First race in 6 months

I’ve now been back to running for a few months and I’ve gotten a bunch of workouts into my legs. My mileage is hovering right around the peak from my Ottawa marathon build last year (about 130 km/week) but I think I’m nearly in the best shape I’ve ever been in. That’s always a good feeling – especially twelve weeks out from a goal race (more on that development below).

This past weekend I ran the Robbie Burns 8K in Burlington. It had been six months since I last raced (St Clair River Run 10K in July) and I was looking to bust some rust and get a good sting in the legs. I figured at my peak last summer, I might have been in sub-25:00 shape so I was hoping to go under that mark. I knew there were a bunch of speedsters on the start list (Blair Morgan with a 65′ half marathon, Sami Jibril with sub-50′ 10 milers, and Paul Rochus with some fast track races) so I expected to have some guys to chase after.

I drove up the morning of the race and ran the course to warmup and familiarize myself. I knew ahead of time that the last two kilometres would be the toughest because of some gentle hills and a bit of a headwind. If I wanted to run under 25, I’d need to average 3:06/km so I made that my target.

Off the line and settling with fourth/fifth with Paul on my left

The first kilometre was quick (as they usually are) and the second was slow battling a headwind and hill. Then over the next 3-4 km I kept the average pace right on 3:06/km with the help of downhills and a tailwind. Then those last two kilometres came and I was working harder only to maintain 3:11 on them, bringing me to the line right around 25:00 flat.

Crossing the line behind Sami, Blair, and Sergio

All in all, I’m alright with this result. I like to think that shorter stuff isn’t my specialty and I haven’t done any training faster than 3:06 pace in the last few months so this was a decent result. I’m happy to come away with a good effort, a fun race, and feeling recovered enough the next day to get right back into the training groove.

Since my last post, the itch to run a marathon got the best of me and I’m looking to run Toledo on April 23. I’ve built my plan to use the Robbie Burns 8K as an early rust-buster, then I’ll run the Chilly Half 7 weeks out. I’ve already signed up for Around the Bay 30K and I’ve always wanted to run it so I’m going to test my self-control and use that event as my marathon simulator 4 weeks out (26.2 km at goal marathon pace… which means jogging the first 3.8 km of the race as warm-up).

Sunshine and a (mostly) snow-free trail

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Building a training plan is one of my favourite parts of marathon running. There are so many different sources to pull inspiration from, including my own past builds, running books, online articles, and other runners. This time, I started with my race template since I had some of those locked in already and found spots for the longer marathon-paced workouts that will build towards that 26.2 km simulator and ultimately the goal race. I took some inspiration from Jack Daniels’ book and some guys that Steve Boyd coached through STWM last fall (Kevin Coffey, Jeff Costen, Eric Bang) with marathon-paced long runs building from 60′ to 70′ to 80′. I also did that kind of progression back in my Ottawa 2015 training (long runs with 60′, 77′, 83′, 87′ at marathon pace) so it is familiar to me. Last year, I didn’t have the luxury of a longer training period, so I worked on shorter intervals and tried putting it together with a single 90′ marathon paced long run a few weeks out.

Look who finally showed up! Snow on the trail and it's nearly February.

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Something new that I’m going to add in this time is a longer-than-usual long run with the last 10 km or 30′ at marathon pace. Reid Coolsaet did this (45 km with last 12 km at MP) before his 2:10:28 in Berlin last year and Steve Boyd had his marathoners do this too (something like 2 hours easy then 30′ MP) — both 8 weeks out.

To figure out my rough mileage targets, I gathered up data from others on Strava to calculate their weekly mileage and weekly percent of peak mileage, averaged those percent-of-peak numbers across all the runners, and then re-adjusted them back into percent-of-peak values. Here’s what the numbers looked like:

peakmileage

So, if my last 6 weeks is 8.75 hours (124 km) at 80% of peak, then my peak will be around 11 hours (155 km). That isn’t too daunting but managing to maintain that near-peak level for five or six weeks in a row could be interesting.

Anyway, that’s all I’ve got time for right now. Until next time…

My flexibility coach says I have a long way to go.

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Back on track

I can hardly remember where I left this blog. Back in August, I had several weeks off due to a stress fracture in my foot and then life got really busy and running had to take the backseat for a while. Finally, I’m just now getting into a routine that’s working and have run my biggest week in 5 months at a measly 95 km. Hopefully I can keep this up for a while and get into shape for some spring races. I’ve signed up for the Robbie Burns 8K in January, Around the Bay 30K in March, and hopefully my spring goal race will be the Ottawa 10K in May. The plan for now is no spring marathon and instead I hope to make it to the starting line of the Toronto Waterfront Marathon in October.

Spring fitness is built on snow-covered roads. #RunGCM2016

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Since we’re just about done with 2016, I thought I’d recap the year. Heading into January 2016, I was coming off a strong race at the Boxing Day 10 miler in Hamilton and a series of solid workouts. I took a down week to prepare for a marathon build but had injury trouble coming back after that. I tried to manage things by biking (in January!) but the tendon flared up in February and ended up resting for three weeks. I had to scrap my plans to race the Glass City Marathon in Toledo, OH and instead made a last minute decision to try for the Ottawa Marathon. I had only 11 weeks to get back on my feet and get some miles and workouts in the legs. I made it to the start line and ran a 3 minute PB but was short of my goal.

Not bad trail conditions for February!

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After Ottawa, I took a week off and then started gearing up for some 10Ks races. After three weeks back at it, I ran a new 10K PB of 31:21 at the Waterfront 10 with the help of a stacked field of fast guys. I made it another three weeks before my foot started bothering me and I eventually got in for an X-ray and bone scan, confirming a stress fracture. I had to endure seven weeks of rest or very light biking to let my foot heal and I missed the chance at a fall marathon for the third year in a row (yikes!).

Newly groomed Howard Watson Nature Trail, east of Mandaumin. Can't wait to run it once it's open!

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Once the stress fracture had healed, I got in four weeks of very light mileage before I started sprinkling in some mild workouts. After another four weeks, I had a vasectomy which required yet another week off before I could even consider jogging. Finally, just now, I’m on my second week back running and things are feeling great!

In total, I’ll have run only 3500 km (245 hours) in 2016. I ran 4800 km (330 hours) in 2015, 4500 km (330 hours) in 2014, and 2750 km (220 hours) in 2013. I did get a lot more biking in this year — 2000 km (73 hours) compared to 1600 km (60 hours) in 2015.

Getting in some early morning miles #seemyrun

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Overall, 2016 was pretty disappointing when compared to my expectations heading into the year. Despite running PBs in the marathon and 10K, I ran a whole lot less than I would have liked, only managing to string together 18 weeks of consistent, regular training over the course of the entire year. I hope to run more consistently in 2017, perhaps logging more miles than I’ve run before. 5000 km seems like a good goal.

These early afternoon sunsets 👌

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2016 was kind of a weird year for the marathon in Canada. The top guys performed well but there seems to have been a drop in depth. (For comparison, the 2:28:12 I ran this year would have ranked as the 32nd fastest time by a Canadian last year but somehow was the 20th fastest this year.) Reid Coolsaet ran another 2:10:55, this time in Fukuoka. Eric Gillis had an incredible performance in Rio–finishing 10th–and won the national title. Kip Kangogo seemed to have an off year, running 6 or 7 minutes slower than his best on two occasions. Robert Winslow ran another consistent 2:19-2:20 marathon at CIM. Terence Attema broke through the 2:20 barrier for the first time in Twin Cities. Our national championship race in Toronto claimed a whole lot of casualties – Tristan Woodfine (due for a sub-2:20), Kevin Coffey (2:21 PB), John Mason (2:22 PB), and David Le Porho (2:19 PB) all DNF’d. We also had a few strong debuts. Evan Elder ran 2:24:56 at CIM, Abdoul Aziz Kimba ran 2:25:44 in Berlin, John Parrot ran 2:26:10 in Ottawa, Anthony Larouche ran 2:27:08 in Philadelphia, and Adam Hortian ran 2:29:54 in Hamilton. Maybe we’ll see some other guys like Trevor Hofbauer, Thomas Toth, Brandon Lord, or Josh Bolton step up (and complete) a marathon next year. Lots to look forward to!

Anyway, that’s it for now. I’ll try to post again at the end of January when (hopefully) I’ll have a rust-buster race behind me!

Downtime

For a while there, I had a draft post talking about how my training had been going smoothly and as such was kind of boring and not really worth writing about. Following the Waterfront 10K, I had four steady weeks at 120 km/week, with a tempo run each week and a longer run. Then all of a sudden, I had some pain on the outside of my right foot following an easy run. It didn’t feel right and I was shifting back and forth between running, cycling, resting, and whatever I could do to keep things moving forward. Finally, the issue culminated in a failed marathon-paced workout after which I went to the emergency room for an X-ray. It came back clean and I was scheduled for a bone scan a week or two later. Finally, four weeks after the pain appeared and two weeks after my initial X-ray, an orthopedic doctor confirmed I had a (stress?) fracture in the X-ray and he wanted me in a walking cast for 6 weeks. Just like that, the fall races I had lined up were off the table.

I kept meaning to come back here and write a post but my life outside of running became very busy and the longer I went without writing the more daunting it became to recap things. So, this is purposefully going to be a short one.

In total, I had 7 weeks of no running with some of those weeks having complete rest while others had a couple bike rides – nothing exciting. I’ve now been running almost daily for 2 weeks and have built up from 10 minutes of walking/running intervals to an 85′ run yesterday. Still no workouts or races(!) on the calendar for a little while as I ease back into the routine.

Anyways, lots has happened in the running world since mid-June! We had the Rio Olympic marathon where Eliud Kipchoge dominated the men’s field and Eric Gillis ran a perfect race and was the highest placing Canadian at 10th. Kenenisa Bekele ran an incredible 2:03:03 (just 6 seconds shy of the world record) in Berlin a few weeks ago, edging out previous world record holder Wilson Kipsang.

Looking forward, we’ve got a big weekend coming up with the Toronto Waterfront Marathon on Sunday – our Canadian marathon championship race. Eric Gillis is making a quick return and will be the top contender. Others who will be vying for a top finish are Kip Kangogo (2:15 in Toronto last year), Robert Winslow (2:20 in Toronto 2014), Kevin Coffey (2:21 in Toronto 2014), John Mason (2:22 in Toronto last year), Tristan Woodfine (2:27 in Rotterdam last year), David Le Porho (2:19 in California last year), and Philippe Viau-Dupuis (2:21 in Boston last year). You can see the full elite start list here. I’ll be following along on Twitter and watching the live stream if possible. Keep an eye out for Jeff Costen making his marathon debut and Eric Bang looking to take a chunk of his 2:29 PB.

The women’s field is also stacked with Canadians – pretty much everyone except Lanni (who will be running NYC along with Rob Watson a few weeks after). Krista DuChene (2:29 in Rotterdam last year), Dayna Pidhoresky (DNF’d Houston in January), Leslie Sexton (2:33 in Toronto last year), Rachel Hannah (2:32 in Houston in January), and Tarah Korir (2:35 in Ottawa this year) will be battling for top honours.

The half marathon should be a good battle too with Josh Bolton, Trevor Zimak, David Freake, and Rob Brouillette the mix for top spots.

Anyway, I said I’d keep it short – so that’s it!