Sunday, January 31, 2010

Weird encounters on a long run

Little did I know that when I was running behind the two drunks who were staggering up the street, 24K into my long run, that I'd be launching in to a mini road race with one of them chasing me with a stick and a picture of his 'lost dog.'

But lets back up to a good 14K earlier, when I was about an hour into the run. I snapped this picture below of the view of downtown. Just moments earlier, I witnessed a group of 'polar bear' swimmers at the lake. I found it a little odd cause it just looked like they were hanging out after plunging into the water. No crowd watching, just about 20 of them standing on the rocks. It was -7C and probably -15C with windchill.

I haven't gone true long distance and I was looking forward to finally going long. I haven't done a hell of a lot of endurance so this was a big week for me, two 10 milers on the weekdays and today's planned 18 miler.

I did a 10 mile out and back on the waterfront and then I did the next 8 miles in the city. City running is always an adventure. You veer in and out of crowds, you can't ever imagine what is around the next corner and, from time to time, run into real idiots.

Like the two guys who were up ahead of me. I knew it was trouble. First guy had a tree branch and a 8x11 printout. He was waving the stick, holding up the paper at passing cars. His buddy had torn jeans, a baggy sweater and was staggering to the right.

As I passed them, stickboy raised his branch at me and whacked me on the behind. WTF?!

I took a few strides, turned and made a gesture while saying, well, WTF?!, then turned around to to jog to the intersection.

They both started running beside me:

Stickboy: 'I can run faster than you!'

Drunkboy: 'uh, ugh,'

We stop at the light and there's other people around, and the both circle me.

Stickboy: 'What's going on, it's Sunday. What's wrong'

Drunkboy: Something indiscernible while putting his arm around me. I can smell the alcohol. It's 2 p.m., he's been drinking heavily.

I shove drunkboy, saying 'get your hands off me'

Stickboy: 'What's wrong, why you pushing us'

Me: I point down at the stick 'You hit me with that, what is that, a weapon'?

Stickboy: 'I was just playing, I'm looking for my dog'

I see this torn up letter sized poster of an admittedly cute dog. I feel immediately sorry for it -- and in retrospect happy that its rid of these owners.

Me: 'Too bad, haven't seen him' I see the light change, and I start running across the street

This is where it gets good. Stickboy starts running beside me. As we reach the curb, I deke right, sending him into the street (stupid him), and then start upping the pace.

Stickboy is running right on my heels. He's got some speed but there's one thing I like to think. You take a marathoner in the latter part of a training run, and even on a bad day, he'll take down any drunken freak who thinks they can 'run fast'. As I'm going into stride speed a hundred metres in, I still hear him on my heels and I wave up my hands three or four times as if to say, 'whatever, try to hunt me down.' Pedestrians and drivers are staring on. It's a good show.

We pass a hospital and I'm near gunning it and then he yells 'He stole my TV!!' which is, I guess, the thing to say when you got your ass whooped by a runner and you're forced to stop. I don't even slow down for another 200 metres because who'd give him the satisfaction of having me looking back. He can eat my dust.

That got my blood boiling and fuelled me for the rest of the run.

30K or 18.67 miles in 2:40

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

If Toronto had one marathon, what would it be like?

The news out of city hall that 2011 may see Toronto lose one of its fall marathons is sure to make some interesting debate in the running community. They are run three weeks apart and there seems to be no love lost between the two camps. Runners I believe are split -- build a bigger marathon or kill one major road race.

Toronto Marathon (Goodlife).

Toronto Waterfront Marathon (Scotiabank)

I don't think I need to rehash the old debate about which one is better. In the end, they are both 26.2 mile- or 13.1 mile-races run on city road. In fact, I'm totally happy to stay out of the debate: I know that a single marathon could result in building a megamarathon in this city and country, I also love the choice I get to do two major races in Toronto. On a side note, for all of us who complain about the state of our health and obesity rates, REALLY, you really have to go after the running community. What's next, ticketing jaywalkers after a bunch of pedestrian deaths?

I've done both marathons and can talk positively about both of them. One is on my home running course while the other delivered my Boston qualifier.

Why not for a moment forget about Toronto Goodlife vs. Toronto Scotia. Why not actually think about what kind of race we want to build. There are two major factors that you can't control through organization (the expo, water stops, entertainment, swag, pacers) of a larger marathon, but for a runner looking for the best experience (and time), I would propose we look at when in the fall it is held, and what is the route like?

Timing: I have run enough races in Toronto to know that late September often risks us having a freak humid day. I like to call the Scotiabank Marathon, often done in the last week of September, the Humid Marathon. I think mid October is a perfect date, it gives a better chance at a cooler day which equals faster times, and Toronto is known for those perfect crisp fall days. I'd do it the second Sunday in October. In terms of timing against other races, it puts it on some years on the same weekend as the Chicago Marathon, but who are we kidding, we're not competing for those numbers. Chicago fills up to the max anyways. Also note that Marine Corps Marathon, which has 25000 or more participants, will in 2011 be run in the same weekend as New York. Why not try to build a second North American mid-October marathon.

Routes: The waterfront marathon is misnamed by the fact that you don't actually see the water much or at least run alongside it. Toronto Goodlife has an awesome start until the half marathon mark (it is net downhill and runs through really nice and interesting neighbourhoods) while the Scotiabank has a kinda boring out-and-back course. If we had one marathon, maybe doing the first half of Goodlife, then run it up University, around Queen's Park, then veer into some of the more interesting Toronto neighbourhoods -- maybe across on Bloor (or College), then down High Parkish area (Ronces), ending at City Hall or some other landmark like the Princess Gates at the CNE. Toronto is known for its diverse neighbourhoods - and not known for the waterfront highway - and it would a shame not to rethink the route.

If Toronto wants to build a megamarathon, then just like the Marine Corps runs through the National Mall, or New York runs up Fifth Avenue, and how Chicago winds through Grant Park to Wrigley and Chinatown, then we should similarly show off the best of the city. And if we halt traffic for one day, and not two, then lets take it to the max. Block all em roads.

Just something to think about.

Toronto Marathon route (last October)

Toronto Waterfront Marathon route (2008 version)

Monday, January 25, 2010

Insert Frank Sinatra song lyric here..

... cause, I am going to run the ING New York City Marathon in November.

Dished out a few hundred American dollars for the privilege of running through the five boroughs of New York City. I will run it slow. It will be a marathon to remember. Thank god for guaranteed entries.

Yes, Boston in the spring, New York in the fall. This is the victory lap.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The friendly trails and oh god maybe I should start real training

The last two running days have been heaven in Toronto. Temperatures hovering above zero, a few moments of sunshine. I swear everyone was in a good mood on the waterfront trail -- dozens of runners I`ve passed over the last few days seemed to be smiling. I routinely do the runner`s head nod or wave but everyone was returning that today. Give us a respite from winter and runners will take full advantage.

Trust me, despite the dreary looking picture, it is acually nice out. Also bumped into a few friends. Saw Fran who was in the middle of his 15 miler and we chatted about training, I noted I had barely done any quality work at all, while he reminded me we were 12 weeks away from Boston. Yesterday, saw Jelly and her cousin on the trails, they`re ramping up for the 30K Around the Bay that`s in two months.

Warning: Geek out numbers part begins

I have been doing a lot of base mileage at an easy pace over the past few months. I decided to figure out what the hell that meant so I looked back at my SportTracks software to track the last 17 months and my average pace.

Last January shows that I`m entirely comfortable going with an easy pace. This month so far, I am at about a 5:16 kilometre pace, while last January, I did even slower paces. You see months where I have done a goal marathon (bolded) is usually among the fastest, while the three months leading up to the marathon I tend to up the pace.

Average mile pace
Average km pace
August, 2008




January, 2009



January, 2010

A note about average pace: It includes tempo runs that I`ll do at 4:20 kilometres (7 and change minute ish miles, marathon pace runs at 4:35ish Ks (7:25ish miles), daily fast paces of around 5 minute kilometres (8 minute miles) and a long run. Recovery runs, very much needed, slows down the average pace. I`ve always known that if I am fit, I can do a 15 - 20 miler at around 5:00 to 5:10 pace (or 8 minute miles and a bit slower), depending on the day and weather.

Because I have an April marathon this year, my February and March should have be doing closer to 5:00 to 5:05 kilometres. In short, I think the speed work, pace runs have to start as of next week.

Now the real work begins.

Weekly mileage: 42 miles
Year to date: 134 miles

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Fall, roll, run

13K today after work was a little clumsy running, so much that I actually fell somewhere before the 1k mark. I was jumping over a curb, landed on a patch of grass and on my next step, lost footing. I remember falling, realizing midfall there was no way I'd catch myself, and decided to roll. The nice GU gloves I scored at a race expo was thick enough that there was no road rash and only a little scrape on the knee.

Ah, the pains of running. I've actually only fallen about three times while running. Once was while running on ice. This time, I consider myself lucky.

The miles are being done, I really feel like the workouts are really work. Not having sunlight makes a difference. My clock tells me that we get 9 hours and 26 minutes of sunlight right now, too bad I spent it and more indoors at work. Need me some Vitamin D.

Been trying out some iPhone running apps. I'm liking the iMapMyRun+. Here's today's route that includes a big hill at the 6.5K mark.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A little motivation

Four years ago, right about nowish, two friends and I convinced each other that we would run our first marathon. That first marathon was quite an experience: the training, the long runs, the goal setting and having a few cohorts to share war stories (both to each other and on our blogs) made it not only bearable, but immense fun.

Jelly, Frankie and I had a blast in Chicago, surrounded by our loved ones. We wore the medals proudly and noshed on deep dish pizza. We asked whether we'd run again. I was bitten by the marathon bug and have since ran another seven marathons. The other guys, they kinda hung up the shoelaces, but the marathon three as we're known, still talk about it.

This past November, at a birthday party for the two (they're a day apart!) my present to them was a race registration this spring. They've both since signed up for a 30K race in March. Tonight, I signed them up for a 5K hilly race the week after (a recovery race, we'll call it).

Welcome back kids, the Chicago marathon crew is back!

Friday, January 08, 2010

Sign me up

In days, I will be down to double digits, the days till the next marathon, so I decided to figure out the schedule. In the past hour, I`ve signed up for a whole slew of races, including a 5K in April, a 10K in May, a 10 miler in July and a half marathon in September (Toronto) and another in March (DC).

And also, I signed up for a marathon in May in addition to the big Spring thon. This year, I will do Mississauga again. No time goals, I think I will do it for fun.

Meanwhile, the clock is ticking.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

On the path

A fresh carpet of snow, light winds and just -1C. My pair of YakTraks were giving me just enough traction that I could pull off a decent clip. On these days, when snow cover lightens up the trail, I`m loving running. I wave at the seven or eight other runners as we make tracks. Today, I only get in 5 miles, but I know longer mileage awaits. Marathon training is back.

Sunday, January 03, 2010


Starting tomorrow, I will stick to the program as best I can. Having survived the Christmas eating season with a few extra pounds, I am at least happy that I ran every day for the past week for a total of 34 miles.

Today was supposed to be a 12 miler. I was going to do 10K but since I was dressed appropriately for a full winter blizzard (windproof briefs and Yak-Trak) I turned it into a 10 miler. Slow going but it was good to go medium long for the first time in a few weeks.

Not much else to say. Training is on.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Frosty morning

-17C and -27C with wind chill, a perfect way to force yourself out of bed and into the layers. We ran 4 miles and the first 500 metres were really painful. By the time we warmed up after about a mile we really enjoyed it. Snapped a few images.

The view at the start. Pretty.

The steam rising from the lake. Helicopter on the horizon.

On the way back.

And a coffee at the end.

4 miles in about 39 minutes.