Monday, November 24, 2008

Race Report - Whitby Waterfront 10km race

Last year, I ran this race as my first 10km race in decades so I decided to run it again. It's a fairly small field (about 150 runners for the 10k) and most of the really fast runners go for the 10 miler. Just in case, I had "studded" my Nike Free 5.0 but it turned out that the course was fairly clear of snow and ice and I decided to run in my favorite shoes: my beloved Nike Free 3.0. I didn't overdress for the temperature, which was about -3C with no wind. I wore my Mizuno Breath Thermo underlayer with another looser top, my Mizuno tights, a cap and gloves.

I did a decent warmup, gulped half my small bottle of Gatorade and lined up at the start with about 5 minutes to go. Just as the gun is about to go, behind me I hear a women talking to her friend: "Janine, did you double-knot your shoe laces?". I look down and FUCK, I sure didn't! I bend down but before I can remove my gloves the gun goes off. I start running. My goal in this race was to break 45 minutes to see if my short distance fitness is on par, after all that marathon-training craziness. The course is fairly flat so I was able to maintain a 4:30-ish pace. At the 5k mark, I feel something down there, I look down and sure enough, my right shoe lace is undone. I take off my gloves, stop, and double-knot both sides. I get up and giddyup. 6k, 7k, 8k and all of a sudden I'm getting close to the finish. As I approach the line, I look at the clock and it says 41-something. Wtf? I finish in 41:55, gun time. Something is wrong. I look at my Garmin 305 and the distance says 9.21km. The course was short by friggin' 800 meters. Everyone who's not wearing a GPS device is all excited about their time.

Anyway, I'm still happy with my race. My chip time was 41:38, my pace was pretty much in line for a 45 minutes 10k. I finished 3rd in my age group, FAR behind the 1st and 2nd place, who also finished 1st and 2nd overall with times in the low 35 minutes. Ringers! I finished 8th overall, in the top 10%, which is by far my best ranking ever. 

Now I'm wondering if I should race the Chilly Willy 10k or half-marathon next Sunday. Hmmm.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Winter-proofing my Running Shoes

Ice is back on the roads and sidewalks. I hate ice. But there IS ice (and snow) on the ground and I DO have a 10k race tomorrow. Desperate times call for desperate measures so I decided to use a technique I've read about on a few web sites.

WARNING: If your shoe has the words GEL or AIR in their name, be VERY careful where you place the screws.

I've inserted a number of hex head metal screws in the sole of my shoes. I tried them on the sidewalk in front of my house (well, my neighbour's since MY sidewalk is scraped clean!) and traction was vastly improved. Running on regular surface was a bit noisy but seemed to be fine.

So tomorrow morning, if the race officials tell us that there is ice on the course, I will wear my studded shoes.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Blood donations and performance

PLEASE NOTE: I am not a doctor and everything in this post is based on me, an experiment of one.

If I look in the index of any of my running books, and I have A LOT, for "blood donation", I find no entry in any of them. So when I got a call about two weeks after running the Toronto marathon, I said sure, no problem. I used to give blood regularly when I lived in Quebec City because the Red Cross (back then) came to the building I worked in about 3 times a year. I didn't really run back then. Since moving to Toronto I hadn't given blood, I felt a bit guilty and felt the need to atone.

So I went, gave my bag and came home. I didn't run until 3 days later because I was taking it easy after the marathon and all. When I did run, I felt incredibly sluggish. I was running fairly slow but I felt like I had no energy. This was the shortest run I had done in 6 months and I was TIRED. When I downloaded my Garmin 305 data and saw my heart rate, I was worried. It was WAY high. I had run at my recovery pace and my heart rate was basically the same as when I had run my first 10k race! WTF? Did I damage my heart or my leg muscles? That whole week I felt like I'd lost half my fitness. I could run slow just fine, but hills and striders were really hard. The second week was a bit better and now in the 3rd week I finally am starting to feel more energetic. I have a 10k race on Sunday, so we shall see.

I looked in all my books and found little of interest, except a little blurb in "Lore of Running" about inducing anemia with blood donations, but nothing specific. I found a few comments from other runners in running forums that complained of the same symptoms after donating blood. When I talked to my doctor she laughted and said it takes up to 3 months to eliminate all the effecst of a blood donation but that I should be back on track within 3 to 4 weeks of donating.

I am so happy I didn't do it a few weeks before my marathon. This would have been devastating. Training for a marathon takes the better part of 6 months and wrecking a race because of a lack of information would have been very frustrating, to say the least. I had always been told the effects of a donation would only last a couple of days. But then again, I should have known better since they won't let you give more for another 53 days! Duhhh!

So yes, I will give blood again. But I will do it knowing what the effects are and how long they will last (at least for me). 

Thursday, November 13, 2008

2009 Season schedule

I believe I mentioned in a previous post that 2009 would be the year of the bike. I looks like I lied. I meant it at the time but it just happened that I unexpectedly qualified for the Boston Marathon and have to start marathon training all over again. This time, I want to put in more miles than for my first marathon. Although the training was more than sufficient and the race went smoothly, after the race my body was thorougly thrashed. A week after the race, I went out for a short run and basically couldn't walk straight the next couple of days. I believe that with more volume, I will be able to recover faster. So if I race 5 or 6 times a week, I won't be able to bike as much as I had hoped.

So what's the plan?  Originally, I had thought I would go to the Florida 70.3 Ironman at Disneyworld but now that I have to go to Boston (and my family discovered a sudden interest in my running), this would blow my travel budget. So I will do my 70.3 races locally. I still wanted to do something new in the Spring. Last years I did the Sulphur Springs 25k trail race and they also have longer distances, so I decided to go for the 50 mile this year. Boston will be a training runabout 5 weeks before Sulphur Springs.

I'm going to build a plan from a combination of the "level 2" marathon plan from "Brain Training for Runners" (BTFR) and the Comrade Marathon plan from "Everyone's Guide to Distance Running" (EGDR). The Comrade Marathon is a well known 90km ultra-marathon down in South Africa. So I'm going to follow the BTFR plan to build the pre-requisite base mileage of about 70 km/week and switch to the EGDR plan. The mileage for some of the long runs is just ridiculous, so the author recommends doing half-marathons, marathons or short ultras (50k) at a slow pace as training runs.

I have already started the first (BTFR) plan. I will keep going until February 8, which is 16 weeks before Sulphur Springs and then switch over to EGDR until May 23rd 2009.

My Race schedule should look like this:

Nov 23 - Whitby Waterfront 10k
Dec 28 - Resolution Run 5k
Jan 1st - Hair of the dog 9k
Mar 7 - Seneca Creek 50k
Mar 29 - Around the Bay Road Race (30k)
April 20 - Boston Marathon 42.2k
May 23 - Sulphur Springs 50 miles (80k)

I might no do all of them. Some distance don't quite mesh with the plan. For example, in therory I should "warm up" with a 14k run before the Boston marathon to get my mileage up to 56 km that day. We'll see. All of those run are to be done at a slower "ultra" pace of about 5:40min/km (9:07/mile). I will also switch to a run/walk combination of 8 km run / 3 minutes walk. 

I am a bit concerned about speed. Ever since I've started marathon training, I feel like my speed has stagnated. We'll see what happens in Whitby. I haven't run a 10k race since April except in Olympic triathlons and that does NOT feel the same. I'll make my best efforts to work hard in my speed workouts.

Of course, I'll still try to put in a couple of bike and swim sessions every week. Once Sulphur Spring is done, I will switch to triathlon training. My planned races are:

July 5 - Peterborough half 
July 18 - Triathlon Saguenay Sprint (against my homies)
August 21- Timberman 70.3

I'll do a few extra Sprints and/or Olympics depending on my schedule.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Book review - Everyone's Guide to Distance Running

There aren't a lot of books about ultra running. I saw a reference to this book in the Ultra section of "Lore of Running". I got it used from Amazon and it arrived in excellent condition.

Norrie Williamson is an endurance athlete who now lives in South Africa. He is known mostly for his distance running but he also did triathlons (London to Paris Arch-2-Arc Enduroman) and other endurance events.

I really enjoyed this book. I went thru the 400+ pages in 2 days. The author never lets the book become dry and technical. Everything is always based on his experience, and he has a lot.

The first section is about the running lifestyle. He begins with a short autobiography describing how he started to run. He then moves on to trying to gigure out why people get into endurance events and ends with our long term prospects as endurance athletes as ages catches up with us. This section was the most interesting to me, maybe because I don't quite understand why I'm attracted to longer distances and I'm hoping for some revelation.

The second section is about training. Even though the technical aspect of training in the book didn't introduce any new and amazing training technique, I still read the whole thing. Basically, Williamson is a believer in speed work, reasonable volume and adequate rest. He also believes that one should reach his/her full potential at shorter distances (5k to 21k) before moving up to longer distances. He convinced me that to run a 50 mile race, I would have to run/walk it. He also convinced me that I could do the distance way faster than I thought I could.

Then there's a very comprehensive section about nutrition before, during and after a race. The last part is a hodge podge of things that didn't fit the previous sections. The section on heart rate monitors is a bit out dated in my humble opinion. 

I was expecting a little more training plans but there are only a few. This book is not aimed at the new runner. Most plans assume you are already running 50k/week or more. For example, the first long run on the "Comrade Marathon (90km race in South Africa) plan" is over 20km. There are a few 10k plan, but the first week totals over 30km so you are expected to have a decent base.

What I enjoyed the most about this book is that the author rejects limitations. He acknowledges physical and genetic limitations but makes us realize that for most of us they are an excuse and that we are nowhere near to reaching them. We somehow convince ourselves that we can't break a certain level. Williamson actually convinced me that some of the limits I had already set in my mind were not worthy and that I should just keep at it and see where it takes me. If I decide that I won't ever break 3:15 in a marathon or 42 minutes in a 10k or that I can't run 50 miles then surely I will never do it. I now think I can.

Definitely recommended.

Thursday, November 6, 2008


Dear Jean Daniel Begin,

This is to notify you that your entry into the 113th Boston Marathon on Monday, April 20, 2009 has been accepted, provided that the information you submitted is accurate.

You can verify your acceptance into the field by searching the 113th Boston Marathon "Entrants" database on the B.A.A. web site, Additionally, an acceptance postcard will be mailed to you via US Postal Service mail.

In early April 2009, an official Number Pick-up Card and extensive information regarding the B.A.A. Boston Marathon and related race week activities will be mailed to you via US Postal Service first class mail. If you do not receive your Number Pick-up Card (required to claim number) and brochure by April 11, please contact our Registration Office at Registration related inquiries may also be directed to 508-435-6905.

Note that bib numbers will not be distributed on Race Day. Your travel arrangements should take into account picking up your number at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston on Friday, April 17 from 2:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., or Saturday, April 18 or Sunday, April 19 from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

We look forward to seeing you in April! Best of luck in your training!


Boston Athletic Association