May 2007 Archives

2k Marathon splits

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If I missed the split, I'll post the average in parentheses.

2k: 11:49 - 11:49
4k: 12:18 - 24:07
6k: (11:42)
8k: (11:42) - 47:32
10k: 11:39 - 59:10
12k: 12:15 - 1:11:25
14k: 12:16 - 1:23:41
16k: 11:14 - 1:34:55 (started to pick it up here)
18k: 11:17 - 1:46:12
20k: 11:32 - 1:57:44
22k: (11:24)
24k: (11:24)
26k: (11:24)
28k: (11:24)
30k: (11:24)- 2:54:44 (oops - where did my mind go for the last hour?)
32k: 11:42 - 3:06:26
34k: 11:57 - 3:18:23
36k: 11:43 - 3:30:06
38k: 11:46 - 3:41:52
40k: 11:44 - 3:52:37
42.2k: 13:04 - 4:06:41

ING Ottawa Marathon #3


Short version of report: 25 minute PB, 2 hours in medical tent

Long version of report:

It was pretty much a perfect day for the race. Low of 10 degrees, cloudy, slight chance of trace amounts of rain.

I was downtown before 6am, and stayed warm in the city hall until 6:45. Then I made my way to the corral. (Ambitiously, I was in the 3:30-3:59 corral, but whatever.)

My A+ goal was to break 4 hours. More realistically, I wanted to get close. My plan was to run the first 15km on 6:00/km (4:13 pace). I would make an adjustment there, and again at 32km. Playing it by ear was the plan.

Right off the start, I found myself moving backwards. The watch told me that I was running the desired 4:13 pace. My eyes told me that people around me were nuts. Expected.

The first few kilometers were new, and nice, but we did run through some shady parts across the river, in Quebec. There was a guy at one point cheering "Go, go, Quebec, Canada". All he knew in English?

Unexpectedly, my sister turned up on her bike at around 7km. Yay!

The crowds in front of the art gallery were in their usual state: loud, rambunctious, and plentiful. The race goes in both directions at this point, and I was able to run past the halfway mark just as the lead runners arrived.

"C'mon, guys, we can catch 'em!" I yelled.

The route is also new in the east end. We ran past the Prime Minister's and the Governor General's. We then headed back into the subdivision, ending up on a road that ran parallel to the Rockcliffe Parkway, across a broad expanse of field. I had to do a double-take at this point because, out in front of one of the houses facing this field was the Right Honourable Jean Chretien, former prime minister of Canada. Two runners actually turned around in front of me and ran back to talk to him.

I was holding the pace perfectly, waiting for 15km to come. When it finally did, I felt good, so I picked it up a tiny little bit.

I actually think I started going 5:30/km at this point, but I'll have to check my watch, later. Anyways, it felt good. I felt like I could hold the pace forever, which was the point.

I saw my sister again just before halfway, and had my second gel at 19km. Almost immediately, my tummy was slightly unhappy. I thought about ditching my running belt. I'd been taking on a lot of Gatorade, and my tummy was getting full. Bleh. At the famous Ottawa U dropoff point, I dropped off my belt.

Along the canal, down Colonel By, I seemed to encounter a difficult spot. I slowed to 6:00/km again. I was getting close to 32km, though.

I finally hit it under the underpass on Heron. They took out the parking lot this year, which is stupendous. I, however, was less than stupendous, so I didn't really pick up the pace like I'd hoped.

4:00 was pretty much dead.

I, however, was not. For the first time, I got to 32km, and wasn't starting to fade. I didn't have the next gear, like I'd hoped, but I wasn't moving backwards.

Except that I was wrong.

After a bit, I started running kilometers that were just perceptably faster than 6:00. I didn't feel like I was, but I was. Aroud 37km, I started to fade a bit. My sister was riding along side me (on the grass, the rain - yes, it was raining, was keeping the crowds away), offering words of encouragement to me and everyone else. I felt like I was losing steam, but the kilometers were still going by a tiny bit more quickly.

I wanted to walk. Oh, I just wanted to take a little break. I knew, though, that 4:10, my new silver standard, would fade away quickly if I did. I might even cramp up and be done. So I kept going.

I passed 41km in right around 4 hours. I was so close, but I wasn't there yet. I wanted to be, but 1.2km was looking long.

The signs started counting down the metres. 1000, 750, 500. At 500, oddly, I was feeling light-headed, and breathing...oddly.

I saw the family, and gave high fives to everyone. So, so cool.

I was slowing down, though, finally. Something wasn't quite right, and so I coasted in, arms upraised.

The red-shirted medical people were there. One asked me if I was ok. I mentioned my breathing problems, and they plopped me into a wheelchair and led me to the medical tent.... the back room.

My vitals were decent, but not perfect. My temperature was almost a degree below normal. My electrolytes were low enough that they gave me a litre of IV. Missed the vein the first time, too. They put a heater under my blanket (where do you buy these?). I suddenly had like 6 people waiting on me hand and foot.

Obviously, I wasn't totally ok, but I wasn't in serious shape, really. They replenished my electrolytes, got my breathing and heartrate calmed down, and got my temperature back up.

The problem was that, while they did this, my legs went completely bad. I cramped up so badly I simply could not move. When I tried, or when the cramps came back, I quite literally screamed in pain.

So I spent about an hour getting to the point where I could stand, with help. I was another hour before I was ready to walk out the door, with help, and get to the nearest place the car could be parked (not near - shame on the race organizers). Yuck.

I did cry at one point, though not from the cramping pain. When I first tried to stand up, and my legs could not support me, or even really move, exhaustion and fatigue reduced me to tears. It's no fun to run a marathon, only to find out you very literally can not walk afterwards.

All in all, though, I'm thrilled with my time, and with my effort. I could not have run any faster today, period. My preperation was adequate to the task.

This salt thing, though, is becoming a real problem.

3 days to go


Did my last run before the marathon today. Opted for 5km, easy.

Maybe it's just that I've been playing with the kids the last couple of days, but my left hamstring is still bugging me. (I know I should be taking it easy these days, but I am very restless.) I have to remind myself of how much worse it was 2-3 weeks ago. I can run normally now. I can lift my left leg up onto a ledge to stretch it without using my arms. It really is so much better than it was.

Besides, I was running 32km back when it was worse. It should be fine on race day.

My mind has been racing for days now, full of nervous energy. I guess experience is helping, though, as I haven't found much need to worry or stress about what's ahead, yet.

The race expo opens tonight, and I'm debating heading down to pick up my kit. I have lots of time, but as I get closer to the race, I'll want to go out of my way less and less. Still, I love the expo, with all the running gear and general buzz. Once I go, I know I'll be excited about the race.

10 days to go


Monday morning I woke up with a sore throat. By Tuesday evening, I was coughing, just as my kids has been. Coincidence? Not likely.

What's a good taper without getting sick?

Thursday morning, my head was clear again, so I went out for a ~13.5 km run around the neighbourhood, along one of my favourite routes. I started out fast and strong, with my knee barely noticeable at all. The first kilometer rolled by in 5:15. The first 6km rolled by in 29:55.

At around the 7km mark, on a forest trail which follows along the river, I started to cough. Almost immediately, I could feel my breakfast wanting to come up. Ugh. I backed off the pace, got my breathing under control, and continued. As long as I wasn't breathing too hard, everything felt ok.

After the run, I had to do some walking, and my right calf bothered me a bit. Ergo, I'm still not at 100% health yet. Still, it felt good to be fast today.

10 days to go.

Another Sunday

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I sat down to map out a 24km route on Sunday morning. My first attempt wound up just about dead on 22km. Good enough.

Surprisingly, I felt pretty good almost right from the start of the run. I ran the first kilometer in 5:50, and settled into a very consistent ~6:00/km pace.

Around 9km, just as my morale was starting to soar, my right calf/achilles started twinging. It never quite became painful, but it was noticeable off and on for the rest of the run. It was frustrating, but since it was only uncomfortable and not debilitating, it didn't get me down all that much.

The bottom line is that, if my rate of recvoery continues, I may just make it to the start line in good health. There's nothing more that I can ask for, really.

What To Expect


Got up at 4am. Stretched. Had breakfast. Stretched. Got ready for my run. Stretched. Went outside. Stretched.

Then the shuffle started.

The left knee is still bothering me. It was difficult to fully straighten the leg this morning. I worked it as best I could, but starting was uncomfortable, if not painful.

At least I knew what to expect.

The first kilometer went by in 6:15. Not great, not horrible. I pushed myself a bit, not wanting to go overly easy. It was warm, though - 15 degrees before dawn. I was sweating, I was breathing heavily, and my shin was tight. Still, I knew it would all pass, and I had 16km to go. So I kept moving.

Slowly, painfully, it got easier. I hated the first few miles, but by the 6 or 7 kilometer mark, I was moving along a bit better.

I hit the turnaround in around 45:30. Not bad, but nothing all that great. Knowing that I'd started slowly, though, I expected to be closer to 40 minutes on the way home.

As I warmed up, I started to feel more and more like my old self. I started to fly - my lungs worked hard at the exertion, but I had the familiar, almost liquid feeling of flowing along smoothly and strongly. Sure, the left knee would twinge every so often, reminding me that the strength was illusion, but still....

Over the last 2km, I noticed that I was having a harder and harder time holding the pace. Big surprise. A month ago, I could hold that pace for 18km or longer. Now, well, it's tougher. I finished up with a second half split of 40:08, which I was ecstatic about (5:01/km). Awesome stuff.

I'll be resting AGAIN tomorrow (ugh). Maybe a walk, somewhere. I've got a little over two weeks to go at this point. Hopefully I can recapture a little bit more of that feeling of speed between now and then.

Warning Signs


Yesterday was the first warning. I couldn't straighten my left leg completely to stretch my hamstring. My knee would feel funny, and my hamstring was very tight.

Today, I started out very slowly on my run. I felt tighter than I had in a while. I ran the first kilometer in 6:30, but things weren't getting better quickly. A quick stretch at 2km showed me that my left shin was very tight again. I stretched again at 3km and again at 4km.

I ran the first 4km in something like 28 minutes.

That was all the warning I needed. My body didn't like running two days in a row just yet, even with a full 24 hours between them. I stretched, turned around, and headed home.

By about 6km, I was starting to move more normally. Still, I wouldn't have kept going for anything. I may sweat the lack of mileage a bit, but I need to get healthy. If I'm slow and tight now, then I need rest.

So rest I shall take.

What I've Lost


I opted out of this morning's swim, preferring to run a short, fast(er) 5km run to test out my legs. It's been a few weeks since I've really been able to push myself, and I figured I was due.

Right from the start, my left knee/hamstring was a tiny bit worse than on Sunday. See? It was a setback of sorts, but not unexpected. I pushed through the first kilometer in around 5:30. This wasn't fast by my standards, but it was fast by comparison to my recent output.

What was disconcerting was how much I had to huff and puff to go even that fast.

Clearly, the price I was going to pay for the injury and recovery was a loss of form. While I'm still not healthy, I didn't expect it to be quite this bad. I had to push myself mentally just to hold a half-decent pace, and I certainly wasn't going to outdo half-decent.

The knee made itself known for the whole run, sitting at an annoying but not painful level of sensation; kind of like the annoying buzzing of someone else's alarm while you're trying to sleep.

I finished up at almost 29 minutes for my local route. 26 minutes is usually my A standard, and I've gone under 24 (I think!). I stretched out as well as I could, and got on with my day.

Interestingly, I averaged 5:19/km, which isn't nearly as bad as I had feared. Sure, it was only 5km, but it is a nice bump up in speed from last week. I need to not be so hard on myself.



Monday morning damage report:
- Left knee - pretty good
- Right heel - tight. Some pain has returned
- Elbows - sunburned


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Whatever happened today, there were going to be setbacks.

I was determined to run 32 km if I could today - my last long run before the marathon. I was recovering from an injury, but Friday's run had shown that at least one injury was lurking on the edge of recurrence. Even in the best case - a clean run, the 20-miler would be bound to slow down my healing. And if the injuries did come back....

My plan was to double-loop my local, familiar, boring 16 km loop. I made up 2 bottles of Gatorade, and packed a single Power Gel. I set out around 11am, with slight twinges in my left hamstring. Right away, though, I noticed that there was no real additional pain when I moved from walking to running. Even better than on Friday, where it was noticeable but tolerable, today the pain didn't really impede my gait at all.

A good start.

I stretched at 3km, but there really wasn't any tightness in my left leg. Hurrah! I did my best to resist the natural inclination to pick up the pace, and plodded along.

It was 8 degrees when I started, but I opted for shorts and a t-shirt. The breeze made me feel cool in places, but when I was sheltered from the breeze, the sun warmed me up pretty quickly. Maybe too quickly. I'm pretty well used to running in cool to cold weather. I've only really been hot enough to really sweat once or twice this year. Hmmm...

I hit the turnaround in 47 minutes, just under a 6:00/km pace. I then proceded to debate with myself - was this too fast? Was the pace acceptable? I had a long way to go, and my goal was to finish strong and healthy. Again today, time didn't really matter.

Just like Friday, my left calf/achilles kept quiet for the first 16km. I got home, hit the washroom, switched gatorade bottles, and went back out. Even though I was only stopped for a few minutes, my right hamstring felt a bit tight when I started out. It faded quickly, but it was a timely reminder that I needed to be cautious.

At around 22km, the water bottle belt started bugging my stomach. I loosened it a bit, but I started feeling more pain, not less. I cut back on what I was drinking, and kept loosening my belt. Finally, at 26km, I took it off, and ran with it in my hand.

At the next stoplight, I considered my plight. I was in a lot of discomfort, and was pretty sure that the belt was to blame. Running with anything in my hands, though, was pretty foolish. So I put the belt back on, loosened it to the point where it jiggled a good inch up and down as I ran, and started on a long, slow shuffle.

From past experience, when you slow down that far into a run, it means you're doomed. My usual injury mantra of "my legs feel fine, my cardio feels fine" echoed in my head, but the words seemed hollow. Much to my surprise, though, the pain in my stomach gradually eased up, and my pace picked up. By 30km, I was moving normally again.


I paid the price, in a way, though. I ended up chafing a bit on my back from all the jiggling my belt was doing. Bleh. Still, I could feel my experience coming into play on this problem - slowing down, taking it easy, but continuing to move forward. It doesn't usually work that well, but I didn't panic or worry, I just kept moving.

It's been a weird week. Sleeping in feels weird when you've been holding yourself to a 7 workout/week plan. I didn't feel as guilty or worried as I thought I would, though. Once you accept that you're injured, I guess, speed stops dominating your thought process.

The hamstring tightness isn't gone yet, but now my taper starts. This week has seen a huge improvement in my running health, and I'm almost optimistic again. I felt strong today, and hopefully the next three weeks will play out in such a way as to maximize my chances of feeling strong on race day.

Slow and Steady


If there was a solid plan for this week, and I wasn't just playing the whole thing by ear, Friday's run would have been the big test. As I mentioned on Wednesday, I wanted to run the full 16km on Friday morning, and was willing to cut short Wednesday's run to help me get there.

By Thursday morning, the pain in the right calf (or achilles) had subsided. The left knee was still getting better, but I still noticed it when I had been sitting for a while. I did my best to stretch whenever I could. Still, Thursday night, it started acting up a bit more, and I got discouraged.

Friday morning, I was up at 4am. I did some light stretching, and was out the door just after 5. Walking down the driveway, I was filled with dread - the knee wasn't bothering me yet, but I was sure it was about to. I shuffled a few steps, and was relieved when my knee did not immediately respond in protest. A few more steps followed, and suddenly I was running, without the huge discomfort in my left knee.

Half a kilometer in, I finally exhaled. I could still feel a bit of tightness in my left knee, but it was SO much better. I finished the first kilometer in 6:30. Pace was irrelevant. If I could run pain-free now, I could run pain-free faster, later.

I stopped at the same spot I did on Wednesday to stretch, at the 3km mark. I went straight for the toe drag, expecting a lot of tightness. There was very, very little. Yay! Now thoroughly buoyed, I continued on my way.

Of course, that was only half the story.

At that point, I knew that the right leg wasn't really going to bother me. It had always gotten better, the longer I had run. The left leg, on the other hand, had only hurt after a certain point in the run. Would it be back again today?

I took it pretty easy all the way to the 8km turnaround, arriving in an irrelevantly slow 51:45. I walked a bit at the turnaround, knowing that I needed to keep the pace slow if I wanted to finish the full 16 more or less pain-free. I ran the next couple of kilometers somewhat nervously. I was anxious about the calf/achilles starting to hurt, but of course, if I concentrated on it all the time I would just end up with a self-fulfilling prophecy. Instead, I focused on my gait.

It turns out that there were no horse and buggies out this morning - that clomp clomp clomp I'd been hearing was me. I'm normally a bit of a heel striker, but I swear I sounded like I was wearing horseshoes. Ugh. I worked on landing at least on the midfoot. Concentrating on it helped the kilometers go by; which they did. Still the pain stayed at bay.

Eventually, my mind wandered further afield, and the run got...normal. I was still running fairly slowly, but my mind was off thinking inane and mundane thoughts, and the kilometers rolled by with barely a thought. Suddenly, I was done, and the pain still hadn't arrived.


When I started to stretch, I immediately noticed that my right calf/achilles was very tight. It was the same pain as earlier this week, but it had held off for 16km. Doubtless it would have come up soon, if I'd continues. I felt pretty fortunate that I had planned to stop when I had. I stretched well, down the last ibuprofen, and hit the shower to let the jets beat out my calves yet again.

All of which is to say that the news is very good. I've been lazy, slept in, stretched, felt very guilty, but things seem to be paying off. In all likelihood, I will try 32 on Sunday. The long run will probably revive some of these problems, but it feels like I'm turning the corner. I also feel like I need that one more long run before the marathon. If I can survive the weekend, a normal, reasonable, sane taper madness starts monday.

New Problem


I took Tuesday completely off. No swim. No run. It's amazing how much more enjoyable Tuesdays are when my whole day isn't rushed. I got to sleep in until almost 6am, too!

My left knee was feeling much better on Tuesday, too. It was more flexible, with a greater range of motion, and a lot less pain. Still, the pain wasn't gone for Wednesday morning's run.

The plan for Wednesday was 16km (instead of the scheduled 20), but I was very open to shorter distances. The primary goal was a healthy run.

I started out slowly, though not as slowly as on the weekend. There was some tightness in my left leg, but I managed a 6:00 first kilometer (much faster than the 7:00 I've been starting with lately). I stopped at around 1.5 km to stretch a bit, and again at 3km to do a more thorough stretch. One of the stretches I did at 3km was the toe drag, and I found that my left outside shin was VERY tight. Ouch.

Once I started up again, I started planning. If I wanted to do 16km on Friday morning, then doing 16 today didn't seem wise, if my shin was still that tight. So I opted to turn around at the next major intersection, aiming for around 10-10.5km.

At the turnaround, I did some light stretching, then started home. I was feeling faster, and more comfortable. It felt very good to be moving, and I felt generally ok.

At around 8.5-9km, I noticed the same pain in my RIGHT calf that I felt on Sunday. Yuck. This was about the same distance that it crept in on Sunday, too. There was nothing to do but continue on, but the feeling got a bit stronger as I covered the last mile.

I did a very thorough stretch, focusing especially on the new problem in my right leg. Suddenly, instead of one recurring injuries, I have two. My chances of getting to the start line on the 27th "healthy and strong" just got cut in half.

Still, as I turned the jet in the shower on my calf muscles, I reflected that there's nothing more I can really do for it than what I'm doing now. Rest, lots of stretching, and listening to my body are my best bets. There is the fear that I may lose some training over the next month, and I still do want to try 32km on Sunday, but I'll do far better to err in undertraining than overtraining over the next 3.5 weeks.


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Recent Comments

  • 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
  • jank: Ease comes soon while riding in a group. As long read more
  • warren: Sadly, no. Nor did I delve into the Leguminosae family read more
  • jeff: WOOHOO! did you ever come up with a name for read more

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