About Me

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Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Trying to reach my full potential as a masters runner

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Moving beyond NYC

So it's been a bit more than a month since I ran the NYC Marathon. I've had time to reflect, regroup and repair...now it's time to refocus and begin the next phase of my running career.

My NYC result was both disappointing and satisfying....I was no where near my goal time, but given my hamstring issues over the months leading up to the race and the difficulties encountered during the race, I was happy to have finished.

In hindsight, I made to key mistakes - one before the race and one during. The combination of both resulted in disaster.

First, my buddy Glen and I must have walked about 15k sightseeing throughout NYC the day before the race. Second, I got caught up in the energy of the crowd and went out too fast the first half of the race, especially the first 15k or so. As a result my quads and calves started crapping at about the 25k mark. From there to the finish it was no fun.

So lesson learned....I won't do that again!

My plan over the next few months is to address the issues that led to my hamstring problems through strength training and to increase my speed over the 5 and 10k distances. Meaning I won't likely run a marathon in 2012, but plan to run a number of shorter-distanced races and focus on speed work.

I may even try a duathlon or two, as I've taken to cycling and I feel that activity will help improve my leg strength, take some stress off my body normally created by running and contribute to an overall improvement in my running results.

Stay tuned!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Almost time!

So for anyone who has checked my blog recently, you'll know I haven't posted anything in looooong time! Since the end of June to be exact.

A variety of things and excuses have gotten in the way of me writing things, but mainly, it's been due to my frustration with a nagging hamstring injury. I really haven't had anything positive or new to write the last few months.

It's been a struggle, but things are looking up recently. With less than two weeks to NYC, my hamstring feels as good as it has since the half marathon in Georgia in January where I qualified for NYC by one second.

Lots of massage therapy and adjusting my training schedule have me in a position where I should be able to run a PR...although not as fast as I had hoped.

So my goal is to run somewhere under 3:24 and if the stars align and I'm feeling strong I'll try for a sub 3:20 time.

As they say, "If I can make it there, I can make it anywhere!"

Thursday, June 23, 2011

I'm back!

Hey bloggers, it's me...I'm still here!

It's been just over a month since my last post. That was just prior to the ING Ottawa Half Marathon. At the time I was nursing a hamstring injury an shooting for a 1:30 finish time. In hindsight that was very optimistic.

While the hamstring was feeling better in the days leading up to the race, I hadn't been able to train as hard as I should to turn in a 1:30 or better time. On race day I warmed up great and started off strong, on pace through the first 7k. Then it all went wrong. My hamstring started to get tight and by the 8k point it was feeling just like my left hamstring had before going into spasm and tearing in March 2010.

So I slowed down and actually walked for a bit and tried to stretch it out. I got going again, but when I tried to get up to the pace I needed to run for my goal time, I would get a sharp pain in my right leg. By the 13k mark I decided to listen to my body and bail. I was very disappointed as it was the first race I started, but didn't finish. However, in hindsight it was a smart thing to do.

So the last month I've been rehabbing the hamstring and a sore lower back, related to the hamstring. Ian has me doing very easy runs. We're in maintenance mode until August when things will ramp up for NYC.

The leg and back are feeling good today and I'll be getting out for an easy run shortly. The break has also been good for me mentally. I know by August I'll be eager to get back into serious training and focused on a PR in NYC.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Getting ready

So my right hamstring is getting better and I'm ramping things up for next Sunday's ING Ottawa half marathon.

The last two weeks have been fairly easy in terms of running mileage, but important in terms of rehabbing my right leg. In addition to allowing me to recover, the light run schedule allowed me to enjoy the trip to Florida for Anne's half ironman competition.

We took the kids and had a great time!

 The weather was hot and sunny for the most part and even though it was a short trip (6 days) we packed a lot in, including Anne's competition. Which btw, she rocked despite a crash on her bike. She finished in 6 hours and 28 minutes, placing 49th in her age group!

Anne's performance has inspired me to post a good finish time next weekend. And despite my lack of training the last few weeks, Ian told me to not over-think things and just step on the gas pedal.

So "run fast, run strong" will be my mantra throughout the race and when things get tough I'll rely on that to keep me going...that and the fact a friend from high school will be running with me and will help pace me. He just ran the Boston Marathon and should be able to push me. I haven't told him, but my/our goal is to post a 1:30 or faster time.

What will also provide some inspiration is the fact that two of my friends are running their first 5k races on the Saturday night of race weekend. I've been helping Ron and David train for the race and I plan to watch them at the finish line....if they can go from the couch to completing a 5k after only a few weeks of training, I can run fast for my race.

I'll let you know how things go!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Walking wounded

So much for my pledge to post on a regular basis. For some reason, I'm just not into keeping up with things.

Anyway, last weekend's half marathon in Waterloo was a bit disappointing. The friend I was supposed to run with had an IT band injury and couldn't run. So I was on my own.

In consultation with my coach Ian, we decided that I could likely run somewhere between 1:33 and 1:35 given my training and current fitness level. Remember I was supposed to run this race as a training run, pacing my friend Glen in his first half marathon. His goal time was around 1:40, so I have been training for about a 4:45 per km pace for this race.

However, with Glen on the disabled list, I tried to run a faster race. And things started great! I was on pace for about a 1:33 finish until just after the 13k point. I had just run up a long (more than 1k in length) and steep (about a 6 or 7 percent grade) hill and my right hamstring was throbbing. It had been tight and giving me some issues in recent weeks, but I guess it was worse than I cared to admit.

From the 13k point on, whenever I tried to run faster than about a 4:40 per km pace, it felt as though the hamstring would go into spasm....similar to the feeling I had when I did in my left hamstring in a race in March 2010. So, having learned my lesson from that experience, I slowed things down and cruised home to a 1:40:27 time, finishing 31st overall and 10th in my age group.

As I said a bit disappointing at the time, but in retrospect and given my training, I finished just about where I should have if Glen had run the race with me. As Anne said when I got home, this wasn't really my race and I shouldn't have expected to run faster than 1:40, especially since I had been nursing a sore hamstring.

So this week has been an easy week of rest and slow-paced 5ks. My hamstring feels much better. I had visited a sports doctor prior to the race in Waterloo and she determined it was just an overuse injury. I've been stretching it really good after each run this week and as I said it's much better.

I hope with some additional stretching and a couple of massage therapy sessions I'll be good to go on May 29th for the ING Half Marathon here in Ottawa. After that I'll run a 5k in early June, then Ian will have me maintenance/recovery training for about 2 months.

Come the end of August, we'll ramp it up in preparation for the NYC Marathon November 6th.

Have a great weekend!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Back again

Well it's been more than a week since my last post....not sure why I' haven't been into posting more often the last month or so, but I think it may be having an a negative impact on my training and race results.

The last couple of weeks I've been struggling to be consistent and get all my runs and strength training sessions done. I've been trying to figure out why. I have had a cold and stomach flu at different times, so those have been factors, but it's more than that.

While I was training for the half marathon in January, I posted on a daily basis and I think it provided a form of accountability. Also, putting my race goals in writing helped focus me and convince me that I could attain them.

So, I'm committing to posting on a daily basis even if it's just a sentence or two. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Been busy

It's been a while since I've posted, but I'm still here and training hard.

In fact I've had two great weeks of training and despite not turning in a great race on Sunday, I feel I'm making progress.

I've also been golfing, as spring has finally arrived here in the Great White North....well at least here in Ottawa anyway. So with work and family commitments, it's been difficult to find time to blog. But tonight I finally have a few free minutes to post an update.

As I said, training has been very good the last couple of weeks, I'm even enjoying and making progress with the strength training sessions Ian introduced. So I was feeling very confident and strong going into the 10k race on Sunday, but for some reason I just didn't have "it" that day.

It was a perfect day for running - sunny, about 8C and just a little wind, although it was a head wind for the first part of the race. I felt good and had a great warm-up session. I was confident I could PR and even post a time under 40 minutes.

I started strong and was sticking to my plan to run the first 3 kilometres at a pace between 3:55 and 4:00 minutes per kilometre. Then at about the 4k mark it was as if I hit a wall! My legs felt like lead weights and I was unable to get back to a sub-4 minute pace the remainder of the race.

I couldn't even hold my half marathon pace from January of 4:16 per km. I finished with a time of 42:45, an average pace of 4:17 per km, putting me 22nd overall and 10th in my age group. It was disappointing to miss my goal time by approximately 3 minutes and more than a minute and a half slower than my previous best at the 10k distance.

I can't explain why I sucked so much, but I'm over it now and ready to move on. I guess I have to accept the fact that you can't PR in every race, even if you feel you should.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

In a funk!

This is my first post in more than a week....I just haven't been feelin' it!

Last week was a tough one. I was on the verge of getting sick all week, but was somehow able to fight it off. However, it impacted my training and also my will to blog. :)

I managed to run 7k last Monday and do a strength workout Thursday morning, followed by a speed workout that afternoon. Other than that, nada, zip, rien!

And on top of not completing my runs for the week, my muscles ached all weekend as a result of my first strength training work in more than a year. In fact, walking down stairs was truly painful until Sunday night.

I really am getting old! :(

This is a new week and while I'm not any younger, I feel 100% better and ready to redo last week's plan. I already have 7k in the books and I'll be in the gym at 6am tomorrow to tackle those strength exercises again. Then it's 6.8k of speed work at the indoor track tomorrow night, followed by a rest day on Thursday.

Friday I'll do a different set of strength exercises in the morning and then run 8.5k at tempo pace in the afternoon. Saturday I'll run a total of 8k, with 3k of hill repeats inn the middle and cap off the week with a 22k long run on Sunday. Total for the week - 52.3k.

I just hope I can get out of bed for work next Monday!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

That's more like it!

My 19k run earlier this afternoon was much better than last week's 18k debacle...I guess sleeping in my own bed and not fighting off a cold/flu really does make a difference.

In addition, the sidewalks and bike/walking path along the Canal was free of ice and only had a few small puddles, so there was no need to climb snowbanks or leap over large pools of water to avoid getting soaked. And it was warmer today (+5C) and very little wind....it was a perfect day to run and it felt awesome being out there!

I started with 5k at a 5:05 minutes per kilometere pace, then upped it to a 5 even pace for 4k, followed by 3k at  a 4:55 pace, 2k at 4:50 per km and then 1k at 4:45. I was able to hit all my paces and maintain them, in fact I had to watch that I didn't run too fast. It was the complete opposite of last week when I struggled to reach my desired pace and maintain it. I felt strong throughout and could have run faster.

At the 15k mark I slowed to a 4:55 pace for 2k and then ran the last 2k at a 5:05 pace. I felt strong at the end of the run and could have run much longer. Time for the run - 1 hour, 34 minutes and 17 seconds.

More importantly today's result helped boost my confidence. It's encouraging to have such a strong run at the end of six consecutive days of running and the day after a 7k run that included 2k of hill repeats. Total mileage for the week - 52.2k.

This week Ian is going to incorporate some strength training exercises into my training plan to help make me a stronger runner. I'm interested in seeing how if this will help lower my race times and to see how sore I'll feel at the end of the week. I haven't done any strength training in about a year.

I also bought a new pair of indoor shoes as my old ones had more than 600k on them. Ian would like me to slowly transition into wearing racing flats for my races and using a lower profile shoe for training. So I abandoned my usual Nike Air Moto shoe for the Nike Lunar Max 2 shoe as it is a lower profile and should help encourage a more mid to front foot strike. I'm anxious to try out my new shoes...they're kind of cool looking too...black top with red around the sole....they just look fast! :)

Enjoy the rest of your weekend and have a great week.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Another tough long run

I don't know why, but today's 18k run was a killer!

Maybe it was because I was travelling for work this week, or because I was fighting off some cold or flu bug or that I didn't get enough sleep while I was out of town, maybe it was a combination of everything. Anyway, today's run was no fun.

The weather was nice so decided to I run outside. The plan called for me to run the first 4k at a 5:05/k pace and then to bump it up to a 4:50/k pace for 8k. And while the weather was warm, 2C, there was about a 20k north wind that I had to fight head-on for the first 10k. Plus I had to dodge and maneuver around some big puddles, often having to run on the snowbanks along my route to avoid the water.

Perhaps having to work so hard in those first 10 to 11k to maintain my pace while dealing with the wind and puddles contributed to the difficult of the run. All I know is that for the first 13k I was doing fine, then it was as if I hit a wall!

At the 12k mark, I increased my pace to 4:45/k for 3k, but could only maintain that pace for 2k. So I slowed to a 5:00 minutes per k pace for a kilometre, then tried to run a kilometre at 4:45, but could only manage a 4:50/k pace. Then it got really difficult because I had to run up a good sized hill that was about 300m long. All  I could manage was a 5:20/k pace, including walking about 50m.

I was supposed to run 2 of the last 3k at a 4:35/k pace, but by the 17k point I had not been able to do that. So I sucked it up, dug deep and ran my final kilometre in 4 minutes and 35 seconds. I was done!

Two tough long runs on consecutive weekends. I don't know what's going on, but it's not helping build my confidence.

I bailed on the 10k race I was planning to run yesterday, because I just wasn't feeling it. I'm glad I did. I hadn't entered the race, so bailing was easy. I'm entered in a 10k race April 10th and then I'm running a half marathon with my buddy Glen, May 1st in Waterloo.

My  goal is to run the 10k under 40 minutes. To do that, I'll need to get out of this funk and log some positive runs the next month. The half marathon will be a training run for me as I'm pacing Glen to a 1:40 goal time.

However, if my long runs keep sucking, Glen may have to pace me!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Hectic week

Well this week has been interesting to say the least. Monday my throat was so sore I could barely talk and it hurt like crazy to eat or drink anything. Tuesday I was off to Newfoundland for work again and I'm still here. My throat is better, but still not 100% and I feel a cold coming on...can it get any worse for training?

Despite all the physical aliments and travel, I did manage an 8k run Tuesday evening on the treadmill in my hotel. Average pace of 4:56 per kilometre for a total of 39 minutes and 33 seconds. The entire run was done at a 1% incline.

And although I had to force myself to run, I felt a bit better afterward. However, yesterday I was supposed to do a speed workout, but just couldn't do it. I had a terrible night's sleep on Tuesday and had no energy, plus my throat was still killing me.

Despite a poor night's sleep again last night I forced myself to get the speed workout in after my work today.

After 1.2k at a 5:30 minutes per kilometre pace, I ran 2 x 400m at a 3:53/k pace, with a 30 second rest between each interval. That was followed by 2 x 800m at a 3:53/k pace with 45 seconds between each set. Then I ran 1k followed by 1.2k, both at 3:58/k with 1.5 minutes rest after the first interval and 2.5 minutes rest after the second one. The session finished with 1.6k at the original 3:53/k pace.

I was surprised at how easy the session was and how good I felt afterward given I feel as though I'm getting a head cold. There really are a lot of viruses going around and I seem to get a lot of them!

My buddy Steve says he never gets sick. He thinks I should gain weight, stop running and get out of shape..as he says, it works for him! :)

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Great week!

It started last Saturday with an 8k run and ended with 17 kilometres yesterday - 8 straight days of running...a first for me!

This week's total of 53k was my highest since before the half marathon January 15th. I was surprised at how strong I felt during yesterday's long run and how great my legs feel today.

I ran inside on the treadmill because it was raining all day and the thought of slogging through the slush and puddles on the sidewalks and roads was not appealing. As much as I dislike the treadmill, there are advantages on days like yesterday.

Ian had the run structured for the pace to increase every 2k until the 10k mark when the paces slowed every 2k, with the slowest pace over the last 1k. The pace changes helped break up the monotony of the run and to make it even more interesting, I varied the incline every 500m or so from the 5k point onward, going from a 1% grade up to as high as 4%.

I started at a 5:10/pace, with the fastest pace being 4:50/k from the 8 to 10k points. The varying inclines really worked my legs, but considering the mileage I had racked up the previous 7 days, it wasn't a killer run and I felt much stronger at the end of the run than I had at the finish of my 15k run the previous Sunday.

I have to admit, when I first looked at the plan Ian had developed for me this past week, I thought he was trying to kill me! Now that it's over, I feel awesome physically and running as many days consecutively as I have gives me a sense of accomplishment and confidence in my conditioning and ability to push myself.

I guess Ian really does know what he's doing. :)

I had planned to run the St. Paddy's Day 10k here in Ottawa next Saturday the 12th, but I haven't entered yet. I'm going to enter at the last minute Saturday morning if the weather is reasonable and spots remain in the event. I have no desire to run in the snow, rain or cold...all of which we've been getting a lot of recently.

And speaking of weather, the rain turned to snow over night, so there's about 7cm of the white stuff waiting for me and my snow blower. I'm ready for winter to leave!

Have a great week!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Fifth day in-a-row!

Because Anne and I had things on tonight, neither of us could make it to the indoor track for the group run with Ian. So I was up at 5am and in the gym by 6am to get my run done on the treadmill.

This week's speed session was comprised of 3 intervals of 600m at 5k race pace (3:53 minutes per km for me) followed by 1200m also at 5k race pace, with a 1.5 minute rest after each 600m and 3 minutes after each 1200m. And then there was an additional 600m tacked on at the end for kicks!

It was a great run and I was surprised at how easy the 3:53 pace felt even over the 1200m distances. In fact I felt strong enough to run the final 600m at a 3:47/km pace. I'm definitely getting faster and stronger, especially considering today was the fifth day in-a-row of running for me, including a tough 15k run on Sunday.

 Now I just have three more days to get through until a rest day on Sunday.  

Monday, February 28, 2011

It's official!

I received my latest credit card statement in the mail today and it showed that a payment had been processed for entry into the NYC Marathon...I'm officially in the field...oh yeah!! :)

Not that I was worried really, but you never know what can happen with the verification process. It's just good to know that everything is set. Now all I have to do is wait...and train of course!

Speaking of which, Ian has a very robust schedule for me this week, starting with a 5k today. Usually he gives me a rest day after my Sunday long run, but not this week.

Tomorrow I'll run 9k, then do a 6k track session on Wednesday, followed by 6k on Thursday, 8k Friday and  17k Saturday. Ian had scheduled a rest day for Saturday, but I'm playing poker Saturday night and will be in no condition to run my long run Sunday, so I'll move it up a day.

It's all worth it, especially knowing I'll be running in New York City the first weekend in November. :)

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Tough one

I just finished my 15k long run and it was tough. The sun was shining and it wasn't too cold out so I decided to run outside. Unfortunately it snowed last night and the sidewalks and path along the canal were slippery and wet, making it difficult to get traction and hit the paces I was supposed.

I ran the first 5k at an even 5 minutes per kilometre pace and the next 4kms at a 4:55/km pace. Those paces were easy enough to hit and maintain and it felt good to be running outside again.

I was supposed to run kilometres 9 through 12 at a 4:50/km pace and then run 2k at a 4:45 pace before finishing in a 5:00/km pace over the last kilometre. Upping the pace to 4:50 was easy to do, but the stretch where I was suppose to run at a 4:45 pace was mainly up hill, into the wind and covered in snow and ice. I could only manage to average a 4:48 pace over that 2k part of the run, although the effort to do it felt like I was sprinting!

I think I expended so much energy trying to run a 4:45 pace that I was running on fumes the last kilometre, with my legs feeling very heavy and my lungs burning as I tried to get enough air in to keep going. I was surprised at how difficult the run was.

However, maybe I shouldn't have been as it was my longest run and first long run outside since the half marathon race in Georgia on January 15th. Combined with the slippery conditions and the fact I was layered up and wearing a water belt, thinking it would be an easy run was a bit optimistic.

Oh well, I survived and this tough run will pay dividends during my next race.


Saturday, February 26, 2011

In a rut!

This week has been a challenge for training...lots of things going at work and with the kids, plus I just haven't been feeling it!

I did my track workout on the treadmill before work on Wednesday morning. It was great! Broken 1ks - 200m at a 3:47 minutes/km pace, followed by 30 seconds rest, then 800m at a 3:53 minutes/km pace, with a 3-minute jog at about a 6:20 minutes/km pace. In addition I had a 1k warm up and a 1k cool down, for a total distance of 11.5k.

My legs were tired and I was sweating profusely, but it felt awesome!

Thursday I was supposed to run 10k, but Ryan's hockey team played an exhibition game at Scotia Bank Place prior to the Ottawa Senators game against the Florida Panthers Wednesday night. After their exhibition game, the team and parents had dinner and stayed to watch the NHL contest. I'm not a Sens fan, in fact I despise the team, but it was a good game, considering both teams are bad.

Anyway, we got home late and Thursday I was really tired. Add to that a busy work day with deadlines to meet and I didn't get a chance to run at lunch. I had intentions of running after work Thursday night, but was too tired and blew it off. Friday was a rest day, so I could have squeezed it in then, but as I said, I just wasn't into running.

So I've decided to move on and start fresh today. I'm running a fast 8k on the treadmill in about an hour and tomorrow I'll do my 15k long run outside. I'm looking forward to running outside for the first time since my half marathon on January 15th.

I think that was part of the problem this week - I'm sick and tired of running on the treadmill and can't wait for the winter to end!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

8K in the books

Following a post-race rest day, I was back at it today with an 8km run...back inside the warm confines of the gym at work.

The run was split into a 2.5k warm-up at a 5:05 min/km pace, followed by 1k intervals of 4:55, 4:50 and 4:40 minutes per kilometere respectively. Then I cooled down for 2.5k at a 5:05 min/k pace. The run felt great and combined with a 10-minute stretching session afterward, helped to get rid of the stiffness in my legs from the 5k race Sunday.

I won't be able to make it to the track tomorrow night, because of Ryan's hockey game, but I'll get the session in on the treadmill before work in the morning.

Although running on the treadmill is boring, at least my hands, face and legs don't freeze and temperatures are supposed to rise as the week progresses, so I hope to do my Sunday long-run outside.  

Sunday, February 20, 2011

5k race

Well I didn't set a PR or even break 20 minutes, but it was close....20:03!

It was windy and cold, somewhere around -20C factoring in the wind-chill. The first 800m or so was uphill and directly into the wind. By the 1k point my hands were numb and I couldn't feel my legs or feet. It was no fun.

By the 3k point my lungs were burning and I was questioning why I had gotten up at 5am on a Sunday morning to come out here and put myself through this. But it was too late to change my mind at that point, so I pushed on.

As I rounded the final turn I was happy to see the finish line, but not to see the clock showing 19:55. I gave it all I had, but just couldn't get in under 20 minutes. No doubt the weather conditions were a factor in my race results. But I was able to finish 4th overall and 1st in my age group.

So I'm two for two in 2011 in my age group...I hope I can keep it going!

Friday, February 18, 2011

That was fast!

Wednesday night was another great track session and boy was it fast!

As I wrote Tuesday, the group was doing 7 x 800m at each person's Yasso 800 pace. Ian had set that for me at 3 minutes and 5 seconds to complete each interval. He also gave me strict instructions to stick to that pace for each interval.

I paired-up with Jason again and off we went. The first interval was bang-on 3:05 and felt great. We ran the next two in 3:02 each. I was really feeling strong and much better than the last session when I was still recovering from my cold. It's good having someone run with you and push you. Jason is younger and I think he takes it easy on me, but his presence keeps me motivated.

On Ian's advice, we ran the next interval at 3:04 and then ran intervals 5 and 6 at 3:02 and 3:03 respectively. I was still feeling ok and looking forward to pushing the last interval. Jason agreed to go hard for the last 800m. We started off at a good pace and kept increasing our speed until we were in a flat-out sprint the last 100m or so.

Time for that interval - 2:46!

I was out of breath and sweating profusely, but having that much left in the tank for the final interval was very satisfying. I was certainly stronger at the end than the last track session. That night I died down the stretch of the last interval. And it made me think the goal time of 19:15 that Ian set for my 5k race on Sunday was possible.

So I'm going to enjoy a few glasses of wine tonight, relax and get mentally prepared for a fast 5k Sunday morning.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Track session again tomorrow

Last week was a perfect week of training culminating in a 5k easy run Saturday and an 11k run Sunday. Total mileage for the week - 48k.

Today I ran 7k at an average pace of 5:03. Very comfortable. Tomorrow is a track session with Ian and his group. This coming Sunday I have a 5k race here in town and my goal time is 19 minutes 45 seconds or an average pace of approximately 3:56 per kilometre. I think I'm ready, but tomorrow's track session will provide the proof....or not.

This will the be my second time on the track with Ian, Michelle and the group and I'm looking forward to it. First I'm 100% healthy (last time I was still recovering from a nasty cold) and after discussing the last session with Ian, I know now not to push myself too much and stick to the times he prescribes. I should be able to finish strong instead of dying over the last interval.

The workout planned is 7 x 800m at each individual's Yasso 800 time, which for me is 3 minutes and 7 seconds. Rest between each interval is the same time as it takes to run the interval. It will be a tough workout, but will be a good indicator of how ready I am to hit my goal time in the upcoming race.

I'll let you know how I do.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Ah Sunday morning

I have to admit not training for a marathon has its benefits, most notably not having to get up early and rush out the door on a Sunday morning to get in a 30k run. I love sleeping in and enjoying a cup of hot tea while I check emails, update my blog and check out TSN for the latest scores and highlights.

Now don't get me wrong, I love running, I love training for marathons and I love races. However, sometimes it's important to dial things back a bit and focus on alternative distances.

At the moment I'm training for a 5k race next Sunday here in Ottawa, so the distances I'm running are shorter and the weekly totals are much lower than I was logging leading up to the half marathon last month. The change of pace (pardon the pun) is nice.

And soon enough it will be back to longer runs and higher weekly mileage as I gear up for two half marathons in May and ultimately the NYC Marathon in November. In the meantime I'll enjoy my Sunday mornings and all the perks that go along with training for shorter-distanced races.

Have a great Sunday!


Friday, February 11, 2011

Back on track

This week has been great for training now that I'm home and back into my routine.

Tuesday night I ran 7k at an average pace of 5:00 minutes per kilometre. Wednesday it was 8k at an average pace of 4:47 and yesterday I ran 9k all at 5 minutes per km.

Today I had a great speed run at lunch. It started with 3k at a 5:00 minute per km pace, then it was time to go fast! Four repeats of 100m at a 3:30 pace, followed by 400m at a 4:30 pace. I was surprised at how the short sprints impacted me. After the last repeat I ran 3k at a 5:00 pace, but it took me a good 1.5k to get my heart rate and breathing under control and I could feel the effects of the sprints in my legs.

I'm really getting bored with treadmill running and can't wait for spring. It's still too slippery to run consistently at speed outside and the temperature has not been to my liking for doing my long runs.

The way I see it, there's another 6 or 7 weeks remaining of winter in Ottawa and then I'll be back outside running on a consistent basis. Until then the treadmill will have to do.  

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Home Sweet Home

Well I'm back in Ottawa and even though it's minus 27C with the wind chill, it's good to be home. I've missed Anne and the kids, plus my training schedule is FUBAR!

I was trying to play catch-up for my missed run last Thursday due to my delayed flight and sore hamstrings. I never made it. In the end I was able to get in 4 of my 5 scheduled runs, ultimately missing my 9k long run on Sunday. I did get in two good runs while I was away - a 7k on Saturday and an 8k Sunday. Both felt good and helped get rid of the stiffness I had in my hamstrings and gluts.

I'll run 7k tonight and then get back to my lunch-hour training tomorrow. I only have 12 days until my next race, a 5k here in town on the 20th. I've run this particular race a couple of times and it has always snowed on race day, making it difficult to get good footing. My goal is to run the race in under 20 minutes no matter what the conditions.

This week's training includes a speed session on Friday and then I'm back on the track next Wednesday (Anne and I alternate weeks for the track sessions because someone has to be home with the kids). I should be ready to rock on the 20th.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Travelling and juggling

After my track session Wednesday night I flew to Newfoundland early Thursday morning for work. I was supposed to take a plane from Ottawa to Halifax where I'd remain on the plane while some passengers got off at their destination or to catch a connecting flight and others boarded for the last leg of the flight. It was supposed to be a quick turnaround before flying on to St. John's. The entire trip was scheduled to take 4 hours.

However, a major storm blew through Ottawa Wednesday and continued eastward. As a result, my flight was delayed leaving Ottawa by an hour due to conditions in Halifax. When we arrived in Halifax additional delays meant my trip took 3 hours longer than scheduled. So I essentially sat on my butt in a plane for 6-and-a-half hours!

Not a good idea after a hard track workout the day before, especially when you're 46-years-old.

When I finally got off the plane in St. John's, my hamstrings were tight and my glutes were numb. I could barely walk. As I hobbled to the luggage pick-up area, I was wondering how I was going to run the 7k Ian had planned for me that day.

Well by the time I got into my hotel (about 12 hours after I woke up) all I wanted to do was have a shower, get some food and sack-out. There was no run for me that day. Friday was a scheduled day off from running so no big deal I'd just push the 7k to that day.

Friday came and I was still sore and tight. Plus I spent all day on my feet working. So I skipped my run again. On Saturday evening I finally got my run in. The hotel fitness centre had a good selection of treadmills that could be converted to kilometres and displayed the pace in addition to speed.

So I ran 2k at a 5:10 per km pace to warm-up. The hamstrings in both my legs were still really tight and sore. The 2k warm-up didn't do anything to remedy the situation, but I pushed on, bumping the pace to 4:55 per km for 2k. The run was no fun. My legs hurt. It was almost as difficult as the last 2k of the race I ran in Georgia a few weeks earlier.

Despite the pain I pushed on telling myself this would be good training for future races when I experienced pain and/or hit the wall. I alternated mantras throughout the run - "feel strong, run fast" and "no pain, no gain". At the 4k point, I upped the pace to 4:45 and held that for 1.5k, then ran 500m at a 4:30 pace before slowing to a 5:10 pace for the last 1k.

When I reached 7k I was very happy. I got back to my room, stretched and soaked in a hot bath for 30 minutes. My legs finally felt good.

I'm in Newfoundland for three more days and have to run 8k today and 9k tomorrow, originally a rest day. Then when I return home I have 6 consecutive runs to complete. At least the plan is to be home Tuesday. There's another storm forecast for today and one for Tuesday.

Have I mentioned how much I hate winter?


Thursday, February 3, 2011

Great track session

Last night I finally made it out to one of Ian's Wednesday night track sessions...it was all Anne said it was!

The plan was to run 2 x 1000m at a pace of 5 seconds slower than 5k race pace, 3 x 800m at 5k race pace and finishing with 3 x 600m at a pace of 5 seconds faster than 5k race pace. We were to rest 2.5 minutes between each repeat.

Now because we were running inside my Garmin watch wouldn't be able to pick up a satellite and provide the right paces for me. So I'd have to rely on the times Ian set for me to complete each distance. For the 1000m repeats I would have to run them in 3 minutes and 59 seconds, the 800m in 3:07 and the 600m in 2:17.  

I had no idea if I could run those distances in the times allotted or how I'd feel after each repeat, but off I went.

Ian wasn't at the session, but his partner Michelle was there to help organize and lead the group. Once we had warmed-up and stretched, we were off on our first 1000m leg. I was following Michelle and a group of guys who were setting the pace. By the halfway point I found myself leading everyone.

Was I going too fast? I felt strong and I was breathing ok. I completed the first 1000m in 3 minutes and 50 seconds. Nine seconds faster than I was supposed to run it, but I felt fine and after the rest I was ready to go again.

This time around I ran beside a guy named Jason who was running similar paces to me. I decided to stay with him and run closer to my prescribed time/pace. We finished the second 1000m in 3:51. Still fast, but  I was still feeling good.

I ran all the 800m repeats along side Jason. And while we intended to run closer to our planned pacing, we completed each 800m right around 3 minutes even. Still ahead of the plan, but I was good. No problem with the faster paces. No problems until the second last 600m repeat.

I'm not sure if it was the lingering cold from the week before or if it was because I had run faster than I was supposed to during the first set of repeats or a combination of the two, but the last two 600m repeats were tough.

I ran the first 600m in 2:07. I was now starting to feel the burn in my legs and was coughing up some serious phlegm. So I consciously ran the next one slower. Jason followed my lead and we ran it in exactly 2:17. Bang on pace, but I was still coughing up crap and my heart was pounding. Maybe this was the way it was supposed to feel.

The last 600m I couldn't keep up with Jason and fell in behind two other guys. I thought I'd draft off them and then give a push at the end. There was no push, but I did run the repeat slightly faster than the previous one, finishing in 2:14.

More coughing, gasping for air, I was done!

After I caught my breath, I jogged about 1k to cool down which helped get things back to "normal" - meaning I stopped hacking up phlegm and got my heart rate under control.

No doubt it was a tough training session, but in a perverse sort of way it felt good to run fast and test my limits. And it wasn't on a treadmill.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


I ran today for the first time since a week ago Sunday. It was only 6k at an average pace of 5:07 per km, but it was a bit difficult.

I guess my cold hasn't completely gone.

Even though it wasn't an "easy" run, it was good to get back at it. Given that I missed all my runs last week, Ian suggested I follow last week's training plan this week and move this week's plan to next.

This means tomorrow night is track night. And from what Anne has told me about her expereinces the last two weeks, it isn't fun. In fact I may puke!

However, I'm up for the challenge and will make sure not to eat a big dinner before going to the track!   

Saturday, January 29, 2011

A write-off

I woke up at 5am today, completely congested...day 5 for the cold from hell! Will it ever end?

I haven't run since last Sunday and I don't think I'll be running my scheduled 8k run today. I can't breathe through my nose at all, I'm coughing and generally feel like shit!

Perhaps my body is telling me it's run down from the training I did for the half marathon earlier in the month. Sometimes a break is good. I must admit the usual aches and pains in my legs, hips, knees and feet have just about disappeared.

So I think I'll listen to my body for once, get completely over this cold, write this week of training off and start fresh Monday.

Ian has a solid week planned for me with 6 consecutive days of running, including a speed session and an 11k run next Sunday for a total of 48k.

I'll be ready to go!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Down and out...again!

I woke up at 1am this morning with a wicked sore throat, congested nasal passages and a headache....my second cold of the winter!

I couldn't get back to sleep until about 3:30am, but still managed to drag my sorry ass into work for 7am. I would have stayed in bed, but I had a couple of things that had to get done today. I stayed at work until noon, then headed home to collapse in bed.

I feel like crap right now. I skipped my schedule 6k run today and unless a miracle happens in the next few hours, I'll be staying home tomorrow. And I'll likely miss the track session with Ian tomorrow night.

I suppose the positive thing is that it happened now and not just before the race.

Anyway, Anne just got home so she can look after the kids...it's back to bed for me!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Planning for the next challenge

This week I've felt a bit lost. After 10 weeks of some intense training and focusing on a specific goal, the last five days have been a bit strange. No speed work, no tempo runs, no real focus.

I suppose I should be thankful and appreciate the down-time that will allow my body a chance to recover and rest. I know it's important after a race to take time to recuperate before jumping back into training for another race, but  it's difficult not having something to train for....to just run.

I'm eager to get back at it and set my sights on a new race goal.

With the NYC Marathon about 10 months away, I won't start training for that race until August. Between now and then I've I developed a race schedule of approximately 10 races that includes a mix of 5k, 10k and half marathons intended to increase my speed and help get me ready for a new marathon PR in NYC.

I met with my coach Ian yesterday to review the race schedule and discuss goals for each. He agreed with the race distances I had chosen and the timing of each. He intends to set goals on a race by race basis and based on my conditioning level at that time.

For example, my next race is a 5k here in Ottawa February 20th. Next Wednesday at the track session Ian has scheduled for me, he'll set interval paces based on a 19:55 race goal time. Then based on how I execute those intervals, he'll decide what my goal time should be and develop a training plan accordingly.

I'm looking forward to the challenge of training and setting new PRs. And I couldn't help asking what Ian thought my goal time should be for NYC. A sub 3 hour and 10 minute marathon was his response. Why did I ask?

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Recuperating and looking ahead

Yesterday I went for my first run since the race on Saturday - 5k at just over a 5 minute per kilometre average pace on the treadmill at a 1% to 3% incline.

It felt good to run again and combined with the 20 minutes of stretching afterward, helped to get rid of the stiffness in my legs.

I'm meeting Ian on Friday to discuss my race schedule and training plan for the next few months.

I sent Ian a tentative race schedule a few weeks ago and he seemed ok with it. Included in that is a 5k race here in Ottawa at the end of February that I've already entered. The only other races I've entered are the ING Ottawa Half Marathon at the end of May, the Waterloo Half Marathon May 1st (running with Glen in his first half) and of course the NYC Marathon in November.

So I'm eager to find out what he has in mind to help me prepare for NYC. I had also told Ian that in addition to qualifying for NYC, my goals this year were to improve my times in other race distances. I want to run a 5k in under 19 minutes; a 10k in under 40 minutes and I'd like to run NYC in 3:15 or less.

So, lots of work ahead, but my performance in Georgia has boosted my confidence and I want to keep improving.

Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks!

Monday, January 17, 2011

What's next?

Today I registered on-line for New York City. Now I have to wait about 2 weeks for race organizers to verify my qualifying time before I'm officially accepted and guaranteed a spot on the starting line.

It still really hasn't sunk in that I'm going to New York in November to run the marathon. It's surreal in a way, kind of like making a hole-in-one...you're happy and excited, but it's over before you know it, so you don't really get a chance to fully enjoy the accomplishment.

My buddies Glen and David (see "Paying it Forward" for some background on them) are going to join me on the trip. Glen might also be running if he can secure a lottery spot. David says he's coming along to provide moral support, but I think he's coming more to enjoy the Big Apple and drink beer!

We were able to find a two-bedroom apartment for rent in the Upper West Side of Manhattan and close to the finish line at a very reasonable rate. In addition to its proximity to the finish line, it will provide each of us with our own beds, a full kitchen and plenty of room to relax.

And while there are a few details yet to iron out, like if we'll drive or fly, things are just about set. I can't wait. It promises to be a great experience and I plan to enjoy running through all 5 Burroughs of the city and feeding off what I've heard are amazing crowds from start to finish.

Is it November yet?

Saturday, January 15, 2011

NYC here I come!

It's over! I did it! But it wasn't easy!

My day started early with a 5am wake-up call, followed soon after by my cell phone ringing. I was a bit surprised. Who was calling me at this hour? Anne to wish me well? A wrong number? Was something wrong back home? A lot of thoughts went through my mind as I crawled out of bed and fumbled for my cell.

It wasn't Anne and nothing was wrong at home. It was my friend Todd, drunk dialing me from Lumsden, Saskatchewan. Local time there, 4am!

He and his buddies had been out on a bender. He was as shocked as me to hear someone on the other end of the line. He had planned an elaborate and no doubt hilarious voice message to leave me, but I ruined that.

We chatted for a few minutes. It was just what I needed.

Todd is a character and he and his western Canadian buddies are legendary for their drinking and partying. He always cracks me up and this morning was no different. He helped relax me. I appreciated the call. He wished me luck. He could be a half marathon whisperer!

So, still laughing to myself over Todd's call, I showered, got dressed and downed a banana, yogurt, granola bar, some fruit salad and two cups of hot tea. I grabbed my keys and was off to the race.

Because the race was run within the boundaries of a U.S. air force base, no one was allowed access to the base to get race kits the day before the race due to security reasons. Meaning I, along with all the other runners, had to be at the race early and sooner than I normally would arrive. However, the volunteers did a great job and I was able to get my bib and timing chip without issue. After waiting in line for my last trip to the washroom, I headed to the starting area to warm-up.

The weather was nearly perfect for running - about 6C, sunny and very little wind. I warmed-up, stretched and got into the starting corral. For some reason the race started a few minutes late which made the wait seem to take forever!

Finally the gun went and off we ran. I heeded Ian's advice and made sure I didn't start too fast. He told me not to run any kilometre faster than a 4:10 pace and not run any one slower than 4:15. The adrenaline rush of a race start and faster runners can easily cause you to go out too fast, which can be disastrous later in the race. I kept checking my Garmin watch to ensure I stayed within the range Ian has set for me.

My strategy was to run at least the first 5 or 6k at a 4:15 per km pace to get warmed up and into a good rhythm. I was able to do just that with my fastest kilometre a 4:11 and my slowest a 4:15 in the first 7k. I was feeling great!

I was surprised how comfortable the pace felt. Only a couple of months ago this pace would have been too much for me. Obviously working with Ian was paying dividends.

Even though I was feeling strong and confident, I was wondering if I could hold this pace for the entire 21.1k.

Through 9k I was still cruising along and feeling fine. Just after the 10k mark, the route went up about a 500m long hill with a  good incline. I powered up it and maintained a steady pace of 4:13, but I could feel my thighs burning a bit as I reached the crest of the hill. Before I knew it I was at the 11k point...only 10k to go...I was passed the half-way point and still feeling strong.

The web site for the race promoted the race course as "flat". I wasn't seeing it that way. While there were some flat stretches and a few slight downhill parts, there were many small hills in addition to the bigger one around the 10k point. And it seemed to me that there were many stretches of the route with what I'd characterize as a steady incline.

Anyway, I was motoring along and easily maintaining the pace Ian had set for me. I was on track to hit my goal time of 1:28:30 and qualify for the New York City Marathon. But as my Garmin beeped to signal that I had just completed 15k, I told myself to stay in the moment and not think ahead. There was still a long way to run and anything could happen.

And happen it did!

As I passed the 17k point another hill loomed. It wasn't as long as the one I had faced earlier in the race, maybe 300m, but it was a lot steeper. "How is this a flat course?", I asked myself as I again pumped my arms and powered up the hill.

As I reached the top, my quads were on fire and my pace had slowed to 4:25. By the time I reached the 19k mark I couldn't feel my legs and my pace was stuck at about 4:20. A quick calculation and I knew at that pace it would be really close for me to finish in under 1:30 and qualify for NYC.

So I dug deep and willed my self to increase my pace to about 4:17 from 19k to 20k. Only 1.1k to go. I broke that last 1000m down into two 500m chunks and steadily increased my pace. I told my self I wasn't going to let 10 weeks of training and travelling all this way go for not in the last 2k and miss qualifying by a few seconds.

As I made the final turn toward the finish line, I quickened my pace and pushed myself as hard as I could despite the pain. As the finish line came into view I could see the time clock. It was showing 1:29:51!

I had about 50m to go. I grunted like one of those tennis pros returning a ground stroke from the baseline (I think I also said "fuck" out loud), put my head down and sprinted as hard as I could to the finish.

I wasn't certain, but thought I had stepped on the mat at the finish before the clock turned 1:30. It took 45 agonizing minutes until they posted the results to find out for sure.

Official time - 1:29:59! You can't get much closer than that! I had finished 22nd overall and 2nd in my age group (45-49), but because the guy who finished first was also the 1st-place finisher in the Masters category (40 and over) I received the 1st-place trophy for my age group!

I was beside myself. When I started running in February 2007 I never dreamed I'd run a sub 1:30 half marathon. And even though I had won a couple of 5k races in my age group, I never thought I could do the same in a half. I still don't think it's completely set in.

I have to thank Ian for his training advice and support. I have to thank my partner Anne for her support and working with me to get my training done. And to everyone else who sent me good luck wishes and provided positive words leading up to the race. I couldn't have done it without you.

Now I have to register for NYC and start planning that trip. Oh and I suppose I'll have to train!

I wonder what Ian has in store for me next?

Friday, January 14, 2011

Just a few hours to go

I'm in my hotel room in Warner Robins, Georgia, about 2 hours south of Atlanta, getting ready for an easy 20 minute run to stretch my legs and loosen things up before tomorrow's race.

The weather has improved here over the last two days and most of the snow is gone. The forecast is calling for close to 60F tomorrow as a high, so promises to be just about perfect for the 8am race start. The important thing is the roadways are finally clear of snow and ice, so that won't be an impediment to turning in a fast time.

Last night I got a full 10 hours of sleep! That is an unbelievable number for me....I usually only get about 6 or 7 hours a night. I guess the flight and late arrival the night before had taken its toll.

Anyway I feel great today. After my run I'll get a good dinner and get to bed early.

I have a 5am wake-up call ordered...somehow I don't think I'll need it...I'm chomping at the bit to get going!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Two days to go!

Well I made it to Atlanta late last night, but as I drove the hour or so north to my buddy Bryan's house in Buford, I could have sworn I was still in Ottawa!

They have as much snow here as we do back home. Large patches of ice and snow were everywhere on the highways and streets, with some lanes completely impassable and abandoned vehicles dotted the roadside. I can only imagine the chaos the storm that passed through here three days ago created.

I managed to arrive safe and sound at Bryan's at about 1am. We hadn't seen each other in a few years, so stayed up for an hour or so catching up on what has transpired in our busy lives. I finally made it to bed around 2:30am, so I'm a bit bleary-eyed right now....and hungry!

I just realized I haven't eaten anything since before boarding my plane at 5:30pm last night...no wonder my stomach is growling.

The waiting game is on....roughly 48 hours from now I'll be approaching the finish line of the half marathon and realizing my goal of qualifying for the NYC Marathon.

Not much to do until then but relax and rest...and eat!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


I've been watching the weather forecasts for the Atlanta area very closely the last week or so to get an idea of what I'll need to pack for race day. I was shocked to see the city essentially shut down the last two days due to snow and ice!

I didn't expect balmy temperatures, but snow? I may have to dig out my old pair of metal-spiked golf shoes for the race Saturday.

Apparently this morning Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport wasn't living up to it's reputation as the world's busiest airport as only a few flights took off and landed. And the storm system is headed north and is expected to dump up to 18 inches of snow from Washington to the New York City area, causing more flight delays and cancellations tomorrow all along the eastern seaboard.

That doesn't bode well for me as I'm supposed to fly out of Ottawa at 5:30pm tomorrow to Newark, New Jersey where I catch another plane to Atlanta. I really hope I'm not delayed or have to spend the night in the Newark Airport.

At least the weather in Georgia is supposed to improve by Saturday and will be nearly ideal for running. So I guess I can leave my spikes at home, I just hope I make it to the starting line on time!

Monday, January 10, 2011

In the home stretch

While my work is just about done, with the race on Saturday, the next next five days are very important to ensuring a succesful result and as important as all the training I've done over the last 9 weeks.

Yesterday was my last longish run, 14k at an average pace of 4:58 per kilometre. Today is a rest day, tomorrow I have an 8k run, a short speed session on Wednesday and an easy 20-minute run Friday to shake out the cobwebs. A far cry from the 63k I ran last week and the 64k the week before, but essential to maintaining my conditioning and preventing me from getting too anxious before the race.

My main focus this week will be to make sure I get enough sleep, eat properly, get my race kit and be ready to go race day.

I fly to Atlanta Wednesday night. I'm staying with my friend Bryan and his wife Madeleine. If the weather is good, we may play golf Thursday, which will help relax me and take my mind off the race for a bit.

Friday I'll drive the two hours south to Warner Robins, the town where the race will take place, check-in to the hotel I have booked, and other than the easy 20-minute jog I have planned, I'll put my feet up, watch some TV and chill. I'll eat a good pasta dinner, hit the hay early and try to get a solid 8 hours of sleep.

So the countdown is on and I can't wait to board the airplane Wednesday night.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Ready to rock!

During my 7k run yesterday morning it hit me, a week from now I'll be in Georgia running a half marathon and trying to qualify for the NYC Marathon!

As I've noted in previous posts, I'll need to run the 21.1k distance in 1 hour and 30 minutes or less to qualify. My coach Ian has set a goal time of 1:28:30. As I've also mentioned before, that's a full six minutes faster than any other half marathon I've ever run.

My friend David asked me the other day, "How will you do it?"

A great question. I mulled it over as I ran. I thought about previous, successful races and tried to figure out why I had sometimes achieved my goals, while other times I had failed. What was common to those good performances? What is required for anyone to be successful in a race?

Well first is setting a realistic goal. I believe goals should be challenging, ones that will test your physical and mental limits, but not something that you have no chance of achieving. A goal requires some thought and can be developed based on previous results/performances. But it doesn't always have to be time-based. It can be as simple as just running your first race or finishing a distance that you've never been able to complete before.

When I've had success in the past I believe it all started with a realistic goal. This time around I believed running under 1 hour and 30 minutes was within my capabilities. And the more I think and write about the goal time Ian has set for me, the more I believe it is possible. It will test me, but it's achievable.

The second important ingredient for a successful race is developing a training plan that will properly prepare you. Depending on the race distance and/or goal, an ideal plan should include a good mix of speed, tempo and endurance runs. It should also build mileage slowly and proportionately each week to help avoid injury.

I can say with certainty that my past race successes have come as a result of a well thought out and focussed training plan. I hired Ian for his expertise and experience to develop a plan that would increase my speed and build the required strength/stamina I'll need over a half marathon distance too achieve my goal. I believe that's exactly what I got from him.

Consistent training is critical to race-day success. You can have the best training plan in the world, but if you don't follow it, skip days or take shortcuts you're setting yourself up for failure. Also key to training is battling through those training runs that are difficult, where you  may not feel that great physically or mentally you're struggling. They build character and will pay dividends during a race, because no matter the distance, you're bound to feel some discomfort or hit the "wall" at some point. Having fought through pain in training will be invaluable during your race.

Over the last 9 weeks I've only missed 3 days of training. I've been able to hit the paces and complete all the distances Ian set for me, including fighting through a couple of difficult runs (see my "No Fun!" post for an example). So I'm confident I'm physically ready for next week.

Developing a race strategy and sticking to it is also an important factor to race-day success. Your strategy can be as simple as making sure you don't start too fast, drinking enough fluid throughout the race or staying with a pace group. Whatever your strategy is stick to it.

My strategy will be to run a fairly consistent pace throughout the race and make sure I don't start out too fast, which could lead to me running out of gas later in the race. Ian has recommended I keep my pace between 4 minutes and 10 seconds and 4 minutes and 15 seconds per kilometre and try to run an even-split race - meaning I'll cover the first half of the race in the same amount of time as the second half.

As I ran and thought about all these things - the time, effort and planning I've put in over the last 9 weeks, combined with the advice and support I've received from Ian - a feeling of confidence came over me, one I hadn't felt since just before the Hamilton Marathon in November of 2009 where I ran a PR of 3:24:36 to qualify for Boston.

So to answer David's question, the last 9 weeks have been the dress rehearsal, now all that remains is getting out there on the 15th and performing.

I'm ready and looking forward to the challenge!

Friday, January 7, 2011

More substance

A couple of my loyal readers have requested that my blog posts be more than just a "diary" where I explain my runs, share my training plan and as one of them put it, "give weather reports!"

David really can be a smart ass!

Anyway, they like that I share my goals, describe how my coach pushes me, but want me to go deeper, give some insight into, for example what it takes mentally and physically to get faster. Perhaps make it a bit more instructional, so that they, who are less experienced at running, might pick up some tips to help them realize their goals.

I suppose having run three marathons, countless half marathons and shorter races over the last four years, I do have some experience and expertise that others might find useful in their journeys to start running or improving their PRs.

So, I'll try to share more in my posts. However, I'm relatively new at running races too, still learning and improving, so I encourage others to share their experiences with me and others as we all progress and enjoy the great sport of running.

Enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Confidence builder

Last night (Wednesday) I was scheduled to meet my coach Ian, his spouse Michelle and a few others at an indoor track just east of Ottawa at 8pm for a speed workout. However, the Canadian junior hockey team was playing the Russian junior team in the gold-medal game of the World Junior Hockey Championship starting at 7:30pm.

I was conflicted! I wanted to run, but this was going to be a great game and in my opinion a sure win for Canada.

PVring the hockey game was not an option as we eliminated that from our cable package a few months ago. And the thought of going out into the frigid night was not appealing in the slightest. Have I mentioned how much I hate winter?

I sheepishly called Ian and explained my dilemma. I don't think he was moved by my predicament, but did agree that converting the track session to a speed workout on the treadmill another day this week would be just as beneficial.

So I bailed on the track. As it turns out, I shouldn't have.

Canada blew a 3-0 lead in the third period and lost 5-3 in what is likely the biggest collapse by any Canadian hockey team ever! It was shocking and I'm sure the entire country was reeling this morning. I'm still stunned.

Anyway, I did the speed workout today at lunch. I warmed up at a 5:15 minutes per km pace for 1.5k. Then I did four repeats of 600m each at a 3:50 minutes per km pace, with 2-minute jogs at a 6:00 minutes per km pace between each repeat. That was followed by 4 repeats of 400m each at a 3:40 minutes per km pace, with 3-minute jogs at a 6:00 minutes per km pace. The session finished with five repeats of 200m each at a blistering 3:26 minutes per km pace, with 3.5-minute jogs at a 6:00 minutes per km pace.

And while my legs are a bit tired now, the session felt great and was not nearly as difficult as I thought it would be. In fact it wasn't tough at all. I felt great through each repeat and was easily able to hold the pace for the required distance.

This run indicates to me that I'm faster and stronger than I was when I started working with Ian and I'm feeling more confident than I was when he revealed my goal time for the race next Saturday.

I have to admit, the last few days I've been worried about that goal time of 1:28:30. As I mentioned in an earlier post, that's a full six minutes faster than any other half marathon I've ever run.

However, today I'm almost convinced....I just hope I don't finish the race the way the Canadian junior team finished their hockey game last night!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

No fun!

The juggling of last week's training plan spilled over into Monday of this week.

Sunday I just wasn't feeling very energetic, a bit lethargic in fact, so I pushed my 22k long-run to yesterday morning. It was my last day of Christmas vacation and while I wasn't feeling that great, I got up early and headed out the door. I couldn't afford to miss my last long run before race day.

It was cold and a bit windy, but I was layered appropriately, and by the 5k point, had broken into a good sweat. I shifted gears and upped the pace to 4:50 per km for the next 12k.

As the run progressed, my legs became very heavy, I had difficulty maintaining my pace and my stomach started doing flips at about the 17k mark. I was supposed to run the final 5k at a 5:10 per km pace, but was forced to go much slower as I was afraid a faster pace would result in me either throwing up or filling my shorts!

Let's just say those were five of the most uncomfortable kilometres I think I've ever run. I crept along, fighting waves of nausea and willing myself to put one foot in front of the other. Fortunately I made it home without incident, but spent most of the next few hours on the toilet.

I later learned from Anne that her friend Celine had a severe case of stomach flu and had been up all night vomiting. Maybe I picked something up from her on New Year's Eve. Although I wasn't nearly as sick as she was and by this morning I was feeling much better.

So who knows what I had or where I got it, I'm just glad it seems to be gone and didn't force me to miss any training.


Monday, January 3, 2011

Well if he says I can....

Only 12 days until race day....am I ready?

Ian sent weeks 9 and 10 of my training plan yesterday along with a goal time for the half marathon of 1:28:30! 

When I saw those numbers I was a bit surprised and very much overwhelmed. I thought running 1:30 or slightly under that time would be challenging enough, but possible. I have run a 1:34:44 or a 4:30 per km pace for the 21.1km distance. However, Ian expects me to shave more than 6 minutes off my PR and to run each km at between a 4:15 and a 4:10 per km pace...is he nuts?

After reviewing the runs he had planned for me over the next two weeks and fully digesting the goal set for me, I sent Ian an email essentially asking him if he had lost his freakin' mind!

This morning I read his response. He's confident a 1:28 half marathon is well within my reach based on the training I've done to date. In fact, he thinks I'm capable of running faster.

He's asking me to view the race as just another training run. As he points out, while many of the tempo and interval workouts over the last 8 weeks have been challenging and I've had reservations about being able to complete them, I've been successful with each one. Why not the one he has planned for me on January 15th?

I can't really argue with that, I suppose. And after all, he is the coach and professional. I hired him for his expertise and knowledge. 

I'll just have to trust and believe I'm ready to go where I've never gone before!


Sunday, January 2, 2011

Another strong run

Yesterday afternoon I had a great 10k run which included some speed work. It felt awesome and makes me more confident that I can achieve my goal of a 1 hour and 30 minute or less half marathon result in a couple of weeks.

I started out with 2k at a 5:10 per km pace and then did three repeats of 1k at a 3:55 per km pace, followed by 1k at a 4:55 per km pace. Surprisingly, the 3:55 pace felt comfortable, like I could run that pace for a good distance, signalling to me that I'm getting faster and peaking at the right time.

Overall the run was 47 minutes at an average pace of 4:42 per km. Later today I'm running 22k outside at a relatively pedestrian average pace of just under 5 minutes per km.

I'm looking forward to getting outside and to what Ian has in store for me over the next 12 days leading up to the race.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Dedicated or crazy...you be the judge!

It was 7:45pm on New Year's Eve and I was all alone in the gym at work, powering up the treadmill to get in the 9k run I had bailed on earlier in the day. Anne and the kids were already at Celine's house eating, drinking and being merry.

As I increased the speed to a 5:15 per km pace, I thought to myself, "What's wrong with this picture?"

However, with my half marathon only two weeks away, I knew this was a crucial week in my training cycle. And as I mentioned in an earlier post, I had to juggle my training plan this week due to some insomnia Tuesday night. So although I was not happy to be running on the last night of 2010, I knew missing a run at this stage of the game could negatively impact my performance on January 15th.

After warming up for 2k, I began the first of five, 1k intervals as follows - 750m with the treadmill at a 6% incline, followed by 250m at a 0% incline, all at a 4:45 per km pace.

The first interval went okay and so did the next two, but as I started the 4th interval, I was having serious thoughts about ending the run early. My heart was pounding and my legs felt like cement pillars.

Somehow I was able to convince myself that the pain was worth it and that if I was going to be here, I might as well complete the entire run. However, as the 7k mark approached, I felt a sense of relief as I could slow the speed down to a very manageable 5:15 per km pace for the last 2k.

After, as I walked from the gym to the change room, I was proud on myself for not bailing on the last two intervals, but a weird feeling washed over me...the place was eerily silent...spooky really...like being in a horror movie and I wasn't the leading character...I was half expecting to run smack into Jason Voorhees around the next corner!

Fortunately, I survived and was able to join the rest of the gang to ring-in 2011 satisfied and guilt-free.

Happy New Year everyone and good luck with all your resolutions and goals!