Monday, September 26, 2005

Uncomfortably Numb

I am so fucking beyond mere tired that my body is numb. Literally. It is taking all of my considerable willpower to keep myself moving at my current level of effort. I am not just trying to qualify for the Boston Marathon itself, I am BQing in LIFE! Beyond the clinic itself I have been working incredibly demanding twelve hour and even fourteen days.

I feel like I am juggling chainsaws. I can not remember when I last had a day off. Maybe three weeks ago. Just as my marathon training workload was peaking...

Dietwise, I am counting calories, but eating like a horse. Four and five meals a day. Endless grazing. Handfuls of supplements and lots of healthy food.

I had a good, good friend send me the following e-mail today. S, as I said, I adore you. No disputing the fact that I am going to the whip in the home stretch of my attempt to BQ. I am teetering on the knife-edge of pushing my conditioning and training to the utmost. Still think I have not gone over the edge. There is no question in my mind that this what I have to do in order to accomplish my goals and objectives. I am always keeping my eyes on the prize...

Hi Vince,

This is the RN speaking. I am concerned for you. I checked my journal and it has been three weeks since I have seen you. From the neck down you look like that lean, mean muscle machine that you've been striving for.(Good work by the way - even if I do prefer my men a little beefier :-) From the neck up- you look exhausted!! I would use the word gaunt but that's a bit harsh.

I have cheerfully listened to your lectures, read your blog, and followed your suggestions. It's your turn. It is my observation that in these past weeks you have pushed your body to its limits in training, all the while undernourishing. Really - you have not met your body's caloric needs in your effort to lose weight. At this point you need to REST, EAT, and probablyREST SOME MORE!! NO RUNNING!!!!

I got the feeling as you dashed off on Sunday that you're working a lot. I really want you to succeed on Oct 9th. NO MORE RUNNING OR DIETING OR WORKING TIL RACE DAY. You are overtraining and not listening to your own advice.

And we all know - ANY TRAINING IN THE TWO WEEKS BEFORE A RACE WILL NOT ENHANCE OUR PERFORMANCE! I'll get off my soapbox and wish you well. If I'm wrong you can tell me where to go...... and if you do that I'll know that is the irritability of overtraining :-)

Take care, S

Dear S,

From the neck up, I AM exhausted. That part is true.

Diet wise, I am eating OVER three thousand calories per day. And on Saturday and Sundays, it is closer to four thousand. Just ask Oscar! And I supplement to beat the band.

Thank you for caring enough to write that e-mail. I really truly appreciate your care and concern. I adore you even more!

My body fat percentage is NOT out of line. I am still over 10%. I am monitored pretty closely by my Doctor, and Boris is totally aware of what I am doing and what I am up to. My bloodwork and general health are excellent. Even outstanding - for a man of my particular vintage.

I keep an absolutely obsessive-compulsive training journal. My morning heart rate does not indicate any signs of overtraining. None at all. In fact my resting heart rate keeps dropping.

In my Blog, I have said that I have backed off many times in my training regime to recover from a strenuous workout. That part is true. Ask June and Stu.

It is true that I am beyond tired, and probably exhausted, from working 60-70 hour weeks in addition to my marathon training. Need the money. No other way out of it... My travel achedule for the next six months is freaking insane...

Have scheduled a full week off prior to the marathon. I hope that does it! Best I can arrange.

I am in full taper mode. Just ask the folks I ran with on Sunday, as I reined them in. Ask Seymour and Jo as the four hour group and the four fifteens nearly passed us at Granville Island!

S, I have not embarked on this journey to fail. On the contrary, I am quite capable of being ruthlessly efficient with myself. Imposition of will is one of the things I do best...

I do appreciate you voicing your concern. Thanks for being such a great friend!

Vince "Boston or Bust" Hemingson

Friday, September 23, 2005

Fidgety Friday

Still have a little post-Yasso muscle stiffness. Cancelled my speed workout with the Half-Marathon Clinic but went for the lecture and promptly forgot that I had suggested that the run come before the talk because the sun is setting so quickly these days. The last two workouts we had this week ended at eight and it was pitch black on the way home. Not the safest way to run injury-free and with a marathon only weeks away.

Fall is here. Beautiful and sunny, crisp and cold, summer is a fading memory. I did two very, very easy runs of thirty minutes each, today and yesterday, mostly just to get the blood flowing. I have been eating a little more and I seem to be less tired as a result. My weight had dropped as low as 177, but is back up to 178. I am working long days - not finishing until nearly Midnight for the past couple of weeks - and hope we have a couple of projects put to bed by the end of this month. I really want to take it easy the whole week before the marathon, so October 1st sounds like a good cut-off for a marathon on October 9th.

I am fidgety as all get out these days. Hadn't realized how bone-tired I have been. Sometimes, late in the evening, I find myself tripping over my own feet. Just too dog tired to lift them out of the way. I have even felt very light headed at times. A quick shot or snack of carbs seems to help, so it may be low blood sugar. I do not want to get too carried away with my diet at this stage of my training and fitness. Thank God I am not doing any ladder work this week!

Feel keen to tangle with the marathon and another part of me just wants the whole damn thing to be over with. This attempt to qualify for Boston, my BQing, so to speak, has taken up more of my resources and attention than I had initially thought it would. Isn't that the way with every project in life? You get halfway through renovating the kitchen and the spare bathroom and then look at the bills and the time and the sawdust and the mess and the paint and wonder what the Hell did I get myself into? And you're half way there and there is no turning back so you just grit your teeth, shake your head and hope it all works out in the end.

The betting of bottles of wine and betting period has gotten a little out of hand. I'm up to 14 bottles of wine and a few hundred dollar side bets. This could drive me into personal bankruptcy all over again. Ahh, what the Hell! A few people who made bets early on are starting to getting a little worried. But these tend to be the folks who made, what were not so much bets, as pledges, as in, Vince, if you qualify for Boston, I'll give up smoking, or if - and there are three people who actually said this to me - Vince, if you qualify for Boston, I'll run a marathon myself. These pledges were made in the spirit of the moment when BQing was just a twinkle in my eye last year over the Christmas Holidays, when I was just recently unemployed, looking for work and needing a new challenge. Now, when it looks as if I am within reach of my goal, a few people are realizing they may actually have to run a damn marathon in the near future if they are to maintain even a shred of their honour and dignity!

And not a few folks would probably happily part with a bottle of wine just to put an end to this thing and have me shut up! Frankly, I am one of those people.

Have to say, in all honesty, over the course of this little odyssey, the hardest thing was not forsaking red wine this summer, but sticking to the diet week in and week out for the first few months. After a while it became rote and routine, but not in the beginning. The weight loss was a long grind. But I am so glad I did it. I feel great, and the difference in my running has been night and day. Better yet, I recover so much more quickly. And it is nice to get the compliments about how I look ten years younger and just better, healthier. It is nice to be faster and to feel faster. I am proud of myself for pulling that one out of my bag of tricks.

Now is just the long fidget until Race Day. Nerves, nerves, nerves... Gotta love it.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Yasso 800's - In Detail According to Amby Burfoot

Speed Week Continues - Polar Heart Rate Record of 800 Metre Yasso's Last Night - First Peaks are Strides - Last Three Yassos I Worked On My Finishing Kick - Thanks For Putting Up With Me Justin! Posted by Picasa

Yasso 800s

You can predict your marathon time based on how long it takes you to run 800 meters. Don't believe it? The secret lies in Yasso 800s

by: Amby Burfoot

When physicists discover a new subatomic particle, they claim the right to name it. Same with astronomers. Locate a new star out there in the way beyond, and you can name it anything you want: Clarence, Sarah, Mork or even Mindy.

I think runners, coaches and writers should be able to do the same. And I'm going to take this opportunity to invoke the privilege.

Last fall I discovered an amazing new marathon workout. Amazing, because it's the simplest marathon workout you've ever heard. (And simplicity in marathon training, as in physics and astronomy, is much to be prized.) Amazing, because I'm convinced it actually works.

In truth, I didn't find this workout. It found me, through the person of Bart Yasso, our race services manager here at RUNNER'S WORLD. But Bart's not much of a proselytizer, while I sometimes am, so I'm going to seize this chance to name the workout. I'm going to call it "Yasso 800s."

Bart and I were at the Portland Marathon last September when he told me about his workout. He was training for a marathon later in the fall, so two days before Portland he went to a nearby track and ran Yasso 800s. "I'm trying to build up to ten 800s in the same time as my marathon goal time," he told me.Huh? Half-miles in 2 or 3 hours? I didn't get it.

Bart saw that he'd have to do more explaining. "I've been doing this particular workout for about 15 years," he continued, "and it always seems to work for me. If I can get my 800s down to 2 minutes 50 seconds, I'm in 2:50 marathon shape. If I can get down to 2:40 (minuses), I can run a 2:40 marathon. I'm shooting for a 2:37 marathon right now, so I'm running my 800s in 2:37."

Suddenly things started to make sense. But would the same workout apply to a 3 hour marathoner? A 4-hour marathoner? A 5-hour marathoner? It didn't seem very likely.

In the next couple of weeks, I decided to check it out I played around with lots of mathematical equations and talked to about 100 runners of widely differing abilities (from a 2:09 marathoner to several well over 4 hours), and darn if the Yasso 800s didn't hold up all the way down the line.

Now, this is a remarkable thing. Anyone who has been running for a few years, and in particular trying to improve his or her marathon time, knows that training theory can get quite complex. You've got pace, you've got pulse, you've got max VO2, you've got lactate threshold, you've got cruise intervals, you've got tempo training, you've got enough gibberish to launch a new line of dictionaries.

And now you've got an easier way: you've got Yasso 800s. Want to run a 3:30 marathon? Then train to run a bunch of 800s in 3:30 each. Between the 800s, jog for the same number of minutes it took you to run your repeats. Training doesn't get any simpler than this, not on this planet or anywhere else in the solar system.

Bart begins running his Yasso 800s a couple of months before his goal marathon. The first week he does four. On each subsequent week, he adds one more until he reaches 10. The last workout of Yasso 800s should be completed at least 10 days before your marathon, and 14 to 17 days would probably be better.

The rest of the time, just do your normal marathon training, paying special attention to weekend long runs. Give yourself plenty of easy runs and maybe a day or two off during the week.

But don't skip the Yasso 800s. This is the workout that's going to get you to the finish on time.,5033,s6-51-0-0-624,00.html

The Speed Week - Tuesday Night - One Kilometre Repeats at Marathon Race Pace - Nice Easy Heart Rate Posted by Picasa

Yasso 800's

Yasso 800's

1. 3:14

2. 3:16

3. 3:21

4. 3:17

5. 3:18

6. 3:16

7. 3:16

8. 3:17

9. 3:16







Wednesday, September 21, 2005

The Taper Tapdance

The taper tapdance has begun.

I weighed in at 178 pounds yesterday, a new low, or a new high, depending I guess upon the way you look at it. After watching my weight slide around between 179 and 181 pounds for a week, I just stuck to my diet and quit diddling around with makeshift substitutions and making it up as I went along. That's a fancy way of saying I have stayed out of restaurants to a greater degree and stuck to my original plan. That is the best way to battle the temptation of the bread basket, and the lure of being surrounded by bounteous. bizarre calorie offerings.

After last week's 24K on Friday and 40-oddK on Sunday, the hammer dropped I guess and pushed me past the latest weight plateau. Now, as I enter my marathon taper and substitute miles for speed and greatly decrease my mileage output, it will be, at least in theory, much harder to lose weight. It will be harder to maintain a calorie deficit as I eat to recover from my weeks of high mileage (60-75 miles at my peak), and my daily and weekly calorie needs plunge as my work load is drastically reduced - by about 50% this week, and by 80% in the week before the marathon itself.

If my weight stays at 178, I will be happy. Am happy. Make no mistake about it. Back in January, my goal was to get my weight as close to 180 pounds as I could. On May 1st, I ran the Vancouver Marathon at 203 pounds. Since then, as of this morning I have lost 25 pounds. At 203 pounds I was 22% body fat. My guess now is that I am somewhere around 11 or 12 percent body fat. By changing my cross training regimen, I have clearly lost some upper body muscle mass through my shoulders, arms and chest. Even my legs have leaned out.

Now the great imperative is for me to maximize my stength and endurance. I have beat my body up this marathon clinic, make no mistake about it, but I have never been injured this session, only subject to extreme fatigue, the peak of which was the two weeks immediately following my escapades in the Stormy 64K Ultramarathon Trail Race which I did in 7:41.

I have also raced more this clinic. I was very happy with my 10K performances, in particular at Summerfast. I saw a 43 minute 10K time and did not go out as hard as I could have. And as Hugh and Patrick and Justin and Tim would attest, our weekly 8K tempo runs were done at a brutal pace.

So I breached 180 pounds. Seems kind of anti-climatic now. But losing twenty five pounds in the past five months will hopefully be a harbinger of faster marathon times in my near future. I will be happy with my losses and gains to date, but will continue to hope for 175 - 176. My primary concern though, is to show up in Kelowna for the Okanagan Marathon in peak physical condition and to arrive as rested and as recovered and as fast as I can possibly be. The training and dieting part are largely complete. The die is cast. The end result, other than my effort and strategies on race day, now out of my hands.

The rest is in the hands of the Marathon Gods.

In the words of Bill Rogers, "The Marthon can humble you."

Respect the race. Respect the distance.

I have done the best training that I am capable of.

Or, in the immortal words of Popeye, "I dids what I dids and I ams what I ams".

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

The Purpose of Politeness

The proper Study

of Mankind

is Man.

Alexander Pope

Due to Jeff Galloway's suggestion that I was overtraining and his urging that I go out at a several minutes per mile slower pace on the Sunday long runs, I have been running with several other pace groups, including a Half Marathon group, and Sunday before last I led the 4:00 Pace Group and this Sunday I loped along at the back of the 3:45 PG. After only three hours of sleep the night before, I was more than happy to leave Hugh in charge.

It was quite a revelation.

As a Pace Group Leader I have a reputation for keeping a tight grip on the reins - they do after all, call me the Pace Nazi. And my only defense is that I have no other choice.

In nearly every Pace Group I have ever encountered, or run with, and in particular those where there are more than half a dozen people - and God forbid; should a new face show up out of nowhere - there will be at least one or two morons who seemingly cannot grasp the rational and purpose of a long, slow easy group run nor the reasons and concept of pace group etiquette. These morons must forever be at the front of the group, they must continually challenge the Pace Group Leader for the "lead" because these fucking idiots are in a "RACE"! And therefore they must be in the "LEAD"!

These individuals, these poor lost utterly deluded souls, are the one who almost invariably bonk on the actual race day and are almost always in a state of chronic injury. And they chew up Pace Group Leaders, especially new ones.

I have a simple Pace Group Rule - one by the way that comes directly from Jeff Galloway's Chapter (and Yes, he actually devotes a whole freaking Chapter to it) in his book "MARATHON!". No one runs in front of the Pace Group Leader. Period.

Galloway writes in part in Marthon!, the Chapter "The Power of the Group"; "It's not an easy job to try to keep everyone in a group from going too fast. On any given run, there are usually one or two individuals who are feeling good and who want to increase the pace. By restraining these exuberant individuals at the beginning, the Leader will not only help those who aren't feeling good, but all the members of the group will benefit from the chemistry of keeping the whole group together. Even the frisky ones will benefit. Instead of slowing down later and and suffering due to the fast early pace, they will feel strong to the end and will have the best chance of recovering quickly. Don't argue with your Group Leader when asked to slow down and stay together... even if it's a bad hair day or your blood sugar is low."

Plain English. Simple. Straightforward. Easy to understand. No?

Anyone who has ever trained with marathoners is now rolling around on the ground laughing uncontrollably, as they howl with side-splitting hysterical laughter. These people know better. Some people NEVER seem to get it.

Scottish philosopher Francis Hutcheson elevated "politeness" to the highest of human virtues. It was a term actually taken from jewelers and stonemasons, and quite literally politeness means polished. Being polished or polite was more than just good manners.

As Arthur Herman writes in How the Scots Invented the Modern World, " Politeness... encapsulated all the strengths of a sophisticated culture: its keen sense of understanding, its flourishing art and literature, its self-confidence, its regard for the truth and the importance of intellectual criticism, and most important, an appreciation of the humane side of our character... Kindness, compassion, self-restraint and a sense of humour... were the final "fruits" of a polished culture." Politeness reminds us of our obligations towards others.

But not the "Pace Grinders", as I've come to think of them. The pace grinders who want to race every Sunday are too self-involved to think of how their behavior affects the rest of the group. These little Princes and Princess' are too wrapped up in themselves to think of others. The pace grinders are generally lacking in self-confidence, hence the need to "prove" how fast and fit they are every Sunday. And God, you have never seen a more humourless group when they run than the pace grinders. The entire run is done with a look of grim determination fixed on their faces. Crack a joke? Tell an amusing story? Most of the time they are going so hard they can hardly speak.

But if they could just remember the purpose of politeness - kindness, compassion, SELF-RESTRAINT (I'm sorry, I couldn't restrain myself) and a sense of humour, they might be saved.

So Pace Grinders everywhere, I implore you...

And as a former pace grinder myself, I can only cry out,

"Be saved, see the light!
Please, just be polite!"

I know I speak for every other weary Group Leader who is tired of telling you to "Please, slow down!" and every other member of the group who is tired of watching you make an ass of yourself every long run.

In the long run, you'll be glad you did.

Monday, September 19, 2005

...and afterwards (the drive home Saturday night, the meal of bread, Havarti cheese and smoked turkey sandwhiches at 2:00am from an all-night Safeway, and the four and a half hour long run on Sunday morning) we felt a little bit like the guy on the right does after being introduced to Kevin's right hand. Posted by Picasa

Kevin Reynolds is a Vancouver, hometown lad, and he handily won his professional boxing debut as a 198 pound cruiserweight, in a unanimous decision on Saturday night, in Tacoma, Washington. His opponent had heart and guts but was no match for Kevin's skill and power.

I must admit, the experience will make the Okanagan Marathon in Kelowna on October 9th seem like a breeze...

If you're interested in the ultimate cross-training workout for core and upper body strength, Kevin can help you out at

Are you tough enough?

I convinced Patrick and Justin that it made perfect sense for us to drive past Seattle to Tacoma, Washington (three and a half hours) to watch my friend Kevin Reynold's professional boxing debut, managed by another friend, Jarl Whist, on Saturday night at the Emerald Green Queen Casino, and then, when the fights were over drive home so that after... oh, maybe, three or fours of sleep, we could run 40 kilometres (25 miles) at the crack of dawn on Sunday. This is what Kevin looks like... Posted by Picasa

Saturday, September 17, 2005


179, 180, 179, 180, 181, 179, 180, 179...

I have often hoverd or plateaued around a certain weight during the past few months as I have dropped from 203 pounds to somewhere in the 179-180 range, amd then all of a sudden I will drop down two or three pounds.

With three weeks to go until the Okanagan Marthon in Kelowna on October 9th, I will be honest and admit that, truth be told, I'm pretty happy with my current weight. Realistically, I can go as low as 175 in another 23 days, but my first priority is to keep my strength up. What I DON'T want to do is to BALLOON up during the taper by over indulging. But I do want to fully recover.

I remember back in May that Scooter and I had quite the discussion about whether or not you had to feel "hungry" or not when losing weight, and at the time I said something to the effect that a calorie deficit is a calorie deficit is a calorie deficit. Or words to that effect... Got that? Scooter disagreed. And we agreed to disagree.

I have been leaning out on a diet of very lean protein, healthy fats, and lots and lots of unprocessed carbs, and heaps and mounds of fresh fruit and vegetables. In fact, Scooter and I would probably both agree, that if you are eating a healthy, balanced diet, with very few highly processed foods and lots of fruit and vegetables that are naturally high in fibre, it is quite often difficult to eat all that you are supposed to, even if it is a measly little 2,000 calories per day. It is amazing how much food you can eat that is not that high in caloric content and that will leave you feeling very full and very satisfied.

As for the "hungry" aspect, Scooter and I were probably talking past each other to some extent and I should more accurately have said that instead of being "hungry", I was going to be "craving" some of the things I axed from my diet back in May, like alcohol, bacon, most animal fat, butter, mayonaise, most dairy products, all junk food, and much of the highly processed foods that one finds so prevalent in restaurants and supermarkets these days.

I have relaxed my diet somewhat, now that I am in the strike zone of my weight goal, but really only on Sundays, when my long runs burn up so many calories, that a slice of berry pie is as good for my body as it is for my soul. The healthy eating regimen and the discipline that go with it on a daily basis are now almost second nature. Working to become and stay lean is a habit. And not a bad one for yours truly to acquire. The best thing about thinking about and counting calories is portion control. Food portions are - to be blunt- pretty fucked up for the most part in North America.

We live in a super-size culture. And consumers expect some bang for their buck, especially when it comes to the food they order. One of the easiest ways for me to keep my diet and weight in check is just to have half-orders, and that goes for the healthiest items on the menu. Your average healthy 180 pound male only needs 2,180 calories per day just to maintain his weight. You can get that in a single meal in most restaurants today, with twice your daily allowance of saturated fats and sodium. It's a scary world out there!


You'll be glad you did. I sure am.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Gratutitous, alcohol-fueled beefcake shots. Michael at 29 and 173 pounds - the Old Man at 45 and 180 pounds (and stuffed with a pizza, et al...). At 175 he's going to have to be looking in his rear-view mirror, Baby! Kelowna and Boston, here we come! Posted by Picasa

Michael's 29th Birthday - Typical Celebratory Breach of Training and Diet Protocol - Shooters, Wine, Beer, Nachos and Pizzas. Of course I do need SOME Carbs for the 24K tomorrow morning and the 40K on Sunday... Me, Rachel, Michael, Justin, Michelle... and taking this Masterpiece - our very own Ansel Adams, and recorder of misdeeds and public mischief - Patrick (the really skinny fast one).Posted by Picasa

Thursday, September 15, 2005

The Betting Begins

I have long made a tradition out of betting bottles of wine on the outcomes of marathons. The bottles are something in the twenty dollar range and left to the discretion of the buyer, ie; the Loser.

Usually the bet is a straightforward, I bet you a bottle of wine (red, and preferably a Cabernet, if I win) that you will run your marathon in a time of X, Y or Z. Or I bet you a bottle that so and so will or won't run the marathon in their time goal.

Frankly, in most cases, nothing would make me happier than to lose a bottle of wine to someone who succeeds beyond their wildest imaginings and best expectations. Those moments are magical.

As a Pace Group Leader I try to, and hope, that I relentlessly and persistently encourage people to perform to the best of their ability. Some might even suggest I go overboard on occasion (let's be honest here - I fall out of the boat so often I wear plastic underwear). For first time marathoners, I always say that their first goal is to finish and that finishing is a monumental triumph of achievement in and of itself.

But of course almost all of my little Type A's have a time goal, secret or otherwise. I suggest to people that they have three marathon times in mind, other than finishing of course.

A best imaginable time, if all the stars, the sun, the moon and the planets align, and if all the conditions on the day of the marathon are perfect, a realistic time (usually the one we bet a bottle of wine on) and then a time they can live with. For first-timers, just finishing a freaking marathon is more than thick and rich enough. But if you are doing it - runing 26.2 miles- more than once in a lifetime, chances are you are doing it because you are pushing yourself to reach new heights, setting new limits for yourself, or trying to overcome a new and greater challenge.

Nothing whets the competitive urge like a friendly little wager. And the wagering has already started for the Okanagan and Victoria Marathons. I now have four bets. The best part? Some of them are secret! It is too delicious for words.

Like "Jimmy The Greek" of NFL days of yore, my record to date over the past three years is 19 wins out of 24 bets. I lost most of my bets by not running a 3:45 in Vancouver this Spring (I ran a 3:53). This time of course, to qualify for Boston, I must do a 3:30:59 or better. Let the betting begin!

Monday, September 12, 2005

Instructions for Life

Instructions for Life

Take into account that great love and great achievements involve great risk.

When you lose, don’t lose the lesson.

Follow the three R’s:

Respect for self,
Respect for others and
Responsibility for all your actions.

Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.

Learn the rules so you know how to break them properly.

Don’t let a little dispute injure a great friendship.

When you realize you’ve made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.

Spend some time alone every day.

Open your arms to change , but don’t let go of your values.

Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.

Live a good honorable life.

Then when you get older and think back, you’ll be able to enjoy it a second time.

A loving atmosphere in your home is the foundation for your life.

In disagreements with loved ones, deal only with the current situation, don’t bring up the past.

Share your knowledge, it’s a way to achieve immortality.

Be gentle with the earth.

Once a year, go someplace you’ve never been before.

Remember that the best relationship is one in which your love for each other exceeds your need for each other.

Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it.

Approach love and cooking with reckless abandon.

Dalai Lama

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Middle-Aged Crazy

Scale flickered this morning betwixt and between 179-180.

The Okanagan Marathon will be exactly four weeks away tomorrow.

Worked eleven hours today. Six hours sleep and then 29K. As per usual for the past two months.

Nervous as Hell.

Sore legs from the Hill work-out. And the 33:08 8K.


Gotta love it.

Why the fuck am I doing this at age 45?

Kelowna in 29 days!?!

Nerves are knawing away at me...

Heard Patrick's band, Oceanic tonight. Not bad, not bad at all...

And the bastard has me signed up for the Las Vegas Marathon in the first week of December!


I need to find a good woman, one who will put up with me - for starters - or at least tolerate me, and start a family or something....

Something normal and semi-sane.

Friday, September 09, 2005

The Hills are Alive with the Sounds of Heaving...

The Hills are Alive with the Sound of Nausea. Nine Hills with the Half-Marathon Clinic last night. What an amazing group of athletes. They have made unbelieveable strides in this clinic. Rarely do you see such improvement so quickly in a group of athletes. Posted by Picasa

It was a pleasure and a privelege to be allowed to work and train with them. One of my best running clinic experiences ever.

A good day.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

On the Bleeding Edge of Fitness

An interesting question, or two...

Cyboc said...

Yah, AHH-NOLD! You looking supa pump!

Anyway...two questions for the running sensei:

1) Do you continue training when you get a cold?

2) How much sleep do you get per night when you are training?

I try to keep a training journal pretty religiously. To get an idea of just how anal I am? One of my nicknames as a Pace Group Leader is the "Pace Nazi", patterned, at least I hope, after "the Soup Nazi" on Seinfold. The other names I can't repeat in case my Mother reads this.

I take my heart rate every morning. If it gets elevated five beats above normal, I take the day off. Period. No exceptions. Even for cross-training.

My heart rate has been pretty good lately. My construction labour has been very debilitating, as was the 64K Stormy Ultramarathon Trail run. I HAVE been leg tired. Just TOO much work. I have NOT scaled back my mileage or speed until the past weeks.

My solution was to back off for a week and try to get some snap back in my legs.

If I have a chest cold, or illness below the throat, time for some days off. If it is a head cold, I take it easy but still log a few miles.

I am ALWAYS very conscious of the feedback I am getting from my heart rate monitor.

I normally sleep about seven hours a night. At this stage of training in a marathon clinic, over 65 miles per week, it increases anywhere from eight and sometimes, to even nine hours!

Monday night I slept twelve hours! Got an hour massage and then an hour in the steam room. Then I napped for two hours. Then I did 8K in 33:08 and FELT GREAT!

I also nap if I can. Usually after a very long Sunday run. But if I'm working, it can't be done. I nap here and there where I can. Military studies have shown that even twenty minute "cat naps" have positive benefits.


So do it now!

Watch Out, Girlie-Man!

Late, late-twenties, probably early thirties. Still pounding iron. It's all about the bench-press baby! What do you lift? How much can you squat? I'm probably around 220 and starting to get a little "soft". Posted by Picasa Need I add that I was still eating like a horse. Gaining and losing weight was still relatively easy. At 28 I got married on July 1st and trimmed down to 178 pounds by running sixty to ninety minutes, six days per week, plus cross-training five days a week in the gym. Also did a lot of mountain biking. Was the year I ran a 36:10 10K.

Vince between 16 and 17. Yeah, I was once that lean. On my 16th birthday I was 5' 5" 1/2 tall and weighed 125 pounds. On my 17th birthday I was 6' 7/8" and weighed 165. I think I was about 5' 11" in this shot. I grew nearly 7 1/2 inches in one year. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Still Life in the Old Girl Yet...

Tuesday Night's Tempo Run - 8K in 33:08. An easy run with lots to spare. Nothing beats twelve hours of sleep - sheep? - the night before, a massage and steam for two hours and then a two hour nap in the afternoon. Oh, why can't I be a sponsored athlete? Posted by Picasa

Scooter's Post:


I don't know the formula used for extrapolating VO2max, but feel necessary to remind you that as you become smaller, you lose both muscle mass and blood volume. I'm not sure of the nuances, but think this would tend to make any sort of linear extrapolation of VO2max tend to run high. It's nice to figure you'd go to 80, but the truth is likely at least somewhat different. --Posted by Scooter to Boston or Bust - One Man's Journey to the Mecca of Marathoners at 9/07/2005 01:22:21 PM

Scooter, couldn't agree with you more. I have forwarded your comments to my German Genius Engineer and it will be interesting to get his insight.

But at least half the fun of this whole exercise is the "bench-racing" that all guys, and especially racers, have a tendency to do...

"If I added a camshaft with a little more intake lift and exhaust overlap, ported and polished the intake manifold, got a three-angle valve job, bumped my compression ratio two points, went to larger fuel injectors and added headers and a dual exhaust with a crossover pipe I could get at least 125 more horsepower..."

You know what car guys are like.

Runners are more like...

"If I change Gels, try these new supplements I've heard about, drop 4% body fat and add intervals and speed work twice a week, increase my lactate threshold on my tempo runs by at least 2%, and race in the new Asics Nimbus Gel VIIs, I think I can drop two minutes off of my 10K time..."

Or 23 minutes off of their best marathon time...

Now try and tell me you haven't heard THAT conversation a hundred times!

Vince and the Magic Fat Body Weight Formula

Great post Vince-San! BTW, how tall are you? --Posted by cyboc to Boston or Bust - One Man's Journey to the Mecca of Marathoners at 9/07/2005 09:43:29 AM

An excellent question, my young Apprentice!

At one time - at my youngest, prettiest and most fit - I measured just under 6' 1". My God, I was an Adonis!

After back surgery - a discectomy and a laminectomy, ie; blown-out herniated disc material removed - and a lifetime of falling on my head, when I was measured this spring for my MAX VO2 and Hydrostatic body fat test, I was found to be almost an inch shorter!

So I am now only six feet tall. According to the last Post, my ideal weight as a six foot man is 176.

My ideal

marathon weight

would be

25 1/2 pounds


If you can do the math, I'd have to weigh

150 1/2 pounds!

My good friend Michael - the genius German Engineer - has calculated that my MAX VO2 at 180 would be around 67-68 - even at age 45 (after all, it was 57 at 203 pounds and 22% body fat) and based on a maximum heart rate of 205.

At 176 pounds it - my MAX VO2 - will be close to 70.

Interestingly enough, if I weighed 150 pounds, my MAX VO2 would be somewhere around 80!

Back to the last post and it's fascinating calculations and formula for athletic success.

At 6'1", weight 178, age 28, my best 10K time was 36:10.

But, and this is a BIG, BIG BUT, in elementary school, High School and University, I always competed as a pure sprinter, and my 100 metres was ALWAYS better than my 200 metres. I also did the long jump and triple jump, both explosive, fast-twitch muscle fibre events.

And according to the formula, a six foot man as an ideal sprinter should be 2 1/2 % or 4 pounds lighter.

In my late teens and early twenties, at 6'1", in my best shape my weight hovered around the low 170's. The lowest I EVER got in my twenties was 168 - and if I knew then what I know now, I would have stayed there. Because, damn, at that weight, I was FAST!

I also got into weight-lifting and knew a lot of body-builders - and no I never did get on the juice. My highest "fit weight" was 222 pounds at about 8 1/2 % body fat. To maintain that weight I had to work out in the gym twice a day, six days a week and consume about 6,000 calories per day.

I have no idea what my MAX VO2 was at that time, but I ran the Seawall in Stanley Park in Vancouver, five or six days a week. My quickest times were around 42 minutes when I was really pushing it. I considered an "average" good run to be around 48 - 50 minutes.

At age 34 I had a fitness assessment that put my body fat at 14% at a weight of 202 pounds and my MAX VO2 was 64.6.

One of my marathoning idols is Derek "Deke" Clayton. At 6'2" and 168 pounds he was considered to have a body fat percentage of around 7%. Nowhere close to what is considered ideal for a "typical" marathoner. In addition to his height and size handicap, Clayton never registered a better MAX VO2 rating than 72, much like Frank Shorter, by the way. And Shorter was just a gold medal Olympian in the marathon...

But Deke Clayton set the world-record for the fastest marathon time not once, but twice! And two and a half years apart! We are talking about a man who ran a 2:08 marathon over a quarter of a century ago. And that is why Clayton is known and revered as the "monster marathoner".

The rest of us can take hope...

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

The Low Down on Body Weight for Runners

This is the single best analysis I've seen yet that explains why I've gotten so much faster this past five months. And so much leaner! And it only took me nine (9) marathons to figure it out!

And this is good advice for every single person out, so it is not directed at any one person in particular or individual, especially you, who ever you are! I adore you just the way you are, and always will, no matter what!!

But if you are looking for a way to improve, to run a Personal Best time in a race or qualify for Boston, like someone else we know, it is well worth the read!

Although I am currently a little leg-tired, that is a result of me really pushing my weekly mileage and my pace in the Tempo Runs and the Hill work and in my Race Pace days. I am definitely NOT injured. I just have my nose pushed up againest the edge of Vince's personal performance envelope.

On May 1st, in the Vancouver Marathon, (3:53) I was 203 pounds, and the single biggest change in my ability - having gotten quicker - has come, I fervently belive, from the fact that I am now down to 181 pounds. I can not even begin to tell you on much easier it has been on my legs and on my recovery time.

I guess we'll know in about four weeks time just how much "quicker" I've gotten. Here's hoping 21 pounds translates into 23 minutes or better!

Vince "Boston or Bust" Hemingson

The late Dr George Sheehan, a prolific and highly regarded writer on
distance running, considered that weight relative to height was THE key factor in distance running success. He was also on record as saying: 'I've long since learned never to discuss a man's politics, religion or diet with him'

The subject of adjusting weight to improve performance is a touchy one. When an article on this appeared in a sports journal it brought an indignant reply from a nutritionist: 'It is dangerous to be signifcantly underweight for one's height'. It is also extremely dangerous to be overweight for one's height, a point that seemed irrelevant to her

No man six feet tall and weighing 176lbs (79.8kg) will ever win the London Marathon, and it is unlikely that a woman five feet six inches in height and weighing 130lbs (58.9kg) will ever do so either. Why?

To answer this we must consult Dr Stillman's height/weight ratio table. He fixes the non-active man's average weight for height with a simple formula.

He allocates 110lbs (56.2kg) for the first five feet (1.524m) in height and 5 1/2lbs (2.296kg) for every inch (0.025m) thereafter.

He is harsher with women, giving them 100lbs (45.3kg) for the first five feet and 5lbs (2.268kg) for every inch above this.

Having established the average, he then speculates on the ideal weight for athletic performance, as follows:

Sprinters (100-400m): 21/2 per cent lighter than average (6ft/176lbs - 21/2% = 4lbs)

Hurdlers (100-400m): 6 per cent lighter (or 9lbs)

Middle-distance runners (800m - 10K): 12 per cent lighter (or 19lbs)

Long-distance runners (10 miles onwards): 15 per cent lighter (or 251/2lbs)

Matching the figures to reality

How do these figures compare to past record holders?

Here is a list of some of them:

Emile Zatopek - 5'81/2' (1.740m)/154lbs (69.8kg): same as the average man

Herb Elliott - 5'101/2' (1.791m)/147lbs (66.6kg): 11 per cent below average

Kip Keino - 5'9' (1.753m)/146lbs (66.2kg): 9 per cent below average

Seb Coe - 5'10' (1.778m)/120lbs (54.4kg): over 20 per cent below average

Steve Cram - 6'11/2' (1.867m)/153lbs (69kg): 15 per cent below average

Linford Christie - 6'21/2' (1.89m)/170lbs (77kg): 10 per cent below average

Wendy Sly - 5'51/2' (1.66m)/113lbs (51kg): 11 per cent below average

Yvonne Murray - 5'7' (1.70m)/111lbs (50kg): 18 per cent below average

Sally Gunnell - 5'6' (1.67m)/124lbs (56kg): 5 per cent below average

Ingrid Kristiansen - 5'61/2' (1.68m)/128lbs (58kg): 4 per cent below average

Tatyana Kazankina - 5'31/2' (1.61m)/110lbs (49kg): 6 per cent below average

Greta Waitz - 5'61/2' (1.689m)/110lbs (49kg): 17 per cent below average

There are one or two anomalies in these figures.

For instance, Zatopek, who gained three gold medals in the 1952 Olympics (5K, 10K and marathon) weighs the same as the average man of his height.

And Ingrid Kristiansen, who ran a marathon in 2:21.6, is just below the average weight for her height.

However, note the staggering percentage below the normal for Seb Coe, who broke 12 world records in four years. If we take the average of these 12 world-class athletes, they weigh 10 per cent less than the average person of their height.

So we must conclude from this that Drs Sheehan and Stillman had a point to make of considerable importance.

Many years ago I had an athlete aged 20 who was running about 40 miles a week for the mile event. However his weight/height ratio was that of a non-active person, and his miling progress was limited. He went on a cyling holiday in Europe with the ambitious plan of cycling 100 miles a day for a month. On his return I hardly recognised him. He had lost two stone in weight.

Now, Cooper has postulated that 4-5 miles of steady cycling is physiologically equal to one mile of steady running, so this athlete had been doing the equivalent of 20-25 miles of running a day. More to the point, his mile time took a quantum leap of 16 seconds for the better. This convinced me that an ahlete's weight is something that neither coach nor athlete can ignore

Aim first for a 10 per cent drop

The first man we know of who considered weight-watching to be a relevant factor was Jack Lovelock (NZ) who won the 1936 Olympic 1500m in a world-record time. He was a medical student, and weighed himself immediately after every race (880yds, mile, two miles). He soon discovered that his best racing weight was 9st 61/2lbs (59kg); if he was more than this, he wasn't fit enough, if he was significantly under, he was stressed

Every athlete has a best racing weight which should be elucidated by trial and error. But the starting point for this is to aim for 10 per cent below the average weight for height. It is a long-established fallacy that because one runs every day one cannot be overweight for competition.

We require about 2500 calories a day to exist, and if we run 10 miles a day at a steady pace (able to converse while running) we will burn and require a further 1000 calories. Thus if we consume 5000 calories a day, say, we are in the process of putting on weight!

What's more, if we are big fat-content eaters we can even develop a paunch! (sounds like the old Vince!)

Dr Van Aaken is noted for his LSD (Long Slow Distance) theory. Many thought his views were outlandish, but he coached two world-record holders with his methods.

His view was that distance runners should aim to be 20 per cent below average weight for their height, and to achieve this they should limit their fat intake to 35 grams a day and run a certain mileage daily commensurate with their event in order to burn off calories.

He drew up a mileage table as follows:
400m runner, 4 miles;
800m runner, 6 miles;
1500m runner, 10 miles;
5K runner, 15 miles;
10K runner, 18 miles;
marathoner, 26 miles

Now this may look like a recipe for one-pace running. But he added a significant corollary: three times a week after these outings, run a section of your event at race pace, eg, 1 x 350 for the 400m athlete, 1 x 400 for the 800m runner, 1 x 800 for the 1500m runner, 1 x mile for the 5K specialist, 1 x 2 miles for the 10K runner and 1 x 10K for the marathoner

How to take it off

So weigh yourself without clothes and discover how you shape up to the Stillman table. If you weigh the same as the average person for your height, you can improve your performance dramatically by losing weight.

There will be many who will make excuses for not doing so. One favourite is: 'I'm bigger-boned for my size than the average'.

The truth, according to Van Aaken's anatomical studies, is that if you were to take two men both of six feet in height but one broader than the other, when their bones alone are weighed the difference is not more than six poundsIf you are in the overweight category, this is the procedure to follow:

1. Don't go without food. Every four hours eat meals that include the Basic Four - skimmed milk, lean meat, fruit, vegetables, whole-grain cereal and bread

2. Avoid the following high-fat-content foods: cooking fat, lard, etc (253 calories per ounce); margarine (218), butter (211), bacon (128), chocolate (148), pork (116), cheese (117), sugar (108), mutton (94), cream (325 calories per cup), excessive alcohol (spirits, 115 calories per oz, wines, 85 per 31/2oz, beer, 150 per 121/2oz).

3. Eat plenty of fruit, vegetables, fish, veal liver and fat-free beef

4. Do the type of running that burns fat. That is below 80 per cent of your maximum capacity, which is about 85 per cent of your maximal heart rate for less than an hour run and around 75 per cent MHR over this period5.

Add five minutes a day per week to your workload. If you are doing 35 minutes a day now, within six weeks you will be doing 65 minutes

6. Avoid mid-meal snacks. If you're desperate, eat fruit

7. If you are a teenager, ignore all the above advice! You are growing and need all the good food you can get, but that rules out crisps, sweets and takeaways.

Learn to cook vegetables and meats

8. If you drive daily, or use the bus or train, consider running or walking to your destination at least once a week.

Frank Horwill

Monday, September 05, 2005

Busted Flat in Boston Rouge

Can’t believe I’m actually Posting. Twice in the past four days I have almost Logged on to say –

“The quest for Boston is over, I just can’t do it, I’ve bitten off more than I can chew.”

Just got in from a twelve-hour day of painting, after running 14 kilometres instead of the scheduled 23K on Sunday morning. After four weeks of over 60 miles, (100K) per week, and peaking with Stormy when I ran 74.5 miles (120K), this past week in a desperate attempt to get my legs back, I scaled back to a mere 35K. (22 miles)

And it’s five freaking thirty AM in the morning and on what is supposed to be a recovery day and a statutory Holiday (touchingly, oddly and not without a twinge of irony, the celebration in question is Labour Day) I am going to be painting from eight in the morning until midnight this evening.

Vancouver is going through a construction boom. Lots of work for anyone willing to do it. In addition to my marathon training I have been working over sixty and seventy hour weeks and beyond, piling up as many hours as I can painting, almost all of it something called, “pole work”, the only physical labour I will deign to sully my reputation with. Instead of erecting scaffolding to paint a sixteen foot wall or an eighteen foot high ceiling, I use a paint roller on the end of a very, very, very (did I mention it was very?) long telescoping pole.

It sounds great, the pay is great after months of being unemployed, but it is, when done for the lengths of time I am doing it, back breaking work. My shoulders and back are creaking as I type and this gig is playing havoc with my chronic back pain. And I bury the guys I am working with, the ones who are ten, fifteen and twenty years younger than me. Me, competitive? Ha!

My hands have blistered up terribly and rather than roughening up and toughening up as they usually do, they have just refused to heal and have become infected, a sure sign that my immune system is teetering on the verge of collapse.

I am, in the end, usually, a very great pragmatist. And very tired these days. (I may be using very a trifle too much but I am so very tired that no other adjectives come to mind very easily…)

Exhausted actually. I am exhausted. I am just working around the clock and my marathon training is beating me up terribly. But hey, I’m even down to 181 pounds! But that is not even from the results of the diet anymore, that is just from burning blast-furnace quantities of calories in pure physical labour.

But I have great doubts about qualifying for Boston. Or even trying at the Okanagan Marathon in Kelowna. Boston may just have to wait. I certainly no longer have the appetite for it that I once did.

Oh, and to top things off?

I have been threatened with eviction from my apartment because of my babies, Cactus Jack and Panhandle Slim. Who apparently bark when I am not around to shower them with love and attention. So now I have had to kennel them.

The worst part is, my building is FILLED with cats – and I do mean filled - that I am VERY allergic to - that roam the halls at will. And when I moved in three years ago, I told the Landlady (in front of witnesses by the way), regarding the NO PETS clause, that I had shared custody of a Chihuahua - Lulu - and said that the dog often stayed with me and the great, fly-blown, waddling three hundred pound figure that is my crazed, lunatic Landlady said it was no problem at the time. And she has a cat herself. Since moving into the building three years ago this November, three new tenants with pets have moved into my supposedly, “NO PETS’ building. God, I loathe that great lumpy, misshapen, over-painted, tarted up cow…

Maybe I need to rent a house...

Too upset to talk about it any more.

The highlight of my week?

While walking my little, very, very bad dawgs, in the park where I exercise them, very, very early in the morning, I crossed paths with the very, very beautiful Famke Jannsen and what I take it is her dog, which I think is a French Bulldog. (I adore Famke Jannsen and I don’t have the heart or the cruelty to describe what a French Bulldog looks like… but cute in an ugly sort of way like a Pug)

I have seen her since, so she must be living in my neighbourhood while filming another movie here in Vancouver.

If you have to ask who Famke Jannsen is, do not be alarmed. It kind of reveals my geekdom as she has a tendency to star in lots of science fiction/action films.

She is a former model who turned actress (I didn’t know this the first time I saw her work on Star Trek – The Next Generation) who can actually kind of sort of, kind of, well, act! Hint – think X-Men. Any woman good enough for Wolverine is good enough for me.

And even early in the morning, with no make-up on and walking her dog, she is a strikingly attractive woman, nearly as tall as myself. Gorgeous. Think Duchess or Countess.

Did I mention that I have always had a bit of a thing for an obscure European model turned pretty good actress named Famke Jannsen? PLus, she was a Bond villainess! Does it get any better than that?

Anyways, I didn’t want to bother her while she was walking her dog, but it was the highlight of my day. Did I mention she was beautiful?

The rest of my days and the rest of my week have just been all work and no play, so I am even duller than usual. And I have never been the sharpest knife in the drawer.