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Friday, October 31, 2008

The Transition Phase

I'm following Joel Friel's "Triathlete Bible" book, and so I've split my year up into periods.

The current period is "Transition".

The idea behind this period is to give your body and mind a chance to rest, before jumping back into training for the next year. It's unstructured time, you're supposed to avoid planning anything and put rest & recovery first.

This week:
  • Monday - Short run - left the stopwatch at home, and I don't know how far I went... feels weird
  • Thursday - Triathlon swim lesson
  • Saturday - Planning to go Mountain Biking
  • Sunday - Swim, and maybe run... maybe a trail run, even!
I'm enjoying having free time without having to obsess about timing every run and bike with my schedule... but at the same time I feel a bit aimless not training for something. So I'll probably do a 10 mile race in Whitby, it's in my town and gives me something to work towards, and it's short enough that it's nothing serious.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Sick as a Dog

I felt something coming on before the marathon, but over the last two days it just slammed me... fever, no energy, brutal! I even fainted last night, fell to the kitchen floor (and scared the heck out of my wife!)

Went to the doctor, it's a chest/throat infection, so I got antibiotics and hopefully am on the mend.

This is the longest I've gone without running/swimming/biking in over a year, probably longer... I hate it! Can't wait to get back to my regular routine.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Toronto Marathon - Post-race Navel-gazing

This is more for my own records than anything, but if it's any interest to you then fill your boots. :)

Chip time: 3:56:42.2
Gun time: 3:57:59.9

Place: 742/1703 (75/146 in M30-34, 601/1177 men)

21.1k: 1:51:18 (pace = 5:16/km)
30k: 2:39:36 (pace=5:19/km)
Full: 3:56:42 (pace=5:37/km

Last 21.1k: 2:04:06 (pace = 5:53/km)
Last 12.2k: 1:15:48 (pace = 6:13/km)

This is data from my watch (time for each kilometer)... not always 100% accurate due to me screwing up a few times.

1 0:05:03
2 0:05:34
3 0:04:43
4 0:04:56
5 0:06:06 (I'm not sure if 3-5 are correct)
6 0:05:05
7 0:05:25
8 0:05:15
9 0:05:25
10 0:05:09
11 0:05:24
12 0:04:49
13 0:05:03
14 0:04:59
15/16 0:10:05 (0:05:03 average)
17 0:05:31
19 0:05:08
19/20 0:10:50 (0:05:25 average)
21.1 0:06:50
22/23 0:09:08 (Not sure about 21.1 and 22/23)
24 0:05:34
25 0:05:26
26 0:06:06
27/28 0:10:56 (0:05:28)
29 0:05:22
30 0:05:48
31/32 0:11:29 (0:05:45)
33 0:06:00
34 0:05:45
35 0:06:11
36 0:05:59
37/38 0:13:14 (0:06:37)
39 0:06:52
40 0:06:57
41 0:07:05
42.2 0:07:35 (0:06:19)

The short story is that I went out too fast and paid at the end.

The longer story is that I felt great for the first half, good until 30k, bad but hanging in there until 35k, then dragged myself to the end. This is reflected in my times.

If this was a 30K race I would have been in good shape! :)

The 7:00/km near the end sounds awful, but if I run the entire Ironman marathon at that pace it will translate into a sub-5:00 marathon... giving me 12 hours to do the rest. Easy peasy! I can't imagine feeling any worse than I felt on Sunday, right? Right? Please??

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Race Report: Toronto Marathon

This was my first-ever marathon after taking up running two years ago. What a blast!

Results - 3:56:42 (742/1703 overall, 75/146 in M30-34)



I got there about an hour early, just in time to watch the 1/2 marathon start. I couldn't believe the sea of people... I clapped and cheered them on with the rest of the crowd, until I started feeling chilly.

Weather was great today, it started off around 5C or so, warmed up to to the low teens. Perfect running weather, I went with shorts and a technical T-shirt, and my cycling arm covers.

Not much to say about pre-race actually. I munched on my Cliff Bar and drank some fluids, and kind of paced around nervously. With 15 minutes to go I took my first of many gels, then with 5 to go walked to the start line.

And they're off...

I positioned myself between the 3:45 and 4:00 pace bunnies, and started to plod along. Despite the mass of people there was plenty of room so I got into a rhythm quite early and easily.

I was doing walk breaks (10 and 1's) for this race, something that I took up to help me train without injury. The first walk break was so hard to take... the crowd is there, they're cheering, and pride is telling you not to walk! But I stuck to my 10 and 1's religiously, right from the first one, so slowed for the first walk break.

Despite everything I've been told over and over, I went out too fast... I didn't feel fast, I just kept what I thought was a very comfortable pace, but I know for sure it was too fast. Only a few kilometers in I was over a minute ahead of my target pace... but every time I would try to slow down, we'd come to a downhill section and I'd just keep the legs moving with minimal effort and the speed kept coming.

I love Toronto

Before I go on with any more of my race story, I just want to say how much I love this city...

Running through beautiful neighbourhoods, past Casa Loma, St. Lawrence Market, through the downtown core, the lake front, it was just amazing. And Torontonians get a bad rap for being "cold" (by Canadian standards anyway!), but today it was as if I personally knew every one of them. The spectators would read your name off your bib and yell things like "Way to go Jonathan, just 8K to go!"... and after the race I had literally dozens of people congratulate me as I made my way home, proudly wearing my finishers medal.

Toronto the Good was out today, in full force, and I loved every minute of it!

(Except the drivers stuck in traffic... lol... should have listened to 680 News, traffic and weather on the 1's)

Half a Marathon Down, the Tough Half to Go...

I hit the halfway point at 1:52:36. That is when it really sunk in just how fast I had been going, and it was not a good thing... this was faster than my stand-alone 1/2 marathon time from February! Now granted, I'm in much better shape now, but still. I had a pretty strong suspicion this early pace was going to bite me in the butt.

I started backing off at this point, trying to get back to my original pace goals. I figured if I could just stick to them, I would crush my goal time of 4:00:00!

At this point I still felt fantastic, the energy was there, and the legs were moving easy. Nothing hurt, I felt strong.

After winding through Queens Quay, we joined the lakeshore trail section. At about 26k, making my 5:24/km goal time (and keeping it under 6:00/km on walk break kilometers) become more challenging. It was starting to feel like work, but the legs kept moving.

By the time I hit the 30k mat, I was still doing well, but my hamstrings were starting to hurt, and my energy levels had sunk noticeably...

The last 10K

Pretty much everything they say about those last 10K is true. It is where you pay the piper. And I paid!

By this point my hamstrings were sore and stiff, and my legs weren't flowing along smoothly like they had been at the start. My times started to slip, and slip... and I didn't feel like I had the energy to keep the pace I wanted. I started doing math to see what kinds of times I'd need to meet my goal, and it was still looking pretty good, so I didn't panic... instead I took extra walk breaks and just made sure I kept myself going.

Before the race, I had some delusions about dropping the walk breaks at the end (Galloway suggests this) but instead I took more of them. Humbling indeed! So in addition to my 10 and 1's, I was walking through aid stations, taking the full minute.

By the time I hit York/University to go north to Queen's Park (about 3-4k to go) I was hurting, it took everything I had just to keep my legs moving. I took one rather brutal walk break that I didn't even remember deciding to take, my legs just stopped running.

But I kept my eye on that watch... and when I hit 41k I knew I had it in the bag, I had 10 minutes left to do 1.2k! So I dug deep and kept going... the crowds were lining the streets by this point, what a rush... clapping, cheering, people calling out your name, it was surreal.

I rounded the final corner of Queen's Park and saw the finish line... then started my finishing kick. I passed a few people in that last little stretch, using up everything that I had left in me...

The Result

3:56:43! I couldn't believe it, after all that suffering at the end, I'd beaten my goal time by over 3 minutes... it felt amazing.

I'm not usually one to get too sappy about medals, but when they hung this one around my neck I felt like I had really accomplished something special. When I took up running 2 years ago as a way to keep active in the cycling off-season (winter), never in a million years did I think it would lead to running a full marathon. Being a marathoner was something that fast, fit, skinny people did... here I am two years later, and I'm fast, fit, and... well 182lbs isn't skinny, but I'm not fat! :)

Next Marathon?

Next time I run 42.2K it will be in Penticton, during Ironman Canada... oh and before I do that, I'll have swam 3.6k and biked 180k. The piper will get his pound of flesh that day I'm sure!

So my next stand-alone marathon will have to wait, probably until 2010. I can't wait, though, I have the bug.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

One day to go... Toronto Marathon

It's the day before the Toronto Marathon, and I'm excited!

I did a short 3k shake-down run at 9am this morning. The weather was pretty close to tomorrow's forecast, so it gave me a chance to test my clothing choices.

It'll be around 5C at the start, warming to 13C by the end. I went with shorts and a technical T-shirt, and my cycling arm covers (which I'll take off as it warms). It was perfect!

My only concern now is that I'm feeling the start of a cold coming on... right now it's a very mild cough, but I'm worried I'll wake up tomorrow in worse shape. I hope not! I've done rides and races in the past under the weather, so it wouldn't deter me, but I'd prefer to be 100%.

I'm making sure I keep myself well fed, snacking on carbs carbs carbs all day. Popcorn, bagels, toast, bananas, strawberries... yum. :) Spaghetti dinner planned for desert, so I should hit the start line with 100% full glycogen stores!

Sub-4:00, here I come! (I hope!)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Swimming, Olympic Gold Medalist Style

I hooked up with a triathlon group in our area who managed to find a swim coach... and no less than Olympic gold medalist (and silver and bronze), Anne Ottenbrite.

It went well, she taught us a drills and watched as we tooled around in the pool. Getting immediate feedback was great, I realized quite quickly that my balance isn't what it should be... as soon as she took our arms out of the equation, I had trouble rotating, suggesting I'm relying too much on my arms to control my body.

Having two different swim instructors is confusing, though. I'm taking weekly triathlon swimming classes, and there's a few discrepencies in technique already surfacing. I'm sure some of it comes down to style differences, but I think there may be some differences between pool and tri swimming that might be coming out.

I'll keep it up, though, see what works for me, and getting feedback is always great.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Mountain Biking and the Fall Colours

This is the time of year when I park the road bike and get in some dirt mileage.

This was a long weekend (Happy Thanksgiving, Canadians!) so I managed to find time between runs to get in a nice ride.

I ride a Gary Fisher Utopia... it's a hybrid, not a true mountain bike, but it gets the job done on the trails around my place. I biked up from my house on a series of gravel and paved roads to Walker's Woods and Glen Major, and right next to it the awesome Durham Forest, a large forested reserve north east of Toronto.

It was fantastic... the trees have turned red, gold, orange, and yellow... some fantastic views. The leaves are just starting to fall, so in a few weeks you'll get that really cool forest floor cover. There's nothing more thrilling than pounding through the forest leaves!

If you live in the Toronto area, drive up and check it out. Here is a link to where it is on Google Maps.

Next weekend: Toronto Marathon!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Preview: Toronto Marathon

The Toronto Marathon is October 19, just over a week from today.

The Race

The race starts on Yonge Street (the world's longest street!), winds its way through mid-town, then goes through the Rosedale Valley before curving through downtown Toronto. From there it's an out-and-back run along the shores of Lake Ontario before returning to downtown and finshing up at Queen's Park (the Ontario legislature).

A very cool way to see a lot of this great city!

The Preparation

This summer's focus was triathlon, so running got only 1/3 of my attention. I didn't start ramping up the miles until mid-August, so it's been quite aggressive to get to this point.

I also had a century ride (cycling) in mid-September! So that was a bit of an interruption in the run training as well.

It didn't hold me up much, though, and I managed to build up to a 32k LSD training run.

The Plan

Since I came back from my injury, I've been using a run-walk strategy. The theory is that by walking 1 minute for every 10 minutes run, you save energy and give your muscles much needed rest, which delays the offset of muscle fatigue?

Convinced? I wasn't at first, it's counter-intuitive, but now I'm a believer. It's really worked well for me, I haven't had any injuries in my ramp-up, and when I've tried it in a race (1/4 marathon) my pace was really good. I don't think it cost me any time, and I finished feeling fresh. And ultimately, my goal is Ironman, and the marathon there is certainly going to include some walking... might as well train the way I'll race.

My goal is sub-4:00. To achieve this without run-walk would be a 5:40/km pace.

With run-walk, I'll be targeting 5:24/km on the kilometers without walk breaks, and 5:52/km on the kilometers with breaks. Somehow this works out to a 3:58:00 finish.

Nutrition - I'm going to take gels with me, a 5-shot bottle, plus there are 2 gel stations along the route. I'll also take one right before the start. This gives me one every 1/2 hour, which should be plenty. I'll drink mostly water, and the occasional Gatorade. If it's hot (unlikely), I will back off the gel and have more Gatorade to compensate for lost electrolytes.

Goal Creap

Don't read this post. Please. If you do, you'll find that my goal was just to finish, and that I would be happy with 4:15:00, or worse.

Here I am a couple months later, trying to go sub-4:00:00...

I feel quite confident, though. I had a great century ride in September, and the running has been really clicking for me. I've done some quick 5Ks, and just generally feel like I have the pace.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Race Report: The Mill Five (5K)

I did this 5K today, more for fun than anything (and to encourage a friend of mine who just started running!)

It was a pretty small event, around 60 runners... they scheduled it on the same day as the Run for the Cure, which probably wasn't such a good idea.

The course was mostly paved roads through the conservation area (Bruce's Mill), really nice, lots of trees. A few hills made it a bit challenging, but nothing too serious. There was also a short loop right near the end through the woods along a trail, really beautiful in there.

I did this race with a jogging stroller, pushing my 1-year-old son. I was thinking of taking this one at a leisurely pace, but then they put the timing chip on me... so... you know... instinct sort of takes over.

My final time was 23:36, which was only a minute and change off my personal best 5k! Good enough for 10th (of 59) and 5/14 in Men under 39. I don't know how much all of that means, since there were so few people, but I'll take it! :)

Jogging strollers don't hold you up that much really, I only really noticed it up hills and in the trail section because of the rougher surface... the rest of the time I was able to keep my normal pace. Not my normal form, though, but it didn't seem to effect the result much.

Best of all - pancakes and sausage breakfast at the finish!!! Can't beat that!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Fueling for Endurance: Article

Sure, they're trying to sell you Hammer Gel, but this article goes into a lot of detail that applies to any product you're going to use while doing endurance activity.

Proper Caloric Intake During Exercise

  • Ditch the sucrose, glucose, fructose... if it ends in "ose", leave it at home
  • Fuel with complex carbs, primarily maltodextrin
  • Aim for about 250 calories from carbs an hour (or less if you're smaller than me, I'm big)
  • Add protein if you're going out longer than 90-120 mins, preferably from soy

Oh yeah, and :

  • Buy lots of Hammer products!!!

I don't know if I buy all that he's selling... I've had good experience with more of a mix of carbs, and I did my most recent century ride primarily fueling with Gatorade, gels, turkey wraps, cookies... felt great at the end, had energy throughout. Maybe I would have done better if I'd stuck to the complex carbs, who knows?

For my upcoming marathon, I'm going with a Maltodextrin-based gel. I plan to use one every 1/2 hour, giving me about 200 calories from gels each hour. I'll take mostly water from the aid stations, but will also grab the odd Gatorade to give me the 250 calories I should be aiming for. It's more or less what I've been doing in training, so I'm fairly confident it will work out.