Monday, 24 March 2014

#122 Four more...

There are now just four weeks (28 days) to go before I and 36,000 others line up in Hopkinton on the morning of Monday 21 April to run the 118th Boston Marathon

My last update came following the Chilly Half in Burlington where I ran an ever so slight PB of 1:12:55. Since then, it's been nothing but hard training with plenty of high mileage (510K's in the past three weeks), a few tough and timely workouts, and even a 5K race just "for fun."

The week following Chilly saw my mileage increase from 108 to 168K (yup, that definitely violates the 10% rule) including a tough Thursday interval workout (10K worth of long repeats at slightly faster than 10K pace), followed by a triple on Friday (10K to work, 10K at lunch, 14K on the way home) and a Sunday long run of the usual 33K and which included some long pick-ups.

Leading a line of Lungs at the Achilles 5K (and blocking all the wind). Photo credit: John MacMillan
A week later, I hit what I expected to be my peak mileage for the cycle when I ran 170K and which concluded with a 5K race sandwiched in the 'long run' on Sunday. Not surprisingly, it wasn't very fast (I ran 16:45 for 9th place) but that might have had something to do with the extreme cold (it felt like -20), the gusty winds (up to 40Kph) and the fact that the course was (at least) 150m too long! The Black Lungs also entered a team of 12 strong and were hoping to take top honours in the team challenge, but came up just short and finished second behind our buddy Matt Leduc and his all-star team "Cocky Swagger." Still, not a bad week overall.

Then this past week, I managed to run just slightly more than the previous by capping off a hectic week with a 37.7K run in 2:32 (4:01/K) and which included over 23K of rolling hills (ideal prep for Beantown) and then 5K at around goal marathon pace right at the end. Overall, my mileage for the week totaled 172K (definitely the peak for this cycle) and included four very hilly runs and workouts. Best of all, I'm feeling really good with little more than occasional aches and pains (entirely expected) and no major issues (knock on wood).

This coming week is set to be a much anticipated 'easy/down' week to provide a mini-taper for the Around the Bay 30K on Sunday. I'll aim to run no more than 110K including a day off on Saturday and plan to give the race an honest go if the weather cooperates and things don't get too crazy the night before (I'll be at a wedding all night). What this means in terms of a time is that I'm hoping to come within a minute of my time from last year (1:45:43), preferably under, even if by a few seconds. Last year I took some flak for choosing to race ATB, rather than (marathon) pace it. I then got plenty of "I told you so's" after my sub-par performance in Beantown. Some people say it's just too hard on the body with only three weeks to Boston, but I'm still not convinced. Once again, only time will tell...

Another bit of exciting news came late last week when official bib number, wave and corral information for Boston was released. Bib numbers are assigned based on qualifying times with the fastest runners assigned the lowest numbers (and who also start the earliest in the first wave and corrals). Last year I was bib #263 and my qualifying time was 2:36:24. This year my bib is #254 (just nine 'places' better/lower than 2013) despite my qualifying time being 2:34:13 (over two minutes faster). This suggests that there are plenty of fast guys and gals in this year's event and it's likely to be a competitive field. I'm still not 100% what my plan/goal for the race will be, but judging by my training and tune-up races, I may well aim to go for an outright PB, in addition to a BB (Boston Best) which would mean running faster than both the 2:37:43 I ran last year in Boston and the 2:34:13 I ran in Chicago. I'll likely make an "official" announcement a few days before the event so stay tuned for that.

Good luck to all those who are also training and getting ready for their goal races in the spring. I'm certainly looking forward to another great year at ATB and will then start to get really geared up for Boston. Happy running everyone!

Monday, 3 March 2014

#121 The Chilly Half

7 weeks to Boston.

This past week was a scheduled "easy"/down week in which I 'only' ran 108K (16-26-19-18-8-0-21). Yup, that's right: 'Only' 108K. Clearly, I am slacking.

In the early stages of the race. At the time, I was actually in 2nd place (it wouldn't last long)!
It did however include a tune-up race and opportunity to test the fitness, hence the mini-taper and day off Saturday. And so despite the cold (-13 at the start and felt like -17) and the overnight snow which made the roads rather wet and messy, I was thrilled to surprise even myself and run an unexpected and every so slight PB of 1:12:55 at the Chilly Half Marathon in Burlington, ON. Yup, a PB of 3 seconds! But hey, in this sport, every second counts! It was also an improvement of almost 90 seconds over the Peterborough Half I ran around the same time last year (albeit on a much more challenging course). Overall, I am pleased to see progress in lieu of the sub-par training conditions that this winter has provided. I'm also quite pleased in how I executed the race, having not looked at my watch even once, but still running each kilometre within a few seconds of my average pace (3:27/K) which only lapsed by a few seconds in the last ~3K when my face was mostly frozen and my vision was severely impaired (I should have worn the Sunskis).

Nearing the finish at the Chilly Half. On route to a 1:12:55 PB.
I also finished 7th overall and was (somehow) first in my age group (M25-29) which was nice as well (although I couldn't stick around to collect the award). This was my third time running the Chilly Half and overall, I must say I am really impressed. The course is a flat and fast out-and-back along the scenic Lakeshore Blvd which provides a relative idea of how far you've gone and how far you've still got to go. The race is also very competitive which often means running in small groups or having others to chase. There is plenty of parking, a nice venue for awards, and free chili and beer at various restaurants afterwards (which I also sadly missed). The race was also timed by the Speed River Timing who are always very professional and accurate. Overall, a great event.

It was also another good day for the Black Lungs as well who continue to dominate the top of race results tables. And although not a PB day for everyone, a few of the guys knocked it out of the park including Conron who went sub 1:15, and Hiddszilla who struck with an incredible 1:15:27! Complete club results here.

But now it's back to higher mileage and tough training. And if last week was 'easy'; this coming week is anything but! You can see why by checking out our weekly training schedule on the BLT webpage.

Our next event will be the Achilles 5K here in Toronto on the 16th and will be a unique (if futile) opportunity to try to run fast, while completing a 100+ mile week. Onwards...