Sunday, March 30, 2008

April fool's 10k Run - So close

Just came back from the Whitby Marina, where I ran my fastest 10k yet. I have been working fairly hard on my running over the past couple of months, despite the f#$% snow and cold and I was anxious to see if it had paid off. I knew my 5k times had come down dramatically but for some people, it doesn't really translate into 10k.

I ran the race with two friends from the canoe club. Both are much younger than me, around 29 to my 44. They barely had trained, so I felt I HAD to beat them. I was a bit worried about one of them because he told me his best time for a 10k was around 42 minutes and I was planning on 45. I warmed up early and for quite a long time. My knee bothered me a bit but I was careful not to push, slowing down to a stop when it started to smart a bit. After 15 minutes I could do strides without any problem and it was time to have one last pit-stop and get to the starting line.

The weather was cold, at around the freezing point and quite windy, specially along the lake where we ran most of the race. They had to change the route because of snow and ice on the second half of the 10k, so we just ran the 5k loop twice.

My strategy was to simply run steady a 4:30/km pace throughout. The wind had other plans. We seeded ourselves pretty good and I took off, my fast friend in tow. My first two km were right on pace but the next three were either facing the wind, going up a long uphill or both. On the way back I tried to get the time back but I just couldn't. I was still doing really good. Out and backs are great 'cause you can see who's ahead and how far they are. I'm not sure I saw anyone from my age group in front of me. A couple of guys in their fifties and quite a few younger guys but that's it. Did I mention it's a fairly small race with about 400 runners?

At the 5km turnaround, there was nobody to tell us where to go. People waved vaguely towards a few cones. I went there and saw more cones along the boats and I started that way, but people were screaming at me to go the other way. I have to admit I was a bit pissed off. I back traced and took off for the second loop. The wind felt even worse. I was a bit slower on the second lap, except for the last km ending up with even splits.

At the finish, no one was recording finishing times and we didn't have chips! My Garmin 305 says I ran 9.99 km and finished with a time of 45:21, which is 9 minutes faster than my November 30th 10k, just a short 4 months ago.

I was going for sub-45, but with the cold and the wind, it just wasn't in the cards today. I was so close though. Next time. It might be a while before I try again, since I'm trying to build up for a 25k trail run on May 24. Maybe I'll race a 15k at the end of April.

Now, I'm switching my training to multi-sports. I need to improve my swimming A LOT. I have no stamina whatsoever. My technique falls apart after 100 meters. I feel sorry for the lifeguard who has to witness this mess.

I'm also going to replace a few parts on my bike and try to bike outside, as soon as the weather gets above friggin zero!

That's it for now.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Turning the page

This coming Sunday is the April Fools 10k run. This marks the end of my Jack Daniel intermediate program. If my left knee holds up, I expect to PR in this race. My lifetime PR for the 10k is 49:56, which I did somewhere around 1988. My last 10k was in December where I ran 54:17.

I could not really run this week because of my knee so hopefully it will be up to snuff on Sunday. If it holds, I'm going to attempt to go sub-45. This would be an amazing achievement for me. I remember that race in the late 80's, after I had run under 50 minutes. I couldn't imagine EVER running faster than this. I talked to this guy who had just started running and he had finished in 44 minutes and change. That's where I was confronted to the fact that some people just run faster than others. All you can do is work with what you got.

I remember ACCEPTING the fact that I would NEVER run under 45 minutes, let alone do it at the ripe age of 44. I don't know why but it just seemed impossible.

Training programs change everything. Back then, I just ran. No intervals, no speed work, no nothin'. I followed programs from two books, the latest being Jack Daniel's Running Formula. I have made incredible improvements in my running, from a 30-some minute 5k in September to a 21:45 5k two weeks ago, all that in about 6 months. I followed the program as closely as I could.

After this race, I will need to follow one of his key advice: take a break. In my case, this won't mean stop running completely but I will stop following a structured running program for a few weeks. As I mentioned in previous posts, I intend to participate in a few triathlons this summer so I will concentrate on cycling and swimming during that time. I will still run, but just for distance with the goal of running the Sulphur Trail 25 race on May 24th.

I believe I need this rest. My knee is not giving me problems for nothing. It might be that I won't be able to make the 25k run in May. That's ok. There will be others.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Achilles St-Pat's Race Report

The weather this morning was sunny, but a bit cold (-1C) and windy (25-30 km/h). Still it was quite nice. There was a fairly large field with 1293 runners/walkers. Achilles is a non-profit organization that encourages people with disabilities to participate in running, so there was quite a few people with various disabilities. If you want a description of the course, my previous post gives an overview.

I tried to seed myself correctly, but as always, quite a few slow runners went up front and the start was a bit of a pain. It took me about 500 meters to before I could hit my pace. After that, it was smooth sailing. I felt really strong and kept passing people. I got passed by only a couple of people throughout the whole race, one of them about 10 meters from the friggin' line!

Anyway, to make a long story short, I did it. My chip time was 21:44, which is beyond my wildest expectations. I had pretty much convinced myself that I would go around 22:30, specially after getting stuck at the start. My Garmin position data is pretty much useless because I was running downtown, but I'm positive I ran negative splits with a second half about 1 minute faster than the first.

The race was sponsored by Steamwhistle, a beer company, so we got a free beer (and chili) after the race. That really hit the spot!


Place: 125/1293
Gun Time: 22:10
Chip Time: 21:44
Category: Men 40-49
Cat Place: 30/142
Gender Place: 107/538

According to my training program, this now gives me a VDOT of 45, three notches above my current VDOT of 42. My new training paces are: EPace: 5:46/km, TPace: 4:38/km and IPace: 4:16/km. I don't do repetitions yet, so they don't matter for now. My next quality workout will be crazy hard.

My next race is in two weeks. It's the April Fool's 10K, in Whitby. According to my VDOT chart, I might be able to crack 45 minutes, which would be demented.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Ready to roll

I just picked up my race kit for tomorrow's Achilles St-Patrick's Day 5km run.We will be chipped, which is always nice. I doubt my GPS will be much use in the downtown core, with the buildings and everything. I will wear it anyway to record my heart rate for post-race analysis. I programmed a screen with no HR for the race because I don't like to look at it while racing.

I drove the course this morning. It's fairly flat with the exception of a 1/2 km section near the start. The road goes up over a railway and then down but not quite all the way down. The start location is a bit lower than the downtown core, where most of the race will be run. The course is "out and back" so I will plan on a very strong last km. The first km should be a bit slow because of the climbing.

Weather calls for a chilly (-4C) but sunny morning. It's also supposed to be windy (25km/h). Hopefully, by 10:15 it will be a bit warmer. There are not a lot of building around the start area, so my Garmin should be ok for the first km or so. That's good, 'cause that will help me set my early pace. I want to run the first km in about 4:40 and then try to push up to 4:24 for the next 3 km. The last km starts with a short climb but then it's downhill from there so I'm hoping for a very strong finish.

I'm not going to run today. I might go for a swim this afternoon instead and do some drills. Nothing taxing.

Goal times:

Ultimate Goal: 22 minutes
Realistic Goal: sub-23 minutes
Ok goal: new PR (sub-23:44)

We'll see tomorrow!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Back with a vengeance

After a few days without running, Yesterdays I tried my knee on an easy run and today I did a full quality workout without so much as a twinge. The intervals I ran were at 4:32/km and I felt great. Total time at that speed was 16 minutes. I actually wondered if the treadmill I was on was defective and was going too slow. Last week, the same workout almost brought me to tears and today I felt terrific.

I guess the rest without running, the cross training and the glucosamin+chondroitin supplements really helped.

I`m now pumped about Sunday's race. I'm going maintain a small volume of running the remainder of the week with a few strides. I'll do a spinning class tomorrow or Friday and some swimming. Short run Saturday morning. And Sunday, I'm going to unleash. Not much time in a 5k. The plan is simple, run around 4:24/km with a slightly faster second half. I didn't think I could do it but after todays run, I'm thinking it might actually be possible.

22:30 might be a more realistic goal but one must have dreams!

Saturday, March 8, 2008


Yesterday at lunch, I went to the gym for a treadmill run. After a couple of minutes I got this burning sensation inside my left knee. Tried to stretch it out but I just couldn't get rid of the burn.

Decided to play it safe and went to UofT (University of Toronto) to sign up to the sport center so I can use the pool. I swam about 500m. I'm an ok swimmer technically (I think) but I have no stamina. I definitely have to work on this. Didn't really time myself, but I think it took me 15-20 minutes to do it, including 3 one minute rests.

At dinner time, I went back to the gym and did 45 minutes of easy stationary bike, keeping my HR under 140. After the bike, I couldn't help myself and tried the treadmill. I did an easy 15 minutes run without problem.

This morning I went to the gym hoping to be able to do yesterday's quality workout that I skipped. I kinda felt something in my knee but not too bad, so I warmed up, did 4 strides (instead of 6) and then pushed on with 2 miles at my threshold pace. By the end, I could definitely feel something so I cooled down and didn't do the second 2-miles interval. This sucks. I iced it and it feels fine but I'm going to skip tomorrow's long run and I won't run on Monday either. I'll either bike or swim.

Hope everything is back to normal for next Sunday's race. This is probably the end for any sub-22 minutes dreams I had. I'll be happy with sub-23. Heck, I'll be happy to run it at all!

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Challenge Extended ... and Accepted

Yesterday I sent an email to an old friend of mine asking him if he thought we could gather the old "gang" and run the Sulphur Spring 100 mile relay. I'm thinking of running the 25k, but I wouldn't mind doing this with a bunch of frinds I've had since I was 3 years old. What a weekend that would be. We'll see what happens, since they would have to travel great distances to get here. I'm the only one who now lives in Ontario.

BUT. My friend then told me that there's a triathlon in Jonquière, where he lives, every summer (triathlon Saguenay - warning: French content) and that quite a few of my friends intended to do it. I was then challenged. So now I have to somehow fit at least some swimming and cycling into my training schedule. I do the odd spinning class but I never swim. That will have to change. I'm now the owner of a new bathing suit, swimming goggles and a swimming cap. All I need is a pool.

View Larger Map

You understand, I don't really care how well I do in that triathlon ... as long as I beat my pals! Hopefully, we are looking at the Sprint (swim 750m, bike 20km, run 5km) and not the Olympic (swim 1.5km, bike 40km, run 10km).

Nothing like friendly competition to get the competitive juices going. This should be a weekend to remember.

I haven't quite decided how this is going to affect my running. I'm obviously going to have to run less. I guess we will see if cross training is all that is cracked up to be. I'm going to finish my current 16 weeks program (Jack Daniels' intermediate program) at the end of March, which is timed to culminate with a 10km race. After that, I had planned to jump into the advanced program but that will have to change.

One thing is for sure, by the end of August, I have to start on my marathon training for the Sedona marathon, on February 7th 2009.