Thursday, August 20, 2009

A funny thing happened on the way to the track....

So there I was, sipping on my tea at 4:00 AM and trying to pysche myself up for my track workout. These track workouts are so tough and I need to really get mentally prepared for the challenge. I have been running 800 Meter repeats which is two laps around a 400M track. I have worked my way to do doing 8 sets of this and making sure that I do them in under 3:30. I have been averaging around a 3:14 or so.

Today I decided to step it up a notch and do 1 mile repeats or 4 laps at top speed. My goal was to run each mile in 7:19 or better with a rest of 1:40 in between each set. I thought about doing 6 laps but decided not to push it too much today.

As I left my house I packed all the things I would need for my track work including my headlamp since I would have to be running the laps in the dark. I had my tunes cranked and set out to run the track at Pine Ridge High School which has a very nice rubber track.

As I drove up to the parking lot I noticed the following:

Needless to say I wasn't pleased. I had to drive to another track which wasn't nearly as good as this one and then had to psyche myself up all over again.

When I got to this track I did a light run to warm-up and then I was off. I decided that 4 sets was going to be enough today even though now I was contemplating doing 6.
I managed to do each 1 mile set in an average time of 7:08. At the end of the 4th lap I took a walk around the track to let my heart rate come down and then decided to do one more mile. I managed to do that mile in 7:00. I was glad that I decided to do that extra mile and now I can build on top of that and do a 6th set the next time out. The only question is where will I do it? (LOL)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Don’t ever use the “Q” word!

Wow! In a word that pretty much sums up the last week for me. It was full of positive energy and I’m still riding a pretty strong wave right now. However, it seemed like I would never get the news I got last week.

Let me give you some background so you can understand just how truly great last week was for me. For the past 3 years I have been working at Extreme Fitness as a full-time nutritionist. This year I decided to become a Personal Trainer and have also been doing that at Extreme Fitness. In addition I have my own Lifestyle Management Company (Cruz Control Lifestyle Management) and have also been working as a walking instructor for a company called Health Systems Group.

HSG manages many fitness facilities for corporations such as Proctor and Gamble and American Express. Each Wednesday I have met with a group of very dedicated women who are preparing to do the Weekend to End Breast Cancer on September 12th. I have been training them each week and have loved the experience. HSG is a company that I wanted to work for full time as I really embrace their “client first” mentality.

While I enjoy working with the clients at Extreme Fitness, I don’t really enjoy the fact that their customer service is so poor. I really believe that you can be profitable while still having a high degree of customer service. It is something that I believe sets me apart from many other people in this field and I take great pride in the fact that I am not only about the money. I think it has plenty to do with the fact that I was extremely overweight as a teenager and I understand how difficult the struggle can be to lose weight.

The other aspect of Extreme Fitness that I don’t enjoy is the fact that I only get paid on a per client basis. There have been days where I have gone into work and had client after client not show up for their session and that meant not getting paid. This made it very difficult to budget especially trying to support two young boys on a part-time basis.

As much as I love the work that I do and feel that it is what I do best, there were so many times that I contemplated changing careers just to make ends meet. I have had jobs in the past where I made more money but where I was totally unhappy. My passion lies in health promotion and that is something that I always get reminding myself about.

Then, two weeks ago I got the call I was waiting for from HSG. An opening came for a full time account manager for Franklin Templeton Financial Institute. The job would be to run the fitness studio and be an integral part of the wellness program there. I went for the interview and felt like I had done a great job. I waited for a full week anxiously awaiting a 2nd interview. That phone call came and I went for the interview last Friday morning.

Later that day I received the news that I got the job! To say that I was thrilled would be a huge understatement. I am so glad that I didn’t give up and remained mentally tough throughout this whole process. In many ways it resembled many of my toughest runs I’ve had.

Today I did a 10 mile run in very humid conditions. There were times when I wanted to stop or slow down as my breathing was getting more and more difficult. However, much like my career, I pushed on and picked up steam towards the end of the run and finished ahead of what I was hoping for.

I remember what my football coach told me many years ago. He said, “It’s ok to get knocked down but it’s not ok to stay down!” I think I have resembled those words!

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Dirty Girl Race report

Last weekend while doing my 20 mile trail run I decided to run the 6 hour dirty girl race the following weekend. I knew I was going to run that race but hadn’t decided on what distance/time to run. Because my marathon training has been doing mostly speed work, hill training and tempo runs, I didn’t see the need to do Ultra trail races. However, after talking it over with some very knowledgeable runners, I decided to do the 6 hour race.

Last year I managed to do 52.5 KM’s in 5:45 minutes but my goals for this race were to stay healthy and do a minimum of 40 KM’s. Anything above and beyond that was going to be gravy.

The course is one of my favourite in the Ontario Ultra Series. It is a 10KM loop with just enough hills to challenge but also some great stretches where I can really just run.

When I got to the race site just shortly after 7 AM I knew I had made the right decision to run. I was greeted by so many familiar faces and it felt so good to be surrounded by such amazing energy. Some of my friends were doing the 6 hour run like me while others were doing the 12 hour or 24 hour run.

I decided to run with my heart rate monitor for the first time ever in a race just to gauge where my heart rate was in the trails versus on the roads.

As the countdown started I kept telling myself to just go easy and keep checking my heart rate periodically to ensure that I wasn’t going too fast too soon.

I was disciplined enough to complete the first lap in under 1 hour (55 minutes) so the pace was good and I felt strong. I decided to listen to my music every other lap so that way it would really motivate me. Instead of my music, I just focused on running consistent and enjoying the feeling of being in the trails. I was even able to catch up to a few of my running idols and we all ran in together for the first lap.

The 2nd lap was much of the same and I finished in roughly the same time as my 1st lap. My music really helped to keep me going so I was glad that I made the decision to use it every other lap. Towards the end of the 10 KM loop there is a large hill that keeps getting longer and longer as the day goes (LOL). I decided to pop a few Alleve just before going up the hill to avoid any possible pain in my legs. This, as I soon found out, was a huge mistake. I felt nauseas almost immediately and really thought I was going to be sick. It didn’t help that my heart rate monitor, which was strapped to my chest, felt like it was restricting my breathing. I managed to fight through this feeling but when I stopped after the 2nd loop I decided to ditch the heart rate monitor for the remainder of the race.

My 3rd lap started out pretty well and though my pace slowed a little, I was still pretty happy with how I was feeling. Unfortunately about ¾ of the way through the 3rd loop I started to get cramps in my quads. They were so painful at times and it felt like my muscle was being torn away from the bone. I found it hard to stop though so I kept walking and doing some light running at the same time. The cramps would come and go so I just had to fight through it. I haven’t had this problem since I did my last “regular” marathon in 2007. So many thoughts went through my mind and it took me back to that dreadful experience. I made a conscious effort not to think about it because I know how the mind works so I kept going.

Amazingly enough, I finished the 4th lap pretty strong and had now run 40 KM’s. It was now 4:15 so I knew that even if I walked the next 10 KM I would get to 50 KM as I had 1:45 minutes to get there.

I knew that I was going to surpass my goal so I started to walk a little more and run when I felt like I wanted to. My cramps were still coming on from time to time but for the most part I was still able to run. I met up with a friend who was clearly struggling and he was going to walk the rest of the 6 hours. I made the decision to walk with him. Just then, a good friend (Jeff Cooper) passed me and that really motivated me so I decided to start running. He wasn’t running very fast but I decided to run with him and get some more advice for my marathon. At this point we both knew that we were going to reach 50 KM’s no matter how slow we ran. We actually joked that we didn’t want to run too fast because if we got to the start/finish line with too much time left we would have to go out for another loop.

The race is marked every 2.5 KM’s so if you head out for another loop after the 5 hour mark, you must reach either 2.5, 5, 7.5 or 10 KM or you would not get credit for running that distance. Not only that, but once you head out you will have to make it back to the start/finish line somehow (run/walk). Remember, this is AFTER running for 6 hours.

I picked up my pace during the latter part of that last lap and came across the finish line at 5:30. I told a friend who was watching that I was done and wasn’t going out again. Then Jeff came running through the finish line and said, “c’mon let’s go out again.” Of course my competitiveness got the better of me so I decided that I would go out and see what I could do. I managed to get to the 2.5 KM mark at 5:50 which made my total for the day 52.5 KM’s. I was really happy that I decided to run until the end and also happy that I didn’t walk the majority of that 4th loop. I also beat myself up a little because I knew that I could have pushed myself a little more during that 4th loop and that would have given me more of an opportunity to get to 55 KM’s.

In the end, though, I learned quite a bit about myself and I need to figure this cramping issue before my marathon in September.

Today I went out for a nice recovery run of 6 miles and will take tomorrow off to rest and then it’s back to my marathon training schedule.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

A change in plans

My plan today was to head to Pickering High School to do my 8 X 800M track work. When I got there I realized just how truly dark it was so I decided to drive a little further to Pinedridge HS. I was hoping that it would have been a little lighter there but of course it was not to be.

It was 5:15 when I did my warm-up lap and because it was so dark, I also used this opportunity to make sure that there was no obstructions on the lane where I was running. I decided to use lane 2 and stayed on that lane for the whole time I was there.

For my training I need to be able to run each 800M (2 laps around the track) in 3:30 or better. I did the first lap in 3:36. I wasn't happy about that so I picked it up quite a bit. Here is my final stats:
Lap 1: 3:36
Lap 2: 3:19
Lap 3: 3:21
Lap 4: 3:19
Lap 5: 3:16
Lap 6: 3:19
Lap 7: 3:16
Lap 8: 3:19

I walked/caught my breath for 1:40 seconds and this allowed my breathing and heart rate to slow down. During each lap my heart rate was about 164 bpm and my average pace was under a 7 minute mile.

Next up the Dirty Girl 6 hour race on Saturday. My goal is just to do 40KM so my body can get a feel for being out there for that distance. My main focus will be seeing how my heart rate is affected running on the trails versus running on the road.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Another great run

Knowing that I have a very addictive personality, is it any wonder that I am now hooked on running with a heart rate monitor strapped around my chest? Today I wanted to do an easy pace but my legs felt good so I decided to try and do as close to an exact race pace (8 min/mile) as possible for 6 miles. I also wanted to get a better gauge as to what my heart rate should be when I run at race pace.

During my marathon there will be times when my pace will speed up or slow down (hopefully not too much though). During my run today I wanted to stay at roughly the same pace and I managed to do that very well. My average pace was 7:59 and I finished the run in 47:53 (my goal was 48 minutes). I found that my heart rate hovered around the 154 bpm range. My maximum heart rate based on my age is 179 so 154 is 86% of my maximum heart rate.

Using the heart rate reserve method is an even better way to gauge fitness as it uses your resting heart rate in the equation. This is mine:
220-41= 179 - resting heart rate (50)= 129 X 86%= 110 + resting heart rate (50)=160
Therefore, 160 beats per minute represents 86% of my maximum heart rate which corresponds remarkably well to where I was yesterday and today.

Tomorrow will be an even greater test as I will have to run close to 90% or higher of my maximum heart rate as I do my track work. Can you tell that I am hooked?

Tuesday, August 04, 2009


That was my heart rate for the majority of my run today. That corresponded to an average pace of 7:54 min/mile for 10 miles. I noticed that if I ran too fast, my heart rate elevated to 170 and I felt uncomfortable so I actually slowed down my pace until my heart rate returned to 160-164. If my heart dropped below 160 my pace was too slow so I had to speed up. It really was an interesting game to see where my heart rate needs to be in order to keep my pace.

Mile 5 and mile 8 were the only miles where my average pace was slightly higher than what I needed for my race (8:01 and 8:02 respectively). My fastest average mile was 7:45.

Tomorrow will be a slightly slower pace and less distance as well, probably 5 miles. With a 6 hour race coming up on Saturday, I have to be careful not too push myself too hard.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly....

Today was my first time ever using a heart rate monitor and I felt like a kid with a new toy. For years many of my friends who know I start out too fast, have begged me to start using one of these but I always found them cumbersome.

I was coming off doing a 20 mile road/trail run yesterday so I was a little tired but I really wanted to see what this heart rate training was all about. I strapped the monitor to my chest and off I went.

About ½ miles into the run, the strap, which apparently I didn’t tighten enough, came loose and dropped from above my chest to below my waist. Amazingly enough it continued to record my heart rate though so instead of stopping my run and adjusting it, I decided to just keep running.

I would periodically check my heart rate and my average pace to gauge where my heart rate was. I noticed that when I ran a 7:30 to 7:45 minute mile, my heart rate would climb above 200 bpm. The closer I got to my actual race pace of 8:00 minutes per mile, I noticed that my heart rate was 190 to 195 bpm. This is where I tried to keep my heart rate for the majority of the run. Again, it’s difficult to know how accurate the reading was because the strap had fallen down but I will have to use that as a starting point and the next time I go out I will check again, this time with the strap tighter.

My goal was to finish the run in 1:20 which is an 8 minute mile. I once again started out fast and this gave a nice cushion of 44 seconds at the 7 mile mark. I needed every bit of those seconds because after the 8 mile mark I was 52 seconds ahead but this fell to only 35 seconds by the time the 9th mile was finished. I lost some time as I had to stop at a traffic light. I also had to do 2 hills which didn’t help. I finished the run in 1:19:20 seconds so I was able to make up an additional 5 seconds during that final mile, most of which was again uphill.

After running 30 miles (48KM’s) in 2 days it’s time for a day of rest tomorrow.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

How do you turn a 26KM trail into a 32K run?

The answer? It aint easy. I met up with a group of friends at 7 AM at the Forestream Parking Lot. I had hoped that some of them were going to run 20 miles with me but I soon found out that I had no takers. Most are training for a race next weekend so it didn’t make sense for them to go too far today. While I totally understood, it left me with a tough decision. They were going to do 26KM which was about 6KM short of what I wanted to do today. How was I going to squeeze another 6 KM out of this trail? Many thoughts went through my head, including doing the 2nd 10KM of the trail twice. Instead of that, I did some creative running and amazingly it turned out very well.

I ran with the group to the turnaround point of the first loop. This was Hwy7 and the total miles were just under 5. The black flies on that part of the route were really biting and it was at that point that I made my decision to go it alone. I decided that I would go West on Hwy 7 to the Durham/York border and then run South to Taunton Road. This added another few miles that I would not have gotten in had I went back to the same way I started. When I reached Taunton Road I looked at my Garmin and realized that I still needed to get a few more miles in so I went South to Concession 3. From Concession 3 I travelled East to Whites Road and then North to the Forestream where I had started at 7 AM.

When I got there I refuelled and then saw a few of the runners that I had left behind. I took an electrolyte supplement, ½ banana and filled up my water bottle and then went out for the next part of the run. At this point I was at 12.5 miles and again my head was spinning. I knew that even if I did the route to the Dump and back it would only be 6 miles and being as competitive as I am, I knew that this was not going to sit well with me. I took all the long routes I could find during this second half and when I got to the dump I ran another mile on the road and then headed back for the final stretch. I was at 16 miles and it was going to be a tight fit to get those 4 miles in. I again took the long way back and just as I was starting to get a little tired I heard some rustling in the trees. There was a little clearing about 5 feet in front of me and the next thing I knew there was a deer running right by me. For whatever reason this seemed to inspire me to go faster and harder and the rest of the run was a breeze.

As I finished my run I saw all my friends sitting in their lawn chairs having a beverage and food and was glad that I could join them. I managed to get in 19.6 miles (I decided to cut myself some slack) in 3:41 minutes. After the run I was talking to my friends about my training and they all offered some great advice. One even loaned me his heart rate monitor and tomorrow I will start using it. I’ve never run with one before but so many people have recommended that I do that I’m glad that I will finally be using one.

All in all it was a great day and a picture perfect weather day to be out in the trails!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Love/Hate relationship with the Rossland Hill

Thursdays mean one of 3 thing. Track work, tempo run or doing hill repeats up and down the Rossland hill. Today was hill repeat day. The hill itself starts at the corner of Westney Road and Rossland and heads West on Rossland to Harwood. I run the last 200M or 1/4 mile up then cross the road, jog down slowly then start up again. Today I had to do 7 of these. Hill training has really improved not only my oxygen uptake but it has strengthened my quadricep muscles as well.

I have tried to run most, if not all, of my runs at better than my expected race pace but when it comes to the Thursday workouts I have to turn it up another notch. I'm always challenged on Thursdays because not only am I coming off of my Wednesday morning run, I also teach a walking clinic on Wednesday nights and we are walking 7KM. I really have to dig down deep on Thursday as my alarm goes off at 4 AM. Once I'm up I let my mental game take over.

I have been working through a slight pain on the top of my left foot and recently have felt a little pull on the inner part of my thigh. Once I start my run, though, nothing gets in the way of finishing what I have to do.

I was able to do each 200M in an average time of 1:27 so I was pleased with that effort.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

What a difference one day makes

Yesterday my first mile took 8:43 to complete, today I was able to do it in 8:28 and those 15 seconds proved to be very important because unlike yesterday, I was able to overcome those 28 seconds and finished my 6 mile run in average time of 7:49. That means I completed the next 5 miles in an average time of 7:44. I really tried to focus on just relaxing today and letting the run come to me instead of the other way around.

I knew that I was going to do better than yesterday and that seemed to make me relax more as well. Tomorrow I was going to do my track work but I may do my hill training tomorrow and then do my track work next week. On the weekend I will be doing a long run in the Seaton Trail. The last time I was there it took me 4 hours and 15 minutes to complete the 36 KM's so I'm hoping for the same this weekend.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Learning while I run

As I was sipping on my tea this morning and going over my training week I realized that this was a “down” week for training. It’s amazing how these down weeks come at just the right time for me. Down weeks don’t mean that I stop running it just means that my mileage is reduced slightly. This weekend I will be doing a 21+ mile trail run and then follow that up with a 10+ mile road run so it probably won’t feel much like a down week (LOL).

First up today was a 6+ mile run and the training plan said to do it at whatever pace I wanted. I decided that I was going to just run for “feel” today and decide as I went what pace I wanted to do.

After taking yesterday off, my legs felt strong and refreshed but the start of my run is an uphill climb so I didn’t want to push myself at the beginning. In fact, by the time my first mile was finished I had run a rather slow 8:42. Once I saw that, my competitive juices took over and I wanted to see if I could shave those 42 seconds off by the time I finished my run.

I kept doing mathematical equations in my head and soon realized that I had to run at least another 6 miles and that I would have to run an average of 7:52 just to shave those 43 seconds off from that slow first mile. That would put me at an 8 minute mile average or what I need for my race.

It was quite the game of cat and mouse as I tried shave off those precious seconds. I used plenty of mental imagery to get me through. I knew that after 7 miles I needed to be at 56 minutes.

Mile 2 I averaged only 8:09, then mile 3 was slightly better at 8:01. That put me at 24:51 but still 51 seconds left to try and shave with only 4 miles to do it. After mile 4 I was at 32:49 so 2 of those seconds were gone. After mile 5 my time was 40:44 and time was running out. It didn’t help that I still had a huge hill in front of me. I was only able to shave off 3 seconds from mile 5 to 6 and was 41 seconds away from what I needed with only 1 mile left. Mile 7 was my fastest mile (7:40) and my finishing time was 56:21 or 21 seconds off from what I needed if I was going to race.

My average pace was 8:03 so I was able to shave off most of that slow start and if I had gone longer I know I would have accomplished that. It was really interesting to see this game today and it taught me not to start out too slow but it also showed me that eventually I would have caught up to the pace that I needed. Today was an important day for me and I will bank this memory and use it to help me when it comes to my race.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Coming full circle

My running life really has come full circle in so many ways.

2005 is a year that I will never forget. Not only was it the year when my marriage ended but it was also the year that I discovered what my passion truly was. At the time of my separation, I was knee deep in a job which was physically and emotionally draining. That made sense because my marriage mirrored that too.

Once I had made the decision to separate, the weight seemed to be lifted from my shoulders along with the stress that came along with being in an unhappy relationship. I also made the decision to leave my job as a drug and alcohol counsellor. It was really an easy decision because it was a job which wasn’t very uplifting and I realized that I needed to be in an environment which was more positive than negative.

All of this happened within a span of a few months but the single most important thing that happened that year came in May. I met Angie Hawley at my gym and I later found out that she was an Ultra Trail Runner. At that point I had no idea why people ran, let alone ran long distances. I was working out regularly at the gym but running never even crossed into my consciousness. I still remember the first time I even ran on the treadmill beside her as I wanted to get to know her. I kept hitting the emergency stop button as I was running because it was all so foreign to me. It really was a funny sight and it’s a wonder that I managed to get up the nerve to actually ask her out.

Well, I did ask her out and got her number and when we started talking that’s when I really got a sense of her passion for running. She asked me if I would like to go for a run with her one day. Because I wanted to impress her I said sure, let’s go. I’ll never forget that first run we did together. I didn’t even have proper shoes on but I managed to run 10K with her.

After surviving that, she asked me a few weeks later if I wanted to run in the trails with her, again I said sure. That feeling I had as I ran in the trails is something that I will also remember forever. I felt so alive that day and I remember the steam coming off my body after the run.

Fast forward to July 2009 and I am running the same routes that I started running in 2005. It hit me the other day how ironic that is to be running in the exact same area that started it all for me. It also made me think about what would have happened had I not met Angie in 2005? Who knows where my life would have turned. I cannot say with any confidence that I would have discovered my passion for running because she was the person who introduced me to it.

I have met some incredible people and have accomplished some amazing people because of that decision to ask Angie out on that day in May so I will forever be thankful to her for giving me that gift. Now I am able to pass along my passion to others in much the same way that she did for me. I take that responsibility very seriously because I know how much running has helped me and I know that others feel the same way.


Yesterday I ran ½ marathon through the streets of Ajax and it was a nice easy run. I have to remember to not push the speed on these runs too much but that is becoming more difficult as my conditioning increases. I also have noticed that my weight is finally starting to come down under the 160 mark and with 2 months until the race I want to see if I can hit the 150-155 pound mark before the race. I have decided to put my weight training on hold in order to try and get to that weight by race day.

I have had to juggle some of my runs this week so today I will be doing a race pace run of 6-7 miles and then a recovery run tomorrow.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Now THAT was a tempo run!

If yesterday was considered a “fast” run then today I have to redefine the word fast. I just finished a really good tempo run. How do I know that it was good? Well let’s just say that I thought my stomach was going to come up my throat.

I did the first mile at an average pace of 8:01 and then did the next 3 miles at an average pace of 7:26. By the time I was finished I was really feeling like I had pushed myself to the limit. The main thing I wanted to accomplish today was not just to build up to a fast speed but to “hold” that speed for a good length of time. I was pleased with what I was able to do today and now I have another benchmark with which to work with. That was my fastest 5 KM time ever and I know that I really pushed myself hard today. It is very satisfying to see just what can be accomplished with each workout. Although this training is harder than anything I’ve done in recent memory, I am embracing the challenge of it.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

So much has happened in the past 10 days!

Has it really been 10 days since I last posted?

I moved out of my house on July 12th and have been feverishly trying to settle myself into my new digs. I am very happy about the move and I know it will be the best thing for me in the long run. Moving can be stressful and that was surely the case. In fact it took me 12 hours to move on that day. Even though I knew that moving was going to take plenty out of me, it didn’t stop me from running 12 miles before the move started. I had such great support from my family and from an amazing friend. Thanks Kelly for being there throughout the whole weekend!

After taking the 13th off from running I set out on my first run out of my new house on the 14th. I am such a creature of habit and you have to remember that I have been running the same routes from my old house since 2005. That day I had an amazing 10 mile run and discovered that it really didn’t matter where I was, I was going to adapt to wherever I was. That took so much pressure off of me. In fact, that 10 mile run was probably one of the better runs I have had in a long time.

The rest of that week as I settled into my new surroundings I found more running routes and that seemed to rejuvenate me. I also rediscovered my love for trails last weekend. I met up with some amazing friends and we did 36 KM in 4:15 and it was one of the best experiences I have ever had. It wasn’t just because I was running in the trails it was because of who I was running with. The Seaton Mud Puppies are a group of amazing runners and I am fortunate that they have “adopted” me into their “pound.” They have accomplished so many things with regards to running and whenever I am with them I cannot help but hang onto every word as they offered up advice for my marathon training program.

Unfortunately I found out that one of my running idols has prostrate cancer. He is someone who I really look up to so this was a huge shock to me. He is a man of great character and strength and I know he will overcome this because this.

After the 36K trail run on Saturday I had a relaxing soak in my jacuzzi tub! On Sunay I came back to the trails to run another 10K. After the run I noticed that my big toe was black on the sides. It was painful to the touch but didn't compromise my running. After talking with one of my friends who is a nurse, it was determined that I had an ingrown toenail. I have treated it with some ointment so it seems much better. I will wait until after the race to have it looked at.

I hit the roads for a 10 mile run on Monday and took yesterday off to rest. I just finished running 5+ miles today at a fast pace and will continue with my training as my marathon is now only 9 weeks away!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Must be the new shoes

I just completed my fastest 9 mile run so far during my training. I ran in 1:10:15 seconds which was a full 15 seconds faster than I ran on Tuesday. I actually thought I was not going to reach my goal of 1:12:00 (8 minute/mile) because I had to stop twice to take a gel. As I started off today I realized I had forgotten to take my usual 1/2 banana. That started to play mind games with me as I knew that I had only brought along 2 gu chomps:

I tried these several weeks ago during a long run and found them very effective. I have tried so many different gels/bars etc. during running but this one seems to do the trick for now anyway. (LOL)

figured that I would take one of these at 3 miles and then another one at the 6 mile mark. The walk break took an average of 56 seconds. I used it to bring my heart rate down slightly and to make sure that I chewed the GU chomp completely. There is nothing worse than having these things stuck to my teeth while I'm trying to run a sub 5:00/KM (LOL).

At the 7 mile mark I was at 55:03 and I needed to be at 56:00. This meant that I had built up a 57 second "cushion" for the remaining 2 miles. I kept going through the math in my head. I needed to do 9 miles in 1:12:00 which meant that I had just under 17 minutes to do 2 miles (8:30 minute mile). This is where I really had to dig down deep and not settle for just doing that. I wanted to average at least an 8 minute mile for the final 2 miles. That would still have put me at 1:11 or so and I would have been happy with that. It was amazing to see how I just relaxed at decided to just "run" and not think. I did the last two miles in 15:12 or an average pace of 7:56. I was very happy when I finished but also very light headed. Now it's time to get to work with this moving business...

This will be a stressful weekend with moving but I know that without my running, my peace of mind will be disturbed. Here is one of my favorite songs, enjoy:

Paulo Nutini (New Shoes)

"Woke up cold one tuesday,
I'm looking tired and feeling quite sick,
I felt like there was something missing in my day to day life,
So I quickly opened the wardrobe,
Pulled out some jeans and a T-Shirt that seemed clean,
Topped it off with a pair of old shoes,
That were ripped around the seams,
And I thought these shoes just don't suit me.

Hey, I put some new shoes on,
And suddenly everything is right,
I said, hey, I put some new shoes on and everybody's smiling,
It so inviting,
Oh, short on money,
But long on time,
Slowly strolling in the sweet sunshine,
And I'm running late,
And I dont need an excuse,
'cause I'm wearing my brand new shoes.

Woke up late one thursday,
And I'm seeing stars as I'm rubbing my eyes,
And I felt like there were two days missing,
As I focused all the time,
And I made my way to the kitchen,
But I had to stop from the shock of what I found,
A room full of all my friends dancing round and round,
And I thought hello new shoes,
Byebye them blues.

Take me wondering through these streets,
Where bright lights and angels meet,
Stone to stone they take me on,
I'm walking to the break of dawn.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Another week almost in the books

Friday is always a day for me to look at what I have accomplished and what I have to do. I can honestly say that this was one of my better training weeks because I met all my training objectives. In fact I'm still on a high from yesterdays track workout.

Tomorrow is race pace run of 9 miles and that is followed by an easy (thank goodness) run of 12 miles on Sunday.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Mission accomplished!

1188 seconds! That was the time it took me to run 6 sets of 800 Meters (2 complete laps) this morning at the Pickering High School track. That works out to an average time of 3:18 per 800 Meters. My goal today was to run each 800 Meters at 3:30 or better so I am very pumped after today.

I was actually feeling very light headed after the 4th lap but was proud of myself for sticking with it. I kept breaking the workout down into "mini" workouts and that seemed to help. I purposely put some very inspirational, to me anyway, running songs on my mp3 player and when I hear songs like "Running on Empty" or "Running Down a Dream" it's very hard for me not to give it my all.

Who knew that 1188 seconds would be so tough but that is what it was today!

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Time for some new shoes

I can always tell when it's time for me to purchase a new pair of shoes. My feet hurt more than usual, especially the arches and at times it feels like there is no cushioning between my feet and the pavement.

Unfortunately I always have to order my shoes because I have very flat feet and the Mizuno Wave Alchemy are my shoes of choice. I remember wearing a much heavier shoe when I first started running (Brooks I believe) but have been using the Alchemy's for at least 2.5 years. They provide me with great support and I would not trust my feet with any other shoe.

Today I did a 4 mile run in 30:45. I was supposed to take it easy today but I felt the need for speed. I may come to regret that decision as tomorrow I will need that speed as I do my 6X800 repeats at the local track. I would like to complete each 800Metre run in 3:30 seconds.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Back at it today

With 12 weeks left to go and having taken yesterday off from running (I did some core and stability work) I was back at it today. First up was a 9 mile run through the streets of Ajax at 5:30 this morning. My goal was to finish in better than 72 minutes. Well despite feeling tired this morning, I was able to complete the run in 70 minutes and 30 seconds.

I felt sluggish this morning and wondered if I had any juice in my tank. Once I got started, though, I was able to relax and just let the run come to me. I utilized lots of mental visualization techniques and I pretended like I was at the race. I purposely did not look at my Garmin too much but would glance at it just to make sure that I was on pace. I was always about 1 minute or more ahead at each mile and that cushion allowed me to relax as well. I stopped for about 20 seconds to eat 1/2 a banana and then headed back for the last 7+ KM's. I actually picked up even more time during that last stretch as I kept my pace under 5 minutes for all but 35 seconds of the last 25 minutes of the run. There was even a few runners who I saw and who I know so that made the run even more special. At one point I was chasing down of them and again I used that as an example of what I will be doing on race day.

Tomorrow will be an easy 4 mile run but knowing me it will probably turn out to be an all out sprint.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

12 weeks to greatness

September 27th, 2009. I have that date implanted in my brain. With 12 weeks to go in my training program, this week is a "step down" week which I am very much looking forward to it. The intensity remains but the mileage will be reduced for my long run next weekend.

This week I will be doing a 9 mile run on Tuesday, 4 miles on Wednesday, track work on Thursday then a race pace run of 9 miles on Saturday and a LSD of 12 miles on Sunday. I may flip those two days around as I'm moving next weekend.

With all the stress that goes along with moving, one constant in my life continues to be running and that will continue no matter where I live. In fact, one of the first things I did was scout out the area for running routes so that will be an easy adjustment for me.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

LSD..........Another type of drug

Today I did my Long Slow Distance run of 17 miles. While my training during the week is primarily built around speed, the LSD runs are all about bringing the pace down quite a bit. The main reason for doing this is so that the body can get adapted to running for long periods of time. The combination of speed work and LSD is critical to marathon training. My run today took 2 hours and 30 minute and my pace was 8:50/mile. That is 50 seconds slower than what I need for my marathon. I ran from my house (Church and Delaney)to the waterfront at the end of Liverpool Road and to the Rotary Park pavilion in Ajax, stopped for some water and then headed back home. I had to contend with some nice hills and a strong wind gusts but I felt very strong all the way through.

I had thought about running with 3 different groups today, all of whom asked me to join them. Unfortunately they wanted to go at different times so I decided to just run alone.

I am glad that I made that decision because sometimes, most times actually, I need to be alone wih my thoughts. When I'm training during the week, my runs are so fast that I don't really get a chance to process things in my head. Today, though, I was able to really look within myself and do some reflecting. I know that this is an important thing for me to do on a regular basis. To me, running is more than just a recreational activity; it is a therapeutic tool that I must tap into on a regular basis.

I am still on a high, hours later and I do not want to come down from it. I always know when I have had a successful LSD run because nothing hurts on me. Had I pushed the speed more I know that most of my body will be in pain. I also feel like I could easily have gone for much longer today or even go for a run later. Both are signs that my pace was a good one.

Yesterday I was telling my friend about how lucky I am that I have never suffered an injury that has prevented me from running. I honestly do not want to think about what my life would be like without running. I could probably go longer without eating than I could without running. I NEED running to help me clear the junk that is in my head. All those negative thoughts and demons must be exorcised on a daily basis.

These LSD runs really reinforce why running is so important to me. I never want to take this for granted and every time I finish a run I tap my heart and look up to the sky to say thanks for getting me through yet another run injury free. I know that I have a special angel looking down on me from above.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Floating Fartleks today

It was back to basics for the workout today and that meant doing some floating fartleks covering a total of 5.5 miles. After warming up for 1.5 miles I alternated running fast (4:00 to 4:30 min/KM) for 1.5 minutes and then running slow for 2.5 minutes. I did 8 sets of this and by the end I felt amazing. Tomorrow will be a day of rest from my training. This weekend my long run jumps to 17 miles so I need to be rested for that one.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

A nice testimonial

Greg played an integral part in my preparation for the Chicago, Hamilton and ultimately, the Boston Marathon in April, 2009. Without his experience and nutritional expertise, I am convinced that I would not have achieved the success I enjoyed in all three marathons. Greg’s knowledge about food, when and how to fuel, and his approach to guiding his clients is excellent. I would encourage anyone who is thinking about adopting a more healthy lifestyle or perhaps thinking about how to prepare for a marathon, contact Greg and develop a proper nutritional program. You won’t regret it!

Kathy De Carlo

Back to the laboratory

I swear that sometimes I feel like a mad scientist as I constantly try to find the right running "mix." Today I redeemed myself a little bit and in the process MAY have discovered a good starting pace.

I really just wanted to have a nice easy run today, honest. After yesterdays 8 mile run, I did another 7 KM walk with the walking group that I teach. Those combined 20 KM's on my feet do take it's toll after awhile. I did my first mile in 8:37 and felt good about that. I seemed to pick up speed during the next mile because I noticed that I had run Mile 2 in exactly 8 minutes. Mile 3 and 4 was run in 7:43 and 7:33 repectively. Unlike Tuesday, I seemed to get faster as the run progressed. My average time was exactly an 8 minute mile, the same as Tuesday but I felt much better about the effort today.

Tomorrow I am either going to a quick track workout or a tempo run.

Not my finest hour

Yesterday I suffered my first mini-setback and although I ultimately achieved my goal for the day, it didn't come easy.

My training called for an 8 mile mid-tempo run. Not too fast, not too slow. I have been trying to run most of my runs at better than race pace however. After starting out too fast and burning out towards the middle of my run on Sunday, I decided that I would start out slower and see if I could pick it up towards the final 2/3 of my run. The problem was that I started out too slow and I had to work like crazy to make up those precious seconds. It became a game of catching seconds as each mile I had to make up 10 or more seconds. As a result I ended up doing 7:15 and 7:20 minute miles and even that just barely brought me to my goal time of exactly 64 minutes.

That is something that will be very difficult to do on race day so back to the laboratory I go as I continue to work on my race. Today I will do an easy 4 mile recovery run as my body is still feeling a little tired. I am also in need of a new pair of shoes so that is effecting my performance.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Time for some zzzzzz's

I was clearly feeling the effects of the training and adventure of the past two days. I think I clocked my total mileage between walking and running at about 50 KM. As I stumbled out of bed this morning, knowing that I had to do a 8 Mile run at race pace I had two questions; How and Why am I going to get this done?

I suppose I could have done the run tomorrow and taken today off but I know how much that would have eaten me up inside and that wasn’t really an option for me. Instead I took my time this morning just trying to wake myself up and psych myself up at the same time. I decided to download a few motivational songs to keep me going. By the time I had finished my cup of tea and eaten my ½ banana I was ready to at least attempt this.

In order for me to reach my marathon goal I need to be able to run an average of an 8 minute mile or better for 26.2 miles. These race pace runs are designed to prepare my body for how that pace “feels” like. There are many factors that lead up to keeping or “holding” a certain pace including temperature, elevation, and wind. Of course the main factor is how I’m feeling on that day in late September. I’m sure my body will not be as beaten up as it has been these past two days so that was in the back of my mind as I left my house.

As predicted I started out very fast and finished the first 4 miles in 7:54, 7:52 and 7:48, 7:53 respectively. I have a bad habit of starting out too fast while trying to “bank” some time for later on during a race. This practice doesn’t always work however and by the time I started my 5th mile my body was really starting to tire. Mile 5 was 8:05 and I wondered if I was going to be able to continue. With still 3 more miles to go, doubt started to creep into my mind. I started thinking about any excuse to stop. My breathing was shallow and I know I was starting to wonder if I had made the right decision to run today.

I decided not to quit but I also decided that if I didn’t hit my goal today then I wouldn’t be disappointed. This seemed to take some of the pressure off and I finished my 6 in 7:55. It certainly helped that I was running some of that mile down the same Rossland hill that I do my hill repeats at. By the time I reached the bottom of the hill, I had two miles remaining.

At that point there was no way I was going to settle for anything less than my full effort for those two miles. I kept saying to myself that even if I average my race pace I will be finished in 16 minutes or roughly 3-4 songs on my mp3 player. I was glad that I had downloaded those songs because they really helped me through those last two miles. Mile 7 was exactly an 8 minute mile and Mile 8 was my fastest at 7:29! I have no idea how I pulled off that last mile because when I glanced at my watch and saw that I still had ½ mile left I got really upset as I thought I was closer to finishing than I was. ½ mile is another 4 minutes, not much unless you have already been pushing yourself for over an hour without stopping.

In the end I finished the run in 1:03:07 which works out to be a 7:54 pace. I learned a great deal about myself today. It amazes how powerful the body is when the mind relaxes and allows the body to do what it needs to do. It is almost like the mind is the antagonist and the body just sits there and takes it all until it decides that enough is enough and decides to fight back with reckless abandon.

I also realize the importance of rest and that is what I will be doing between now and Tuesday morning. My body is beaten and needs to recover now more than ever. All I need now is a comfy couch and big sized pillow…………..

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Sometimes I am too hard on myself

After yesterday’s “adventure” I returned to my own training this morning. My training schedule for this weekend calls for a long run of 16 miles and a pace run of 8 miles. Ideally the pace run is done on Saturdays and the long run is done on Sundays. It doesn’t really matter, though, which one is done first as both require different techniques and running speeds.

I decided to do my long run today but instead of going on the road I decided to go back to the Seaton Trail. I KNOW after yesterday you would think that that would be the last place I would want to go but the trails were calling me this morning so off I went.

I wanted to run for approximately 2.5 hours. Because running trails is more difficult than running on the road I figured that that was the equivalent of how long it would take me to do 16 miles on the road.

I started out at the “dump” and made it all the way to the Whitevale Road and then turned around and headed back. I managed to escape the first half unscathed but wasn’t so lucky on the way home as I fell a few times and suffered a little cut on my knee.

On the way home I passed several of my friends who had started out an hour later. It was nice being almost done as they were just starting.

As I was nearing my car I noticed that I had done under 12 miles. Once I saw that I got upset with myself and decided to run along concession 3 until I completed the full 12 miles. I’m not sure if I was more upset with not completing 12 miles or more upset that I couldn’t just stop short of 12 miles and be happy with my run.

The whole time I wondered if I had cheated my training by not doing 16 miles today? I think the fact that I have a hard time “settling” for anything but my best is a good thing but I also need to cut myself some slack from time to time.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Quite the afternoon

Just when I think that I have done everything I can with regards to running, along comes a day like today which reminds me otherwise.

My morning started out with training one of my clients at 7:30 AM. It was a good 5K run and she has been progressing nicely each week. Today she was able to run for 6 minutes without stopping after only being able to run for 1 minute this was quite an accomplishment for her.

After that run finished I met another client and friend (Karen) for our weekly trail run through the Seaton Trail. We had to cut this one a little short but she did amazingly well and I can’t wait until next week when we complete the whole first half section of the Seaton Trail.

By now it was 10:30 and I was feeling good but a little tired. Krista, the third of my running clients today, and I set off on another tour through the Seaton Trail. The pace was a little quicker and the hills were a little tougher but she managed amazingly well. As we climbed to the top of the one of the last hills I stopped to give her one of my energy gels. I then noticed that my car key was no longer in my pouch.

Unfortunately time was not on our side as Krista had to head back home so we had to abandon looking for the key at this point and instead we finished the loop. She gave me a ride close to my home and at that point all kinds of thoughts were going through my head. I really had no idea what to do but I was hoping that Karen, who lived not too far away, was going to be home. Off I went to her house which was about 2 miles away.

Thankfully she was home and she offered to take me back to the Seaton trail along with her son Keith so we could all walk there and try and find the key. Thankfully we were able to find it but not before another climb or two up more hills. Of course then we had to make the long trek back to where the car was.

All told I must have run/walked well over 25 KM’s today on a day that was supposed to be a rest day (LOL). I can’t thank Karen and Keith enough for being there today when I needed them. It was an experience that I will not soon forget. Even though I do love the Seaton trail, I think I have seen enough of it for one day……..then again there’s always tomorrow……

Training Update

If I hear one more person complain about the heat I think I will blow a gasket. I remember all too well how cold this past winter was and even though I never missed a run, I certainly prefer this weather over that.

What I love about this time of year is that I get to run as the sun gets up. I actually get a kick out of the fact that I get to see the sun rise every morning.

Yesterday my workout consisted of doing 5 hill repeats up the Rossland hill at the corner of Westney and Rossland. It is a 2.5 mile run to get to the hill so I used that as my warm-up and subsequent cool-down afterwards.

The total amount of time it took me to do all 5 sets including the slow run down the hill was 20 minutes. It was a very tough 20 minutes that’s for sure. I was very happy with the fact that my 5th set was the fastest one of the 5. I was able to keep my pace at about a 4.5 minute/KM. My main goal was to keep myself as upright as possible and really use my arms to keep my legs going. I was also trying to work my quads so I would make sure that my stride was high and long.

As I “trotted” home and that IS the best way to describe it as my legs were feeling very heavy, I thought about how I seem to have a good start and a good finish but somehow in the middle I stumble. It is something that I really want to work on as this will be very important for my race in September.

It is hard to believe that I won’t be doing a race until August 8th (Dirty Girls Trail Race) so I’m thinking about entering a smaller race like the Durham ¼ marathon at the end of July. I could use that race, or another similar one, to gauge how my speed is coming along.

Today I will be doing the equivalent of a running trifecta. I will be doing three different runs with three different people all at three different paces. Two of these will be in the trails. It will be interesting to see how tired I am at the end of the day.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Fast feet today

Today I decided to do something different. My schedule called for a 4 mile run. This was supposed to be a somewhat easy run but I had other plans in mind.

After listening to a good friend about running most of my runs faster than my race pace, I decided to make this a very fast tempo run. If this was my race pace then I needed to finish this run in 32 minutes (8 minute mile).

When I took off I could feel a slight pain on the top of my left foot. I think this to do with me needing new shoes and also the fact that I am pounding the pavement more now than ever before in terms of quickness and foot turnover.

The pain lasted for the first ½ to ¾ of the first mile and then I decided not to think about it. It truly is amazing what the mind will do when you decide to focus your attention on something else other than the pain.

I picked up the pace and before I knew it I was doing a 7.5 minute Mile. Once I saw that I really wanted to try and maintain that for as long as possible. When I finished the run and saw that I had done the 4 mile run in 30:31 I was extremely happy and satisfied. I actually think that I can run faster than that and I’m hoping that by the time I am done I will be able to run 4 miles in under 30 minutes.

Tomorrow I will be doing some hill training and instead of speed, I am going to focus on working my quads as much as possible.

Today I was asked to be a part of a health fair at Nielsons in Markham. My presentation was on trail running. It was and still is amazing to me that people are coming to me looking for information on running in general and trail running in particular. I have had the pleasure of turning many people onto running and each and every time that happens I get chills because it makes me so happy to know that other people are getting the same satisfaction that I am.

Many of the people I saw today kept saying how they can’t run but when I relayed my story to them they seemed to understand that anybody can do anything as long as they really want to. I think that the people there could really get a good sense of how passionate I am about running and I hope that I was able to turn more people onto this amazing activity.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Back to work

After talking things over with a very experienced trail runner, I have decided to slightly modify some of my training. He told me, and I agree that the majority of my runs need to be faster than my expected marathon pace. Today I put that into practice during my 8 mile run.

I was feeling the affects of some not so good eating over the weekend and I could actually “feel” the heaviness. This got me very frustrated initially. When I reached the 1.5 mile mark, I was about 15 seconds behind where I should have been. This may not sound like much but in running it can be very tough to make up. I started to feel a little better after the 2 mile mark and that’s when I picked up a little more speed. It helped that I had a slight decline going down Westney Road to Kingston Road. As I turned the corner and headed East on Kingston there is a hill about ½ KM long. I knew that I had to charge up the hill so off I went. I was clearly winded after that but happy at the same time. I allowed my breathing to gradually return before turning the corner at Harwood Avenue.

I headed North on Harwood and there is a slight incline in the road so that added to the challenge. I have done this route so many times that I know every piece of sidewalk there is. At the 5 mile mark (corner of Harwood and Rossland) I was now seconds ahead of where I needed to be. However, I was starting to feel tired. Even though I was heading home with 3 miles to go and a long downhill in front of me I had to fight the urge to slow down.

I thought about my race and how I’ll have to go through some ups and downs and how some of the race I will be ahead of my pace and other times I will be behind. The bottom line is that I have to finish strong and in control. That seemed to help and spark me as I picked up the pace even more now.

I needed to finish the 8 mile run in 64 minutes and my final time was 63 minutes so I managed to make up the 15 seconds and then shave off another full minute. My last mile was actually my fastest mile of the trip.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Trying to stay on course

After doing 3 Ultra marathons since the end of April I now find myself in a training dilemma when it comes to doing my long runs on Sunday morning. Typically I would do anywhere from 3 to 4 hours or more, for a long run as I was preparing for these Ultra races. Now that I am in marathon training my “long” run today was what my mid week runs used to be. I almost felt like I was cheating myself by not going longer than what the plan has laid out.

I just concluded the end of week 6 today with my 10 mile long run and as you can see, the training starts to intensify more and more each week. I will stay the course even though sometimes it’s difficult to do so. Today, for instance, I was supposed to run 45 to 1 minute slower than a “normal” run which for me should have been about a 9 minute/Mile. I had a very hard time staying within that range today and averaged an 8:35 minute/Mile instead. This despite the fact that I walked a little bit and also stopped off at Tim Horton’s to have my water bottle topped up.

I have three goals for the Scotiabank Marathon. One is an Ultimate Goal where all the stars will have to be aligned for me to be successful. One is a Realistic Goal, meaning that I will be very disappointed if I fail to reach it and the other is a finishing goal meaning that I want to be able to finish the race healthy and injury free. I will keep these goals a secret until after my race in September.

Saturday, June 20, 2009


So far, even though my training is still in the infancy stage, this is my fastest 7 mile run to date. The average pace was 7:42 per KM and I could really feel the "push" today. Running in the rain just added to my excitement today.

What I really found interesting was I was doing a 7:30 or better clip but then I remembered that the goal is to simulate my marathon pace of 8:00/Mile so I would slow my pace down a little. However, just when it felt like my pace was about an "8" I checked my gamin and noticed that it was about 7:45 pace. I will need to get better at what an 8 minute mile feels like but right now I'm pleased that I could hold onto a faster pace for that amount of time.
Tomorrow an "easy" 10 mile run.

Thoughts of Niagara Falls

Today I will be thinking about a race that I cannot attend. It is a race that I have done 3 times since 2006 and that is the Niagara Falls 50K race. It is the race where I did my first 50K and I will never forget that experience.

One of my favourite running pictures (see above) was the finish line of that race and I still get Goosebumps when I think back to the finish of that race. It is a 25K out and back with aid/water stations staggered every 5KM. We run to the great falls and then turn around and come back. Obviously we cannot restrict the roads to just runners so when we actually get to the falls we are darting in and around many visitors who are there taking pictures or mingling with friends.

Like any other Ultra race, it’s a mental challenge to know that you will be on your feet for better than 4 hours. It usually takes me about an hour or so to get into a good “zone” and after that my mind just takes over and my feet follow.

Two years ago at this race I actually got lost towards the end and added an extra 2-3 KM’s. At the time I was very upset but now I can look back and laugh at the experience. In fact, I have gotten lost a few times at other trail races so it’s something I am used to (LOL). Whenever I am in my zone I tend to pay less attention to what is around me and simply run. I have to do a better job of staying on course. Thankfully I won’t have to worry about getting lost at the Scotiabank Marathon in September.

While I do wish I could be there with my friends, I also know that my son takes priority over anything else and today is my son’s birthday party. I had seriously thought about running the race and then coming back for his party but I could tell that he wouldn’t have been happy with that and I really hate disappointing him. There will be other races in my future but today is his day.

I took a good friend and client into the trails yesterday and she did an amazing 4.5 mile loop in the Seaton Trail. It’s amazing to watch her progression in the trails and I am so proud of what she has done in such a short amount of time. It was one year ago that we were training for her first 5K race and now she is blazing the trails like a seasoned pro!

Today I am doing my 7Mile run. I have to do this in 56 minutes or less as that is the goal for today according to my training plan.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Doing what is right isn't always easy

1009 seconds! That was time spent running my 5 X 800 metre repeats at 5:00 AM at the Pickering High School this morning. This was an average of 3:36 seconds per 800 Metres (twice around at close to top speed).

What made today interesting wasn’t just the rain, which I was OK with, it was the swirling wind that I had to contend with. I’m sure the wind played a part in my overall time although it was amazing to see that half the track I had the wind with me and the other half the wind was against me. Checking the weather network I saw that the gusts were about 30 KM/Hour so that affected my running to say the least. I was hoping for a minimum of 4 minutes to do 2 laps so I was very pleased with the results.

Getting up daily at 4 AM sometimes takes it toll on me and the fact that I have to do all my training on my own makes it difficult at times. I know in my heart that I will never sleep in or get and decide not to run and yet I do get a lonely feeling sometimes.

I’m sure that’s how it is with my clients who are trying to change their eating habits and lifestyle behaviours. At times it can seem like you are all alone and to a greater extent you are right. The one and only person we can never escape from is ourselves. That is something that I will be figuring out next month as I venture out on my own after 18 years of living with someone (between my ex-wife and sister who moved into my house after my separation).

I am hoping and counting on, actually, my running to help me get through this and I am confident that it will. I think that is why running is so appealing to me. It allows me to build my confidence up and is always up to challenge me just when I think I’ve conquered every challenge out there. Don’t be afraid to work on what you need to work on for yourself. Sometimes it’s important to be selfish at times because how else are we going to make the improvements on our own?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Training recap

On Tuesday I did my first run of the week and it was a very nice 7 mile run. I decided to do a little bit of a tempo run for the last 3 miles and it is getting easier and easier to switch gears. I really need to practice running a little slower at the start so that I can pick it up in the middle part of the race. In the past I have been guilty of going out too fast and then not having enough “juice” towards the middle. For some reason I always seem to pick it up for the last 2/3 of a race so it is the middle part that I need to focus on.

Today, I did a 4 mile run at a nice steady pace. I have come to accept these recovery runs for being a very important part of my training. I used to “have” to run at least 8-10 miles per day or I felt like I hadn’t done too much. Now I am appreciating these small runs because my intensity levels have increased dramatically. At the end of the run today I did some core work and some weight training.

Tomorrow I will be doing speed work at the track near Pickering High School. The training calls for 5X 800 metre repeats and I will attempt to run this as close to race pace as possible. For me that translates into running each 800 Metre distance in 4 minutes or less. In between each set I will be walking about 200 Metres to catch my breath.

A few weeks ago I was able to do 4 sets in less than the 4 minutes required, so I will have to see how the addition of 1 extra set affects my performance.

Yesterday at the gym I decided to check my body fat and weight as we have recently purchased a new fancy digital scale/body fat analyzer. Much to my surprise my weight was 162 pounds and my body fat was 9%! I was completely caught off guard by those numbers and felt very good about where I am in my training. I knew that I was making some improvements but I feel that now I am right on track to getting to 150 by the end of September when my race arrives!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Mind controls everything

For the past 10 weeks I have been teaching a walking clinic for the employees at American Express who have signed up for the Weekend to End Breast Cancer 60KM walk in September. It’s amazing to see the transformation of these amazing women who had a tough time completing a 5KM walk and who are now doing 16 KM walks as part of the training I have given them.

It reminds me of how powerful the mind is and how we have really only touched the surface with regards to what we are capable of. The more ultra races I do, the more I’m convinced that it is my mind that needs to be trained as much if not more than my legs. Physically I think I can do just about anything I set out to do as I feel that I am taking the proper steps to keep myself in the best shape possible.

My mental game, though, needs some fine tuning. There are certain parts of each race I’ve done this year where self-doubt has crept in and I must figure out why that is happening and what I can do to overcome it. I am proud that I have been able to fight through this but it would be nice to have a race where I didn’t have to. However, maybe that is the point of these ultra races. The longer I am out there, the more my mind begins to wander. Surely in a shorter race I wouldn’t have time to think about too many things but when I am out there for 4, 5, or 6 hours it seems like that negative self-talk is inevitable.

During my training I am paying very close attention to keeping my mind relaxed and also doing some visualization exercises. I am imagining that I am actually at the race and I am at the half-way mark where fatigue starts to set in. This will allow me to be as prepared as I can be mentally for the challenges of running a fast marathon.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Good and Bad Days

Yesterday I was approached by two of my neighbours. The two ladies asked me if I was a personal trainer. Without missing a beat my instincts took over and I said, “Yes I am.” They asked me if I had a business card and I went inside to get them each one.

As I was walking inside I asked myself why they thought I was a personal trainer. I decided to ask them that as I handed them my business card. They both remarked that I was in really good shape and that they have seen how dedicated I am to my running. This caught me off guard because I am so hard on myself and I don’t see what others see. It was a truly nice compliment and yet I had a hard time accepting that. I know that has plenty to do with my Eating Disorder and distorted body image from my teenage years. I don’t suffer as much as I used to and yet I still have good and bad days.

I think that one of the main reasons why I remain so dedicated to staying in good shape is because I do have a hard time seeing what others see and I am constantly trying to improve my personal appearance. Hopefully one day I will see what others see but until then I will live from day to day and try my best to take the compliments at face value. Yesterday surely was a good day though!

A return to the waterfront trail

I am so lucky to be surrounded with some truly beautiful places to run. There are three nature trails within 15 minutes of each other (Seaton, Greenwood and Rouge Valley) and then there is a little beauty called the Ajax waterfront trail.

It has been over a year since I ran on this trail and I am so glad I decided to pick today to do my long run there (14 miles).

I started at the end of Liverpool Road in Pickering right beside the marina. The weather was great with just a slight enough breeze which kept the humidity down. It’s always nice to run by the lake as the temperature is a little cooler there than in most places.

The trail itself is mostly flat but there are few hills thrown in. At just over 3 Miles was the Rotary Park Pavillion and I was able to refill my water bottle there. The remaining 4 Miles consisted of some rolling hills. There were plenty of people out riding their bikes, rollerblading or just walking. It was one of those days that I was thankful for just being alive and taking in all the beauty around me.

When I reached my turn around point at 7 miles I felt very strong and wanted to go a little further but decided to stick with my plan. Instead of going further, I followed the suggestion of my marathon plan which said to run the last 2/3 of the long run at a quicker pace so that is what I did.

By the time I finished I felt so much better for picking this spot and I guarantee that I will be back there again from time to time. Because I run so much, sometimes all I need is a change of venue to re-energize myself.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

I'm Mr. Brightside...

Why am I Mr. Brightside? I have suffered through many tragedies in my life including the death of a fiancĂ© at an early age. I’m sure many of you have gone through similar circumstances in your own life and I’m also sure that you could justify giving up because of that.

Having to deal with the passing of someone who I thought would be with me for the rest of my life has really strengthened my inner being. I know that when I run she is with me and everytime I finish a run I tap my heart and look up to the heavens to say thank you for touching my life so very much. There are many things that I had to go through while my fiancĂ© battled for her life but I won’t go into too much detail here. However, when things get truly tough for me emotionally I can think back to what she had to go through and it puts my issues into perspective.

As I was running today the song Mr. Brightside, by the Killers, came on my mp3 player. I thought to myself, I truly am Mr. Brightside because I keep battling and fighting no matter what circumstance I am given. I want Ingrid to be proud of who I am and what I am doing with my life. I know that I have a rare gift of helping people and I take great pride in that. It is not something I take for granted. The thrill I get when a “disciple” starts following my guidelines and then start seeing great results is something that I cannot put a price on.

Today was supposed to be a 7 mile run but I was feeling good so I gave myself an extra mile to do. I wasn’t running any particular pace as my training didn’t call for one today so I took the time to practice switching gears and I also wanted to get used to feeling what running a 5 minute KM pace would feel like for an extended period of time.

Tomorrow will be my long run of 14 Miles and I am really thinking about running by the Ajax waterfront for a change of pace. I haven’t run there in years it seems so it will be a nice change of pace for me. My pace needs to be significantly slower tomorrow so I will obey Mr. Higdon’s training because so far he hasn’t disappointed.

Friday, June 12, 2009

A good time to reflect

I find Fridays a good time for me to reflect on the week that was and the week that is upcoming.

One week ago I was preparing for my third Ultra Marathon since the end of April. Even though my focus this year is squarely on the Scotiabank Marathon, I wanted to do a few Ultras so that I can maintain the great contact with the many friends that I have made since I started running in 2005. Well, mission accomplished.

I will be missing a few Ultra races that normally I would have run in (Niagara Falls next weekend and Creemore Springs Race in July) but I have to remember why I am training. I will also have to put my love for trails on the backburner as I concentrate on running on the roads more. Normally I would run in the trails at least once or twice per week but these days will now be spent doing speed work and hill training. I already have noticed a difference in my oxygen uptake and I am able to sustain a faster pace for longer than I have in the past so I know that the training is paying off.

My training calls for running 6 days per week with Fridays being my day of rest. I have swapped that for Mondays because I train two clients on Fridays (one on the roads and one in the trails).

Training for Ultra races required me to run ridiculously long weekly mileages, sometimes as much as 100 KM or more per week. Now I am doing about half that mileage but the intensity has increased substantially. My “long” run this week is 14 miles where normally that might be considered a normal run during the week. Every run used to be the same and I know that my body was simply getting used to the pattern I was doing so I wasn’t seeing much of a change. I realize more now than ever how important it is to have a varied program. One day I’m doing hill training, the next day I may do a tempo run and the following week I may be doing track work at the local high school.

Even though I consider myself an experienced runner, boy that sounds funny coming from me, I know the benefit of having someone else to be accountable to. For me that comes in the form of a training plan. It is the reason why I firmly believe in either journaling or having my clients follow a meal plan. If you are honest and not afraid to put down exactly what you are eating from day to day it can only help you to see your pattern more clearly. I haven’t done a meal plan for myself in quite a long time as I feel that I do have a handle of my eating pattern/habits but it’s something I am seriously thinking about doing for myself once I move at the end of the month.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Running is my life

What would my life be like if I didn’t have running? I really wish I never find out.

Ever since I got separated 4 years ago, running has been the once constant in my life. It doesn’t matter if it’s snowing, raining, hot, cold, thunderstorms or clear skies. It is there for me when I’m feeling happy or sad. It has gotten me through the heartache of losing my dog and the heartaches of failed relationships. The only thing that running ever asks of me is to take care of my feet with regular tune-ups (new shoes). Other than that, little is asked in return.

I always start my day off with a run. Now and then I’ll take a day off here and there, usually to recover from a race, but, knock on wood please, I haven’t had to take more than 3 consecutive days off from running since 2005.

My favourite time to run is without a doubt first thing in the morning. I need that “fix” to start my day off right. It’s difficult to describe the feeling that I get from a run and unlike many of my friends who like the feeling they have after the run is over, I actually love the feeling I get WHILE I’m running. I’m able to really look at my life when I run, the good and the bad. Mistakes I’ve made and the things that I have accomplished.

Running is more than just a physical activity for me, it’s a way of life and it is no different than brushing my teeth or taking a shower. It is a routine that is unlike any other I have ever experienced and it continues to feed me positive feelings day after day after day.

I’m lucky because I get to see the sun come up while others are tucked away in their beds. A friend of mine is going through a rough time with his workouts and hasn’t been at the gym for a few days. I wish he could get the same feelings I get from running that he gets from lifting weights. If I am depressed then running lifts me up. No it doesn’t make everything better but it does give me an escape for an hour or two and I usually come back with a much better attitude about things. The guilt of not running would eat me up inside and would make for a very long and depressing day.

Today I did a 45 minute tempo run. I had forgotten how gruelling this workout was but I quickly found out. I started out running at a comfortable pace (5:10 to 5:15 min/KM) for the first 13 minutes. After that I picked up the tempo quite a bit for 20 minutes (4:25 to 4:30 min/KM) and then finished with 12 minute cool down. I really wanted to push myself today and I was happy with what I accomplished.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Building blocks to success

Today I did my required mileage, ok so I went 4 miles instead of 3 but it was close enough. I'm really starting to find out how to gauge my speed. Each run I have I have thoughts about the Scotiabank Marathon. I try to imagine that I am running the race while I'm training and that keeps me focused.

Even though the race is still months away, I need to train properly in order to reach my goal. I am laying down building blocks so that my foundation will be strong. My goal weight is still 150 to 155 and right now I am about 10 pounds away from where I need to be. I know that I will achieve this weight as long as I stay the course and keep my workouts as varied as possible. In addition I will be slowly increasing my carbohydrates, reducing my protein intake and keeping my calories under 2000 per day. I want to keep my carbohydrates relative high since I am doing so much running. Protein isn’t as necessary for me right now because I am not building muscle. It will probably represent about 25% of my diet with Carbohydrates and Fats at 55% and 20% respectively.

Running “light” for me is so important and even though I am not there yet, I can actually feel lighter now. I may have to sacrifice some muscle in order to get to that weight but I know it will help me run faster so I am willing and able to do what I need to do.

The only weight training I am doing right now is an upper body workout once per week using mostly bands and some free weights. I do this every Wednesday after my 4 mile run. I am also doing some core work to work my transverse abdominals, obliques, and spinal erectors (lower back). I am avoiding doing any leg work since I am running 6 days per week and sometimes twice per day as I am teaching some clients how to run as well.

Next up: 35 minute Tempo Run tomorrow morning at 5:00 AM