Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend

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Race Weekend is here once again. Since I took up running it has become one of my favourite weekends of the year. It is certainly my favourite running event of the year.

In Ottawa we are fortunate to have a great event that is both the largest race weekend in Canada and largest marathon in terms of participation numbers. If you have never run one of the races I recommend doing so. It is a great experience.

Back in 2006 when I did the 5 km race it was the event that started to get me hooked on running. For the past 8 years running the marathon here has become an annual tradition.

Once again this year I am fortunate enough to be able to run the marathon. In addition, perhaps starting a new family tradition during Race Weekend, my daughters will be running the 2 km race with their grandparents.

Tomorrow afternoon I will make make my way to the finish line to watch the end of the 2 km race. Sunday morning I will be up at the crack of dawn to run the marathon.

Unfortunately this year our first heat wave of the year has coincided with Race Weekend. Hopefully we will get a break from the forecasted highs of over 30C (86F). If not my plan is to dial back on my pace and get myself to the finish line in the best shape possible.

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Tapering for a Marathon

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As mentioned in my last post this is my last week of tapering before my goal marathon. You may also be in the same position if you have been training for a spring marathon.

The taper period used to be the part of marathon training I enjoyed the least. With more free time on my hands I often found myself getting restless, worrying about whether there were aspects of my training I could have improved, the forecast for race day, my meal plan etc.

Actually I can’t say that I have mastered the last one. My nutrition books come back off the shelf and get frequent use during this last week. My favourites are the following ones – The New Rules of Marathon and Half-Marathon Nutrition by Matt Fitzgerald and Nancy Clark’s Food Guide for Marathoners.

Having been through it a number of times now I’ve come to accept the taper phase as a valuable part of the process of preparing for a marathon.

To get through it I’ve taken to getting caught up on reading and watching running related movies. It helps keep me relaxed and distracted about the items I mentioned above. I also enjoy the shorter easy paced runs more than I used to because it is a reminder that I am ready for race day.

Are you currently tapering for a spring marathon? If so what do you do with the extra free time?

Week 17 of Training for the Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon

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Race day is almost here now. One week from today I will run my 14th marathon, and 8th here at home. I had one final full week of training this here although I did dial back on the mileage once again. I ended this week with a total of 79 km.

I managed to fit in two good workouts this week where I was able to push the pace a bit. Tuesday’s run ended up being a 12 km effort with 7 km done at my tempo pace.

Thursday my speed workout involved a 2 km warm up, 6 x 200m/200m easy, 5 km @ 4:30/km, 1:30 easy, 6 x 200m/200m easy. I had planned to make the workout even longer with a longer warm up and cool down and longer run at marathon pace but had to cut it short due to time constraints. I think I still managed to put in a solid effort.

This morning I went for my last long run before the marathon. It was an easy 19.6 km effort and it was fitting that I saw several of these along the way…

In terms of what’s left before the marathon I have a few 6-7 km runs and a 12 km marathon pace run scheduled. I plan to keep my mileage around 50-55 km. My training is done so there is no need to push beyond that in the final week.

More importantly I plan to try and get to bed early every night leading up to the marathon and loading up on carbs (I got  start on that tonight by picking up some supplies at the grocery store).

How was your week?

Nutrition for Runners: Lemon Coconut Protein Balls


Tonight’s recipe is my second attempt at making no-bake protein balls. This is another very easy recipe to make. In fact it took me about 5 minutes to put this together before I put them into the fridge. You only need 5 ingredients to make this one. 

If you following exactly according to the recipe it will make 5-6 protein balls so if you want more you will want to add to the recipe. With my goal marathon less than two weeks away I will probably make more between now and the weekend for something to snack on.

 If you want to try this recipe out you can check it out here.

Week 16 of Training for the Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon


Race day is now 2 weeks away. At this point the main goal is to avoid injury or getting sick. My key workouts are out of the way. I ended this week with a total of 76 km done, just ahead of last week’s effort. This week also saw my last run over 20 km before the marathon.

The key workout was my speed workout Thursday evening. This week’s workout called for a 3.2 km warm up followed by 5 x  5:00 @ 4:00/km and 3:00 easy. It was a solid run. By the time I reached the last 2 intervals I was feeling the effort and had to push myself to keep up the pace I was aiming for. 

Saturday when I went for my run I passed what is always a welcome site at this time of year, a sign of just how close race day is…

2 weeks until the @ottawamarathon #running #marathontraining #runottawa

A photo posted by Patrick Girard (@pat42.2) on

This morning my goal was to run 28 km. Despite the occasional gusts of wind the cool weather was good for a long run. I felt good and did some of it at my marathon pace…

Now I am down to my final 2 weeks of training. This week will be a final week of full training while the last week will be lighter in terms of mileage and effort. My goal, as previously stated, will be to stay healthy. At this point there isn’t really anything I can do that will improve my result on race day. I just need to avoid doing something silly. 

Next week I will still do a tempo run on Tuesday followed by speed work on Thursday. I will end the week with a long run of less than 20 km. I am not entering the point where I will start paying even closer attention to my diet and making more of an effort to get to bed on time. 

How was your week?

Saturday Stories


It’s time once again for another edition of Saturday Stories, a collection of some of my favourite stories and blog posts from the past week.

Here are this week’s stories…

Ever wonder why you have muscle soreness after a marathon?

A post about the ebbs and flows in marathon training.

A study about whether rinsing a sports drink in your mouth can enhance your performance under certain conditions.

Week 15 of Training for the Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon


With race day now 3 weeks from today it is really starting to set in that I am about to run another marathon. Overall it will be my 14th marathon but the feeling when I finally get this close to race day is the same. When you register for a marathon and even when you officially start training for one race day seems so far away. For me when I get down to the last 3 weeks and the taper period is when it really starts to sink in.

Following 3 busy weeks of just over 100 km this week was a bit of a recovery week for me, partly because I was scheduled to run a 10 km race this morning. This week’s total was 62 km. Even though I wasn’t going for a pb this morning the recovery week was probably well timed.

Other than this morning’s race all my runs this week were done at an easy pace. In terms of highlights my oldest daughter sent me to work with a beanie boo on Wednesday because she wanted to take it to the bus stop but could not take it to school, leaving me with a running partner…

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Thursday was perfect for running and I fit in 2 runs…

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As for this morning’s race, being 3 weeks away from race day my plan was to use it as an excuse to run a tempo run. Despite  a cool and windy morning, 3C (37F) at the start, I did just that. I managed to finish the race in 41:09, my second fastest 10 km of the year. It felt good to push the race after a relatively easy week of training…

Next up are the last 3 weeks of training. That will likely consist of one more heavy week and 2 lower mileage weeks.

How was your week?

Nutrition for Runners: Simple Biryani


Tonight’s recip comes from a book I got for Christmas. I am only now finally getting around to trying a recipe from it. I’m glad I did because the recipe I tried was a hit. The recipe can be found on p. 224. If you are interested in the book you can read more about it here.

The recipe I chose was a recipe for simple biryani which is a South Indian dish. I chose it because it seemed easy to make and I did have to grab many ingredients at the store. I added a chicken breast to my version and served it with lemon juice.

The recipe says it makes 4 servings but I had enough to feed myself and my kids (6 and 3). My girls both really enjoyed it. I also had leftovers for a few lunches after that which made my morning routine easier. 

Week 14 of Training for the Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon


Race day is exactly 4 weeks away from today. I closed out the week today with what will be my longest run of this training cycle, 35.3 km, and what will be my busiest week, 112 km.  This week was almost my 3rd consecutive 100 km week. That is a first for me. 

In the process of logging my busiest week in terms of mileage I managed to log a couple of solid faster paced runs this week. The first was a threshold workout on Tuesday. Since I was scheduled to do a VO2 max test Wednesday afternoon I got up early and did my run before work. The workout consisted of a 3.2 km warm up followed by 2 x 3.2 km @ 4:10/km with and easy 2:00 between sets followed by a cool down.

Thursday evening was time for my speed workout. Having done the previously mentioned VO2 max test the day before followed by an easy 12 km that night I was not sure how I would feel for this run. Surprisingly I felt fine and had no trouble completing the workout consisting of a 3.2 km warm up, 6 x 200m with an easy 1:30 between sets, 6.4 km @ 4:20/km, 6 x 200m with an easy 1:30 between sets and ending with a 3 km cool down.

When I headed out for my long run this morning it was overcast and cool, the kind of weather it would be nice to have on race day. My plan was to run for 35-36 km and I ended up with 35.3 done. I felt good once again during the run. It was a good way to end what has been a busy week.

The upcoming week will see me drop my mileage, mainly due to the fact that I am running a 10 km race next Sunday. I plan to use that one as a tempo run. Then I will have one more full week of training before race day. Now I am starting to get to the point where I am conscious about not doing anything unnecessary that might impact race day

How was your week? 

My Quest to Qualify for the Boston Marathon