Thursday, July 29, 2010

What's a difference in a day? A lot

It dawns on me as I get to the end of July that the volume of miles just isn't there this year. Going to have to do something about that. I had 11 miles scheduled and added another for 12 on a Thursday night. Fun times in marathon training.

But this year has been easier on me. For the most part, I've taken training down to a more laid back approach, though 55 mile a week peak is not bad mileage at all.

I'm now at 186 miles, just a long run away from hitting 200 for the month. Last year, I hit more than 200 miles a month five times, doing April, then June to September. Man, I was hitting it hard, and it paid off with a fantastic fall marathon.

This year, I got up to 196 miles in March, but have yet to edge past 200. My knee, which has been bothering me for a few months, is on the road to recovery, and I'm raring to get some strong miles back in me. I won't go for speed quite yet, but that 200, seems like a good enough reason to do my long run on Saturday, the last day of the month, and a day that's forecast to be perfect for summer running (cool). Sunday, it'll just be another month, and who'd want to waste those miles on August?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Against the tide

I took my favourite long-run route out to the Beaches this past weekend, found myself sharing a trail with organized tune-up runs going on. So while I was on my own long run, these groups were on their 20K or less catered runs, with marshals and water stations. It was odd timing, but doing by out and back I passed pretty much all of the runners in that tune-up run, and I found myself nodding at runners. It's a runner thing.

I later ran west back toward downtown, and saw hundreds of cyclists, in pelotons. It occured it to me that I spend an inordinate amount of time going against the tide, it seems. I run year round on a trail used five months a year by bike commuters. The other seven months, I tend to get the trail to myself, and for the bleak winter ones, I truely feel alone, save for the other few crazy runners.

Runners don't often wave at cyclists, but runners, we tend to single out each other. I often whimsically stare at the bikes stream by me, and I check out their cadence, the athlete's build. Sometimes, I get a little frustrated that it takes me so much longer to go the distance. They buzz by me, they buzz by me on their way back. Not a nod or wave. (Don't get me wrong, this is no anti anything rant, just observations of an every day runner).

Today, as I reached the halfway mark of my 10 mile run, I remembered years ago when I used to bike to the exact same point and thought back then that the distance was far. I thought about today, when 10 miles is an everyday event, where an hour and a half on the trails was the usual way I'd spend a Tuesday night. I was running at around an 8 minute mile, and the cardio felt great. I was barely breathing hard. That's what feels good to be in the midst of training. Every run you get a little stronger.

On those roads, it's nice to be a runner, I suppose. A little painful at times to go the distance, and even though you're going at a good clip, you're just a slow moving object compared to those roller bladers and bikes. I guarantee that in six months, I'll be on these same roads, headlights on, layers on and my own trails. The tide will turn my way, just you wait.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Sucking in air

These are moments we don't write about, the part of running, well, that has very little to do with running. Picture yourself at a red light, grateful for it while you lean your arms at your waist. Or when you've pushed yourself too hard in the middle of an everyday run, but everything doesn't feel right. You stop running, walk, maybe take a sip of a water bottle, punching the pause button on your Garmin.

Some runners bounce up and down at the stop sign. I don't understand that. Why? To get the heart racing? My heart's usually racing, thank you very much, i'll just stand here, counting down the clock before the pain begins again.

I'm not going to try to complain too much about the heat, but it was the humidity and still not enough sleep that made me take a walk break a few miles into my short run today. Considered the pain. Remembered that pain is good, that putting pennies in the bank, hay in the barn, was all about moments like this and working your way through hard runs.

Besides, my favourite post-run moments involved sucking in air, feeling the pain, glad I stopped running but happy that I just did all of that distance.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Getting into the miles

Did my first long run in quite a while, not sure how I skipped so many weeks without truly going the distance. Ran 16 miles yesterday in about 2:20, at a 8:33-per-mile pace.

This training cycle is obviously much easier than past years but I still get the appreciation for the hours that training takes. At times, it's something that weighs on me. But I usually forget that, like yesterday while I was running on the trails, being passed left and right by cyclists. Felt nice, strong even, independent, to be in the virtual wilderness.

Hit 45 miles, this week is a 'rest' week, which I'll take. Look forward to when 16 milers feel easy. They just don't quite yet.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Race report: Acura 10 miler

Funny how things go from blah to okay. Must be the race-day magic factor. Ran a few miles to the race site and was not really feeling up to racing. Felt out of sorts. 30 minutes later, I was excited, raring to go. That is the funny thing about racing. It brings out the competitive spirit and ignites.

I stood there in the final minutes before the countdown when I bumped into Lee, Fran and another fellow runner. I love how the beginning of a race now feels like walking down your neighbourhood, if you actually run into friends in your neighbourhood.

We talked about the next race, about the cloud that was coming, and on what paces we would embark on. Me, marathon pace, then see. Lee, the same (though his marathon pace is something to behold). And Fran was doing the 5K but thought about turning around.

In the first kilometre, I reminded myself to hold myself back, favour the knee that complains on one day and is seemingly fine the next (it was whispering uneasiness, and I chose to listen at time). I thought today's mantra would be: pace, then race.

Pace, then race has been pretty much the way I've done this race in the past. I run the first half at marathon pace then lower the hammer for the last half. I treat it as a combo pace run with tempo end. It's given me weird times (fastest was 1:09:29 two years ago and a 1:15:48 in 2007).

Now my marathon pace is a little slower, I didn't worry about hitting those 4:30s and settled for 4:35s. So that was the goal: Go for 4:35s then if it felt right, then go for 4:20s for the last 6 kilometres.

The start
I joked to Fran and Lee that 'there are 5Ker among us' which meant don't go out too fast. We were lucky that we had cloud cover for the beginning but that didn't last. It wasn't as hot as it had been in the past week but it was still warm.

The pace felt fine. I was not hurting at all, in fact, it felt pretty comfortable (as it should). That was a good sign. Because I did not go out too fast, I had a pretty large group of runners ahead of me. In fact, there was a line of runners for a pretty far stretch. I hadn't seen that in a while. I knew not to worry too much, and that if I kept a steady fast pace, I would reel them in if they had gone out too fast.

1K 4:28
2K 4:34
3K 4:36
4K 4:35
5K 4:38

First 5K went pretty well. I was trying to run by feel and by pacing with people around me, making sure that if runners were slowing down that I would pick it up. I took water and Gatorade at the stops and was happy to see a misting tent.

We ran into the spit: not my favourite place to run, I only go there on ocassion when I'm doing a long run and want to burn off some miles. Air is suffocating at times, very little shade and no water fountains.

By this time, the running groups were breaking up. I found myself, as in other races, running alone trying to catch up to another group. It's simply the only way to race if everyone around you is slowing. As you can see from the splits, I wasn't really going much faster than my average but I was gaining ground. A few other runners gained on me, but I caught some of them later on.

6K 4:39
7K 4:38
8K 4:34

Reached the half way point at around 37:19. My 5K to 7K splits were not on target. I realize looking back that I really wasn't checking my splits, I was just concentrating on keeping decent form, not losing any major pace and saving some energy for the second half.

In past years, I decided to lower the hammer for tempo speed for after the 8K mark, but I knew that I was pretty warm and I maybe would have risked overheating. So after the half, I decided just to run strong and do a little bit of racing. Most of the last half I spent passing people, not by major bursts.

9K 4:32
10K 4:31
11K 4:36

Was pretty happy with some of these splits. Was feeling strong and comfortable as much as running in heat can give you. I sipped on Gatorade and water that I brought with me in between stops and they were a major boost. Also ducked back under the misting tent when other runners didn't. That gave me an idea for the last bit.

12K 4:33
13K 4:30

The last three or so kilometers were pretty fun. I was with a few guys and I decided to relax and just do pace for a bit, trying to get under whatever shade I could find. At the second last water stop, I dumped water over me. Felt awesome. Then I realized that maybe that would get me through the end. At the last stop, I took another cup over my head and cool water spilled on to my back and front of my singlet. A little more water than I wanted, but it had an immediate cooling effect. Kept up the pace and went on hunting for more.

14K 4:33
15K 4:30
16K 4:18

Great last kilometer, where I finally hit tempo pace. Hit the end at 1:13:42. I was pretty happy with the result. I could have gone out more aggressive.

First half: 37:07
Second half: 36:35

Chip: 1:13:42
Place: 143/1514
Group: 16/136
Pace: 4:33 kilometres (7:19 miles)

Thursday, July 08, 2010


Today was another battle with the heat and I think it's safe to say I emerged victorious. I planned a 10 miler and I knew it could be difficult, with the temperature at 6:30 p.m. around 30C with higher temps with humidity. But I think the last week in the heat and the fact that my running route is by the water helped.

Also helped that I had a few rabbits to pace off of during the run. I was surprised after 5 miles that I was average sub 8 minute miles so I kept it up for the rest of the run. Yes, the last two miles I was starting to hurt from the heat, but I had three little bottles of Gatorade and refilled one of them with water, so I was good to go, fuel and hydration-wise.

Some good news with my knee. It's starting to feel better and it's handling the miles and speed well. I think I can turn up the pace in the next while, looking forward to it.

10 miles and change in 1:19:26, pace of 7:54 miles.

View 10 miler in a larger map

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Running goes on

Took a long weekend in DC, where it's supposed to be above 100F today. Yikes. The running goes on. That is to say, the miles are getting in there, nowhere close to last year's volume, but i'm not taking that badly.

It's hard to pile on the miles when you're getting used to the warm weather, but DC sure took care of that. I piled on a 13 miler last Thursday on Canada Day on what turned out to be a nice cool day. The rest of the week, I managed miles here and there, including two 4/5 milers on hawt days around the Capitol.

Good to recharge.

We cooked, and ate well.

And went out on a lake.

And watched the fireworks.

I entertained running early this morning in DC, but after wandering around the city last night, it was so hot and humid I just decided to do it after work in Toronto. Tonight, it was humid in Toronto but cooler than down south. I put in a good workman 8 miler.

In all, got in 35 miles last week. This week is supposed to be in the 40s and I plan to hit that with another medium long run this week then I have a 10 miler race. I plan to use that as the meat of a 15 miler long run. Should be interesting.