Chicago Marathon Training Week 7

Coming off the high of A Midsummer Night’s Run last week, this week was going to have a tough time topping it.  But I was headed to Alberta (my first trip to Western Canada) so I’d have a new playground to stretch my legs.  Calgary as a city I only found alright, but I did have a great long run there.

Workouts

I was back on my normal schedule of quality workouts Tuesday/Thursday, and my long run Saturday.

M: Easy 15k.  This was my first run after Midsummers and my legs responded surprisingly well.  It was an easy run so I didn’t really look at my watch, but I finished with a 4:49 pace (anything under 4:55 for an easy run usually means I’m moving well).

Tu: 9 x Colonel Danforth Hill.  I decided to do hills instead of speed because I figured it was a little easier on my legs.  I’m not sure how long the Colonel Danforth Hill is, but I love (hate) it.  It’s steep, and part way up it gets even steeper.  I’ve never run up it and not felt like my lungs were on fire!

W: 17k easy.  Legs were okay, not great after yesterdays hills.

Th: 2x4k tempo (3:56 and 3:54 pace).  I left my house without much pop in my legs and wasn’t sure what I was going to do for a workout.  I decided I’d run a 7.2k route I knew and would see how it went.  After 3km I decided I was just going to go and test my legs.  It wasn’t an amazing tempo run but I was happy with my effort.

F: Easy 15k in Calgary.  I flew into Calgary first thing in the morning and had some time before I could get into my run so I ran from where I was staying down to the Bow River and back.  I ran along the road not realizing there was a path running parallel to the road all the way down to the Bow.

Sa: 32k long run in Calgary.  It was great doing my long run in a new place because the time flew by.  I did pickups of 2,1,1,3,1,1,4,1,1.  For my route I ran from where I was staying through Nose Hill Park.  From there I headed south to the Bow River to run along the waterfront path.  I ran west when I got to the river, and then turned back east at about 14.5k through my run.  From there I went through Prince’s Island, St. George Island, and then finally turned back west to finish in China Town.

Su: 9k easy.  My legs were REALLY sore.  A combination of my long run, and walking/cycling around the city.  I wasn’t too concerned with turning early, my legs needed to recover.

Total milage: 120k for the week, 782k total.

Bonus

I biked about 70k on Saturday after my long run.  I wanted to check out the Saddledome, Stampede Grounds, Olympic Park, and UofCalgary, so I figured my bike was the best way to do this.  It wasn’t a workout, but I was in the saddle for a few hours.

Chicago Marathon Training Week 6

This past week was a huge week for me.  I had a couple of really good runs, and then a breakthrough race at A Midsummer Night’s Run 30k.  My performance there has caused me to reevaluate my goals, I am very happy with how my training has progressed.

Workouts

I usually do quality runs on Tuesday and Thursday, but since my race was Saturday evening I wanted to give myself some extra rest so I did quality Monday and Wednesday.  Also, my quality workouts weren’t as hard as they would have otherwise have been.

M: 2 x 4k steady state run at 4:05 pace, 16k total.  This was a good run.  Took a little bit to get my legs going at the start, I’ll blame this on some fatigue from my 36k on Saturday.  I hit my paces, so I was happy.

Tu: Easy 17k.

W: 5 x 1200m track (4:11-4:18), 16k total.  Really happy with this track workout.  I haven’t made it to the track this year as much as I’d planned to.  I scaled back from 1600m repeats to 1200m because of the race on Saturday.  I felt like I was running really well.  I ran in the Saucony A5s I just bought, this was my second run in them, and they felt fast.

Th: Easy 12k.  I planned on running 15k but right from the time I left my house I felt hungry and low energy.  I expect that was in part some residual fatigue from the track yesterday.  The goal of this week is the 30k on Saturday so I had no problems turning early.

F: Easy 10k.  After feeling a little tired for yesterdays run I decided today would only be 10k.  I just wanted to continue to get in the milage and keep my legs loose.

Sa: A Midsummer Night’s Run 30k race in 1:57:17 (1:57:24 by my watch for the full 30k).  I wrote a race report which can be found HERE.  This was an incredible breakthrough run for me.  24 of 30 1k splits under 4:00/km and 3:55 pace overall.  I exceeded my expectations and I will look to adjust my goal for Chicago accordingly.  Read the race report for more details.

Su: Rest day!  The 30k was last night so I decided I’d take the day off.  My quads are pretty sore, so they need it.

Total milage: 101k for the week. 662k total.

A Midsummer Night’s Run 30k Race Report

A Midsummer Night’s Run 30k Race Report

Last night I ran the Midsummer Night’s 30k.  It was my first time doing it, which takes you through the docks, Cherry Beach, the Leslie Spit, and Ashbridges Park.  My plan heading into the race was to use it as a measuring stick for where I’m at with my Chicago training.  I figured if I could hold the pace I plan to run in Chicago for 30k, then over the next 8 weeks I could develop the endurance for the last 12.2k.

Goal

  • Run no km 4:10 or higher
  • Be light on my feet
  • Keep foot turnover high
  • Finish FAST

Pre Race

We arrived at the race at about 5:00PM for a 5:30 start.  I didn’t do much of a warmup, maybe 600m total with a couple short stride accelerations.  I took a gel at 5:10PM and then waited for the start.  In my head I was thinking if I had a good day 2:01:XX could be in the cards, but thought something closer to 2:03:00 was more realistic.  I knew my first km or two would be fast but the plan was to settle into my rhythm by the time I was done 2k because 30k is a long way to go.

In terms of nutrition a night race caused a few problems.  Over the last couple weeks I’d had stomach issues when I’d run in the evening.  For breakfast Saturday morning I had scrambled eggs with turkey sausage on a white bun.  I had a white bagel with almond butter and honey for lunch.  I also had a couple of rice cakes with almond butter, a rice crispy square, and a Cliff bar as snacks throughout the day.  During the race I planned on taking a gel around 10k and 20k.  I didn’t know if this would work but I’d cross my fingers and hope for the best.

30k Start

30k Start

The Race

I positioned myself near the front of the pack at the start (I knew from previous years results to not expect too many runners under 2:05).  The horn sounded and we were off.  The pack strung out very quickly and there were about 8 runners in front of me.  Before I knew it we passed our first km marker, I’d run a 3:42.  Fast, but I knew that would happen.  The second km of the race flew by just as fast, 3:50.  Still fast, but my legs felt surprisingly light; I barely felt like I was working.  I wasn’t going to force myself to run slower than my legs wanted to go, I was comfortable, breathing fine and light on my feet.  My pace cooled down a bit (high 3:50’s) and I passed through 5k in 19:24.

Just passed 6k we were out onto the Leslie Spit.  It was windy heading out (which would provide a tailwind coming back).  I was in behind a couple other runners but their pace seemed to be slowing.  My first km on the Spit was 4:01, this was my first km over 3:59 in the race.  At this point I decided to run past the guys I’d been tucked in behind.  My next 4km out to the far end of the spit were also just above 4:00/km.  At this point I was 11k into the run and was about 29sec faster than 4:00/km pace.

The next few km’s were uneventful and I crossed 15k in 59:11.  Halfway home and I only needed a 4:03 average to come in under 2:00!  I still wasn’t sure how my body would hold up but my legs didn’t feel too bad and my lungs weren’t overworking.  As I ran off the spit and towards Ashbridges Park the course again was empty.  I could see someone a few hundred meters ahead, and though I didn’t both looking back I didn’t think anyone was that close behind me.  As I made it into the park I began a zig-zagging run through the parks paths.  The course was poorly marked and at times I wondered whether I was running the right way.  According to SportStats I crossed a timing mat near the 21k mark at 1:22:26 in 10th place.  My legs were getting heavy, but I was still managing to tick off the km’s under 4:00.

As I weaved through Ashbridges Park I saw someone in a maroon singlet who had dropped off his earlier pace.  This was the first person I passed since the early km’s and gave me a bit of a boost to keep going and to try and catch anyone else who’s pace may wain in the latter stages of the race.  My next target I spotted as I turned back onto the Lakeshore.  It’s a long, straight stretch and there was a white tshirt that was about 400m ahead of me.  I was still running really well and used catching him as a motivation to continue to keep my leg speed up.  I caught the white tshirt around the 25k mark and wanted to put a stamp on the pass to discourage him from trying to pass back so my pace for that km was 3:48.

The final 5k was tough; my legs were getting really heavy, the pads of both of my feet hurt, and the course was clogged with 5/15k runners and walkers who were taking up the entire lane.  A number of the racers I passed were nice enough to call ‘Runner on your left’ to help clear the way, but there was still a lot of congestion.

With about a mile to go I made a turn onto the final stretch.  As I made the turn I saw Lisa, who had come out to cheer me in.  I began to accelerate.  I didn’t know if anyone was behind me (the course had too many people on it in the various races) but I thought I saw another 30k runner in the distance.  As I began to accelerate I felt like there was no limit and I could keep getting faster.  With about 800m to go I’d caught the singlet in the distance who I could have sworn was up the road from me just a minute ago.  This close to the finish line I definitely wanted to make the pass stick.  I continued to run faster and with about 500m to go I noticed another singlet ahead of me.  I didn’t know if I had enough time but I was going to give it all I had.  Sure enough just before I made the turn into the finish chute I had passed him too.  As I made the turn I saw the finish line and did my best to sprint.  I ran through the line and immediately needed to grab the fence to help steady myself.  I looked down at my watch and saw that I had just run my final km in 3:22!  That is the fastest I’ve ever run a km.

1:57:17, 3:55/km pace

This picture sums up my feelings at the finish. 1:57:17, 3:55/km pace

Post Race (1:57:17, 3:55/km)

I covered 30km in 1:57:17 for a 3:55/km pace which was good enough for 6th place.  I’m really happy with the race, I feel like it was a breakthrough for me.  I didn’t really consider sub2:00 a possibility coming into it.  24 of my 30 1km splits were under 4:00, mentally this was a big win for me.  I still think of sub4:00 over any distance to be fast, so to be able to do that over a 30k really had me surprised with my performance.  Even though I was exhausted at the finish line I felt like I recovered relatively quickly in the finish area.  This race has caused me to re-evaluate my goals for Chicago.  I still have 8 weeks left to get ready and now the 2:48:48 marathon time that I hold in such high regard could be my new target.

Chicago Marathon Training Weeks 1-5

I really fell behind writing about my 14 weeks leading up to Chicago, so in an effort to catch up I’m going to write about the past 5 weeks in this one post.

My plan has me running at least 15k every day.  On a normal week quality will be Tuesday/Thursday (hills, track, tempo, etc.) and Saturday (long run).  If I’m not feeling it on my easy days I have no problem shutting it down.  Easy days are just to build milage, but I’m not doing myself any favours if I’m limping through a run.  Here’s hope the last 5 weeks have gone.

Week 1 – 96k (Boilermaker week)

My week didn’t start off very well.  I had pain in my right knee and shut my planned 15k easy down after just over 1k.  I could have pushed through but I didn’t want to risk injury.  Tuesday was a much better day, I got in 15k with 6x75sec hill repeats.  Wednesday was my first day at the track this year.  It hurt, but it was a great run.  8x800m on 400m rest, followed by a final 1600m.  I managed low 2:50’s for all my 800’s and was happy with how I was able to push myself.  Thursday/Friday were each easy runs, about 15k each to get some more milage.  Saturday I ran just under 6k to keep my legs loose before Boilermaker without tiring them out too much.  Sunday was Boilermaker, which was a great run for me.  You can read my race report about it HERE.

Week 2 – 113k (First week over 100k, Ajax 5k)

The Monday after Boilermaker my legs were a little flat, but I wasn’t too sore.  I ran 6k before we left Utica and another 9k when I got home.  Tuesday I did an easy 10k in the morning and then 7k in the evening with 6 hill repeats at Cornell Danforth Park.  The hill there is only about 70sec long, but steep.  Coming off Boilermaker I felt good running the hills.  Thursday I did another easy 10k in the morning and then the Ajax 5k Tune-Up Race in the evening.  This was my first ever 5k and it was an effort.  My time was approximately 18:18, I was dead at the finished line.  You can read my race report HERE.  Saturday was my first ‘long run’ at 25k.  At about the 7k mark I began to feel my stomach bubbling and at approximately 12k I was reduced to walking for a half km.  I was able to run again until about 17k when I walked another 0.5km.  I don’t know if I ate too much before the run or messed up nutrition the night before but it wasn’t a pleasant feeling.  My GI issued passed and I felt fine for the final 7k or so.

Week 3 – 143k (Lake Placid)

Tuesday was my second track workout.  I did 5×1600 on 800m rest.  It was a hot day and the 1600m intervals were difficult, especially the first.  I was happy with my effort.  Wednesday I cut my run short because my legs were so flat.  I was headed to Placid on Wednesday and had intended to do another short run when I arrived, but the weather was brutal and my legs were still flat.  On Thursday I took advantage of the Lake Placid hills to get in a hill workout.  I did 6 repeats on the Papa Bear hill and then 1 repeat of the Three Bears.  That afternoon I hoped on my bike and rode up Whiteface Mountain.  The climb was like nothing I’ve ever done.  The grade was a pretty steady 8% all the way to the top.  It took me about 1:12 to cover the approximately 13km climb!  On Saturday I did my long run.  I planned for 28k but ended up with 30.  Over the first 21k I ran 8x2min pickups.  After 21k I met up with Lisa for some fuel.  I’ve heard of all sorts of athletes taking Red Bull during races.  I’ve never been a fan, but they were giving it away for free in town so I decided to give it a shot.  The results were decisive, I WONT do that again!  Once I continued running I began to feel slightly dizzy and light-headed.  I don’t know if this can all be blamed on the Red Bull or just a calorie deficit, but it definitely didn’t provide any sort of boost.  Sunday was IM Lake Placid.  I wasn’t racing but Lisa was.  I managed to get in 43k of running spread out over the course of the day, running to different spots to spectate.  It was broken up into manageable chunks (never more than 7k at a time) so it wasn’t too hard on my legs, but I was exhausted by the end of the day.

Whiteface Climb Profile

Whiteface Climb Profile

Week 4 – 84k

After running 73k over the weekend I took Monday/Tuesday off to allow my legs to recover.  I got back to running with an easy 16k Wednesday.  Thursday I was back to workouts.  I ran 18k total, with just over 10k of intervals varying from 1600m to 3200m.  Saturday my long run was pushed up to 33k.  It was a hard effort, but didn’t shatter my like 30k+ runs had last year (progress!).

Week 5 – 125k

I began the week with a sore right knee, and I hadn’t run Sunday because of it.  No, it wasn’t from running, it was from Bubble Soccer. I did an easy 7k on Monday to try to loosen it up.  On Tuesday I did another easy 8k, by this point the swelling and much of the bruising was gone.  Tuesday evening I ended up doing a tough 8k tempo with a group from Ajax Running Free (19k total).  We ran the tempo at 3:53 pace.  It was great running next to John, he is a much more seasoned runner at myself and was able to keep the pace even.  It was a tough hall, but really a breakthrough run.  I was short on calories, and in the final few easy km’s I was desperate to get something into my body.  Thursday I did 2×1200, 2×1600, and 2×2000 on the road.  I had some GI problems that flared up and caused my to cut the first 2000 short at 1700.  Besides that I was happy with the run.  On Saturday I pushed my long run milage up to 36k, it was the longest I plan to run in my build to Chicago.  I wanted to do this because in my head I think of 36k as a really long run (it is!), and it’s a mental hurdle for me.  The nice thing was I was able to break it up into different parts.  I first ran a 10k loop to see if anyone got to the parking lot early.  Nobody did so I ran another 5k loop.  Then I ran 15k with a group, and I finished with a solo 6k loop.  It was 36k, but it didn’t feel like it.  I managed about 15:00 of pickups through the first 15k and final 6, which I was happy with.  I was also really happy with how I felt after the run.  Last year I would be completely drained after long runs, and would be a walking zombie for a couple hours after I finished.  I wasn’t feeling good, but I felt a hell of a lot better than I recall feeling last year.  I attribute this to better fueling during the run, and a better base of milage.