Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Lean On Me: Motivating a Friend to Run

When I ran my first half marathon at STWM in 2009 I had all kinds of friends and support for the training.

Running groups are an awesome way to get you through some tough training runs. Sometimes it's the only thing that does. For me the race was very much a solo effort. I tend to go into a zone and become very focused on what I have to do. This can be a detriment in a long race because of all the energy focused on your goal.

When my friend Phil started running a few years ago we went out for a 5km run from my house, one of my favorite routes along trails that ends at the Grand River in Cambridge. We chatted about all sorts of things including his running goals. I told him if he ever wanted to run a 1/2 marathon that I would be happy to pace him through it. I had already done it for a friend in Ottawa and knew that as you get late in a race, especially as a first timer, having someone there that believes in you or is just there to distract you can be essential in finishing.

This year I offered to coach a friend whose new found love of health and fitness had her thinking about pushing limits.  Elaine's first introduction to running happened at this year's Run for Life spring celebration when she motivated her son to finish a mile run by running the last lap with him. I saw an opportunity to take her elation in what she had just done and multiply it immensely. I challenged her to run her first race at the Cambridge Classic Mile and we greeted each other at her finish with a huge hug. I asked her a few days later what was next in her running plans, she wasn't sure. So in came the #STWM 1/2 marathon for her next big challenge. She has had an amazing journey so far in her quest for a better, healthier life. Let's hear directly from Elaine on how her journey has changed her life.

From the start of her journey running a lap with her son to her first race at the Cambridge Classic Mile to running a 20km training run this last weekend, I am so impressed with Elaine's determination and dedication to a healthier life and becoming an active role model for her kids. I know from my time in running that the journey she is on is life changing. The one thing I regret about running the marathon this year is that I won't be standing at the finish line to hug her again, I just hope she sticks around to hug me after I finish.

I want YOU to hear this message. YES YOU, the experienced runner, the veteran. You have a chance to give something to your friend that will change their life. Whether it is the support of introducing them to your group, running as their own personal pace bunny or coaching them right through the training, it's time to give back to running what you have gotten from it.

 BTW when my friend Phil and I got to to his first 1/2 and were getting ready to start when I sprung a surprise on him. I brought a video camera and was going to film his first half marathon. Here is his journey through his 1st 21.1kms.


Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Gearing up for #STWM (Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon)

2013 is the year. The year that I get what I have yet to achieve in my running. A successful marathon. To date I have challenged my self with many different physical challenges. I have done most race distances between 1 mile and the Marathon. Each one I have set goals and been happy with them. From a sub 6 minute mile last year to a 5km in the 20's to completing a solid 25km trail race to 23 minute PB with 3 consecutive descending 10km splits at Around The Bay. The one that has kicked the crap out of me has been the marathon.

After 2 very disappointing results at STWM in 2010 and 2011, I took 2012 off from the marathon distance and focused on ATB and Run for the Toad. Both stellar races by proper prep and solid race plans executed as planned.  Brings us to 2013. The plan was to do a half iron distance triathlon in July. A minor setback that had me off my training for 8 weeks in peek building time had me cancel those plans. The good news is it set me up perfectly for a fall marathon.

The plan will be to train with a bit more milage than I have had in previous attempts and as I get further into training I will be focusing on nutrition right up to race day. The key, as it was for ATB, will be proper pre race/race day nutrition and then executing a plan that matches my race build up. My plan for now is to build to a 3:45 time. If I am in better shape than that on Race day I will still be running 3:45 pace until I am past the point of no return. If I am still feeling good after the DVP over pass I will drop the hammer and see if I can shave an extra few minutes off.

So the goal is 5:20/km for 38kms and then see where to go from there. Given that my half marathon race pace is 5:00/km this should be doable.

Until the next update, happy training!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Pacing Phil Through His First Half Marathon

Running has brought so much to my life. To be able to give that gift to someone else is huge.

Last fall my friend Phil told me he wanted to start running. I got him started on the Run for Life learn to run program and offered my knowledge as he needed it. 8 Weeks later he was plugging along and was looking for more.

Phil and family made their way out to Cambridge for a visit and Phil brought his running gear. On our run I told him if he wanted to run a half marathon I would pace him through the run. He quickly agreed and we decided on Mississauga in the spring.

After a long winter with some time to train the spring was a welcome change. Phil's progress was amazing. Even after some time off in December he was down 50lbs and running long and pacing was solid.

We got some time to run together over the last few weeks before the race to discuss race plans and timing. I explained that his job was to simply show up and run, nothing more. Give me your goals and then stick with me for 21.1km. As with anytime doing a new distance the first goal was to finish. Second goal was to break 2 hours and with his long runs under 6min/km I knew this was totally within reach. The third goal was 1:55. An aggressive yet attainable goal.

The plan was to travel in and stay at Phil's in Brampton and head down in the morning. We took the time to drive the course on our way to the expo on Saturday. I highly recommend this to anyone who is running a course for the first time. Knowing what you have in store is such a great advantage.

I told Phil on Saturday that I had a surprise for him for Sunday morning. What he didn't know was that I had brought my flip video camera and was going to capture his race as we progressed.

As the pre race buzz grew we kept loose. Ran a few hundred meters to loosen up the legs and keep warm as the sun was just peaking above the condo buildings.

I will let the video tell the story of the race.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Around The Bay 2012

All right let's start this post by talking about how I have been beating myself up over "distance" running. It seems anything over 21.1km has plain old kicked my ass. Heading into The Bay I have run 3 races over the half distance and blown up each and every time. Now with each of them I could point at one thing or another but the one common thread on each of them was not properly fueling. I mean sure I would have a big old pasta feast the night before but THAT is not carb loading. I took some advice from a friend and started monitoring my food intake with My Fitness Pal and purposely did a week long proper carb load. What a difference this made.

I also went into this race with a solid race plan. My best race to this point was my half in Hamilton where I negative split and PB'd. I was able to negative split because I went in with a plan and stuck to it. Kept my pace back in the start to allow for a really strong finish and less chance for a blow up.

So the plan was to run somewhere between 5:40 and 5:50 per km to 15 and then pick it up to the hills. Based upon how I felt either hold on for dear life or push through for a strong finish. As well the plan was to take my time at water stations and get gatorade and fill my water.

I started with the first 12-13km at an average of about 5:35/km. A wee bit faster than plan but I was feeling really good. This is when Christine caught up to me. I started running with her and she was running 5:20/km. Felt good so I ran with her for 3km or so. Stopped to go pee around 15km and then picked it up to catch up to her. Was running just under 5:00/km and took me to about 20km to catch her. Said hi and considered slowing but was feeling strong at this pace. Kept pushing it under 5:00/km all the way through the hills. Had a brief hello with Myron and also spotted Richard out on the course on Plains Rd. Made my way down into the valley and low fived the little guy and yelled "Time to turn it on" and motored the rest of the way down the hill. Got to the monster hill, lowered my head and started running. Didn't even notice Eric until he cheered me as I ran by. Got to the top of the hill and was pumped with where I was. At this point last year I had been walk running for 3km and my IT band was killing me. Right about here is where the 3 hour pace bunny passed me, last year. This year I looked at my watch, 2:21 and just over 3km to go. Not only was I going to smash my plan for 3 hours but if I held this pace I was going to beat 2:40! I was really feeling the tank reaching the empty point but knew I could see Copps and I was 15 minutes from being done. Time to hunker down, suck it up and run it in. I passed Sherry coming up to the last water station and tried to cheer her on. Kept pushing on and keeping the positive thoughts rolling. The closer I got to Copps the easier it was to keep the negative thoughts out. Rolling in to Copps is a great way to finish and I knew I had just achieved something special. I had conquered a demon.

A few stats:
10km splits:
1 - 56:16 (5:38/km)
2 - 53:06 (5:19/km)
3 - 48:23 (4:50/km)

15km Splits:
1 - 1:24:33 (5:38/km)
2 - 1:13:12 (4:53/km)

1537 of 6118 total runners
1151 of 3171 males
190 of 454 35-39 males

Next up - Get Phil 2hours in his first half and then on to tri's

See ya on the road!


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A Long Tough Run

This was the year. I booked up my winter with ATB training to build the base. I spent extra time on the bike and in the pool working towards my first sprint triathlon bringing my fitness up. I watched what I ate and discovered a sensitivity to gluten. Changing my diet brought my weight down to below my high school weight.

I was training harder, running faster and looking for more. The goal was the same as last year, sub 4. A mere 18:01 less than the disappointment of last year.

Funny thing about goals. As you get closer to achieving them they don't seem as grand. 4 Hours seemed achievable and I was in better shape than that. In my last effort on the track before my taper I ran my yasso's in great from. The first 9 just below 3:45 and the last one in 3:05. Yep I was ready. But if I can run faster can I be happy with 3:59? I am in shape to run 3:45 and then sum.

The question was could my body take the beating of 42.2km? After last years painful finish and the struggle through the hills of Aldershot at ATB I just wasn't convinced. My long runs went better than last year. I did more higher km runs at a faster tempo and with less pain. I even focused on increased tempos for the final 2km of each, even the 36km peak run.I hit my all time highest milage month in Sept with 261km. Was I ready? I headed into taper certain that I had the time in, the miles in.

The taper started with a minor calf tweak and cut my kms lower than i wanted by about half. Then as I went into the last week a cold poked it's head out on Wednesday. Not now, can't happen. As I left work both Wednesday and Thursday I could feel fatigue in my legs and I hadn't run since Monday. Rest I told myself...you will be fine.

So rest I did.

Sunday morning arrived and I had a mediocre sleep at the hotel but was ready to go. Felt strong and was going to run 5:30's and aim for under 4hrs and not push the 3:45 time given the cold that was looming. i got to meet up with Bruce and Joanne Jones as well as Frank Vriezen pre race to help keep the jitters away. I made a point of finding Race Director Alan Brookes prior to the race to say thanks (I mean he did give me a free entry) and then wait for the line.

As is typical with these races the first km or so it is so hard to keep your planned pace. Got to KM one at 5:40 and decided to make up my time right away. My 5km split was just under 27 min so I was right between my 5:30 and 5:20 pace. I was feeling really good and made the decision to keep things in this range. 10km split still going strong with 54:44. I started to feel my left IT tighten at 15km but kept going hoping it would work it's self out. Got to the half at 1:54:35 which had me finishing under 4 hours even with a 2 hour back half. As I got to 25km I knew my day was not going to go as I hoped. I was starting to struggle. I slowed my pace to a 2 hour half 5:41/km and hoped it would hold. The closer I got to the meeting point I had planned with the family the more I knew it was all I was holding on for....make it to 30km and stop and give them a hug I told myself. As I passed by the meeting point searching for them, looking longingly through the crowds for Molly's flowered jacket, I realized they either didn't make it or we just couldn't see each other. Either way I was done. I hit 30km in 2:45:08 (a PB for the distance) and stopped shortly after to stretch my IT's. As I headed into the beaches I knew my day was done and I had 12.2 km to go. Suck it up and run walk.

The beaches were what killed me last year and this year I was done heading into it. I ran the flats and downs going out and walked the hills. After the turn and coming back up the hill it was a struggle to even keep going. I pushed on and into the wind now. So now I was walking, wet from sweat, into the wind. I was getting cold and still had 8km to go. I pulled into the Swiss Chalet and asked for a garbage bag. I had already stopped and sat on a few curbs to rest but was pushing on. Then it hits me...I can't finish. I see the medic tent and walk in. I tell them I am done so they try calling for transportation. They can't get through. they do their best to warm me up with no blankets or hot packs. They finally get through and find that transport is going to be an hour. I made the call to push on, tent to tent if I had to.

The next 7 km were a struggle of walk run with a few sitting breaks to get rest for the legs. Looking at my watch I realized I would need to run the entire last KM or so getting me to the finish just under 5hrs. So off I went tough as hell but I ran the entire last km.

After getting my medal and 3 bananas and a water i made my way back to the hotel to gather the family and head home, tail between my legs. I consider myself lucky to have so many people that are there to help remind me of the accomplishment that I have achieved, regardless of time.

So now to figure what these hips are going to let me do next year.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Around The Bay (and the hills of Aldershot)

So this past week end I ran my first Around The Bay Road Race. It really started on Saturday going to the expo. All in all it was a mediocre expo, but it payed off in the long run ;). I saw a tweet from Alan Brookes, Race Director for the Canadian Running Series, on my way down. We tweeted back and forth a bit and although I never actually got to meet him I did stop by the booth and was the winning recipient of a free entry to STWM. YAY!

So let's get to the run. I planned to run the 1st half with a friend that was running the 2 person relay and then switch up and run with the 2nd friend for the last half. After the gun it took us a full 5 minutes to get to the start and we were off. We zig zagged our way through the downtown streets of Hamilton and it didn't take long to feel over heated. The temperature at race start was -10C but it was hot in the narrow streets. The jacket came off by the 3km point and it seemed to help. I was keeping my pace in and around my marathon pace and felt that I should be OK with it. As we turned up towards the lake at the 8km point the cold air shot through the wet shirts fiercely! The jacket went back on and stayed on! I was drinking my own water and filling it up at water stations. This proved to work well at Scotia previously. Where my hydration fell down (in hind site) is I didn't drink any electrolytes through the run...I think this killed me late in the run. I was feeling pretty strong approaching the 15km transition zone and Bekky ran ahead to make her change. When I got to the rely point I couldn't see either her or Martine so I just kept running. Met up with a nice lady named Linda that was running a similar pace so we ran a while together. Over the lift bridge and around the corner to North Shore Blvd and I was starting to feel a little tired but not bad. As we made our way through the first group of hills and by the golf course I was still feeling OK. Then after the 21km point I was really starting to feel beat up. A few more hills and I was having troubles with my left IT/glut. By the time we made the bottom of the little hill to go up to Plain's Rd I was toast. The walking started. In looking back at the Garmin I peaked my heart rate in the last few KMs of hills and this combined with an IT issue had me done. I walked and ran off and on from here. I ran down into the valley trying to allow gravity to help and then walked up the killer hill knowing it wasn't even an option. As I reached the top of the hill the 3hr pace bunny passed me. I gave pursuit and kept ahead of him for a few hundred meters but just couldn't keep pace. I watched his little pink ears get smaller and smaller until I lost them in the crowd. From here it was just a struggle of walk/run for 3km in.

Funny how no matter how you feel once you are close to the finish you can effortlessly glide into the finish. I finished in a chip time of 3:04:56, slightly behind my goal but happy to have finished. Next year I will be ready for the hills, better in tune with the electrolytes and HR and improve dramatically on my time....by at least 4 min and 57 seconds!!


Sunday, February 20, 2011

No Nay Sayers Today

I won't have it!

A few years back I did a post where I talked about "Nay Saying Horses". Today as I passed a farm on Greenfield Rd I noticed some horses. It took me back instantly to that run.

Today there were no nay sayers. Today I was not having it. Today they looked at me running strong and said nothing. I continued on to the next pasture full of bison. Big, tough and lean they looked up and realized that I was not taking shit from them either.

After a few rolling hills I came to a farm at the bottom of a big hill. There again on my left was a horse. Big and brown with doubt steaming from his nostrils in the cold air. I lifted my hand in a salute and politely told him to fuck off, I was taking that hill.

It seemed this was not the last of the animals in my journey today. About 1.5km from my water station there is a dog sniffing the side of the road. As I approach he makes it known I am not welcome. More aggressive than most dogs he runs right up beside me barking with ferocity, teeth bared. I raise my hand, ready to strike and he backs off as I pass his property.

The beagle freed the mind and the horses got me up the hill. Nothing like a country run!