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.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

A New Race! I'll be Theseus!

We're heading to the Miramichi Rock 'n Run Half Marathon this weekend. The forecast is calling for decent temperatures (ie not hot), with rain likely. I had thought this would be my last race until the fall, until I got this e-mail from my sister Aimee tonight.

"Also just a thought for your trip to Toronto there is a 15k and / or 30k run Aug 22nd in the evening that Brian is going to run (the 15k). Below is the link if you guys are interested."

The race she is referring to is "A Midsummer Night's Run", an annual evening race in Toronto. The Brian she is referring to is her husband. Aimee also runs, be she is very pregnant right now, and by August she will be a new mother.

So how does this align with my training plan? Well, that weekend happens to land on one of my recovery weeks. It calls for 8 miles (w/ 8 x100 m strides) on Saturday, and 14 miles on Sunday. I've decided instead of these two runs, to run the 30 km race that Saturday evening, and rest (and vacation!) on Sunday. This seems like a reasonable compromise. Faith Ann thinks she might do the 15 km race. This will be my longest race to date, given that I've never run in anything longer than a half-marathon. It will also be my first race where I'll be dressed in Shakespearean costume - unlikely!

I was a bit concerned about keeping up with the training during that week in Toronto, but this will cover two of the days. I'll be sure to squeeze in the other runs between doing the touristy things - maybe I'll do tempo run up the steps of the CN Tower! Once again - unlikely!

As for the race this weekend? An improvement over my last half-marathon time (1:52 in Fredericton) is expected. I would be thrilled to finish under 1:50, and I'll be gunning for it!