Monday, October 3, 2016

Injuries Suck

All that really needs to be noted is that after my PB at the Prince Edward County Marathon a year ago tomorrow I've suffered through a foot injury, sustained in the race, until resuming running in mid-July. Once that happened I slowly built up my weekly mileage from less than 20km to a little over 40km/week before hitting another hurdle: left foot pain that is suspiciously a lot like plantar fasciitis...

So, one lesson learned from that experience is: don't try to streak when you haven't streaked successfully before. In fact, do NOT try to streak coming off of an injury. I ran almost every single day in August... Second lesson is do not ignore tight hamstrings. I think the knot I felt in my left hammy ended up radiating down to the left foot and ultimately caused the pain that stopped me from running in early September.

Anyway, yesterday I went with my older son for a walk/jog in the trails to test the foot as it has stagnated in its recovery and I think was due for some stimulation and it felt great. Why? Because I left the Garmin at home. I walked a minute, jogged a minute, walked, then jogged two, walked, then jogged three, and then back down the pyramid. I was only conscious of how I was feeling and used that as feedback while ignoring pace, cadence, distance, and any other metric that has gotten me in trouble in the past. I can for 23m30s and, after plugging the route into Gmaps Pedometer, managed 3.5km. Shitty by all accounts except the one that ultimately really matters above all else: I had FUN!

Here's to running without a Garmin for a while. Will I keep myself honest and not get seduced by the lure of the metrics? Hmm...

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Monday, November 9, 2015

Another Try...

After my last run I was caught off guard with the resulting aches and pains that materialized seemingly out of the blue. Although my right ankle, still not 100%, wasn't really bothering me any more than before the run, my left knee felt like someone had shoved some crap into the middle of it and then the crap expanded causing significant pressure and pain. It hurt to walk and it hurt to bend the knee. It was almost as if the ACL got shorter and fatter at the same time!

In any case, I waited for the rest of the week for the knee issue to calm the hell down and did not even attempt to run. This was quite disappointing to me as I was definitely ready to get back to training and every day lost to injury made me feel like I was losing fitness at an alarming rate.

Today I felt pissed off enough to get out for an evening run to test the body out. I ran slow and easy and really enjoyed the Fall weather as I ran in the dark, crunching leaves underfoot. The first couple of kilometres were fine, but after that I started to feel like I was losing control of my legs as they felt somewhat numb. I made it through 5k E at 5:30/km and seem none the worse for wear, but the feeling in my legs definitely makes me think that I have lost a LOT of fitness since the marathon :(

But at least it's (another) start! Plan is to run at least once or twice more this week and I am hoping my body allows this to happen.

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Tuesday, November 3, 2015

It's Been A While

The recovery phase, post-marathon, has taken longer than I'd hoped, and I suppose it will continue for a bit longer in a fashion, but I think that this was the safest thing for not only my right ankle (which is still not 100% as of this post) but my whole body in the end. The rule of thumb I'd heard for recovery is one week off for every ten kilometres raced. It's been a full four weeks and a couple of days so I suppose that after racing 42.2km this was the perfect amount of down time in the end.

That being said, it's still a pain in the ass to take any time off. However, this morning I did manage to go out for an easy 5k and it went better than expected in some ways and less than stellar in others.

The better part was that I ran the whole way nice and easy and nothing snapped, crackled, or popped. I even managed to run at a decent pace (5:10/km). The not so stellar part was that my legs felt like they were full of lead and different aches and pains kept creeping into them and then going away. Most of all I felt super stiff in the hips and calves.

But at least it's a start! November will be all about building up the stamina and mileage one step at a time.

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Sunday, October 11, 2015

First Week Post Marathon

Here's how the first week after my marathon went...

Monday: Biked to work on sore legs and generally took things very easy. It was odd that my left quad was more sore than my right given that the issues I experienced at the 16k mark were on the right side. I suppose I compensated for the pain in my right side and used my left leg more in the last 26k? In any case, I felt ok given the fact that the last ten kilometres of the race were a painful experience to say the least. I walked around a bit at lunch time just to make sure I wasn't sitting all day, but other than that this was most definitely a full day OFF.

Tuesday: The physical ramifications of the marathon continued with respect to pain the legs, in particular the left quad, but also the right foot. It seems that the right quad issue that I experienced at the 16k mark of the race and thereafter was related to the slope of the road on which I had to run, meaning that the right side was always slightly lower than the left. As a result, my foot was feeling sprained and that was more worrying than any other ache or pain that I incurred. It hurt to walk, and that's always a bad sign. However, I still went to the gym at lunch time and did some basic rolling followed by a sit in the sauna. First two days after the race is still too early to declare any major issues as the plan always was to take two full weeks off running anyway.

Wednesday: A crazy day at work, bisected by a fire alarm that had me walking down from the 19th floor of an unfamiliar building, meant that I not only could not get to the gym for anything remotely close to a recovery session, but also that my right foot took more of a pounding than I'd intended. I definitely sprained something running on the slope of the right side of the road during the marathon and now must manage this injury prior to resuming running...

Thursday: Another day at work wherein I can't recall even having time to breather, but I did manage to extricate myself for a short spell to the gym. I did a bunch of push ups and pull ups, rolled my legs for a bit, and then sat in the sauna for a bit. The concern remains the right foot and ankle (the "wonky" one) as the pain seems to be getting worse rather than better. A friend pointed out that this could be a stress fracture and I am totally dreading the possibility :(

Friday: This was a bit quieter at work, though I never planned to do too much. Most of the day was spent sitting, which allowed my foot and ankle to rest, but by the end of the workday my foot was in a lot of pain. I also had a two hour basketball practice that I had to coach in the evening that totally put my foot over the edge...

Saturday: Drove to Ottawa for Thanksgiving and the foot/ankle continued to stay the uncomfortable and painful status quo. Frustrated is an understatement...

Sunday: Same as Saturday, though without the driving. Foot and ankle just did not seem to be improving. One week down and still in a major holding pattern :(

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Monday, October 5, 2015

Prince Edward County Marathon 2015 Race Report

So, it's time to try and recap my third marathon so that I can remember what all of this felt like before, during, and afterward and hopefully use this information to learn and improve for future races.

The first thing to note is that I am somewhat disappointed in my execution of the race, not necessarily the result itself. Yes, I am very happy that I was able to set a Personal Best by over 33 minutes, but I am not happy with the fact that I was unable to manage the race better while I was running it. I clearly have a lot to learn about "going for it" when doing so may not be the wise choice. It is my personality to do so I guess and with that I have to grapple. I also have a few things to take away that will inform my future training as well, and that is a very good thing.

So, the lead up to the race: it was a tough Saturday in the sense that I knew we wouldn't get out of town early due to some other family commitments and also that the highway was shut down in both directions due to a massive overnight accident. We managed to get through the family commitments and then waited out the highway blockage for a bit before hitting the road shortly before 2pm for the 2.5hr drive to Picton and the Race Expo. The drive wasn't too bad and I was a passenger the entire time thanks to my wife doing all the driving (thanks!). We arrived at the Expo a bit before 5pm and I was able to get in and out pretty quickly picking up two bibs for friends as well as my own. We then drove to the cottage and had dinner. By this point I was feeling a bit tired, but at least I was settled in for the night.

Having slept ok, but just ok, I woke up at 5:30am and slowly got ready by eating a bagel and a Clif Bar, washing these down with some water and a cup of black coffee. We left at 6:15am and on the way I drank more water to ensure I was hydrated. Arriving at the race staging area, which was mercifully indoors, at 7:15am I met my friends and passed on their bibs. I then used the washroom (twice) and had a eLoad gel along with some more water about fifteen minutes before the 8am start.

The day before had been a bad day weather wise with cold temperatures and a howling wind from the East. Given that the race was a point to point course heading East this was not good at all and had me worried. On the morning of the race the winds seemed to have died down a bit, but it was certainly not what I would call calm. However, I tried to put that out of my mind and attempted to focus on the task at hand.

When the start happened I was ready to go and set off with the rest of the small contingent of 167 marathoners. I immediately paid attention to my Garmin and tried to lock in on my dream goal pace of 4:35/km. This I managed to do well right away and, as a result, I was a bit concerned that this pace didn't feel as easy early on as I though it should have.

However, I just kept on running and kept telling myself to "glide" through the first 32k. The race is all about the last 10k and I wanted to make it through the first three quarters feeling as fresh as I could. Unfortunately, this would prove impossible on the day as I started to feel that the dream goal would slip away right around the time that my right quad up near the hip began to bark at the 16k mark. I think running on the edge of the road was too much to take and my right leg took the brunt of the impact on the sloped road surface. With a sigh I resigned myself to simply finishing the race on the run as best as I could while managing the pain.

I made it through the half marathon mark in 1:37.48, good for a 4:38/km average pace, and faced the second half of the run with the wind really starting to howl near the water. And boy did it howl! Right in my face or just slightly from the right. I had to really fight through it and it definitely messed up my rhythm. It also chilled me to the core at times, but I kept on plugging away as I watched my pace slow down kilometre by kilometres.

It was at this time that I began to wonder if I'd be able to break 3h20m for the race, and then at about the 28k mark I did the math in my head and felt that this goal was also too aggressive, but that breaking 3h25m was in the bag. Boy was I wrong!!! As I came to the 30k water station I walked through for the first time and my calves both twinged with that hint of a cramp that I dreaded all along. I made the decision to run between water stations, which were every two kilometres, and walk through for both a break and to get water into me. I had been sucking down eLoad gels since about the 5k mark of the race and by this time I was onto my sixth one. I had carried 12 with me knowing I would need a lot of calories, but I simply could not ingest them fast enough and my stomach was not accepting them any faster. This is one of the many things I still have yet to learn about marathoning...

In any case, I made it to the 32k water stop and walked through. This time I slowed before walking and that helped the calves for sure. I ran to the 34k water stop as well, but it was really, really tough going at this point. I also ran to the 36k stop, and then the fun really started. At the 37k mark my left hamstring twinged enough that I had to walk a few steps to ensure it wouldn't completely cramp up. A short time later, as I was mostly done the decent incline that comes up between 37k and 38k , my hamstring cramped and I had to stop for a short stretch. I walked a bit after the stretch and ran to the 38k water stop. After that I think I ran most of the way to the 40k water stop, but I did have to stop once to stretch quickly so it wasn't ideal.

Once I made it through the 40k water stop I knew it was simply a matter to keeping going and not allowing my legs to stop me down the main stretch to the Finish in front of all the spectators. I hobbled along from 40-41k and then in the last kilometre I tried my best to pick up my pace while keeping my legs from cramping. I was also cramping a bit in the right biceps for some reason and had to keep an eye on that as well.

In the last kilometre I saw my family (who had also come to see me at that crucial 32k mark and were a big boost) and they were a big help in getting me through to the end. I was really not looking good by this point I'm sure, but I focused on the finish line visible in the distance and just kept telling myself that I was almost there. I also glanced at my watch now and then and knew I would have to fight to get under 3h25m, and so I fought.

Ultimately, I managed the second half of the race in 1:46:49 (a 9 minute positive split, so not horrible, but not ideal either) and finished with a huge Personal Best of 3h24m35.6s. I came in 18th overall and 5th in my age category, so not bad on that end as well.

After the race I stopped off at the massage tent and waited for a couple of minutes before pulling the chute on the idea due to the long line up, opting for a shower instead. The walk to the shower facilities, which one had to access through a freezing hockey rink!, was tough as both of my calves up near the knee felt about as flexible and rocks. The shower itself was totally ghetto and took forever to warm up, but I was glad to have the option anyway. Then we hit the road to get my son to his baseball team get-together that I initially thought we'd have to miss. Last note is that in my rush to get on the highway I totally did not manage to take advantage of the complimentary beer that they were serving to all finishers! Oh well...

And I suppose I should also be pleased knowing that this was not my best performance and that I still have lots of room for improvement. I am now 10 minutes away from qualifying for Boston, though likely 12-13 minutes from actually being able to register. I am a bit disappointed that the Hanson's Marathon Method, which I followed to a T for 18 weeks didn't result in the stronger finish I was hoping for irrespective of the time, but I have to also note that I started the plan on June 1st with what I can only call a minimum amount of mileage in my legs so perhaps this was the reason and not the plan itself. My initial assessment is that the plan was sound, but I would tweak it in two ways: 1. I think I need more than the 10 day taper (perhaps stretch it to two weeks), and 2. I think I need to practice marathon pace at the end of the longest of the long runs to ensure my legs are ready to run at goal pace when they are totally trashed.

Things are moving in the right direction! Now I am taking two weeks off from running and will think about next goals and races after that.

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Sunday, October 4, 2015

Prince Edward County Marathon Race Result (PB!)

Well, it's somewhat bittersweet as I had hoped for more, but I still managed a personal best by over 33 minutes! Now I am a 3h24m35.6s marathoner! Crash and burn happened, but not as bad as in the past :(

More to come. Much more to learn...

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Friday, October 2, 2015

The 18th of 18 Weeks (up to the race)

The eighteenth week of the marathon training plan went like this:

Monday8-10k E. On a drizzly, but rather humid, morning I went out in the dark to check on the tired legs and dodge the idiot cyclists on the sidewalks. This was a solid Easy run wherein I managed 10k E at 5:03/km, but more importantly was able to avoid injury from bikers who happened to think that the sidewalk was theirs and theirs alone to use. As a daily cyclist I am offended by the attitude of these people thinking that they are in the right forcing me to move out of THEIR way more so than by the fact that they are on the sidewalk in the first place. You sometimes just have to shake your head. In the afternoon I went to the gym for a bunch of rolling and stretching and some sauna. No strength training this week. All that work's been done...

Tuesday8k E. On a very humid morning, especially for late September, I tried my best to assist my legs in recovering from the previous seventeen weeks of training by running as easy as possible. I succeeded in my goal of running easy, managing 8k E at 5:17/km, but in the leg recovery department I am still nowhere close to feeling fresh. When on earth will I start to feel like my legs are "ready to go"?!?! Argh... At lunch time I went to the gym to roll and stretch some more.

Wednesday: OFF. Took the day OFF except for going to the gym for rolling and stretching. Still worried that the legs will not be sufficiently recovered in time for the race...

Thursday10k E. On the chilliest morning since before the Summer I went out for another test of the old legs and managed a nice 10k E at 4:57/km. The legs still did not feel fresh, but there was a glimmer of hope in that my average pace at an easy effort was faster than usual. In particular, starting up after having to pause at a couple of red lights felt good. A hint of a spring in the step was experienced, but it soon dissipated. At lunch time I went again to the gym to roll and stretch.

Friday10k E. Woke up at 5:30 and would have normally ignored the tired feeling in my legs and have gone out for the prescribed run. However, two days out from my goal race I decided that if I was ever to miss a run, and having not missed a single one in the entire training plan that started on June 1st, this would be a good one to miss. Biking into work just served to reinforce that I'd made the right decision as my legs had a little bit more pep to them than they'd had since forever. In the end the guilt associated with taking this day OFF is mitigated by the hope that on race day I will have those extra few reserves of energy in my legs that will propel me through the toughest stretch of the marathon. At lunch I went to the gym for an abbreviated rolling and stretching session followed by the sauna just because it feels nice! Later in the day I had a one hour massage to get the legs really loosened up.

Saturday5k E. Slept in for the first time that I can remember and went out for an easy run fretting about the nasty wind coming out of the East. If this persists it will mean that I will have to run straight into the wind for the majority of the race! Oh well, can't control that I suppose. The run itself was interesting in that my legs still don't feel like I thought they would or should at this point in the training. However, my pace for the run was much faster than what I felt like I was accomplishing based on perceived effort and the tiredness of the legs. I managed 5k E at 4:44/km and half of it was into the wind. I've decided to try and not let any of this stuff bother me as the training is all done and I should be prepared to run a strong race. It's always a bit of a nerve wracking experience I suppose when one enters an event with self-imposed expectations, but at this point there is nothing else that can be done and I must place my trust in the plan and all of the good training that I was able to accomplish over the past 18 weeks. It's go time!

Total for the week: 33 km at 5:02.09/km average pace.

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Sunday, September 27, 2015

The 17th of 18 Weeks

The seventeenth week of the marathon training plan went like this:

Monday12-13k E. Starting off the second last week of the marathon training plan I managed a well executed easy run and was rewarded with a spectacular sunrise. The total for the day was 13k E at 5:21/km and things are definitely starting to feel like the end is near. I am already a bit nervous that I somehow haven't done enough, but the summaries that I've put up here should help remind me of all the work that was put in. At least that's the theory.

Tuesday6x1 mile. The last Strength session of the training plan was made somewhat uncomfortable as I had totally overeaten the night before and the food had not exactly worked its way through by the time I hit the road at 5:45am. Other than that this session was good, though I think I still ran it too fast. The first two repeats were ok as the average paces ended up at 4:17.62/km and 4:13.38/km. After that I pulled off four splits at an average pace that was supposed to have been my Speed pace: 4:10.46/km, 4:07.91/km, 4:08.31/km, and 4:07.38/km. The average pace for all the repeats ended up being 4:10.84/km, and since 4:10/km was supposed to have been my Speed pace one can see why I think I may have run this workout too fast. Nevertheless, it's done, I'm healthy, and I only have one more Something of Substance run left before the marathon. The total for the run was 16k ST at 5:07/km. During the day I managed to get to the gym for a rolling and stretching session.

Wednesday: OFF. Another crazy day at work, but I continue to carve out time to get to the gym despite the pressures that continue to build at an alarming rate. No running, so it was an OFF day on the calendar, but I did manage an abbreviated strength training routine followed by rolling and stretching. This week, instead of the usual three times through a circuit that is comprised of running specific strength and stability exercises, I cut it down to two circuits only. At this point it's full on maintenance mode only.

Thursday16k T. The last tough run of the 18 week training plan was tough to be sure, and more importantly it was completed despite the tired legs and lack of sleep that tends to come with coaching basketball the night before making it difficult for me to wind down and fall asleep. This Tempo run was very difficult in the late stages and I had to keep telling myself to fight the urge to stop, especially in the last 4k. I managed the 16k Tempo portion at an average pace of 4:29.83/km and the final tally for the average of all my tempo runs ended up at 4:33.98/km. Since the 5k race foretold that my marathon pace should have been 4:45/km I clearly blew that prediction out of the water. It remains to be seen how I manage on race day, but these numbers are way better than I could possibly have hoped for back on June 1st when this journey began. The total for the day was 20k T at 4:41/km. At lunch time I went to the gym for a good session of rolling and stretching and a sauna at the end.

Friday10-12k E. First easy run of the official taper period was just that, easy. The legs were surprisingly dead and this wasn't all that great an effort in terms of how it felt, but given that it was just the first run of the last ten days leading up to the race I was not too worried about it. I managed the 10k E at 5:21/km and that's pretty much all there was to say about this run. At lunch time I went to the gym for another abbreviated strength training session followed by rolling and stretching.

Saturday10-13k E. With the legs still feeling anything but fresh I ran a faster than anticipated easy run on another beautiful morning. The way I felt from the waist down I was surprised by the average pace that I was able to manage: 10k E at 5:01/km. Recognizing that the marathon is still a week away at this point I shouldn't be filled with worries about how my legs will recover, but one has to wonder at what point in the taper period (which only lasts 10 days under the Hanson Marathon Method) the legs begin to feel refreshed. Time will tell...

Sunday13k E. For some strange reason my legs simply do not want to recover. As I headed out for the last Sunday run before the marathon my hip flexors and groin on both legs were so sore it was a bit of a struggle walking up the stairs! What on earth did I do to make my legs feel like this!? After now seventeen weeks of training this happens? Crappy. In any case, I still ran a nice easy 13k E at 5:05/km and felt that, despite the sore legs, this was somehow a good indication that even when my body doesn't feel recovered I'm still running at a faster pace than I think I am based on effort.

And with 17 of 18 weeks in the books, having completed every single run on the training plan and hitting all my paces every time, I should feel confident going into the race that I am prepared. However, the truth is somewhat opposite as I do not have the confidence at the moment that I though I would earn through this much dedication and success in training. I am hoping that at the end of the coming week, before I run the race, I can report that not only have my legs recovered, but that my confidence has returned as well.

Total for the week: 82 km at 5:03.72/km average pace.

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Sunday, September 20, 2015

The 16th of 18 Weeks

The sixteenth week of the marathon training plan went like this:

Monday8-10k E. After the half marathon Tempo/Long run the day before I went out on a nice chilly clear morning and managed a controlled and very easy 10k E at 5:41/km. The legs definitely felt the effects of the effort, but other than lack of energy and perhaps a touch of soreness they felt fine. This program really does force one to adapt to running on tired legs and at this point I'm running on what feels normal when the legs are tired. Very curious to see how the legs react to the short taper at the end of the plan. In the afternoon I managed a typical running strength training session followed by some rolling and stretching.

Tuesday4x1.5 miles. With the right quad a bit on the tight side I went into the second last Strength session with a bit of worry about how my legs would react following the long run with that half marathon tempo paced component thrown in that I managed on Sunday. The 2km jog for warm up went fine and my quad didn't seem to be an issue so I stopped and stretched just a little prior to starting into the 4 x 1.5 mile repeats with 600m recovery intervals. I had set the Garmin to 2.4km, which I guess is close enough to the metric equivalent, and set off on the first loop, which I completed in 10:15.06, or an average pace of 4:16.28/km. I walked the first 200m of the rest interval as per usual, and then jogged the remainder before starting in on the second repeat. This I completed in 10:09.47 with an average pace of 4:13.95/km. At this point I started to wonder if I was going too fast as these averages were well under the overall average for my strength sessions, which hovered a bit over 4:20/km. However, my breathing pattern remained 3-2 so I decided that as long as I was able to maintain that I would be ok to continue and run them at whatever pace felt good at that perceived effort level. After the same walk/jog rest interval I set off on my third repeat and completed it in 10:08.48, which translated to an average pace of 4:13.53/km. My legs were starting to feel the effects of the lactic acid accumulation towards the end of the third repeat I think, but that is the point of the Strength sessions so I wasn't too worried. The quad was not getting any worse for the wear either. My last repeat I managed in 10:05.41 (average pace of 4:12.25/km) despite starting rather slow and staying above 4:20/km pace for the first quarter of the repeat. The average pace for the total session of repeats ended up at exactly 4:14.00/km, which is only 4s/km slower than what my Speed session pace was supposed to have been during this training plan! I guess this is a good sign. Still, this was a tough workout, but I am most pleased with the results to date, although this enthusiasm is always tempered by the fact that those last 10k in the marathon are a mystery and I have no idea how I will fare. In any case, the total for the session was 16k ST at 5:14/km. Before lunch I went to the gym to roll and stretch and do a bit of sauna to try and work out the kinks in my legs, especially that pesky right quad.

Wednesday: OFF. Another crazy day at work, but I managed to at least get to the gym for a decent strength training session followed by some rolling and stretching. The right quad, that had been barking quite a bit on Monday evening and into Tuesday, had settled down somewhat at least. This was a good day OFF I guess, though I did hold the first try out session for the basketball team I coach in the evening, which meant two hours on my feet chasing little athletes around and such.

Thursday16k T. After a horrible night of sleep where I maybe got three hours total I woke up feeling less than stellar as I faced the second last tempo run prior to the marathon. After running the half marathon at tempo pace I knew I could manage sixteen kilometres at that pace, but the way I felt while jogging the first two kilometres for warm up did not give me much confidence in executing this run properly. I chose not to do the usual loops that I'd been running to avoid red lights and major road crossing and headed for the same long loop that I used for last weeks Thursday run. I also knew that this would mean I would have to traverse some decent hills in the first half of the run and that this would be a good challenge to see if I could still manage the tempo pace with the undulating terrain. Well, long story short this was not the most perfectly executed run I've had, but not the worst either. I had to stop a few times due to red lights and also due to feeling off now and then. However, I did run this one well when I was running and averaged a much too fast (in some ways) 4:27.71/km for the 16k tempo portion of the run. With the warm up and cool down I managed 20k T at 4:41/km. With work being completely nuts I had trouble getting to the gym for my usual rolling and stretching routine, followed by relaxing in a sauna, but I did manage it despite the craziness.

Friday8-10k E. Now at the tail end of the 18 week training plan the legs have all the cumulative fatigue in them that they can take and these easy short runs are put in place just at the most appropriate time. Case in point was this easy 8k E at 5:32/km on another beautiful morning where I felt like I really needed a short and easy run. The taper can't come soon enough was the mantra, but all the while I tempered these thoughts with the knowledge that the taper itself is likely to be frustrating and filled with doubts about whether or not the training was enough. Should remember these runs in order to remind myself that indeed I have done as much as I could have. At lunch time I went to the gym for another strength training session followed by some rolling and stretching.

Saturday13-16k E. After a rough night wherein my Mom had to go to the hospital I had a bit of trouble sleeping and then waking up. I was out the door later than I'd intended and ended up running more than I'd planned as well. Instead of the 13k that I was hoping to get done I ended up managing 14k E at 5:08/km because the loop I selected was longer than I thought it would be. I had to be home in time for other things so I decided to not walk the extra kilometre. In the end it doesn't matter, though my left calf has a knot in it that will need to be worked out sooner than later.

Sunday16k E/L. With that knot in the left calf still present, and all the driving I had to do the day before to the cottage and back meant I was unable to try and work it out, I set off on the last Long paced run of the training plan on a beautiful morning that was perhaps slightly chilly at around 10C. The air was still and the sunrise proved to be spectacular as the cloud across Lake Ontario were lit up while I ran along the boardwalk. The run itself was good, but I think I ran it too fast as I ended up doing 16k L at 4:42/km. That's pretty much a Tempo run on this plan (which calls for tempo runs to be done at planned marathon pace and mine slotted in at 4:45/km based on that 5k race result from the end of May), though it didn't feel like I was pushing the effort into Tempo range so I think that's ok. If the last ten miles of the marathon feel like this I'll be in good shape for a strong finish.

Total for the week: 84 km at 5:04.04/km average pace.

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Sunday, September 13, 2015

The 15th of 18 Weeks

The fifteenth week of the marathon training plan went like this:

Monday12-13k E. After a bad night of sleep due to allergies (awake and sneezing at 3am, not able to really get back to sleep after that) I got up at 6:30am and was out the door at 7am. Legs felt tired and stiff, which was interesting as the day before I felt like they were recovering a bit. In any case, I managed a relatively easy 13k E at 5:27/km based mostly on keeping the effort nice and even. Did an out and back to avoid the big climb back to the lake, but still faced a decent amount of hilly running, though most were gradual. Then we drove home in order to be back in time for a baseball game for one of the boys in which I was pinch coaching.

Tuesday3x2 miles. Humidity continued to be a factor as I woke up to the sound of rain on the skylights, which always amplify the drops and makes it sound worse than it is. After waking up at 5:20am and going downstairs I checked the temperature, which was already 25C by the time I got out the door at 5:45am. Jogging the first two kilometres for a warm up was a bit of a joke due to the heat and I was sweating from every pore by the time the warm up was done. Then in the first third of the first of three 2 mile repeats the rains came pouring down something fierce! It's only rained on me a few times during this marathon training block and it's always happened on a Tuesday. This time I was soaked within seconds and the rains did not abate until I was well into the 800m rest interval after my first repeat. I tried to keep things nice and loose, but got into my 3-2 breathing pattern right away for this workout. On the second repeat I made it about two thirds of the way before I had to switch to 2-2 breathing and my legs began to feel like lead. The third repeat was pretty much the same as the second except the legs were cooked by the halfway point. In the end I averaged 4:20.26/km (4:18.03/km, 4:21.94/km, and 4:20.81/km were the repeat averages), which I was very pleased with given the humidity and rain and the extra weight I had to carry in the form of soaked clothes and shoes. The total for the run was 16k ST at 5:17/km. In the afternoon I went to the gym for a full rolling and stretching routine, which was sorely needed.

Wednesday: OFF. Another well deserved day OFF wherein I felt very tired and my legs had no gas at all in them. I did go to the gym for a strength training session and a decent amount of rolling and stretching, but that was all.

Thursday16k T. Switching things up for the first time in this entire training block I decided to make this a Long pace run and managed 20k at 4:51/km. The reason is that I signed up for a Half Marathon and wanted to run that at goal marathon pace (see Sunday below). This morning's run, in any case, was very good. Nice and controlled, running within myself the entire time. It's nice to run this way, breathing 3-3 the entire time, and glance down at the Garmin and see that the pace is way faster than you thought you'd ever be able to manage at this level of effort. Definitely helped that the heat broke overnight and the humidity dissipated. It was a near perfect 15C when I went out at 5:22am for the run. Only issue was a painful stomach for some reason as I had stuff in there that just wasn't sitting right. In the afternoon I managed a good rolling and stretching session at the gym.

Friday10-12k E. My alarm didn't go off for some reason so I was out a bit later than expected. However, the lovely cooler temperatures are so nice to run in the later exit didn't really matter as it never got hot or humid during my 10k E at 5:18/km. Only issue was the stomach was still feeling off. I wonder what's going on there as I really haven't had problems all year in that regard. In the afternoon I managed to get to the gym for some strength training, rolling, and stretching.

Saturday10-13k E. Had to get up earlier than I'd want to on a very rainy morning to get this run in on account of other commitments that were on my calendar. One of those commitments conflicted with another, and it was a baseball game that I was to coach at which we were to arrive by 8:30am. So I ran up by the field, conveniently about 5km away, just to check on the conditions. It was a muddy disaster so I figured that freed me for that other commitment. Either way, my morning was going to be busy. The run itself was nice and easy, though I felt lethargic and my legs felt heavier than they should have. I had woken up at 3am and did not get back to sleep after that so I'm inclined to believe that this is the reason behind my feeling so tired. In any case, I managed 10k E at 5:10/km and felt somewhat prepared to tackle that Temp Run in the Half Marathon the next day.

Sunday26k L. This day was always going to be a bit of an experiment as well as a test. I wanted to see how marathon pace would feel at this stage in the plan so I moved the Tempo run from Thursday to Sunday and signed up for a local Half Marathon. Although the plan called for a 16k Tempo run I wanted to stretch this to the HM distance if possible. I woke up, had a bagel, then jogged the 5km down to the starting line, running into a friend who was running the Full on the way and sharing the last 3km of the warm up run with him. Then after a few minutes the race started and I was off. Early on there was quite a bit of weaving through traffic, but after about a kilometre things loosened up a bit and I was able to run more freely. I found it interesting that if I was just behind another runner I would naturally match their pace and on several occasions I had to really concentrate to both not slow down or speed up unintentionally. I kept things very even and didn't really start hurting at any point, though at the half way point I had visions of calling it at 16k and slowing to easy pace for the remainder of the race. I did not do this and I have another runner to thank for pulling me along. He passed me with about 9k to go and I hung onto him for the rest of the race as he was running the exact pace that I wanted to run. In the end I managed the HM in 1:36:39 unofficially, which translated to a pace of 4:34.87/km. The average for all my Tempo runs to date has been 4:34.80/km so this was just about perfect! After the race I jogged 2k to cool down and managed a total of 28.1k T at 4:50.80/km. This also marked the last Long run of the training plan, which is also nice. I have made it through fifteen weeks never missing a run and hitting all my paces pretty much bang on!

Total for the week: 97.1 km at 5:04.12/km average pace.

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Sunday, September 6, 2015

The 14th of 18 Weeks

The fourteenth week of the marathon training plan went like this:

Monday8-10k E. After that great 28k Long run I knew my legs would be a bit on the tender side so I really focused on the recovery aspect of the Monday morning easy run. The run itself was totally uneventful and my legs didn't feel all that stiff or sore. I just lacked some energy, but still managed a decent 10k E at 5:35/km. In the afternoon I went to the gym for a strength training session and some rolling and stretching. Even after a big weekend of running I figured doing some resistance training was the right thing to do to get those muscles moving and activated.

Tuesday2x3 miles. Sometimes it's your guts that get you through a workout and not your legs. This was one of those times. I set off on my warm up jog feeling less than stellar and with a sore right groin (must be careful with this one I think). After a 3k warm up, which was longer than my typical 2k warm up, I set off into the first of the repeats with the Garmin set on interval mode for 2 sets 4.8km with 800m rest interval. At the beginning the first repeat felt ok and I just tried to get into a rhythm. That lasted until I had about a kilometre or so left and then things really started to hurt so I just tried to focus on form and kept plugging away. By the last 400m or so the form was all over the place and I couldn't wait to be done. I stumbled to the end with a time of 20:40.76 for an average pace of 4:18.49/km and was instantly worried about what the second repeat would feel like. After walking 200m then jogging the remainder of the 800m rest interval I blocked the doubts out of my mind and set off again. Once more, the first part wasn't too bad, but this time the pain really hit at about the halfway mark. I could really feel the lactic acid in the legs and began to lose control to a certain degree of how my feet were landing as well as the recovery phase of each stride. I guess that's why I think I managed to finish the second repeat on guts; it certainly wasn't on legs. The time for the second repeat ended up at 20:48.76 for an average pace of 4:19.31/km. Ultimately, I was very happy with the result and the mantra that got me through that last tough stretch was, "This is where the adaptation occurs!" Here's hoping it's occurring... The total for the run was same as last week: 16k ST at 5:06/km. In the afternoon I went to the gym for a good rolling and stretching session followed by a sauna. I will have to book another massage appointment as I seem unable to get to that sore groin area on the right leg that's been barking for a few days now.

Wednesday: OFF. Another tough day at work (what is it about Wednesdays?!?!) was broken up with a decent running strength session and some rolling and stretching. I developed a kink in my neck that I had hoped would not hamper me going forward, and it was certainly present all day. Other than that this was another well earned day OFF.

Thursday14k T. A very tough run on a hot and humid morning and on what ended up being very tired legs indeed. The thermometer read 23.5C when I left the house at 5:45am, a bit later than I'd hoped. And as soon as I went outside I was hit with a wall of humidity and knew I would be in for a challenged. The two kilometre jog to warm up was ok, but I felt low on energy for sure. Then when I started in on the tempo portion of the workout I did something I haven't done in this training block, at least not that I can recall. I consciously slowed myself down accounting for the heat and when I glanced at my watch about halfway through the first split I was running at 4:50/km! Much too slow. I made up for it and finished the first kilometre in 4:41.23, but paid for that effort on the second split, which I managed in 4:43.23. After that things stabilized a bit and all my other splits were in the mid to low 4:30's except for the second last one, which ended up at 4:29.70. Those last five kilometres of the tempo run were a killer though! I switched from 3-3 breathing to 3-2 with about 6k left, and then went to full on 2-2 for the last 4k. In the very last two kilometres it was a true struggle to just keep going and not allow myself a break. Looking back I am very pleased with this run as it definitely shows how far I've come over the course of this training plan. There is no way I could have managed this type of workout in the past in this type of heat. The total for the run was 18k T at 4:49/km, which was about 7s/km slower than last week's same workout and I can only assume the slow down was on account of the heat, though this one did come on the heels of that 28k long run and the killer Strength session on Tuesday. In the afternoon I was able to go to the gym for a good rolling and stretching session.

Friday8-10k E. Definitely was feeling the effects of the tempo effort as I set off on this recovery run. I also think that I got more dehydrated than I recognized at the time over the course of that tempo run on account of the heat and did not replace my fluids properly throughout the day. I had a couple of tall glasses of water just before bed and really didn't have to use the washroom all that much when I woke up, so that's definitely a sign that I have to pay more attention to hydration going forward. As a result, my legs were feeling very sore and tight. However, as the run progressed I loosened up a bit and ended it feeling much better than when I first started. Ultimately, I managed 8k E at 5:29/km and was better for the effort as I believe this runs help, rather than hinder, the recovery process. In the afternoon I went to the gym for another strength training session followed by rolling and stretching.

Saturday13-16k E. After arriving at the cottage the night before past midnight I was very tired due to lack of sleep in the morning as I woke up at 6am anyway and then tossed and turned until finally dragging myself out of bed for my run. Not feeling all that great I had very low expectations of the run itself, though I was quite pleased to be running on the roads near our lake after a four week absence. Man, the Summer just flew by didn't it?! In any case, I set off on a humid morning just trying to keep things easy and loose. As I ran on the familiar roads I was reminded of just how different running in the country is from the City. It's peaceful, quiet, and there are no red lights to contend with. Also, the drivers are super nice and courteous as they make sure to leave lots of room for me. Most of them move all the way over to the opposite lane as they pass by! In the end I managed to run 13k E at 5:16/km and the two kilometre climb back up to the lake at the end of the run, though tougher than I remember it, was not too bad. It's amazing how quickly your body forgets these hills if you don't run them every single week.

Sunday16k E/L. After a much better night of sleep I woke up to a very foggy and misty morning where the fog was so think I couldn't see more than a couple of hundreds metres in front of me. It was also very humid out, as I was about to find out, but while getting ready to run I wasn't so aware of this fact. My run was to be done either at E pace or L pace, and I left the choice up to the legs and how they were feeling in the first two kilometres. As I completed this warm up of sorts I noticed that my pace was such that I should try for the L end of the spectrum. Everything was cool as I coasted down Bird Rd., stopping for a few seconds to admire two Pileated Woodpeckers that I saw right at the edge of the road hanging onto one of those wooden guardrail posts. The out section of the out and back course I chose was either flat or downhill, with a very steep and long downhill section at around the 4km mark. My pace was quite good through these kilometres as I maintained a good cadence and kept things very loose. This would continue until the turnaround point, at which I was really feeling the effects of the humidity for the first time. I stopped to catch my breath a bit and noticed that my clothes were totally soaked. I began to be a bit worried that I would be in trouble for the back half of the run and promised myself another short break before the major climb back up Bird Rd. By the time I reached the bottom of the hill at the 11.75km mark I was really overheating. The break was a blessing, but in the heat I was not able to really recover. I decided to just run to the top of the hill and take another break, but after cresting the top I just kept on running. I was forced to take another break while waiting for a short spell to cross highway 14, but other than that I managed to fight the urge to stop again and did not do so for the rest of the run. In the end I managed 16k L at 4:55/km, which was a very decent pace for me and at the faster end of the Long run range (4:54/km-5:10/km). All in all a tough but good way to finish off week 14!

Week 15 will have a bit of a twist to it as I've signed up for a small local Half Marathon and will move my Tempo run from Thursday to Sunday as a result. I will attempt to run the race at Tempo pace, which is goal marathon pace in the Hanson's Marathon Method plan.

Total for the week: 81 km at 5:07.67/km average pace.

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Sunday, August 30, 2015

The 13th of 18 Weeks

The thirteenth week of the marathon training plan went like this:

Monday12-13k E. The first day back from vacation was made a bit more sad by the fact that when I woke up to go for my run it was still very dark out! Before my holidays when I had to wake up around 5am it was at least getting light out. This time, I didn't get up until 5:30am, and wasn't out the door until 5:50am, and still had to run in the dark for a good chunk of my 13k E at 5:22/km run. At least the run was good. Tried to keep it really easy in anticipation of the Strength session to come. I think I succeeded, though the last split was a bit fast. In the afternoon, despite the craziness that comes with returning to work after two weeks off, I managed to get to the gym for a good running specific strength training session followed by a decent amount of rolling and stretching. Couldn't believe how stiff I felt after I didn't really do any stretching while on vacation :( Then again, I guess I shouldn't have been surprised.

Tuesday3x2 miles. The night before this session I had set the Garmin up for an interval workout of undefined warm up (ended up being the usual 2km), then 3 x 3.2km with 800m rest interval, and completed with an undefined cool down (ended up being 2km as well). This is the third time I'd used the interval training feature on the watch and I must say that I like it, though for some reason it always seems like the last thirty metres or so take FOREVER to pass by when one is hurting. In any case, the familiar territory of home turf and the cooler weather made for a much better strength session than I'd been able to manage the past two weeks. Although I felt slow and sluggish on the warm up, I managed to pull off three very good and quick (for me) repeats: 13:43.20, 13:43.31, 13:39.24. Not bad for even splitting! These translate to paces of 4:17.25/km, 4:17.28/km and 4:16.01/km for an average of 4:16.86/km. From where I've come this is a HUGE achievement, and to run these on tired legs in the thirteenth week of the marathon training plan makes it even more satisfying. In total I managed 16k ST at 5:06/km and earned another nice day off. At lunch time I went to the gym for a complete rolling and stretching routine followed by a bit of sauna action.

Wednesday: OFF. This was quite honestly the most difficult work day I've had in certainly my new role, but likely in my entire career at my current employer. In any case, I did manage to get to the gym for a brief strength training session and a very abbreviated stretching routine. Other than that this was an OFF day for running, and very much an ON day for work stress.

Thursday14k T. The night before I was feeling less than good on account of the tough work day. In fact, I felt like I may even have been coming down with something and was quite worried. In any case, I woke up at 5:10am hoping to get my run in by 7am, and this almost happened. My stomach was feeling off when I woke up and that delayed me a little as I prepared for the run. However, the weather was a perfect 15C and not to windy so that made me feel good as I started in on my usual 2km warm up. I was a bit surprised at the slow pace that my Garmin was reading on the warm up given that I felt like I was running faster. This concerned me a bit heading into the Tempo portion of the run, but by now in the training plan I figured things would work out despite how I was feeling or what the watch was showing. In the end this very much proved to be the case as I ran what I would consider a very strong 14k tempo run at an average pace of 4:28.60/km. Compared to the disaster of last week's 14k tempo run this was a huge improvement. I never had to stop and just kept chugging along at a good clip with my usual 3-3 breathing pattern for the first 11k. After that I switched to a 3-2 breathing pattern at some point in a natural fashion (these switches don't happen consciously I find) and finished the run strong with the three fastest splits of the entire run. All but the first two splits were slower than 4:35/km, and the last 8 splits were all under 4:30/km. I was very pleased with this run and to be back on track with the tempo run component of this training plan. The total for the run in the end was 18k T at 4:42/km, which once more averaged out to faster than goal marathon pace overall even with the warm up and cool down included. At lunch I slunk away from the office for a decent rolling, stretching, and sauna routine.

Friday10-12k E. Woke up to another beautiful day for a run and enjoyed the stress free preparation for another easy effort. The temperatures have been perfect for running and that definitely helps even if I do like the hot weather that comes with Summer. In fact, I hope we get another stretch of heat sometime soon. However, for now I will take the cooler temps and enjoy the running that comes with those conditions. On the run itself I felt much better than expected after the tempo effort of the day before and ran nice and easy without looking at the Garmin for pace. I ended up running faster than ideal pace as I managed 10k E at 5:13/km, but because I ran on feel I don't think that's a problem. The sunrise was spectacular as well; a big red ball coming up in the East. If I were a sailor I'd have been worried... At lunch I went to the gym and managed to complete a standard and decent strength training session followed by rolling and stretching.

Saturday10-13k E. Met up with the running group and set off on a nice easy run, but had to pull ahead after a kilometre or so as the pace was a bit slower than what I needed to do. Managed a nice 10k E at 5:14/km in the end and then hung around the coffee shop chatting with the runners for a while. A great start to the weekend! And leading into the long this was a good prep.

Sunday26k L. It's always so gratifying to complete a run in such a way that one is surprised with their own abilities to a certain degree. That happened on the long run to end week 13 for me as I set off feeling tired and a bit concerned about my right calf, which mysteriously cramped up on me while watching the Jay eviscerate yet another opponent the day before (the Edwin hat trick game). I set off at about 7:30am and it was already 19.5C on the thermometer so I didn't really have too many expectations about pacing other than to keep it steady. And that totally worked out, but I achieved much more! Not only did I keep the pace steady, but I ran way faster than I thought I would and I didn't try any harder than before or anything. The best part was that I had never felt stronger in the last part of a long run before! As a result I tacked on two more kilometres at the end (as I had done the calculation and knew that I could go as high as twenty-eight kilometres and still be under 30% of total weekly mileage for the long run) and managed to complete 28k L at 4:58/km. Yes, this was a tough run, but what surprised me the most was as things got tougher I didn't feel the usual lull in energy and was able to maintain pace and even pick it up a bit at the very end. Is this was it feels like to draw of slow twitch muscle fibres that have been trained to act like slow twitch fibres? If it is, I like it!

Total for the week: 95 km at 5:02.88/km average pace.

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