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!

Racing back into fitness

It’s been four weeks since I ran the Ottawa marathon. I had planned to take 10-14 days off following that race but I was eager to get back to training and hopefully a better race this fall. I ended up taking three days off before getting out for two really easy jogs in that first week back. My legs were a little achy but otherwise I felt good.

In the second week, I got in 100 km of easy running at roughly an hour per day. I had been taking care to run especially easy to be sure I was recovered before I got in any harder efforts. By the weekend, I was feeling ready and I ran a 25 km hilly progression run down to 3:20/km and that put some sting in the legs; a sign of a good run.

One last shakeout on the trail before heading to Toronto for the @runcrs #Waterfront10

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For the third week back, I ran a 6×4’/90″ workout averaging 3:08/km which was pretty good but not my best. That weekend, I ran a local race—the 30th annual Huron House Boys’ Home 10K. I have run this race the last couple years and love it as it is perfectly flat and covers roads that I train on every day so it feels a little like my ‘home course’. I wasn’t sure what to expect three weeks after a marathon but I figured I’d use this as a test before the Waterfront 10K in Toronto the following weekend. I went out hard and basically faded my way to the finish line, with my first km in 3:04 and my slowest in 3:20. I finished in 32:16, which was 17 seconds faster than my time last year at the same race so I took that as a positive. It was good to see the legs coming back into form so quickly after Ottawa.

Envisioning the pancake tent

In the fourth week back, I got in a midweek 8x1000m/400m workout on the track, running arguably my best set of Ks, averaging 3:03/km. Everything felt controlled and smooth. This workout was a good confidence booster heading into a race on the weekend.

I drove to Toronto for Canada Running Series’ inaugural Waterfront 10K. This race replaced the Yonge St 10K where I ran 31.00 last spring. The old course was net downhill, dropping 8.5 m/km, but thankfully, the new course is much fairer, dropping only 1.3 m/km. I think that means it’s still not a record legal course (limit is 1.0 m/km), but there was a pretty good hill at about 7 km that makes me feel okay about calling this a fair course.

CRS put together an awesome field of athletes, including Rio-bound marathoners Reid Coolsaet, Eric Gillis, and Krista DuChene. I figured Reid and Eric would be out front, there would be a second pack of Thomas Toth and Sami Jibril, and a possible third pack of Josh Bolton, Colin Fewer, and Jeff Costen. I imagined I’d be somewhere in the fourth pack hoping to stay close to Josh, Colin, and Jeff.

The lead pack
Heading toward Lakeshore Blvd

After the gun went, there were probably twenty people ahead of me and I tried to settle into a good pace. We came through the first km in 3:03 which was too quick but shortly after I settled into ~3:08/km pace. I found myself in a group with Josh, Colin, and Matt Loiselle with Seth Marcaccio about 10m ahead. This pack stuck together through roughly 7 km.

Doing my best to hang on to Josh’s shoulder

There were plenty of people out cheering along Lakeshore Blvd so that helped me keep pushing. At the turnaround point by 7 km, I started to make my move as we climbed a long, steady hill/overpass. I managed to pull away from the pack I had been running with although I’m not sure by how much. I was counting down the minutes and telling myself to keep pressing the pace and not to let anyone catch me. With about a km to go, I reeled in Behanu Degefa and then I could see the finish line and my watch read 30:45 so I dug deep and finished hard. I crossed the line in 31:21 which is a 30-second personal best from the 10K I ran in December. I ended up 9th overall behind fellow Canadians: Eric, Reid, Tristan Woodfine, Thomas, and Sami.

I’m happy with my effort and how I executed the race (being aware of tangents when others ahead of me weren’t, sticking with a group and not letting them pull away, making a break when I felt strong and confident that I could keep the hammer down to the finish line). It makes me hopeful that if I can run a 10K PB with only 2-3 workouts in my legs after a marathon, I should be able to get a better marathon out of myself in the fall. Perhaps I didn’t push myself hard enough in Ottawa although it certainly didn’t feel that way at the 40 km marker! In any case, it’s great to see progress.

After the race I had the opportunity to chat with a number of runners I’ve met through Strava (basically Facebook for runners/cyclists). It’s cool to put faces to names and chat a bit about non-running stuff, too. The Canadian road running scene is made up of great people. Shout out to the GRE crew (Rob, Josh, Tyler), Jeff, and Steve and Colin for letting me tag along for a cooldown.

That’s it for now. Thanks for checking in!