Monday, April 27

Reflections of Boston II

Having run, and suffered through a marathon only a week ago, and then (foolishly) paced a friend during a local 10k yesterday, I’ve promised myself that I would set aside some time to recover. Today I kept my promise… my calves would have it no other way.

A few days ago I wrote to Jon regarding my thoughts on Boston, I’ve yet to hear his perspective but the exercise helped crystallize my own view. My four observations:

(1) a relatively quick 2nd and 3rd mile (5:58 and 6:06) probably contributed to me not being able to find an early comfortable rhythm;

(2) my stomach was unsettled, a Gu at 5-miles didn’t help, it’s time a nail down a proper race nutrition strategy (thoughts welcomed);

(3) this is perhaps the straw that broke the camels back… with an upset stomach and a uncomfortable stride, I don’t know that I was prepared to hurt, I didn’t want the race; and

(4) those hills that people told me not to worry about, definitely should be of concern, both the ups and the downs.

Oh, and conceivably an observation that I didn’t expect but one that was gladly welcomed… I love racing and I ‘do not’ like underperforming. A fire has been lit.

Training: day off (scheduled)

Sunday, April 26

Reflections of Boston I

Paul O’Neil once said, “a man who sets out to become an artist at the mile is something like a man who sets out to discover the most graceful method of being hanged. No matter how logical his plans, he can not carry them out without physical suffering”. I think the same can be said for the marathon.

More thoughts on Boston later this week as well as my recent 10k, rest assured though that my legs once again feel like I’ve run a marathon.

Wednesday: easy 20:33
Thursday: day off (scheduled)
Friday: easy 28:33 with 5xstrides
Saturday: day off (scheduled)
Sunday: 1:02:37 with TC 10k in 36:37 3:40km/pace

Weekly mileage: 5h07’11”, +/- 71 or 45 miles

Tuesday, April 21

3:15:28... the time it took to capture the elusive unicorn

My morning started at 4:17 a.m. with a complimentary breakfast of oatmeal, a banana and rather watery coffee. My level of excitement reminded me of the feeling I had on Christmas morning when I was 6, 31 years later that feeling still takes me away to a happy place. After receiving good luck kisses from the girls, I left our room at 5:50 and slowly walked the mile or so down the street to Boston Common to join the throng of participants lining up for buses that would take us to the start in Hopkinton.

The ride out was uneventful, and if nothing else reminded me of catching the school bus in Kindergarten, exhilarating and yet terrifying. Hicham met me at the PowerBar tent and with a large grin on our faces we found some dry grass under a large marquee to wait out the next two hours. After four months of training which included three races, numerous workouts and several strategy sessions, everything I had been focusing on was about to arrive.

The beginning was surprisingly anticlimactic, and after being warned about the course dropping almost 150+ ft in first 800m, I was happy to see the opening mile pass in 6:22. The second mile was a tad fast (5:58), but I managed to reign things in and the following four miles passed in steady succession of 6:06, 6:15, 6:15 and 6:16. With a goal 6:15 mi/pace I was happy with my pacing, but as much as I tried to settle into a rhythm I found it a constant struggle. It was during mile-5 that I realized it just wasn’t going to be my day. My right quad was already straining and with an unsettled stomach I succumbed to the inevitable and waited for the bleed.

The first time I walked as at mile 11; and every mile afterwards.

Having run a few descent marathons coupled with my experience in London ’07, it wasn’t a stretch for me to recognize the signs. Thinking back it was almost a relief as rather than battle the disappointment I was able to focus soaking up as much of the atmosphere as I could. This isn’t to say that I didn’t have any energy. I split the half in 1:23:48, not much more than 1’ shy of my goal, but I knew if I continued at this rate I was in for a train wreck. My 5k splits tell the tale:

18:59, 19:28, 19:55, 20:58, 22:01, 24:15, 26:52 and 29:35

With my pace slowing I was surprised at just how much of a struggle I found the Newton Hills. The series of 4-miles passed in a string of painful miles 7:34, 8:24, 7:43 and 8:40. Admittedly, what really surprised me was the energy and vigour with which everyone around me appeared to charge hills. Were they idiots, how could hundreds of people run with such reckless abandonment? The contrast between me and ‘them’ was stark and all I could do was hope to be pulled along in the kaleidoscope of runners. One of these people was Thomas. With a goal of finishing under 3 hours I was waiting for him to catch me and shortly before mile 25 I saw him trucking along in his bright orange singlet. We smiled at each other and exchanged horror stories before I let him slip away into the crowd.

To help paint a picture of the volume of people that passed me, I eventually crossed the line in 3:15:28 with my friend Hicham finishing 10’ earlier in 3:04:07; in that period, 1929 people finished.

As for Boston, the crowds were amazing (the Wellesley Girls are really loud) and the course challenging. If and when I decide to come back I’ve already made note of several things I would implement into my training, one of them being specific hill workouts. I’m grateful for the opportunity I was able to experience and the friendships I solidified along the way, Hicham, Mike, Thomas and Mark... congratulations and cheers! And last but not least, I owe a huge debt of gratitude to the missus and Isla for their continued love and support, thank you!

P.s. Vancouver Canucks sweep the St. Louis Blues in 4!


Monday: Boston Marathon, 3:15:28, 7:28 mi/pace, 3718
Tuesday: day off (scheduled)

Sunday, April 19

Chasing the Elusive Unicorn

With Isla in bed an hour ago, I’ve finally been able to lay out my kit and put the finishing touches on my preparation. My checklist: 4 Gus, 1 PowerBar (for a late breakfast), socks, shorts, t-shirt, singlet, toque, gloves, hoodie, tights, shoes, waterbottle, Breath Right strip... I think that’s everything.

Tomorrow morning is bound to roll around fast enough, what with having to get up shortly after 4:00. The hotel has been kind enough to put on a free breakfast for the athletes, which starts at 4:30. From there, it will be up to the room for some light stretching, and then with a last kiss from each of the girls I’ll be out the door and down the street to catch the 6:00 bus to the race start. Oh, I’d best remember my iPod with my race not getting underway until 10:00.

It looks like the weather websites have finally come to agreement concerning tomorrow’s forecast. It should be about 4C at the start, 7C at the finish and with luck I’ll be running the entire thing under cloudy skies. This is near perfect as far as I’m concerned, but the 20 mph headwinds aren’t. Not much I can do about the weather though.

As for my outlook, I have an outside chance of sliding under 2h45, but not much more than that. Regardless of the outcome, I’m determined to enjoy the experience.

Until tomorrow...

Training: day off (scheduled)

Weekly mileage: 3h29’11”, +/- 49 or 31 miles

Saturday, April 18

Things that make you go hmmm...

Whenever I’ve asked someone about the Newton hills people have tended to reply that they’re nothing to worry about. After seeing them first hand today I would tend to disagree, the hills are very much something to worry about.

Early this afternoon Mike & Thomas were kind enough to battle their way through traffic and pick me up in town, this was no small feat given that many of the roads here have been closed. After brief introductions, Mike drove us out east to Hopkinton so that we could have a look at the start before driving the course.

The downhills at the beginning, Wellesley and Brookline are certainly something, but what I found most striking were the uphills. For some reason, call it naivety, I assumed I would be able to roll over the hills as long as I stayed strong and kept my turnover steady. But the ups at 16, 18, 19 and 20 are much more significant than I imagined. Still, it’s not like I’m the only one who has to run these hills. I haven’t run a challenging road course like this before and the race has taken on a new dimension. I’m really looking forward to the challenge.

After a look at the course we headed off to meet Mark and his family before joining them for a lovely meal. Following in their footsteps for over two years, it was finally great being able to meet everyone. Events like this go a long way in celebrating what’s right with the world.

All the best on Monday lads. If I don’t see you at the finish know that I’ll be raising a pint in your honour later that evening!

Training: easy 21:32 with 5xstrides

Friday, April 17

Boston Marathon (3-days out)

Traveling with a 6-week old baby was uncomplicated; traveling with a 6-month old more than manageable. But traveling with a very inquisitive child 2-days shy of her first birthday an entirely different situation.

I was up early yesterday morning so that I could squeeze in a short run prior to driving out to the airport. I don’t know whether it was running with sleep still in the corner of my eye, or the cold darkness, but my legs felt good. The flight out east was uneventful, but our arrival into Toronto was nothing short of fun & games, what with one botched landing and plenty of wind. Now possibly it was something I ate, a touch of Hicham’s flu or even the uneasy touchdown but I spent the rest of the evening swimming in a cloud of vertigo. I was convinced I’d never find the energy to run but surprised myself and was able to get out for a leisurely jog late in the day. Much to my surprise my legs felt very good.

After spending yesterday in Toronto with my sister, we were welcomed to Boston amid warm weather and sunshine. With this our first time in Beantown neither of us knew what to expect, but what we saw more than exceeded our expectations. That said, apparently the taxi cabs here don’t always accept credit, or at least Boris didn’t. Made for an awkward moment when I dashed across the road to the bank.

After settling with Boris the Cheat, we checked into our hotel and we’re very amazed with what we saw. Everything and everyone has been fantastic, especially Jimmy Fisher, a dear old man who on more than one occasion has made us welcome.

With the girls playing nicely, I snuck out for run early this afternoon and after looping around Boston Common, made my way down to the waterfront and thoroughly enjoyed a stroll along the Charles River. It was there that I ran into the one and only Mr. Ryan Hall. I waved... he waved back, and then I carried on my merry way. Surprisingly, that wasn’t the highlight of my run; the best part was the fact that my legs felt light and energetic. Looks like things are slowly coming together. And thanks to Malaika and PowerBar it looks like my breakfast needs will be taken care of tomorrow. How ‘bout that, your own PB fairly.

Until tomorrow ~ ciao!

Thursday: A.M. easy 32:11; P.M. 24:32
Friday: easy 33:43 with 5xstrides

Wednesday, April 15

Whatever happened to old-school chocolate?

I received an email from a close friend today wishing me good luck and stating that he “can’t believe it’s already Boston time”. The kind words were appreciated but only served to remind me just how much I still have to accomplish between now and 4:45 a.m.

I ran my last workout this morning on is quickly becoming one of my favourite training locations, Donwood. The circular loop overlooking the Blenkinsopp Valley offers a gorgeous view and a quiet place to train, today was no different. I eased into the session but by the third interval had to remind myself that I was supposed to be running 10kE not 5kP, I adjusted accordingly.

Jon and I discussed my race plan last night. It was during the conversation that I realized I’ve been allowing my watch to dictate my pace during my last few marathons. For better or worse, I don’t once remember running by feel. This is not to say that I’m going to run hell-bent from the line, but I’m going and be more aware of how I’m feeling. I think this strategy could pay dividends on a course like Boston where the first 16 miles are predominantly downhill and it wouldn’t be entirely surprising to see a few quick miles pass underfoot in the beginning. And, I fully anticipate Heartbreak Hill and Co. will offer an equal opportunity for me to collect slower than anticipated miles.

Finally, I have a gripe. Part of my pre-race/marathon routine includes getting my hands on a chocolate PowerBar (part of a healthy breakfast). Unfortunately, much like the problem I had in Sacramento ’06, I’ve been unable to find a regular PowerBar. I’ve seen everything from Protein Plus to Triple Shot with carbohydrates on the side, but I ask, “whatever happened to the old school Chocolate”?

Monday: day off (scheduled)
Tuesday: easy/steady 47:48
Wednesday: 49:25 with 5x3’ 10kE (1.5’)

P.s. Carter, thanks for joining me on one of my few remaining pre-race pints.

Monday, April 13

Boston Marathon (1-week out)

Wow, where has the time gone? After a busy Easter weekend that was preceded by hectic workweek, race week managed to elude my ninja-like senses and pretty near walk right into my front room. Takes the worry out of the equation that does.

I remember analyzing my 12-week marathon build prior to London in ’07, and have followed a similar format for Boston. The differences couldn’t be more apparent:

Training: 12-week marathon build (10 weeks completed)
Cumulative distance (with a few yet to come): 1248km/780 miles (1428km/893 miles)
Number of runs 32km (20 miles) or more: 6
Highest weekly volume: 10h30, 150km (94 miles)
Number of weeks over 130km (80 miles): 6
Number of PRs: 1, Comox Half-Marathon 1:15:29
Injuries: one, left achilles

Training: 12-week marathon build (11 weeks completed)
Cumulative distance (with a few yet to come): 984km/617 miles (1036km/650 miles)
Number of runs 32km (20 miles) or more: 3
Highest weekly volume: 7h51, 110km (69 miles)
Number of weeks over 130km (80 miles): 0
Number of PRs: 0
Injuries: none, although my left achilles has been sore lately

What the numbers fail to reveal is that heading into London I was tired and dare-I-say over trained which aided in a performance that was 35’ outside of my target. Currently I wish I had another six weeks to prepare… an entirely different circumstance.

The last seven days of training have gone well, what with a short but solid sharpening session on Wednesday and longer tempo on Friday. The latter workout didn’t feel quite as comfortable as I would’ve liked but I was most likely pushing the pace rather than concentrating on running relaxed. Yesterday I capped off the week with my last long run. After returning from Galiano, the missus dropped me off on the outskirts of Sidney and I enjoyed wet jog home along the saturated Lochside trail.

It’s late and I promised myself I’d get to bed early this week, more on my pre-race thoughts tomorrow. Until then, ciao!

Saturday: easy 38:56
Sunday: easy/steady 1:20:46

Weekly mileage: 5h29’42”, +/- 77k or 48 miles

[photos: Easter weekend 2009]

Friday, April 10


I managed to schedule a sports massage with Janet yesterday where she confirmed what I already knew. My calves are tight, really tight. What I find surprising is that I stretched twice this week, perhaps some things are better left alone.

With us off to the Gulf Islands this weekend, I rearranged my program and ran my penultimate pre-race workout this morning. The plan was simple, 2x20’ tempo on my hilly Boston Loop. The distance and intensity wasn’t lost on me and I couldn’t help but scan my old programs for Ottawa, Sacramento and London where equivalent sessions were 60’ with 12x1’ (1’), 45’ with 15’ MP, and 30’ easy.

At any rate, after a leisurely morning with the girls I was out the door and enjoying a fine spring day. With my calves tight and race day in the not too distant future, I made sure to ease into the intervals, starting at closer to 90% MP and winding things up to HMP. Apart from a tense right shoulder, I felt in control and reasonably comfortable. One last sharpening session next week and then it’s race day (unfortunately you cannot witness the wide grin that has crept across my face).

I hope everyone manages to enjoy the Easter holiday with friends and family and until later ~ ciao!

Thursday: easy 30:05
Friday: 1:14:03 with 2x20’ tempo

Wednesday, April 8

Feeling Good

Thomas mentioned in his recent post that “a runner’s confidence is fickle”, I couldn’t agree more. After running home yesterday with tired legs, I was less than anxious to begin today’s session. But with both Isla and Ally tired, my window of opportunity was extremely small and I found myself out the door before I knew what was happening.

I jogged down the Lochside Trail for ten minutes before climbing a steep winding path that brought me up onto the embankment over looking the Blenkinsopp Valley. This was to be my battleground, Donwood Crescent. The circular drive in the heart of Broadmead is about 1.08km and was perfect for my workout, 4x1200 at 5kP on 2’.

I started at the top of the only climb and eased into the first interval, purposely not fully engaging until the 2’ mark. Apart from having to work the hill over the final 200m, the first repeat felt incredibly smooth. I made sure to repeat my performance the second time around, before gently pushing the pace on the last two.

3:37, 3:37, 3:36, 3:35 (3:20 pace/km or 5:22 pace/mi).

Given my last few workouts, I’m incredibly pleased at how comfortable this session felt. It also reminded me just how much I enjoy running fast on smooth surfaces.

Training: 49:41 with 4x1.08k (2’) 5kP

Tuesday, April 7

[tahy rd]

Sitting at the computer this evening, a tumbler of Italian wine to my left, my Timex on my right, I unwittingly typed ‘tired’ into the dictionary.

“Exhausted, as by exertion; fatigued or sleepy; a tired runner”, how did they know? I long for the antonyms: rested; energetic.

If it weren’t for the sunshine and warm weather I don’t know that I would’ve made it home this evening. I left the office shortly after 4:00 and after jogging through the park, up and over Beacon Hill, I couldn’t help but notice how tied my legs felt. Perhaps it’s not to be unexpected coming off a relatively big week, perhaps.

With less than two weeks to race day, my focus now is on ensuring I’m rested… which reminds me of my last post, where I wasn’t telling the entire truth. You see, Isla didn’t quite sleep through the night, it was just the first evening that neither Ally or I went to her. A start, yes, but not quite nirvana.

Thomas had recently asked, “When are you going to start tapering?” Mate, from what I can tell, about four days before the race. No, my volume has been cut back slightly this week, but I still have two solid w/o’s, a 5kP session tomorrow and a HMP tempo piece on Friday. Then I start to taper.

As for race day, my draft plan is to take it out between 6:15-6:18 mi/pace and hopefully, with a bit of luck, positive split by not too much more than a minute. Hopefully.

Until tomorrow ~ ciao!


Monday: day off (scheduled)
Tuesday: easy/steady 56:11

Sunday, April 5

Boston Marathon (2-weeks out)

Two weeks out, yikes, at this point you’d think a prudent person might start counting the days.

After tallying up my weekly mileage, I was surprised to see that I had to go back five weeks to find a comparable volume. Apparently I’m not tapering, yet.

After surviving Wednesday’s epic session, I took the next couple of days easy allowing my legs to recover. Those living in Victoria have been blessed recently as for the first time since… September, it has been warm. Nothing wild and crazy but I believe the daily high’s have been inching toward the low-mid teen’s. Spring has arrived and I’m loving it.

On Saturday, I was supposed to join the group and run a controlled time trial (7.2k at 10kP) that went meters from my doorstep. Unfortunately, due to family commitments I was out the door at 8:00 and toeing my own line in the dirt (same course) at 8:25, alone. The opening minutes were horrendously uncomfortable and it wasn’t until I passed a friend at the 2k point, who jumped on my feet and chased me for the remaining 5k, that I started to loosen up.

I didn’t know what to make of the time at first, and with only my perceived effort as judge, I assumed it was poor. That said, when I punch my recent half marathon time into the Race Calculator, it predicts a 10k time of 35:33. On Saturday, my 25:35 was 3:33 pace; I was 3” ahead of schedule. I love spring time.

Jon’s moved my schedule around for the upcoming week to help with recovery, and, for the first time since being born, Isla slept through the night yesterday.


Thursday: easy 39:38
Friday: easy/steady 58:24
Saturday: 1:08:03 with 7.2k TT at 10kP in 25:35
Sunday: hilly 1:59:18

Weekly mileage: 7h40’54”, +/- 107k or 67 miles

Wednesday, April 1

The Workout

I hate this f’n 4C, feels like 0C, windy, light rain, no bloody sunshine weather.

Earlier this week I received the remainder of my marathon program. Immediately two things stood out, (1) how very near race day was, and (2) a monster session scheduled for today.

I truly wish I shared the same sentiment as Thomas who ran an eerily similar workout earlier this week. He sent me a note today revealing, “… I had actually been looking forward to that workout. Tough but achievable, that’s how I like them.”

It was with fear and anxiety that I approached today’s workout.

The session called for 4xBoston Loop with the first 2 run at 90% MP, and the last 2 at MP. Jon suggested hitting 4:00km and then dropping down to 3:50km. At 5.41km, the aim was to bring me around in 21:38 and 20:44 respectively.

Unfortunately, without a tracking device I was running blind which accounts for the first couple being a tad quick. I’ll have to check back with Jon and see how this was supposed to feel. Regardless, with soggy clothes and my temperature dropping, the end was a tad desperate. Still, with the w/o now in the books I’m really happy with the session and feel that it’s all downhill from here.

20:55, 21:20
20:39, 20:43

And to bring race day around that much sooner, I received my official Number Pick-up card in the post today. If I wasn’t excited before, there is no escaping the anticipation and enthusiasm now.

Until later ~ ciao!


Monday: (below par) day off/core (scheduled)
Tuesday: easy/steady 57:40
Wednesday: 1:57:51 with 11k 90% MP, 11k MP