January 2006 Archives

Hypothermic Half Marathon


I've been pretty calm this week. Races are races, but today was a B race, and besides, there was the curse.

Which, of course, hadn't completely left town. I was sick last week - not debilitatingly so, but I did miss a day of work. For those keeping track, that would be 3 of my last 4 half marathons have involved being sick right before the race.

Still, this was the mildest of the three. I hadn't felt terribly debilitated last week. It hadn't felt like it had undone me or sapped my energy at all.


I barely gave the race a thought yesterday. Sure, I hung around the house as much as I could, and tried not to exert myself. And I drank water in abundance. But other than that, it was a usual Saturday. Well, without the run.

The alarm went off a little early this morning. My wife gave my hand a quick squeeze, and instructed me to go "sub-two". Cheerios and milk, lots of water. A few bathroom trips. A computer game or two in the dark. Usual Sunday morning stuff.

I was out the door before 7. Found the course, but couldn't quite figure where people were parking, so grabbed an empty lot a short walk from the start. Of course, there were no bathrooms near the start line, so everyone was walking past me towards the public washrooms. I followed along, happily. On the way out, I ran into a couple of friends from training, and got a ride to the start line with them. The start line, where 299 of 300 competitors were parked. /sigh

Still, we sat in the warm car and chatted until just before race time. The temperature was a pleasant -1C, but there was a wind from the east. The course ran mainly north/south, so the wind would mostly be a crosswind. Since there wasn't much shelter from the wind, the car was by far the better choice.

Anyways, at 5 minutes to, we headed for the start line. Ran into quite a few friends. Before we got too cold, we were off.

The course was 4 loops of 5km each, then a quick out and back to make up the difference to 21.1km. My goal was to run 27 minutes for the first 5km, stay comfortable for the next 5km, then decide from there. For the start, was determined to start conservatively. If I was destined for a good day, then the start would leave me with plenty in the tank. If I was destined to struggle, then at least I wouldn't have gone out too hard.

Anyways, I ran the first kilometer in 6:00. Like last year, G and K took off ahead of me. This year, though, I had a scheme. Let them take off ahead. I'd reel them in later, if the day went well. Second kilometer was too fast, 5:00. I tried to settle into comfort. Relax. The third kilometer was slower. I'm not sure what my splits were, but I know I finished the first loop in 26:45. More importantly, I felt really good.

The goal for the second lap was to stay comfortable. Kilometers 6 and 7 were done in 5:00 each. Too fast. I was feeling a tiny bit winded. Between the 6 and 7 kilometer marks, a guy kept surging every time I went to pass him. Wasn't sure what was up, but I guess I was offending him. Anyways, I eventually got ahead of him, but decided half a kilometer later to back off a bit. Kilometer 8 was 5:15 or so. I was now around 2:00 over a 5:00/km pace. Just past the 8km mark, I heard someone come right up on my shoulder, breathing heavily, and sit there. I didn't need to look to know who it was. Whatever. I hope I didn't offend the guy at some point, but then again, this is a race, not Sunday tea. He went by me eventually, as did another guy. Off you go. I'm saving myself for the second half.

My 10km split was something like 52:00. Maybe it was 52:15, not sure. Anyways, the second lap was definitely faster than the first. Did I feel ok? Was it time to pick it up a bit? Yes, and yes please.

The 11th kilometer was run in something like 4:50. I repassed the surger somewhere in here. The 12th kilometer was 4:50. The next kilometer was the hilliest, and I think I ran closer to a 5:00. I was starting to count backwards. 9km to go. Just another day on the treadmill. I think I missed my split at 13km, because at 14km I was at 1:11:25, and my watch made no sense to me. I also thought that I was supposed to take a drink from my gatorade bottle, so I did. But the drinks were scheduled for every 4km. You know, 4, 8, 12, 14.... Gah! What the mind does in exertion.

Still, I was feeling good. Also, I was reeling in my 5:00/km deficit. From over 2 minutes behind, I was down under +1:30. The only drawback was that K and G weren't getting an inch closer. Every turnaround, they were stubbornly the same distance ahead of me. (Good for them!)

My split for 15 escapes me. I mean, I know I looked. I know I did some mental math based on it. But it might has well have happened on a different planet. It's gone, now.

Besides, 16km was more interesting 5km to go. I crossed at 1:20:55, I think. The deficit to the magic pace was under a minute. I felt like I could do 25 minutes for the last 5.1km. That put me very, very close to 1:45. Did I want that? You bet I did.

I'm still convinced that I've run something close to 1:45 in training. But races, with exact measurement of distance and time, are what matters. My PB in an actual race is over 1:52. The disparity bothers me.

Anyways, 5km left has a comfortable feeling. Heck, I run 5km at least 5 times a week normally, don't I? It was time to step it up just a little bit more.

Unfortunately, the wind had started to switch. Rather than being out of the east, it was out of the southeast, meaning it was somewhat in my face. I tried to keep myself moving forward, and reel people in.

I don't remember the splits for 17 or 18, but I think my gap went down like 30 seconds over the distance. I distinctly remember seeing +0:25 at some point.

Around 18.5km, I looked up, and saw a green jacket in front of me. I vaguely remembered the woman being way ahead of my at like 5km, and telling myself "I'll catch her". You know, one of those silly things you do when you're mentally telling yourself that it's ok to be starting slow. Anyways, there she was, right in front of me. She'd been in front of K & G every time I'd seen her. (Hey, where were they, anyways?)

Anyways, green jacket lady must have been surging, because I wasn't getting by her. Still, with less than 3km to go, I knew I wasnt' slowing down. So I stuck to my pace, and let her stick to hers.

Besides, there was a bit of a problem. Maybe it was just the crosswind, but my left knee felt tight. Awkward. I couldn't exaclty say how, though. Maybe the IT or hamstring was getting tight? I didn't exactly back off my intensity, but I kept a close eye on the knee.

My 19km split, I remember very clearly. 1:34:55. Boom! I was under 5:00/km. Just like that! I'd made up 2:00, and felt...well pretty good. Strength-wise, I was fine. The knee wasn't getting any worse, so I forgot about it.

I passed green jacket lady with a kilometer and a half to go. I felt like I had strength, and speed, to spare. I started thinking of all the sub-5:00/km runs I'd done, both on the treadmill and outside; especially on the treadmill, I guess, where it was generally easier. I felt like they were all paying off in spades. This was only my third run over 16km in months and months, but the distance wasn't doing me in. The pace wasn't doing me in. We passed the finish line (no 20km split), and started the out and back.

I took it easier on the out loop. Well, easier is a relative term. Let's be more precise. I kicked it up a notch on the way out, and kicked it up again on the way back. Seriously, the last 550m or so I was flying. One very nice lady gave me an encouraging word as I blew by her with 400m to go. Every 4:30 pace workout on the treadmill was being sent mental thanks.

When I saw the gun clock, it was at 1:44:1x. I was pretty sure I could make sub-1:45 easily, but of course when a huge PB is staring you in the face, you go faster. Mush, mush! Whee! It's fun, too, which never hurts.

I stopped my watch in 1:44:24, as I crossed the line. Official gun time was 1:44:34. I cleared my PB by over 8 minutes.

Mentally, the huge PB was a shock. I didn't give myself much chance at sub-1:50 before the race. My 27 minute first loop works out to something like a 1:53 half - right around my old PB. I'd been putting in high mileage weeks, but with only 2 runs over 16km, I was convinced that I would fade on the last loop.

On the other side of the coin, the result is a huge endorsement of the training plan I've been following. Those tough back-to-back runs midweek HAVE been paying off. The higher paces shorter runs have been paying off. I was able to increase my pace over the course of the race, without destroying myself. My legs held up to the distance. Maybe all that added distance taught them to.

Anyways, I'm thrilled with the result. (How can an 8 minute PB NOT thrill you?)

Afterwards, we headed to the Arrow and Loon for breakfast. They were much better organized than last year. The indoor courtyard was open this year. Ok, the lines were still long and slow, but come on, all you can yeat bacon? Pasta? Eggs? Pancakes and french toast? Bacon? How good is that? (Did I mention bacon? And let me tell you, I wasn't dainty about how much bacon ended up on my plate.)

Oh, and now I'm eating cookies as I blog.

Actually, now I'm off to have a shower. It's overdue, and I deserve it!

Rested, But Tired


I ran last night. Moderate snowfall, and stiff winds from the west. The kind of weather that makes for snowdrifts. I wasn't too happy about starting with the wind at my back. I wasn't too happy about how cold it was. But, I wasn't out to keep pace with Bekele, so I put in my 5km, stretched a bit, and called it a day.

The swim this morning was interesting. It was definitely focused on getting us ready for Winterlude, but not exactly in the way I was expecting.

The warmup was a tough 1000 metres. We started with 400 choice, for which I chose freestyle. 400 metres is a long way to go right at the start. Then we did 300 IM, with each discipline broken up into 25 kick, 25 drilll, 25 swim. If we had to do 300 IM all swim, we'd probably all drown. Then 200 non-free, which default to breaststroke for me, then 100 free.

Then things got tough. We were assigned a freestyle pacework set. 200m free on 3:50. 100m free on 1:55. 50 free HARD on 2:00. 300 choice. How that worked out is that we went fairly hard for 200m, then maybe a bit harder for 100m. I know after the 100m, I had 15 seconds to catch my breath before I sprinted 50m. I *think* I came in around 45 seconds. Not super great, but the first 25 I felt like I wasn't quite going all out. Small wonder. The 2:00 pace time for the 50m wasn't a mistake - it was to give us a measured rest before our active recovery 300 choice. Which, naturally, was more freestyle.

I took it easy on the 300 free, but was still feeling a bit tired when it was done. We didn't get that much rest, though, before our next set. 200 non-free (oh, who am I kidding - if I just say breast, you'll know what I mean) on 4:15. 100 breast on 2:10. 50 breast HARD on 2:00. Then 200 choice (freestyle). Breaststroke is an interesting stroke to do over distance. It's statistically the slowest of the strokes. In my experience, it's the most anaerobic. All the power comes in the kick. Kick/glide, kick/glide is a lot more tiring than the steady power application of freestyle, in my experience. Anyways, by the time 100 was done I had 20 seconds to catch my breath before I was off to the races. I tried to really go hard on the 50, but putting that much power into the kick is tiring. I pulled off a 49s, which isn't bad, but isn't really all that great, either. We got a bit of extra rest, then did our 200m. I have to say that after all that breaststroke, the 200 free felt powerful and strong. The change of motion had given my arms a good rest, and they were ready to go again.

Next game a decent breather, then we were given 4x50m on 2:00. Again, lots of rest between sprints, but by now we were over 2km total distance, so we would hardly be "fresh". I did the first 50 free in :45, again a slight disappointment. I have hopes of swimming a 1:30 100m free this year, but my 50 times seem to hint that that time is beyond me right now. The coach was encouraging of everyone, saying that she woudl equate a 45 second 50 with a 39 second race time. After all, we were at the end of practice, and we weren't diving in. (Oh, if only dive starts were a big advantage for me!) The next 50 free I did in :43, which felt good. I tried to up my kick rate for the third, but ended up with 45 seconds. Flutter kick is just not for me, and I think it took too much energy. For the last one, we got an extra 30 seconds rest. I tried to focus on power in my pull, and was rewarded with another :43. Nice to end on a positive note, I guess.

In the end, we did 6 50m sprints. Each one we got lots of rest before it, but each one came after lots of swimming. Realistically, we should be able to go a bit faster than this on race day. I hope. If nothing else, today was an excellent exercise in teaching to body to go hard on less than complete rest.

Listening to Eleanor


"Do one thing every day that scares you."
-- Eleanor Roosevelt
(Thanks to Susan for the quotation.)

Well, I've met Eleanor's quota for the day. I have officially signed up for a Masters Swim Meet. Based on a perusal of previous years' results, I should be one of the slowest swimmers in the pool, period. I mean, I might be able to keep up with the 60 and 70 year olds, but then again, I might not. I certainly won't be anywhere near anyone in my age group.

Still, it should be a good experience. It should be fun, despite the butterflies. It should be a chance to learn and grow. And it should be an excellent opportunity to show my children what it is that I do two mornings a week. If it inspires them even a little, then all the better.

Diving In

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Yesterday's swim had more dive work. It's quickly becoming apparent that my dive starts are pretty bad. So, all in all, I was grateful of the added practice.

In between the dive sets, we had some pretty fast longer sets. We did two different 3x200m sets, each with pretty ambitious pace times. The first one was:
- 200 free on 3:50
- 200 breast on 4:15
- 200 free on 3:50
This proved to be fairly tough. I did manage to do one of the 200 frees in 3:20.

The second set was yuckier.
- 200 back on 4:15
- 200 free on 4:10
- 200 back on 4:15
Yes, I abhor back, but surprisingly I was able to keep up the pace times. Barely. Still, 200m is a long time to flail around the pool on your back.

After dinner last night, I went out for a 5km run. The air was nice and warm, around freezing, with a slight wind and light snowfall from the south. I wasn't interesting in hammering the run, especially since my stomach was sloshing uncomfortably on occasion. The warm temperatures had melted most of the snow away, so by and large I was running on pavement. Which was nice, for a change.

Despite the fact that I was overdressed and started to overheat, it was the kind of ideal run that makes me love winter running (sometimes). When the wind was at my back, it was peaceful, mild, and frankly beautiful. I pretty much had the roads to myself, so other than the crunching of snow underfoot, it was a quiet and peaceful run.



Yesterday it was snowing something fierce. By the time I was fully awake, the roads had several inches of thick, heavy snow on them. Treadmill time.

Of course, I got to enjoy all the comforts of home. Phone calls, more phone calls. Oh, and a nearby washroom. Talk about an easy, convenient pit stop. Officially a 10km run in just over 50 minutes, with 400m warmup and 400m cooldown. I stretched after the warmup and after the cooldown.

This morning, the roads had all been plowed. The forecast was for a high of -3, though it was -10 or so as I went out the door. It felt warmer, though; it was sunny, calm, and there were small puddles of standing (salt?) water here and there.

I was trying to hold back the pace a bit, since I was running 6km due to a taper, not because I wanted a temp run. Still, it was hard to avoid enjoying myself. So I flew along, going fast but pretending I wasn't.

The nice part is that I had lots of energy after the Sunday run. I think I'll cherish that feeling - it's not likely to come up too often.

Taper Troubles


I've been suffering from some tummy troubles this week. Nothing too serious, but enough to be considered an impediment.

I had pencilled in an optional 8km run on Wednesday, but I blew it off. Thursday's swim got cancelled at 4am, when I realized I didn't want to get up in an hour. Insomnia was a partial culprit, there.

On the bright side, this is a taper week, so I wasn't too broken up about missing workouts. My appetite and energy levels haven't been a problem this week, so I don't think that any of this will severely impact the half marathon next weekend.

I did climb onto the treadmill last night. I started out fast, and picked up speed over the last 1200m. I ended up running sub-22:30 for the 5km. Granted, it was on a treadmill, but the pace felt reasonable.

I could contrast that with feeling slow on Tuesday, when I felt awfully slow. Tuesday was run on ice, the treadmill had great footing. I had to bundle up to run outside on Tuesday, but indoors I can run in shorts. (It feels faster!) Still, it is a treadmill, and it does do some of the work for you, doesn't it?

No matter. It's all good for me at this point.

This weekend should be nice. I'll do 10km Saturday. The path along Woodroffe is finally plowed. Yay! Sunday I'll do 6km, which will probably feel fantastic after all the distance in recent weeks.

The half marathon curse aside, this taper stuff ain't half bad!



I signed up for Around The Bay today, so it's official. It'll be my third year in a row there. Here's hoping for better weather than last year.

There were definitely a few lessons to be learned from yesterday's run. For starters, I think BodyGlide has a problem with cold weather. The less said about that, the better. Secondly, I need to get used to a water bottle belt again. Two hours with one yesterday left me with a very sore spot on the small of my back. I've run with this belt in years past without a problem, so I'm guessing that I just need to readjust.

Last, but not least, was the nap. Last weekend I ran 18km, and felt sort of groggy all day. After 20km yesterday, I ended up falling asleep in mid-afternoon. I'd really rather avoid doing so on Sundays after my long run, because it reduces the amount of time I have with my family. Yesterday, though, it grabbed me by the scruff of the neck and didn't give me a choice.

I'm really hoping to minimize the impact that Sunday runs have on the rest of the day, so it's something I'll have to think about in the coming weeks.

During the run yesterday, the subject of pacing for long runs came up. K, who is generally faster than I am but suffers from frequent shin problems, had some interesting points to make on the subject. He almost always suffers from shin problems during marathon training and has to adjust by backing off the pace. In training for Disney, though, he ran his long runs slower than usual. For the first time, he avoided shin problems, and was able to put in his second fastest marathon.

All of which is going to make me think pretty hard about what lies ahead. I'd love to be able to put in a longer race at 5:00/km (~1:45 half, ~2:30 AtB or ~3:30 marathon), but maybe trying to achieve that pace in training does not make sense. Most of my shorter runs are done in the 4:20-5:00/km range. If I content myself with running 5:45-6:15/km on Sunday long runs, will that get me to where I'm going? If it cuts the chance of injury, it may be worth it, even if it slows me down a bit on race day.


Fall of Mercury

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After a mild week, we've snapped back to reality. From yesterday at dawn to sometime this morning, the temperatures fell from 5C to -20C.

When I left the house yesterday, it had just started to snow. The weather was just about perfect, or so I thought. 3km in, I realized that the wind had been at my back the whole time. From there on in, most of the run featured either a crosswind or a wicked headwind. No fun.

I was aiming for 10km, but decided to run a route along the Jockvale river. This resulted in me running 12km instead of 10, which was fine. I felt reasonably strong the whole way, but I will confess that the run was uninspired. This is my last weekend of training before the Hypothermic Half, but I wasn't excited about that. Neither the training run nor the upcoming race got me going. Of course, I was cold and wet at the time, so that may have contributed to my lack of enthusiasm.

Today's run was scheduled for 20. K, fresh back from a strong run at Disney, offered to run the Governor General's with me, with option of doing the full 20 if he felt up for it. Along the way, we ran into R and C, and ended up running the bridges loop on our way back from the GG's in order to hit 20. It worked out well, since the wind was out of the northeast (and boy, was it nasty!). The nice part about the last 5km was that the wind was at our backs. The not-so-nice part was that yesterday's flash-freeze had left some VERY slippery sections along the canal. C nearly fell at one point, in fact he probably would have if his arm hadn't caught my shoulder. He managed to right himself, but we were all being pretty cautious when we had to be. This resulted in us going a little slower than we had on the roads around the GG's, and also resulted in some sore leg muscles.

Still, we finished up 20km in under two hours, and considering the conditions I felt pretty good. I think that my current training program is serving me well.



I was up at 6pm this morning. Usual routine - oatmeal, lots of water, don't even look outside until I'm getting ready.

The temperature was 0, with a high today of 6. Mild indeed for January. The problems were twofold - it was raining, and it at freezing rained overnight. Thus, the weather was just about as uncomfortable for running as you can get, and the footing was uncertain.

I set out to do a local 10km loop. After the first 10 minutes, I was already feeling like cutting it short. Physically, I felt fine, if a bit wet, but the footing was unstable in places. Even the main roads were slushy. I was trying to give cars a wide berth, but that was breaking my rhythm. In short, the run wasn't much fun, and wasn't being all that productive.

After the turnaround, I bailed, and took a shortcut home. It made for a disappointing morning, but honestly, I have no regrets at this point.

Sometimes, you have to play the hand you're dealt.

Tough Weekend

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I'm wearing out the reload button on jeff's blogcast. So exciting!

The kids have been under the weather this week. That and the cold weather convinced me to wimp out and run on the treadmill yesterday, so that my wife could go out.

I was aiming to put in a 50:00 10km, at 2.0 incline. About 15 minutes in, my left leg started to nag. I decided that it would be wise to slow down a bit, so I dropped from 11.9km/hr to 11.6. It seemed to help.

I found out pretty quickly that fifty minutes is a long time to be on the treadmill. I tried talking myself into only doing 8km, but decided to stick to my guns. With around 2km to go, I bumped the speed back up to 11.8km/hr. It felt ok, but I was tiring. I finished up in around 51:30, tired but pleased.

Today the plan was 18km, any way I could. Ideally, I wanted to run a 5:30 to 6:00/km pace. It's still early in the season, though, and the footing was pretty snowy and slippery, so pretty much anything would have to do. There may come a time when I want to consistently push pace on my Sunday long runs, but that time is not now. For now, I need to just focus on putting in my distance on Sundays.

I ran the bridges loop with M and someone I didn't know, then struck out for Dow's Lake Pavillion on my own. Around the 15km mark, things got hard. My legs started to ache a bit, especially the side of my left knee. Uh oh. I tried to take it easy, and just focus on finishing the run comfortably. The knee pain didn't persist, but I started feeling very tired. When I finally finished, I took extra care to stretch thoroughly, especially my hamstrings and ITBs.

Go Bumblebee Go!


Dropping Swims

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Well, I've officially missed 2 of my last 3 runs. Still, I think my reasons are fair and valid.

Last week, we had a house full of kids visiting, and I figured that if I woke any one of them up in an effort to sneak out of the house, my name would be Mudd. Last night, my youngest was sick, and kept waking me up, so I finally decided to turn off the alarm and sleep on the couch. I slept in until 8am. I'd complain more about it, but I think my wife got a worse deal than I did.

C'est la vie. Training when I shouldn't is as bad a sin as skipping when I shouldn't.

Back To It

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Yesterday was back to work, back to running, and back to swimming. A busy day.

I did, however, find time to buy myself a new pair of shoes. Yes, Grid Omni 4, marks 1 and 2 were dying, so hello mark 3. Actually, I was lucky they had a pair lef t. Saucony is on to the Grid Omni 5 now, but since the 4s may have been my best shoe yet, why mess with a good thing?

Since the swim was the first of the winter session, we had a few new people. The workout was sort of a back-to-basics one, with plenty of sculling and drills. Which was fine - my technique still needs work.

Last night, I tried out the new shoes on the treadmill. I didn't even notice them - the sign of a good fit. I was aiming to up my speed from last week, so I did 6km at roughly 13.5 kph. It was encouraging how easy it was to hold this pace, though to be fair it might have been the treadmill holding the pace for me.


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  • Cheryl: Right on Wendy! read more
  • Wendy: That swimming fitness will be back before you know it! read more
  • deene: you have to listen to your body, you probably needed read more
  • Cheryl: The heat, mixed with the humidity were extreme and it read more
  • Wendy: Sorry to hear you were so ill, Warren, but good read more
  • Cheryl: Sounds like a tough go! It's a shame that everyone read more
  • deene: anything timed in seconds and with repeats sound tough to read more
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This page is an archive of entries from January 2006 listed from newest to oldest.

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