Sunday, October 31, 2010

7 days!!!

Less than a week left until race day. This is pretty exciting stuff. When I started training for this marathon 16 weeks ago, I didn't feel like I would ever get to race day. The grueling long runs, the exhausting speed training and the crazy things I had to eat in the last few weeks will hopefully pay off in a big way on race day. I'll follow up with a race goal post but for now the focus is on keeping the taper gremlins away.

Running "only" 50kms this week made it seem like I was procrastinating. I have to rationalize the feeling that I get in my legs when resting and convince myself that they are not injured and will be in top shape and ready to perform next weekend. No, this is not a stress fracture or a pulled muscle, it's just how it feels to not be tired all the time! Even the creaking in the morning feels different :)

Eating is also a difficult balancing act. Not running the crazy distances that the peak training was asking means that even though my appetite may be for seconds and thirds, the reality is that I have to be careful if I don't want to pack a few extra pounds come race day :) I've grown accustomed to the bottomless carbs and delicious desserts. Now I have had to cut back a bit to ensure that I hit the start line with the minimum amount of extra luggage ;)

It's been difficult to fit all the training in and find the motivation to keep going, especially the last few weeks. I am really happy that I managed to fit in most of the training plan for the last 3 months, only skipping a week's worth when I moved and even then I compensated wherever possible. I feel ready for the race and positive about giving a good performance in Hamilton.

If you are in Hamilton, let me know. We'll be there from Friday on. The long range weather report looks pretty good with sunny and sub 10 degree temperature. Depending on last minute weather, I'll be running with a variation of my chinese "orange blur" outfit that saw me through breaking 45 minutes for 10km last winter at the Richmond road race.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Over the hump

Wednesday is referred to as hump day sometimes. My Wednesday was a double hump. As I will be traveling this weekend, there won't be time or comfortable settings for a long run so I decided to squeeze in my 38km run, the longest of this training cycle, into a weekday. I don't know if the dread and anxiety of planning a run like that on a weekday evening is worse than the pain of actually doing it but I'm glad it is all over. Night running has its advantages. It's much quieter and a bit cooler than daytime running. It also gives a whole new perspective as you see things in the dark. Even the trails seemed different. I kept imagining giants spiders weaving a web that would catch me like we often see in bad horror movies. I saw a few other runners and quite a few cyclists out there.

The first 20 kms were easy peasy. The next 5 started to get difficult. I knew my nutrition wouldn't be where it needed to be so I brought along some gels, which is very unusual for me in training. I had the first one at km 25. It gave me a boost and something to think about other than the amount of kms left. At around km 30 I started losing it. Km 33 saw me stop for a walk break. What? A walk break? Me? I started doubting myself and that is never good. I took another gel and resolved to finish the distance running. Two walk breaks later, I finally decided to not allow myself any more breaks and run for it and ran the last 2 kms without breaking. I even ran an extra 500m to make up for it. Such is the mind of the runner. In 3h45m it's 8 minutes faster than the 38km run leading up to my 3:27 marathon. I hope that means I am in good shape.

The low 70km that next week requires will seem short compared to the heavy weeks I have endured recently. Then it's all downhill for taper until the race. Woohoo!

Good luck to everyone racing this weekend. Go get that PR!

Monday, October 11, 2010


For us Canadians, this weekend is thanksgiving. I have had the opportunity to reflect on what I am thankful for and a big part of what I cherish in my life is due to running. The positive things that running has given me are really what I am thankful for. I love having more energy throughout the day because my morning run went well or just because the training regimen has trained my body to be ready for anything. The rush of endorphins after a hard training keep me sane even in difficult moments. The "me" space that running gives me to think things through and plan ahead is priceless. Plus the positive changes that running had brought to my body cannot be overlooked.

So I thought I'd write up on what I am thankful for, the things that motivate me to run or makes running easier:
  • Thank you to the exceptional runners that provide me inspiration such as Ray Zahab and Terry Fox.
  • Thank you to the regular Joes and Janes everywhere, running along at races and during training. Seeing you out there makes it easier for me.
  • Thank you to the online community that shares their training experiences, provides tips and tricks and makes running more social. (yes, I'm looking at you Marlene, Yumke, RoadBunner, LARunner, ChichRunner, Mel, Mel, Ray, Laurel, iRunNation, and countless others I am forgetting right now)
  • Thank you to the race sponsors, organizers and volunteers for putting out great events and to celebrate our running community.
  • Thank you to the apparel and footwear designers, engineers and retailers for making sure we are equipped with the latest and greatest to make running comfortable and safe.
  • Thank you to the National Capital Commission (NCC) and Ottawa city council for making Ottawa a city with so many parks and trails.
  • Thank you to friends and family for asking how I did with my training or at my last race. This support means the world to me.
  • Thank you for a financial situation that allows me to equip myself properly and travel to exotic and fun races.
  • Thank you for a healthy body that can take all the pounding of training and continues to deliver exceptional race results.
  • Last but not least, thank you to my dedicated lover Alex. He puts up with my hissy fits, finicky nutrition schedules, pre-race anxiety and long training hours. I couldn't do it without you.
Training this week was my biggest week ever with almost 104km. Not only did I have an out of plan 5k race to up my weekly mileage but I used an opportunity on Sunday to take a lead on next week's training since the week will be extremely busy and I will be traveling during the weekend. I'm still not sure how I will manage the 38km easy pace after work on Wednesday or Thursday but I'm sure I'll find a way to fit it in :)

Friday, October 8, 2010


This will be short. I just wanted to share with you that I raced a 5k in 20m30s yesterday, a 2 minute improvement over my time last year. It was a charity 5k at work and lots of fun to be running with my co-workers from different departments. I came in 25th which is pretty exciting given the speedy people that were there! I'm not quite fast enough to beat the 20 minute mark that a colleague challenged me to, but then again I didn't want to push too hard and jeopardize my real race next month. 5k is a different beast than a marathon, that is for sure. How did I celebrate? By running a sub-1hour 13km after work, of course :)

Check out the DC Rainmaker blog today for a Timex Global Trainer giveaway.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


H&M is a famous clothing store, but the H&M I am referring to isn't a big chain. You may remember a few months back, I was trying to decide what marathon to run next and I was undecided with two of my choices. You know that I will be attempting to BQ at Hamilton's Road2Hope marathon but what I haven't shared with you yet is that I wasn't able to resist a very tempting offer from and decided to go ahead and book their Miami Marathon and Cruise package. H&M is then my new challenge: Hamilton & Miami.
The goal is still a BQ at Hamilton and then a scenic fun marathon at Miami but if for some reason I am unable to obtain my BQ at Hamilton, then the race is on for Miami :) I will spend 7 days after the race being pampered on the Carnival Glory visiting exotic beaches and hopefully take in a bit of snorkeling.
Training this week has been pretty good so far. I'm trying to cram it all in early in the week so I can get a head start on next week's mileage since the week after I will be busy travelling for a conference. I went really back to back with a tempo 18k (+3k warmup/cooldown) yesterday evening at an average 4:34m/km. No wonder this morning's 16k intervals wasn't quite as satisfying with fast intervals at 4:24m/km.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Fall Running

Fall Running is really special. The combination of the cooling temperature and the trees changing color create an environment that is perfect for runners. Add to that the fantastic training I've been doing this summer and I feel strong and confident when setting out on my runs.
This week was very wet here in Ottawa so I did something I shouldn't have and postponed my two biggest workouts (19k tempo + 32k easy pace) to the weekend. I still managed to get pretty satisfactory results.

Tuesday was supposed to be the original day for my 19k tempo but I started way too fast and to top if off there was a weird weather phenomenon where the temperature actually rose 10 degrees when I got to Dow's lake at about 6km. I switched gears and decided to abandon the tempo workout and run a total of 13k to make up for Thursday's planned track workout.

Wednesday was much better where I squeezed in an interval workout. Quick intervals at an average of 4:06m/km for the fast kms and 4:52m/km for the slow kms. Workouts like these where I exceed my goals are what makes running so satisfying. Every now and then I set a challenge that I am able to crush and it works wonders for my confidence.

Thursday's make-up 19km tempo did not happen. It was a dreary and raining day here in Ottawa so I decided to postpone the 19k to Saturday and do an indoor strength workout instead. Friday was also a strength day since I didn't have enough time to get suited up and get a good distance in.

Saturday's tempo run was another confidence booster. The plan called for a warmup of 1km, 19km at tempo pace and then 2 km of warm down. I actually strayed a bit and had a fairly fast warmup and didn't switch off the engine until I reached the half marathon mark (21.1km). I finished the 21.1km distance in 1h34m40s. That's 20 seconds under my BQ time if Boston was a half. Doing this speed in training is definitively a real positive development. I wouldn't have been able to sustain for another 21.1km but then again I didn't follow pre-race preparations such as taper and hydration.

Sunday's 32km was a bit difficult to get into. I was still a bit sore from Saturday's tempo run. The cooler temperature and the beautiful colors turning in the trees were definitively a big motivation.
The route took me across the river for a beautiful view of Parliament
And then alongside the Ottawa and then Gatineau river on my way to the Gatineau Park. Beautiful colors everywhere mixed with the sunshine gave me a glow that helped me get through the difficult workout.
If you take into consideration the steep hills
as well as the numerous times I stopped to snap pictures, I think the 2h57m is pretty decent for an easy pace run.

With only two more weeks of heavy training before I start slowing down and tapering, I feel very confident about Hamilton. If you are racing in Hamilton on November 7th, drop me a line, we can meet up!