Sunday, January 31, 2010

Longest one yet!

After chickening out yesterday due to the super cold weather, I realised that I had traded extreme cold for a bit of snow this morning. Still, to get a balmy -12 celsius, I can live with the snow. I still bundled up in order to be comfortable for the ~3 hours that I would be on the road.
This morning's run was my longest yet in this training cycle - 35km. The whole time I thought that this was the longest my training plan required (I knew I had to do it again in 2 weeks) but I checked just before writing this entry and I actually have to do a 38 km in 4 weeks - ouch!

I decided to go a bit everywhere and avoid looping. The roads I picked were fairly quiet and for the most part clean and with ample shoulders. I even saw a deer on Timm road. There were lots of runners on Corkstown road and it gave me some energy to know that was not the only cooky one out there. I hadn't run to North Kanata since the summer. Coming back I did a bit of a detour to add more kms but it still wasn't enough so I ran around my neighbourhood for the last 1.5km.
I was pretty impressed with how well it went. While it was long and a bit painful at the end, I was very impressed to see that only 2 kms (around the time I tried to take a picture of the deer, which didn't turn out well at all!) were above 6 minutes.

One thing that really surprised me is how hilly Kanata is. I never really noticed before on shorter runs, but let me tell you that on a longer run, the hills do make a difference. Here is the profile for today's route:
I look forward to a long run of *only* 32km next weekend :)

In the mix today was another assortment of various genres. Les Cowboy Fringants, Michael Buble, Tangerine Dream, Return to the Source and Matsuri.

Friday, January 29, 2010

BRRRrrrrrrr! + C4C

A cold snap has descended on Ottawa but that didn't stop me from going out to run. The alternative (dreadmill) is not one I am excited about! So I went in what the weather people described as a -32 celsius with the windchill. I didn't wait around for my GPS to warm up and catch a signal so the route is not totally accurate.
I kept it easy for the ~6km loop of the bridges. I know I have to mix it up but it was difficult to keep it slow in such a cold weather, I just wanted the run to be over! To be honest it didn't feel that cold but my glasses did get all frosted from the water condensation from breathing. And I don't think I get a good bounce from my shoes in such cold weather!

What I find kind of interesting is that the speed profile almost matches the altitude profile. I was going faster on the uphill than the flat surface...
Back in the holiday period, I was running a Cans for Comments campaign and pledged to continue to do it all year so here is this month's entry. It's simple: for every visitor that leaves a comment on this entry, I will donate a non-perishable food item to the local food bank. I also encourage you to give what you can to Unicef, Care or your favourite relief organisation for Haiti. I know I have given and plan to do so again regularly until the country is back on its feet.

I have a long run planned for the weekend. I'm starting to chicken out already because of the weather. Hopefully I'll grow some chest hairs overnight and brave the conditions!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Tempo Tuesday

I don't know why every workout seems to be a tempo workout these days. It seems that all my runs lately also involve looping of some sorts. I had originally planned a scaled down easy 6km for lunch today, not having time for a full run. But when one of my meetings ended early I decided to take the opportunity to double that to 12km since I thought it would be cool to have run 60 km so far this week. That also meant that I had to up the pace just a bit to make it in time for my after lunch meeting. I did 2 loops of the bridges:
Finishing the run in about 58 minutes, I got back just in time for my after-lunch meeting to find out it was not happening due to some technical difficulties. Ah well, at least I have another tempo run under my belt.

I really love the marathon training plan from Canadian Running. While I'm not really using the plan as is, I'm taking lots of inspiration from it to know when to run tempos, easy pace and also to ration the amount of weight-training I am doing. From the results I'm seeing, I think it's working. While I never really counted my weekly mileage in the past, I don't ever remember going over 60km and I still feel perfectly fine, if a bit sore. 18 months ago when I trained for my first marathon, my long runs would take all my energy away and my knees would hurt for days. Yay for being in such good running shape in the middle of winter!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Loopy loops

With the balmy weather we've been getting recently, it was the perfect time to try my new HeadSweat hat that I won thanks to RoadBunner's cute bunny Mario. Check him out today, whatever it is he's begging for, I would give him, he's just too cute :) This hat is my favourite ever. Light and airy as well as very comfortable thanks to the plush lining. I can't wait till summer so I can test it under hot conditions but I'm sure the lining will absorb whatever my forehead throw at it.

I decided to run tonight before all the rain we've been receiving freezes over and creates dangerous running conditions. In true masochist fashion, I settled on loops again. The sky seemed full of water ready to pour down so I didn't want to venture too far away for the 16km (10 miles for my American friends) at marathon pace I was scheduled for. I always have a problem following pace guides and it turns out that this training run was more of a tempo run than what was called for.

I chose to loop at the Palladium Auto Park. This might not be the average runner's first choice but the close proximity to my house, the fact that the loop is somewhat quiet (think 1 car every 45 seconds with a 30km/h limit) and the super safe conditions due to clean road and the abundance of lights and camera surveillance made this an easy choice for me.
The 12 loops (~1km each) went by real quick with only 1 loop over 5 minutes. Total time for the 16km run was 1h17m. I think I will feel it tomorrow. For now all I have is a bit of soreness in my left knee, not bad.

PS: I registered for LA Marathon today, yay!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Commitment Run

I always have a problem with commitment for races. I've had issues in the past where I couldn't devote the time required to training and ended up running races I wasn't prepared for. RoadBunner's comment on my last entry made me think about my goals for this year. My boyfriend and family know I will run LA Marathon. My boss and colleagues know that I will run LA Marathon. Even you guys know I will run LA Marathon. But until this morning, I didn't really know if I would run LA Marathon.

My training plan called for an easy paced 32km run today. I'm not sure why they call easy but it certainly was far from easy. My first challenge was getting out of bed. Despite the beautiful sun shining outside, I didn't feel like getting up. I finally pulled myself out of bed, had a quick breakfast and procrastinated a bit, trying to find reasons not to run. I finally got dressed and headed out the door after a sleepy Alex asked me why I didn't get up earlier for my 3 hour run instead of delaying all the days' other activities :)

Once I was out, I really enjoyed the beautiful sun:
I didn't know where I was going. A good 32km course is hard to find around here in winter. I knew of a good ~6km loop so I decided to do it 5 times. I must be a bit of a masochist to think up of such a plan. The upside that my oxygen deprived self identified quickly was that I could opt out of the long run every time I ran by close to home.
The first loop was difficult even if the weather was gorgeous! On more than one occasion I tried to find a reason to stop after the first loop and motivation became an issue. I knew that my usual food rewards would not be enough to keep me going so I decided put my participation in the LA Marathon in play. If I finished this 32km training run today, I would finally sign up! Thankfully I also had some pretty pumping music to keep me going and even if I'm a bit ashamed to say, Aqua's Candyman actually saved me and gave me the motivation to keep plugging at it. Say what you want about Aqua being over-the-top cheesy but this morning, their music was to my ears what a handful is Skittles is to my taste buds :)

Speedwise I did really well in keeping an overall pace that is pretty reasonable.
My average speed for the entire run is about 5m23s/km or 11.1 km/h. My slowest km was 5m39s and my fastest 4m59s. Pretty even if you ask me.

The course itself was really boring. I saw 1 other runner and some people walking their dogs. Most of it was deserted.
Still, I managed to go around this loop 5 times, proving that I really really want to go to Los Angeles :) And if finishing this run wasn't an achievement worthy enough already, I finished on track for a sub 4 hour finish. YeeHaw! I'm not sure I could have kept going at that speed for another 10 km but I'll figure that part out in LA :)

In the mix today was a totally random assortment of music. Aqua's Greatest Hits, Mes Aieux's En Famille, Total Eclipse's Delta Aquarids, Space Tribe's ShapeShifter and Xerox and Freeman's Human Race.

Friday, January 22, 2010


Yesterday after work, I headed out to the first ever #ottsocialrun event. It's basically a bunch of local twitter folks that got organized and invited everyone else :) Thanks for @isfalk and @tgrevatt for organizing! I ran into @cyclaw on my way to the restaurant and asked if he was also part of the tweetup, it's not often restaurant goer are dressed in running gear :) @tgrevatt was already waiting for us and @momsgot2run didn't take long to appear. When @isfalk joined us, we waited a bit for a few late runners but none showed up so we went on our merry way.

I decided to join the long run team (basically me and @isfalk) while the others went for a shorter run. Our was a perfect 10k going over Gatineau and back.
Our pace was fairly reasonable if quite uneven due to the talking and traffic lights. We talked about everything and anything, running, travel, work, etc. We finished in 52 minutes and headed inside for cold drinks, warm food and friendly conversation. This was definitively the best part for me, I don't have that many running friends so this felt like a real runner geekout. I think everyone was wearing a garmin and being asked about what model it is was quite a change from my usual: why are you wearing such a monstrous watch?!?

I'll definitively join again if this event becomes a monthly tradition.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Grey Lunch

The unusually warm weather we've been having lately is a curse for skaters wanting to experience the thrill of skating on the canal but it has given runners a bunch of clear sidewalks to run on as the snow and ice melted away. In today's grey day (I think I haven't seen the sun in a week!), I went our at lunch for a short 10k to stretch my legs after the weekend's unexpected performance...
Nothing was out of the ordinary for the 48m49s run except that I enjoyed seeing some former colleagues (twice) as I looped around the bridges. I hope we get a bit of sunshine in time for my next long run, I need vitamin D.

In the meantime, I'm getting pretty excited about the Ottawa Social Run coming up on Thursday.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Richmond Road Race

When I left for the Richmond Road Race, I was a bit worried about the weather forecast. I had never run in Ice Pellets before and that didn't seem very comfortable.

Lucky for all of us runners, the threat never realised itself and the weather stayed clear of rain even if the dampness made the cold a bit more biting than expected. I followed the advice I usually give to newbie winter runners, when you get cold, run faster and you'll warm up!

I was impressed by the amount of people at the race and it was fun to meet a bunch of people I'd been socialising with online but never actually met. Finally I got to meet Laurel that is behind Lily on the road and also met Treena and Shirley (@momsgot2run). Some random people I met were from as far away as Smith Falls, impressive.

The race was pretty well organised with change rooms and cafeteria style seating (complete with a lunch including hot soup after the race!). I stayed inside a bit so I didn't have to freeze outside while waiting for the race to start. 10 minutes before the gun, I headed outside.

The run started with a countdown and start signal from a megaphone and everyone went on their way.
There were some pretty fast people out there and soon enough they were too far to even see. The pavement was mostly dry and afforded a good traction. I seemed to be in with a group pacing for 45 minutes and even if my goal was 50 minutes, it felt all right so I decided to stay with them for as long as I could. After 3km, I realised that I was on track for a really good race and felt like I could keep it up.
When I reached the halfway point at km 5, there was a clock and the volunteer manning it told me: "Good work, 22 minutes and 40 seconds, you are halfway there". I knew that if I could do a negative split, I would likely break the 45 minutes. It was a stretch effort, but definitively worth trying. I kept plugging at it and the slight downward slope on the way back as well as the backwind really helped me get those 10 seconds back. I must have overshot a bit because when I reached the 9km marker, I noticed that I had a 15 seconds lead on a 45 minutes finish. I gunned it, knowing that I had a PR in the sack and finished with a time of 44 minutes and 23 seconds! YeeHaw!

This race wasn't chipped but there was a guy reading the bibs and putting them in a computer, the old fashion way. I'm assuming that counts for real, unlike my previous fastest 10k training run which was interestingly enough, 44 minutes and 24 seconds!

Now I will go read a book by the fireplace with a hot cup of coco. Well deserved R&R this afternoon :)

Friday, January 15, 2010

Mild lunch

Today at lunch the weather was fairly mild and a bit wet but that didn't detrack me for going out for a somewhat easy 10k. I did my usual two bridge route and felt pleasantly fast and comfortable.
Without any pain in my knees from my 30km run three days ago, I was able to post a time of 50m34s fairly effortlessly. Things are looking up for Sunday where I hope to break the 50 minute mark!

Marathon training is feeling pretty good this year. I'm having less trouble sticking to the plan and I think that the weight training is helping out with what was previously my weak knees. Although I am not looking forward to the next few long runs, I'm getting a good feeling overall that I am making progress towards my goals.

In the mix was Armin Van Buuren's State of Trance 2008.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Long Tuesday

With this weekend's upcoming Richmond Race, I had to schedule my long run during the week. Tuesday after work, I put my running gear on and headed home. There's a bit of insanity to winter running that makes the experience a bit more extraordinary. I don't know if it's the braving the element aspect of it or just the crisp air that brings on this feeling, but there's a part of me that really enjoys it.

The training schedule called for 30km for my long run this week so I took a bit of a detour and kept going on Carling until there was no more visible sidewalks. I headed down Moodie where I had a total surreal experience. If you want to feel randomly out of place, try running by the side of the road at 6pm on Moodie while wearing a headlamp.
One of the most memorable moments of this training run happened on Moodie. If you are a long distance runner, you will know that when you are pushing the body hard enough, the brain starts to go a bit wonky. A little bit after my 16th kilometer, I looked at my Garmin and got a revelation type of moment. My big revelation was that in about 20 minutes, I would have only 10km to go. I'm not sure why that was such a good thing but I felt encouraged beyond belief. In every run there's a moment where you know whether it will be a good run or not. Sometimes that happens early on, this time it happened at about half way through.

I kept plugging away and defended myself against an attacking dog and dodged cars to reach the most difficult point for the evening. I was about 1.5km from home but only had clocked 25km so I had to keep going past the easy route and go all the way around palladium drive to do a loop at the palladium auto park.

The pace for the first 2 hours is surprisingly even
That must have contributed to my overall pace of 5:54. I wasn't feeling the cold until I started slowing down. My hydration backpack didn't freeze since I kept the backpack and long straw under my jacket.

Running for 3 hours makes for a lot of room in the mix with Yann Perreau's Un serpent sous les fleurs, Garou's Gentleman Cambrioleur and Mark Allen's Inventive Steps.

I was really happy get home.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Run home

On Thursday, I decided to run home again. I don't why but I really like it when people ask me how far that is and to see their reaction when they realize it's a 25km run. They'll think I'm crazy and to be honest, I sometimes think that myself as well but the experience is definitively worth it. I did go fairly slow with the uneven, sometimes snowy sometimes icy condition.
Hydration has always been a problem for me in the cold of winter with my water bottles freezing. This time I was prepared with a hydration backpack that I tucked under my windbreaker so it kept warm enough not to freeze and ensured that I had a steady supply of hydration, electrolytes and yummy sugars.

I even did a bit of a detour to add an extra 3km to meet my training goal of 28km. My average speed was about 6min/km. I'm not sure I'm totally happy with that but I'll use the poor traction and abundance of traffic lights as an excuse for the somewhat slow performance.

After a strenghtening workout yesterday, today was time for a short tempo run. The weather guys insisted the windchill factor was -27 celsius so I wore an extra fleece layer under my windbreaker and didn't even feel the cold. While my sweat froze in my tuque and gloves, I didn't feel cold at all.
I think I was pretty fast with a 4:56min/km average for the 6.6km. I felt great with no soreness at all in my knees from Thursday's long run. Awesome. Oozie Goodness in the mix.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Snowy Revenge

With the neverending snowy conditions, I took my revenge today at lunch and managed to do my full double loop of 10k.
I noticed the paths were much cleaner in Ottawa
than they were in Gatineau
After I got started things were flowing pretty easily. I felt light and didn't slip once. I do feel sore in muscles I didn't even know I had. Am I deluding myself that the uneven conditions are helping me develop strength? I never tire of the view of parliament from the bridge
I'm starting to wonder if I remember what it feels like to get traction on clean side walks. I was pretty satisfied with my time of 51m21s with Mark Allen's Inventive Steps in the mix.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Snowy Lunch

With the snow falling at least between 2 and 4 cm every day for the last week, I decided I could no longer postpone my runs and headed out for a short snowy run at lunch. Running in the snow is more difficult for the ankles and slower than on dry pavement so I shortened my usual triple bridge loop of 10km to a single double bridge loop of only 6km.
While it felt great to get out there and run, I didn't get the speed I wanted but with the absolutely awesome Lost Fingers in the mix, the endorphins were flowing freely! It was kind of nice to run amongst the falling snowflakes and the weather was pretty good with almost no winds.

My speed wasn't impressive at over 31 minutes but then again, that wasn't the point today. Being out there despite the conditions is what mattered most and I had one of those crazy giggle moments when I realised that what I was doing would be considered outside of sanity for most mortals.

I saw quite a few other runners out there, maybe trying to shed off the holiday pounds or training towards their own goals. One of them was running an Ironman jacket. Cool. On days like today, running really does seem like a brotherhood where we are all in this together, for better or worse ;)

I'm still a bit behind on the training with my long run a few days late. Hopefully the snow stops and the sidewalks get cleaned enough for another run home after work. Otherwise I'll have to go for 25 loops around the palladium auto park, not my idea of fun!

When I got home, I had the happy surprise of a prize package from RoadBunner. I won a HeadSweat race hat thanks to Mario's funny furry bits.
A full review and pictures of the hat will be coming soon but my first impressions are that I like how soft and comfortable it feels!