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 ;-)