Saturday, October 25, 2008

Week 43: Review

This week has seen a lot of unsettled weather, which threw a wrench into my plans for cycling. Heavy rain and wind on Monday made the planned 80K ride impractical, so I simply did some walking in its place. I had hoped to make up for it throughout the rest of the week, but Tuesday was also a write off because of the rain and Wednesday was extremely cold so it was difficult enough getting the planned 50K in. At that point I was flirting with the idea of doing more than 80K on Friday, but when the day came time constraints made that impossible.

As such, my cycling mileage is lower than I would have hoped this week, but as I'm not really training for anything that's not really a huge issue. The sessions that I did have on the bike were quite productive, however, so all was not bad news. My half-century ride on Friday went extremely well, and I was able to maintain a 32km/h average speed until ~55km in when the school traffic started building up. Even with that, however, I managed to maintain an overall average speed of 29.6km/h over the 50 mile route. I'm hoping to get that above 30km/h before I have to pack it in for the winter, so it's just going to be a matter of getting in as many miles as I can.

As for running, things went pretty much to plan this week. I managed to get my weekly mileage back up to 50km (a little over 30 miles), and plan to hold around that level for the next little while. This was the peak of my previous training program, and my hope is to build up my base level to this point prior to beginning any marathon training. Fortunately, running isn't as sensitive to the weather as cycling so it's a little easier to stick to the plan when dealing with unsettled conditions.

Weekly Totals:

Running: 51km
Walking: 69km
Cycling: 145km
Total: 265km

As my intent is to maintain this running mileage, this week's plan will be very similar to last week's plan. The only difference with respect to running is that I'll be upping Tuesday's tempo run another kilometer to give a bit more of a push on that front. Cycling-wise things will be similar as well, and hopefully the weather will cooperate this time around ;)

Upcoming Week:
Sun (AM/PM) 16K Steady
Mon 80K Cycle
Tue 8K Tempo
Wed (AM/PM) 10K Steady/50K Cycle
Thurs 10K Steady
Fri 80K Cycle
Sat 8K Steady

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Getting Used to the Cold Again

Fortunately, my RS800 got back from Polar Canada's service depot yesterday so I was able to get back to my normal running routine. I was definitely impressed with their service, as once shipping times were taken into account they took less than two business days to complete the work. Naturally, I would have rather not have had the problem in the first place but it is good to know that they can get repairs done this quickly.

Either way, the plan called for a 10K run this morning, so I headed out just after 10am. Despite the clear skies, the temperature was below zero and snow that fell yesterday was still on the ground. As such, I wore a long sleeve running shirt, a pair of gloves and a neck warmer to keep myself warm. I did a 1K walk to warm up, and then broke into a run when the watch's auto-lap feature beeped.

I finished the first kilometer a little slow, hitting the mark in 4:48. Kilometers two and three went along similarly, hitting them in 4:46 and 4:47 respectively. By the fourth kilometer, I began to pick up the pace and hit the mark in 4:43. Even at this point, however, my heart rate was still in the 150s which is a lot lower than it usually was so I allowed myself to continue to accelerate a little more.

The fifth through ninth kilometers were all in the low 4:40s to high 4:30s, but my heart rate still remained in the mid-160s. As such, I let myself go faster than usual in the final kilometer - taking 4:28 to reach the finish line. Overall, the 10K running portion took 46:49, for an average pace of about 4:41.

Despite the final push, my heart rate peaked at 173bpm which was still quite comfortable. The cold adds a lot of complexity to running, however it certainly makes it easier to keep the heart rate under control. It does make me wonder how well I could have done had I run the Goodlife Toronto Half Marathon this weekend instead of the Scotiabank Waterfront Half ;)

Given the missed bicycle rides earlier in the week due to weather issues, I replaced the planned 30K in the afternoon with a 50K ride. While it did warm up a little in the afternoon, it was still below 3C so it was still pretty chilly. Naturally, this is more of a concern on the bike than it is on foot, as the continuous ~30km/h wind tends to make for a nasty windchill. Regardless, I had already missed significant mileage on the bike this week so I was determined to make it up one way or the other.

Either way, I put on my cycling shorts, a long sleeve running shirt and a cycling jersey on top and headed out. Once I got going, the temperature wasn't too bad as the heat generated by my body did a decent job of keeping me comfortable. The only thing that ended up becoming a problem was keeping my feet warm, as they don't do a lot of work on the bike so the cold air does get to them. It didn't really become too much of a problem, however it is evident that I need to look into getting a set of windproof booties to put over top of my cycling shoes.

As for the ride itself, I wasn't able to push as hard as I would have liked as the legs were still a little tired from the run a couple of hours before. Either way, I managed to average about 29km/h for most of the laps around the subdivision. Around 2:30, however, the school traffic started building up again so fighting my way through all of the cars slowed a couple of laps down to the 27km/h range. Overall, I managed to average about 28.1km/h including the warm-up and cool-down segments, finishing 50.65km in 1:48:07.

Tomorrow morning has another 10K run scheduled, with an 11K walk in the afternoon. I might try and replace that walk with another ~30K cycle to make up for lost mileage but I'll have to see how things feel. Friday I'll be looking at doing another half-century, and possibly more if everything feels good so I can't push too hard tomorrow. Fortunately, the weather over the next couple of days looks like it's going to be near perfect so hopefully that means that I can stick to the plan better than I have for the first half of the week.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Winter is on its way...

After quickly checking the weather this morning, my original plan was to do my 7K tempo run in the morning and then do a 30-50km ride in the afternoon when the rain was supposed to stop. I was supposed to do an 80K ride yesterday, however as it rained for most of the day I had to give up on that plan and simply did two 11K walks instead. As such, I was hoping to make up for part of that today after I did the scheduled run. Regardless, I headed out about 10:00, and as soon as I got out there it was clear that the wind (which I didn't pay attention to in the weather reports) was going to be an issue.

My route this time around was basically a straight shot down a major road, which provides me with a relatively flat course (versus the hilly routes that I usually use). For tempo runs this is generally a better match, as it allows me to operate at the right level without having to worry about burning myself out on the hills. The downside to this route, however, is that it is much more exposed than the residential streets that I usually run on, so the effects of the wind were more pronounced than normal. Adding to the complexity was that this was my first attempt at doing a tempo run completely by feel (I did last week's on the treadmill), so there was going to be some difficulty in allowing myself to go at the correct speed (4:30/km) without loosing control.

Either way, I hit the 1K mark in 4:42, about 12 second slower than planned so I stepped things up a bit. I accelerated a bit too much, however, and did the second kilometer in 4:22 so I pulled back a little to correct for that. By the 3K mark, I managed to get myself to the right pace - finishing it in 4:29. This continued to the 3.5K mark, which I hit at 15:48 (about 3 seconds behind overall pace).

At this point, I turned around and started heading back the way that I came. Unfortunately the wind had continued to pick up, and I was now fighting a ~40km/h headwind. I managed to keep my pace up, hitting the 4K mark at exactly 18:00 (4:24/km). The cold wind was making it much more of a fight than usual, however, so I elected to pull off the route and take side streets to finish the distance.

Unfortunately, as I didn't have my watch, falling off the route onto roads that I usually don't run on meant that I had no way to gauge my mileage beyond this point. As such, I decided to switch to a timed run rather than a fixed distance, and would continue until I hit 31:30 (7km x 4:30/km). Pacing was naturally completely by feel at this point, as I would have no way to determine it until I could get home and chart out the remainder of the run. As such, I just locked into the feeling that worked earlier in the run and stayed at that level.

I wasn't 100% sure of the layout of the roads in this area, so a lot of my routing had to be made up on the fly. I stuck with smaller roads where the houses shielded the roads/sidewalks from the wind and eventually hit the time limit and broke back to a walk. After about 500 meters, I stopped and did some stretches, then continued for another ~3km back home.

Once I got back to my computer, I pulled up and charted out the remainder of my route to figure out exactly how far I had gone. Fortunately, things worked out extremely well with the second segment of the run taking up 3,012 meters. Added to the 4K portion that was run as planned, that worked out to a perfect 4:30 overall pace.

As for the cycling, it is looking like that won't be possible today either. There is an extremely gusty 50km/h wind out there right now, which would throw me around like a rag doll if I headed out on the bike. Add in the fact that there have been on and off snow flurries over the last couple of hours, and it's not very friendly weather to deal with at this juncture. As such, I'll likely end up doing another walk this afternoon and will have to try and get in a longer than usual ride tomorrow.

Fortunately, the weather reports seem to indicate things will be much better tomorrow through Friday so as long as they are right it might not be much of a setback. If things work out, I might try and give a metric century (100km) a try on Friday - both to make up for the lost mileage yesterday, and to see how my stamina holds up (it should take about 3.5-4 hours to complete that distance).

With all of that said, I managed to pick up a fluid trainer (Kurt Kinetic Road Machine) for a great price at a bike show on Saturday, and ultimately that will allow me to continue to use the bike when the weather makes it impossible to ride outside anymore. Unfortunately, indoor trainers are apparently very hard on tires, so it is generally best to take good tires off the bike (replacing them with purpose-built tires, or old tires that you don't mind burning through) before riding on a trainer. As such, it doesn't really help a lot with short spells of weather like this week. When the weather starts being impractical more often than not, however, I can switch things around and do my rides regardless of the weather.

The only question at this point, however, is whether riding inside for extended periods will be as boring as running on the treadmill. With that said, there will certainly be less of a choice on this front. While I can run in pretty much any weather, the same cannot be said for a road bike - especially with the nasty winters that we get up here. As such, if I want to keep the cycling up during the winter, the trainer is going to pretty much be my only choice.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Back up to 16K

As planned, I headed out this morning to do a 16K LSD run and get back into the routine of these longer runs. The target was to average a 5:00/km pace, but as it would be impractical to try and memorize 16 waypoints I just focused on a few landmarks along the course and timed myself off of those. Fortunately, the weather was nice and cool so that made it a lot more comfortable than similar runs of this distance done earlier in the year.

Either way, I hit the 1K mark a little behind schedule at 5:07 so I adjusted my pace a little to compensate. The 2K mark came at 10:03, and the first major waypoint (at 2.75km) was hit at 13:45 (just about erasing the initial error). I made a bit more adjustment to my pace at this point to try and keep myself on track, eventually hitting the 5K mark at 24:57 (maintaining a 4:59 pace for this segment) and getting a good feel for the pace.

The next segment was an uphill portion which required a bit of an adjustment, but I managed to keep myself to a 4:57 pace until the next waypoint at 7.31km which I hit at 36:23. Still a bit fast, but much closer than the majority of the runs that I've done this week ;) This continued to the 10K mark, which I hit at 49:45, averaging a 4:58 pace.

After that point, I started going a bit too fast again and hit the 11.87km mark at 58:57 for an average pace of 4:55. As this was the final waypoint, I was a little concerned about the trend so I redoubled my efforts to control pace. In retrospect, I overcompensated a bit as I only averaged a 5:04 pace for this segment, hitting the 16K mark at 1:19:54. Either way, this slowdown simply compensated for the too fast portions earlier in the run, resulting in an overall average pace of 4:59 - finishing a mere 6 seconds earlier than planned.

It definitely felt good to get back to doing these longer distance runs, and being able to pace things this closely helped a lot to boost my confidence. The only problem that I did have was that I overdressed a bit and was pretty warm by the end, but figuring out exactly how much to wear this time of year is a tricky thing. Either way, I can only hope that rest of my runs this week go as well as this one did!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Week 42: Review

It's been an interesting week, as I've had to get used to running entirely by feel as I increase my mileage. Pacing has been going better than I expected, and has been improving significantly through the week. Naturally, it takes a lot more work to manually plot and measure routes, then memorize waypoints and time things manually. It's getting easier, however, as most of my routes are variations on one another so once certain points are remembered they are useful for future runs.

Either way, most of the sessions this week went along quite well. On Monday, I managed to pull off an 82km ride in 2:47:29, hitting the 50 mile (half-century) mark at 2:43:20. That works out to an average speed of 29.4km/h, about 2:24 short of a 30km/h ride. Given that I was averaging about 26km/h the last time I rode this distance (before the half marathon), that is a significant improvement. The half-century ride on Friday didn't go quite as well due to heavy winds and traffic, but despite those conditions I still managed to average 28.4km/h.

With respect to running, things went pretty well to plan other than switching Thursday's 8K run to a 10K. As noted above, pacing was a little faster than it should have been for most of these sessions but it got much closer by the end of the week. For instance, the 8K 4:45 run at the start of the week was done at a 4:38 pace, while the same run on Saturday was at a 4:41 pace. Still not perfect, but going in the right direction.

Weekly Totals:
Running: 42km (48km)
Walking: 32km
Cycling: 185km
Total: 259km

As noted in the previous review, last week's Sunday and Saturday sessions were switched around which mixed up the weekly totals. When the 14km long run from the previous week was factored into this week's total instead of last week's, the total distance run was 48km. This brings me close enough to get beyond 50km next week, where I'll likely stabilize for the next little while to get my body accustomed to this training volume. To play it safe I'll likely continue to stay away from speedwork or hill training, as I'm still a bit renascent to do those types of sessions by feel.

Upcoming Week:
Sun (AM/PM) 16K Steady
Mon 80K Cycle
Tue 7K Tempo
Wed (AM/PM) 10K Steady/50K Cycle
Thurs 10K Steady
Fri 80K Cycle
Sat 8K Steady

Beyond that, I'm still playing around with a few different ideas for my long term plans but the priority at this juncture is to focus on keeping my base up. Whatever the plans end up being, I'd like to get back into some form of formal training program by the beginning of next month so I'll have to figure things out by then ;)

Friday, October 17, 2008

Fighting Headwinds

The schedule called for another half-century (50mi/80.47km) ride today, so I headed out a little after lunch. Unlike the ride on Monday, the temperature was much more comfortable (11C vs 25C) although there was a pretty nasty wind coming from the north. After doing a quick inspection of the bike, I set off and headed down to my normal route and got going at a pretty good pace.

Things went quite well until the 20K mark when the wind picked up a bit. Unfortunately, the direction of the wind translated into a headwind during the uphill segments and a tailwind when heading downhill. While the tailwind did speed things up a little, the extra efforts required to ascend the hills forced me to use lower gears than usual and hurt my average speed. While I averaged about 33km/h for the first 20K, I was only averaging about 28km/h at this juncture and was getting tired a lot faster than normal.

After a few more laps, I started to get a little more comfortable with the wind and picked up my speed again. At this point (approx. 45K), however, the schools along the route were starting to get out, resulting in a lot of cars gumming up the works. I was able to maintain a good clip in the straightaways, but I had to slow down significantly to navigate around parked and slow moving cars every couple kilometers. This only lasted for about 45 minutes, but it was enough to further depress my average speed.

Once the school traffic cleared, I was able to pick it up again. The wind was still there, so it wasn't as fast as usual, but I was able to average about 29km/h at this point. The uphill sections were still a fight, however I took it a little easier on the flat segments which did enough to keep my legs fresh. People were starting to come home from work at this point so there was still more traffic than usual, but it was moving well so it didn't pose much of a problem.

Unfortunately, as I was approaching the 70K mark, my rear wheel ran over a small field of debris. To make sure everything was okay, I pulled over and checked to find a small piece of glass embedded in the tire. It was a small wound that likely wouldn't be a problem, however if it was left there it would work it's way deeper into the tire so I headed home rather than risk it. As soon as I got back, I let a little air out of the tire, removed the shard and pumped it up again. Looking over the damage, it doesn't look like it is very deep so it likely won't be a problem but I'll naturally keep an eye on it. It wasn't really worth heading back out for 9K more, so I packed everything up and did my stretches.

Overall, I covered 71.53km in 2:29:07 for an average speed of 28.8km/h. Not as good a ride as the 2:41:48 (29.8km/h) 50 miler on Monday, however hopefully I'll be able to crack 30km/h next Monday. I will have to find a way to head out a little earlier for these rides to avoid the traffic, although fitting a contiguous three hour block into the schedule is quite difficult. It may also be worth moving off of residential roads and onto arterial routes at this juncture as my technique is a lot stronger than before, although that means dealing with higher speed traffic and much larger hills (albeit less of them).

The other issue that has become evident at this point is that I'm going to have to grab a proper pair of cycling gloves. Given the cold today, I took out the gloves that I use for running but they made manipulating the shifting levers a little awkward. They did the job okay, however I imagine that gloves designed explicitly for this sport would likely mitigate these issues.

Tomorrow I'm scheduled to do an 8K steady run, followed by a 16km LSD run on Sunday. Other than the wind, it looks like the weather will be nearly perfect for running this weekend. A few of the other members of my clinic are running their half marathon (the GoodLife Fitness Toronto Marathon) on Sunday, so it looks like things are lining up well for them!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Another 10K Down

I originally planned to do an 8K run today, but as the 10K run went well yesterday and the weather was quite good I figured that I'd do another 10K today. As with yesterday, my target was a 4:45 pace, but this time I made sure to memorize waypoints at every kilometer. I intended to focus more on correct pacing this time around, hopefully exerting a little more control.

As such, I headed out at 4:00pm and did what I could to moderate my pace as best as I could. I ended up hitting the 1K mark at 4:52, however I had to slow down a bit at one point to safely cross a street so my cruising speed was likely about right. The second kilometer was a little fast (4:35/K), hitting it at 9:27 so I pulled back a little, hitting 3K at 14:15 (a 4:48/K pace). At this point, the errors pretty much canceled themselves out so my overall pace was right on the mark.

I managed to pull off the fourth and fifth kilometers exactly on pace despite the fact that they were on downhill (4K) and uphill (5K) grades. As with yesterday, however, the uphill grade on the fifth kilometer threw me off again and I hit the 6K mark at 28:00 - about 30 seconds ahead of schedule (a 4:15 pace). Despite trying to pull back, I maintained the same average pace in the seventh kilometer hitting the mark at 32:15.

After two fast kilometers, I redoubled my efforts to control my pace and managed to get back on track for the eighth and ninth kilometers (hitting them at 37:00 and 41:45 respectively). As usual, however, my enthusiasm got the best of me in the final kilometer and I hit the 10K mark at 46:07 (4:22/K).

Overall, the average pace for the run was 4:36 which was about the same as yesterday's run. With that said, a larger percentage of the run was done at the correct pace so things are getting a bit better. The main thing that I definitely need to focus on is controlling my pace after ascending uphill grades. I tend to get used to the increased effort during the climb, which throws off my feeling for pace once I crest the hill. Either way, I just have to focus a little more at that point and hopefully I'll be able to get that facet of pacing under control this Saturday.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Rebuilding my mileage has been going quite well, despite the issues with my watch. This afternoon, I headed out for a 10K run with a memorized path and waypoints to manually plot out my pacing. The plan was to target a 4:45 pace, knowing that I'd likely end up going a bit faster than that.

As such, I headed out at 5:00pm along the planned route. For a change, the pacing in the first kilometer was right on target - hitting the mark exactly 4:45 after I started. I ended up accelerating a bit in the second kilometer, hitting the mark at 9:20 (about 10 seconds ahead of schedule). To correct for that, I pulled it back a little but still hit the 3K mark about 5 seconds faster than pace (at 13:00). I pulled back a little more, but the downhill grade of the next section counteracted that and I did the fourth kilometer at the same 4:40 pace.

The fifth kilometer is mostly composed of a mild uphill portion (~300m@+4%, ~500m@+2.5%) and managed to hit the target pace right on, hitting the mark at 23:25. After that point, I didn't have any waypoints until the 9K mark so I was on my own. Unfortunately, after the climb my legs got used to the higher output so my pacing was a little fast. In the future, I'll have to remember to memorize a waypoint at 6K as well so that I can correct for this issue.

A little after the 7K mark I was approaching a cloud of smoke (which I'd later figure out was a fire in a public washroom in the park), but as I had no way to gauge my pace/distance if I went off course I went through it anyway. I made it through in about 20 seconds, and it didn't pose much of an issue beyond making breathing a little more difficult during that phase. I had to pass through it again at the 8.3km point but, as before, my breathing recovered immediately after clearing it.

At about 8.7km I had to stop briefly (35 seconds) prior to crossing a major street, and eventually hit the 9K mark at 42:15. My pace over this segment (5-9km) averaged out to about 4:38/km, working out to about 4:29/km without counting the traffic stop. A good deal faster than planned however it was a comfortable pace and, other than the smoky portions, my breathing remained in control for the duration.

Since my pace was going pretty well, I allowed myself to accelerate in the last kilometer. I hit the 10K mark at 46:34, maintaining an average pace of 4:19/km in the last segment. Overall, however, my average pace was 4:39/km (4:36/km minus the traffic stop) which was not too far off from the plan. Still some work to be done in order to increase the control I have when running by feel, but the only way to get better at that is to do more sessions like this.

Other than this session, I did a 30K ride earlier this morning at an average speed of about 29.8km/h (about 38 seconds shy of 30km/h). Including the cool-down, I covered 32.26K in 1:05:48. My cycling has definitely improved significantly since I've been putting more time into it over the last few weeks. Not a whole lot of time left until the weather makes it difficult to continue, but I'm doing what I can to take full advantage of things in the meantime. I'll likely be picking up an indoor trainer to do some cycling in the Winter, but I doubt that I will be able to spend much more than 90 minutes staring at a wall ;)

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Week 41: Review

This week signaled the end of my recovery period for the half marathon, and the start of getting my mileage back up to where it was before the race. The training plan peaked at about 50km (~31mi) and I'd like to get back to that level again before pushing much further. What I do after that will depend a lot on what my next big target race will be, so that is still up in the air.

As for the possibility of doing a race next weekend, with my watch out of commission I'm likely not to bother at this point. While I don't mind running training sessions without pace readings, I'd be a bit nervous to attempt an all out effort without them at this point. The logistics of getting down there would have been complicated at this point anyway, and it shouldn't be too difficult to look for another 5-10K race down the road a little (when I have a better idea of my longer term plans).

Either way, other than the snafu with the watch everything went well this week. The lingering tightness that bothered me last week is gone, and I've done a few runs of varying intensities without any issues coming up (see the last few posts for details). As such, it's just a matter of climbing back up the ladder and preparing myself for whatever comes next ;)

Weekly Totals (Week 41):
Running: 44km
Walking: 57km
Cycling: 138km
Total: 239km

As noted in the last post, I did my long run today instead of tomorrow due to scheduling issues with Thanksgiving so that throws the weekly mileage off a bit. When the swapped sessions are switched around, this week basically consisted of about 38km, and next week will get me up to about 45km. To make sure everything is 100% I'm going to take another week off of the hill/speed training and I'll work that back in during the following week. If all goes well, this will get me back up to 50km/week by week 43 and allow me to stabilize at that point for a little while before I start any new programs.

Upcoming Week:
Sun (AM/PM) 8K Steady
Mon 50K Cycle
Tue 5K Tempo
Wed (AM/PM) 10K Steady/30K Cycle
Thurs 8K Steady
Fri 80K Cycle
Sat 8K Steady

As for my longer term plans, I've started reading everything that I can find on Marathon training in order to get a better idea of what I'll be up against. My initial plan was to target a Full Marathon next May, however I'm also playing with the idea of doing a couple more Half Marathons in the spring and then targeting a Full in the fall. With the original plan, the training would have ideal weather but there is a good chance of the race being on the warm side. With the alternate plan, however, the race will likely be more comfortable but the training might be a bit of a fight. Regardless, there's still a good deal more research to do before I make any decisions!

Running Blind...

Yesterday, when I was preparing to go out for my afternoon ride the band on my running computer broke off. Unfortunately, as Polar doesn't use a standard band retention mechanism, however, it appears that the only way to get this fixed is to send it back to them. It's still under warantee, however as their closest service center is in Quebec, it is likely to take at least a week to get it back. Further complicating things was that this happened at 4:30pm before a long weekend, so I'm going to have to wait until Tuesday to start the process. This, in turn, means that I'll have to do my running sessions for the next little while with no pacing or heart rate information.

I've had my Polar RS800sd for almost a year and, as such, have always used it since I began running seriously (I bought it for my walking regime first). My instinct is unfortunately to run faster than I should, and the pacing feedback provided by the watch has been a critical part of reigning myself in. Since I'm an Engineer, I tend to have an analytical approach to most things, so monitoring what I'm doing during the run and looking over the telemetry after the fact is an important component of my training.

Either way, things are as they are and I don't have a lot of options at this juncture but to run the old fashioned way. As such, I headed out this morning with nothing but a normal watch and a pre-planned route with a few waypoints memorized (1K,2K,3K,5K,10K,13K & 14K). While I was originally planning on simply doing an 8K run this morning, with Thanskgiving stuff tomorrow I realized that it would make more sense to push the long run up to today. This was naturally going to be tricky, as LSD runs are the slowest ones that I normally do and, as such, need the most self-control to stay at pace.

I hit the 1K waypoint about 10 seconds slower than the 5min/km pace I was targeting, largely because I was overcompensating a bit ;) At 2K, I was about 5 seconds slower than target but I managed to get to the right pace by the time I hit 3K. At this point I had a relatively good feel for the pace, so I was feeling a lot more confident in my ability to handle this run on my own.

After about the 4K mark (not sure about time here as I didn't memorize its exact position), there is a downhill section that I picked up a little speed on. As such, I hit the 5K mark at almost exactly 25 minutes into the run - about 7sec/km faster than planned, but making up for the lost time at the start of the run. My body would eventually lock onto this pace, however, as I averaged the next 5K segment at this speed (hitting the 10K mark at 49:30).

In the final segment, everything was feeling good and once I finished the last serious uphill segment I let myself accelerate a little more. As such, I hit the 13K mark at 1:03:58 (averaging a 4:49 pace from 10-13K). With only a kilometer to go, I picked things up a bit more and hit the 14K mark at 1:08:34 - about a minute and a half faster than planned. The final segment had an average pace of 4:36min/km, although a lot of that was thanks to a hard push for the final 400-500m (no idea how fast).

Either way, the overall pace for the run was 4:53min/km which was much better than I had expected. I certainly would much rather have instrumentation on my runs, but it is good to know that I've developed my feeling for pace well enough that I can keep it in the ballpark on my own. It remains to be seen how I can handle the other runs, however this run definitely increased my confidence in my pacing abilities.

As for what to do at this juncture, I'm flirting with the idea of grabbing one of the new RS800CX units and then selling the RS800sd when it comes back. The new version is basically the same watch, however it supports the cycling specific sensors (speed and cadence) which would save me from having to buy another device for logging telemetry on the bike. Alternately, I could buy a Garmin Forerunner 205 for relatively little right now so that I had a backup device in case this ever happened again. Most likely, however, I'll just tough this week out without it and get back to my routine when it comes back.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Picking Things Up

As I'm playing with the idea of running a 5K race in a little more than a week, I wanted to try and give a hard training run a shot to make sure that I was up to it. I originally planned on doing a simple tempo run today, but after my 30K ride this morning I was feeling quite good so I figured that I'd step it up a bit. As such, I set out with the plan to warm up, then target a sub-4min/km pace until about the 3K mark and fall back to a slower pace for the last 2K.

The first 2.5K felt great, and in a few cases I had to reign myself in from going faster. After that point my breathing became a little rough and I was getting tired, but I managed to push through to the 3K point and fell back to a walk for a short break. This was a bit of a pleasant surprise, as I figured that this pace would tire me out a lot sooner and getting to the 3K mark would be more of a fight. I'm pretty sure that maintaining this pace for 5K is still beyond reach, however in a race situation 4K is certainly within the range of possibility.

Either way, after 80 seconds of walking my heart rate had recovered back to a comfortable 150bpm so I began running again. I started off at a relatively comfortable pace and, as I was still feeling quite good I allowed myself to accelerate - performing kilometres four and five at 4:22 and 4:14 paces respectively. When I hit the 5K mark, 21:26.6 had passed which was a little slower than a month ago, but as this included a walking break it's definitely a good indicator.

Total Time: 21:26.6
Average Pace: 4:17/km (4:09/km minus walk break)

0-1K 4:14/km
1-2K 3:59/km
2-3K 3:58/km
3-3.16K 8:20/km (1:20 Walking Break)
3.16-4K 4:22/km
4-5K 4:14/km

Full Telemetry

As for the rest of the week, I did the 8K run as planned on Tuesday and everything felt back to 100%. On Wednesday, I went to the local Running Room and did a 10K group run as no one else was doing an 8K. I had planned to do a 30K ride on Wednesday, however the rain made that impossible so I deferred it to this morning.

Tomorrow, I had originally planned another full rest day but as I'm feeling pretty good I'll likely try a 50K ride to work back toward the normal groove. Saturday I'll be doing another 8K run, and Sunday will depend on what I choose to do with respect to the race. Hopefully things will continue along the current trend, and I'll be able to get my mileage back up to what it was before the Half.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Back into the Routine...

As noted in yesterday's post, the plan was to do a 6K recovery run this morning and start building back into my normal routine. As planned, I headed out, warming up with a brisk walk for 1K and then breaking into a slow run (~5min/km). At first, my right hamstring was still a little sore, but after a couple of minutes that faded away and everything felt fine. I slowly accelerated to faster paces as the run progressed, in an attempt to gauge how well everything had healed in the last week. Things continued to go well, but as I was approaching the 5K mark I elected to call it quits a little earlier than planned given that the hamstring was still a little sore at the beginning of the run.

Either way, other than that minor hiccup the rest of the run went well. The first kilometer was run at a comfortable 5 min/km pace, followed by a faster 4:46K, and progressing through a 4:36K, a 4:33K and finally a 4:19K. All of those paces felt great, and there was no residual pain at the end of the session so things are looking good to get back into the swing of things. I'm thinking of taking tomorrow completely off to see if that will resolve the tight hamstring (while I haven't been running much this week, I've taken the bike out every day so that might be aggravating it a bit), and hopefully that will allow me to get through a longer run on Tuesday without any issues.

In other news, after writing yesterday's post I realized that the Zoo Run had sold out shortly after my half so I guess that that won't be an option either way. Looking over the race schedule, I don't see many 10Ks left this year so I might forget about that for now. There's always the option of showing up on race week to see if any spots open up then, however I'm not sure I want to go to all of that trouble for this race.

The other idea I'm flirting with is running the 5K race associated with the Toronto International Marathon, as it's been a while since I've run one and it would be nice to see what all of the training over the last few months can do for me there. I've already done a training run that was substantially faster than my current PB (21:23 vs. 22:41), so it would be interesting to see what I could pull off in a racing scenario.

Longer term, the next full marathon clinic at the local Running Room starts at the end of January and targets the Ottawa marathon in late May. I'm debating whether I want to go this route, however, and am thinking of just picking up a good book on the subject and finding another training plan. That would allow me to get my training started a little earlier, giving me a little more time to climb the ladder and the option to target a marathon a little earlier in the year (as it can get quite warm in late May). Either way, I'll have to do a little more research on different training programs before I figure out which path is best.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Week 40: Review

With the race on Sunday, the remainder of this week has largely been aimed at recovery. In order to avoid losing too much fitness, however, I elected to focus on cycling as that allowed me to get in some reasonably good workouts without straining anything too much. As such, I've been out on the bike every day (except for Sunday) this week, doing 50K on Friday and around 30K on the remaining days. The weather has made this a little difficult this week, but other than a few minor issues I've managed to work around it pretty well.

As mentioned in the previous post, I also did a quick 9.5km walk on Wednesday and a short recovery run on Thursday morning. I've avoided doing any running/walking since, as I wanted to give everything time to heal before I started pushing it again. While a few things still feel a bit tight, nothing hurts anymore so I think it's about time to start working back into my normal routine.

Weekly Totals (Week 40):
Running: 24km
Walking: 15km
Cycling: 213km
Total: 252km

Also, as I didn't end up doing a review last week due to the race I figure that I should put my totals up here:

Weekly Totals (Week 39):
Running: 25km
Walking: 10km
Cycling: 68km
Total: 103km

The upcoming week is naturally in a bit of a flux, as it will depend a lot on how each of the sessions goes. If at all possible, I would like to run the 10K Zoo Run a couple of weeks from now, however whether I'll be able to get in enough serious training before it is still up in the air. While the recovery is pretty much done now, other than the race the last two weeks have been pretty light so hopefully I haven't lost too much strength.

Upcoming Week:
Sun (AM/PM) 6K Recovery/30K Cycle
Mon Rest
Tue 8K Steady
Wed (AM/PM) 8K Steady/30K Cycle
Thurs 5K Tempo
Fri Rest
Sat 8K Steady
Sun 10K LSD

With the half marathon now in the books, I'm starting to play around with what I'd like to do longer term. If at all possible, I'd like to work a full marathon in next year sometime - however how I'm going to approach that is still up in the air. Either way, this is really material for another post as this one is getting long enough as it is ;)

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Caught in the Hail...

After the half marathon last Sunday, I've been taking it relatively easy this week to try and aide in my recovery. On Monday and Tuesday my legs were still a bit sore, so I simply did a 30km (little less than 1hr) bike ride. On Wednesday things were feeling a bit better, so I did an easy 9.5km walk in addition to another 30km ride.

By this morning things were much better, so I figured that I'd do a slow recovery run this morning to gauge my progress. After about 3km my right hamstring was feeling a little tight, however, so I fell back to a walk to play it safe (doing about 8.3km in total). Once I got back and had lunch, I headed out for another ride but after about 5 minutes it started drizzling so I headed back and figured that I'd wait it out.

A few hours later, the skies cleared up so I gave the roads about 20 minutes to dry out and then set out to finish off what I started. For about 50 minutes, the weather was beautiful (Sunny 15C) but after that the skies started to get dark very quickly - with about 23km done, I figured that it was enough (I did about 5K in the morning, and I was still about 2K away from home) and started heading back. A minute or so later it started raining, so I stepped it up a bit to get home as quickly as I could.

Unfortunately I got stuck at a red light waiting to turn left and while I was standing there the rain picked up a bit. Just before the light changed, the rain turned into hail and, as there wasn't really any cover between me and home, it was simply a matter of getting back as quickly as possible. Once the light changed, however, it became evident that this was going to be a bit of a catch-22 situation - the faster I went the more the hail hurt ;) Either way, I sucked it up and ended up stabilizing at about 48km/h (which was a lot harder than I had planned to work out in a recovery week, but better than being pelted with shards of ice) and pushed home as quickly as possible. The helmet helped a lot here, as once I got down on the drops and into an aerodynamic position it deflected a good percentage of the incoming ice.

Fortunately, other than the annoyance factor it didn't seem to do any damage to me or my bike. I've been caught in the hail a few times earlier in the year while running, but getting whacked with chunks of ice at these speeds was a lot less pleasant :( Regardless, the weather this time of year is just going to get less and less predictable so I'm going to have to get used to surprises such as these! One thing I'm really going to have to look into getting some good sunglasses, however, as I was lucky not to get hit in the eyes by any of those chunks of ice.