Sunday, May 31, 2009

Week 23: Review

This week was a bit of a mixed bag weather-wise, as we had a lot of intermitant rain that interfered with my plans a bit. I managed to get my Monday and Saturday rides in without issue, but Wednesday and Thursday saw heavy rain so I had to skip those sessions. The temperature was actually pretty good this week, and on the days where I managed to avoid the rain it was actually quite pleasant out there.

Wednesday was probably the worst day, as asside from Around the Bay, the group run that night was probably the wettest one I've ever done. In addition to the torential downpour, the streets were covered in large ponds that were impossible to go around. Adding to the fun was a tidal wave that hit a couple of us as a van drove through a deep pool of water at 80km/h and soaked us from head to toe. Due to the weather, we decided to stick with a 6km route rather than the 5 miles (~8km) that I had planned - I hate to skimp on mileage, but given the weather and the fact that I'm still within my recovery period I didn't put up much of a fight ;)

Fortunately, yesterday was near perfect and I managed to get an excellent 75km ride in without any problems. The cycling group didn't end up getting together again this week, so I was on my own and elected to give a slightly longer ride a shot. The temperature was nice, so two bottles of water were more than sufficient and the winds weren't too bad. For the first 57km I managed to keep my average speed above 31km/h, but heavy traffic and a bit of a headwind on the last segment of trip dragged my average down to 30.1km/h by the time I returned home.

With respect to running, aside from the shortened Wednesday run everything else went according to plan. Friday's run was the first time back to speedwork, which felt really good after several weeks of running with the brakes on. This morning was also the first General Aerobic run (9 miles/14.5km), and I took full advantage of that with an average pace of 4:50/km despite a pretty nasty headwind in some portions of the route. My heart rates have dropped significantly over the last week or so and are beginning to approach normal levels. They aren't quite what they were before the Marathon, but they're now down to about 5bpm of that point so it shouldn't be too much longer.

On another note, I ran some reports in ProTrainer to add up my totals for a post on twitter and realized that my totals here were a bit off. I've just been manually adding the weekly totals to the year to date numbers, and must have missed a week or two along the way as they were short of the actual distance. Either way, I've replaced the YTD field with the information that ProTrainer's reports indicate but eventually I'll have to go back and figure out what I missed ;) Until I do that, just disregard those totals in previous weeks (the weekly totals are correct, just the YTD totals).

Weekly Totals:
Running: 39.8km (24.7mi)
Walking: 2.1km (1.3mi)
Cycling: 135.6km (84.3mi)
Total: 177.5km (110.3mi)

Year to Date:
Running: 1187.1km (737.6mi)
Walking: 152.5km (94.8mi)
Cycling: 1,602.8km (995.8mi)
Total: 2,421.6km (1,504.7mi)

The upcoming week looks like it's going to be a bit dodgy as well, so my plans will have to be a bit fluid to compensate for variations in the weather. With the cycling group getting back together, however, hopefully we'll be able to piece together a longer ride to make up for any mileage lost earlier in the week. That will, however, depend on how far the others are interested in going ;)

Upcoming Week:
Mon 50K Ride (probably not going to happen)
Tue 7mi (11.3K) GA
Wed 5mi (8K) Recovery
Thurs 50K Ride
Fri 8mi (12.9K) GA w/8x100m
Sat 80K (?) Group Ride
Sun 10mi (16.1K) GA

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Week 22: Review

It certainly was a good week this time around, as the recovery is coming along nicely and the weather has let me get out more on the bike than I'd planned. All of the residual pain is pretty much gone at this point, and I can freely run without any issues at this point. My heart rate is still running higher than normal, however, which is an indicator that the recovery is not entirely complete regardless of what I'm feeling ;) I'm sticking pretty much to the five week recovery plan in Pfitzinger's book, although it's certainly been difficult to keep a reign on my pace.

Weather-wise, the heat and wind have made a few of my cycling and running sessions challenging, but fortunately I made it through without any issues. It is certainly going to take some time to get the body used to the heat, as what we've been experiencing is nothing compared to what we will be getting in the coming months. With the body used to running in comfortable 10-15C weather, however, the humidity and 30+ temperatures do take their toll.

Thursday's ride was probably the most challenging, as I took an eastbound out-and-back route but the westerly winds were brutal so the ride back was pretty much a constant fight. With the wide open farmer's fields, the headwinds hit speeds near 50km/h which made me feel like I was dragging a dump truck behind me ;) Compounding this, I ended up running out of water with about 12km left, so the final part of the ride (which included some nasty hills) was even more of a challenge. I debated with myself a few times how awkward it would be to go through the drive thrus of the coffee shops along the way (can't really leave the bike unguarded outside, so going in wasn't an option), but figured that I was close enough to get home.

This weekend, however, has been beautiful for outdoor activities and I've taken advantage of it as best I could. It's been pretty warm as well, but not to the point of being hot enough to cause problems. As such, I tacked on another 12km on my long ride yesterday (making it 62km), and after my run this morning I couldn't resist taking the bike out for an easy 25km this afternoon. A 100km charity ride (Giro T.O.) was rolling through town this morning, and after running by clusters of cyclists for the duration I had lunch, grabbed the bike and went right back out ;)

In addition, I also took a couple of short and slow rides with my father who's trying to get into cycling as well. We're slowly building up his endurance, speed and grade tolerance in the subdivisions in the area, and hopefully we'll be able to do some proper rides before the summer is out. Hopefully the weather remains decent over the next little while, so we'll have some opportunities to work on that ;)

This Week:
Mon 51.7K Ride (29.9km/h) + 8.3K Easy Ride w/Dad (17.7km/h)
Tue 8.3K Recovery (footpod battery died, so had to play it by ear)
Wed 33.1K Ride (29.0km/h) + 8.1K Group Run (5:03/km)
Thurs 52.7K Ride (28.1km/h)
Fri 9.7K Recovery (5:16/km)
Sat 62.1K Ride (30.2km/h) + 10K Easy Ride w/Dad (19.4km/h)
Sun 11.3K Recovery (4:57/km) + 25.1K Ride (29.3km/h)

Weekly Totals:
Running: 37.4km (23.2mi)
Walking: 2.1km (1.3mi)
Cycling: 243.8km (151.5mi)
Total: 283.3km (176.0mi)

Year to Date:
Running: 957.8km (595.1mi)
Walking: 150.4km (93.5mi)
Cycling: 1,313.4km (816.1mi)
Total: 2,421.6km (1,504.7mi)

Due to scheduling issues our cycling group hasn't met up for the last three weeks (this week due to several people running races in Ottawa), but fortunately we should be back on track this coming Saturday with a few new people. We're talking about doing some longer rides at this point, which will be a good opportunity as it's difficult to push very far when riding on one's own. I just have to be more careful about not losing the group at times, as the further we get out the less familiar I am with the roads and how to get back on track ;) With that said, while I am a bit faster than most of the others, they generally have more experience with long range rides so hopefully things will even themselves out as we travel for longer periods.

Upcoming Week:
Mon 50K Ride
Tue 5mi (8K) Recovery
Wed 5mi (8K) Recovery
Thurs 50K Ride
Fri 7mi (11.3K) GA w/8x100m
Sat 50K Group Ride
Sun 9mi (14.5K) GA

Monday, May 18, 2009

The week after...

As noted in my previous posts, I was pretty sore after the Marathon. The cycling helped a lot on Tuesday, but the first run back on Wednesday (data) was pretty difficult as the legs were still quite tired despite the slow (5:38/km) pace. I started out with the group, but as they wanted to do 10K I elected to short turn it and do the scheduled mileage so as not to push it too hard this early after the race.

On Thursday I did another ride (data) to loosen things up which worked quite well again. I had hoped to throw in a few small hills, but the wind was brutal (gusts were approaching 60km/h) so I figured that it was safer to stay close to home. Naturally, thanks to the wind my speed was all over the place, but as on Tuesday it was a good workout and left me refreshed at the end.

I headed out for my second run on Friday morning (data), and while it started out a bit rough the legs started feeling a lot better after the first kilometer. I still took it relatively slow until the last kilometer, and then opened up to see how the legs were doing. Average pace was 5:18/km, although a lot of that was thanks to the speed added in the final stages (finished at a 3:53/km pace).

As I was feeling good, I headed in for a quick lunch and then headed back out on the bike shortly afterwards (data). As the weather was much better, I went down to the subdivision south of us that has a few smallish hills and did a few laps. Thankfully, the legs were quite comfortable for the duration of the ride and took in the hills with little trouble. I focused on powering my way uphill, and allowed myself to relax a bit on the flats and downhill segments. Average speed was 29.3km/h, although I managed to pull off a few uphill sections at a 37km/h pace.

Finally, on Sunday I did my third run (data) - a short 5 mile recovery run. Fortunately, this time out the pain was pretty much gone and the legs felt great. My heart rate was a little high for the pace, however, so I kept myself at a slowish (~5:22/km) pace and simply enjoyed the run. Thanks to this session I'm feeling a lot better about my recovery, and look forward to enjoying a few longer runs in the weeks to come.

At this point, I can comfortably climb stairs again and there are no real noticeable problems left over from the race a week ago. I'm going to try a proper ride (ie ~50km range, 80km/h roads, big hills) later this afternoon and will likely follow that with a short ride with my father (who's just getting back into cycling). Naturally, I'll be following Pfitzinger's recovery schedule religiously over the next four weeks and will try my best to take it easy (as much as that is against my nature).

Weekly Totals:
Running: 24.7km (15.3mi)
Walking: 1.0km (0.6mi)
Cycling: 92.9km (57.7mi)
Total: 118.6km (73.7mi)

Marathon Week Totals (catching up):
Running: 69.6km (43.2mi)
Walking: 1.3km (0.8mi)
Cycling: 0km (0mi)
Total: 72.2km (44.9mi)

Year to Date:
Running: 1,014.7km (630.5mi)
Walking: 150.6km (93.6mi)
Cycling: 1,162.5km (722.3mi)
Total: 2,327.8km (1,446.4mi)

The main question at this point is what to do after the recovery period. Finishing the Marathon was my long term goal, and now that that's been met I have to figure out what comes next. The natural next step would be to focus on getting my time down to 3:10:59 in order to qualify for the Boston Marathon. If I focus on that goal, my best bet would be to target the Goodlife Toronto Marathon in October and build for a 3:20 finish, then hopefully push for a BQ next spring. The timing works out quite well for this, as I'd be starting the 18 week schedule right after the fifth week of the recovery schedule.

The other option would be to focus on Triathlons, and stick to half marathons on the running front so that I have enough time for that training. I'm pretty comfortable with the bike and running bits at this point, but I have a lot to do on the swimming front and those pesky transitions will require a good deal of experience to master. Long term I'd like to eventually push towards an Ironman (which includes a Marathon, after a 2.5mi swim and 115mi bike ride), however that will take a few years and a lot more work than I've done this time around.

Either way, I have a few more weeks to figure it out and the plan doesn't necessarilly have to be one or the other. Chances are that I'll likely stick with plan A and just work some short triathlons in this year to get a bit of a taste for the sport, and worry about seriously training for it next year. Fortunately, many of the lessons inherent in the marathon will be significant for multi-sport events, as the endurance aspect is important for the length of time that larger triathlon distances consume.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


The Marathon takes a lot out of you, and my legs were pretty sore for the afternoon following the race. Once I got going I was okay (albeit with a healthy limp), but getting started was difficult and anything that required lift (sitting down, standing up, climbing/descending stairs, etc.) was extremely unpleasant. This is pretty much par for the course from everything that I've read, so I sprayed them down with cold water when I showered (chickened out of the ice bath) and rested them as much as possible.

Yesterday, things were a bit better - the all around pain was still there, but it was less significant. My quads were still quite weak, however, so going up and down the stairs was still a big ordeal. Fortunately, I work from home so I didn't have to move around too much and continued to rest them as much as possible. By the end of the day, the overall pain was significantly reduced and the weakness in the quads was really the only major impediment left.

Waking up this morning I was pretty much in the same boat. As such, I was a bit worried that I wouldn't be able to get back to running tomorrow afternoon. I was playing with the idea of riding my bike a bit to aide in recovery, but as it was my quads that were the problem I was a bit concerned about my capacity to pull that off. I continued resting it in the morning, and things improved a bit so I decided to take the bike out and simply play it by ear.

Once I got going, the discomfort disappeared and the legs felt fine. To play it safe, I stayed within the confines of my subdivision and simply did laps of the 2 mile (~3.2km) loop. This ensured that I was close to home in case anything went wrong, avoided having to deal with high speed traffic and kept me on relatively flat ground. Naturally, I started out gradually and slowly accelerated to test the waters. Aside from a few short sprints to deal with vehicular traffic, I avoided doing anything too strenuous and kept the ride relatively gentile.

After reaching the 30K mark, I did a quick cooldown and then pulled back into my driveway. I put the bike away, changed my shoes and did a full suite of stretches to take advantage of the warm muscles. Fortunately, the effect that the ride had on getting rid of the remaining discomfort appeared to persist. The quads are still a little sore when climbing stairs or sitting/standing, but I can now walk comfortably and the limp is completely gone.

Either way, this is a significant improvement and I'm feeling a lot more confident about my ability to get back into running tomorrow evening. In the space of about an hour the condition of my legs has improved more than it did over the last two days. I used this technique after my half marathon in September and it certainly helped then, but this is a much more dramatic example of it's effectiveness.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mississauga Marathon: Race Report

Quick Note: Some of the kilometer markers (especially at 10K) were pretty dodgy over this course, and as I added lap markers manually the sections below will be a little off. I'll post both the split time and my own corrected pace for each (based on the average pace on my Polar, with a correction to offset a minor calibration error).

I got up at 4:45am this morning to get prepared and head out to the Marathon site, leaving at around 5:30am. By 6:00 we got to the start and it was about 5C with a bitter north wind, so I was feeling a little concerned about my choice to run in a singlet and shorts. Fortunately, as the family came with me the car was warm and very near to the start line. I hit the washrooms then headed back and relaxed for a while. At about 6:45 I headed out again to the washrooms, and after a brief period back in the car headed down to the start line at about 7:10. At this point, the temperatures were much better and the wind had shifted to the West, but it was still pretty cold. Yumke was waiting at the 3:20-3:40 marker, so I quickly headed over there to say hello.

On the previous day he was going back and forth about whether to aim for 3:15 (what he needs to qualify for Boston) or 3:30 (to enjoy it), and elected to go for the latter. As such, I would have some company and a reliable pacer to help me along the way. This turned out to be a much bigger benefit than I'd expected, as the 3:30 pace bunny was going way faster than the pace he should have been doing (more on that later). As the start grew near, I passed off my jacket to my family and we prepared to get started. We were marshaled forward, they sang the national anthem and then the (incredibly loud) starter's pistol (canon?) signaled the start of the race.

1K 4:56 4:56/km

We shuffled forward and the 3:30 pacer got well ahead of us so we figured that we'd catch up with him after getting through traffic. Once we crossed the start line, however, it quickly became apparent that he was going much faster than he should have so we let him go and decided to handle things ourselves. We both had pace bands and running computers, so we would be able to manage things decently enough. Regardless, we did a good job of getting the first kilometer at about the right pace - probably the first time that I've ever managed that!

2K 4:54 5:02/km
3K 5:03 5:03/km
4K 4:39 4:48/km
5K 4:49 4:56/km

The next section was pretty much a straight shot down Burnhamthorpe and we were heading into the wind. Fortunately, I had warmed up significantly at this point and was feeling pretty comfortable temperature-wise. The headwind did make things a little more difficult, but this section was downhill so it didn't pose too much of a problem at this juncture. Most of the 4th kilometer was a pretty significant grade (-2%), so we opened up a bit to bank some time for the more difficult sections. Regardless, we still saw nothing of the 3:30 pacer so he must have been way ahead of us.

6K 4:58 4:55/km
7K 4:59 4:51/km
8K 4:32 4:55/km

The next segment of the run took us through the UofT Mississauga campus, and was a small downhill followed by an uphill segment. The legs were still fresh at this point, so the hills were no problem. At the 8K water station, yumke took a pit stop and instructed me to keep going. As such, for most of the eigth kilometer I was on my own but I was careful to maintain my pace so he didn't have to push it too hard to catch up to me (he's a much stronger runner, so it likely wouldn't have been a problem).

9K 4:45 4:46/km
10K 6:38 4:57/km (measured as 1,340m)

Yumke caught up to me a bit before the 9K marker, and we continued on. With the course's largest hill coming up at the 10K mark, we saved our energy a bit in preparation for the hill. Once we hit the 9K marker, we took out our Gels in preparation for the aide station at the 10K mark - taking them in as we climbed the hill.

The 10K marker was significantly out of place, and there were a few other runners who commented about it. My numbers show a distance of a little over 1.3km between the 9 and 10K markers, so this split (and the next) are a little wonky. Fortunately, it was significant enough that it was easily noticable so it wasn't a huge problem. With that said, the sign was just at the top of the hill so it's likely they simply couldn't keep it up on the grade. The spray painted markings on the pavement were more than likely in the right place, but I didn't think to check for that and based my lap marker on the sign itself.

11K 3:15 4:52/km
12K 4:55 4:50/km
13K 4:42 4:51/km
14K 4:55 4:51/km

After the hill we hit a relatively flat region, with a mild net downhill (~1.4%) which allowed us to recover quickly from the uphill segment we just finished. There were some pretty impressive homes along this segment, and a significant ammount of tree cover to keep us in the shade and protected from the wind. Near the end, we exited the residential area and begain to approach the QEW.

Near the end of the 14th kilometer, we passed under the highway so we had a small downhill and then uphill on the other side. At this point, the course was basically along a service road so the nice scenery of the last bit turned into a more industrial segment. Fortunately, once we got past the highway we were back into a residential segment.

15K 4:46 4:52/km

The next kilometer was again a nice residential area, finishing off with a right turn onto another residential street. It was at this point that the half-marathoners broke off from us, so the traffic got much better and it was easier keep our desired pace. At the same time, we moved to a much narrower segment of the road so we had to place ourselves a little more carefully.

16K 4:55 4:59/km
17K 4:57 4:59/km
18K 4:52 4:56/km
19K 5:01 4:59/km
20K 4:56 4:58/km

The nice residential section continued over the next few kilometers, with a couple of turns as we made our way along the route. We took our second Gels just before the 18K marker, but the aide station wasn't there so we drank a bit of Gatorade to wash it down. Fortunately, the station was about 500m down the road, so when we came to it we took some more water to finish off the process.

21K 4:36 4:46/km

After the 20K marker, we left the residential segment and turned onto an arterial road (Southdown). With the half marathon marker not far ahead, the wider surface to run on and a slight downhill we must have picked up the pace a bit here as we logged in a 4:46 kilometer. The chip recorded a half time of 1:43:19 which was about 1:41 ahead of schedule, but a lot of that was thanks to the hills in the first half of the race (which we wouldn't have in the second).

22K 5:07 4:53/km
23K 4:49 4:50/km
24K 4:56 4:48/km

The next segment took us down Soutdown Rd. and then turned right at the Petro Canada plant toward the turnaround point. The wide-open road had us going a little faster than we should have in retrospect, but it was still quite comfortable so we pushed on.

Near the end of the 24th kilometer, the 3:30 pacer went by us in the opposite direction. We were already going beyond the planned pace, and he was nearly a kilometer ahead of us at this point. Naturally, he didn't have very many people left with him at this point as he was pretty much on track for a 3:25 or faster finish.

25K* 5:59 4:50/km
26K* 3:58 4:56/km
* I was a bit confused as to whether the 25K marker was for the outgoing or incoming direction when we passed it, and selected the wrong option here so the splits are way off (pressed it on the way back when it should have been the way out).

At about the 25.25K mark we hit the turnaround point (an incredibly tight turn, BTW) and started heading back the way that we came. As we were switching from West to East, this changed the wind so that it was at our back and made things significantly easier. As this segment was an industrial area, there wasn't a whole lot of protection from the elements.

27K 4:47 4:50/km

The next kilometer took us off of the road and into a small lakefront park. This gave us a bit of repreive from the hard industrial area to a great view of the lake. There was a small dip as we headed to the lake and came back up to the road, but they were pretty mild so they didn't cause much of a problem.

28K 4:59 5:00/km
29K 5:02 4:58/km

Near the end of the 27th kilometer, my right quads got a little tight. They weren't posing much of a problem, but it got me a bit worried as there was still a long way to go from this point out. On yumke's advice, I changed my stride a little to give the muscles a bit of a break and it worked great - by the end of the 28th kilometer it was feeling much better.

At this point we were leaving the industrial area and re-entering another residential section of the city so the scenery got much better. This was a relatively flat section, but from my drive of the course on Friday I knew that there were some rolling hills coming up in the next bit so we took it a bit easy here.

30K 4:56 4:52/km
31K 4:57 4:57/km
32K 4:51 4:47/km

As mentioned, this section had a number of rolling hills which, while not huge, were a bit of a challenge at this point in the race. We powered through them however, slowing down a bit on the uphills but speeding up on the way down.

Just beyond the 31K marker, we passed by our pace bunny who was walking at this juncture and didn't appear to have anyone left with him. This would be the last that either of us saw of him, but we were definately glad that we didn't attempt to follow him at the start!

Once we got back on a major road (Lakeshore), we picked things up a bit and continued on our way. This was the final segment of the race, and the point where I passed into new territory as I'd never run more than 20 miles before this point. I was a bit tired from the hills in the last section, but overall I still felt pretty good.

33K 4:47 4:47/km
34K 4:58 4:51/km
35K 5:05 5:00/km

At this point, the hills in the last section began to catch up with me a bit. The right quads started acting up again, and while the trick I used earlier did help it would come back shortly afterwards. It wasn't really impacting my speed much at this point, however it was concerning me. By the 35K marker, my left leg started to feel a bit tired as well so I told yumke to take off and slowed down the pace a bit to let it recover.

36K 5:14 5:14/km

Half way through this kilometer there was a pretty big hill, and given the issues that I was having I elected to take a walking break on the uphill segment to give everything a chance to recover. It worked well, as my legs felt a lot better by the end and it also allowed my heart rate to recover a bit.

37K 4:47 5:07/km
38K 5:43 5:26/km
39K 5:24 5:10/km

This was probably the hardest segment of the race, as the fatigue came back a few times and I needed to take a number of running breaks. I tried to run slower in the running bits, but my body was still programmed for the 5min/km pace so I pretty much had to alternate between fits of running at pace and walking to recover. The legs appeared to still have their full strength, but they were pretty sore at this point. If I had pushed through a bit harder I may have done better, but I didn't want to risk having to hobble to the end so when it got too difficult I took a break.

In this segment, the aide stations were only providing water so I started drawing more on my own supply of Gatorade. The muscles weren't really cramping so I wasn't sure if it would do anything, but I figured that it was better to be safe than sorry as I don't have a lot of experience with that particular ailement.

40K 5:49 5:24/km
41K 4:35 5:03/km

When I hit the 40K marker, I took a longer break than before (a little over a minute) in the hopes that it would do more work. I was getting concerned about whether my target was starting to slip away at this juncture - while we had banked a good deal of time in the first 35km, I was quickly bleeding that away with the walking breaks.

Fortunately, the longer break appeared to do the trick and I managed to run the rest of the kilometer without any further stops. At the 40K marker, however, the third corner of my bib broke off so I had to quickly stop, pull it off and put it in my pocket. Once that was done, I picked it up again and ran pretty much the entire kilometer.

42.2K 6:11 5:07/km

After the 41K marker, however, the fatigue came back so I had to take another break to let everything recover. Learning my leason from the previous stop, I gave myself a full minute to regain my composure and picked it up again. At this point the fatigue was getting worse, however, and I was seriously concerned about my ability to make it to the finish in my desired time.

Wanting to have a strong finish, I took another short break as I was passing into the bay. At this point, however, I could see the finish line and I decided to push through the pain and fight my way to the finish. As I passed around the bend, the legs were getting very sore but I kept fighting and continued to pick up the pace. The last 500m was a hell of a fight, but when I saw the clock counting towards 3:30 I knew that I was safe and opened up to a full sprint to get my gun time under the wire. I blew across the line with 5 seconds to spare at a 3:52 pace with a chip time of 3:29:03, well under my goal.

I brought myself back to a walk and the legs quickly felt a lot better. In retrospect, if I would have fought a little more earlier I likely would have been fine. I've run into the same problem in a number of races, and I tend to be a little too concerned in the final miles about budgeting my energy. Marathons are supposed to be hard, and the pain that I was feeling near the end was likely par for the course.

After getting my chip removed and getting my medal I hit the washroom to take care of a bit of excess hydration. I grabbed some food and met up with my family, then did my stretches while the awards were handed out. I looked around for yumke (who finished in 3:24:12) but as there were so many people in the finishing area I changed my clothes and we headed back to the shuttle busses.

Normally we'd go out to a restaurant to grab lunch after a race like this, but as it was mother's day we figured that they'd all be packed so we elected to simply grab something quick and save the celebration for another day. My legs were (are) pretty sore at this point, so it was probably a good thing anyway as the extra walking around likely would have been quite difficult ;)

Either way, I managed to meet my goals and had an excellent experience today. Hopefully I'll be able to pull more of these off in the future, and if I can avoid the interuptions that I had this training cycle I might be able to avoid the issues that I had this time around. As I was only able to get one of the 20 milers in, that was likely the main culpret for my problems.

Chip time: 3:29:03 (overall results)
Gun time: 3:29:55
Pace: 4:57K
Place overall: 196/1413 (86.1 percentile)
Place in men: 171/804 (78.7 percentile)
Place in age group: 12/47 (74.5 percentile)

Mississauga Marathon Done!

I'll write up a full report a little later, but thanks to yumke's help I managed to come in under my goal and finish the Mississauga Marathon in 3:29:03 (4:57/km average pace). The final bit was definitely hard, but thanks to some banked time and a hard push at the end I managed to get where I wanted to be. Fortunately, I didn't hit the wall or run into any muscle cramps so I didn't make any major mistakes - just plain old muscle fatigue as the end grew near. Time to rest up a bit, and I'll post more detail when I get a chance!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Final Hours...

Down to twelve hours before the Marathon and I'm just putting the final touches on everything at this point. As the weather today was pretty crappy, I elected to skip the 4 miler that the schedule had planned for me as it wasn't worth getting the shoes wet. I had a good run yesterday, and everything is feeling pretty loose so the extra rest will likely do me more good one way or the other. Fortunately, the reports for tomorrow are looking a lot better - the probability of rain has fallen and the temperatures are pretty close to ideal. It will be a bit windy, but that wind will be at my back for the final portion of the route so it may help more than it hurts.

Fortunately, I was able to drive most of the course on Friday when I went to pick up my race kit, and it looks pretty good. Many areas have decent shade from well developed tree canopies, and the hills aren't too bad (although they may look a lot different during the race). While the last bit is a bit exposed to the winds, the fact that it will likely be a tailwind should reduce the impact of that. Either way, the scenery along the way are quite nice and hopefully that will help to make the event all the more memorable. With that said, driving that distance makes it apparent exactly how far 42.2km is as it took me almost 1:15 to cover it by car...

I also took the time to grab a new pocket for my fuel belt, as the zipper on the one that came with it broke so it would have made it difficult to carry Gels with me. I looked at a few other options (such as Raceready shorts), but I didn't want to try something new at this point so I stuck with what has worked for me in the past. The new zipper is the same as the old, so it will likely fail as well - but for the time being this will get me through the race and I can look at alternate options at a less sensitive time.

On the topic of nutrition, I've elected to use gels rather than rely soully on Gatorade as it will make it easier to ensure that I get in all of the calories that I need. I will still carry 32oz. (~1L) of Gatorade and use it to supply me with about 200kcal of energy during the race, but I'll also take in four GU Energy Gels (Vanilla Bean flavour) with water from the aide stations at ~45 min increments. In total, that will work out to an intake of 600kcal of carbohydrates (4x100kcal from Gels and 200kcal from Gatorade), 660mg of Sodium (4x55mg from Gels and 440mg from Gatorade) and 220mg of Potassium (4x25mg from Gels, 120mg from Gatorade). Naturally, I'll also likely take in additional Gatorade from the aide stations along the way which should give me a little more than that.

As I've never run this distance before, I have no idea how much energy I will require for the race but I've talked with a number of people and settled on this number given the information I've found. This is the type of thing that one learns with experience, so it will likely be easier in future marathons but for the time being I have to rely on the experience of others around me ;)

I still have to put my bib on my race shirt and attach my timing chip to my shoes, but other than that I think I've got everything under control at this point. I'll likely re-read some of the segments in Pfitzinger's book to refresh my memory, and will try to get as much sleep as possible tonight (as futile an effort as that may be). The plan is to be at the start line by 6:30 at the latest, which doesn't leave me as much time as I usually like but I figure that the extra sleep is likely more important at this juncture.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Mississauga Marathon: Final Days

Down to less than 3 days before the race and the taper is coming to an end. I'm heading out tomorrow morning to pick up my race kit and will likely try and drive as much of the route as possible. Luckily, the organizers have a detailed map with a full elevation profile (here) so I have a pretty good idea of what to expect but it would still be beneficial to see it in person.

One thing that I did miss earlier in the week was an offer to have custom pacebands made up prior to the packet pickup. To get them, I would have had to send an email by Monday in order to pick them up at the expo. Unfortunately, there was no mention of this when I registered I didn't go back to check until yesterday so I missed the window. Regardless, it appears that they will have generic bands on hand at the expo so hopefully it'll work out anyway. I could always make my own up, however having it laminated with a proper closure would be significant benefits.

Either way, getting back to the plan the target is still for a 3:30 finish (~5min/km). Given that I've done a good number of my long runs near this pace (including a 20 miler at a 5:09/km pace) this is likely a bit conservative, but as this is my first shot at this distance I'd rather play it safe than sorry. A lot of things can go wrong at this distance, so leaving a little extra in reserve is likely a good idea either way. If the legs have it in them near the end, I always have the option to pick it up and aim for something better.

Fortunately, this time my target lines up with a standard mark so I'll hopefully be able to make use of the pacers provided by the race organizers. At the Scotiabank half marathon the pacer for my target time wasn't there, and at Around the Bay my target was half way between so this is really my first opportunity to take advantage of this type of thing. Fortunately, yumke may also be targetting this pace for the first portion of the race so even if the pacer doesn't work out I may have some help.

The Mississauga Marathon course is a net downhill race with only a few small hills to deal with so pacing should be pretty even. Naturally, those hills will feel more significant than the normally do because of the distance so I can't just write them off, but it is an easier course than most Marathons in this area. The main challenge will likely be the winds near the end of the race, as it finishes up along trails by Lake Ontario so it's quite exposed. With the weather reports calling for 30km/h winds, that could easily be a significant issue. The upside, however, is that this segment of the race heads eastward so that wind will hopefully be at our backs at that point.

The tricky part will be the fueling aspect of this distance, as I don't have a lot of experience with that at this juncture. I've experimented with Gatorade and Gels on my training runs, but as I topped out at 20 miles (~32.2km) the benefits weren't really apparent. It was enough to indicate that neither should be a problem, but it's difficult to figure out exactly how many calories I will need to take in. Fortunately, pretty much everyone that I've talked to appears to suggest that somewhere in the region of four to five Gels should be sufficient without causing any problems.

My original plan was to stick with Gatorade as it has all of the necessary components in approximately the right mixture. The problem with that, however, is that I can only carry about 32 oz (~200kcal) on my water belt so I'd have to be partially dependant on the aide stations to make up the rest. This, in and of itself, isn't a big problem but trying to keep track of how much I take in at those stops would be impossible, so it would be difficult to ensure that I take in the appropriate quantity. With Gels, it is easy to keep track of how many calories are taken in (although it won't help with tracking the ammount of water and electrolytes).

As for the next couple of days, I still have a couple of short runs left (a 5 miler tomorrow and a 4 miler on Saturday) and fortunately it looks like the new shoes have broken in so they'll likely be suitable for the race itself. The calibration check on Sunday appears to have done the trick, and I'll double check that on tomorrow's run. Looking over race reports from previous years, it appears that the kilometer markers may not be terribly reliable so it will be important to make sure my watch is providing as accurate numbers as possible.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Week 15: The final stretch...

Finished my last long run this morning, and now am less than a week away from the Marathon. Only four more (relatively short) runs left prior to the start, so the training is pretty much done and it's just a matter of getting the body rested up for the race itself. The taper has been doing a lot of good to this point, and it's been extremely hard to hold myself back as the legs feel like they can go a lot faster than they normally do ;)

Either way, I took special care to control my pace this morning. I still wasn't able to get myself down to 5:30Ks, but the 5:13Ks were still an improvement over the 5:05s I've been averaging in the last few weeks for my long runs. One thing that didn't help on that front was the four laps of the track (to calibrate my Polar for the new shoes) I did at the apex of the run, as that always prompts me to accelerate a little more. The weather was pretty much picture perfect, and I felt great for the duration of the run so I'm feeling pretty confident about next week.

As for the rest of the week, things pretty much went according to plan. The ride on Saturday got a little mixed up when I missed a turn while ahead of the group. I looped around, but didn't know the entire route so I only found them when I got back to the finish point. The upside, however, is that for a significant portion of the ride I was cruising at a 36km/h clip while trying to cut them off at the pass (ended up being the wrong pass) which is certainly a good sign with respect to my cycling capacity. It's often difficult to gauge how hard to push on the bike, as the feeling is quite different from running - hard efforts tend to feel tougher while you're going, but you recover much faster the moment you let up.

Weekly Totals:
Running: 53.0km (32.9mi)
Walking: 2.2km (1.4mi)
Cycling: 111.7km (69.4mi)
Total: 166.9km (103.7mi)

Year to Date:
Running: 920.4km (571.9mi)
Walking: 148.3km (92.1mi)
Cycling: 1,069.6km (664.6mi)
Total: 2,138.3km (1,328.7mi)

As per Pfitzinger's plan, the cycling sessions are off for this week in preparation for the race so there will be two full rest days. After the marathon, I'll likely more than make up for that as I've found it to be a good replacement for running during the recovery phase of a big race. The low impact nature of cycling allows the recovery process to go ahead, but it still allows me to keep working the muscles and cardiovascular system so I'm still in good shape coming out of it.

Upcoming Week:
Mon Rest
Tue 6mi (9.7K) Recovery
Wed 7mi (11.3K) Recovery w/2mi (3.2K) @ Race Pace
Thurs Rest
Fri 5mi (8K) Recovery w/6x100m
Sat 4mi (6.4K) Recovery
Sun Mississauga Marathon