Sunday, September 26, 2010

35k is a long way!

Phew, what a training week. At 85km total distance this week, I am in the 2nd heaviest week of my training cycle. Things slow down a bit next week with a 80km week and then the final stretch begins with another 85km week and a 90km week before slowly reducing the distance before tapering begins. This week's runs were pretty successful with a great tempo on Tuesday, a satisfying 16km of intervals on Thursday (avg 4:10m/km for fast intervals, 5:12m/km for the slow intervals), a medium tempo 13k (4:56m/km) on Friday and an easy pace 35km yesterday.

I've said it before, the easy pace long runs are everything but easy. 35km is a long distance to cover, at any pace! Yesterday's route took me over the canal, alongside the Rideau river through Beechwood to the Aviation museum and then alongside the Ottawa river until it was time to turn back and take an alternate route home through Rockliffe.
What a beautiful city in the fall. Colors are turning on the trees and the quietness of the path alongside the Ottawa river combined with the fall colors made me want to stop running and take my time to enjoy the scenery :) Being an easy pace run on back-to-back-to-back running days, I wasn't too worried about my speed. Logging the miles was my main concern.

The run went really well except for one little detail. Alex always laugh at me when I carry my camel pack with the tube to drink while I am on the run. That's pretty much the only way I can think of carrying 2L of sportsdrink when my route doesn't include cornerstores everywhere along the way. For those of you watching the Office, you'll have noticed this week that Dwight started using a camel pack to stay hydrated because he is too busy between his many jobs. This gave Alex plenty of opportunities to poke fun at me and my drinking tube. Well, when I came back from my run, he had a lot more opportunities to make fun of my hydration techniques. You see somewhere at about km 15, my camel pack sported a leak. By km 20, my backpack was sloshing around and the sportsdrink was permeating through the backpack mesh and made my shirt and shorts all wet and sticky. I eventually stopped to empty the backpack (twice) and ran out of sportsdrink by km 25. At least I could look forward to drying now that there was no more sportsdrink to leak onto my back :)

Next week will be a bit of a break before the last stretch of this training run. Only 80km in the plan with the long run capped at 32km. This should be easy :)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Training Wall

Most long distance runners can tell you a story about how they hit the wall during their race. Some hit it first during a half marathon. Some do after 30km of running and some never really seem to hit it at all. I've been lucky in a sense since I haven't had to deal too often with the wall. My first marathon saw me hit it head first and the wall caused me to question my resolve to finish the race and even to enter future races. I did cross the finish line proudly but not without a significant amount of pain and what seemed like a superhuman effort to keep going. Fast forward to today and it seems that ever since I started following a training plan the wall has been easier to deal with. The race day mental game is one that can be conquered during those lonely training runs in the dead of winter or early morning when everyone else is sleeping. The training is probably having me more prepared for race day as well. Someone once told me that during a race you race up to when your training runs out and then you just slug it out. My last 2 marathons I didn't feel that my training ran out, I felt ready and thoroughly enjoyed race day. Of the approximate 1200 kms required for my training plan, the last 42.2 were definitively the most enjoyable and memorable ones. To a properly trained marathoner, race day is a crown to the achievement that is the training cycle and should be celebrated as such.

This training cycle, I seem to be hitting the wall hard during training. My individual runs are fine once I get started but sometimes I feel that running is starting to get in the way of my life :) Often I have to give myself an extra kick to get out there and do my training runs. As I can start tasting the home stretch of my training, I am realizing that the weeks of training for a marathon and the feelings one goes through are pretty much identical to the race day mental games, but on a longer time scale. I caught myself last week discussing my training schedule with a colleague and I even uttered the words "Maybe I should quit running". This is the wall talking. I should not listen! I remember thinking the same thing around km 30 in my first marathon. Just like a smoker resolving themselves to quit a bad habit. Of course, I can't imagine my life without running, but maybe, just maybe, I ought to take it a bit easier. Of course I want to qualify for Boston someday and I feel that the sooner it happens the better that will be and I can always relax after, but on the other side I'd like to be able to stay up late on Saturday nights and have a drink with my colleagues once in a while after work without worrying about the impact on my training :)

The remedy for the training blues? More training. And quality training. Today, I took the legs out and unleashed them for a long tempo run. This is by far my favorite type of run. I feel like a jockey taking his favorite horse out on the track for a speedy session. The legs going full tilt, the feeling of speed and power resulting from each step is something that I find very addictive and fulfilling. At 4:31m/km for the tempo portion (total of 21.1km in 1h39m24s) this was my fastest 10k in a while and would have been a PR if it was a half marathon.
Look at all the green on the map. I could get used to speeds like this. If I can do two of those in a row, a BQ is within reach. With 5 more weeks of training and proper tapering, I think I am on the right track. Runs like the one I did today are the perfect remedy to break down that wall.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Army Run

The Ottawa Army Run is now becoming a can't miss event on Ottawa runner's calendars. The army theme has a broad reach and this run is able to catch many people that may not necessarily be interested in running otherwise. The race expo features military vehicles for runners to explore and the race has lots of army related touches such as the camouflage themed race shirt, the adrenaline pumping giant cannon start and the dog tag "medals" given to those who complete their events.

Two distances were offered to runners this year, a 5k and a 21k. The weather was perfect for a run even if towards the end the sun started beating down and making it a bit warm for some runner's taste. (That's what I heard anyways, I was shielded away in a tent the whole time :) Lots of smiling runners achieving personal bests or otherwise just having a good time on what some called a fairly challenging course.

I couldn't fit the 21k in my schedule again this year so I decided to volunteer for the baggage check. This is my favorite volunteer selection since I get to see the runners before they start the race, anxious, nervous, confident and focused and I also see them after, tired, beaming, proud and sometimes barely able to walk :) We processed a lot of bags this year, the estimate I hear was about 2000!
We didn't lose a single bag even if we got a few scares where some people would mark 2 numbers on the bag. In theory, the first finisher gets the bag back and finds their friend. In reality the first finisher gets the bag, cannot find their friend and the second finisher not knowing they are not the first finisher are also looking for the now gone bag. We had a few nervous people that got reunited with their friends while looking for the bag. Eventually everything worked out but the stress of not finding the bag combined with the soreness and tiredness of having just raced did create some uncomfortable moments. Notice to runners out there, don't expect us to check your car keys, ID, visa card, room key, pocket change or wallet. These will get lost so we won't even accept them. Some people were checking in their jacket. I guess it's all right but still causes a lot of problem and is a risk for runners that the jackets will get damp / dirty since they will be on the ground, probably with a bag on top.

It's always fun to be involved in an event even when I don't run it. There's this feeling that I get around runners that makes me feel at home! It's also pretty cool to see the events from the other side and figure out how everything works out in the background. To all those that raced the army run and thank me for volunteering: THANK YOU! Thank you for being out there and creating this vibrant community

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Week in review

This week was a return to my training plan. I did my 4 runs and 2 weight sessions. I'm pretty happy being able to squeeze all of the training in.

After Monday's 21k tempo the next set was a 16k intervals. I did pretty well keeping my fast intervals under 4:30m/km until my watch decided the battery was dead. I think I completed the workout as planned but I'll have to rely on my gut feeling for that. Thursday's 13k fartlek was pretty good, I breached the 4m/km quite a few times!
Friday was a rest day and Saturday was an easy weight day. I'm still watching Dallas while doing my weights and the current intrigue of who shot JR is really entertaining :)

Sunday was the long run. The plan called for a 32km distance and I needed to go back to the house to do some more cleaning so my plan was to do a reverse commute while adding a few detours to come up to 32km. It was nice to be able to take my time and not rush into a meeting right after my run, Sunday runs do have their advantages :) I did fairly well with a moving average of 5:20m/km. I had to give myself a pit stop at a mall along the way for relief and a new bottle of sports drink as I ran out of crystals and couldn't mix my camel pack as usual. Turns out today was a perfect day for a long run. The forecasted rain didn't really materialize while I was running except for a very light sprinkle towards the end.
I am always amazed at the thoughts that cross my mind while doing a long run like this. At the 17km mark, I looked at my watch and thought to myself: that's pretty cool, I only have 15km left. 15km seemed like a short stroll after completing the first half of my run :)

In the mix was Iron Maiden, Yann Perreault, X-Dream and Distance to Goa 7.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Back to schedule

Phew. What a week! Packing, moving, unpacking. It's tough stuff. Most people think my training is tough but the real tough part is fitting it all in. I missed a total of 3 runs during this hectic week. I think the soreness of moving means that even though it wasn't as focussed as my usual training, those days were not really wasted away.

I got back on schedule Monday with a really good tempo 18k + 3k warmup/cooldown at about 1h40m. Tuesday was a weight day in my new home gym. My screen is not up yet but I still had my portable DVD player so I could keep going with my Dallas. I'm currently at beginning of season 4 with the very exciting plot twists of finding who shot JR :) Yesterday was a 16k intervals which I think I did pretty well with most of my fast intervals around 4:30m/km.

Today is a short 13k and tomorrow I'm taking the day off training to host a housewarming. Drop me a line if you are in Ottawa and would like to drop by :)

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Moving week

I knew moving week would get busy so I threw in some extra mileage last week for a total of 81km while the plan called for 75.

Noteworthy was my super intervals run of 6x2.5km with 5 minutes rest. I completed all the intervals at 4:30m/km or less. Sunday's tempo run didn't go so well with a new heatwave hitting Ottawa it was difficult to get any kind of speed...

I redeemed myself this week with an easy pace 32k (20 miles) at a 5:15m/km pace (2h48m).

I am not sure when I will find time this week to run next. Packing and moving boxes count as training, right?