about the 2K mark, the field was starting to thin out a little (only a little) and I spotted Frankie at the spot where he promised to be. I shouted 'frankie!' he waved and I was off.

Kilometres 3 to 12 were due west. Problem was, a very strong wind was going due east. This wasn't good. We started running in little packs and I was trying to find the right group to pace off of. I picked a duo who were doing the marathon (they started both races at the same time) and they seemed to be doing 4:30s. In retrospect, we were a bit slower.

This time was pretty uneventful, just logging the kilometres and trying to not lose focus. We had a few hills and the wind was constantly a challenge. I found it hard to take in water at the water stations. I really have to learn how to walk through them.

In my head, here was the strategy: Make it to the 12K mark a bit behind pace, then make up for it in the last 9K. I figured out that I could do it for two reasons. 1) Because of the wind, I was not going all out. I figured it would be a waste of energy to fight the wind to try to log the 4:30s. 2) Use the wind to my advantage in the last 9K. It was more or less pushing me.

According to my splits, I ran the first 12.1K in 56:12 for a pace of 4:39 and I ran the last 9K in 39:29 for a pace of 4:23. Hello negative split!

I ran behind, then passed, one of the jogglers at around the 14K mark. He was amazing, able to juggle and entertain the runners on the other side of the out-and-back. In fact, for about 2 minutes after I passed , I heard a lot of cheering. Not for me but i'll take it.

By the 15K mark, I was now running alone, trying to catch up to a big group. At the second-last big hill, I made up a lot of ground and started to target runners and picked them off. This continued for pretty much the rest of the race. It was an amazing feeling having the stamina and ability to kick up the gears. One runner actually said to me, as I was passing him on the final hill with 3K left, 'Nice push". I thanked him and I silently thanked all those long runs of the past 3 months. I passed a lot of runners, which is the exact opposite of what used to happen.

Compared to last year, I was flying and I have proof. Here are last year's times for the last 4K that are accurate: 4:38, 4:48, 4:41, 4:22. This year: 4:23, 4:24, 4:19, 4:19.

Anyways, by kilometre 20, I knew that it would be very difficult to go sub 1:35, but I bared down and ran. I thought about letting up, and I did a little, but I passed the finish line happy and satisifed.

Because this isn't the big race. The big race is 27 days from now, and I think i'm almost ready.

By the way, at our post race brunch, Frankie, who had done 18 miles for the day, told us about ice baths. So I decided to do it. It hurt. I had to bite down on a towel. I couldn't feel my toes. But my legs feel so good. Amazing. I'll do an epsom salt bath tonight to complete the therapy.

Final (chip) time: 1:35:16:05
Place overall: 214/4458(95 percentile)
Place men: 185/2013 (91 percentile)
Place group: 33/319 (89 percentile)

A nice strong finish = mission accomplished

Medal and paceband
Originally uploaded by yumkerun.
Full race report to come, but here are the key stats while I go shower and get some grub with Jelly, who ran her first half mary and was smiling the last 300 metres when i waved her in!

My chip time was 1:35:17, not a PB but more than a minute shaved off last year's time. I placed 214 over all, not sure how big the field is, but I suspect it's almost 5,000. (update: There were 4,500 runners.

I'm very happy cause I went into this without proper half marathon speed training, but I managed to deal with the wind and faster pace.

The best sign that marathon training is paying off is that I had one of the strongest finishes to a half marathon I've ever had. I actually held back in the first 10K. For the last 11.1K, instead of struggling, I poured it on. I believe I ran a negative split. "Nice push," one runner said to me as we reached the 18K point and I blew by.

It's exactly four weeks until marathon day. Oh my lord it's creeping up. This week's mileage is pretty sad, huh? Two runs and a race, though, so I'm not too worried. Next week, a 50 mile+ schedule!

Weekly total: 37K (23 miles)
Time run this week: 2:48:05
Year to date: 1,998K (1,241.5 miles)
Marathon training to date: 946K (588 miles)

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Starting line

Originally uploaded by yumkerun.
The starting line of this week's Scotiabank Waterfront Marathon, where i'm doing the half, is literally right outside my new work place. Maybe I should bring my work card so I can use the facilities.

It's warm out now. i think I'll be happy with the 7 a.m. start tomorrow.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Another run...

This is really turning out to be a rest week. Did a 5K run after work and barely got up to half marathon race pace. Part of me is worried that I'm not conditioned for this, part of me knows that there's a race-day magic that makes you outperform, so long as you don't set your expectations at an unreasonable level.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

When pigs fly... (aka, the non-running post)

Originally uploaded by yumkerun.
I have to follow. My excuse for not running today could have been because I'm doing a mini taper for the race this Sunday.

But no, it wasn't. My brother surprised me a few days ago by telling me he got us tickets to see Roger Waters (of Pink Floyd fame) live in the flesh in Toronto. It's his Dark Side of the Moon tour which means he plays that amazing performance straight, from heart beat to heart beat.

Best part, we were stationed about 25 metres from the stage, which means I got to scream my head off and sing songs like Comfortably Numb ("When I was a child, I had a fleeting glimpse, out of the corner of my eye") while the freaking guy who wrote those songs was singing back in my direction.

Okay, another dream come true. (I saw Roger in 1999 and the Gilmour-led Floyd a year or so before that).

Roger, for me, is a God. I love him, his wacky political ideas (I usually agree) and his lyrics, even the recent ones that escape most people's attention span. He wrote a song about Beirut that went right after Tony Blair and George W., which pleased the Canadian crowd and was highlighted by the flying pig that soared above us with random messages on it.

Confession. I'm a reformed Floyd addict, which is to say I've listened to all their albums and solo works for years, then put them away about 10 years ago. Doesn't mean I still don't love the guys.

So, in a long and winding post, that's my excuse for not running. (And for you random Floyd fans out there, my brother promises me he'll post the videos he took up on Youtube.. it'll be good watching.)

Back to your regularily scheduled running blog.

Update: Brother posted videos. Here's a classic

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Quick 10...

Wanted to get in a speedy run, so went to work and ended up with a 10K run in 48:49.
The K splits were as follows:

Monday, September 18, 2006


No running today. A well-earned rest day in my estimation. In fact, i'll be taking another two in prep for Sunday's race...

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Chicago countdown: 35 days to go

Well, another week is in the books and we're down to five weeks till marathon day.

Two more hard weeks, then the taper will begin. I can't believe we're already here. The next 14 days will have two challenges.

The first will be next Sunday when I race the Scotiabank Waterfront half marathon. I ran this race in 1:36:24 last year and I know I can best it (my PB in the distance in 1:34:29). The problem is that I've been in marathon training, which has me aiming at a pace of 4:45. My half marathon racing pace is typically in the 4:30 range, and I'd like to push it down to 4:20 to 4:25, which will put be under 1:34 minutes. I think i'll have to do a pacer at my half marathon speed to get used to it.

The second will be the final week of heavy running, with my last 20 miler scheduled. I have now done two runs in excess of 20 miles, so it hopefully won't be that hard to put in.

This week's been good. I took an extra day off, but still managed to top 50 miles.

Weekly total: 87K (54 miles)
Time run this week: 7:24:04
Year to date: 1,961K (1,218.5 miles)
Marathon training to date: 909K (565 miles)

A 24 miler in the book

Originally uploaded by yumkerun.
Well, here's the picture to prove it. My longest run for this training program, and I don't think i'm going to push it any farther. I ran 38.64K, which translates into 24 miles. The last 6K past the 32K mark were tough as I knew it was optional, but I did it in 3:29:20 with an average pace of 5:24Ks or 8:24 miles. In my mind, marathon day will push me to run at my true pace of between 4:45 to 5 minute Ks and for that final 2.2 miles. Physically, I think i'm just about there. The mental game will have to be solid.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

The journey...

Today, I thought back to the commitment I made in January when I decided to sign up for Chicago. Back then, in the wintery weather, it was a happy-go-lucky decision. I knew it'd be tough, but October was so far away. I knew the mileage would creep up, the hours on the road would steadily increase and the time for other things would slip away.

And as winter turned to spring, I boosted my weekly mileage, starting looking to a half marathon race, a 10K. But it still wasn't anything compared to what effort and commitment -- and sacrafice -- that I would have to take over the course of this training program.

And then on June 19, the program started. By that point, in almost six months of running, I had logged 1,050K, no small mileage for an average runner. But then the program came into effect and I was staring at a schedule that had me running 6 days out of seven. From running four hours a week, I am now facing up to 7 or 8 hours on the road a week, not counting prep, warmup, etc.

In three months since, I've logged 900 kilometres and I have to say -- shudder the thought -- that each run has been easy and hard. Easy to get out the door, hard to maintain fast pace. Easy to wind down a run, hard to get the limbs going. Easy in the middle of a sorta-long run, hard at the beginning of a recovery run after a Sunday long jaunt.

And it's also hard because, simply, this marathon training business is a grind. It wears you out, it monopolizes your time. People may think you're crazy and your fit, when in fact you're sometimes scared of running in crappy weather and you just ate a hamburger three hours ago so you feel nowhere near trim and lean. You say 'i ran 30K yesterday' to someone and some will say 'holy cow' and others just can't imagine how long that distance is. Let me tell you, it's far. Actually, sometimes far is an understatement.

Weekends are not time for rest, but time to strengthen your body by breaking it down. Sometimes, during the middle of the long run, I start daydreaming what it would be like to have more time to hang out and drink beers, to stay up well past midnight, to take two or three days in a row off exercise. To sleep in on a Saturday or Sunday morning. Best keep that as a carrot for the end of this journey, 36 days from now, when a commitment made in January can be considered kept.

Okay, I feel better having said that.

This weekend is supposed to be 16K (10 miles) at pace and 32K (20 miles) at LSD. Part of me wanted to get the easy part over. Guess which one that was? Yep, the 20 miler. I've been dreading pace runs, they are just too hard sometimes to maintain the focus you need to run race pace when you're running by yourself.

I skipped last week's 6 mile pacer cause of sore calves, so I felt it was important to get down to business and do the 16K run (10 miler). And I was happy to be able to maintain a 4:47K pace (7:41 mile)

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Danny boy...

Update (10/02/08): I see some people are landing on this page looking for info on Danny Kassap, who collapsed during the Berlin Marathon this past weekend. Here's a forum where there seems to be good updates.

Original post:
You all have local running heroes. You know, they're the guys and gals who tear it up in races at your home town. You look at the race results, scroll way way down, and find yours among the middle or back of the pack. At the top, with the crazy times and rip roaring pace, are those heroes.

Well, there are many in Canada's biggest city, but here's one to remember: Danny Kassap (picture at left is from the race photog from here). He's run in Toronto for a few years now, has won the Scotiabank Waterfront Marathon last year, the Montreal marathon last week and will have a go at the Scotiabank on the 24th (i'm running in the half in that race).

The Globe reports he has his refugee claim rejected and he can't run for Canada even though he is married to a Canadian. He fled Congo after criticizing the government, hasn't spoken to his family, arrived here and stayed at a homeless shelter, learned the language and started running competitively.

I've run in races where he blew away the competition. At the 5K race at the Docks, for example, he blew away the competition on a hot hot day. (correction, i called him a Kenyan runner in that post.. opps). I had the pleasure of seeing him in the lead in the out-and-back route.

All I have to say is that is a complete shame. This guy is a shining example to the running community and embodies what Canada represents for so many people, including my parents when they immigrated here many years ago. A land of opportunity. A place where you can remake yourself. I buy his refugee claim and, more to the point, I buy that he's Canadian, if not by passport, then by heart.

I ran 8.1k (5 miles) after work with a nice speedy last mile... Tomorrow is supposed to be more speed work, but I may very well skip it in prep for the weekend long run.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

We out there, hiding...

Funny how you 'run' into runners in the most unlikely places. What do I find out about a co-worker (i'm new, of course)? He's a big runner. Has done Chicago. Has done Boston. Just went sub-1:30 a few days ago in a half.

Okay, about this morning. The alarm went off at 5:10. I got up, read through the paper. It was dark. I looked at the bed. It looked comfortable. Sleep won. Which meant when I got home at 6:30, dying to just do nothing, it was automatic. Put on the HRM, the Garmin, the hat, socks, top and shorts. Shoes on, out the door. Ran 17.4K (10.8 miles) in 1:25:04.

Monday, September 11, 2006

New shoes, new job

Yesterday, I broke in my new pair of shoes. Today, I started my new job. I'm kinda glad I have the marathon training -- it will provide some sort of focus as I throw myself at new duties, new environment, computers, etc.

Here's my new card, with picture and ID number obscured. I know, my mugshot's already on this blog..

I ran 6.5K (4.2 miles). I'm trying to figure out how I'm going to fit the 10 miler in tomorrow. Do I run it early in the morn, or after work.. I'm thinking I may be back to morning running

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Chicago countdown: 41 days to go

Originally uploaded by yumkerun.
Broke out my new shoes today cause yesterday's pain was a nice reminder that your shoes can only last so long. It was a beautiful day and the end of my step-back week. Ran a simple 20K (12 miles) in 1:48. By the end of the run, it felt good. My heart rate was a bit higher than usual, and I put that to sore legs and to my semi-anxiety leading up to tomorrow's first day on the job. I suspect running will be both a stresser and stress reliever as I get used to the new work place and prepare for my next two races.

Weekly total: 61K (37 miles)
Time run this week: 5:09:03
Year to date: 1,874K (1,164.5 miles)
Marathon training to date: 822K (511 miles)

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Know when to fold them

I was awoken this morning by cheering and honking of horns and it turns out it was the Weekend to end Breast Cancer. A worthy cause where people raise at least $2,000 each to do a two-day 60K walk. Ow. It started to rain, and I felt bad for them.

My training calendar said I would have to do 10K (6 miles) at pace. Pace is, for now, 4:45-minute kilometres or 7:40 miles. I started off with a 4:40, then a 4:20. Then my calves started getting really sore and tight. Plus, the soles of my feet were starting to hurt. Not good. I have a good idea of why this happened, and I'm thinking it's 1) lack of stretching the past week and 2) my shoes really really need to be replaced. In the meantime, I decided to walk it off a bit, then resume with a slower 5:20 pace. I figure I have next week's 10 miler pacer plus a half marathon race in the next month to get me prepared to run at race pace. No sense in getting hurt.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Old desk...

Originally uploaded by yumkerun.
I took a picture of my old desk that I vacated today after six years. It was an emotional day to leave the newspaper, and I found it such a relief that I could go for a 5K (3.1 mile) run in, oddly enough, 23:23.

The splits were as follows
Mile 1: 7:57
Mile 2: 7:34
Mile 3: 7:08

Now a I have a day off tomorrow and a day of rest, a weekend with two relatively short runs (10 miles at pace and 12 miles), then I start the new job on Monday at 9:30 sharp.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

A banned substance?

I decided to book my plane tickets yesterday.. arrive Friday morning, back home on Monday afternoon, not too much sightseeing in between. Speaking of planes, I guess i'll have to check in my power gels now with the new security rules, or else trust that I can find some in Chicago. Somehow I think with 40,000 runners in the city, I may air on the side of caution.

I think my mileage this week will be just above 40 miles, a nice step back from last week. Today, I ran 8K (5 miles) at a reasonable pace.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Mornings no more...

It's pretty much dark at 6 a.m. And it's cool. So, do I shift my workouts to after work? Well, for now, that's what I'm going to do. Ran 10K (6.2 miles) in 48:47 with a negative split. Pushed my heart rate up to 95% in the final 500 metres or so...

Monday, September 04, 2006

Summer's end..

It's Labour Day, so to mark it, we did NOTHING. Slept in, ate bad food, slept more, finished The Day Trader by Stephen Frey, and watched part of the airshow from R.'s 22nd floor condo.

She was dying for a run, so we went on the water and it was really crowded for the end of the Exhibition. I did 6.6K (4.1 miles) in 35 minutes.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Chicago countdown: 48 days to go

Let the picture speak for itself. I'm very pleased with all my runs this week. I can't believe I'm less than 10K away from doing a 100K week.

This could have very well have been the peak weekly mileage i'll do in this training program. I'm surprised I made it through it with barely sore muscles. My fitness is good, the running's great, the shoes are getting worn down and almost need to be replaced, but the important thing is I did it. A 23 miler yesterday, a 10 miler (16K) today and I ran four weekday days. This is it, the big buildup to marathon fitness. I suppose exactly a month from now, the taper will begin, so I have a lot of work to do, but in my mind, I've become comfortable with high mileage weeks.

Today, I did the out-and-back route on the water toward the west. It's been cool and cloudy and slightly windy the past two days, maybe a preview of October weather in Chicago?
The future looks like this: A nice step-back week next week, followed by me starting a new job along with another 50+ mile week, then another step-back with a half-marathon race at the end of the week, then the last big mileage week with a long run on Oct. 1.

Yikes, marathon day is arriving!

Weekly total: 92.5K (57.5 miles)
Time run this week: 7:57:48
Year to date: 1,813K (1,126.5 miles)
Marathon training to date: 761K (473 miles)

Saturday, September 02, 2006

23 miles? Why not.

So I was e-mailing with Jelly yesterday and she was trying to talk me into running with her to Scarborough, the big suburb where we both grew up. I said I would call her last night if I decided to do it.

Sorry Jelly. I had a guys night at my place, just some old university j-school friends, 70s movies, beer, chips, za, scotch (the smooth 16-year old variety) and cigars. So by the time I was in bed, it was 2 a.m. and a prospect of a long run today was more concept than reality.

But I got up at 7 for some reason and, by 8:20, I was out there, ready to do a 10 mile out and back on the waterfront. Or maybe a 20 miler. It was cloudy. It was windy. And I didn't feel like running the trail alone. So I opted for a city route to visit the west end, downtown, uptown and the harbourfront.

When it was all said and done, I had done 37.5K (23.3 miles) in 3:16:37 with a pace of 5:14 kms or 8:25 miles. It was raining for the last 10 miles but I was happy.