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.