Saturday, 31 October 2009

Happy Halloween

1. Distance assigned: 14k Run 13k

Oops! I took a different, slightly shorter route to the beach and turned around too soon. Today was simply delightful -- a gorgeous fall afternoon run on an empty beach under steel grey clouds. Odie and I both had a lot of fun.

2. Pace assigned: none. run: between 8:30 & 9:00m/km. I found it easy and relaxing

Garmin's average pace for this run includes the stop I made to talk to an elderly woman on the beach for 10 minutes (laps 38 & 39). She had so much to say about everything I found it hard to break away and keep going.

3. Walk Break Ratio Assigned: none. Run: 4 min: walk 1 min.

I experimented with programming the watch with run/walk intervals. It turned out okay except that I underestimated how many there would be - So I "finished" the workout with about 20 minutes remaining to run before arriving home. My actual pace was slower than the one I used for the calculations. But I found the watch helpful.

4. Speed-work done: none.

5. Any aches/pains? nope. I ran barefoot, so no issues with feet or knees. They were very happy. There was a lot more soft sand today - like running mashed potatoes! Fun.

6. Questions? No. I really enjoyed this run. It's nicer to go long. Six k last weekend was too short.

I ended up with low blood sugar by the time I got home today. I was fine during the run, but needed some juice as soon as I got in the door. Looking back, I didn't bring enough calories or liquid to drink (only 400ml gatorade). And I think I do better including some protein in what I bring -- this is what I've done in the past. I think I was a little cavalier in my planning, considering the planned duration.

7. Weekend workout planned for next weekend: 18k

Have a great week!


Thursday, 29 October 2009

09/10 training schedule

Here's the new schedule to take me through next April:

Nov 1--14K
Nov 8--18K
Nov 15--5K
Nov 22--22K
Nov 29--5K
Dec 6--27K
Dec 13--6K
Dec 19--16K
Dec 27--27K
Jan 3--6K
Jan 10--30K
Jan 17--8K
Jan 24--10K
Jan 31--34K
Feb 7--10K
Feb 14--12K
Feb 21--38K
Feb 28--10K
Mar 7--12K
Mar 14--42K
Mar 21--10K
Mar 28--15K
Apr 4--12K
Apr 11--Rotterdam Marathon
Apr 18--6K
Apr 25--10K
May 2--anything you want

what's next

The "club" marathon I planned for December is a bust. I looked at the website again, and read it more carefully (or perhaps with wiser eyes). The race has a five-hour cut-off. Given my time for the half, I don't reasonably expect I can cut 15 seconds a kilometer off my pace and hold it for twice the distance. Maybe I've thrown in the towel too quickly. I just didn't want to set out on a course knowing they would pack up long before I got to the finish line.

I can run instead the 16k "Mackerel" race on the beach at home on 19 December. It's not the same, but the minimum pace is 8:30, which I can do without question. (And there's the split pea soup finish...)

To dig out of feeling down about the busted race plan, I registered for the Rotterdam Marathon 11 April 2010. They have a 5:30 cut-off. The Paris marathon is the same day, but I've been to Paris a lot and can't stand the idea of having to get another medical certificate.

Monday, 19 October 2009

Amsterdam Half Marathon. Mission Accomplished

I’ve looked at race photos and a video of the course that shows clips at points along the route. Every time I think over the day, tears well up. This race took me to a place I never thought I would go. Training for this race built in me a new vision of myself. I have left behind the overweight sedentary person I used to be. I grew into someone with a good sense of what I can accomplish. I sharpened my “scavenger hunt” skills and gained valuable experience in sustaining a hard, disciplined effort for a worthy goal.

Unlike other areas of my life, running does not come easy to me. I have enjoyed a lot of success in my schooling and my career – many firsts and top ten percents. Three of the four races this year I ran in last place for much of the race. I needed to grow as a person to find the joy in running that has nothing to do with my place at the finish line.

I approached the half marathon with the determination that I would win even if I finished last, and that I was strong enough to run in last place throughout the race. That is where courageous runners sometimes find themselves. Like in Paris, at the back I ran with the people who defy the stereotypes and run anyway. This time though, I did not stop to chat. I wanted to finish before they stopped recording times. And to find out what I was made of.

Throughout my training, you gave me exercises that built my speed and endurance as well as my confidence step by step. Over-distance training gave me the belief in myself. I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I didn’t know the distance of a Half Marathon in kilometers until after I had run the distance a couple months ago. The 800 meter repeats helped me to build speed over distance. They helped me to learn how to dig deep inside, beneath the physical discomfort of “I Can’t”, to find “I Can.” I learned what my body feels like at various levels of intensity, how much I can push, and what’s a little too much for right now. I learned about pacing myself - what happens if I go too fast, too early. I learned how to keep something in reserve. Every race taught me to expect the unexpected and to anticipate and prepare for the wall. I helped my training by not over-training, by respecting my limits and pushing myself gently further.

I learned sometimes I can arrive sooner by going slower. These lessons have applications far beyond my running. I am a better person today for learning to run. Thank you very much.

1. Distance assigned: Amsterdam Half Marathon. Plus 3k each w/u & c/d. I jogged the warm up. I walked the cool down.

2. Pace assigned: “do what makes me feel confident.”

Line up at the back again so that you will have freedom of movement.

17-21--anything you want.

Split Time Distance Avg Speed Max Speed
1 0:07:58 1,00 7:58 6:33
2 0:07:57 1,00 7:57 6:08
3 0:07:59 1,00 7:59 6:28
4 0:08:13 1,00 8:13 6:31
5 0:07:36 1,00 7:36 5:36
6 0:07:55 1,00 7:55 6:04
7 0:07:28 1,00 7:28 5:25
8 0:07:40 1,00 7:40 5:47
9 0:06:46 1,00 6:46 3:58
10 0:07:29 1,00 7:29 5:50
11 0:07:02 1,00 7:02 5:26
12 0:06:57 1,00 6:57 4:31
13 0:07:02 1,00 7:02 4:41
14 0:06:53 1,00 6:53 4:48
15 0:06:53 1,00 6:53 4:57
16 0:08:05 1,00 8:05 5:25
17 0:07:17 1,00 7:17 5:08
18 0:07:28 1,00 7:28 5:36
19 0:07:46 1,00 7:46 5:40
20 0:08:07 1,00 8:07 6:22
21 0:06:53 1,00 6:53 4:45
22 0:01:56 0,34 5:45 4:38
Summary 2:39:27 21,34 7:28 3:58

3. Walk Break Ratio Assigned: I tried to practice the 40/20 and 30/30 before the race. One of my girlfriends reassured me that crappy practice meant a good race. With your explanation and some good advice from your blog, I thought it might be worth trying during the race. I warmed up with a 3k jog, and then stood around in the starting pen for 20 minutes.

The weather was cool. In the past, I would have worn too much clothing. This time I knew I would heat up in the race, so I dressed in short sleeves and ¾ length running tights. I picked up a plastic blanket that had been discarded and used that to stay warm. The clouds indicated rain, so I brought a lightweight jacket and a hat. They came in handy around 17k when the rain started.

Though in Holland, racing in Amsterdam was still “out of town.” I had to learn a new payment system for the Amsterdam Metro, and navigate to Olympic Stadium, a place I had never visited. Transportation took about 90 minutes. I left my wallet at home, carrying only the essentials. Unfortunately, the fare inspector reminded me that I had left behind the discount train card that I should have carried for the fare I had purchased. He wished me good luck for the race and waived the 35 euro ticket with instructions to buy a full fare ticket for my return trip. I didn’t let it upset me.

I easily found the place to check my bag, changed into my running clothes and enjoyed the warmth of the big sports hall next to the stadium where the race would start. While warming up, I realized that I forgot to put on my heart rate strap. I didn’t have enough time to go get it. I never used my heart rate during training, so this didn’t bother me. I like to look at the data afterwards. But I have a good sense of my effort.

I carefully planned the day’s nutrition. After carrying two big water bottles in France, it occurred to me that I could carry pre-measured powder for the carb/protein mix I like, and mix it up with water along the course. That worked out fine.

My “good” camera died after I took the first picture. So the race got even simpler. I was relieved of the need to fish out the camera from my fanny pack. My 15-year-old son laughed when I told him about taking a couple pictures along the route with my phone-camera. He called me the Fastest Tourist Ever.

The crowds cheered me on. Running in the back gave me plenty of maneuvering room. Most of the time, I was completely alone. I ran the blue stripe painted on the street. It straightened out the curves, helping me to run the shortest course possible.

Many children lined the route, especially near the aid stations. They eagerly handed out sponges and held out hands for “high-fives.” Early in the course, one group of kids chanted (in Dutch),

“Faster, faster.”

I told them,

“Slow now, fast at the end.”

Just at the 8km sign, a race official on the back of a motorcycle told me in rapid Dutch something I couldn’t understand. I explained I spoke English and he repeated that he wanted to take me off the course since at that speed I couldn’t finish before 5:15 PM. I was shocked and incensed. I thought how he dare discourage all of us slow folks in the back with such a prediction. I refused and told him I would increase my pace. He didn’t understand my English. I repeated, “I will run faster.” The next kilometer was my fastest in the whole race. I watched as the Grim Sweeper delivered his dire predictions to the runners around me.

Well, I realized the truth of what I had been told. Starting in the back meant I started more than 10 minutes after 2:00 PM. So I picked it up. I knew I would need to cut a minute off each of the remaining kilometers.

I had programmed my watch to set the pace for me. It continued to beep at me with the warning “Slow Down”. I knew that I would finish before 5:00 PM if I could just run a little faster than the planned pace on my watch.

This is where walk breaks became really important. From the start, I took walk breaks even though they didn’t feel “necessary” yet. I was running a ratio of about 1:1 or 2:1 for the first couple kilometers. After meeting the Grim Sweeper, I pushed the walk breaks to about 4:1 or 2 min:30 seconds. That ratio seemed to work pretty well.

I had also planned to use the pacing music that I trained with for the 800 m repeats. I started that play list at about 13km. I took the 30 seconds at 400 meters, another 30 seconds at 800 meters and a light jog for two minutes. Then I did the accelerations over again. Since I had done 14 of them, I knew I could just keep this up until I ran out the race. I also walked briefly through the aid stations every five kilometers as I picked up something to drink.

The last part of the course went through a beautiful park and then the last neighborhood, finally going inside Olympic Stadium. The signs were a little unclear. There was a finish mark from one of the shorter races, and I started running faster and faster, since I was so excited by then. I ran through the tunnel, under the Olympic rings. This was incredible. Then I saw the finish was three-quarters around the track. I kept running as hard as I could at that point – My last lap was among my fastest. My feet hurt, but I was really happy. Beyond words.

I looked at the finish video and you can see my form has fallen apart by then. It looks like I am leaning forward and willing myself to finish. If it’s worthwhile, I would be grateful if you could offer some critique of my running. I look heavier in the videos than I feel. You can find a link to the videos, which offer clips at various places in the race, by searching on my name or bib number 31865 at

Like I mentioned yesterday, I started to cry twice on the course – once seeing people walking together while holding hands. This made me think of all my friends around the world who have been encouraging me throughout my training. Then when I saw the official clock and realized how much time I had made up, I knew I made it. When I started to cry, I couldn’t breathe. So I had to wait to let out all those feelings. The last kilometer is the hardest. I know I’m nearly spent and it’s tempting to slow down. This time, I kept on going.

4. Speed-work done: Ha ha ha. All race long.

5. Any aches/pains? I gave myself a large blister on my right foot – where one has appeared the last time I did the 800 meter repeats. It’s no big deal, but was the reason I went shopping for new shoes, without success. I didn’t notice anything while running. A plaster will take care of it. Knees are a little sore today. But nothing unusual. My upper quads are also sore. I imagine from trying to run as fast as I could!

6. Questions? No.

7. Weekend workout planned for next weekend: Oct 25--6K (oh, thank goodness!)

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

counting down

Here's my homework and the suggested pace, which my ego says is SOOO slow. And I don't think I like this walk break ratio. On my long runs, he's had me doing 1 min walk:1 min run. Hmmmm.

I will do the homework and think about these suggestions.

I'd like for you to practice the pacing and walk breaks during your Tuesday run this week.

Try to hold a pace of 8:15 by running for 20 seconds and walking for 40 seconds for 2 K. Then shift to 30-30 and see if you can maintain that same pace. This will help you choose the walk break that will work best for you.

Line up at the back again so that you will have freedom of movement.

17-21--anything you want.

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Garmin Connect - Activity Details for Tapering 5k, slow WU & CD

Garmin Connect - Activity Details for Tapering 5k, slow WU & CD

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tapering for next week

Distance Assigned: 5k

2. Pace assigned: none - I gave this a playful relaxed effort in the pouring rain on a wind-swept beach.

3. Pace ran: 5.5 in 46:10. I played around with the Garmin again and set a 1.6 km segment in between a really slow warm up and cool down of 1.7 km. Without running on a measured path (I was down at the beach), I found it more difficult to pace/push myself - I didn't have a notion of where the "finish line" was. This was a very relaxed run with lots of walking before and after the middle segment. (the extra half k was just to get back to the house.)

4. Speed-work done: I ran some sprints early in the week (again, trying to figure out how this goofy watch works. Over 40 equals CAN'T SEE THE WATCH FACE, which was very funny - the joke being on me, of course. Maybe your next book: Running with Bifocals..... Sub'd another row for a mid-week run, but walked 30 - 40 minutes every morning at 6:30 (my mother in law is visiting from the States, so we're up early to share some coffee and go out with the dog).

5. Any aches/pains? No. I was still a little sore today from weightlifting on Thursday. Some morning yoga helped.

6. Questions? You asked for a reminder about pacing/walk break ratio for the Amsterdam Half, which has a three-hour cut off time.

7. Weekend workout planned for next weekend: Oct 18--Amsterdam Half Marathon--plus 3K warm up and 3K warm down

Have a great week. I'm getting excited about next week - I already mapped the packet pickup location!

Friday, 2 October 2009

27/09/09 Race Report Paris Versailles

1. Assignment: 16k race in Paris Finished in 2:16. Not particularly fast, but not last either.

Here's my "diploma"

2. I did it! And I learned a lot about racing out of town. A lot more preparation is required than going down to the beach!

3. Pace Assigned: 8min/km first 2-3 km, then 7.5min/km, then at 12k, whatever I want. Slower when warmer. It was warm, and I was slow. Here's what my new toy (the garmin) recorded:'>'>

Ave. Pace:

first two km: 8:22 (talking with other people on the course)
next ten: 8:38 (in the sun and UPHILL!)
last four: 8:03 (I picked it up finally!)

I felt really good at 12km and was finally able to pick up my pace. This part of the course was in the woods and cooler. Most of the race was really sunny and I was covered in salt by the time I finished. I started in one of the last waves of the +17,000 runners. In hindsight, being as slow as I am, I should have started earlier if I wanted to hear any of the music playing along the course. At the beginning of the race, I slowed to walk with an older woman who was walking the race. She had flown all the way from Calgary for the race. I also took a lot of photos.

I just felt like I had legs of lead, however. It was tiring to travel and walk all over Paris looking for the sports hall where the packet pickup was being held. There are two "Palais de Sports". So, one lesson learned was to "map up" routes before traveling and leave luggage at the hotel before going on the packet hunt. I did stop for a chic hair cut and a delicious roasted chicken while out, however. So I kept a good sense of humor, particularly important. I burst out laughing when I finally got to the correct sports hall only to find myself locked in the bathroom stall when the door malfunctioned! Thankfully, I jiggled my way out of having to call for help.

There were so many participants that the starting waves of about 350 took more than 90 minutes to launch. I walked around and took pictures instead of crushing into the chute. Eventually I walked to a crepe stand and got some more breakfast when my stomach started growling. I packed my own sports drink/nutrition. I am glad I did because although the course offered water and powerade, only water was still available by the time I arrived. I made peace with running in last place for the short time I was last. I realised afterwards that being slow and starting in the last wave exaggerated my place. I took walk breaks, but felt fairly disorganised for the first km - I carried my warm up clothes up to Versailles - After the difficulty to find the packet pick up, I just didn't have the wherewithal to get up early and hunt for the drop off location near the Eiffel Tower before the race. Other people simply discarded the clothes they wore in the rather cool morning. It was a strange sight. Lots of runners wore garbage bags too. This must be typical because dozens of rag pickers descended with bags to collect the clothing.

About Porta-Potties. I haven't figured out how much to drink in the morning to be able to avoid those nasty things. Important lesson learned. Never use a porta-potty after someone has spent an unusally long time in one ahead of you. It's worth waiting for a different one to become available. I suffered along with several other gals who went first. I should have paid more attention to the looks on their faces when they came out.

The course was mostly urban roadway. I dislike the litter created by the runners. There were close to a billion French kids out picking up after us, though. They had uniforms that made me think of Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. I said thank you a lot. I received lots of cheers, including from the bored-looking traffic controllers! They gave me a boost of spirit. And whenever I remembered where I was (running from Paris to Versailles) I GRINNED!

I ran with all the courageous people - the ones who aren't as fit or young or fast as the others and who have the courage to still show up and run - middle-aged women like myself, overweight folks out to change their lives, grey-haired warriors still going strong, survivors of all manner of challenges. It took a lot of mental effort to keep going sometimes because my legs felt so useless. I just couldn't find my groove - the temperature and the grade I think took their toll. Today I have more muscle soreness than usual, so I feel like I gave it an honest effort. Also, looking at my heart rate chart, I can see that my heart rate matched my perception of effort. So, I didn't hold back. I still really would like to turn into a runner instead of a jogger. I know I am a runner, but I hope you understand what I mean. I told myself I'm a baby runner, having been at this "seriously" or at least regularly - maybe religiously is the right word - for only nine months.

It was also really challenging to focus on the race so soon after pacing during my husband's surgery. I had to take him back to the emergency room for pain relief only a couple hours after bringing him home from the hospital on Thursday. We were there until nearly midnight - me thinking this was supposed to be the pre-race night of the "good night sleep".

All of the training exercises you gave me to do really helped me to prepare myself - especially the 800m repeats - they have - for me anyway - a mental component that helps me go past the discomfort and the limiting beliefs into the beyond. My eyes are tearing up again with gratitude for your help.

Well, that's enough out of me. It's my son's 15th birthday today, so I will close. Attached are a couple pictures you might enjoy. My favourite is with one of the volunteer girls at the finish. I told her next year it was her turn to run.