Sunday, December 13, 2009

In for a penny ...

In for a penny, in for a pound. The December 10th deadline to drop down to the half marathon in Houston, rather than the full marathon, came and went and I'm still heading down there next month to run 26.2 miles. With the date getting closer - five weeks from today! - my motivation is improving. This despite the fact that the weather is getting colder, the days are getting shorter, and the roads are getting worse, with snow and ice.

Speaking of pounds, the Christmas season is upon us, and with all the sweets we have around here, I'm about 5 pounds heavier than I was in the late summer. I'll try to be a bit more disciplined about my diet until the marathon, but that will be a challenge. We have tonnes of cookies in the house, and it's hard for me to stay away from them.

For the first time since the PEI marathon, I completed a 20 mile run today. The weather was good, just a few degrees below freezing with a slight wind. I went on a different route for me, a few times up and down the New Maryland highway, while parking at the Home Depot. It was fortunate for me that I was parked by the Home Depot, as I had to pop into their bathroom after 7+ miles to avoid a "Code Brown" situation. I only had one other stop after that, at close to fifteen miles, for hydration/energy. Overall, the pace was a comfortable 8:52 per mile for the twenty miles. It was a good run.

I would rate the training the last few weeks as "ok". Each of the last three weeks I finished a handful of miles less than originally planned. I did 51 miles this week (plan called for 57), and 45 last week, with the plan calling for 51. I'll see if I can do the 53 I have planned for next week. I haven't had a lot of speed work to date, and that won't change for the remainder of the schedule. I'll have about one speed session per week, plus a 5k race on New Year's day.

Oh yeah, with some of the weather we have had lately, I've done a few treadmill runs. They're brutal, and I find the time goes by so slowly when doing them. However, the roads around my subdivision are not cleared very well in the winter - ask the young guy who put his car in the ditch just up the street yesterday. I've been watching episodes of the current and past seasons of "Curb Your Enthusiasm" to try to help pass the time when I'm on the mill. I get about 3.2-3.4
miles in during one episode. A big part of the last couple of episodes of this season involved a Seinfeld reunion show, which was entertaining.

My goal for Houston? I don't really have one, but I would like to finish in under four hours again. Given that my training hasn't been stellar, I'm not expecting anything spectacular. I'm debating whether I should follow the four hour pace team, the 3:50 pace team, or do my own thing. I'm leaning to "my own thing", keeping a pace similar to the one I did with Mike in PEI.

Some other stuff ... the marathon I believe I am running next year - Mount Desert Island in Bar Harbor, Maine - was voted as "Most Scenic" and second best overall in the most recent issue of Runner's World. Check out the articles from the marathon's website here.

Also, I now have orthotics. I just got them this past week, and am still breaking them in by walking on them a few hours a day. I can't really tell yet if they're going to help out with my foot, but I'll give them a shot. As for my foot, it's holding up ok. It's still sore, but not as bad as it was a couple of months ago. I soak it in ice water nightly, so maybe that's helping out.

To end this post, a couple of pictures. One of Cam and Faith Ann doing a 1k "Santa Shuffle" fundraising run for the Salvation Army ...

and another (mediocre) picture of the front of our house. I attempted to show the Christmas lights, but it's actually a better picture of the falling snow we're having tonight.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

My Goofy Running

Since my last post, we spent a few days in Disney World in Orlando, Florida. Based on the picture below, who do you think enjoyed it more - Cam or me?

Actually, it was a fun few days. It's not a cheap place to visit, but Cameron enjoyed it very much. All of the people working there are so over-the-top friendly and perky. Even the guys directing people to the parking spots, cleaning up around the parks, or helping you in and out of rides were all so super-outgoing and cheery. I would never fit in with them!

Here's a pic of Cam with Goofy ...

and another one of him outside the Lego Imagination Center in Downtown Disney. Cam is a big fan of Lego, and we ended up purchasing a few things there.

I didn't do a lot of running while down there, getting in just one run of 5 miles on the hotel treadmill, and another 8 miles during a morning run outside. The days were just so long and filled with activities that I had trouble squeezing in the time or energy to do any more than that.

This past week was a different story. It was really the first week since the marathon that I have been happy with my running. I got in 43 miles, including 16 comfortable miles today. We have had a great month of weather this November, with temperatures milder than normal, allowing for nice runs. According to my schedule, next week marks my first of five weeks in a row of fifty miles or more. Based on the past week, I'm feeling good about it.

A couple quick notes on the medical front. I visited an orthotist this week, and it was very interesting speaking to him about my feet for 45 minutes - seriously! We spoke about my condition, which does appear to be posterior tibial tendonitis (or post-tib, as those in the know like to say!), and we spoke about a couple of other things. I discovered that my right foot is about half a size larger than my left foot, which I also found out is quite common. He gave me recommendations for some running shoes (neutral still work for me ... especially those with more room in the forefoot), and yes, he took casts for some orthotics, which I'll try out in a couple of weeks.

The other medical appointment I had this week was for my hernia. I'm going to have surgery for it in January, and I won't be running for a few weeks afterward. The timing will work out well; it will be just after the Houston marathon (which I would be recovering from anyway), and in the depths of winter. I've heard conflicting reports on the expected recovery for this - for some it wasn't too bad, while others suffered for weeks. I'm hoping I'll be back on the roads before the end of February.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Going to see Mickey

Tomorrow we head out for a short visit to a spot that's a little warmer than here. I'll get my runs in while there, hopefully in a decent neighborhood. Pictures will be posted on my return.

My running is starting to return to normal. I logged 35 easy miles last week. Unfortunately, my heart rate reflected runs that didn't seem so "easy". Perhaps it takes longer than I anticipated to get back to my previous state.

I must say that my attitude for training for the January marathon in Houston does not match the level of enthusiasm I had for the fall marathon in PEI. Perhaps it's because the weather is getting cooler, or maybe it's just a bit of a letdown from finally completing my first marathon. I often find myself looking forward to the training next summer, and my fall marathon (likely Mount Desert Island). Regardless, I'll stick to the current schedule as long as it holds my interest sufficiently, and as long as my foot holds up.

Speaking of the foot, it feels no worse than it did one or two weeks ago, so I'm continuing to run on it. I visit the orthotist the day we get back, which should be interesting.

A little humour to end this post. Check out this link with pictures of the old Adidas ads entitled "Runners, Yeah, We're Different". I expect several runners can see themselves in some of these photos.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Scary Stuff

Look who I live with - Darth Vader! Also, Faith Ann with her latest hair and makeup. I spent yet another year without dressing for Halloween ... perfect!

Last bit from the PEI marathon ... a few pictures!

The chilly beginning ...

The lighthouse pic ...

Look at this one ... after reading Mike's blog, and looking at this picture, I think he was making a real effort to have our feet cross the finishing mat at the exact same times.

It has now been two weeks since the marathon, and last week marked my return to running. I did a couple of five mile runs while in St. Andrews, and another five mile run and a nine-miler after returning to Fredericton. In all the runs, my legs felt heavier than normal, and my heartrate was higher than expected at the slow paces that I was running. I plan to stick with my predefined schedule, and am hopeful that the legs will return to normal before long.

The feet are another story. I had an appointment with my general practitioner today. He pressed my foot in a few areas, and noticed when I winced. He then proceeded to give me a pamphlet on plantar fasciitis, saying "You probably already know everything that's in there". I think he was right. He also referred me to an orthotist. I have an appointment scheduled on November 16th. I wouldn't be surprised if that leads to some overpriced orthotics.

The doctor also confirmed my hernia, and I'll be seeing a general surgeon sometime for that. The hernia bothers me when I'm standing around or walking, but it does not bother me when I'm sitting or running. I had the hernia prior to the PEI marathon, and I was able to run that without it bothering me, so I'm not worried about it for Houston.

So there is surgery in my near future. I'm hoping it can be scheduled very close to my return from Houston in January, so that I can recover from the marathon and the hernia surgery at the same time.

I have my own suspicion as to how I developed the hernia, and it is related to my bad foot, as odd as that sounds. In late September, when my foot bothered me most, instead of running I did lots of biking and some core work to maintain my fitness level. One night after the core work (or maybe the next day?) I mentioned to Faith Ann that I felt I had a hernia. I am quite certain the core work led to it.

So the bad economy leads to a higher jobless rate. What things are associated with a higher jobless rate? Some things that come to mind include an increase in personal bankruptcies, failed relationships and higher post-secondary education attendance rates (can't find a job ... go to school). Something not so obvious is running. Apparently there is an inversely proportional relationship between the economy and general running levels. Perhaps that's a bit of a reach, but that's the conclusion this article in the Wall Street Journal seems to draw. It says the higher jobless rate allows more time for exercise/running, resulting in a 39% increase in Boston Qualifiers over the past year. Unfortunately for me, it doesn't seem like I'll be losing my job anytime soon.

Faith Ann just passed this interesting link on to me too. Rather, it's as interesting as a story can be when the subject centers around reaching drink stations in a marathon .

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Recovery Stuff

It has now been one week since the marathon, and I have run zero miles since then. I had planned it this way, to see if it would help my foot recover. In fact, I had said prior to the marathon that I would take two weeks off from running, but I believe I'll renege on that promise. I'm in St. Andrew's from Tuesday evening to Friday this week, and I'm going to try to find Mike's regular "Point Loop" running route, running it during a couple of evenings I am there. Unfortunately, Mike will be "offshore" during that time, so he won't be able to join me.

The recovery this week went very well. Other than my old foot injury, I felt generally back to normal by Wednesday or Thursday. I have an appointment with my doctor on November 2nd to discuss my foot, and also another thing I self-diagnosed a couple weeks before the marathon. Who needs a medical degree when you've got Wikipedia and WebMD? Surely my self-diagnosis couldn't possibly be incorrect, could it?

Assuming my health holds up and the weather doesn't turn too frigid, too soon, my next big race is the Houston Marathon, just 12 short weeks from today. The abbreviated training schedule probably means I won't have a great performance, but I am still looking forward to it. As for a goal time, I would be happy with a small improvement over PEI. The training plan, developed just minutes ago, is shown below. I have the option until December 10th off dropping back to the half from the full marathon, if I feel my health or training has not been to expectations.

To wrap up this post, a couple of additional pictures from the PEI marathon. This first one shows a close-up shot of my race bib. Note the "running clone droid" sticker on the bib. Cameron gave Faith Ann and I each one of these to put on our bibs for good luck.

The second picture is from the newspaper insert from race day. Note the fast looking guy in the bottom left, with the brim of his cap covering his eyes. It's none other than the 12th place overall finisher from last year - Andrew!

Monday, October 19, 2009

2009 PEI Marathon Race Report

A photo of Mike and yours truly during my toughest part of the race, through the middle of Charlottetown. This photo is courtesy of j.norman-bain, of Alex Bain fame.

It is now one day after the marathon, and I suppose I am feeling the way one is supposed to feel. The legs are a bit stiff, especially the quads and calves, but the feet surprisingly do not feel so bad.

Our marathon weekend started with the kids "spud run", with Cameron taking it in on a day that was cool with showers. With over 300 other kids and some parents, he ran the loop of the track normally reservered for horse races, finishing in 6 minutes, 40 seconds - apparently he is a "mudder".

We had a pasta meal that night, and I met Mike at a local coffee shop (taking in hot chocolate), chatting about the race to come, and some of Mike's past experiences. I was feeling anxious for the time to come.

The next morning, I got ready pretty early, and we headed to breakfast in the hotel. Faith Ann and I chatted with Judson Cassidy, from Grande Digue. His son Ryan had won the provincial cross-country 5k race the day before, and in his first marathon, Judson was trying to BQ. I felt so bad for him when I checked the results, and saw that he finished in 3:31:01. He missed qualifying by two seconds!

Just as we were getting ready to head on the bus to the marathon start, Faith Ann checked my shoes, making sure my chip was laced on. It's a good thing she checked! The lace went through a couple of loose ends of the chip, leaving it almost completely unsecured. I'm guessing the chip would have come off within the first ten minutes of walking around, if she hadn't checked it. That would have been great, running almost 4 hours without an official result. However, that was only my second bonehead move in my marathon preparation.

My first bonehead move came when I replied "No" to Faith Ann the night before, when she asked if I needed my Garmin charged. I foolishy assumed it was fine. Of course, as soon as I turned it on at the marathon start point, I saw the "Low Batteries" signal appear. Luckily, I had my own personal pacer with his own Garmin 405! During the course of the marathon, I must have asked Mike 50+ times what our pace was or what the overall time was. I think the only thing that must have annoyed him more during the day was when relay marathoners passed us on the course!

During our chat marathon eve, I mentioned to Mike that I was thinking of running the Mount Desert Island marathon next fall. Mike said it's a "marathon for marathoners", largely because there is only a marathon race, and no smaller races. I mentioned to Mike that it now has entries for three-person relay teams. I don't recall Mike's exact quote, but I think he would prefer to be passed by a woman 8-months pregnant over a relay runner. Here were a few of his reactions to some of these relayers passing us during the race:

  • "We'll see him again soon" - after being passed by a "heavier guy" wearing his best Walmart sweatpants. We caught up to him and passed him about 5 minutes later
  • "Runners don't dress like that" - when another relayer passed us (perhaps another Walmart shopper)
  • "Where did she come from !?!" - when we blew by a "much heavier gal" on the trail
  • no quote here .... just imagine Mike doing a faux sprint to catch a relayer, just after he passed us
Anyway ... on to the race ...

Here's a picture of Mike and I before the race ...

and here's a short video of the runners before the marathon start. Faith Ann is in the beginning of the video, and it ends when I find Mike, giving me the eager "thumbs up" sign.

When I started my marathon training in the spring, my goal was to break four hours. As I went through August and into September, I was feeling better about my running, and I thought I should set a higher goal. However, with my foot problems over the last few weeks causing my training to drop off considerably, I went back to being happy if I could break four hours. Mike was shooting for an overall pace of close to 5:30 per kilometer, which would have us finish around 3:51. I told him I would be thrilled with that, but I didn't know how realistic it was.

Mike let me know that we were going to start out pretty slowly, and speed up just a touch after a few kilometers, with the goal of maintaining a steady, manageable pace through the race, perhaps with a finishing kick over the last few kilometers. I was completely fine with that strategy, and I'm not sure I would have had the self-control to do it if Mike had not been there. Mike stuck to the plan (except I didn't come through with that finishing kick - spoiler alert!), and many times through the race he let me know when to dial it back a bit. For the most part, the plan worked out quite well. He drew an analogy to ultra marathon competitors who use ropes tied to each other, with one competitor towing the other. In our race, he was carrying the imaginary tow rope, and would give it a tug when I would get a bit too quick, too early.

The race took place in good running weather. It was cool, but not too cool, with a slight wind. There was cool rain or showers the days following and preceding the race, but luckily it missed us on race day.

We lined up for the start by the four hour pacer. We didn't stay back with him for any of the race, and (thankfully!) we didn't see him for the rest of the day. I did enjoy one quote he passed on to the masses just before the gun: "If you're feeling good at the half way point, don't worry: the feeling will pass."

We started out just as planned, dressed nice and warmly, sticking to a nice pace slightly slower than the planned overall pace. The start of the marathon route is very nice, running along the coast of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, with beaches, bridges, lighthouse, cottages, and other things they print over here on the tourism brochures. The start is also very flat, virtually no hills for the first 11 or 12 kilometers. Once we left the beach road, I took a gel at the water station, and we met Mike's wife and daughter, who were there with camera and video camera. We passed off our warmer layer of clothes to them ("Nice to meet you ... here's my sweaty jacket and gloves!"). They would meet us a couple more times on the course, cheering us on.

The end of the beach road also brought an end to the flatness, but the hills at this point were nothing too serious. With the nice pace, and the adrenaline still flowing, all was well. I think it was also at this point that Mike told me about his first Boston Marathon, and his adventure at mile 20. Great stuff, although I won't get into it here!

The half way point had us leave the road, and onto the packed trails. Another gel, a few cars with music blaring (Mike says "try not to speed up here"), and away we go. Still feeling good ... maybe too good. This is where Mike really kept me under control. After one of the kilometers, when I asked him for the zillionth time what our pace was, he just chuckled a little and said that the last kilometer was "Bad". I asked is "bad" fast, or is "bad" slow? He said "Right now, bad is fast".

Not too long into the second half, the legs started feeling a little heavy, but still not too bad. We hit 30k, Mike asks if I want to know the time, and I say sure. 2:45. That was my time for my 30k race - that I treated as a training run - that I ran in August. I felt much better in this race than I did at the end of that 30k, which made me feel good. One hour and fifteen minutes until 4 hours, and only 12k left. Mike had mentioned earlier in the race that once we hit 30k, he wouldn't pull on the "tow rope" anymore. However, while I wasn't feeling bad, I also didn't feel that I had the energy to really push it at that point.

We left the trail and hit the streets of Charlottetown with about 8k to go. This is where we hit the hills of the course. Mike had me run ahead of him, letting me set the pace at this point. Looking back at the splits on Mike's upload on runningahead, I'm surprised our pace wasn't really too bad on the first couple of hills. It was really the last four kilometers that I really died, with the pace over those averaging about 6 minutes per kilometer. However, there were a couple of larger downhill stretches in there too, but I obviously was too spent to take advantage of them.

I really have to give Mike credit for a few big things over those last few tough miles. For one, he let me hold his lucky beercap! Number two, he told me how he helped a woman once in a marathon who was having a hard time, by telling her to count. I told Mike that if I had to think about counting at that point, I might just throw up. Mike's strategy on the tough stretches (like the hills we were on at the time) was to count during exhales. Mike did this on the bigger hills, and it really did help. It not only distracted me a bit, but it also acted as a metronome for a piano player, helping me "keep my rhythm" on the route.

He tried to stress to me to mix up my stride a bit during the run, shortening it at times, to work some muscles and give others a break. I wasn't very good at this, although I did try it a few times. I kept going back to my "natural stride".

The last thing he told me, was to run through the last few water stops. Earlier in the race, we really didn't stop long at all on any of the stops, but we would occasionally slow down for a few seconds to drink. Taking Mike's advice, I still took water at the last 2-3 stops, but did so while on the run. After finishing the race, I can see why this was important. The minute I slowed down after we were done, my legs were like jelly. I don't know how I would have started up again over the last few miles if I had stopped, or even slowed too much.

Approaching the finish, I asked Mike a few times how much time we had left to four hours. A couple of times I considered stopping, but we pressed on. I'm not sure if I was running on my own if I would have continued without stopping.

The finish area was a real relief, but I didn't have the energy to spring to the end. We met up with Mike's wife and daughter, who took our picture. Cameron was also there with my mother-in-law, but unfortunately I didn't notice them until almost 45 minutes later, just in time for all of us to see Faith Ann finishing her run. She was the only one in the marathon to stick with the "to finish" pacer. She did great, especially considering she experienced some pain prior to the half way point that she put up with for the remainder of the run. Her first comment after she was done was "Never again". Then again, that's what Grete Waitz said after her first marathon!

That's probably way too much for now, although I expect I'll put out even more in a future post. This was one of the great moments of my life.

The picture below is of Faith Ann (again from j.norman-bain), at the finish. Her pacer is trying to decide if she should finish, or go back on the route and cheer others on. She decided to turn around and help out others. So ... there were lots of great pacers in this run!

Sunday, October 18, 2009


The PEI marathon was great. I was very pleased with my time. I can`t thank Mike enough - he was absolutely great, and there`s no way I could have managed that without him. He has had quite a comeback from his surgery in the spring.

More later.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

PEI Marathon - One Week Away!

The latest issue of Runner's World cited a study stating that consumption of beets can improve endurance by 16 percent. Guess what we had with our Thanksgiving Dinner? The bonus is that it took the place of cranberries, which I'm not a big fan of. The same issue also says that quercetin, of which apples are a great source, can boost endurance by 13 percent. Perhaps I'll get Faith Ann to try out a new recipe for "Ruby Beet and Apple Chutney"! I'm guessing she won't be jumping on that anytime soon.

I ran 32 miles for the week, just as the planned taper called for. Although the miles are fewer than they were a month ago, I've been doing them at a higher intensity than my typical runs through August and September. For example, my 12 mile run today was done at a pace just under 8:30 minutes per mile, which is faster than my typical twelve mile training run. It felt good, but the heartrate was higher than I could sustain for the full marathon. I'm still quite concerned that my mileage for the past few weeks is down quite a bit from my August and September training days. I expect Mike will dragging me through most of miles 19-26. I'll try to perk up for the final .2 miles through the finish chute, just to look good!

Despite my lack of confidence, I am very, very excited about the marathon, even if the current weather forecast is calling for rain on that day. Some quick bullets on things I am planning:

  • I don't plan on carrying any water with me. I think the support on the course should be sufficient. Or, maybe I'll just keep sticking out my tongue, and the sheets of rain water will sustain me.

  • I plan on taking gels about every 5 miles or 8 kilometers. I'll also take one shortly before the marathon begins.

  • I'll look to Mike a lot for the pace (as long as I stick with him!), but I'm sure I will be obsessively checking my Garmin as well. I think we're starting at a pace of around 8:45 per mile (just a touch faster than 5:30 per km) - aren't we Mike? - and see how the day plays out. I expect the pace will pick up a bit going down hills, and will slow a touch going up them.

  • Based on the expected temperatures, I'll be wearing some tried and true running shorts and a t-shirt. I think it would have to be pretty cold to force me to deviate from that.

  • I'll wear my Asics Gel Nimbus 9's. However, after the marathon I'm going to investigate the purchase of a pair of running shoes with more stability. Although PF may be an issue for me, my own diagnosis leads me to think I may have Posterior Tibial Tendonitis, perhaps due to slight over pronation. If the pain continues into November, I suppose the right thing to do is have an actual medical person (as opposed to an internet surfer) check it out.
** Excuse this interjection of a completely non-running note, as I'm watching the Patriots/Broncos football game. Coach Bill Belichik is wearing a huge puffy parka, with big pockets. Why does he stuff his challenge flag in his knee-high white athletic socks under his pant legs, rather than putting it in one of his pockets? **
  • I'll be up early the day of the marathon, and will have a light breakfast - bagel, maybe oatmeal, a little coffee, and I'll continue hydrating. I'm just hoping I get a decent night of sleep Saturday night.

  • I plan to have dinner the night before at a national pasta chain. The same chain has a place in Fredericton. I had dinner there the night before my best long run, as well as the night before my long run last week (same meal). That means I'm taking a pass on the marathon-sponsored dinner, but it's at another national chain restaurant anyway.
That's all I can think of for now. Normally I'm terrible for waiting until the last minute to pack. For this trip, I plan to be packed by mid-week, just so I can check my bag a couple of times to make sure I'm not forgetting anything. We're heading over Friday after work, and not coming back until Monday morning. The first race will be Saturday - Cameron is taking part in the kid's "Spud Run". I hope the little guy doesn't have to run (or run/walk/saunter/stroll) the entire kilometer in pouring rain.

I can't wait until next weekend!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Autumn Fun, Autumn Run

Here are a couple of pictures of Cameron and his cousin Matthew. These were taken in the backyard yesterday, before the arrival of the monsoon today.

My run today was just what I needed. It was a bit longer than the plan called for - 17+ miles rather than 16 - but then again, I've had an abusive relationship with my plan over the last couple of weeks. The overall pace was 8:55 per mile, with just three quick stops to pick up water bottles and take a drink and/or energy.

I started with a little over a mile on the treadmill in the house as a warmup, and then did the remaining miles around my area in Hanwell. I often do my long runs on the flat trails of downtown Fredericton, but I specifically wanted to run around home today, just for the hills. There are only a handfull of steep, short hills on this run, but most of the rest of the run contains rolling hills.

Although there was a mix of rain and showers through most of the run, I hardly noticed it. Plus, the rain gave me an excuse to run in my Asics Gel Trabuca's. These are the trail shoes I run in during winter, and I didn't have any problems with my feet during those months. Of course, I also wasn't doing as many miles, and would have frequent runs on the treadmill then also.
When my run ended, I still felt pretty good. Since it had been a while since my last long run, it restored some of my confidence, which has taken a shot in the last couple of weeks, having taken off nearly a full week of running due to my bad foot.

Speaking of the foot, it could be worse. I replaced a run on Saturday with some cross-training, to give it a bit of a break. Other than that, I stayed fairly close to what the plan called for, and ended up just shy of 37 miles for the week, rather than the planned 42-44 miles. After doing 50+ miles for most weeks of August and September, the last couple of weeks have left me feeling that I should be doing more. That won't happen over the next couple of weeks, with the marathon happening two weeks from today. The plan has me doing 32 miles next week, with one run of mile intervals at a 5k pace - fun!

Two weeks to the marathon; Faith Ann is rolling along, Mike is doing great, and I'm feeling ok. Who could ask for anything more?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Back on the Trails

I managed to run seven miles tonight on the trails of downtown Fredericton, even including intervals of 5x500m at 5k pace. While I could feel some discomfort in the right foot, it was bearable. I did some stretching and icing of it following the run, and now (2.5 hours later) it doesn't feel too bad. Hopefully it won't feel any worse overnight.

I've reached the point where I've decided to stick to the plan for the remaining 2.5 weeks, unless my foot practically falls off. I'm even going to do a bit more mileage than the plan calls for this week. Everything I've read says that I shouldn't try to make up any of the lost mileage, especially in the first taper week, but I feel I really need to do it, just to restore some confidence. By the time the weekend roles around, it will have been three weeks since my last long run - ie something over 16 miles - since I didn't run this past weekend, and did the 10k race the weekend before. The plan calls for me to do 16 miles this Sunday, but I'll probably do around 18.

So what have I been doing to help my foot situation? Well, other than not running, I've been doing the RICE routine, and have had it taped up a bit. I've also been stretching the foot regularly, with some routines I found on Grellan's blog. That link can be found here.

I've been assuming my affliction is plantar fasciitis, and I think it has affected me off and on for several weeks. Oddly, in the spring it affected my left foot, but since then it has only affected my right one. I know I mentioned this earlier, but I wonder if it really is that much worse now than it has been all summer? Or am I letting the fact that the marathon is approaching have a mental effect on me? I know I was limping around last week, but that doesn't necessarily mean anything. That's another reason I've just decided to complete the training (and then some) for the remainder of the schedule.

Faith Ann pointed out that the PEI marathon site now has a chart showing their water/nutrition stops, which I'm showing below. Looks good to me!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Still on the DL

Yes, I am still on the disabled list, but I am hoping this coming week will see me back pounding the pavement again.

In doing my part to promote economic stimulus, I've now paid for and deferred two races to next year. The first race I passed on this year was the St. Andrews Father's Day Road Race, due to something freakish happening with my shoulder. The second race I deferred was the half marathon in Saint John in the Marathon by the Sea today, due to a more traditional running injury - an injured foot.

The foot has now been a problem for a week. I ran a few miles mid-week, which was probably a mistake, as it didn't take me long to realize it was still too sore. I held out hope even until Friday night that I might run the half, but when Saturday came around it was obvious I was not up for it. We still spent the night in Saint John, since we had a non-refundable hotel coupon. For future reference, perhaps I will no longer buy non-refundable nights in hotels for races, as I can never be certain of the health situation.

I did get to meet up with my friend Mark from Halifax, and I saw him finish his second half marathon this morning. I attempted to get a picture of him, but the best I could do was the cropped version below. It looks more like a picture of the clock, with Mark in the foreground.

The lack of running, especially knowing that the marathon is so close, is driving me nuts. I think the foot is getting close to being better, but I'm hesitant to start running on it again too soon. According to my training plan, tomorrow would normally be a rest day. I'm hoping to pick up the schedule on Tuesday, right where I would normally be. This is the first taper week, but in my schedule it still calls for over 40 miles, and I'm keen to get them in. If running is still a problem next week, I will be quite concerned.

I had planned on doing a 10k in Perth Andover this weekend. I think I may pass on this. I don't know if the 10k last weekend contributed to my foot problem, but in case it did, I don't want to take the risk of it happening again this week, just two weeks out from PEI. Then again ... if the week goes well ... who knows?

I spoke to Alex Coffin (who finished second in the marathon today) in one of his shops yesterday, and mentioned my foot issue to him. He spoke of getting on the bike (which I have done ... but probably not enough), and he also suggested water running - here is a Pfitzinger link on that topic. I think I would have to be desperate to do such a thing, but Alex says he does it three days a week. I would guess he does a crazy amount of mileage per week, and throws these sessions in to avoid injury.

See Mike's post for an update on his most recent long run - another very positive sign for him. He has signed up for PEI, which is great. He has been nice enough to offer to pace me in PEI, but if it looks like I'm going to drag him down to a personal worst in the marathon, I hope I can be persuasive enough to convince him to sprint ahead of me! Hopefully I'll be there to give it a go, and not just cheer on him and Faith Ann.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

My Foot

I'll apologize in advance for this post, as nobody likes to hear others complain about their aches and pains.

During my marathon training, I have occasionally had bouts of foot pain, usually attributed to plantar fasciitis. My right foot was hurting me a little during last week, to the point where I skipped my run on Saturday, the day before the Fall Classic 10k. It felt ok during the race, but later that day and the next morning, it was quite sore. Monday and Tuesday I biked, rather than running. I had planned on doing a long run Monday. Tonight (Wednesday), my schedule called for 10 miles, including 5x1200m at 5k pace. I think these intervals really help my running, and I was looking forward to it. However, when I started the run, I could really feel the pain in the foot, and I stopped the run after three miles.

I'm probably going to bike rather than run the next couple of days, and evaluate it after that. It's disappointing, and a bit disconcerting, given that this was supposed to be my last week of high mileage before the taper. As for the half-marathon in Saint John this weekend, at this point I still plan on running it, but I won't decide for sure until the weekend.

As I said, there have been "foot issues" off and on through the training. In the past I did the RICE thing, or taped the foot, and the problem eventually went away. Knowing that the marathon is only a few weeks away, I wonder if I'm letting it get to my head? Is this the same pain that I felt and ran through a few weeks ago, or is it really worse now? I pretty sure it's real, and I would hate to ruin the marathon now, after all these weeks. I will be a little careful with it in the short term, but I am going to try to fit in the remaining long runs and some of the other tougher runs before the big day.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Fredericton Fall Classic 2009

It was a good news/bad news story for the race today. The good news is that I was pleased with my time, knocking more than four minutes off my personal best (such as it was). I must be happy - look at that beaming face in the picture above, courtesy of the Capital City Road Runners club. The bad news is that any training runs in the future at 10k pace will be tougher.

A year ago I ran this as my first race ever, and finished in 57:15. Today I finished it a little more than 10 minutes faster, at 47:11. That's also 4 minutes and 12 seconds faster than my previous 10k, the Cobscook Bay 10k of June 7th.

The weather was perfect today, slightly overcast and about 10° celcius, and this 10k route is about as flat as you can find. With that in mind, I was really thinking I could do better than 48 minutes today.

As per usual, I started way too fast, with my first mile clocking in at 7:18. The second one was also a touch fast, at 7:27. After that, my paces were what I would have expected, with my final overall pace being 7:36 per mile (4:44 per kilometer). For my next 10k - the Dam Run in Perth Andover - I have no idea what the elevation pattern is, but if it's relatively flat in the first mile or two, I'll do my best to control the adrenaline, and see if it helps me out in the last couple of miles.

After the first mile, my heart rate averaged over 93% of max, and I could definitely feel it at times. Around mile 5.3, I actually felt a bit nauseous, and slowed down my pace for just a bit. However, after that I didn't feel bad at all, and kept a steady pace coming down the stretch.

My buddy Drew (subject of a future blog post!) calls me the "most uncompetitive guy he knows". Actually, I may have said that first, and he just repeated it ... but I'm not sure. Well, he would have been proud of me over the last couple of minutes of this race. I heard footsteps gaining on me over the last minute or two, and with about 150 or so yards to the end, a guy drew even with me. I glanced to my right at him, and threw an insult his way. Hopefully he knows I was just kidding around - sort of! Then I said "Wanna race to the finish?", and kicked it into "high gear". I finished a second ahead of him by the clock, although his chip time was a few seconds faster than mine. Here's a picture below of us as we crossed the line.

In the draws for the post-race prizes, I got myself a Saucony t-shirt. Both last year and this year, there have been almost as many prizes as there have been runners. I say "almost", because Faith Ann's name wasn't drawn either year. Last year they even resorted to "Anybody with blue shorts who hasn't got a prize yet, step right up!" Not many people have worse luck than her when it comes to prize draws. I tell her that eventually she'll make up for it and win something big, like an acquaintance of hers from New Zealand who won a trip to the London Marathon.

Speaking of Faith Ann, she continued her amazingly consistent streak of almost identical 10k times. All three of her 10ks have been within just a handful of seconds of each other. It also marks the second race in a row that she had a rough week health-wise leading into it.

Having the 10k today, on a Sunday, interfered with my normal routine of doing my long run on this day. Instead, I plan to leave work a bit early tomorrow, and get in my last 20 mile run before the marathon. That will likely make the week a bit heavy on the mileage side, but this past week my mileage was down. However, the decreased mileage last week may have been timely, since the plantar fasciitis in my right foot has been bothering me lately. I'll monitor it over the next couple of weeks, but to be on the safe side, I may replace the odd recovery run with a bike session. I am looking forward to the taper weeks.

The next race for me is next Sunday, in Saint John in the half marathon of Marathon by the Sea. I am going to try to finish that in 1:45, which would make me quite happy. The weekend after that it's the Dam Run 10k in Perth Andover, two weeks before the PEI marathon. I have some thoughts on that marathon, based on recent over-analyzing past results. There are also some pacers in that race, and I'm debating on whether or not I'll stick with them. More on those thoughts later this week.

Here's a finishing shot of Faith Ann wrapping up her race, giving us the "thumbs up" !

Monday, September 14, 2009

Great Steak Dinner, followed by Humble Pie

Just as I was starting to feel ok about my running, yesterday's long run knocked me back down to size. A couple of months ago I probably would have thought the run was acceptable, but yesterday I just found it to be a disappointment. It was supposed to be 18 miles, with 14 at marathon pace. Mind you, for my first marathon, "marathon pace" really isn't too fast, as I need a 9:09 minute per mile pace to finish in 4 hours. Since I was starting to get a bit cocky, I thought I would run the 14 miles at an 8:45 pace. Well, after I finished the 14 miles just shy of this pace, including a few short breaks, it was enough for me, and I cut the run 8/10's of a mile short of 18. My average heart rate for the run was 163, ten bpm higher than the previous week when I ran 20 miles at an only slightly slower pace.

Why the struggle? The most likely (and obvious) explanation is that the pace is too agressive. However, I really thought it would have been manageable. Other excuses I tried to talk myself into included the heat of the day at 27° celcius, poor pacing, and not the best nutrition - although the barbeque steak dinner the previous night was great.

That steak dinner Saturday night was with my father and his wife, who were visiting us for the weekend. See the great photo below, and note that I am just as photogenic as my father.

Another thing that may have added to my tough run was the build up during the week. I did 8 miles at an aerobic pace Tuesday, 9 miles Wednesday including 5x1k at 5k pace with a short break between the intervals, a 12 mile run Friday, and 5 on Saturday. I thought I did the 1k intervals at a good pace, but I've been too lazy to program my Garmin to capture them properly. I'll try to get it programmed before my intervals for this week.

We're down to five weeks to the marathon, and the next three weeks should be fun, as I have three races! I have the Fall Classic this Sunday right here in Fredericton, the half-marathon at the Marathon by the Sea in Saint John on the 25th, and the Dam Run 10k in Perth Andover on October 3rd. While I don't plan on tapering for these, I do plan on giving my best effort and racing in them. I'm really looking forward to the Fall Classic this weekend, as it marks the one year anniversary of my first race ever. I always tell people that if they're just getting into running, they should enter a race, and they will be hooked. Faith Ann and I were both so impressed with the race last year, that we signed up for our next 10k right afterward - the Legs for Literacy 10k in Moncton. One year and about 25 pounds ago, I ran the 10k at the Fall Classic in 57:15. It would be really cool if I could knock 10 minutes off that, but that may be a bit aggressive. I think a time like 48:48 may be more realistic - not to mention symmetric!

So ... two things I'm taking away from my poor long run of yesterday: stick with what works, and be realistic. By sticking with what works, next week I'm going back to the same meal the night before that I had last week, the same breakfast, and same energy for the run. By being realistic, it means that I'll slow it down (slightly), reminding me that the first marathon is more about taking in the experience and finishing, than it is about setting a decent time.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Week Recap, and General Thoughts

I finished my week of running today with a long run that I thought was great. My plan called for 17 miles, but I did 20. I tried to keep the run at a fairly easy pace, and yet it still resulted in an overall 9:07 pace. I've now done five runs of 18 miles or more, and this was the first one where I didn't feel completely spent at the end. My long runs these days feel very easy for the first 13 miles or so, and then they start to get a little more difficult with each additional mile.

The mileage total for the week was just short of 53 miles. Four of my last six weeks have been over 50 miles. Six more weeks until the marathon, and just a few more until the taper starts.

Here are those thoughts I mentioned in the post title ...
  • I'm a general sports fan, but the two sports I really follow closely are baseball and hockey. I think I have about the same level of interest in each sport. However, I would love to visit every major league baseball stadium, but I don't have a lot of interest in making a point to visit NHL arenas. I think the atmosphere of a ball park has a certain appeal or nostalgia not found in indoor arenas.
  • Speaking of sports, I am very excited for the return of Tony Kornheiser to radio! In my case, I'll be hearing him via podcast, although his show originates out of ESPN980 in Washington, DC. I absolutely love Mr. Tony on the radio, even when he's talking about college basketball (which I have zero interest in) or Washington, DC stories. Most people outside of Washington are familiar with Tony from his TV work on PTI or as a Monday night football analyst. I started listening to his radio show a couple of years back, and I very much enjoy the mix of sports, news and pop culture that he and his co-hosts discuss.
  • This link to ABC News has a story about how "running may indeed be addictive to the brain in the same way as heroin or morphine." It mentions how the researchers let one group of rats become increasingly avid runners, and forced another group of rats to stay lazy in a cage with no hamster wheel. I would like to see video of the rats doing pre and post stretching routines.

  • There aren't many things I enjoy more than listening to a good, long, hearty laugh.
  • At some point in my life, and I'm not sure when, I stopped watching movies. I think in the last few years, I couldn't have watched more than a handful of movies each year. There was a time when I watched many movies and followed many movie reviewers. I would even see artsy-fartsy (spelling?) releases, and foreign films. These days I have next to no interest in movies, and I think the main reason is that when I sit down for two hours to watch one, I'm thinking in the back of my mind that there has to be a more productive way to spend two hours of my life. Last night was an exception to all of this of course, as Faith Ann and I watched "Paul Blart: Mall Cop". Yes, I watch four movies a year, and this was one of them.
  • Speaking of movies, here's a line from a movie made back when I used to watch them - "Ferris Bueller's Day Off": "Life moves pretty fast. You don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it." Check out this blog, Marathon of Hope, for a reminder of this. The blog is written by a wife from close to my old stomping grounds in Nova Scotia, about the recovery of her husband (Chris Cashen) from what would normally be a fatal episode of bleeding of the brain. Only hours before the incident occurred, Chris had finished 16th out of 113 runners in the Cobequid Trail 10k, an annual race held in Truro, Nova Scotia. Outside of a short recovery period for hernia surgery in 2003, Chris had run every day for over 4000 consecutive days. He also qualified for and ran in Boston last year. I recommend you give the blog a read - it's interesting, sad, inspiring and hopeful.
Here's hoping all are enjoying the Labour Day long weekend, as we enter the first full week of September.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Toronto, including a 30k race

We wrapped up our week in Toronto with all the things I would have expected - visiting with family members (including new nephew Connor), a trip to the CN Tower, a Blue Jays game, the Hockey Hall of Fame, the Ontario Science Centre, Ontario Place and Niagara Falls. Of course no trip on Air Canada would be complete without a lost bag of luggage. It made it to us today, a day and a half later.

I also completed my first 30k race while there - a Midsummer Night's Run. Entering the race I thought I wouldn't really race it, but I wouldn't treat it as an easy run either. My goal was to maintain 9 minute miles through the race, which would see me finishing at around 2 hours and 45 minutes. As it turned out, I finished in 2:44:35, or a pace of about 8:53. My pace was very consistent throughout, feeling very easy at the start, and not so easy for the last few miles. I finished the first 10k in 54:33, and the half in 1:56:09. The course was quite flat (map below) and although the run started at 5:30 PM, it wasn't very hot.

Faith Ann and my brother-in-law Brian both ran the 15k version of the race. Faith Ann was happy with her race, finishing just a hair over 1.5 hours, while Brian ran a very speedy 1:06, finishing 24th out of over 800 runners, and 19th out of 253 male runners.

A few observations from the race ... There were many run/walk people in the race. When we hit the 10 minute mark, I was very surprised at the number of people who pulled to the right and began walking. The other thing I noticed was how almost everyone referred to their pace and speed in kilometers, rather than miles. I guess this shouldn't be a surprise, given that we are in Canada, but locally I find runners are evenly split when it comes to using the metric or imperial measurements. Although I have no evidence to support it, I think both the run/walk and kilometer trends are largely a result of the popularity of the Running Room running clinics, which push both of these. Oh yeah ... one more thing - I noticed a few blind runners going along with other sighted runners. I thought that was cool, and something I hadn't seen before.

There was a Shakespearean theme to the race, with several folks donning fairy wings and glitter. One woman with wings and glitter doing the run/walk thing must have passed me (and then I passed her) at least fifteen times. Here are a couple pictures of the start below - one shows a guy with wings, the other shows me in the background a bit, in the dark t-shirt.

Finally, here's a nice picture of Faith Ann and Cameron after her race.

As for my other running, I'm still sticking to the plan, ending this week at my peak weekly mileage - 55 miles. I did my second twenty mile run today. With the race last weekend, and 14 of 18 miles next weekend at marathon pace, I chose to intentionally keep the run today at an easy pace. It ended up at a 9:38 min/mile pace (6 mins/km!). The first 13 miles or so floated by and the heart rate was very reasonable. The remaining seven miles felt a bit tougher, and the heart rate gradually kept creeping up. Overall, it was an ok run.

I've got a few races planned for next month, and I plan to run those as races. I finished August with 222.7 miles logged, including three weeks of over 50 miles. Just a few more weeks until the taper, and things are looking fine!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

A Tad Warm Here

We have had some very hot weather in our area lately, along with some high humidity. Our investment this summer in both air conditioning and the cheap/ugly pool above seem to have been wise moves.

The heat has not been too kind on my running. I had tough long run on Sunday, scheduled for 16 miles. Arriving in downtown Fredericton, I started my Garmin, only to see that the battery was on the brink of death. I must have left it on the previous day. So, I did my run without a watch of any kind, and estimated my mileage (it ended up being 17.3, according to MayMyRun). Forty-five minutes into it my ipod also died, so I had no podcasts to listen to either. However, what really added to the misery of the run (I think) was the heat and the humidity. I didn't start the run until close to 9 AM, and by the time I finished it was after 11:30, with temperatures exceeding 30° C (high eighties farenheit). I don't know what level the humidity was, but it felt to be fairly high. I was dragging my butt through the last few miles, stopping a few times to walk. It felt harder than the last few miles of my 20 mile run a week earlier.

My next run after that long run was two days later, on Tuesday morning before work. It was supposed to include a few miles at my lactate threshold, and I gave it a shot. Again, it turned out to be discouraging. Again, I tried to lay the blame on the heat. However, it was only 21° C (72° F), which should be reasonable, but the humidity was 82%.

Last night was better - eight miles inlcuding a few 800 meter intervals at a 5k pace. They felt tough, but overall I had a much better attitude at the end of that run.

We're off to Toronto tomorrow for a week. The trip will include my longest race to date - the 30k race of A Midsummer Night's Run. I don't plan to really race it, but treat it more as a training run. Perhaps I'll shoot to maintain a 9 min/mile pace. The run begins at 5:30 in the evening, and I'm hoping the temperature will be reasonable. I'll try to get in my other miles while we're there also.

See some pics below for where I typically do my long runs through Fredericton, when the trails aren't covered by three feet of snow. It's a great area to run - lots of shade, pretty flat and good scenery. See the story here from our local fishwrap about how Outpost Magazine called it "Canada's secret running gem."

So long until we return from Toronto!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Epic Battles

Batman and Joker, Ben Johnson and Carl Lewis, Ali and Frazier, Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner ...

I've been re-living my 20 mile run often since Sunday. So often that I'm sure Faith Ann is sick of hearing about it. It was a good learning experience, that included several pieces of advise, such as "Find a group running your pace at the marathon, and stick with them", "running in dirt takes more effort than running on the road", and "always go for the win".

I'll relate a conversation from the run between Andrew, Andrew's brain (non-verbal) and me:

Andrew: "Always go for the win"
Trevor: "Maybe the analogy for me is to go for a personal best"
Andrew: "No, always go for the win"
Andrew's Brain: "Hey Andrew, this is Trevor we're talking about!"
Andrew: " ... even if it's to win your age group"
Andrew's Brain: "Hey! C'mon! It's Trevor!"
Andrew: " .... or ... find someone who's a challenge to you, and try to beat him"

At least he didn't leave it at "Try to beat someone".

So, I'm going to be carefully watching the registration list for the PEI marathon, and I'll find my nemesis. Oh sure, I could just choose to beat the super-annoying Liz Rigney, who has entered the marathon, but that is just too obvious. No, I'll find somebody more appropriate. A male, close to my age, whose race history seems close to mine.

Once I find this loser, I'll track his every move - through the Cavendish Farms french fry factory, the Paderno factory outlet, the Cows ice cream store, his hotel, the restaurants ... "What !?! You only tipped 12% !!!"

I can see it now, taunting him at the starting line, drafting behind him for over 25 miles, blowing my sweat-induced snot-rockets downwards towards his running shoes, before finally flying by him over the last half mile at a blistering 12:43 pace.

My plan update: last night I did 14 miles, marking the longest mid-week run of my 18-week plan. It wasn't too bad. There are 17 miles planned for the weekend long run, and next week is a recovery week of "only" 43 miles.

Here are a couple of amusing videos from the Sklar brothers, part of a promotional campaign from Brooks. Have a good weekend!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Boyden Lake 20-miler

I ran 20 miles today with the two relaxed, cool dudes in the picture above - Mike and Andrew.

The low points:
  • I forgot to bring 2/3 of my water along - I mooched a bunch off Andrew and Mike.
  • I struggled the last couple of miles.

The high points:
  • Pretty much everything else.

I ran the famous Boyden Lake loop, in great weather conditions. The gents were very accomodating with this still-new, still-slow runner, and the chatter and company helped the miles fly by more easily. Here are some things I learned from the adventure.

  1. The loop has very little traffic. I think I saw more horses than moving vehicles, and I'm not even sure that's an exaggeration. Perhaps this is the closest I will come to running in an Amish community.
  2. Apparently if we come across dogs along a running route, we are to engage in gentle teasing with them. "Just watch that he doesn't run between your legs."
  3. "YOU DON'T RUN A MARATHON TO LOOK AT SCENERY!" - so yells Andrew Seeley. However, the Boyden Lake run was not a marathon, and it was quite scenic.
Andrew even tailored a joke to his two Canadian running mates, telling a a blonde joke involving the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Some other stuff ... it was a good overall pace for me, with occasional walking breaks coming at good times. One of those breaks was during a pretty good uphill climb around mile 15. You would think that in my near-obsessive following of Mike's and Andrew's blogs over the last several months, I would have picked up on the fact that there are a few hills on the route.

Even with that tough hill, I was feeling ok until we ended the loop after 17 miles, then headed into the last three miles. I found those to be tough, but slogged them out with a couple of short breaks. Back to the vehicles and some sweets to end it, with a good sense of accomplishment. I'm looking forward to doing it again someday.

This marked the end of my second consecutive 50+ mile week . I'm not scheduled to have another one for another three weeks, although both of the next two will probably be over 45. I've got three more 20-milers in my training schedule before the marathon, but I'll probably trade in one of those for the half-marathon in Saint John at the Marathon by the Sea. Faith Ann completed her first 18-miler yesterday, so her training is also coming along as per her plan. We're getting there ... slowly but surely.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Man Bites Dog

A July 26th news article about French president Nicolas Sarkozy falling ill while "jogging" seems to foreshadow what will happen to me this Sunday when I try to run 20 miles with Mike and Andrew. I've selectively replaced just a few words in the article, and have included the revised version below. I wouldn't be a bit surprised to see this exact story appear in next edition of the Quoddy Tides.

Trevor falls ill while jogging

Fredericton plodder Trevor has been taken to hospital after becoming ill while jogging.

Mr Trevor's chief of staff said the plodder was "doing well" and talking normally with medics at the hospital, AFP news agency reported.

The plodder is remaining there overnight for what officials said were "routine" tests.

He was flown to the hospital earlier after suffering what was described as a "minor" nerve complaint.

Mr Trevor was taken ill while jogging during a humid morning at a weekend retreat at Perry, outside of Pembroke.

The incident occurred after 45 minutes of "intensive physical exercise", his office said in a statement.

It denied earlier statements that he had lost consciousness. Mr Trevor lay down and received immediate treatment from a personal doctor.

He was flown to the Machias hospital by helicopter, where he was later joined by his wife, Faith Ann.

A spokesman said he had also summoned aides to his bedside to keep him up to date with world events.

AFP said Mr Trevor had suffered a problem relating to his vagal nerve.

It said a condition known as vasovagal syncope could involve a brief loss of consciousness, and changes in the heart rate or blood pressure, especially if the person is dehydrated.

The vagal nerve is a major nerve that runs from the abdomen to the brain and controls many functions.

Monday, August 3, 2009

New England Weekend

Beginning last Thursday night, we turned a long weekend into an extra long weekend, and drove down to New Hampshire to spend a few days in Portsmouth. I managed to stick with the running plan, doing 7+ miles on Saturday, and my first 18 mile run on Sunday. Not knowing the town, I scouted out a route on MapMyRun, and came up with this guy. Both my runs were done within this loop. What the route lacked in sidewalks, it made up with in scenery. It went through some of the downtown, and some of the swankier areas also, with some very nice houses and lookouts over the water. Here's a picture of one of the houses, with a widows lookout. "Back in the day" wives would sit here, watching for fishermen returning from sea.

For my Saturday seven mile run, I went with Faith Ann. It was supposed to be seven miles with strides, but I took a bit of a different approach. Since Faith Ann takes walk breaks every few minutes (every seven minutes on Saturday), I did short sprints during her breaks, and jogged back to join her as she started her run again.

I was pleased with how the 18 mile run went on Sunday. It was a bit humid, but I started early enough that it wasn't too hot. My overall pace was 9:23. I stopped at the van for 1.5 to 2 minutes after my first and second loops (after 6.8 and 14 miles) to re-fill my water bottle and eat some energy supplements. Other than those two intervals, most of my miles were done at a pace under 9:15 minutes per mile.

With that run in my pocket, I'm now psyched to run the Boyden Loop - and then some - with Andrew and Mike! It will be my first 20 mile run, and I'm very much looking forward to it, both for the run and the mingling with these guys. We may not share the same running ability, but I do feel a certain level of kinship knowing that Mike and I both have sensitive nipples. Please see this blog post of his for an explanation.

So there we were in Portsmouth, and Faith Ann says "Boston is only an hour away". So ... we took a trip down and went to the aquarium ...

... and we also visited the Bill Rodger's Running Center - see the mediocre photo at the top of this post. It is a nice little running store, in the heart of downtown Boston. The prices were reasonable, and Faith Ann added to her collection of Asics Gel Nimbus running shoes, this time buying version 11.

Apparently I have normal pronation with arches that are slightly high. With that in mind, I tried on a few pairs of shoes and ended up getting a pair of Mizuno Wave Rider 11's, and a pair of Reebok Premier 3D Trainers - both felt good and didn't cost me an arm and a leg. I'll break in the new ones gradually and see how they work out. I'm ambivalent about the few shoes I've run in - I guess I'm not very picky.

Looking forward to the week ahead and the run in Maine with Andrew and Mike!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Plan Update

Today marks the end of my sixth week of the 18 week Pfitzinger marathon training plan. One third of the way through it - albeit not the most difficult third - I'm happy that I've been able to stick to it, for the most part. I missed three recovery runs during the six weeks. One of the runs was missed due to soreness in my foot (plantar fasciitis?), one was due to a strange pain in my shoulder, and the third was due to laziness/travel (also using the foot as an excuse), on the day we returned from PEI.

For the six weeks, the plan had me running a total of 233 miles. My actual total for the six weeks was 228, even with the three skipped runs. My runs usually finish just a touch over the distances call for. Plus, the first couple of weeks I ran a bit more than the plan suggested.

The next couple of weeks will be challenging. Not only are the long runs going to be 18 and 20 miles - longer than I have ever done - but there are also medium long runs in the middle (11 or 12 miles) as well as lactate threshold runs of 10 miles. Both weeks will have me doing at least 50 miles. It will be quite a test, especially since we'll be away in New Hampshire next weekend when I'm scheduled to run 18 miles on Sunday. I'll do my best to get it in, and not use the travel as an excuse to skip it.

Today was the last run of my recovery week. It was 13 miles at a relatively slow pace.

The highlight of my run from the last week? On my Tuesday morning run, at the bottom of a hill in my subdivision, I looked up and saw a humongous moose looking down at me from the top of the hill. She casually sauntered off after checking me out. She must like the area, because a neighbor has also seen her recently.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Back from PEI

We got back from our PEI vacation yesterday. Overall, it was a great week, with the weather treating us well. We only had a couple of days with showers, and even on those days there were breaks of decent weather. We're such creatures of habit; we go to PEI for a week every summer, stay at the same place, and do pretty much the same things - golf, beach, Charlottetown on a rainy day, play areas for Cam - but we enjoy it every year.

We did manage to run some of the PEI marathon route, but not the whole thing. Faith Ann and I both did 15 miles the Sunday after we arrived last week, but rather than covering the marathon route, which wasn't around where we stay, we stuck close to Cameron and covered the run close to "home". My long run that day went quite well. It was a general aerobic run for me, and I did it at a 9:16 pace. In contrast, my 16 mile long run today back in Fredericton (in hotter weather ... not really an excuse ... also flatter ground) was supposed have 10 miles at marathon pace, but my total average pace today was only 9:30. I intentionally covered the first six miles at a very easy pace. I started my marathon pace fine over miles seven and eight. On mile nine, I was to rendez-vous with a water bottle I left off the trail, but it took me three minutes to find it! I discovered it under some grass just as I was ready to give up on it. A couple of other times I stopped to fill up said water bottle at fountains along the trail. I don't stop my Garmin for these things, so in the end I was probably three minutes longer for the last ten miles than planned. Not so bad I guess, just slightly discouraging.

As for the week in PEI and the scouting of the marathon route, I ran along it twice. On Tuesday I covered the first nine miles of it, much of it along a bike path in Brackley Beach. What a great place to run! Great scenery, no worries about traffic or canines, and relatively flat. This is the easiest part of the marathon route. On Friday morning, I covered the most difficult part of the route. On that day, I did an out and back (or back and out, perhaps?) going from about mile 24 to mile 19, and then returning to my starting point. This run covers some of the larger hills in Charlottetown, and also part of the trail just outside Charlottetown. Hopefully in the fall, I'll be in decent shape before I reach this point!

So, overall I ran 14 of the 26 miles, and probably drove along another 5 of the miles, just to check it out. It doesn't look too bad, but I bet if you ask me the afternoon of October 18th, I'll probably have a different take on it!

In other news, as I mentioned in my previous post, I'm planning on running the Houston marathon January 17th, and Faith Ann is doing the half. Registration opened for this at midnight central time (2 AM Atlantic) Friday. We got up early Friday morning, connected to Al Gore's internet, and got our registrations in. It's a good thing we didn't wait too long, as the event sold out within 36 hours, capped at 11,000 registrants the half, and another 11,000 for the full. We were afraid it might sell out quickly, and after our experience of getting shut out of the registrations for the Beach to Beacon 10k earlier this year, we wanted to be sure we got in early.

Well, I've now completed five weeks of the 18 week Pfitzinger plan, and I'm pleased with the progress. More on that in a future post. Next week's my first planned "recovery week"!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Off to PEI

We're heading to PEI tomorrow, for our annual week of vacation on the island. While there, I'll get in a little golf, we'll be spending time on the beach, and playing with Cam at Sandspit and Shining Waters. Also, I hope to cover the route for the PEI marathon over a few runs. Speaking of the Prince Edward Island marathon, Steve Runner of the Phedippidations podcast has been talking about running this marathon in the fall also, although lately he has been hurt and a bit bummed about his running

I'm continuing to stick with the Pfitzinger plan, although I may have hit a slight bump in the road last night. About 9.2 miles into my ten mile run, I felt a twinge in my left hamstring, causing me to finish the run with a bit of limp. Luckily, today was my planned rest day. Tomorrow morning, I'll see how it feels, and then decide if I should do some biking rather than my four mile recovery run.

While we are in PEI, registration for the Houston Marathon opens. I plan to register for the marathon, to be run 13 weeks after the PEI marathon. Is that nuts? Faith Ann plans to register for the half.

Since registering for the PEI marathon, my goal has been to complete it in less than four hours. There are several resources that predict a marathon finishing time based on completed race times for other distances. With my 1:49:15 finishing time in the recent Miramichi half marathon, here are some predicted times for a marathon finish:

McMillan: 3:50:25 3:48:48
Running Times: 3:52:11
Runner's World (UK): 3:47:46 3:46:27 (based on Jack Daniels formula)
Hal Higdon: 4:16:56 (5 times 10k time)
Jeff Galloway: 3:53:46

I realize these predictions don't mean I'll be able to finish in under four hours, given the number of variables that could impact the final result. However, it does provide me with increased confidence that I'll be able to meet my goal.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Miramichi Rock'nRun Half Marathon

The quick summary (results here): finishing time of 1:49:15. The weather was good, relatively cool and the rain missed us.

Longer, drawn out summary below ...

Heading into this half marathon, I was shooting for a finish of under 1:50, which would be a pace of about 8:25 per mile. After driving the route the night before the race, I decided on the following plan:

1) Do the first mile in 8:30, avoiding the temptation of going out too fast.
2) Do the next five miles at an 8:20 pace
3) The seventh mile was the only one with a significant hill on it (picture above). It had an on ramp to a bridge, and then the climb to the crest of the bridge. I decided not to go too fast here, so as to not burn out too soon.
4) Return to an 8:20 pace for the remaining miles.

If I were to assign a letter grade for how well I kept to the plan, I think it would be a B+. The breakdown follows.

Goal 1) First mile in 8:30
I covered the first mile in 8:07 - oh well, I felt good.
Grade: C+

Goal 2) Next five miles at 8:20 pace

I did them at a pace of 8:14. Again, I felt good.
Grade: A

Goal 3) Don't push to hard at mile 7.
I screwed up my Garmin shortly before this, trying to set a "lap" at the 10k mark. Instead, I hit "stop" on it - but just for a second, before restarting it. So ... mile ~6.25 to ~7.25 was completed in 9:00. I was fine with that, given that much of it was uphill. By the way, I completed the 10k in 51:17, six seconds faster than the 10k race I completed in Cobscook Bay last month.
Grade: B+

Goal 4) Return to 8:20 pace for the remaining miles.

I finished the remaining miles at an average pace of 8:22. I kind of fell apart in miles 10-12, going at about an 8:31 pace.
Grade: B-

Faith Ann had a rough time over her last few kilometers. Her time was better than her Tallahassee finish, but not quite matching her Fredericton result. Her training has been thrown off kilter a bit lately, with her job, a vehicle accident and other scheduling difficulties.

Overall, I was pleased with my result. Here is the complete history of my half marathons, all done this year:

Feb. 1st: 1:56 (Tallahassee)
May 10th: 1:52 (Fredericton)
July 5th: 1:49 (Miramichi)

I expect the improving trend will end before long, but for now, I kind of like it.