Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Training Jiha

While I was in New York enjoying the post-marathon celebrations with friends, Jiha asked me if I would help her train for her first marathon in the spring of 2010. I gladly accepted because this is what I plan to do more frequently.

Jiha has already built up a good mileage base and she is pretty fast from the times she has provided me. I used the FIRST training principles to inspire me to build her program which focuses on increasing her speed and also giving her time for her family, job, and other activities.

Here it is below:

I also asked Jiha if she would be so kind as to report her progress as comments on this post. Let's see how her training develops, and good luck Jiha!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Ultimate cross-training workout

A few years ago, my father-in-law lived in Chicago and we went for a visit. I had just started running and he saw how fit I had become. He was eager to show me a new machine he had bought. I had seen it before on infomercials during those late nights when I had to walk around the house for hours trying to get my daughter to burp after her late-night feeding. Anyway, I am always wary about those infomercials, but I figured if Chuck Norris endorses this product, it had to be good. So when he opened up the box and I helped him put it together (rather easily, I might add) I was anxious to take it for a test ride.

I followed the exercises on the pamphlet and quickly felt the burn in my arms, legs, and abs. This thing was really cool. And we easily folded it up to slide it under his bed afterward. During the 4 days we were there, I used it every day - it was just so simple to use and get a total body workout so quickly.

When we returned home, I thought about buying one, and have had it on my wish list ever since but we so don't have room in our house for a home gym - yet. I will be getting one as soon as we finish our renovations, however. So anyway, I was pleasantly surprised to cross paths with Total Gym recently and can't help but recommend this great product for the ultimate cross-training workout. Check out the video on the right sidebar and please let me know what your experience has been with Total Gym.

Keep on running ;-)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Training recap weeks #41 thru #44

Time to concentrate on the NYC marathon! Getting very excited. I have been somewhat delinquint on my postings so I'll try to sum up what I've been doing. The last weeks of my training plan had a reduction in distance for the long runs but not in the weekly interval sessions but I had to try to finangle my work week and weekends to resemble the plan as much as possible while making sure I got the leaves raked, and celebrated Thanksgiving and a few birthdays...

Anyway, the week starting 3 Oct, I ran 4 days in all (2 of which were 10km runs at race pace and I also did a Q2 training). The following week, I only did my 5 mile Q2 training. During week 43, I did my last long run of 14 miles and my 5 mile Q2 training and for the last days leading up to the marathon, I ran 5 miles at T-pace on the Wednesday and a 1.5 mile run at T-pace on Thursday.

My taper was complete and I was ready to drive down to New York. Next post will be a recap of my race experience in the Big Apple!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Learning to run

I have been spending a fair bit of time scouring the net for references and resources on how to learn to run properly. There are many philosophies on training structure and how to work up to and improve race performance or run faster, but surprisingly, I have found very little on actually "learning how to run" properly. Running form is fundamental to efficiency and injury prevention. This is why I have posted the videos on Chi running and the Pose technique. Which now brings me to wonder how somebody who is just wanting to take up running goes about it. The worst thing they could do is slap on a pair of shoes, head out the door and pound out a couple of miles. Don't get me wrong, they could probably do it, although chances are they will suffer, if not immediately, eventually. They will likely feel the impact on their muscles and joints in short order. If either of these likely outcomes happen, the would be runner will most probably figure running is not for them and that will be the end of it. Or, they may keep at it for a while, and develop some sort of injury and eventually give up running because it is too hard on their body. How many times have we heard people say running is bad for the knees? Did you know there is no real hard proof of this claim, but there is evidence to suggest the opposite is true...There are also studies that confirm that most knee problems are a result of injuries related to running (such as overuse) and not the act of running itself. This further supports my position that new runners need to be informed on how to run properly from the get-go in order to ensure that they don't injure themselves and also so that they could really benefit from all that long-term good running has to offer; freedom, fitness, health, longevity, release, meditation, sense of accomplishment, weight control, and on and on the list goes. So having said that, I have found one e-book by Valik Rudd that starts new runners out from the right place, the beginning. Learning the basics and then progressing. If you would like to learn more, check it out here.. And I also found this video that breaks proper form down from head to toe in an easy to understand way. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Chi running

I was searching on YouTube for a video to better understand what Chi running was all about and came across Kevin Gianni's video spot from the Renegade Health Show. I enjoyed this video because it easily explained visually some of the concepts that I had read about. I will be trying out this form on my next run so I'll post on how that turned out. I also think there is a way to combine Chi running with the Pose technique, so I will be experimenting with that too. In the meantime, check out Kevin's video and website. I think I will see what other gems I can uncover there as well.

Keep on running ;-)

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Training recap week #40

On Monday, I ran an easy 5 km. Tuesday, I stayed home from work to go to a dentist appointment and then I took advantage of the afternoon to proof the Harrier Race course. I didn't do the entire circuit but I covered 13 miles in the trails. On Thursday, I did my Q2 training which consisted of a 2-mile warmup, 5x5min T-pace intervals with 30 second rests, and a 1-mile cooldown. It was a tough workout but I am glad I did it. Friday after work, I ran the trails to mark the course for the Harrier Race, I covered about 15km in all but it just got too dark to see anything at one point, and it was raining so I called it a night. I got up early Saturday morning and covered the remaining 10km of the course to finish marking the trails. No Q1 training this week as I have done enough running to compensate.

The Harrier race was a success, the rain held off and the 40 or so participants seemed to enjoy exploring the trails. We had 8 participants for the 20km circuit, about a dozen for the 5 km and the bulk of the participants for the 10km. Most of the feedback was good, but the course marking had mixed reviews; some said it was well-marked while others didn't think so and some even lost their way. Seeing as we changed the formula this year compared to last - last year we didn't even mark the trail, but we had checkpoints to report to..we will have to see if there is a more efficient way that is also simpler for me - because I still have to put up and tear down all the course markers which is a long undertaking in and of itself.

I am disappointed with the t-shirts as well. We only sold one and I gave some away to the volunteers and to the last participants just to not be stuck with them. I don't think we'll do shirts again next year as it is that much less money for the charity if they don't sell. All told, we did raise about $1100 for the Montreal Children's hospital foundation and I want to thank NFOE architects for being a corporate sponsor, Physical Park gym for donating the shirts, the amazing Parks and Recreations staff for all their help and the Community Patrol and First Responders for making sure nobody got lost or hurt on the course. See you all next year!

Total weekly mileage : 51km

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Training recap week #39

It has not been a good week for training. I am pre-occupied by work and I am tired from working late at night. I slipped in a short run on Friday out of principle but that was it for the week.

Funny thing, after a 1-mile warm-up, I ran one mile at T-Pace and I felt tightness in my calves very quickly. It seems I hadn't fully recovered from the Army run on the weekend.

I didn't even run on the following weekend because it was my daughter's birthday party and we had a christening to attend on Sunday.

So all in all, the week was a wash :-(

As much as I was confident at the start of the week, my polar reminds me every day that the New York Marathon is just around the corner, and I am worried I will not PB it. I just need to get past the Hudson Harrier Race (for which I am the Race Director) on October 3rd, and then I can concentrate on prepping for NYC.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Training recap week #38 - and a few words about the Running Community

Recovery after Montreal was relatively painless. My calves were a bit sore on Monday but by Tuesday I was back in the gym for some cycling and stretching.
Thursday I did my Q2 training which consisted of a warm up, and 2 x 10 minutes at T-pace with a 2-minute rest in between followed by a cooldown. I didn't have time to do the prescribed 4 intervals but I felt fine - even after the marathon.

On Sunday morning I drove to Ottawa to compete in the Army have marathon. My strategy was to maintain my target race pace for the entire distance. There were so many people at the start that I couldn't get further up in the corral than the 2:10 pace bunny. I was aiming for 1:35 - so I had a lot of catching up to do. Since there were so many participants, it was hard to run fast so I stayed on the outside and ran the better part of of the first 10k on the grass. I progressed through the crowd and enjoyed reeling in the various pace bunnies one after the other. I made sure to keep a steady pace and not go out too fast. By the halfway point, I had passed the 1:55 pace bunny. It seemed to take longer to catch the others, however....Looking back, I now realize that this is because as the race progressed, the distance between the pacers spread out closer to the planned 5 minutes whereas in the earlier miles, they were likely closer together. Regardless, I reeled in the 1:50 and then the 1:45 but I was already at the 18 km mark then....I decided to take it up a notch and weaved my way through the runners all the way to the finish but could not catch the 1:40 bunny. I must have been close because my finish time (chip) was 1:40:40. I was 5 minutes off my goal but I know I had some left in the tank and I needed this performance to boost my confidence that I can run at a Boston qualifying pace again.
For the last bit of this post, I just want to write a few words about the running community. I knew one existed but the advent of social media like blogging and Facebook is really adding a new dimension to this concept. Although most of my runs are solo, I regularly blog and update my status on Facebook with posts related to my running. These posts are drawing comments from friends I didn't even know were runners and has put me in touch with new friends as well. I have also noticed that I regularly see the same people at races - and only at those races. Which is kind of bizarre given the sheer numbers of race participants. For example. what are the odds that I would cross paths with an old army buddy at three separate events? This is a really enjoyable experience as we spent these few moments together and seem to pick up the conversation as if we had just been talking not too long ago when in actual fact, a year has gone by...I also notice that runners help runners. How many times do you notice during races that total strangers will strike up a conversation while on the course, or see a stronger runner voluntarily accompany and offer support to a struggling runner? A pet peeve of mine is the race kit pick up that is not available on the morning of the race. For events that are closer to home, you don't necessarily want to show up the day before just to pick up your kit. For the Army run, I asked an aquaintance if she would mind picking up the kit for me. This type of request would probably seem out of place if we were non-runners, but as members of this community, it is perceived as a small gesture to help out a fellow runner. No big deal. So although I prefer to train solo, I know I am not alone. And as I gain experience, I am delighted to share my newfound wisdom when I am asked. There is definitely a running community out there and it is not limited to running clubs and track teams. It has become a virtual community and it possesses the great quality of selflessness and compassion. I am happy to be a part of it.

Keep on running ;-)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Training recap week #37

Monday I did my Q1 training which included 2 x 10-minute threshold intervals with a 2-minute rest in between, followed by 80 minutes of easy and then another 15 minutes of T-pace. I actually covered more ground than I expected considering the warm up and cool down and also that I based my run on duration and perception rather than speed (I didn't have my Polar footpod). Later on, I mapped my route and discovered I ran 19 miles!

On Tuesday, I rode the stationary cycle for 20 minutes, had a deep tissue massage to work out a knot in my left shoulder, and finished up with some upper body strength exercises. It felt good to be doing a variety of exercises...

Wednesday was my Q2 training. 10 minute warmup followed by 5-minute intervals with 30-second rests in between. I was supposed to do 8 intervals, but I opted take some time to stretch and also not overdo it before Sunday's marathon - that I am doing as a training run (see my wee #36 post).

I took the rest of the week easy in preparation for the Montreal marathon. On Sunday I ran the first 9 km at a leisurely pace with members of Team in Training. I then proceeded to accelerate to my target race pace and maintained it for about 24 kilometers. I felt good and strong for most of it. It was a real boost to my confidence that this training plan is paying off. For the rest of the marathon I linked up with a first time TNT participant and told her I would coach her in to the finish. She was already in the "bite me" zone at the 33 km marker, so alot of encouragement was required. I really enjoyed coaxing her along and sharing plenty of little motivational tricks along the way. We did slow down on the last stretch, but for those who know the Montreal marathon course, this is not uncommon with the long incline up Pie IX street. Nonetheless, we reeled in at least 30-40 runners in the last 9 km and that is always fun!

Total weekly mileage : 81 km

Training recap week #36

Short training week. I was pre-occupied by deliverables and working around the house. I did manage to get in 2 quality runs during the week though. Wednesday I ran 6 miles at Tempo pace and Friday I ran the mountain.

It was labour day weekend, which means I had labour to do around the house...My long run was on Monday instead (counted in next weeks totals).

Only one week before the Montreal marathon. woohoo. My strategy is to do my Q1 training during this race which is 15 miles race pace. I will sandwich this in between 5.5 mi 10 and 1 warmup and cool downs to cover the entire distance and not tax my body too much so that I can continue with my program afterward.

Total weekly mileage : 20 km

Friday, September 4, 2009

Back to School and Homeless

Yeah I know. You don't usually find these two terms in the same sentence unless you've been kicked out of your dorm or apartment. Really, for me they are unrelated, other than the fact that they are both events that occured during the same week.

This week marked the first full week of back to school routine for us and our kids. All the supplies are bought and labeled, all the shoes and clothes are labeled, the morning and evening routine are coming together, and the fatigue of the return to the rat race routine is coming back....again. We made a resolution this week that we would try a few changes to make the race a little less exhausting. I'll keep you posted on how that turns out...Part of my routine is my two runs during the week lunch hour followed by my favourite smoothie afterward. Working downtown, I see a fair bit of homeless people, begging for money, or just hanging out and sleeping just about anywhere you can imagine. Some are more aggressive than others and some are creative in their methods; One fellow sells smiles for a penny....Pretty good marketing. I wonder if he makes more than others.

After a while you come to recognize the familiar faces and sort of expect to see them day after day. You even notice when they are not there...Out of principle, I refuse to give money to beggars. It's not that I am sans coeur but rather that I don't know what they are going to do with it. Are they going to blow it on video lottery, booze, cigarettes, drugs, whatever. I don't want to encourage these things. Also, I must admit there are a few that I suspect are not even homeless at all. They seem well-dressed and groomed (and not always dressed in the same clothes). They seem able-bodied and well adjusted, which makes me wonder why aren't they working to EARN their money like I am? Is this an easy way to get some extra spending money, etc? Anyway, so my method is to offer them something when I can. For example, I regularly offer one fellow a cup of coffee on my way in to work in the morning. He seems genuinely thankful for that small gesture. On other occasions, I'll offer a McDonalds cheeseburger on my way back from the gym - which brings me to today's incident. There is one fellow I have seen for about 2 years now who always displays the same sign on a cardboard box lid; "I'm hungry, please help". After picking up my smoothie, I decided I would drop by the McDonalds and buy him a cheeseburger. As I walked by and offered him the burger, he politely declined and said he was a vegetarian...I was at a loss for words, stuffed the burger back in the little brown bag and went to my office. I have nothing against vegetarians, really. But homeless vegetarians...If this guy refuses handouts, I guess that sort of explains his sign. I always was of the opinion that beggars can't be choosers, but I guess the times they are a changing. Then again, maybe he isn't homeless at all and is part of the second cohort I wrote of earlier. Either way, he didn't get a burger, and he didn't get my money. I, on the other hand, spent 2 bucks I didn't have to, ate a cheeseburger I shouldn't have, and yet again became more suspicious of the legitimacy of our ever-present homeless situation. I guess I'll just keep my burgers to myself...

Keep on running ;-)

Friday, August 28, 2009

Training recap week #35

On Tuesday I did a core workout with Maya. I felt it in my upper abs on Wednesday, so that's good. My Q2 training on Wednesday was also a tough one. After a 2-mile warmup, I did pyramids as follows : 5 min Tpace, 1 min recovery, 10 min Tpace, 2 min rec, 15 min Tpace, 3 min recovery, 10 min Tpace, 2 min recovery. I then did a 1-mile cooldown. I did at total of 9 miles in that workout. Thursday I felt a little tightness in my calves so I did a run up and down the mountain. I concentrated on maintaining my form and pace on both the uphil and the downhill segments. My calves felt better afterward.

I was ready to go for my long run Saturday morning but thought the better of it after seeing the torrential downpour outside. Instead I spent the better part of the morning fiddling around with a "new" VCR/DVD burner. I had bought it at a discount electronics liquidator on my way home from work the day before and it just wasn't working. The VHS worked fine but DVD part kept spitting the disc back out. After speaking to the manufacturer customer help line in India - without any success, I decided to pack it up and return it to the store. It is a 30-minute drive so I made sure to fit in a few other errands at the same time. At the store, I told them the problem and they promptly raplaced the unit with another one. A fellow behind me said he had the same problem as me. I know this wasn't a great product - or place to buy electronics - but the price was right. When I got home, I plugged it in (I was much faster at this the second time around) and tossed in a VHS tape. It swallowed it up and - nothing. The unit simply froze with a cryptic message "PLS WAIT" flashing on the little screen. I tried the reset procedure the help desk suggested the first time around and nothing happened. I called the India help line again and after they finally understood that the tape was stuck inside the machine, they said to bring it back to the store. Ugh! Another half-hour drive. At the store, I was told I was the only person ever to have problems with the machine - yeah right! I said I wanted my casstte back and of course the technician doesn't work on weekends...The owner tried taking it out, without any luck. I told him I was not coming back a third time and I wanted another (better) model. He let me take the upgraded model without a fuss and I tested it right there on the spot. He said he would send me my tape when they got it out. Off I went back home again, plugged it in and everything worked fine. It was still raining but I had lost over 2 hours of my precious weekend, nonetheless.

Sunday I did my long run ; 15 miles in 2.5 hours. It was a beautiful fall morning. I spent most of that time ruminating business ideas and the upcoming Hudson Harrier Race. There seemed to be more runners on the road than usual this particular morning.

Total Weekly mileage : 49 km

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Training recap week #34

I find I'm still trying to get back into the groove of a regular routine. I skipped my cross-training session of Monday. My calves were sore from my weekend run, but I am sort of kicking myself for my lack of commitment to the cross-training because I really feel good afterward. I am pretty consistent sticking to my running regimen, though...

Tuesday was my Q2 training. Yet again, the prescribed training was much longer than my available time so I had to split it. I haven't yet found the impact of this in Jack Daniel's book but I will get around to it. I started with a 2-mile warmup and then proceeded to do 1-mile repeats at T-pace with 1 minute breaks in between. I managed 2 at my prescibed T-pace and then did two half mile repeats at that pace. I then did a mile at race pace followed by a cool down for a total of 7 miles.

I skipped my cross-training again on Wednesday because I worked through lunch so I could get home early to tidy up the house - we had painters repaint our living room today and I think we finally have the right colour (but that is the subject of a completely other type of blog, I suppose). I intended to train with Maya tonight but just didn't get around to it.

Thursday was day two of my Q2 training. I did a 2-mile wamup and then 1 mile at T-pace (only I set it at 8.8 mph instead of 9). After a one-minutes break, I did 2 half-mile repeats at T-Pace and a third at race pace. I then did a cooldown for a total of 5 miles. I found the difference from 8.8 to 9 considerable but it might also be attributed to the fact that it was my second interval training so I was already running on tired legs.

Friday I did my cross-training and felt great. After a 2-mile easy warmup I did my exercise sets and finished off with 1 mile easy running. Boy wee my legs tired! but a good tired nonetheless.

Saturday morning was my Q1 training. 2 miles Easy followed by 10 miles at race pace. Then 2 miles easy. I could not reach or maintain my race pace. I must have averaged 8:30 per mile instead. During my run I was working hard (my hard rate was high) but I couldn't figure out why I wasn't going fast....then it dawned on me, most of the route I was running was up hill! Then, as I was hitting the downhills, I didn't find my pace that fast either. Later , I mapped my route and realized I covered 15 miles, not 14 as my Polar had indicated. This means my average pace was 8 min per mile, and if I did 4 of the 14 miles at an easy pace, then the 10 (or more) miles were actually faster than that - closer to my target 7:26 race pace. I will check if this miscalibration could be due to weak batteries or maybe the fact I changed my running form...Something else to check, but at least I am not as discouraged about my run today.

Even though I was concentrating on maintaining my pace, I did think about an article I read in the local paper on Friday. It seems we have been having problems in our little town with vandals as of late. Some vandals have been damaging properties and starting fires. On three separate occasions, they have trashed stuff at one of the local golf courses and have taken the golf carts for joy rides and playing smash up derby with them on the greens. They even made bonfires by burning everything they could find. Last week, the police announced they were onto who was behind this particular rash of destruction and a few days later we found out it was a bunch of minor aged kids - it seems one of them was so drunk, he couldn't even find his scooter, so he left it on the scene...It wasn't long before the teens confessed to what they had done. So now the question is what to do with these kids? What is the most appropriate punishment? Some say make them pay for the damages, others say make sure they have a record, others say there must be a way to help these kids mend their ways...From what I understand, their parents are trying to settle out of court with the golf club - is this in the best interests of these kids? What message are we sending them? That it's ok to trash other peoples' property, mom and dad will take care of it? No, I think they should be held accountable for what they have done. Make them fix the damages and work off their debt. Now since they are students, I am assuming they will be going back to school in a couple of weeks, and also the golf course only has a few months of golfing left so there is no way these kids have enough time to work off their debt before the winter. Looks to me like they just landed themselves a job for next summer...maybe seeing the hard work that is required to make the wages to pay for what they have done is just the medecine they need....I know I'm standing on a soapbox here, but what can I say, I had plenty of time to put my thoughts around this during my run, and speaking of running, last year I had a really hard time finding volunteers for the Hudson Harrier Race. There was this one kid who was voluntold he would help out. It seems he was required to repay through community service for some wrongdoing. I must say that this kid did not seem like a trouble maker at all and I think he enjoyed helping out on race day. I certainly hope he got something out of his penance - I know it certainly helped me out to have him there. So I guess my message here is let's not shelter and isolate our kids from the consequences of their actions but rather, let's teach them the values of community and the importance of respect by making sure the punishment fits the crime. Financial settlement, out of court, may be what the "victims" need to make things right but it is not doing any favors to the kids who are misguided...

Keep on running :0-)

Total weekly mileage : 48 km

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The road taken (or not)

Okay, so this post isn't about training for marathons, or nutrition, or balance...but it is about life and choice, and I feel compelled to write about it, so here goes.

Last evening I came home from work at 7 pm and was about to sit down for dinner but my parents had already left - they were watching the kids for us yesterday. I would have wanted to have dinner with them but it seems they wanted to get home before nightfall. Seeing as Chantal and the girls had already eaten, I told Chantal that CHOM was doing movies in the park and that our friend, Kim, would be there. They could have ice cream and I could get some free hotdogs, or we could just ask Kim to come to our house.

We called Kim to see if she would drop by our place before or after the flic...Kim said she would drop by on her way if she had time (she had to be at the opening at 8 pm), and asked me for directions to the park. I joked that it wasn't necessary if she was coming to our house first but then I gave her the directions to Thompson Park. We were not really inclined to go to the show which is why we wanted Kim to drop by. It was almost the girls' bedtime, they were already bathed and in their PJs, Chantal and the girls were planning to drive up north early the next morning, and she was tired too. As we waited for Kim to arrive, we got the girls dressed. Soon enough, it was ten to eight and Kim still hadn't shown up...I called her husband to see if he had her cell phone number so we could find out where she was and then we tried reaching her. No answer on her cell. We figured she was running late. A moments hesitation - should we go or not? Seeing as we wanted to see Kim and her beautiful daughter, we decided to head out to the park. A decision; a path taken.

We told our girls we were going for only a few minutes to say hi and maybe have an ice cream. As we were about to head out, Chantal tripped and banged her knee on the stairs - she saw stars. Another moment of hesitation, should we go or not. Forget icing the knee; let's go. Another decision (maybe a sign too), a path taken.

I had unlocked the front door with my keys in anticipation of Kim's arrival, and they were still in the deadbolt, so I grabbed Chantal's SUV keys and put the girls in their car seats. Normally we don't take the SUV for short jaunts because it is brand new and we don't want to use it if we don't have to. My car is older and we don't care about putting mileage on it. Once again, a small decision - a path taken.

We drove to Thompson park and found kids playing soccer games - no Movies in the Park. Must be at another park...While we were in the parking lot, we put CHOM 97.7 fm on the radio and caught the tail end of the spot publicising the event - I was sure I heard Thompson but it was impossible. Maybe it was at Benson Park..As we were driving back toward town, we saw a sign saying it was at St-Thomas Park. Thompson - St-Thomas ; they sound almost the same. Then it dawned on me that I had given directions to Kim on how to get to Thompson Park! I hope she saw the sign too...

We arrived at the (right) park, found a spot near the public pool, and walked directly over to Ted and Bad Pete to ask them if Kim had shown up...nope. They had tried reaching her on her cell too but there was no answer. I didn't have her cell number programmed on my phone so I called her husband at home to see if maybe she had called him...nope. I told him I would continue to look around for her. I left Chantal and the girls to get an ice cream while I headed back to the car to retrace our steps and maybe find Kim driving around Hudson. Decision. and path.

No luck. By the time I got back to St-Thomas park, it was dark and the movie had started. I couldn't find Chantal and the girls, nor Ted, and not even Bad Pete. As I was walking, I noticed another CHOM rep and asked she had heard from Kim yet. She confirmed that Kim had gotten lost and had gone back home. I asked if she had seen Chantal and the girls and she said she hadn't. While we were speaking my phone beeped - I had a message. It was Chantal saying she was at the corner store trying to find me...ugh! I headed back to the SUV to meet up with her. When I got to the car, I noticed a scratch and dent on the door...of our brand new SUV...that we are so careful to drive and protect...double ugh!

As I pulled out, I picked up Chantal and the girls and explained what had happened and that our new car was scratched. This is when we began our "what if we hadn't...." discussion. In the space of less than an hour, a series of small decisions, each led to a new path taken, and eventually to a total bust of an evening. Some may say that we should have heeded the "signs" (girls already in their PJs, falling in the stairs, keys in the door, wrong park) to have not gone or simply turned back. But I am saying first hand that you can only recognize these things as signs after the fact. In the moment, they are unrelated circumstances and outcomes. So the question then is why do we take these paths? We have to live with our decisions and not try to revisit them after the fact with "woulda, coulda, shoulda". What is done is done. There will be other paths to take, and other outcomes soon enough. Seize the moment, and sometimes the outcomes will be positive and sometimes the outcomes will not. That's all there is to it. No sense dwelling on the past, right?

Then again, had we not left - Kim did in fact drop by our house and we would have probably discovered that it was at St-Thomas Park. She would have made it to the park and maybe, just maybe, our new car wouldn't have gotten scratched....But then again, a whole new series of paths and decisions would have unfolded, so who really knows how things would have ended up.

Keep on running ;-)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Training recap week #33

Back from holidays and back to the routine. I was too caught up catching up with work on Monday to do my cross-training. Tuesday I did my Q2 training (that just happened to go up a notch in intensity). There was an extreme storm watch so I decided to stick indoors. My training was to be 2 miles warmup followed by 4 intervals of 10 minutes at threshold pace with 2-minute rests in between and then a 2-mile easy cool down. I managed the first two intervals and took a 4-minute recovery in between, but I only had an hour for my training so I couldn't do the other 2 intervals. This was a very hard training and I am not sure I could have done the other two intervals anyway...I will try it again on Thursday. I realize that splitting my Q2 training into 2 sessions probably doesn't have the same benefit as doing it all in one shot but I am pretty confident that it still has some benefit. I will research this a bit more to find out...

Wednesday was cross-training day. 2-mile warmup, embedded circuit training, 1-mile cool down. I did some additional exercises in the circuit as well; weighted lunges and squats. By the end I was tired. The cool down mile run was definitely on fatigued legs but I was invigorated and felt like I accomplished something.

Thursday I did the remaning portion of my Q2 training only this time I followed the prescribed 2-minutes rests in between intervals. After work I headed off to Mont Tremblant for an early weekend!

Saturday I did my Q1 training. It was a long run intermixed with threshold workbouts throughout. After a warmup of 2 miles, I did 4 intervals of 5 minutes at threshold pace with 1-minute rests in between. Then it was one hour easy and 20 minutes at T-pace. I finished off with about 2 miles Easy and a couple of hill sprints. During the easy portion of the run I met up with Connie (one of the moms from the daycare). She was running with one of her friends so I jogged with them for a while until my threshold workbout started again. It was a glorious morning for a run but we could feel that the heat was coming fast. I was glad I was on the back end of my out-and-back.

Total weekly mileage : 51 km

Training recap week #32

My training week on vacation was mostly filled with interval hill training, strength training in the weight room, hikes, and running in the pool.

Wednesday morning I did my Q2 training on the hills but only for 30 minutes. I was sucking wind on those hills! This was followed by 30 minutes in the gym.

On Saturday morning I ran to the top of Smugglers' Notch to watch the sun rise! I was a difficult run and I had to take 60-second walk breaks every five minutes or so, but I made it to the summit in 18 minutes. There were some extremely steep pitches to negotiate so I timed my walks accordingly. I only saw 2 other people on the hill that morning and they were walking up. After taking in the view and the peacefulness of the morning, I ran back down. It was extremely technical and I had to be very careful to maintain control. I also concentrated on keeping the Pose as much as possible. It took only about 9 minutes to reach my initial starting point!

Total weekly mileage: 8 km! (running only)

Training recap week #31

This was not a good training week for me. I had a lot of work and stuff to get done befor summer vacation. I still managed to get in a couple of good quality runs though.

On Tuesday, I did my Q2 training which was a 2-mile warm up followed by intervals of 5 minutes Hard with 3 minutes recoveries in between for a total of 10km. It was tough!

On Sunday morning, I was in Smugglers' Notch Vermont and enjoyed my run on the mountain. I ran for 45 minutes exploring the trails and basically did a recconaissance of the resort and surrounding trails. I was ascending one trail when I came across a sign warning of Black Bear presence and their habits. It said they liked to eat wild berries and stick to wooded areas. I looked around and saw plenty of berry bushes around me...that and the fact that it was sunrise and I was the only soul on the trail made me decide to turn around and head back toward civilization. I didn't see a bear, but I didn't want to either!

On the way back to our condo, I ducked into a more dense trail that skirted around the golf driving range. I saw plenty of stray balls and remnants of teen drinking parties in those woods. I plodded on but the forest got denser and denser and the trail eventually fizzled out to nothing. I had my bearings so I continued on cross-country through the brush (I was less than half a mile from the condo) and blazed my own way. It was a blast! Keep in mind that we were staying in a mountainside condo so there was a very steep slope on my left that I would eventually have to negotiate to get to it but the brush was so dense and full of thistles that I tried to put this off as long as I could as I ascended gradually through the dense trees. I crossed creeks and streams, heard the birds singing their morning songs, felt the sun on my face through clearings every now and then and smelled the dampness and freshness of the natural beauty of northeastern forests. Finally, I decided to bite the bullet and grabbed and climbed my way out not 30 feet from our unit - not bad. But boy was I dirty! I felt like a kid again. I was all giddy and in a great mood. What a way to start a vacation!

Total weekly mileage : 17 km (but they were really fun!)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Training recap week #30

Monday - Long run (2 hours) on the mountain. I felt the pain in my knee come back when I ran the downhill parts. The taping helps but it does not completely rectify the problem. I did this run without my orthodics and found I was pretty steady and comfortable. It was a gorgeous day and there were many people out enjoying the weather. We have not been very lucky with the weather so far this summer and it seems like when it is nice, there is an exodus from the downtown buildings to the out-of-doors. I can't imagine what it would be like to be deprived of the sun for weeks on end...

Tuesday - It's time I come clean. I have been secretly working out in my basement with Maya for the past 6 weeks. Who is Maya you ask? and what is she doing in my basement? Maya is the avatar personal trainer in Ubisoft's My Fitness Coach. She has been teaching me some aerobic and yoga moves. Can you believe it? Me....doing aerobics? Yes....not in public, though. Not now, and probably not ever, but I have been using this Wii game to complement my running and cross-training. Maya has analysed my fitness and determined I need to work on my upper body strength. She has custom designed workout routines for me that incorporate a warmup, targetted exercises, and a cool down in the duration and frequency of my choosing. Most of the time I choose among flexibility, core, yoga, or strength training as the focus of my workouts. I find it very cool to actually see her doing the moves, asking for my feedback, and also introducing complexity and diffuculty as I get better at it. Contrary to DVD workouts, this is fully customizable so there is a lot of variety and it stays interesting - I always wonder what is coming next...Anyway, I am getting better at the yoga and aerobic moves and I seem to be progressing according to Maya's fitness test results (not sure if it's attributed to this or the embedded circuit training) but it adds variety to my routine which is always a good thing!

Wednesday I did my Q2 training which was the same as the week before. Thursday I worked out with Maya and Friday I did my hill training on the mountain. It seems the weather has been very cooporative for Friday runs so I have greatly enjoyed them thus far.

Saturday morning I did my Q1 training. I was out the door at 6 am and ready for my hybrid hard/long run this week. I taped my knee felt well rested. After my 2 mile warmup, I noticed my tape job started to loosen. I had forgotten to apply the adhesive spray beforehand so my sweat was making the tape lose its adhesion. By the end of my first 10-minute interval at threshold pace, it was no longer sticking at all on the anterior part of my knee. The second interval came fast and then I had one hour of easy pace running left. My knee felt strange a few times and I had to do exagerated movements to get the kinks out on more than one occasion. I also took one-minute walk breaks a couple of times. That seemed to do the trick. For the last kilometer I did some strides on the uphills and then I did 10 x10-second hill sprints on the steep incline near my house. I finished off with some strides and stretched once I got home.

On Sunday, I took a 2-hour walk with my daughters in the double jogger in the trails of Hudson. The storms of the last couple of weeks really did a lot of damage to our network. The flash floods even washed out one of the bridges. I hope it gets repaired soon because that is one of the routes I planned for the Harrier race in the fall.

Total weekly mileage : 53 km

Monday, July 13, 2009

Training recap week #29

Well I can safely say that my threshold intervals during my long run on Sunday were at the appropriate pace. I am feeling the lactate acid in my hamstrings today (Monday)! Rather than run, I did 30 minutes of stationary bike and stretched today. Tuesday, I had my appointment for a gait analysis. Funny thing, it appears my stride is more balanced and natural without my orthodic. I will experiment running without one to see if the pain in the knee remains...

I also found some stretches for my calves using the PNF technique. Seeing as I am still sore 2 days after my Q1 training, I will try these as well.

On Wednesday, I tried the PNF stretches a few times throughout the day. It really seems to get a deep stetch so I will continue this for sure. I did my Q2 training today as well - without my orthotic. I started out with a simple progressive warmup and I felt great. After ten minutes I did my first of 4 intervals of .75 miles at Interval pace (I should be running at 6:12 but I was content with 6:19). I felt smooth and was able to maintain my Pose form. By the end of each interval, I was ready for my 4-minute recovery, though.

Thursday, I did some embedded circuit training and Pose drills and Friday I ran the mountain to get my hill training in for the week.

I didn't run on the weekend. I was ready to go on Saturday morning and realized I didn't have my knee support nor the tape. I figured it would not be a good idea to run without it just yet so I did a 45 minute cross-training session instead comprised of stretching and free weights. I took advantage of the extra time to complete chores around the house and play with my kids.

Total weekly mileage: 31 km

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Training recap week #28

Monday I did some embedded circuit training and upped a few of the weights from the previous week. I did pose exercises to keep my heart rate up in between sets. Tuesday was my Q2 intervals: I couldn't do the prescribed 6 x 4 min. hard with 3 min. recoveries in between and still maintain the Pose technique. I set the treadmill at just slower than threshold pace and couldn't do more than 2 complete intervals . The third and fourth, I could only do quarter-mile intervals so for the fifth I brought the speed down a notch to just a bit slower than race pace and managed to do the entire 4 minute interval.

Wednesday I did some embedded circuit training and warmed up by an easy 2 mile run. Thursday, I had my doctor's appointment to diagnose my knee and to learn the taping technique from my physiotherapist. The doc confirmed it was an overuse condition but referred me to a specialist for a gait analysis. On Friday, I tried out the taping and ran the mountain. I enjoyed my hill training segments and the taping worked great - it is much less restrictive than the neoprene support. Another advantage of the Pose technique : as I ran the trails, I was more sure-footed landing on the balls of my feet versus my heels. I have rolled my ankle on more than one occasion in the past and landing on the ball makes the likelihood of that happening very slim. I landed on a rut and found a footing rather easily - had I landed there with my heel, I know I would have rolled it.

On Sunday I did my Q1 training (2 mi Easy, 6x 6min. T-pace with one-minute recoveries, 6 mi Easy). I felt good the entire 13 mi run but again, I could not manage to run as fast as my planned T-pace and still keep the Pose method (although I covered the distance in just over 2 hours, so I am getting faster and my heart rate only peaked at 84% of max during the intervals). I was doing the intervals at about 8 min/mi. and I finished up with seven strides on the way home. Afterward, I did 15 minutes of yoga to stretch out and did some AIS stretches on my hamstrings.

Total weekly mileage : 43.5 km

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Training recap week #27

Monday I did some embedded circuit training. My knee was a little wonky from Sunday's run so rather than sandwiching the circuit between easy runs, I did 20 minutes cycle and 10 minutes rowing instead. To keep my heart rate up between exercises, I skipped rope - I am getting much better at it now. I also noticed that the reps were easier with the weights I had used in previous workouts so I made a note to increase them for the next session. Monday night I did some core exercises before going to bed early. I also received my Pose method video in the mail so I will be integrating some of the exercises in my circuit training be replacing some of the rope skipping.

Tuesday was my Q2 training: Intervals on the mountain - 4 minutes hard followed by 3 minutes easy. I did this for the entire route of 10 km.

On Wednesday (Canada day) I stayed home and worked on the property - I moved rocks around for about 2 hours. This was very good weight training and I am so glad I finally got it done!

Thursday I ran the mountain and incorporated hill training. I did 6 repeats of a quarter-mile and brought my heart rate up past 100% on more than one occasion. I also concentrated on making sure I maintained the Pose technique during this run.

Friday, I did my second session of embedded circuit training. In between each exercise, I incorporated the Pose technique exercises. As a warm up I did 2 miles at an easy pace (8 min/mi) but it was not at all easy using the Pose technique - I am still not sufficiently accustomed to it yet. For a cool down I did 2 km on the concept2 rower. Here are my circuit training sets :

Bicep curl (35 lbs DB) x 12
Tricep Kickback (20 lb DB) x 12
Incline Press (55 lb DB) x 12
Dips x 12
Bench press (55 lb DB) x 12
Lat pull down (95 lb) x 12
Single leg press (4 plates) x 15
Leg curls (75 lb) x 15

I really didn't feel much like working out today but I felt like a million bucks afterward! The Pose exercises are really hard and I felt awkward doing them. I will have to do these much more often.

Saturday was a day off and Sunday I did my Q1 run which was 20 minutes Easy, followed by 20 minutes Hard, followed by another 20 minutes Easy. Afterward I stretched for 20 minutes.

Total weekly mileage : 33 km

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Training recap week #26

On Tuesday I ran the mountain by doing 4x800 threshold intervals while on the trails. This was a bit tricky to maintain the threshold pace but it was fun to see how fast I could go on the uphills and also trying to maintain the Pose technique. I also did 2 sets of the mountain stairs (250 steps each) and then jogged back to the gym for a total of 5 miles. Wednesday was a holiday so I spent the day with the family and I tried out an Aquajogger belt in my neighbour's pool. I will find time to fit in some of these workouts over the summer and write about it a little more detail. It seems promising - coming from someone that usually floats 3 inches below the surface! Thursday was threshold tempo day. I am starting to get the Pose technique much easier now. After a one-mile warmup, I cranked the treadmill to a speed a tad slower than my calculated threshold pace and ran 3 miles (7 min/mi). I followed this with a cooldown of a half-mile at max elevation at a brisk walking pace and another half-mile of steady jog for a total of 5 miles. I am starting to enjoy how slight changes in my posture could really influence my speed. Friday, I skipped out early to tend to my sick family and Saturday was nothing but thundershowers, so I did my long run on Sunday instead. 12 miles of Pose practice. My heart rate is not as high anymore but I think I should be able to pick up the pace now. I covered the distance in 2 hours flat which means I averaged a 10 min/mi. pace. According to Jack Daniels, my Easy pace should be about 2 min/mi. slower than my race pace so I should be doing my long runs at 9:25 min/mi. I will try to pick up the pace in future long runs.

Total weekly mileage : 36 km

Monday, June 22, 2009

Training recap week #25

On Monday I did an easy run up and down the mountain. I wore my knee support and everything was good. Tuesday I did some core exercises and stretching at home. I tried running the rest of the week without any knee support. On Wednesday, I tried out the POSE method on the local track (check out my separate post), and Friday I tried this out on the treadmill to see if I could reach my regular tempo pace. This was no easy feat! I started out relatively easy and as soon as I leaned in to advance my hips and shift my center of gravity forward, I immediately accelerated right into the front of the treadmill...I then increased the incline to 2% and resumed running while concentrating on my form. After 2 minutes, I increased the speed, and then again after another 2 minutes. I was now at my race pace and it seemed manageable, but I could feel my heart was working more and I was breathing much heavier than when I ran at this pace using my old form. Another 2 minutes, and I bumped up the speed to threshold pace. I could now feel the burn in my calves as I worked furiously on the LIFT part of the technique. The funny thing is that I am used to running at 90 individual foot strikes per minute using my old form, but for some reason, maintaining the same cadence using this form seems so much more effort judging by my breathing - not my legs. I feel it is more of a cardio workout than it was previously, which makes me wonder if I am truly at the lactate acid threshold pace. I think I should be working my legs more...All told, over the 5 km distance in 26 minutes, I spent 15 minutes in HR zone 4 (between 80-89% of max HR) and reached a high HR of 160 bpm. I couldn't maintain the pace continuously so I had to take thirty-second walk breaks every five minutes. On Sunday, I did a 13.2-mile long run using the method and I found it difficult right off the bat to find a pace that was not bringing my HR up. I suppose this has to do with getting my body used to the new technique more than the actual effort. I found my Easy pace to be a tad slower than my regular form and I had to consciously think about pushing my hips forward to move my center of gravity and accelerate. I maintained an average pace of 10:27 min/mi. and finished the half in 2:17. My easy pace should be more in the 8-9 min/mi range. I suppose it will become easier. By the end of the run, I still felt fresh in the legs. I could feel my IT Band was irritated again though so I stretched and iced it before going to bed. I feel the fatigue in my calves, though.

Total weekly mileage : 41.1 km

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Healthy living helps everyone

I came across this presentation by chance...

Sort of makes you want to reverse the trend, n'est-ce pas?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Strike a POSE

Okay, so here is the skinny.  I have been yammering on about this knee for at least 6 weeks now.  Physiotherapy, Chiropracty, rest, cross-training, strength training, massage, stretching, taping, knee support, ice, yada yada yada.  You get it, my bad for overtraining. Now I have to pay the piper.  Right? Well, I have news for you!  I have heard about the Pose method for some time now.  I never really knew much about it so yesterday, I decided to do a little research when I came across this little claim that impact on the knees is reduced by 50% and that running injuries are reduced dramatically when this method is used.  After visiting many sites and some YouTube videos on drills to get used to the method, I finally found a site that explains the theory behind it and with video demonstrations.  

After watching this, the drill videos suddenly made sense and I had to try it out for myself.  This afternoon, I headed off to the local track and tried to remember the three principles (POSE, FALL, PULL) as I did some laps.  I didn't have my Polar with me nor was I wearing any knee support.  As soon as I started the method, I noticed how little impact I was making on my knees and legs in general.  I decided to do intervals (400m POSE, Threshold pace - at least from an exertion only perspective, followed by a 200m recovery shuffle).  I did 8 intervals and felt great! Don't get me wrong, I was working out there on the track ; working on thinking about form (head, hips, foot, arms, looking ahead, etc.);  working on the pull instead of push off; working on landing on the balls of my feet, behind the knees, working on maintaing a seemingly insane cadence; and working my heart- for sure!  But my knee was not working.  My knee was not sending my brain any signals of oncoming pain.  My knee did not feel wonky, or like it was going to give out. My knee was at peace and enjoying the ride that my feet were providing.

After this brief session of about 5km, I headed home and immediately ordered the training video to be sure I learn this method correctly.  I will undoubtedly be filming my form very soon to see if I am improving.  It is a bit of a stretch to say I am convinced after only one try but I will definitely give this method the chance to make me a more efficient and healthy runner.  Please stay tuned for more on my POSE journey and I wonder why I had to wait until now to go down this path.  Oh well, live and learn,......and keep running ;-)

Monday, June 15, 2009

Training recap week #24

Last Saturday I ran the trails in Hudson for my long run. I didn't wear my trail shoes but I should have...my nice white NB882s are no longer white. The trails were a little slick in spots as I explored the backcountry in preparation for this year's Harrier race. The black flies and mosquitos were also out and were eager to indulge whenever I slowed down. All told, I covered about 7.5 miles during this first long run and the knee held up pretty good. The knee support was a little loose so I kept fiddling with it. On Monday, I switched it for a smaller one and did an easy 5 km on the treadmill - this support was much better. Tuesday, I ran 6x800 threshold intervals with 1 min. rest in between. It was tough but I so enjoy this type of training because you can compartmentalize it into manageable workbouts. On Wednesday, I ran to the summit of Mount Royal and back down. Another test for my knee...not bad at all. I couldn't maintain the same pace throughout but I pushed myself on the ascent and must have maintained an average 9:40min/mi pace . Coming back down it was more in the 8 min/mi range. Thursday was a day off and Friday I did embedded circuit training in between two short 2 mile runs. I did not run on the weekend but rather did some strength training. All told it was a good week. I think I could take it up a notch now.

Total weekly mileage : 28 km

Monday, June 8, 2009

Training recap week #23

First full week of training. I wanted to see if I could pick up my training and not aggravate my knee. It is still sensitive if I am sitting for too long and occasionally when I go down stairs. My physiotherapist tried a taping to realign my left kneecap on Monday. On Tuesday, I took it through its paces by running 5x800 threshold intervals. It seemed to do a good job and my knee felt secure. On Wednesday I did some aerobics with no problems at all. Thursday, I ran a Tempo pace 5k but I felt the tape had lost its effectiveness. I don't want to be having to tape my knee every other day so I bought a neoprene knee support on the way home. On Friday, I ran up and down mount Royal (10km Easy pace). This is my favorite run because I can really work on the ascents and coast on the way down. The knee support was not as good as the taping was but I did feel my knee less than without it. Friday night I did some stretching. On Saturday morning I ran the trails of Hudson. I intended to run 15km but running in the trails is not as fast as on the roads so I only managed 12km in the time I had scheduled. The knee support started sliding down and was becoming a nuisance. I will try to run without one next time or find a smaller one. All told, I am definitely not 100% yet and I am only 13 weeks away from the Montreal marathon. Since I will also be running New York on November 1st (7 weeks after Montreal), I think it would be more prudent to focus my training to peak for New York and only run the half in Montreal. That way I can gradually ease my mileage back up and ensure I put all the chances on my side for a PR in New York, injury-free.

Total weekly mileage : 37.5 km

Monday, May 25, 2009

Back in the saddle again...and some embedded circuit training

Well I got the green light for a progressive return to running, so during my lunch break today, I decided I would try out the treadmill during my workout.

After 20 minutes of riding at high rpm (105-110), I was sufficiently warmed up to jump on the mill and give it a go. I started out at 5.5 mph and almost immediately felt a little discomfort on the exterior of my knee. It wasn't painful so I figured maybe it was just a kink that needed to work itself out. After 2 minutes, I increased the speed to 6.5 mph and maintained a 90 foot-strikes per minute cadence. The feeling was still there but it did not seem to impact my form in any way so I kept going. Another 2 minutes and I upped my speed to 7.5 mph (which is my Easy pace of 8 min/mile). I maintained this pace for about 2 more minutes and decided to stop because the discomfort didn't go away and I don't want to delay my recovery (which I am already finding long).

This week, I planned to start my training for the Montreal marathon which includes 2 Easy days. On these days, I will be doing embedded circuit training. This is basically completing a circuit training in between 2 short easy runs. The objective is to get the heart rate up and maintain it at a higher level while doing the total body circuit exercises (cross-training) and then finishing off with a short easy run. In between each exercise set, you maintain your HR up by doing some aerobic activity for 30 seconds - this is the recovery part!

So here is what I did today:

12 x dips (on parallel dipping bar)
30 seconds rowing
8 chinups
30 seconds jump rope
20 pushups
30 seconds rowing
12 x 30 lbs dumbbell curls
30 seconds jump rope (my shorts kept coming down so I stopped doing this)
12 x front arm raises (20 lb dumbbells)
30 seconds rowing
25 incline situps

After I was done, I jumped on the treadmill for another 5 minutes at Easy pace. I would have liked to do 2 miles, as planned but I felt the tinge again so I didn't push it. Funny thing is that the discomfort disappeared as soon as I stopped. I have a Chiro appointment and another Physio appointment next week so I'll explain my experiment to them...

As for the circuit training, I have to say I enjoyed the intensity and efficiency of it. No time wasted waiting for machines or standing around resting. This workout is all business - which is pretty well suited to a lunchtime session. I will definitely be adding some exercises and doing this again.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Stir crazy

I am planning to fully recover before resuming running. This is proving to be harder than I anticipated. While I am enjoying having more time to do other activities (like spring cleaning), I am constantly worried, as the days pass, about losing my mileage base. I know there is still something wrong with my knee but it is killing me not getting out in the spring weather and bashing out a few miles. My trail shoes are calling me and it is getting harder and harder not to acquiesce even though I know this is what's best....I am cycling and have resumed a strength training regime but it is just not enough to satisfy me....hmmm

My first physio treatment with a TENS machine and ultrasound went really well. We isolated the problem and it isn't anything too serious. Just an inflamed infrapatellar fat pad (whatever that is...). I should be good to go in a few weeks with continued treatment, icing and regular non-stressing exercise.

In the meantime, I am working on my plans for my future challenges. Montreal or Chicago in the fall? Will my ticket come up for the New York marathon lottery? What big project am I gearing up for in 2010? 2010 is a hallmark year; Olympics in Canada, 5 years since I started training for my first marathon, another chance to run in Boston, and the need to do something different. Besides, 2010 is made up of nice round numbers...So what to do? I am thinking about organizing a run around the island of Montreal - my first calculation tells me it is in the ballpark of 120km. That could be quite an undertaking...and something to work on over the next 12 months....Any takers?

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Training recap week #18

Sun 3 May - Vancouver marathon today. My race strategy is to start conservatively and build my speed every 10km. This will allow me to not go out too hard, find a groove, post a negative split and finish strong. I had a good night's sleep on Friday and Saturday, I feel like this is an A-day. I ran the first 13 km with Brent at an average 8:05 min/mile pace. This was a bit fast for Brent who was fighting a cold, he slowed down as I pulled ahead after the water station. My knee was feeling a bit tender but it was nothing to write home about - it didn't seem to slow me or alter my form. I picked up the pace but my IT band wrap started to slip and was becoming annoying as I had to snug it or pull it up every few minutes. I reached the halfway point in Stanley Park at 1:45. I have 10 minutes to make up in the second half. I am a little off my race plan. I pick up the pace going up the hill out of Stanley Park, the subsequent downhill is really doing a number on my knee. I feel myself slowing down at this point. I regroup and try to pick up the pace up Burrard street toward the bridge. I am confident I can still make up the time. I really enjoy the climb up the bridge and coast down the gradual slope on the other side. I pass my coach Norm and give him a high five on the way. He is waiting for the rest of the team. The next few kilometers are a series of false flats. My knee is starting to feel funky now. I know I am slowing down...I hear a group bearing down on me. The 3:30 pace bunny and entourage pass me and start their 10:1 walk break about 15 yards ahead of me. I continue on ahead of them with a new found motivation to not let them pass me again. I manage to keep ahead of them for the next 6 kilometers but as I near the turn under the Burrard Bridge, I feel like my knee has lost all it's strength. I know that if I continue to run, I will likely do some damage, but if I walk, I will not make up the time I need to stay on my plan. I turn to commence the ascent toward the bridge but I can no longer run. I have to just think about how I can salvage this race and not kill my knee. I decide to walk to it off for a while. I am passed by the 3:30 pace group and the by the 3:40 group as I reach to peak of the bridge. There are 2 km left. I start a shuffle down the final stretch. The cheering crowd is driving me to the finish line even though I am literally shuffling along. With about 400 metres to go, the 3:45 pace group passes me. I decide to push it and pick up the pace to finish ahead of this group. Surprisingly, with a longer stride, my knee seems to hurt less and I am able to make up some ground and finish ahead of the group. What started as a A-day, suddenly became an attempt to salvage a race. Funny how things can change. After the race, I sat in the fountain near the finish and stretched my legs. At the hotel, I took hot bath with Epsom salts.

Mon 4 May - My knee hurts today but my legs aren't too bad. I went to the pool for a swim and stretched. Then it was off to the airport for the return flight. My knee was really stiff when we arrived in Montreal.

Tue 5 May - My knee was feeling much better today but now my quads are really sore. I am sort of glad because it indicates to me that I pushed myself. I wouldn't want to think I still had some left in the tank at the finish. I did some self massage and walked alot while doing chose around the house today.

Wed 6 May - 30 minutes stationary cycle and stretching. Quads are feeling better but still sore. As luck would have it, we had to evacuate our building at work today and I had to walk down 10 flights of stairs - ouch!

Thu 7 May - 30 minutes stationary cycle and stretching. My quads are not as sore as yesterday but still tender. My knee acts up when I get up after sitting for a while. I have booked a physio appointment for next week to make sure I get to the bottom of this injury as soon as possible.

Fri 8 May - Day off. Had a couple of cold ones with supper. I felt a tinge of guilt because I didn't work out today. I will try to stick to my policy of only rewarding myself if I had worked out..Especially now that my workouts are much less calorie intense.

Sat 9 May - Worked around the yard today.

Total weekly mileage : 42.2 km

Monday, April 27, 2009

Training recap week #17

Sun 5 Apr - No run today. Worked on the garden, stretched, iced, and bought an IT band compression wrap. I will try it out tomorrow to see if it works.

Mon 6 Apr - 10 minute warmup on bike and I ran 1 mile gradually building up to race pace. I felt a little bit of soreness around my knee but my IT band is pretty loosened up now so I think it's residual inflamation. The compression wrap didn't feel too awkward. I think I might have put it too high up above my knee because I am not sure I isolated the band, really. I had one last massage therapy session before Vancouver and she really worked my legs deep tissue. I will have to maintain the new loosenes but also work more on stretching my hip flexors which are now the tighter muscles on my legs...

Tue 7 Apr - 20 minute bike and stretching.

Wed 8 Apr - 20 minute rowing and stretching.  I also did some core exercises and some flys.

Thu 9 Apr - No workout today.

Fri 10 Apr - Travel to Vancouver.  I went to the pool and gym to stretch a bit after dinner.

Sat 11 Apr - Went to the pool before breakfast to relax my muscles a bit.  I feel confident for tomorrow.

Total weekly mileage : 0 km (I am not counting my run test)

Friday, April 24, 2009

2009 Boston Marathon

My first Boston marathon experience.....So where do I start? I guess from the beginning...The athletes village in Hopkinton. After an enjoyable busride from Boston Commons, I arrived in the village at around 7:45 a.m. and took in the sites. It was a chilly morning, but I had chosen an old polar fleece-lined jacket as a throwaway, so I was pretty cosy as I walked around. To put things in perspective, the field was capped at 25,000 participants but I did see bib numbers in the 27k range so we could assume the field was larger than the publicized cap. This means that there were probably this many people roaming around the athlete's village today. This is five times the population of my home town of Hudson!

After a banana and a bagel, I wandered around the various demo tents in search of a coffee. I finally found what seemed to be the only coffee line at the far end of the village. It was a huge line-up and nobody was moving so I wandered up to the front to see what was up. The coffee hadn't arrived yet so I decided I would continue exploring and come back later. Music was playing on the loudspeakers and an MC was keeping the folks entertained and making public service announcements. I tried to find the other Team in Training runnners from Montreal but it was an exercise in futility. After I had been around the village a couple of times, I picked up a cup of joe (the line was much smaller now) and decided to find a piece of real-estate of my own when I heard an announcement that Brian was looking for Isabelle. I figured there was a good chance these might be the TNT folks from Montreal so I made my way back toward the MC behind the Hopkinton sign pictured above. I recognized Theresa (a TNT virtual team coach I met at the Disney marathon last year), spoke to her for a few minutes, wished her luck, and continued on in search of Brian and Isabelle.

After milling around the sign for a few minutes, I finally spotted Norm and Brian, our two coaches. They hadn't found any other team members either so we decided to claim our turf near the MC, just in case. By now it was closer to 8:45 so I decided to head to the porta potty lines before they got too long. I headed straight to the ones I spotted with the smallest lines during my initial walk-around. I was about 6th in line so it went pretty quickly. Afterward, I headed back to our spot and crossed a fellow with an armful of white gloves. I had heard on the PA that Hewlett Packard was giving away free gloves so I asked him for a pair. I didn't realize until later that he wasn't even an HP rep - I think he was part of a delegation of Japanese runners here for the marathon. Anyway, he gladly gave me a pair and gave me a quick bow when I said thanks - that's when I realized it...oh well, nice man. I got back to our spot and asked Norm and Brian if they wanted a pair. I had seen the rep on my way, so I headed back and grabbed a few pairs for them as well. People were flocking around there like seagulls in an Orange Julep parking lot. By the time I got back, it was time to start my pre-race routine of getting dressed and relaxing before the start. Although I was registered for the first wave start, I decided to run in the second wave with my buddy PJ, seeing as I was planning to take it slow anyway. It wasn't long before they were calling for the wave 1 runners to drop off their bags and make their way to the start. I decided to scope out the gear check area and noticed the VIP area (this is where PJ would be) and PJ just happened to be standing there so we arranged to meet back at that spot at 10:15 since Wave 2 started a half-hour after wave 1. As the start was announced, a couple of F-14 Tomcats did a fly by. This reminded me of my Army Forward Air Controller days and also that the sight and sounds of supersonic jets never gets boring.

Afterward, I headed over to the gear-check busses and dropped off my bag. I went back to wish Norm and Brian a good run and soon enough 10:15 rolled around. It was still pretty chilly so I kept my jacket over a throw-away sweatshirt. Underneath, I had a short sleeved technical shirt, arm-warmers and gloves. I met up with PJ and the rest of the Florida Marlins crew, and we walked over to the start. It was literally a sea of people overtaking the main strip of Hopkinton. I snapped a couple pics in both directions with my arms extended just to get a perspective of what 13+ thousand people looks like. Then we heard someone say we were off, well sort of. We kind of walked for a good 10 minutes and I don't even remember noticing the start line. I started my Polar and lost the jacket as soon as we started a slow jog. There were all kinds of people lined along the start collecting the throw-away clothing for charity. I knw clothes is collected and given to charity in many marathons, but I have never seen people actually collecting the stuff during the race. Definitely well organized.

Here we are among the second wave starters

We restrained ourselves from going too fast despite the crowd of runners as far as the eye can see. It wasn't long before we entered Ashland and settled into a rhythm among the other runners. By now, the Marlins crew had spread out and I found myself running with PJ and Joel Silverman. We were keeping about the same pace and were pretty much chatting while we shuffled along. Up to now (mile 4) it was pretty much down hill the whole way. We started ascending a little slope on our way to Framingham. Joel, now living in (flat) Florida asked me if this was considered a "hill"...this was the first of many times he would ask over the course of the next 5 hours.

As PJ and Joel continued on, I snapped a pic of the Framingham road sign. By the way, I was wearing a Montreal Canadiens shirt and tatoo and the Boston fans made a point to show me their loyalty - it was a hoot!

By this time we had a groove and we talked about everything under the sun. I couldn't believe the amount of people all along the route just out to support the runners. As we entered Wellesley at about mile 12 and we could hear the cheering from the "college" a mile down the road.

Wellesley college. Hard to imagine this if you haven't seen it for yourself...

Not long after Wellesley (which is actually a pretty big town) we entered Newton and began to anticipate the four famous Newton hills. I exchanged a few "pleasantries" again with some Bruins fans and stopped to pee in a porta potty right by the turn at the Newton Fire station. I then had to catch back up to PJ and Silver who had a good 5 minutes on me.

Here is PJ looking pretty comfortable ascending one of the hills in Newton.

Heartbreak hill. The last one and not all that bad after all. Heartbreak hill was a bit of a disappointment - I had heard and read so much about it that I imagined this long and steep monstrosity. We easily ascended the slope and I turned around to snap a pic of our achievement noting that it was pretty much downhill from here on in. That's when I noticed how many people were actually walking up the hill. I guess my hill training paid off...

We had to put the brakes on a bit on some of these downhills. Even after 4 hours, the spectators were still out there. It was a real party with barbecues, beer, sandwiches, popsicles. I certainly felt like stopping to enjoy the hospitality on more than one occasion.

As we entered Brookline, it was PJ's turn to stop for a pee so Joel and I carried on. Joel had never run this far before but he was strong and confident. We kept a steady pace as we could feel the anticipation of the finish only a few miles away. I was concerned about PJ catching back up to us, though.

At Kenmore square, there were only a couple of miles to go so I told Joel to continue on as I waited to make sure PJ was okay. It seemed like forever before he came along. As I waited on the side of the road, a couple of people asked if I was okay. I said I was waiting for someone, but I did feel a little wierd just standing there on the sidelines. I decided to stretch a little and have some water. Now that I think about it, I should have taken another picture.... Finally there he was, so we picked it up and discussed in how much time we would finish. As people cheered us on on Commonwealth avenue, I could feel and hear another runner huffing to catch up to us and then fading off. I turned around to see an older man struggling as he asked me in what time we planned to finish. I looked at my watch and told him we could finish in 5 hours flat if we picked up the pace a little. He said that would be great, so I did some quick math and determined our pace for the next mile and a half. As I picked it up, PJ said to go on ahead, he was fine to finish.

The gentleman couldn't keep the pace very long and we had to take 10-second walk breaks every couple of minutes. I coaxed him along under the underpass (on Hereford, I think) and then we could hear the roar of the crowd on Boylston. As we turned the corner and saw the finish down the block, I spotted my nephew's girlfriend, Brittany, who told me Chantal and the girls were across the street. I waved to them and told them I would be coming back for PJ in a few minutes.

The final turn as I wave to my family with my new friend chugging along to finish in 5 hours.

The finish line!

At the finish, I turned around without crossing the line and headed back up Boylston to meet up with PJ. We then crossed the finish line together a few minutes later.


Me and my biggest fans!

After the race, I realized how much of a toll running so slow, and for so long, this race has taken on my legs and especially my knee. My left knee felt as though it had no strength and I hobbled to the restaurant for a well deserved steak and beer.

Despite this setback, the entire Boston marathon experience has been, bar none, the best marathon I have ever experienced. The organization was spectacular, the sheer magnitude of the event is unimaginable, and the support of the local "fans" for all the runners, is such an inspiration. I can't wait to do it again. Now that I have experienced it as a "tourist", next time, I want to see how well I can do on this fabled course. So, until next time, keep on running! ;0)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Training recap week #16

Sun 19 Apr - No run today. Walked around town a bit, went to the aquarium with the girls and then thepre-race pasta dinner.

Mon 20 Apr - Boston marathon! see my separate post describing this wonderful event. What an experience!

Tue 21 Apr - No run today. My knee is still feeling funky. Other than that, I have no soreness or fatigue.

Wed 22 Apr - No running. Pain is isolated to the IT Band around the knee. I iced and stretched tonight.

Thu 23 Apr - 10 minutes warm up on bike followed by a 5-minute run test on the treadmill gradually increasing my speed to race pace. I could not sustain the tempo without losing my form from the pain. I stretched afterward and headed over to my massage therapy appointment. Much better afterward, she really worked the IT band and surrounding muscles. I am pretty sure this is the source of the discomfort. I will probably continue an ice and stretching regimen every night with cycling instead of running until the Vancouver marathon to make sure all systems are go.

Fri 24 Apr - 20 minutes on bike followed by 30 minutes core exercises and stretching. The knee is feeling much better. It was sore this morning (from the massage, I suppose) but after the bike, I felt I could run again, but I will stay true to my recovery plan to make sure it is really 100%. I iced for about 30 minutes total before going to bed tonight as well using a three times ten minute routine and drying off in between so as not to overfreeze and wet my couch.

Sat 25 Apr - Feeling stronger today. Spent most of the afternoon raking leaves in the gorgeous sun. Got my vitamin D dose....I stretched and iced while the Penguins eliminated the Flyers - Crosby is on fire! I am anxious to see how I will feel tomorrow as I am supposed to do a long run, but I don't want to undo this progress...
Total weekly mileage : 45 km

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Training recap week #15

Sun 12 Apr - Happy Easter! We had an egg hunt for the girls and a family brunch. The pink Mumm champagne looked and smelled yummy. I wish I could have had some. After the company left, I headed out for my long run. I thoroughly enjoyed my run today and covered the 26km circuit with ease. I finished up with 5 strides up my street. Tomorrow I have the girls at home so it will have to be cross-training and stretching. Keep on running ;-)

Mon 13 Apr - Spent the day moving stuff around in preparation for a fundraiser garage sale, stretched, and finally had enough room to use my weight bench for the first time in at least 8 months! I also watched some Boston marathon videos on the web. I am psyched to get to Beantown!

Tue 14 Apr - 6 miles race pace and an hour-long sports massage! What a great prep day!

Wed 15 Apr - 6 more miles race pace. I stretched for about an hour tonight.

Thu 16 Apr - Had to stay home from work today to bring Jade to the clininc for an ear infection....Aaaargh these damn viruses are nasty this year! No run today. We also had our TNT potluck and motivation session tonight. It was nice to see the gang and also put faces to names of participants I don't know. There were many first time marathoners. I remember my anxiety before my first marathon - I didn't have the benefit of a coach back then but listening to them now makes me realize that their wisdom makes so much sense and the value of what they say is really only appreciated when you understand how hard it can be not to have their advice. Keep on running ;-)

Fri 17 Apr  - 5 km run today. I tried to keep it fun so I did a ladder starting just below race pace and increasing my speed every half mile until I reached threshold pace which I maintained for a half-mile and then back down just below race pace. I enjoyed it and afterward I had a massage therapist give me a 15 minute chair massage to work out the knot in my left shoulder. It's not really there, yet, but as a preventative measure it pays off because I know it comes around when I reach the 3-hour mark on race day.
Sat 18 Apr - Drive to Boston today. Spent a good part of the afternoon at the Sports and Fitness Expo. Bought some essential gear like RaceReady shorts and my Boston marathon jacket that I will only wear as of Monday when I have finished the marathon.
Total weekly mileage : 51 km