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!