Thursday, March 29, 2007

Boston Marathon Race Strategy: and Stuff

On Sunday I did my last long run in preparation for the Boston Marathon. I ran 28 miles (48 K) and rested for two days afterwards. This week is relatively easy and then on Sunday I crank out my last hard work-out - 14 one-mile repeats - before starting my taper in earnest.

Jeff Galloway e-mailed me a race strategy for Boston. It makes sense, but I'm not sure it will allow me to set any new personal bests...


I wanted to give you a plan for Boston, with some observations. Because you lost some training during your sickness, I will suggest a conservative pace. This can pay off significantly at Boston because the last 6 miles are dowhill or flat.

Overall: Running BAA is the closest thing you can do to running in the Olympics. This may be the only time you run Boston, so please savor it. Enjoy the weekend of activities. If you pace yourself conservatively enough, you will enjoy the people you're running with, and get a big kick out of the crowds along the way.

Because of the crowds, it would help to be positioned as far ahead of your group as possible. When you get to the staging area, ask the officials where you will exit toward the start. Rest near this area. Read the section in my book about preparing for the wait at the start. Bring along an air mattress, some reading material. Something to eat as you wait. If it is cool, wear some "throw-away" clothing to keep you warm while in the staging area

The first mile is usually fast--because it is significantly downhill. Don't overstride. After the first mile you will be on a two lane road and it will be very crowded for about 8 miles or so. Don't fight this, just talk to people and go with the flow.

I recommend taking a 40 second walk break after 4 minutes of running. You'll have to be flexible because there are few sidewalks during the first 5 miles. Take a walk break when you can, at approximately this ratio. If you can do so without a lot of effort, shoot for 8:30 pace for the first 5 miles. If the crowd is too thick, don't fight it.

Between 5 and 8 miles the crowd should start to open up. if you are feeling good, you could pick up the pace to as fast ast 8:10 per mi until 20 miles. When in doubt, however, go slower. After 20, you can pick up the pace. The next 3 miles are mostly downhill. Keep your feet low to the ground with a light touch and a relatively short stride. Your run-walk-run ratio could go up to (run 6 min/walk 40 seconds) at this point.

During the last 3 miles, you can run as you wish. If the temperature is cool, you can have a strong finish, with crowd cheering--a wonderful day.

Remember for every 5 degrees above 60F, slow down by 30 sec a mile.

Have a good week, Jeff

First off, this is good advice. But... And it's a big but, at this pace I can't even see myself re-qualifying for Boston in Boston, because the average pace for a 3:30 marathon is 8:00 per mile, which I pulled off last year.

I received my Bib number in the mail yesterday for Boston and it was kind of depressing. Last year my Bib number was 10486 - you can look it up - and my qualifying time for the Boston Marathon was 3:29:39. And that was a race where I ran a very controlled pace to ensure that I achieved my goal of qualifying for Boston. At the time I didn't want to push my pace and risk blowing up. But at the time I seriously thought I had five or six minutes in reserve.

In Boston last year, I went out too fast and barely managed to re-qualify for Boston with a time of 3:30:38. But most people will tell you that coming within a minute of your personal best time in Boston is a pretty decent race. And I took a certain amount of pride in finishing well up in the pack. My Bib number this year for Boston is 11783 and I have been bumped from the first wave start to the second wave. For some reason this feels like a demotion.

I am telling myself that just being in Boston is reward enough, but I just feel old and slow...

I must also say that I have had two days of root canals and that is not adding to my rosy view of the world. I broke two teeth in a restaurant when the "boneless chicken breast" turned out to have a bone in it. One broken tooth exposed the nerve root, which developed an absess and... Simply put, my entire fucking head hurts like a bastard and I don't think my face could throb any more if I beat myself repeatedly with a sledge-hammer. Lately it seems like it's been one thing after another. This is also known as life.

So Scooter, I am definitely going to Boston - I had already paid for my registration, airfare, accomodations and car rental months in advance - but at this particular moment in time I can't say I am looking forward to it with any enthusiasm.

I hate whining and this Blog feels like a monumental whinge. I am tired, my head hurts and once I start to taper I am sure I will become more enthusiastic.

I tried a little shopping therapy yesterday and purchased the latest Polar RS800sd, but not even that is making mke feel any better. I even ponied up for all the Adidas Polar gear, including the training shoes that you insert the foot pod into to. Now normally this kind of endeavor would make me as giddy as an eight year old girl, but I seem mired in the muck like Oscar the Grouch.

At times like these, I wish I was still drinking!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Solitary Confinement: Or, How I Spent Last Sunday

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Six hours is a long time to run. It's an even longer time to run by yourself, especially if you are not particularily enamoured of your own company. Three hours is usually about the limit of time I can put up with myself...

I put off posting Sunday's run because I had such a dim view of the whole experiece, both prior to and for the first half of the run itself. The last half my brain was numb, so I'm not sure that counts...

My first aggravation was the fact that my Polar S625X Heart Rate Monitor was on the fritz and acting up. My heart rate data was basically useless for the first three hours, so in essence the monitor was useless. I almost chucked it into the ocean on a couple of occasions...

I ran the first few hours over-lapping the Running Room's 32K long run in preparation for the Vancouver Marathon. Long time readers of this Blog will know I have a festering highly dysfunctional love-hate relationship with the Running Room marathon clinics (why should the Clinic be any different than the rest of my relationships, I ask you?).

The clinics are wonderful in theory and nothing short of a brilliant corporate strategy. Look at all those potential in-store customers! That being said, it sticks in my craw that the Running Room's head honcho, John Stanton has essentially ripped of Jeff Galloway's run-walk program and is passing it off as his own. He has even gone to the trouble of largely plagiarizing Galloway's book in flogging his own book in his store - you never fail to see literally hundreds of copies towering on a shelf in a prominent position somewhere in a Running Room store.

It wouldn't be so bad if the Running Room clinics were well taught, but they're not. Actually, that's not a fair nor an accurate statement. Rather, MOST of the clinics are poorly managed and taught. There is a shortage of exceptional clinic instructors, so when on occasion you do get one, the majority of the rest of the clinics are glaring in their ineptitude.

On Sunday I started passing people at about the 25 K mark - I was averaging a 12:00 pace as instructed - who were beginning to falter after three hours of running. Most of them were breathing too hard, so their pace was all wrong and when I chatted up a few to offer some encouragement, a few queries revealed that most of the folks in trouble had only had one or two gels after three hours of running! Proper pace and fueling are the kind of knowledge that first time marathoners get from a clinic instructor who knows what they're talking about. I can only imagine what these poor bastards are going to look like at the 22 or 23 mile mark in the marathon...

It was at about this point in time that what I took to be a 3:45 group passed me on the way back to the store. I recognized a few folks, and boy, from the red faces and the grim expressions you would have been hard pressed not to assume that they were going at pretty close to race pace. Once again, you can only imagine what it is going to be like for these folks in the last ten kilometres of the actual marathon.

Me, I'm a pussy. Which is actually an insult to pussies everywhere. Honestly, I am a total wimp when it comes to training. I will go to almost any lengths to avoid pain and suffering and do the absolute minimum I think I can get away with in order to meet my goals. I prefer to do short, intense, extremely painful work-outs over drawing out my suffering for the long periods of time that a long Sunday run usually entails. Why would you want to beat yourself up for that long, and then afterwards, take a week to recover?? It seems so nonsensical and counter-productive to me. How can a runner not understand that on at least an intuitive level? And that is if you actually do recover before your next intense work-out.

My other complaint about the Running Room clinics is the utter lack of running ettiquette they teach. Hey you morons out there, share the fucking road! I would say that on Sunday about sixty percent of the running groups had broken up into single runners and small groups of two to five people (never mind me going off on pace group leaders who don't keep their group together). No problem sharing the road with those people. But there were several hundred people participating in the 32K run, and there were still extremely large groups of twenty to thirty people.

These groups were moving juggernauts that were catastrophes for any poor pedestrians that happened to get in their way. On numerous occasions I moved as far over on the sidewalk as I could to avoid them and yet on three seperate occasions I was run into, twice hard enough to get bruised the next day. As it was one of the first nice sunny days in Vancouver after weeks of rain, I had to wonder about how many other people sharing the sidewalk had taken their lives in their hands just by venturing out on to the sidewalk?

All my whingeing aside, it was hard to maintain the pace that Jeff had suggested. Twelve minute miles! And two and ones? My God, it felt like I spent six hours just looking at my watch. About three hours in I got so bored that I stopped at Starbucks for five minutes for a double-espresso and a low-fat fruit bar!

At this stage I have no idea whether or not I am ready for Boston. Not even a clue. My weight is 184 and everyone says I am the leanest I have been since last year, but I have no real sense of my speed nor my strength. Of course by ready I mean to re-qualify and perhaps run a personal best. In the end, I can only take what the race and the day yields up...

I am so ready to taper it hurts.

The non-runners in my life don't seem to have a true grasp of the toll that training 65 or 70 miles a week extracts. It takes a momumental effort on my part to want to roll off my couch these days. Throw in a full days work and by sundown I am ready to fall into bed - make that collapse.

Not quite the glittering little social gadfly I once was!

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Stop to Catch Your Breath

Has been a strange week.

I was not happy with the results of my "Magic Mile" Time Trial last weekend, and had been cursing myself for not having the brains nor the wherewithal to figure out what I was trying to accomplish with the fucking task. So in the final analysis, I totally screwed the pooch. I have never been the sharpest knife in the drawer and like a dog with a bone, I just couldn't let it go.

On Tuesday night I went out for what I was planning to be a hard 8K tempo run, at which point in time I thought I would have a far better grasp of my speed and conditioning.

Didn't happen. I had started the day, and then spent a great chunk of it, driving and then accompanying my father to his Heart Function Clinic. He has been having a rough go of it, and the visit to the doctor at the hospital ballooned into a trip to the grocery store and the pharmacy and then I knew I was going to having to do a bunch of errands and chores for him the following day and... it just went on and on.

Long story short, before embarking on my tempo run I had forgotten to take my asthma inhalor and within a mile of starting out I could barely breath. Given my recent respiratory infection I packed it in. Fuuuuucccck! I think the dry cold air - it actually stopped raining for one day in Vancouver - exasperated my propensity to wheeze like an old locomotive. Needless to say, I still felt as dumb as a sack of hammers.

The rest of the week has poured rain - steady, without end its seems, and miserable beyond description. Every run has resulted in cold, wet feet. My father's medical condition has hovered over my mood as relentlessly as the rain, leaving my disposition as moldy and damp and sour as a pair of my runners as I have fought off depression by throwing myself into work.

The only bright spot has been my father's dawning realization that he cannot continue as he has. Living on his own is no longer a realistic option. He needs to have people around him - who can actually help him - who are closer than a telephone call. Somewhere that he can get meals and attention and assistance as he requires. And he needs the company of other monkeys. It can't be an easy decision. And it is one he has to make on his own.

I haven't even bothered to wear my heart rate monitor this week. I am sick to death of charts. Sometimes you just have to run.

Tomorrow - 45 K.

And yes, the weather channel is calling for more rain. In six degrees...


Tuesday, March 20, 2007

How to Really Go Fast, or, How to Go Really Fast

Monday, March 19, 2007

Magic Miles

The following exchange with Jeff Galloway about my work-outs last week at first left me discouraged. Upon further reflection and consideration, however, I actually found a couple of things to be encouraged about.

Hi Jeff,

Just finished my 12 K and Time Trial. I did the mile in 6:15. Had to run on Saturday because of social commitments on Sunday.

Friday, I did an easy 11 miles with surges on hills.

Thursday, easy 10 miles with some speed work.

Wednesday, very easy 10 K.

Tuesday, an easy 6 K.

My last long run.

Best regards, Vince Hemingson


Thanks for your detailed report. You came back very strong.

Actually, it's best not to run every day, when you are coming back from sickness, injury or other layoff. It would be best this week to just run every other day.

The day before long runs or speed-work should be a day off. I want you to go into these sessions with fresh legs.

Your magic mile predicts, currently, a 8:10 pace in a hard marathon. This is a good report, considering your down time. I'm sure that you can run faster than this with the training on the schedule.

The really long run is coming up. Please run it at 12 min/mi using a 2-1 ratio. This will give you all of the endurance while allowing for a quick recovery.

Have a good week, and a good long one!


And 8:10 pace! My God, my last two marathons I've run a 8:00 pace! And last year in my best Half Marathon, I ran a 7:10 pace! I'm freaking going backwards!

Of course it was rainy and windy and although I went hard, I didn't go all out. Given my heart rate data, I am pretty confident I could have shaved twenty of more seconds per mile out of my 6:15. I guess I didn'y really understand the exact nature of the "Magic Mile" as a barometer of my fitness level.

Out of curiosity, what time would my "Magic Mile" have to be in order to indicate a marathon pace of 7:35?

Best, Vince

The time would be 5:50.


A 5:50? I think this is within the realm of possibility. Plus, Jeff does say he thinks I am both stronger and can run faster than my time indicates...

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Time Trial


I put off my Time Trial for a couple of hours this morning, waiting in vain for the weather to clear. The rain was relentless, with winds gusting to twenty knots according to the weather channel. Finally, about Noon, I said to Hell with it.

Cursing under my breath and growling with gusto, "Grrggghhh", through clenched teeth I made my way along Spanish Banks.

The weather kept all but the stalwarts and stoics indoors. The silver lining is that people willing to walk and run in the rain will gladly share a smile with you. I think just about everyone I met this morning greeted me with a smile, nod, or greeting of some sort. It was great. It was a wonderful way of aknowledging that only us crazies would be out on a day like today.

I measured out a mile course on my run out to the Anchor on Spanish Banks, and did about five and a half miles before returning to my starting point. Unfortunately it quickly became apparent that my chosen route for the Mile Time Trial would take me directly into the teeth of the wind and the rain.

Despite wearing a rain jacket AND a Gore-tex supposedly water-proof vest, I was soaked to the skin.

On Jeff Galloway's explicit advise I warmed up and took it very easy prior to the Time Trial.

I gave myself a few seconds to get ready and then I was off. As per my usual routine I bolted out of the blocks, caught myself and settled down. I went out conservatively and then poured it on in the last half mile, gaining speed all the way.

I did the mile in about 6:15. Felt relaxed and strong. Heart rate at the end was only 167, and about 158-160 all the way through the mile.

I checked my Polar work-out calendar and was a little surprised to see that I had run 65 miles in the last six days since Sunday (and better yet, burned 8500 calories!). The best part was the realization that I feel great.

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Friday, March 16, 2007

Up and Down


Went out and did some major inclines and declines over 11.2 miles in 1:35:00. Have to get those guads ready for the pounding in Boston.

Average heart rate was about 70%, with surges to 80%.

Time Trial tomorrow. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, March 15, 2007

More Miles


Did 10.2 miles in 1:23:00 this afternoon. Threw in some big uphills and downhills to get ready for the Boston Marathon's roller-coaster course.

Average heart rate was 141, but did a long easy warm-up and then did some marathon speed surges during the run with another long easy cool-down at the end.

Weight was 185 this morning. Posted by Picasa

Paying Your Dues


At some point in every marathon training program it seems as if you pass through a phase where you go through the motions almost as if by rote. It is hard to stay fresh and keen - never mind sharp and focused - through four and a half or five months of training. You have moments where you just want the damn thing to be over with as the days and miles go by and it can feel like you are a rat stuck in an exercise wheel over which you have no control, the proverbial treadmill you can't get off. But accruing mileage is your way of paying your marathon dues. There is simply no substitute for miles.

These are the times when you give thanks for your running buddies and pace groups, your coaches - praise be to Jeff Galloway - and whatever other ways you have for retaining your motivation. Moments like these I find my Polar S625X is a blessing. It gives me an ongoing record of all my work-outs (and having the Blog of course), and is a gentle form of coercion that sometimes seems to be the straw that tips the balance in getting me out on the road. Even when I run alone I feel as if I have company. Damn you all to Hell! (but thanks for being there!)

Yesterday was a beautiful sunny day, if a little on the cool side. I couldn't make the group run so went out by myself in the late afternoon. It was wonderful to see so many people out on the trails. And up by the University of British Columbia I passed by dozens of students out enjoying the roads.

I did 7 miles in 55 minutes, with an average heart rate of 143. I took at least ten minutes to warm up and went out easy. Taking a tip from Jeff Galloway, I did the last mile at marathon effort.

Only a month to go on Monday! Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Grinding It Out


I am now in the midst of the Boston Marathon training cycle where the days and the runs seem to merge into each other without much respite. So on Tuesday I took it very easy, just 3.5 miles to move some blood around. I have no lingering stiffness from Sunday, thankfully.

The last month before the taper I find I just have to grind it out and weather the leg weariness and the tiredness and survive as best I can.

I am down to 185 pounds and I am already looking forward to a little more variety in my diet, but the flipside is I do feel strong and relatively fast and I am recovering from my training load.

Had a few interesting back and forths with Jeff Galloway about my last Sunday long run. Jeff is encouraging me to take it VERY easy on the long runs. Last one will be 28 miles (47 kilometres).


Thanks for your report.

I wish that you would use a 3-1 on the long runs, from the beginning. This will reduce most of the lingering soreness that you received on your recent long one.

This weekend, run most of the 12K very easy. The TT can be run a little faster than your pace on the one mile repeats.


Hi Jeff,

I can assure you that I will definitely do 3-1's on my last long run. I had to take out a group of people that had enrolled in the Vancouver Marathon Clinic and there was no one else with any experience to take them out on what was their longest run to date. Sometimes you just have to take one for the greater good of the team.

Best regards, Vince Hemingson


I understand. I'm just trying to save your legs for the big day!


Now to log some miles this week and prepare for the last long run and the fourteen one-mile repeats. Posted by Picasa

Monday, March 12, 2007

Singing in the Rain


To be honest there wasn't much singing yesterday. But there was rain. Yes indeed, there was rain. A lot of rain. Five non-stop hours of rain in a teasing parade of weather systems that were an ode to all things damp, a symphony of drizzle, scotch mist, downpour, mixed with light patters and showers and all of it overlaid with grounded cloud banks of fog and mist. Oh lovely precipitation!

In short it was a typical winter day in Vancouver; cold, wet, and miserably gray. Temperature-wise it would have been a great day to run if we hadn't been soaked from head to toe, and dressed as we were in technical fibres, the slightest cross breeze snatched up every hint of body heat you ever thought of combusting. That combined with runners that actually and literally sloshed made the entire enterprise something less than ideal.

Jeff Galloway had suggested a very easy pace on Sunday and accelerated walk breaks. But Seymour was away on official government business so I was left to tend his little 4:15 flock. Also known as a pace group. We went out at a comfortable pace. At the end I tacked on an extra 8 or 9 K. In just under five hours I covered just under 25 miles at an average heart rate of 124.

Looking relentlessly for a silver lining, I did manage to note on my Polar that I had burned in the neighborhood of 3,500 calories, or the better part of a pound of fat.

My ass, well, my hips actually, are a little stiff this Monday morning. Posted by Picasa

Friday, March 09, 2007

Strange Days


I had a good run and an awful run - all at the same time.

I ripped off well over 10 K in the 45-46 minute range, once again taking a baseline heart rate for a minute (high forties low fifties) and then a nice cool down.

But my heart was never really in the run. Literally. I never cruised at lactate threshold because I didn't have any pop to speak of in my legs. Instead of my usual 162-164, I had trouble keeping my heart rate in the 155 zone!

I am still not fully recovered from the "Dirty Dozen" mile repeats I did on Sunday. And given the effort it took to complete them I am not that surprised.

And considering how "off" I felt today, I am pretty pleased about covering 6.7 K in 46 minutes and change...

Forty kilometers this Sunday and then hopefully I will get my wheels back. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Easy Rider


Last night I did everything for my 10K run except actually run it. I got dressed, got in my car, but it was cold and wet and I was still a little stiff from Sunday's mile repeats and I knew that the Running Run would be filled with people fighting off the local Vancouver flu epidemic so I said to Hell with it!

I flipped my Wednesday and Thursday and ran today instead of taking a rest day. It was drizzling anyways, and my intention is to go out hard on Friday so I loped along Spanish Banks and Kits Beach.

After an intense period of being stressed out and cursed with insomnia over Christmas and the New Year, I seem to have mellowed out. My blood pressure is back to normal, 110 or so over 65 (it got up to 145 over 115), and my resting heart rate has once again dropped to where it should be.

Even after my morning cups of coffee my heart rate chart shows a heart rate of around fifty beats per minute and a little under (a marked improvement over the mid-sixties).

Even taking it very, very easy - 60-65 % - I was able to run the 6.3 K in well under sixty minutes.

Feeling healthy and getting in good training runs between periods of recovery is making me much more confident about Boston. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

The Gap Between Imagination and Action


I was experiencing a lot more muscle stiffness on Tuesday than I was on the Monday, the day after my dozen mile repeats.

So, taking heed from Jeff Galloway I eased off and ran a comparatively comfortable 6 K last night. It was beneficial to loosen up my leg muscles and move some oxygentated blood through them. I probably won't go hard again until Friday and then top it off with 40 K on Sunday.

It was also the day before Seymour's 56th birthday and we surprised him with a cake and a stack of pizzas. I limited myself to two slices of chicken pizza and a rather obscene piece of chocolate cake which not even I could finish. Probably a twinge of guilt... Of course in anticipation of the evenings festivities I had two slices of dry toast and peanut butter for breakfast, an apple and a banana and a Greek slad for lunch with four ounces of chicken breast on the side. It sucks to be healthy sometimes... But the scale said 186 this morning.

Had a lovely lunch with a friend and the topic of people finishing what they started came up. In the course of my strange little life I have undertaken some rather bizarre journeys; literal and philosophical, pyschological and spiritual, metaphorical, even physical. I have travelled extensively and seen a few countries, gotten a couple of degrees, written a handful of screenplays, run a marathon or two and longer, started and run a few companies (most of them into the ground), been married, divorced, bankrupt, made a film and been here and there and what-have-you in-between. Etcetera. Etcetera. Etcetera.

In forty-six years I think I can say I have gotten around a little bit. There hasn't been much rhyme or reason to what I have done other than when I have wanted to do something I have simply gone and done it.

My friend has zoomed through a couple of post-graduate degrees at a reasonably precocious (sp?) age and now teaches at a local university. As we talked about marathons, and writing and the endless struggle to finish projects, I couldn't help but be struck by the numbers of people in life - a preponderance in fact - who talk a better game than they live.

I described it as the gap between imagination and action. I have lost track of the number of people who have told me over the years that they have always wanted to; and here you can pick just about anything - travel, write a book or a screenplay, run a marathon or pursue any other number of dreams and in the end after only the most cursory of attempts nothing ever comes of it.

By no stretch of the imagination do I hold myself up as possessing any extraordinary virtues or talents whatsoever. If anything I think of myself as a grandly deluded amateur with a wide variety of interests, a jack-of-all-trades and master of none that I can think of... A fuck-up of epic proportions, who, when I finally do get something right, or even more absurdly, finished, I tend to chalk it up to luck, circumstances, good fortune, favours from the Gods and a propitious wind at my back.

I will say that I do possess a kind of stubborn obstinancy that passes for tenacity. But for the life of me I do not understand why you would say you want to do something - and then not simply go out and do it.

Call me crazy I guess, but it seems pretty simple.

If you want to go on a trip, buy a map and a ticket.

If you want to run a marathon, run around the block.

Write a book? A page a day and at the end of the year you have one.

The biggest and most grandiose of ideas, the longest of life's journies, are all started with small steps. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Reshuffling the Deck

At the poker table and in life you can only play the cards you are dealt. So what do you do when the hand you are holding sucks?

Sometimes, the only thing to do is to reshuffle the deck and hope for the best.

I e-mailed Jeff Galloway and summarized the last few weeks as succinctly as I could. My e-Coach got back to me in less than a day and he reshuffled my training schedule.


I'm so glad that you are back in commission. Thanks for your report.

I will take your word that you are free of infection. As you know there are lingering issues with medication, infection, and the loss of conditioning. It is always better to stay on the conservative side with infections because the relapses can be worse.

Best pace for long runs would be 12 min/mi, using a 2-1 ratio.

Walk for 6 min between the mile repeats, and walk for 20 seconds at the 800 mark in each, while the watch is running.

Here is a revised schedule:

Feb 25--30K--18 miles--DONE
Mar 4--12 x 1600--DONE
Mar 11--22 MI--37K
Mar 18--6 mi, with a TT
Mar 25--45K
Apr 1--14 x 1600
Apr 8--12K easy
Apr 16--Boston!
Apr 22--7-10K
Apr 29--10-15K
May 6--15-20K

Let me know if you have any questions.


I am actually pretty hopeful about all of this. Doing well at the Boston Marathon this year, I mean. I am still going to be able - at least I hope I am! - to do two more long runs and the 14 one-mile repeats. I think the base will be there. My weekly 10 Ks include speed surges, which have been feeling pretty fast of late.

I weighed in at 186 this morning. My friends and family are remarking that they can see a real change over the past month, so a little encouragement goes a long way.

So, fingers crossed, I hope that the next hand of cards I get include a few Aces...

Monday, March 05, 2007

The Dirty Dozen


Simply put, the single hardest track work-out I can ever remember. At least in twenty-five or so years...

On Sunday I went up to the Brockton Oval dirt track (mud, actually - and standing water in puddles too big to leap) and did twelve one-mile repeats. It was about fifty degrees with a cold breeze coming in off the water in Coal Harbour. Dark grey clouds threatened to rain at any moment.

The work-out itself took over two and a half hours to complete and at the end I was gutted. Nothing left. Empty.

Afterwards, I was covered in mud up to my ass and my feet were soaked. My runners were unrecognizable as footwear and my hands and legs were bright red as my body funneled all its blood away from its extremities to the core and my quads.

It seems a great shame that a town with as great and storied a reputation for outdoor activity and a leisure lifestyle such as is boasted by Vancouver, offers such poor athletic facilities. Honestly, how much trouble would it take for a town that is going to be hosting the Winter Olympics in 2010 to have a decent outdoor fucking track?

My first job when arriving at the Brockton Oval on Sunday morning was to do a walk-around of the track and remove the debris, wind blown branches, beer cans, Powerade and Gatorade bottles and various other detrius - most of it I am sure courtesy of the rugby clubs which use the infield. The kind of self-absorbed athletes who, when arriving at the track, stand on it, oblivious to all the people actually running around it...

Is there a dumber creature on the face of the earth than a rugby player?

I digress.

Twelve one-mile repeats require a strange combination of focus and the ability to tune out the pain of running through lactic-acid engorged leg muscles. This time I was smart enough to brings some gels and two litres of water. I think it helped a great deal.

I had enormous difficulty finding a steady pace; thousands upon thousands of starting block starts in my distant youth still ingraining in me a tendency to bolt out at the start of every fresh mile. I would curb myself in and then try and find a 7:10 pace. Much harder than it sounds and if you examine my heart rate charts, I don't think I ever succeeded.

After half a dozen repeats I still had six more to go. At the end I was just trying to hang on as my legs began to tie up and cramp. The last four repeats I maight as well have been running on wooden stumps. I found myself using all of my imagination to try and find ways to make each mile repeat stand out and become interesting, dreaming up all kinds of improbable scenarios of me surging to the finish line in Boston for a personal best.

One lap into the final mile and I thought I was going to have to drop out with muscle spasms, but I looked down at my S625X Polar Heart Rate Monitor - in astonishment - and I was still doing a 6:50 pace so I sucked it up and finished the mile. I couldn't stand at the end, and sucked in oxygen bent over at the waist, my hands on my knees.

Afterwards I could barely jog back to my car.

This work-out is the closest I have ever come to experiencing the conditions present in the last ten kilometres of a marathon, so I can see that it has real and tangible benefits. I am already dreading the idea of doing 14 and then 16 repeats.

But I can already see that I will be stronger and fitter for having done them.

The price we pay for glory... Posted by Picasa

Friday, March 02, 2007



I went out on Friday afternoon into a light drizzle, determined to get at least one decent run in for the week.

I did a little over 10K, (6.3 miles to be exact) in 47 minutes flat, averaging a 7:24 pace and a heart rate average of 156, although I started out the first ten minutes so easily that a more honest heart rate average would be a more believable 160-162; or at about 80% of my maximum heart rate. It was a good warm-up pace. As soon as I was warm, I stepped up the pace a little. My resting heart rate in the mid-afternoon after a couple of cups of coffee and pacing about was about 60, and I took that for about thirty seconds out of curiousity, hence the strange lag and blip at the beginning of my chart...

For the first time in weeks my lungs felt comfortable and easy at a brisk pace, although my legs were still a bit leaden.

It's interesting to theorize that at ten fewer pounds than my present 187, I would have to exert 5% less effort to move the same physical mass through time and space, or be 5% faster (counting every two pounds as 1% body fat...), although of course that's mostly conjecture on my part. Still... a theory well worth considering when I pass the fridge and my stomach is growling. Posted by Picasa

Tough Week Coming Back


After nearly two weeks of being as sick as a tubercular dog and nearly non-existant exercise, coming back was every bit as hard as I imagined it would be. Maybe more so.

On Sunday Jeff Galloway had me scheduled for 40K and I managed to eke out just under 18 miles. But I bonked along the way for something as foolish as not taking enough gels along the way. Strictly amateur hour. I was also light-headed as hell but wrote that off to the anti-histimines in the cold medication I popped during the run to try and turn off the faucet - also known as my nose.

Monday I was all right, not that stiff, just bone tired. If I am able to to, I have been cat-napping in the afternoons to recharge my batteries. If working, I even come home for a long lunch which is a quick scarf down of calories and then a nap.

Tuesday tempo's run was anything but... The legs just weren't there yet and I cut myself some slack and averaged 162 heart beats per minute. I was about 7% off heart rate and four minutes off pace. If I pushed any harder it felt as if my lungs were on fire.

Wednesday I had flat legs and just eased off. No point flogging a near dead horse. My heart rate monitor was on the glitch initially, and after ten minutes I stopped and restarted. Just a bonehead move on my part. My average heart rate was 155, twenty beats lower than usual, and my 10K dragged out from the usual mid-forties to fifty-five minutes. But at the end of the run, I actually felt not that bad, and my lungs were relatively clear.

I know, I know, I am coming back off a cold. Better to ease back into the schedule than to pound myself up.

But this is the big mileage month before Boston and then the taper will here before I know it. I am not sure how this recent illness will effect me. My weight is down to 187 and both I and other people can now notice the difference. Ten pounds to go...

This Sunday I am scheduled to do 12 mile repeats on the track, and one of the very few times in my life I can recall anticipating an upcoming work-out with anything approaching the level of dread I feel creeping over me. I just know how painful this is going to be. And a stop-watch and heart rate monitor never lie....

I registered for the Boston Marathon months ago, and the rooms and flight are already paid for, so the die is cast. Posted by Picasa