Sunday, November 28, 2010

Quick Update

A photo of some of the guys from the Fredericton Trail Masters Cabot Trail Relay team. We got together to run a few leisurely miles yesterday, just before the heavier snow starting falling.

My running had been coming along well recently. This week, however, wasn't up to snuff, as I missed my Tuesday and Wednesday runs, largely due to laziness. The result was a weekly total of just over only 32 miles (52k). With the marathon seven weeks from today, there should be plenty of motivation to get most of my runs in until the big day (January 16th). My 18 mile run today went well, with a comfortable pace of 8:49 minutes per mile, so my endurance doesn't seem to have taken a significant dip. Looking back at my long runs at the same time last year, they were all 20-30 seconds per mile slower, so that's encouraging as well.

In other news, I had my first ever massage of any type last week, this one of the deep tissue variety. I thought I would hate it, but it was bearable - and not intolerably painful. I have had off-and-on issues with my calves over the last few months, and I figured this treatment couldn't hurt. The jury is still out on whether it was beneficial, but I will get a follow up massage this Tuesday. That might be it for a while.

Finally, in keeping with my pattern of announcing my marathon plans months in advance, it looks like I won't be doing Quebec City next August. I do think I'll be running this half-marathon around that time. Next fall's marathon? Well, Faith Ann is planning on running two half marathons in 2011. Her spring half will be here in Fredericton, and her autumn half will be at the Maine Marathon in Portland. There is a decent chance I will run the full at the Maine Marathon at that time, but I'm not 100% sold on it yet.

A picture of Cam from earlier today, giving you an idea of the kind of stuff I was running in for my long run.

Monday, November 1, 2010


A photo of me in the early stages of the Mount Desert Island marathon. Apologies for the poor quality, but I'm too miserly to pay for the real thing.

It has been two weeks since my marathon. The first week following it, I did very little running, completing 5k just a couple of times. One of those was a race - the 5k as part of the Legs for Literacy running event in Moncton. I completed it in 22:58, and felt no lingering aches or pains from the marathon. Check out Mike's blog for a great little video of the race, including both my finish and his.

This past week I ran four times, including 12.5 miles yesterday, in the first snow flurries of the season. Unfortunately, after 11.5 miles, I had a familiar pain return in my calf. Not learning from my past mistakes, I continued some combination of walking/running for another mile before returning home. It was quite tight and painful last night, but a little better today. Hopefully this will pass quickly.

Faith Ann also ran the 5k in Moncton. After taking a hiatus from blogging for a while, she has started it up again. Check out the story of her run here.

What's next for my running? Not much in the way of racing in the short term. I'll probably do a 5k race on New Year's Day. I'm also going to run the Arizona Rock'n'Roll marathon in Phoenix on January 16th. If you had to think of two completly opposite marathons, it would be MDI and the Arizona Rock'n'Roll marathon. To wit -

MDI: Centered around Bar Harbor, population right around 5000
Arizona: Takes place in Phoenxi, the fifth largest city in the United States, with a population
over 1.6 million

MDI: Very scenic, voted most scenic by Runners World
Arizona: By many accounts I have read, not so scenic - unless you're into strip malls

MDI: Caters mostly to marathoners, although they have added 2 and 3-person relay teams
Arizona: Last year had 21,000 half-marathon finishers, compared to just under 5,000
marathon finishers. This year they even added 2-person relay teams for the half-marathon!

MDI: Largely run by race director Gary Allen, along with other locals
Arizona: Part of the Rock'n'Roll marathon series, organized by Competitor Group, Inc., a sports
marketing, management and publishing company.

No matter - I'm sure when I'm lining up at the start, I'll be just as excited and nervous to get going. I'm going to shoot for something under 3:45. In the mean time, I need to draw up some type of training plan, and perhaps if I feel social I'll join some local runners occasionally on these cold, dark autumn/winter evenings.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Mount Desert Island Marathon

I ran the Mount Desert Island marathon yesterday, finishing with a time of 3:50:39, more than five minutes better than my marathon in PEI last fall. The race was great. The weather was perfect, the atmosphere was wonderful, the course was picture-perfect. I felt good throughout the race, and it went almost exactly as I had planned and hoped.

I arrived at the race start about 15-20 minutes before the gun went off. The race director, Gary Allen, was making a few announcements prior to the race. It was obvious that he is proud of his race, and he deserves to be. He spoke of it growing in the future, and I hope it does.

In my normal run around my neighborhood, when I'm not pushing the pace at all, I routinely hit the 5k mark at a little over 27 minutes. It's a comfortable pace for me. I wanted to finish at under 3:50 in this race, and running 27 minute 5k segments would put me right there. For the first 30k, I was right on track. In fact, I was happy with my pace throughout the race. My first half clocked in at just under 1:54, and the second half was a little over 1:56. Considering the hills over miles 20 through 25, I was quite proud to have stuck to this pace. I ran through most of the water stops. The only couple of times I walked were just before mile 20, in front of steep hill. I figured that would be a good time to slow down for a drink and a gel. Also, around mile 23.5, as I was near the end of a big hill, I probably walked for 30 seconds. I didn't look at my watch too often, I just tried to keep it somewhat comfortable going up the hills, and pushing it slightly going down the hills.

I felt strong throughout this run, even finishing it up feeling good. The picture below is of me at the end. I had a couple within my sights for most of the race. With less than half a mile left, their pace had slowed a fair bit. I told them that I felt guilty about passing after all that time, but they kindly told me to go ahead. In looking at this photo, I'm surprised they finished that close to me after all!

Here's a picture of me with the sun glaring behind me, as I drop my jacket off to Faith Ann and Cam. They met me a couple of times during the race, giving me a drink bottle to carry. I'm happy they were supporting me, although Faith Ann did find it difficult to navigate around the island while staying off the marathon route.

This is me as I approach them the second time, around the 18.3 mile point.

After the race, I had a quick bite to eat and a shower, before heading back to the vehicle to go home. I was surprised to see so many people who I had been running with for much of the race finishing as I walked to our vehicle. The only point during the race where it was windy at all was around Somes Sound, I think around mile 15?? I drafted off two different guys at this point for a bit, and both of them ended up finishing about 45 minutes behind me. There were quite a lot of people who did seem to be struggling between miles 20-23 during the race - even more than the normal struggling that people do at this point in marathons.

Today I feel a little sore, but really not too bad. I plan to run a couple of times this week, then finish my running season with a short 5k or 10k this weekend in Moncton, as Faith Ann is planning on running the 5k.

Overall, I'm very happy with how I did. I'll never be a super speedy guy (like Jamie - check out his run!) but I think in my training leading up to this, I pushed myself hard enough that I came close to reaching my potential for this race, but not to the point where I got hurt. Now that I know I can train to this point, perhaps I'll ratchet it up just a little more for next summer!

Just a couple more pics to finish ... thankfully it didn't rain during the run, or Cam wouldn't have been able to play his Nintendo DS while waiting for me.

Also, there happened to be a basketball hanging around the school, so Cam had something to do while waiting for me after the race.

Sunday, October 10, 2010


With the Mount Desert Island Marathon a week away, I completed my last longish run today. It was just twelve miles. I started off easy, but picked up the pace as the run went on. In the end, my pace was similar to my half-marathon time in May. However, today felt very comfortable. It's nice to know that all the mileage this summer has paid off. Maybe I'll try to keep it up over the winter, but I do hate those cold, dark winter days.

Now for the lowdown on the results of my training plan for this summer.

747 miles over 17 weeks, average pace 8:45 minutes per mile/5:25 minutes per kilometer (June, July and August averaged just over 200 miles per month)

Compare this to the year before ...

2009: 690 miles, avg pace 8:58 mins/mile or 5:34 mins/km

Note that the total miles according to the Pfitzinger 18/55 plan over the first 17 weeks are 767. I missed much of one week due to injury, so overall I was happy with my final numbers falling just 20 miles short of the original plan. Also, the training this year included much running on hills, which I did very little last year, so the improvement in pace would have been better had I trained on flatter routes.

I feel better prepared for this marathon than either of my previous two, and I don't think my training could have gone much better. I'm injury-free, and the weather forecast (so far) looks very good. What does it all mean? I'm not sure, given the terrain of the course. I'll take it one hill at a time, and try to enjoy the experience!

Here is a way I definitely will not finish. Check out this incredible video from the end of the Chicago Marathon today:

Track and Field Videos on Flotrack

Monday, September 27, 2010

My Favourite Race

With less than three weeks to the MDI marathon, I've started my taper, but not before finishing my last "really" long run of 20 miles today. That's four 20-milers over the last four weeks, and they have all felt very good.

I did the long run today (Monday) rather than my normal Sunday, because yesterday I ran the Fall Classic 10k race. Coming into the race, I hadn't been very impressed with my speed. In fact, of all the races of I have done this spring and summer, the only one I was reasonably happy with the half-marathon that I ran in Fredericton in May. In retrospect, the weeks following my hernia surgery until I started the marathon training plan were too light on volume. Next spring I'll try to do a better job and get more training in before the spring.

So ... the 10k. Have I mentioned how much I like this race? For a specific race experience, I don't think anything will ever compare to my first marathon in PEI with Mike. But when it comes to races, this is the one. It's home, in the fall, on a route I have run many times, and it's flat. All three times I have run it the weather has been perfect. Most importantly, all three times I have run it, I have been happy with the result.

I saw Mike before the race, and told him I didn't think I would match my time of 47:11 from last year, despite what I think has been a good few months of training. Mike responded with "a race can ... .... ". I don't remember exactly, but something like "it can bring out results". Unknown to me, he predicted to his wife that I would get in at 46 minutes, and he was close. 46:12. Results here. I was happy, and even happier with my pacing. Check out the splits below. I followed a legendary local runner for a while. She had passed me in the later stages of enough races to let me know that her pacing was much better than mine.

Km 1: 4:32
Km 2: 4:33
Km 3: 4:34
Km 4: 4:39
Km 5: 4:51 --> Passed my pacer! Theory: I was creeping her out, so she let me pass!
Km 6: 4:37
Km 7: 4:31
Km 8: 4:36
Km 9: 4:37
Km 10: 4:30

The race was a good confidence booster. I'm tentatively planning on running another 10k next weekend, and I hope it goes as well. Next post I'll do the obligatory summary of my weeks of training, but I couldn't have asked for it to have been much better than it was. I only had a couple of bumps in the road, but the following post on a message board succinctly puts things in perspective:

"Sometime in the next 18 weeks your training will be derailed. That's actually part of marathon training. The best thing you can do when this happens is just forget about it and get back to work where you left off."

Monday, September 13, 2010

Marathon Training Update

An update since my last post a few weeks back.

I'm getting the mileage in. Take away one week in when I needed to take a few days off to heal my calf (see below) and I'm averaging over 50 miles per week over the last nine weeks. Some good runs too, not just junk miles.

I got in 20 mile runs each of the past two weekends, and felt pretty strong through both. While there weren't any monster long hills, I do run a route that includes many rolling hills, with some being quite steep. Last week's run was at a pace of 8:52 mins/mile, and this week was 8:48 mins/per mile. Actually, yesterday's run was 20.5 miles (my longest non-marathon run), and next week I plan to make it 21 miles. I even ran a negative split yesterday, with the pace over the first ten miles at close to 9 mins/mile, and the last ten around 8:38 per mile.

Since I haven't posted for a while, I should state that there was a period when my calf was an issue. During my run two days after the Saint John half, my calf was quite painful a couple of miles into the run. The next day, it didn't feel horrible, and I foolishly headed out for a 10-mile run. Nine miles into it, there was a sharp pain, resulting in me walking most of the remaining mile to my house. I ended up taking three days off after that, followed by a very easy 6-mile run on my "long run Sunday". Thankfully it hasn't been much of an issue since then.

My next race is the 10k at the Fall Classic in Fredericton on September 26th. My first ever race was there, and this is still one of my favourites. I also plan on running the 10k at the Dam Run in Perth-Andover the following Saturday, as a tune up race prior to the marathon.

Oh yes ... I also ran a half-marathon "race" in Truro, Nova Scotia in late August, near the stomping grounds of my youth, that I don't even want to speak or write of ...

Finally, an image showing my pace and elevation from my long run yesterday. Looking ahead to a week of early morning runs in the dark and the rain! Less than five weeks until the marathon, and I'm feeling at ease with my training!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Mr Scatterbrain

Knowing I was getting up early Sunday morning to head to Saint John for the half-marathon, Faith Ann and Cam slept downstairs last night. Here was an e-mail Faith Ann sent me that night, knowing I would read it in the morning:

Don't forget ...
to give yourself enough time to pick up your race kit in the morning.

Why does she think she has to remind me about such obvious things? The answer to that question is simple: I'm such a procrastinating scatter-brain that I need to be constantly reminded.

Let me say that I really don't know my way around Saint John at all. But hey, I have a Garmin GPS unit in the car, and I could just type in the address. However, I soon realized I couldn't find any address or landmark in the GPS that would point me to the race. Wouldn't you think it would have Rockwood Park, or at least the Rockwood Park golf course in there somewhere? Oh, but it was my lucky day, because it did have Rockwood Avenue! Surely that must be close to the race! So I proceeded to Rockwood Avenue, to find out it wasn't the race location at all. No need to worry, I still had twenty minutes before the race started at 8 AM!

A stop in a gas station to ask for directions ... drive for a bit and see the golf course ... go in for more directions, waiting impatiently for people checking in for their tee times ahead of me ("Good morning, we're teeing off at 7:57") ... finally reach the general vicinity of the start area ... jog to the start area ... bother the chip timing guy taking a picture of the fast people waiting in front to ask "Can I still get a chip?" He says "Go down to the bottom of the hill". So I went to the bottom of the hill, and asked a few people (as I heard the national anthem being sung for the race). Finally a guy starts trotting up the hill and gets a woman to come down to me (as the gun goes off for the race to start). She searches for my packet, finally finds it, gives me my chip, which I quickly tie on my shoe. I leave the building and another chip timing guy says "Tell him to run". I'm thinking "well duh ... that's why I'm here" when I realize he means "run to get your chip across the timing mat". So I run up the hill, and cross the mat as they're putting it away. A couple of them said "it'll work fine", but of course it didn't, and I didn't receive a chip time today.

So I started the run several minutes after everyone else. I passed lots of people, including several pace bunnies. Around mile 5 the shoe I quickly tied the chip on came un-tied, so I stopped for a few seconds to fix it. The run itself wasn't too bad, as I was on a pace for about a 1:48 finish, until right around the 10.5 mile point, when I had a sudden cramp in my right calf, quite painful for the first 20 seconds or so, then it lingered for a bit. That has never happened to me before while on a run. I did get a cramp Friday night after my run, and it stuck around in a less evil form for a while that night, but I never imagined it would have happened today. I walked gingerly on it for a minute or so, then started running again, but I still felt it. Great! A couple more quick walk breaks, and I thought it was ok, and I picked it back up, but I was quite disgusted at that point. I took it pretty easy over the last mile or so, wondering why I was bothering at this point to put in any effort. As I reached the final couple hundred meters, I saw a guy now living in Houston who I hadn't seen for several years (although he put in Saint John as his address in the half, finishing in 1:32), and chatted with him for a minute. He looked at my Garmin and said "are you still running?". I said "yeah, but I'm not really racing at this point". I stopped the watch, felt a bit embarrassed, and jogged down the last 200 meters. The clock said 1:58, and my Garmin said 1:51:47 at 12.96 miles, where I had stopped to speak with Dave at the top of the hill.

Given my kilometer splits to the 18th kilometer, I do think I was running a decent and fairly consistent race to that point, and probably would have finished around 1:48 or so. So while it turned out to be closer to a tempo run for 10 miles than a half marathon, it wasn't a total bummer. The calf feels fine now, and I don't understand why it was affected today, since I certainly wasn't dehydrated. I hope the cramp doesn't make a reappearance anytime soon.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Over the Hills and Far Away

We spent the last weekend in Halifax, and I got in runs of 6+ miles on both Friday and Saturday, and an 18 mile long run on Sunday morning. The long run took me from one end of Halifax to another and back, going down to the Armdale Rotary, up Chebucto Road and Quinpool Road, around the Commons and Citadel Hill a couple of times, and back to where I started. There were a few hills thrown in there. Check out this graph comparing the elevation profile on this long run to my typical long run I did last summer around downtown Fredericton.

I found the last couple of miles to be tough. It looks like I'm still in the process of building my endurance.

There were a couple of big races in Halifax over the weekend also, including the MacPass Mile and the Natal Day 6-mile race, but I passed on them both, and simply completed the long run. Maybe next year ...

Last summer during my marathon training, I intentionally tried to find flatter routes to run on. It was bad enough that I was expected to run ludicrous numbers of miles each week, I didn't need the added burden of hills. This year, I try to incorporate hills in most of my runs. Here is the profile from my run tonight - even hillier than my normal route.

Is this helping? I'm not entirely sure. I do have more confidence on the hills these days, but the real test will be in a race environment.

Speaking of races, I'll be doing the half-marathon in Saint John this weekend as part of Marathon by the Sea. I was supposed to run it last year (held about 7 weeks later in the year than this year's version) but I was hurt, and the organizers were nice enough to grant me a deferred entry this year. I checked out the elevation profile, and it doesn't look too bad, but I can't imagine any race in Saint John being very flat.

Here is an interesting story from the Globe and Mail yesterday, about how schools in Quebec base 50% of a physical education grade on a heart rate test. It would be interesting to do follow up studies 5/10/15 years out comparing the health of these people to those in other jurisdictions. If people are "forced" when younger to become fit, will it influence them to carry on the pattern as they age?

Wrap up for July: 200 miles logged, with two of the weeks over 50 miles. I'm guessing August will end up with me logging 50+ miles in every week but one. Continuing to bank the miles, hopefully the results will start to appear.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Backward Caps Are Aerodynamic

Yesterday we returned from a great week in PEI. I was there with all four siblings, their families, and some other family members. In addition to a few rounds of golf, time on the beach, and time spent with Cam and nieces and nephews, I managed to stick to my running schedule.

On the way to PEI, I stopped in Shediac and ran the George Gallant 10k, in a time of 50:31 (another blah performance) in very hot and humid conditions. Here's a line from the local francophone fish-wrap:

L'humidité, la chaleur et la brise soutenues ont été un problème pour la plupart des coureurs. Ces éléments auraient coûté au moins une minute à Strowbridge.

Translated to english I believe it reads "It was stinking hot but Strowbridge still flies because he wears his running cap backwards". I've got to start turning my hat around.

There were lots of pictures of the race on the RunNB site, including what is probably the best running picture ever taken of me.

Sunday in PEI I did 15 miles running back and forth over the last few kilometers of my most memorable run to date, the PEI marathon. Strange how those hills don't seem nearly as bad when they're not at the end of the marathon. I also went back there Tuesday to do another 10 miles. The rest of the week I spent running around Stanhope and Brackley Beach, including a ten mile run with five miles at tempo pace, and a couple of other shorter runs - one of five miles that I did with my sister Aimee.

Back in Fredericton, I ran a tough 16 mile run Sunday. I left later than I should have, not finishing until close to noon, and again it was quite warm. I have been trying to run more hills lately, and today's run was no exception. There were supposed to be ten miles today at marathon pace (8:40 mins/mile?) but I didn't quite hit it. However, with the heat and the hills I wasn't disappointed with the result. I drank three bottles of water, had a gel at 8 miles, and was totally spent at the end. I even shuffled in a couple quick walk breaks during the last mile.

For the week I got in 51 miles. That's about 6 more than the Pfitzinger plan calls for, as I ran six days during the week rather than five. I expect there will be many weeks when I do that additional run, though after coaching the boys at soccer tonight, I just didn't feel up to it ... so only five this week.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Good News, Bad News

A shot from afar of Paula Keating and Ryan O'Shea, who ran most of today's Miramichi Rock'n'Run together, and finished tied for 2nd/3rd at 1:22:53.

Here's a photo of me, somewhere around kilometer 13 or so, dousing myself with a cup of cool water. It felt warmer out there than the temperature indicated, probably helped by the 83% humidity.

An exchange I had with a lady as I was passing her around the 8k point:
Her: How are you feeling?
Me: Terrible. (In fact, I felt just fine ... I just thought I would say what she wanted to hear. I wonder how I looked?)
Her: Grab two sponges at the next stop. (As I said, it was warm, and they were passing out wet sponges at the previous water stop).
Me: What, one for me and one for you?
Her: No, for you. They can make you feel better if you're struggling.
Me: I'm ok. (I might have said this in my natural, not so friendly tone)
Her: Well... it works for me. (In the familiar "What's your problem?" tone I've grown accustomed to hearing from others)
Her (approaching the water stop): Sponge?
Them (water stop folks): Oh ... we don't have any at this stop.
Me: Pretty warm out here, isn't it?

My running story of late is one of contradiction. I seem to be enjoying running more than ever. Some of that may be due to being through only three of eighteen weeks of marathon training - still in the early courting stages, where all seems right with the world. I've got no nagging aches or pains, the days are long and nights are short, my weight is slowly going down, and the weather (especially early mornings) is great. I really am liking it, looking forward to every run. I'm even inclined to bump up my training plan slightly, running six days a week rather than five, and perhaps chucking in an additional mile or two on some of the scheduled runs.

However, as much as I enjoy the training, my racing does not seem to be improving. While hoping to run a 48 minute 10k this past week, and a 1:47 half, instead my times were about three and four minutes slower than that. The 10k course (Grand Bay 10k) was fairly hilly and the temperature for the half today was a bit warm, but those are not great excuses. I think my fitness level just has to improve, and I'm hopeful it will work out eventually by sticking to the plan. I have also been running more hills lately, and will do even more in the future.

We're off to PEI for a week beginning next weekend. If my understanding, generous, giving (and blog-reading) wife agrees to it, I may make a quick stop on the way in Shediac to run the George Gallant 10k ... but perhaps not. If I don't do better there, it might make for a grumpy week on the island.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Smarter Than The Average Bear

This past week marked the second of the eighteen weeks of my current marathon training cycle. I hit 40 miles for the week, including an 8-mile run with strides, a 10-mile run, and a 13 mile "long run" with 8 miles at marathon pace. What's marathon pace? I'm not sure. I want to break 3:50 in the marathon, which is a pace of 8:49 minutes/mile, or 5:29 minutes/kilometer. However, for a hilly marathon, my perceived effort might be harder than that pace. I shot for an 8:30 minutes/mile pace for my marathon pace yesterday, which is probably too quick for me, especially at this early stage of my training.

My long runs are normally on Sunday mornings, but I had a golf game to play yesterday, so my long run waited until the evening. There was actually a bit of slack time in the middle of my MP miles, as three and a half miles into it I had to make a quick pit stop at home for a bathroom break. While there, Faith Ann mentioned that she had seen a "huge, huge, huge" bear in our driveway. This would have been at dusk. She quickly got her camera, but only saw the bear's butt leaving the driveway by the time she got back. She suggested to me that I might want to consider finishing the run on the treadmill. What would be worse: running the final 6 miles on a treadmill in the heat of the house, or getting chased and possibly eaten by a bear? The answer was so obvious that I immediately went back out to finish my run.

I really wasn't worried, as I figured the bear would likely be scared away if he saw me and my wonderful running technique heading towards him. Plus, can you really believe what you read in Wikipedia?

This coming week I've got two races - a 10k in Grand Bay on Thursday, and a half-marathon in Miramichi on Sunday. I'm not overly optimistic for great times, but I would like to be close to 48 minutes for the 10k, and perhaps a 1:46 or 1:47 for the half. The 10k fits into my plan for the week, as Thursday called for a tempo run, and I'm doing the 13.1 on Sunday instead of the planned 14 miles. A bit of hard work for the week, but hopefully these and more like them will pay off later in the summer/fall!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Lactate By the Sea

Today we had the 5-mile race in St Andrews. Here are the speedy runners at the start ...

... and a slightly less speedy guy at the end ...

The weather was great, it was a good turnout with some familiar faces, and the course is very nice. Mike is one of the co-directors of the race, so he wasn't running it, but was doing things like this ...
and this ...

Cam ran the 1k kids race too. He was so fast, that I missed taking photos of his finish as I was chatting away with Phil Booker! Here's Cam doing some stretching before the race - injury prevention, of course.

Here's the group of kids lined up to get their medals at the end of the race.

As for my race, check out these splits, showing my time for each of the eight kilometers, then tell me I didn't start out too fast, even if it was a downhill beginning.


I realize I still stink at running hills, as I took short walk breaks three times on the hills during the race today. I've taking to doing more of my training lately on some of the steeper/longer Fredericton hills, but I still have lots of work to do.

Here is an interesting note that shows I probably also need to work on my pacing. Compare my splits above to the splits from my tempo run of last Tuesday. The first 2k and the last 3k of that run were warm up/cool downs (sort of ... a bit of the third k was also a warm up). My time for the middle 8k was almost identical (even a few seconds faster!) than the race today. A couple of things about that tempo run: 1) while I was pushing it, I wasn't giving it a "full" effort, and 2) that run even included 2k as a warm up, so it's not like I was starting out fresh on those middle 8k. Finally, while there aren't really long steep hills around my neighborhood, it's does have stretches of hills, so it's not exactly flat. The numbers, with the tempo k's italicized ...


To wrap this post up, a note on my training, as this past week marked my first of eighteen weeks of official marathon training. I did five runs instead of the called for four, and swapped the 12 mile "long run" with today's 5 mile race. In the end, the total mileage for the week ended up being just about what the plan called for. The fun begins!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Leftover Cabot Trail pics

Not much to say this week in terms of running. After catching up on my sleep from the Cabot Trail and having visitors here this weekend, I ended up with just three runs for the week. That makes two weeks in a row where I only got in three runs, for about 25 miles/40 kilometers each of those weeks. One more week until the official 18-week marathon training plan kicks in, when I'll have to make sure I keep up my mileage.

A few remaining photos from the Cabot Trail Relay. This one is me with the female winner of the 12th leg, my speedy cousin Emily.

This second one was taken by Emily. It's a picture of me chatting with Ed Whitlock. Now at 79 years of age, the holder of several records finished 17th out of 69 runners on the 13th leg.

The remaining photos are from Jypsy Bain, of Alex Bain fame. She is the same person who captured a picture of Mike and me last year during the PEI marathon.

A photo of Phil finishing leg 2 -

Darren in the crowd of starters for leg 3 -

Connie running leg 5 -

Water stop at leg 8 (I think?) -

Water stop during leg 9, put on by the Chicks Running Clicks -

Larry in the crowd of starters for leg 15 -

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Cabot Trail Relay

My second time attending the Cabot Trail Relay was even more fun than the first time. My performance in leg six was terrible, but it didn't take away from the overall great experience. Here's my favourite picture of the weekend, with Pierre coming to the end of the "glory leg" in Baddeck, giving a high-five to a well-dressed supporter.

Unfortunately, I didn't get as many pictures this weekend as I would have liked, since I didn't dig deep enough into my travel bag to discover the camera until early Sunday morning. So, I got a few with my Blackberry Saturday, and a few on Sunday. Next year I'll try to keep my camera handy.

Speaking of next year ... I plan to do leg six again. Why that leg again? Not because I enjoyed it so much that I want to re-visit it. No, I want to run it again for redemption. It started out fine, and the first handful of the several hills were completed without much of an issue, but it didn't take long for me to realize that I need to do better hill training, especially with my fall marathon taking place on a hilly route. I also need to lose some weight.

The not-so-brief recap of the weekend follows.

Arrival Friday night: While it was fun, I spent too much time at the Caeileigh and the pub. It wasn't the type of "hydration" needed the night before my run. We had some good chats with the Chicks Running Clicks from Ontario, and the Fast as Molasses team from Saint John. In bed by 1:45 or so, then up around 7 AM the next day.

Leg #1 - Pierre was doing the bookends, running the first and last legs. I wasn't there for it, but he said afterwards that he pulled away too quickly, struggled with a stitch and tightness in a leg. Even with those issues, he still finished in respectable position, well within the top of of the field.

Leg #2 - Phil ran the first of his two legs, as he would do #11 later that night. Knowing it was the first of two, he didn't give it 100%, but put in enough of an effort to staying within sight of some women he followed throughout the race (imagine that!). I believe this is Phil's 18th Cabot Trail, and his 5:14/km pace was nothing to sneeze at.

Leg #3 - The first leg of two legs by our Nova Scotian recruit Darren, and the first leg where I saw our runner start. Darren ran leg #4 for us last year, and this year requested legs #3 and #7. His running seems to be in peak form, and he did great in both legs. Here is the picture of the runners beginning this leg, including the speedy Sheri Piers, in the traditional tutu of the Maine Road Hags all-women team. Once again this year, they broke their own record for the finishing time by a women's team.

Leg #4 - Norm asked for Smokey last year. As the saying goes "Be careful what you wish for". The wind picked up just in time for this leg, and it was also the hottest time of the day. I know Norm was hoping for a better performance, but we were all proud of him, and he left nothing behind in terms of effort. He was dead tired as he finished. Here's a picture of him as he crested the mountain, getting a drink of water.

Leg #5 - Some background is needed here. Larry, Pierre and I were in Tim Horton's waiting to order coffee, when we were approached by a gregarious woman asking if we had a free leg she could take on. Larry inquired about her master's status, and then he couldn't wipe the smile off his face as he gave her one of the two legs he planned on running. Flash forward to the leg itself, and if you found the happiest, cheeriest woman running that leg, it was our new team member Connie from Moncton. We saw her a few more times over the weekend, and her great attitude was always there. She's promised to be with us again next year, and we couldn't be happier about it.

Leg #6 - My leg. Well, what can I say? At least the scenery and weather were nice. It was 17.5 kms in length, or a little under 11 miles. It started off perfectly fine for the first couple of miles, and although it started to get tough, I was alright over the first 4.5 miles. As we approached the 10k point I was climbing a long hill, getting more and more tired even though my pace wasn't very fast, and I briefly walked a couple of times. That hill crested around the 11.5k mark, and I slowly ran most of it, to begin a good downhill stretch that lasted almost a mile, with a couple of small hills thrown into the mix. By the time I hit about 14k, the remainder of the run was pretty much all uphill, and I was toast. I probably walked for 30-45 seconds about half a dozen times, catching my breath. The tale of the tape: my pace for the first 9k was 5:23/km, and over the last 8.5k it was 6:01/km, for an overall pace of 5:38/km, or 9:03 per mile. Quite discouraging, but a good lesson in what I need for future training.

Leg #7 - The second leg from Darren. I didn't see his finish, but I hear Darren had a good race with another guy as they approached the end.

Leg #8 - Betty's traditional leg, and she did another good job with it. She then went on to watch her son win the next leg, as part of the record-breaking "Dennis Fairalls Grey Hair" team. This team, which was composed mostly of University of Windsor alumni (as well as a couple of legs from Rami Bardeesy, the top Canadian at the Boston Marathon) smashed the old finishing record by almost half an hour.

Leg #9 - The North Mountain leg. We watched Brian start this leg, but then Larry, Pierre, Norm and I headed to supper and a rest at the hotel in Cheticamp. I did talk to Brian yesterday during lunch, and he was pleased with how he did, considering that he wasn't able to train much for the last few weeks.

Legs #10 - #14 - I didn't see these legs run by Dale, Phil, Todd, Bernie and Maurice, as I was catching some sleep. Dale did a great job on the MacKenzie Mountain leg.

In Cheticamp, when I got up at 5:30 AM to head to Tim Horton's, I saw a support vehicle for Mark Campbell's team. It turns out that Mark didn't quite make it around the entire route on his own (see a story here), but he did finish the equivalent of five marathons, and his team completed the rest.

Leg #15 - I saw Gary finishing this one, and got this picture of him (see below). Gary's newphew was Bruce Hadley, and Gary is an organizer for another relay race, the Bruce Hadley Memorial, a fund raiser to put external defibrillators throughout the province. See details on that race here.

Leg #16 - Our captain Larry ran this leg. No, he's not sleeping as he's finishing. A veteran of 23 marathons and 17 years at the Cabot Trail, Larry still has the competitive fire burning, as evidenced by the finishing race he had to the end with the woman in this picture.

Leg #17 - Doing his second leg, Pierre finished in fine style. Here's a good picture of him with just meters to go until the end.

It must have been a good weekend, as it ended with many guys talking about which legs they will do next year. I can't wait to return.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Boyden Lake II - The Sequel !

While spending the long weekend on Campobello, I got in a bit of golf - and so did Cameron! Cam is in real trouble if he's getting advice from me, especially while swinging a club having a shaft far too long for him!

Another highlight of the weekend was meeting Andrew and Mike Saturday morning for a run. We did the 12-mile Boyden Lake loop. It was a very enjoyable run, in perfect weather. I found this run much easier than my previous Boyden experience, when I did my first ever 20-mile run. Don't believe those who say that sequels are never as good as the original!

Andrew's on the mend from an achilles/calf injury, but survived the run feeling good. As for Mike, he is on a "beer-free" recovery from his latest dental surgery, but his running is in fine shape. It was a quiet morning, with dogs scattered along the route every few hundred yards. Speaking of dogs/beer/health (what an awful segue!), check out this link supposedly showing that Guinness beer really is "good for you". It must be true, considering they tested the theory on dogs with narrow arteries!

My running week ended with 36 miles, including the 12 mile Boyden run, 7.5 somewhat hilly miles yesterday, and a pretty tough run Wednesday that included some 6-minute intervals at 5k pace. Wednesday a few of my teammates and I got together to discuss the Cabot Trail Relay. I am currently scheduled to run leg 6, which has a difficulty rating of 4.5 out of 5. It's 17.5 kilometers in length, and here is how the website describes it:

"The scenery on this seacoast run will captivate you despite a couple of long challenging hills. This leg climbs to the finish at Cabot High School on the right. Elevation 90m. Be prepared for strong coastal breezes."

We'll see just how "captivated" I will be while running those hills! I'm looking forward to the weekend.

Finally, a couple of short congratulatory notes. My cousin Emily kicked butt in the half-marathon event of the Bluenose Marathon weekend in Halifax, finishing with a chip time of 1:36:53.9. That gives her a qualifying time into the New York City marathon - by 6 seconds! Results here. This is the second time she has qualified for it. Also, my friend Mark from Halifax completed his first marathon, gutting it out to finish in 4:27:25 (results here). He let me know that some recent health issues and the Halifax hills haunted him at the end. Considering the circumstances and the fact that he hasn't been doing the "long distance thing" for very long, I think he did quite well.

Next week ... pictures and stories from the Cabot Trail Relay!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Filler Week

I ran 33.5 miles this week, including a great 14-mile run today at a pace just under 9 minutes per mile. The run felt nice and easy, on a nice coolish morning. Next weekend is a long weekend, and we're heading to Campobello, where I plan to do a 15-mile long run Sunday, the last long run before heading to the Cabot Trail Relay over the last weekend in May.

My latest training plan has me doing two speed sessions per week. However, I skipped one this week that I was planning to do on Wednesday, as I felt a bit of pain in my foot while I was starting out. I'm not too worried about it, but I have started icing it a bit. It was probably just some after-effects from the half marathon last weekend. I did get in a speed session Friday, running five 1k intervals at 5k pace, and it felt alright when I was done.

Just a few more quick notes. The folks from the Mount Desert Island marathon have said that there are less than 200 spots left in the marathon before it sells out - capped at 1000 participants, I think. It looks like it will be full before the end of June, I'm guessing.

Faith Ann is getting back into the running spirit, and has said she might sign up for the 5k or 10k race at the Miramichi Rock'n'Run, when I run the half there in July. Also, she is thinking about running a half marathon in the fall, and is considering running the half marathon component of the Maine Marathon on October 3rd, in Portland, Maine. That's just two weeks before my full marathon, but if she does decide to run it, I will probably also do the half, but not race it. If there was a 5k or 10k race in the event, I probably would have raced one of them, but I'll be good and restrain myself over the 13 miles.

Finally, the Arizona marathon has this nice video of the route on their site. I've watched the whole thing, and nary a hill to be found. Lots of multi-lane highways, and as for the scenic attractions ... well there are the camelback hills, and the warm sunshine is also quite inviting.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

2010 Fredericton Half Marathon

The 2010 edition of the Fredericton Marathon, along with the half marathon, 10k and 5k races, was held today. I did the half marathon. Here's a picture Faith Ann took as I was finishing. My chip time was actually 1:48:13, although the clock time is what you see in the photograph below. Note that I was looking for Mike, who was signed up to run the 10k today, but I think his dentist repeatedly hit him in the face with a bag of frozen nickels last week, so he didn't make it up today.

Faith Ann hasn't run in any of the three races I have completed this spring. Left to my own devices, not only am I a terrible procrastinator, but I am habitually late arriving for everything. The first two races of the spring it didn't matter: in the Lincoln 5k, Cam had a race prior to mine, so we couldn't be late. For the Grande-Digue 15k, we didn't know the area very well, so we gave ourselves plenty of time to get there. Today, it was the real Trevor coming through. As I walked up the street where the runners were lining up, I heard "Ten seconds until the start!". At that point, I started running up the street, took off my sweats, and fell in behind the crowd. I soon ran by the walkers with their walking sticks, and started weaving in and out of some of the later starters. As I was wondering what my pace was, it dawned on me that perhaps I should start my watch! All in all, I don't think it affected me too much. Maybe it even forced me to start out slowly?

The weather was touch-and-go approaching the race start, and there were some light showers as we got underway. However, the day was actually quite nice for running, as it was right around 10 degrees Celsius. A couple of pics from the beginning show the wet atmosphere at the time.

Also, the showers at the beginning fortunately ruined this somewhat embarrassing sign Faith Ann and Cam had created. However, Faith Ann tells me the sign generating lots of smiles from others looking at Cameron proudly holding the sign.

Shortly into the race, I passed Frank Kelly, and tried to make some joke about how he should try to run his age in the half-marathon. You know 71 years old, 71 minutes - get it?? Somehow it doesn't translate from the golf idiom of shooting your age. While he didn't finish in 1:11, I'll happily take 1:51 when I'm his age.

The course is flat as can be, with the exception of the pedestrian bridge used to cross the highway near the beginning and end of the course. I was happy with both the fairly even splits and my time, considering my recent training and where I am in the year (the "official" marathon training schedule begins next month).

A quick recap of my three races this spring shows that I'm either in tune with my pace, or I'm a case study for self-fulfilling prophecies. I've managed to almost exactly hit my predicted times in the 5k, 15k and half-marathon. So ... for my next half-marathon in July, I'm going to aggressively predict a time of 1:45:xx. I'm not throwing out any predictions for the Cabot Trail Relay (of which I'm now running leg #6) or the St. Andrews Father's Day race, since I don't know either route well enough to make that type of call.

Here's a picture from around mile eight. I'm running with Al Reardon (I think?) at this point, who was running the full marathon, and would go on to qualify for Boston, having already run it in 2009. It was my second attempt at high-fiving Cam, and this time it was a success. Around the 2k point, we tried to high-five each other but Cam's enthusiasm led to him completing an "air" high-five and missing me completely.

The traditional post-race picture with the boy -

Finally, a little humour to end this post. Check out this report on the "Half-marathon of Doom". No, it is not a report from the Fredericton half marathon.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Sun Runs

Spring is definitely here. The baseball season is in full swing, we've eaten the classic New Brunswick delicacy of fiddleheads the last couple of days, and I'm going to need to start my long runs earlier in the morning to avoid the heat. As Faith Ann knows only too well, I am a terrible procrastinator.

Today I ran 13.6 miles while the temperature was 25°C (77°F). While this is practically cold compared to what some people run in, I'm not used to it yet, and I seemed to struggle today. Check out the nice sweaty residue from my running cap.

One other (unrelated) note on the warmer weather: is it just my advancing age, or is the average skate-boarder older these days? Isn't a bicycle more efficient? Anyway ...

For the week I ran just over 36 miles/58 kilometers, with both a hill and tempo session. Next weekend it's a half marathon in Fredericton. I have also decided to sign up again this year for the half-marathon in the Miramichi in July, the Rock'n'Run. Also, staying in the " 'n " theme ...

After going to Tallahassee and Houston the last couple of years as quick winter running trips, Faith Ann and I decided to skip the trip in 2011. However, I found myself constantly looking at both scheduled marathons and airfares over the last month or two, and in a moment of weakness we ended up purchasing everything we need for yet another winter excursion in 2011. So, similar to last year, there will be thirteen weeks between my fall marathon and a winter marathon. The destination next January will be the Arizona Rock'n'Roll Marathon in Phoenix. From what I read, it's not the most scenic marathon, but it is flat, fast and warm. I promise not to complain about the training when the cold and darkness of November/December arrives later this year.

That's it for this week!

Monday, April 26, 2010

2010 Grande-Digue 15k

I ran in the Grande-Digue 15k race on Saturday (results here). The race director is Sylvio Bourque, a guy who runs more races than anyone in New Brunswick. Sylvio is known for his explosive starts at the beginning of races. I'm told that in deference to the host, the runners might have given him a couple of extra seconds at the start, so his lead was even more exaggerated than normal. Check out the picture below ...

The next picture shows me in my own classic starting position - hanging back in the crowd.

There was a nice feed of pasta after the race, some great draw prizes (none to me, unfortunately) and recognition of the various winners. All in all, a very good job by Sylvio. He did call out a need for additional volunteers for the race for next year, saying that he may not be able to hold the race if he doesn't recruit more help.

The race went through the pretty town, on what turned out to be a very nice day. The course wasn't as flat as I expected, but it was by no means hilly either - just a few gradual slopes, ending with a 1.5 km downhill, which felt great at the end of the race. My time was 1:15:27 (8:06 mins/mile, 5:02 mins/km pace), which I was fine with. Plugging this into the trusty McMillan Running calculator, it projects a 1:48 half marathon time. At my half-marathon in Fredericton in two weeks, I expect to do better than that, and definitely improve over my last half-marathon time of 1:49:15 from last July.

As for my last week in running, it totaled 35 miles. I cut back my normal long run on Sunday to just eight miles, taking a little break after the Saturday race. In addition to the race, my week included some hill work on Tuesday night.

Congratulations to Mike, who ran Big Sur on Sunday, finishing the tough course in 3:51, while taking in the sights along with photos and videos. Congratulations also go to Tina from Houston, who completed the same beautiful course.

A couple more pictures from Grande-Digue to wrap up this post ...

Me at the finish ...

Pre-race ...

The back of the crowd, at the start ...

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Beginning

I’ll start this entry with a recap of my week from a running perspective. I ran on five of the seven days, logging just over 37 miles or around 60 kilometres. That’s a decent total for me at this point. Although I haven’t yet hit the mileage levels of marathon training (that will start in about 6-8 weeks) my runs have included some quality sessions. My Tuesday run included 8 hill repeats of 90 seconds at 5k pace, and later in the week an 8 mile run that included 5 miles at half marathon pace. Even today, for my 12-mile “long run”, the last ten minutes were at a peppy pace. Peppy pace: a technical term, I’m sure, likely thrown around by guys like Daniels or Lydiard. Or perhaps not.

Next Saturday I’m running a 15k race at Grand-Digue. I’ll take a few pictures and post them along with a race recap. In the meantime, to close this post, a little historical summary of my running origin.

I started a running program in the spring of 2008, mostly because Faith Ann had also started it, and I felt guilted or shamed into doing it. It was nothing major at all, just struggling to get through the Couch to 5k running plan. I can recall how difficult I found it to jog for ten minutes, then only get a break for 3 minutes, before having to jog again for another ten minutes. After a month or two of doing this, I remember mentioning to my buddy Drew that I had started it. He tried to get me to go out running with his friend JB and him, but I didn’t think I could keep up with them, so I passed on it. (I remember Drew trying to convince me, saying "Come on, we can run shirtless! " – as if that was incentive!) I soon started doing lunchtime runs of around 4 miles with Drew. He kept me motivated to run, and it was fun. He then suggested we enter a 10k race later that summer in Woodstock. I wasn’t ready for that, but I did tell him I would do the Fall Classic 10k that September in Fredericton. We ran the route a couple of times for practice, and were all set to go. Unfortunately, Drew got sick and didn’t make the run, but Faith Ann and I did, and the running just continued from there. I ran a few more times with Drew after that, but it’s no longer a regular part of his routine. However, I’m hopeful we’ll get out together a few times this summer. I think it’s quite likely that if I hadn’t done those lunchtime runs with Drew, and had he not suggested the 10k race, my running may have gradually dried up and ended at some point that summer, as it did a couple of other times in years past when I started running. My thanks go out to Drew for the motivation has provided.

A picture of us with our boys (including Drew’s boy Max doing his best Keith Richards impersonation ) is below.