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.