Sunday, June 28, 2009

If I was a Rock 'n Pace Bunny ...

The Pftiz plan called for 13 miles today, with 8 eight at marathon pace. As mentioned before, I don't really know what my "marathon pace" is. My goal is to maintain nine-minute miles at the PEI marathon, which would have me finish just under four hours. I would be very happy with that for my first marathon.

Given that I'm still 15 weeks from the marathon, I set my marathon pace today at 9:10 mins/mile.

Rather than the prescribed 13 miles, I ended up doing 14. Why? Well ... it has to do with the fact that I think I'm ready to add more mileage to my long runs (last week I did 15 instead of the planned 12), plus it makes me feel better mentally ... and it's only one more mile! What could possibly go wrong with adding just one more mile?!?

I ended up doing the last eight miles at a 9:09 pace - so close to my goal 9:10 pace! I could become a pace bunny, if there was ever a 14 mile race that required people to run extremely slow for the first six miles, then maintain a not-quite-as-slow pace for the next eight miles. Plus, I would look great wearing big floppy ears. Oh yeah, there was also the matter of me almost getting whiplash from checking my Garmin every eleven seconds or so.

I did the first 6 miles at an easy 9:47 min/per mile pace, with the heart rate averaging around 150. The next 8 miles the heart rate averaged 170, or almost 92% of max, which makes me think that perhaps my "marathon pace" at this point should probably be slower that 9:09 per mile? I did feel quite tired at the end. I probably really won't be sure of what my goal marathon pace will be until we approach October.

For the week, I did 38.4 miles, a bit more than the plan calls for. Next weekend Faith Ann and I are running the Rock 'n Run half marathon in the Miramichi, where I hope to rock 'n set a new PR. However, I plan to rock 'n stick to the Pfitz plan for the week, which means no rock 'n taper for me. The race will replace the planned 14 mile "long run" next Sunday. Here's hoping it won't be too hot that day.

Next week ... the plan jumps from 37 miles to 40, with only two rest/crosstraining days - Monday and Friday - rather than three. That's ok, since that matches the schedule I maintained before taking on Pfitz. The only difference is that previously I was running only about 30-35 miles per week, rather than 40-55.

14 miles, 9:24 mins/mile

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Newsflash: I sweat. A lot.

I did a ten mile run this morning before work. I found it to be a bit of a challenge, and I'm not sure why. Could it be that only into my second week of the PEI marathon training plan that the effort is already catching up with me? Even after my 15 mile run on Sunday that felt so good?

Maybe it was because my previous run - "aerobic" 8 miles, followed by 10x100 strides - was at a pace a little too quick for my current level of fitness?

Maybe it had to do with only getting about 5.5 hours of sleep before waking up early for the run.

Perhaps the real reason for the foot-dragging, heavy-breathing, wishing-it-would-end, speeding-up-only-when-passing-dog-walkers-or-cars, pathetic-attempt-to-stick-with-plan run was the humidity. I don't need any extra help to perspire. I can sweat with the best of them. The humidity and mist this morning meant that somewhere between meters 200 and 230, I was practically drenched. Worse yet, my undergarment consisted of a pair of pre-2009/pre-running size XL cotton baggy boxer shorts. A bad choice for multiple reasons.

I hear rumors that losing weight can help you run better. Since I started this running thing a little over a year ago, my weight loss has been one of my biggest accomplishments. I have gone from somewhere around 230 pounds, to somewhere a little under 180 currently. Well, this morning I had roller coaster weight swings that would make Oprah Winfrey proud. To wit:

Pre-run weight: 178 pounds
Post-run weight, with clothes on: 182 pounds
Post-run weight, after ditching the clothes: 177 pounds

Looking forward to better runs this weekend!

10 miles - 9:35 min/mile pace

Sunday, June 21, 2009

It's Because I Pat Myself on the Back So Often

Yeah ... that's why my shoulder was killing me this weekend ... too much patting myself on the back. Seriously, I have no idea why, but Friday night and all through Saturday, it hurt so much to move my left arm to the side, or to move it behind my back. I was afraid it might have been a problem with my rotator cuff. However, I have been icing it quite a bit, and it has improved today, to the point where I'm not too worried anymore. Even still, I'll be sure not to pitch a ball game, go fly fishing, or play jai alai anytime soon.

Unfortunately, when I woke up this morning, I thought I should play it safe, and I passed up going to the 5-mile race in St. Andrew's today. I was really looking forward to it. Mike tells me it went very well, no rain to be found, and a good turn out. Oh well, there's always next year.

I tried doing my scheduled four mile recovery run on Saturday, but just a few strides let me know that my shoulder wouldn't let it happen. It just hurt too much to swing the arms at all. Instead, I spent some time on our stationary bike - 21 km's in 42 minutes, over various levels of resistance. I felt bad about missing the prescribed training, until I read this from the Pfitzinger book today (page 108): "Because the main rationale for recovery runs is simply to increase blood flow through the muscles, you can replace a 30-minute recovery run with about 45 minutes on the bike." I don't plan to make a habit of this, but it's nice to know that it was a reasonable trade-off.

This afternoon, I did a 15 mile long run. My shoulder felt good enough that I thought if I was careful I could manage. As it turned out, it really didn't bother me much at all - just a couple slight twinges. From what I've read, the increased flow of blood might have actually made it feel better.

So ... for my first week on my Pfitzinger plan ... I was close to the plan. The total planned mileage was 33 miles, and I totalled a little over 32 miles. I missed the four mile run on Saturday, but went 15 miles Sunday rather than the recommended 12. My run today felt great - good pace (for me), good heart rate for the length of the run, felt strong and kicked in a bit the last few miles. I felt I could have gone a few more miles without a problem, but I guess that's also a way to get hurt - you know, an excessive increase in mileage too quickly, rather than the build up over time. The coming week calls for just a bit more - 37 miles for the week. I'm looking forward to the bigger weeks, pushing over 50 miles for the week, and 20 miles for the long run. Bring it on!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

St. Andrew's Race This Weekend - or Perhaps Not

My Pfitzinger training is officially under way. I did eight miles on Tuesday morning, with the middle four being at "15k to half-marathon pace", followed by ball hockey that night ... even though it doesn't count :-). Tomorrow I put in nine miles.

I'm signed up to run in the annual 5-mile race in St. Andrew's this weekend. However, there may be a bump in the road. The soccer team I coach is having team photo day on Saturday morning, with Sunday being the rain date. Right now the forecast is calling for rain on Saturday, so the Sunday race may be in jeopardy for me, as I feel obligated to be with the team for the photos. Hopefully we'll get to make it down there for the race.

Growing up in Nova Scotia, the first time I heard of St. Andrew's (New Brunswick) was when my older brother went there for a week one summer for hockey school. The lineup of hockey instructors that summer included Phil Esposito, Dale Hawerchuk, Brian Bellows and Scott Stevens - all big-time hockey names. I also heard they had a bowling alley and a golf course. It painted an image in my mind of some exotic sporting location; apparently I'm easily impressed. These days when I think of St. Andrew's I still think of the golf course - which I have yet to play - but I also think of tourism and the sea.

I'm pasting text below from a Globe and Mail piece from May 29th of this year. It's written by Christie Blatchford, a well known columnist out of Toronto, describing why St. Andrew's is one of her favourite Canadian destinations. For more of Christie, check out her Governor-General Award winning book Fifteen Days, about Canadian troops in Afghanistan. It's a book that's quite sad, but also hard to put down.

Here's her note about her favourite Canadian place -

Within three days of my first visit to St. Andrews by-the-Sea, N.B., last summer, I was putting in an offer on a beautiful blue house.

The deal fell through – I am rather grateful, given that I already own one century-old house in downtown Toronto and the last thing I needed was another one halfway across the country – but such is the nature of St. Andrews that the people who ended up buying the blue house promptly invited me to come and stay with them on my next trip.

That gives you the essence of the place. It's small enough that people know who owned what house when (and even who made offers). More important, tucked in on Passamaquoddy Bay, St. Andrews holds out the promise of a sweeter, quieter life. People talk about how lovely the town is, and it is, but what I most like about it is that it inspires even the casual visitor to behave better, to be more mannerly and to be more easily satisfied with smaller pleasures.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Last Run Before the Pfitzinger Plan Begins

I did my long run today, consisting of 14 miles. I kept a good pace and heart rate, with my heart rate staying under 150 until the 10th mile. I think my max heart rate is 183. I often find myself running too fast (too fast for my level/speed) on my long runs. After reading the Pfitzinger book this weekend, I was reminded once again to keep these runs slow, so as not to become too fatigued for the future runs for the week. Actually, Pfitzinger recommends starting at your marathon pace plus 20%, eventually moving on to marathon pace plus 10%. I'm not sure what my "marathon pace" is, but I think I'll be very happy with my first marathon to finish in under 4 hours, so perhaps my marathon pace is 9 minutes/mile? I'll probably adjust that slightly as the training progresses. My overall pace today was 9:36, compared to my pace last weekend in Campobello of 8:57 - although that was only 10.2 miles.

I did 34 miles for the week, plus ball hockey Tuesday. Week one of Pfitzinger's plan next week calls for a total of 33 miles, so I feel ok about it. My mileage the last few weeks has been affected by the fact that I've been in a race every two weeks since May 10th, but that will wrap up shortly.

I do my long runs solo, with Faith Ann staying home with Cameron. She does her long runs on Saturday. I almost always listen to podcasts when I run. Here are my usual selections:

Regular runs

Baseball Today (ESPN) - a staple during the baseball season. It's the only one of these I make sure not to miss
PTI (ESPN) - another sports show - I love Tony Kornheiser
The McLaughlin Group - I'm not a political junkie, but I kind of enjoy the banter on this show, between the very left and very right participants
The Vinyl Cafe - CBC Radio variety show. Sometimes funny, sometimes interesting, occasionally a little dull for me - but that's not always a bad thing while running.

Long Runs

Phedippidations - Steve Walker/Runner's weekly podcast on running. A good companion to a long run, I find.
This American Life - NPR weekly radio show, usually in documentary style. One of my favourites.
Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me - NPR current affairs/comedy show, hosted by marathoner Peter Sagal
Prime Time Sports - Weeknight radio show out of Toronto.

There are also some comedy podcasts that I listen to when I'm not running, but for some reason they just don't fit my running mood.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

It's Going To Be a "Pfun" Summer

It was very exciting today, finally receiving in the mail my copy of Pete Pfitzinger's book "Advanced Marathoning", second edition. I'll be so much faster than those elite runners who only have the first edition!

I plan to follow the 18-week plan, starting next week. There are variations on the plan, targetting people who want to train up to 55 miles per week, 55 to 70 miles per week, 70 to 85 miles per week, or more than 85 miles per week. There's even a section (based on the life and times of Andrew Seeley, I think) for people who want to run over 105 miles per week. Of course I'm going for the "up to 55" plan; that's enough of a challenge for me for the first marathon.

I'm going to try to stick as close as I can to the plan, but I may switch up the Tuesday/Wednesday suggested schedules so I can keep playing ball hockey on Tuesday nights. We're also planning on vacationing for a week in PEI in July, and in Toronto for a week in August. I'll do my best to stay on schedule during those times also.

I see the plan calls for a few 8k-15k races in the weeks leading to the marathon. I had always planned on running the 10k Fall Classic in Fredericton on September 20th, but I think I'll now also run the 10k Dam Run in Perth-Andover on October 3rd. So ... I think the remaining race schedule for 2009 works out as follows:

June 21st - St. Andrews Father's Day Road Race - 5 miler (Mike's race)
July 5th - Miramichi Rock n Run (half marathon)
Sept 20th - Fall Classic 10k in Fredericton
Oct. 3rd - 10k Dam Run in Perth-Andover
Oct. 18th - PEI Marathon

I had previously thought of running the half in Saint John in the Marathon by the Sea , but I think I'll pass running in that. However, I may volunteer in it.

A picture from week two of my soccer coaching experience is below. This week was much better - I think the kids had lots of fun!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Cobscook Bay 10k

This weekend Faith Ann, Cameron and I went to Campobello again, ostensibly to visit "Nammie". I had been contemplating running the Cobscook Bay 10k for a few weeks now. With the forecast calling for nice weather, we decided to make the trip.

The race was held at 10 AM (Maine time) Saturday morning. Faith Ann and I got there about an hour early, but she had decided beforehand not to race. The race was held in Pembroke, Maine, a community we always drive through as we head to Campobello. It is a very small village, as are most of the towns and villages around it, and I was pleasantly surprised to see several dozen people registered for the race. Several minutes after registering I suggested to Faith Ann that we drive the route a bit, so I could get a feel for the course. We drive it for a few miles, but Faith Ann thought we should turn around so that we wouldn't interfere with people in the fun run and the kids run, which were starting earlier. I said "sure", since we had seen a fair bit of the course and I now had an idea of the terrain. In retrospect, it turned out that drive was close to useless, since the real hills on this course aren't encountered until the last mile.

I have run two 10k's before. My first one (and first race ever) was completed last September, a few months after I started running. I did that one in 57 minutes. A couple of months later, I did another in 54 minutes. Now, eight months later, I would have been thrilled to have come in under 50 minutes. However, I thought that was being a bit aggressive, and I predicted to Faith Ann that I would finish in 51 minutes.

In typical fashion, I got carried away with the momentum of the race, and completed the first mile in 7:37. I wasn't too worried, as much of that was downhill. The next two miles were 8:12 and 8:05, which was more of the pace of was hoping for. Mile four was a bit slower at 8:23, but in retrospect I'm not sure why I slowed for that one. Looking back at the elevation chart captured from the Garmin, it does appear that there were a series of uphill stretches that probably provide a clue, but I don't remember any standing out significantly. Mile five was back to 8:09, but the sixth mile is where I fell apart. There were a couple of very steep hills, on a dirt road with larger rocks, and it emphasized how I really need to put in extra workout time in tackling hills. On both hills, there was a time when my pace surely couldn't have been much faster than a walk. That sixth mile was completed in an embarrassing 8:43. Beyond mile six, I'm not completely sure of my pace, since I forgot to turn off my watch (again!) when I finished, but I know it wasn't fast. My watch at the end said 51:43, and the clock time had me at 51:23 (the race wasn't chip timed). I started in the middle of the pack or perhaps a bit further back, but with 87 people in the 10k, and an undetermined number in the simultaneous 5k, I don't expect my "chip time" would have been significantly lower. So, my earlier prediction of 51 minutes was accurate. Perhaps a self-fulfilling prophecy? My next 10k likely won't be until September, with the Fall Classic in Fredericton. I would be very disappointed if I don't finish under 50 minutes there, on a very flat course.

Results of the 10k can be found here.

A few things stood out for me in the race. One was a young man who ran with one prosthetic leg. He and I were on a similar pace for the first few kilometers, and I gave him a quick compliment when I went by him. I had hoped to speak to him after the race to get some background information on him, but I didn't get around to it. Sometimes the people I find most inspiring in these races are not always the fastest runners.

Another person who stood out was a lady who was behind me for the last six kilometers or so. I think she must be a distant relative of Monica Seles. In rhythmic fashion, about every 45 seconds or so, she would let out a quick little yelp or grunt. It added a bit of levity to the run, and occasionally took my mind off my average heart rate 176 (180 or higher after mile 3). I found myself trying to guess when the next shriek would come along.

The area was very nice, quite scenic, and the post-race spread was fantastic, especially considering much was donated. There was even barbequed salmon.

I also had the pleasure of meeting Andrew, who ran a super race and finished second! That's the two of us chatting after the run below, on the right. I mentioned I would like to run the Boyden Lake loop sometime this summer, and he said to get in touch with him and I could join him, Mike and some of the other regulars. When I mentioned that I might be too slow to do the run with them, he replied like a classic New Englander, saying "We're wicked slow!". Check out his blog to see some of his "wicked slow" (not!) times! I think some of their long runs are at a reasonable pace, and maybe I'll throw in one of my PEI marathon training runs there later this summer, or perhaps in the fall. I check out his blog often, and he provided some good stories in just the few minutes Faith Ann and I spoke with him. When I mentioned we were running in Houston next January, he suggested we check out his post on his experience there. It is a wonderful race report - check it out here.

As for the rest of the weekend, Cameron and I got in some golf. Well, I got in some golf, and Cam had fun in the cart beside me. See him enjoying his bottle of water below. I think he must be good for my game, as I played a decent nine holes. I always feel guilty taking a cart on the golf course, but I'm ok doing it when Cam is with me. I also ran ten miles on the island this morning before heading out.

Just a couple more races for me this spring before devoting the summer to training for the PEI marathon. More on the next two races in a future post.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Bob McCown Would Be So Proud Of Me

It's been a busy few weeks in the soccer world, with Chelsea winning the FA Cup and Manchester United losing to Barcelona in the Champions League final. The big soccer news continues this week, with me doing my best impersonation of Sir Alex Ferguson. Yes, that's right, I am the coach of team #18 in the 6 and under Fredericton District Soccer Association - the Monkeys! Tonight was the opening night, and it went alright. I think next week I'll try to inject more "fun" into the evening, and I expect I'll do a bit better job with the organization of it also. I forgot to bring a memory card with the camera, so no pictures! I'll try to remember to take some pictures next week.

The soccer was a topper to a busy day. I went on a 45 minute run with my buddy Drew during lunch. Tuesday's are a good day for me to do an easy lunchtime run, since Tuesday nights I often play an hour and a half of ball hockey. Although I don't track the ball hockey as "running time" in, I consider it to be speed or interval training. It involves lots of very fast running, with starts and stops, then taking breaks at the end of my shift, getting the heart rate down, before heading back to the floor to rev it up again. Plus, it's a lot of fun. I stink as a ball hockey player, but the guys are nice enough to keep inviting me back. I started playing with many of these guys sixteen years ago, before moving away for a couple of years. When I moved back, I didn't really get back into it, largely due to being quite out of shape. Well, last year, when I started running, I got back into it, and it's something I look forward to now. As the marathon training picks up this summer, I'll evaluate whether I keep going with the ball hockey. My 18 week marathon training plan begins the week of June 14th!