Thursday, October 28, 2010

Week 42: Review

Last week was a bit rocky thanks to some mechanical problems with the bike messing up my schedule. Naturally, as I did last week's long run on Monday that meant the first ride was a no go. On Wednesday, I headed out for a windy ride and was doing great until I got to King Rd. They've been doing some construction there for a while, but that day they had realigned the lanes thanks to finishing up with a portion over the bridge.

Unfortunately, there was a segment of the road that was ground down and at the end of it there was a 1.5 inch ridge transitioning back to normal asphalt. Normally I'd slow down and take it carefully, but the lane snaked around and I didn't get a whole lot of warning. With cars riding my tail, I didn't want to brake hard and ended up hitting it relatively hard. I headed around the corner and pulled over to inspect everything, but it seemed that all was fine. Both tires were still firm and there were no marks on either. Unfortunately, once I started back up I got about 600m before the front tire flatted on me. As such, I ended up calling it short at that point and only getting 16.2 of the scheduled 30K in.

The bike has needed a couple of other things looked at for a while (rear wheel needed trueing and the front brake pads were getting pretty worn), so I took the opportunity to bring it into the shop the next morning. I stopped by the next day to pick it up, and everything looked good so I headed out on Saturday morning for a 50K ride to catch up. Unfortunately, I got about 7K before the front tire flatted again. I took off the wheel and went over it with a fine-toothed comb and didn't see anything wrong with the tire, but two flats in that period of time made it pretty obvious something was wrong with it.

As such, I headed back down to the shop and had them take a look at it. After a close inspection, they noted that while there were no cuts or debris in it, there was very little tread left and that was the likely cause of the problem. It made sense as that was the original tire that came with the bike and has a little over 11,000km on it so I had them put a fresh tire on and headed back home. Unfortunately, at that point the day it was too late to head out so my cycling mileage for the week was a pitful 23.5K :(

Running-wise, things went reasonably well until the long run on Monday. The plan was to do 16 miles, but my schedule was pretty hectic so fitting it in was difficult. I pushed lunch up a bit earlier to make room, but unfortunately I only ended up having two hours between eating and heading out for the run. That ended up biting me in the arse, however, as once I got going I started having stomach cramps and had to take frequent breaks to recover. Unfortunately, that meant that I took longer than anticipated and I had to cut it short at just under 13 miles to get back in time for other commitments.

Fortunately, swimming went pretty much perfectly this week so at least it wasn't a total loss ;) Either way, as the season is pretty much over anyway it's not really a big deal to lose a bit of mileage like this. Just hate losing it for such trivial problems :P

Week 42 Totals:
Running: 47.8km (29.7mi)
Walking: 0.6km (0.4mi)
Cycling: 23.5km (14.6mi)
Swimming: 8.6km (5.3mi)
Total: 80.5km (50.0mi)

Year to Date:
Running: 1825.7km (1134.4mi)
Walking: 81.1km (50.4mi)
Cycling: 4161.0km (2585.5mi)
Swimming: 273.3km (169.8mi)
Total: 6341.1km (3940.2mi)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Weeks 40 & 41: Review

Catching up once again, but that was largely because there wasn't a whole lot to report last week. After going out for my 50K ride on that Monday morning, I felt a bit weaker than usual. At the time, I wrote it off as just being tired from the way too fast 18 miler the day before (part of week 39). Unfortunately, later that afternoon it became apparent that I was coming down with a bit of a cold and that was likely the culprit for the lack of energy.

As such, I was pretty much shut down for the remainder of the week. Aside from sucking all of the energy out of me, it was difficult to breathe so I figured that heavy aerobic activity wasn't really a great idea. Fortunately, I was feeling well enough on Friday to get back into it, so I went out for an easy 4 miler. The heart rates were still a bit higher than normal which indicated that it wasn't entirely gone.

The next morning I headed out for a 50K ride to see how well I could handle cycling. Fortunately, between the great weather and the well rested legs the ride couldn't have gone much better. In retrospect I could have easily done a much longer ride, but as I headed out later than usual (played it safe and waited for the temperatures to come up) I didn't have enough time left to extend it once I was out. Regardless, it felt great to be back in the rhythm of things again :D

On Sunday, the family was doing its Canadian Thanksgiving stuff and there wasn't enough time to fit in a long run. It was just as well, however, as not having run much the entire week a long run was likely not the best idea anyway. Fortunately, I did do a good deal of walking at the family gathering so the day wasn't a total loss on the fitness side (didn't bring anything to log it, so I have no idea how much).

As such, last Monday I got back into the normal routine and headed out for my ride. The weather was great, and as the fall colours were pretty much in full force around here I took a slightly longer and hillier route and put in 56.3K. Given the weather I really should have headed out in the morning and made it a proper long ride to make up for the last week, but the family stuff the day before lasted until pretty late so I was lazy and slept in ;)

The rest of the week largely went as planned until Friday. I had intended to go out for a 50K session, but the wind was absolutely brutal and I ended up turning around at the 15K point to head back (clocking in a total of 30.5K). There was a steady 55km/h push, which while hard, I could have dealt with. The problem was that the gusts were getting up in the 70+km/h range and made it difficult to track a safe line. Given the traffic levels on the major roads (which I had no way to avoid for a longer ride), I was concerned about my safety so I elected to head back.

Once I turned around, however, those brutal headwinds turned into some incredible tailwinds. Along the stretch of Jane that I was fighting to hold 20km/h on the way up, I was running in the high-50s and low-60s with minimal effort. I would have loved to push harder, but I was already in my highest gear (50x12T) and spinning at 120rpm so there was little that I could do (will have to consider a 11-23T cassette when it comes time to replace this one). Fortunately, at those speeds a bike is pretty much as steady as a rock so it was easy to track a perfect line down the side of the road.

Saturday's 54K was quite windy as well, but fortunately without any gusts it was just a matter of fighting through it. I ended up having to take a few breaks along the way, and my average speed was somewhat unimpressive, but thanks to the wind it was a good hard session.

This Sunday was again busy, so I deferred my long run until yesterday. Given the lack of running the previous week, I limited myself to a 13.1 mile route although I did select one with a few more hills than normal. I started out easy, but the legs wanted to go fast again and with all of the inspiring results that friends got at the Toronto Marathon the day before I gave in and let them push a bit. I'll focus on slowing down my long runs again next week, but it felt good to do a good long hard run without fighting it the whole time ;)

Week 40 Totals:
Running: 6.4km (1.0mi)
Walking: 0.5km (0.3mi)
Cycling: 102.1km (63.0mi)
Swimming: 0.0km (0.0mi)
Total: 109.1km (67.8mi)

Week 41 Totals:
Running: 47.7km (29.6mi)
Walking: 0.8km (0.5mi)
Cycling: 173.0km (107.5mi)
Swimming: 8.6km (5.3mi)
Total: 230.1km (143.0mi)

Year to Date:
Running: 1777.9km (1104.7mi)
Walking: 80.5km (50.0mi)
Cycling: 4137.5km (2570.9mi)
Swimming: 264.7km (164.5mi)
Total: 6260.6km (3890.2mi)

Boston Marathon

As most of you have probably heard, the Boston Marathon sold out within eight hours of opening its registration this year. That, in turn, has got a lot of us nervous as the spectre of the qualification times being tightened up has the potential to put it out of reach. Right now I'm looking at a 3:10:59 standard that I have to beat to make it in. That's certainly within the realm of possibilities, but it is near the razors edge of my capacity and pushing that up to 3:05 or even 3:00 would be a real problem.

Part of the allure of this race is that it's qualification standards are hard enough that it requires a major effort to achieve them, but at the same time they are within reach of many runners. Getting to that goal is a significant achievement in and of itself, and is a strong drive for many marathoners to keep running races and reach for that holy grail.

I personally know a couple of dozen people who have qualified and run this race, and their stories do a lot to inspire me to push hard enough to get there myself. Unfortunately, the vast majority of them have done so by a close margin, and I don't know of any that were 5 minutes or more beyond that point. Pushing the standards too high would make it harder for people to hear those personal experiences, and take away a lot of the drive to work towards that goal.

With that said, I'd much rather not get in because I wasn't able to run fast enough than because I didn't click my mouse fast enough ;) I can't even imagine what it would be like to work for years to get a BQ time and then miss out because I didn't have access to a computer on the day registration opened. Given the logistical challenges of getting people out to Hopington I don't imagine that adding more spots is realistic, so something has to be done to cut down the number of people registering. There are a few things that could be done to save a few more spaces (eg cutting down the number of slots for non-qualified runners), but given the 8 hour sellout I doubt that would be much of a long term solution.

As much as I'd hate for it to happen, from a fairness point of view tougher standards seem to be the best solution to that. When spaces are finite for a prestigious race like this, it only makes sense that they should go to the strongest runners first. Regardless, I'm keeping my fingers crossed that they find a more creative solution to the problem. If they don't, then I might have to knock getting a qualifying time off of my list of long term goals as I don't really think that running a 3:05 marathon is in the cards for me regardless of how hard I train :(

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Weeks 37, 38, 39: Catching Up

The last few weeks have been hectic, and again I've fallen a bit behind on my updates here. Between work, the Church stuff and helping my brother move the non-training schedule was pretty packed which meant a pile of sessions didn't get done. As can be seen below, I even ended up having to skip one of my long runs so the running mileage took the biggest hit. Fortunately, without any formal goal races at this point in the season that's not a huge problem.

This week, thankfully, I managed to squeeze in pretty much all of the targeted runs and swims. Cycling mileage was pretty pathetic as last week's long run nudged out Monday's ride, Friday was lost due to an emergency that required me to be accessible for most of the day and Saturday's weather limited how far I could go. The runs had to be squeezed in around other things, but I only ended up losing a couple of miles (although I did have to do some of them substantially faster than normal to fit them in).

This morning's long run felt great as I was starting to get back into my normal routine. After missing the long run two weeks ago, I limited myself to 13.1 miles last week to work my way back up to the mileage. Today, however, the weather was absolutely perfect so I elected to ramp back up to 18 miles and try to get in at least one 20 miler before winter comes ;) It's so much easier to do these sorts of runs without the heat, and the 10C conditions made it a breeze. The only caveat, however, is that I need to get used to reigning myself in under these conditions again as I averaged a 4:32/km pace which is way higher than it should be (and it likely would have been faster had I not made a concerted effort to slam on the breaks a few times).

Week 37 Totals:

Running: 18.1km (11.3mi)
Walking: 0.4km (0.3mi)
Cycling: 167.6km (104.1mi)
Swimming: 7.8km (4.8mi)
Total: 193.9km (120.5mi)

Week 38 Totals:
Running: 38.8km (24.1mi)
Walking: 0.7km (0.4mi)
Cycling: 102.3km (63.6mi)
Swimming: 4.5km (2.8mi)
Total: 146.3km (90.9mi)

Week 39 Totals:
Running: 54.4km (33.8mi)
Walking: 1.0km (0.6mi)
Cycling: 61.5km (38.2mi)
Swimming: 8.8km (5.4mi)
Total: 125.7km (78.1mi)

Year to Date:
Running: 1723.8km (1071.1mi)
Walking: 79.7km (49.5mi)
Cycling: 3862.4km (2400.0mi)
Swimming: 256.1km (159.1mi)
Total: 5922.0km (3679.8mi)

Fortunately, things are starting to settle down at this point so hopefully the upcoming week will work to plan a bit better. While I was flirting with the idea of running the Toronto Marathon in a couple of weeks, with the intermittent training over the last little while and lack of speedwork this season I'm leaning away from it. The concept was to try and squeeze in a ~3:20 marathon this year on my way to the 3:10 I need for a BQ, but I'm not sure that I'm in the shape for that right now. I don't really want to put the body through a marathon without being confident I can substantially improve on the 3:29 I did a year and a half ago.

What I might do is look for a good 5K and attempt to get under 20 minutes, as I'm in much better shape than my last PB at that distance (20:55) and with a bit of speedwork over the next few weeks I should be able to get there. My schedule has largely shot down all of the other target races for this year, so it would be good to put all of the training I've done to some use ;) The catch is that it's difficult to find shorter races at this time of year, as most of the ones I know are early in the season.