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

Saturday, April 11, 2009


A friend of mine sent me this video and said it reminded her of me...what a compliment!

If you have never heard of Dick Hoyt and his son Rick, you really should watch this video. Rick has cerebral palsy. He cannot talk or walk, yet his family insist on giving him an as normal life as possible. Well Rick has completed High school and is in college, but the most amazing thing is that this young man has completed over a thousand marathons and triathlons (including the Ironman several times). This is not normal, this is extraordinary! Dick has pulled, ridden and pushed his son to experiences only few of us can even imagine! It is so apparent that Dick draws his strength from his love for his son - just look at their expressions at the finish.

I am posting this here today to illustrate that we are stronger than we think. We can push ourselves to accomplish amazing things. We just need to believe we can do it and find our inspiration to do it.

Keep on running, and thanks, Sue for reminding me about team Hoyt!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Training recap week #14

Sun 5 Apr - I ran a half at race pace today. I felt good before and after. My HR stayed in a controlled range and I was not at all out of breath. It was really fun to cruise at this speed all the way to Vaudreuil-sur-le-Lac and to pass other runners and walkers - it was gorgeous out so I guess it drew more people than usual to the roads in my neck of the woods. I crossed a cyclist and then a walker on my way out (mile 3 maybe) and I crossed the same cyclist again on my way back. As for the walker, I passed him at about mile 10. We have no sidewalks on this stretch of road so I went by him pretty close in order to leave room for oncoming cars. I don't think he was too pleased because he must have heard me when I was about 6 feet away and closing in and he turned his head and looked at me as if I were about to jump on his back or something. I just ran by and lifted my hand in a friendly rearward wave. I wonder what he was thinking...After that point, I had my usual 5 hills to the end of my run. I picked up the pace in order to make up some time and finish strong. Plenty of juice left in the legs and I motored to the end with ease. I had to run in a headwind for most of the second half of my run but despite that I managed a negative split by a few seconds. Although I was shooting for a time of 1:37, I actually finished in 1:41 but I am happy with that considering the wind and hilly conditions of my route.

Mon 6 Apr - no run today. I switched out one of my older pair of shoes for my weekday runs to bring my race shoes home and have them for Boston. I have worn them for about 80 or so kilometers now so I know they will be fine come race day. I will be driving to Beantown with my family so I'll probably also bring along my old shoes to wear if it is raining so that I can put on my new (dry) ones only minutes before the start and then leave the old ones for charity.

Tue 7 Apr - Funny how things change in an instant.  I was on the train on my way to work this morning and I started feeling ill by the time we passed Pointe-Claire.  I disembarked and nearly passed out on the platform.  I held on to the fence and aimed for a garbage can if I was to be sick.  After what seemed like a long time, it passed but I knew I was fighting a fever (both Chantal and ChloĆ© had a flu only days before and I suppose now it was my turn.  All I could think of was how this was going to impact my weekly training - not so much in preparation for Boston, but rather for Vancouver.  I should have run yesterday...I checked the train schedule and the next train back was more than an hour away, so I walked to find a washroom.  Believe it or not but it was actually snowing today and I didn't have a warm coat or a hat.  The treck to the McDonalds was only about 200 metres but it was windy and I felt like crap.  I finally arrived and made a b-line for the washroom - I'll spare the details...Afterward, I called the office to cancel my meetings and called Chantal to let her know I was going back home.  I then noticed that I was the only person in McDonalds under 60 (apart from the staff).  I seems that at this time of day, this is a rendez-vous point for retired folks.  Anyway, they were just drinking coffee and chatting but every once in a while someone would eat an egg  McMuffin and the smell was just too much to handle so I had to move to a table closer to the washroom, just in case.  Chantal offered to drive me home so we headed back to pick up my truck at the Vaudreuil train station.  I got home and headed right for bed - I slept for six hours!  Tonight I drank some Ultima electrolyte replenisher and kept it down.  I took a couple Motrin and kept that down too.  I can't say I caught this because of overtraining, but I am glad it happened today instead of next week.  Anyway, time to adapt and ease back into my training plan.  When I was in the army we always used to say that by the time you finish your plan, you have to adapt it when comes time to execution - and the mark of a good plan is one that can adapt.  Keep on running ;-) 

Wed 8 Apr - Still under the weather today.  Half-day at work and slept most of the afternoon.

Thu 9 Apr - Had to work today, I was a guest panelist at a healthcare conference.  Didn't have much of an appetite most of the day but I felt fine.  Thought I might go for a run in the afternoon but I started to get a headache at around 4 pm so I thought better of it.  Should be  good to go tomorrow, though.

Fri 10 Apr - Good Friday indeed!  I hit the road at around 3pm and churned out a 9-mile race pace run through the hills of Hudson.  I didn't have my Polar HRM or footpod so I am not exactly sure of my pace but I was running based on how I felt and judged my pace accordingly.  It was sort of strange at first to not be able to know my pace in an instant but after a while, I really tuned into my breathing and cadence, and I developed a rhythm that I knew was right on.  I even knew I was belly-breathing properly because I could feel the air move as my abs contracted and relaxed.  It was good to be out running again after a few days on the sidelines.  I seemed to have a spring in my step for the entire distance.  At about the 8 km mark, I was running up a 100m hill with a 15 degree slope.  There were two cyclists out for a leisurely ride that turned onto the road just ahead of me.  They weren't going fast or anything but I decided to see if I could run up the hill faster than they could ride it.  As the grade increased, I could see them slowing down.  They didn't shift down their gears so their cadence was slowing down and they worked harder for each pedal rotation.  I, on the other hand, was gaining speed.  About halfway up, I felt like a freight train.  I was concentrating on the road about 10 feet in front of me.  There was no hill, there was no crest.  There was only me and the road, and my rhythmic breathing.  I passed them with a strange feeling of satisfaction that I had beat them (even though they weren't racing against me).  And I was on a roll!  I continued up past the crest and down the other side without slowing up, took a sip of Gatorade and continued on my way. At the halfway point, I turned around and headed back. The rest of the run was pretty uneventful.  When I got home, I stretched in the basement, took a shower, and had a protein shake.  It felt good to be back.

Sat 11 Apr - no run today.  I watched some videos of the Boston marathon.  9 days  to go!

Total weekly mileage : 36 km