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.