Sunday, 24 February 2013

#97 Why Don't We Do it in the Road

The Road to Boston: Midterms

It's currently Sunday morning, quarter to nine (8:45) and I'm waiting for my ride to Peterborough to run the half marathon which doesn't start until 12:30pm.

As Darren put it, this is the first midterm of the cycle and the first real test of endurance on the 'Road to Boston.' Despite the less than ideal weather this morning (fresh snow continues to fall which equates to slick and perhaps slippery roads), I am feeling fantastic going into the race after putting in several very solid weeks of training including good workouts and long runs.

I'm not even sure what my expectations are for today but I feel I should most certainly be in sub 1:16 shape if all goes well. The Peterborough course isn't exactly a PB course (and nor is this time of year) as it has a fair number of rolling hills and even a few monster climbs. Check out the course route and elevation profile here. Anything 1:15:xx today would be great and a 1:14:xx at this point would be simply amazing.


It's now after 8pm and I'm back from a busy yet incredible day on the roads, mostly driving/commuting but some racing as well. A day which saw me run a 1:14:20 (3:31/k) over 21.1k at the Peterborough Half and secure me second place overall. Equally amazing were the results posted by my BLT brethren who placed 3rd, 4th, 6th, 7th and 8th as well as several others in the top 25. In short, we owned that race today and it was indeed a great day for the 'Black Lungs.'

The race itself was anything but easy and seemed to be the polar opposite of flat. It was far worse than I remembered when I ran it back in 2011 (in 1:19) but was perhaps the perfect tune-up race for Boston (now only 7 weeks away). I ran alone for the vast majority of the race only sharing the lead with the eventual leader (Derek Snider in 1:12:22) for the first 2k or so. When he said it was his first ever half-marathon I considered I could perhaps beat him. But when he told me he could run a sub-30 10k, I was happy to see him take off ahead and leave me to my own race. Doyle was not far behind for the first half of the race and I was always aware of his presence from the sound of his footsteps. We were only a hundred or so metres apart at the turnaround, but somehow I managed to pick up the pace and secure my second place for good early in the second half of the race.

Although the course covered rolling hills from approximately 5-16k, the real challenge was a single hill at ~5/15k that needed to be ascended and descended twice (not sure which was worse) and was by far the biggest challenge of the course. The wind was mild at best but just happened to harass us for the better part of the final 5k which made things seems much more miserable. As I often do, I avoided looking at my watch (I did so only twice: seeing 5k pass in 17:35 and 10k in 35:25) but rather ran by feel for the majority of the race. And although there were times I didn't feel fast at all, I still managed to hold my pace relatively steady and in fact ran a slightly negative split (37:15 first half vs 37:05 second) which is always a good strategy to take. Although my time is about a full minute off my PB for the distance, I'm thrilled to have it come on this course at this time of year. There are still some tough weeks of training ahead and lots of mileage to run, but this result seems to suggest I am on course to producing a PB at Boston which is really the primary objective.

After the race, we were treated to amazing facilities at the YMCA, a great spread of food and the best prizing I have ever seen at any event. For finishing second overall, I got a duffel bag, a t-shirt, a water bottle, a tub of (blue) Gatorade powder, and 'Axe' accessory pack, a free entry to next years event, a $25 Running Room gift card and a certificate for a free pair of New Balance 1600 shoes (worth like $160)!!! Incredible. And Doyle got the same for finishing third and a bunch of the guys got free shoes as well. Hells yes, we'll be back!
New Balance 1600s: My soon to be newest (and lightest) acquisition in the pursuit of  PBs.
Next up is three hard weeks of training (all 100+ miles), the Achilles 5k race and team challenge on March 17th and then another mini-taper for ATB (30k) a week later (on 24 March). Then it's pretty much taper time to Boston, where a 2:34 is looking more and more attainable.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

#95 Baby's In Black

It's currently that weird period of time between eating a bunch of food to fuel up and then having to wait an hour or two to actually start the long run. And since it's been over a month since I last posted anything here, I figured I would write down some things.

The last time I wrote (in early Jan) I was dealing with an injury that at first seemed very serious but turned out only to be some bad tendinitis in my left foot. I was able to manage it quite comfortably with ice, massage, Vitamin I(buprofan; Advil) and some well timed rest between runs.

After the long run today, I will have run 5 straight weeks (almost literally as I've only taken one complete rest day in 34 days and counting) without any cause for concern including 3 'mega' weeks that have me right back on track for Boston.

There are 9 weeks still to go and lots of work to be done.

Two weeks ago on Sun 27 Jan, I ran my first race of the season, the Robbie Burns 8k in Burlington, ON. It's a super well organized event with a great 'after-party' and awards celebration. I personally ran a pretty good and strategic race in which I managed a slight negative split and passed two guys in the last 2k which meant I felt really strong in the late stages of the race. I finished in a time of 27min flat (26:59 according to chip timing) which is a pace of 3:22/k and placed 8th overall. I was sorta hoping it would have been about 20sec faster, but was satisfied with the overall performance given the early stage of training and my earlier injury woes.

Black Lungs Toronto was also looking to shine in our first 'official' unveiling as a club. We sent 14 of our runners and had a few on the side-lines as well (Get well soon guys). The group did very well and we had 9 in the top 25 and 12 in the top 50 which is pretty impressive for a race of well over 800 finishers and which also attracts a fairly competitive field. Hiddleston was the top Master (40+) and Davey the 'Grand Master' (50+) and a couple guys in particular (Chappers, Burton and Clearsky) also posted incredible performances.

Next up is the Peterborough Half in two weeks which is another great race and a perfect tune-up for Boston (ie it has hills). Baring any unforeseen disaster today, I will log my first 100+ mile week of training and hope to follow it up with another one next week before tapering somewhat for the Half. Lots of running still to do and as they say, "getting there is half the fun." I'd say it's more like four fifths!