Category Archives: Races

Choosing your Race Strategy

The following article suggests that there are two strategies you can choose when running a road race. Either you race against other competitors or you race against the clock. My strategy is always to be racing against the clock and not pay attention to other runners during a race. I generally enter every race with a goal time in mind and race to at least match that time. As I have already mentioned, my next planned race is an 8 km race. Yesterday I ran an 8 km tempo run and gave myself an idea how quickly I can complete that distance. Next weekend I will be looking to either match or beat that time when I run the race.

The article also goes on to indicate that the best way to run your fastest time is to run an even pace. For example, if you start too slowly in a 5 km race you will not have time to make up the difference and if you start too quickly you will burn out before the end. Similarly, if you go out too quickly in the first half of a marthon the second half will be a struggle. At PEC earlier this month I ran the first half in 1:37 and the second half in 1:45. I think my splits may have been closer if not for the windy conditions experienced late in the race. Next time I will be aiming to run both halves of the marathon at a more even pace in order to maximize my performance.

Looking Ahead

Four days after PEC and my legs feel fine. I think some of the quick recovery tips I followed helped as I have recovered quicker than I did after my previous two marathons. I am planning to head out for a run after work tomorrow. It will just be an easy run since I am just coming off a marathon.

In two weeks there will be a half-marathon in the Ottawa area, the 9 Run Run. I found out today that they still require a couple of pace bunnies. I have submitted my name and am currently waiting to find out if I was accepted. I figure doing this run would be a good way to get me back on a regular running schedule.

Beyond this I am not quite sure what my running schedule will look like over the next few months. I do plan on continuing to run through the winter again this year. My winter running will be likely geared towards getting ready for a marathon in 2011. Next year a Boston qualifying time will be 3:15. Coming off a time of 3:22 at PEC I am more confident than ever that my goal of qualifying for Boston is realistic. A lot of work remains for me to make up the extra 7 minutes needed for a Boston qualifying time but I do think this is an achievable goal for 2011 and I would like to take at least one shot at qualifying for Boston in 2011.

Prince Edward County Marathon

When I initially decided to run a fall marathon I considered doing one of the two Toronto marathons. I am glad I took a look at PEC and decided to do it. I quite enjoyed the small town marathon experience and the course was relatively flat. It is also a scenic course, running along the shores of Lake Ontario and through Sandbanks Provincial Park.

The PEC marathon starts in Wellington and ends in Picton. We found a hotel within walking distance to the finish line in Picton. As per my usual marathon routine I was up at 3:00 to have breakfast then was back in bed around 3:30. I was up for good at 6:00 and was out the door around 6:30 to walk to the finish line to catch a bus to the start. I wasn’t planning on bringing an extra layer of clothes to keep warm in at the start but I am glad I ended up taking advantage of the service they had to return our belongings to the finish line. It was cool this morning and given that I was on one of the first buses and at the start line around 7:00 I would have been frozen by the time the race started at 8:00.

As mentioned it was pretty cool at the start but once we got going we quickly warmed up and it was a perfect morning for a run. I felt strong in the first half of the race and hit the half at least a minute ahead of my time in the first half of this year’s Ottawa marathon. We started running into a headwind around 26 km into the race. I managed to keep up with my pace for a while but at around 34 km I could feel that the wind was making me work harder and was tiring me out. I started doing 10 and 1’s from this point on. The course is relatively flat with a couple of hills toward the end. The hills presented another challenge but I think it had more to do with the fact that I was already fighting the wind. By 39 km I was exhausted but as we got into Picton I started to feel a final burst of energy and at 40 km I started to pick up my pace again because I knew the finish was close.

In the end I crossed the line in 3:22:52, good enough for 32/220 and 31/133 men. Also in May, I experienced cramping in my calf muscles over the last 10km. In an effort to avoid that today I increased my mileage in training over the summer and I did not experience any cramping today. I think it was another good step towards my eventual goal of a BQ.

I would recommend this race to anyone considering it. The small town vibe is fun and a nice change from running in the city. Plus, if you have a spouse who is not running the option to visit several wineries around Picton is a good selling point!

Confining Toronto marathons to Parks?

Just one day after the Toronto Waterfront marathon Rob Ford, a candidate for mayor of Toronto, suggested he would contemplate banning marathons from city streets while confining them to areas like High Park or Downsview. If you want to read more about, yumke over at A whole lot of soles has more on the story.

I am not sure how serious Ford is but the idea does not make a lot of sense to me. It seems like a case of a politician throwing a random promise out there in an effort to earn a few more votes. Clearly he has not considered the economic benefits of having some of the world’s top distance runners racing in his city or the many runners who travelled to Toronto from out of town to participate in one of the weekend’s races.

Somehow I can’t see this plan ever coming to fruition. What do you think of the idea? I wouldn’t mind running one of the Toronto marathons in the future but I would not travel to Toronto just to run 42 km around Downsview.

Pace Bunny, Army Run

As mentioned last night, today I participated in the Army Run as one of the pace bunnies. In case you are not familiar with the idea, pace bunnies are assigned a time that they commit to running during the race. They wear a hat with bunny ears and hold up a sign as they run so all the runners can see intended pace. My assigned time for the race was 27:30.

Since I am training for a marathon I had planned to do more than 5 km this morning. The race started at 8:00 so I headed out at 6:30 with my daughter in her Chariot. I ran about 6.5 km with my daughter and dropped her off at home and grabbed my hat and sign. Once ready, I ran to the start line of the race which gave me a total of 9.5 km before the race.

The weather was perfect for running today. It was still cool when the race started but the sun was shining. The race itself was pretty uneventful. After a bit of congestion at the start of the race I was able to hit my intended pace for the run according to my Garmin. I had a few runners following me at various points throughout the race.

Unfortunately my Garmin stopped a bit short of the finish line, indicating that I had completed 5 km. This slowed me down a little as I checked to see what happened but I continued and hit the finish line with a chip time of 28:00 which was still within 30 seconds of my assigned time. I guess that will teach me not to rely on my Garmin so much the next time and to watch my splits instead!

It was a good experience and I would do it again if the opportunity presents itself.

Army Run

Tomorrow I will be participating in the Army Run for the second year in a row. In its 3rd year, the Army Run is an icreasingly popular event in Ottawa that offers both a 5km and a half-marathon. Both of these race use similar courses to the National Capital races that take place in May, although this year the half-marathon will be using a new route due to a scheduling conflict with the Terry Fox run.

Since I am training for a marathon that takes place in two weeks I was not planning on participating in this event this year. However I decided to volunteer to act as a pace bunny and will be participating in the 5 km tomorrow since it will allow me give something back to the running community and participate in an event in support of a good cause. I will post a report about the race tomorrow.

Lessons Learned

As mentioned in my first post, I am currently training for my third marathon. I will be running the Prince Edward County marathon in Picton, Ont on October 3rd. Since today was my last 32 km run (20 mile) before the marathon I thought I would write about some of the lessons I have learned while training for marathons.

My first marathon was the 2009 Ottawa marathon. for this marathon I used a training program that would hopefully see me finish in 3:45. My training went well. However, race day did not go as planned. First I slept through my alarm and ended up waking up later than planned. As a result I only had time to eat half a bagel before heading to the start line. My second mistake was to only drink Gatorade at the water stations. It did not take long before I started to not feel well. I developed a stomach cramp around 14-15 km into the marathon. Once the cramp started to subside I still did not feel well. In the end, I crossed the line in 4:07 and I felt nauseous.

In order to learn from this experience and better prepare myself for my second marathon I began training with other sports drinks like Eload and Gu20 as I find Gatorade to be too sweet. I experienced success with this approach in the months following the marathon as I was able to complete the 15 km Boilermaker in Utica, NY in 1:10 and the Army Race half-marathon in 1:39.

Once I started training for my second marathon I also tried a new approach to my 32 km training runs. I began waking myself up a few hours before the run in order to have a breakfast consisting of oatmeal, a bagel with peanut butter, a protein bar and a banana.

These two alterations to my approach to marathon training were beneficial during my second marathon, the 2010 Ottawa marathon. I felt more energetic and stronger going into this marathon than I did a year earlier. II also felt very strong for most of the race. In the end I was able to cross the line in 3:32.

Once again I learned another lesson as I completed a marathon. I ran most of this race on pace to finish between 3:15-3:20 as I was in between the pace bunnies for those paces. Unfortunately, once I reached 32 km I began experiencing cramping in my calf muscles causing me to slow my pace.

As I started training for the Prince Edward County marathon I did some research on muscle cramping. While there does not appear to be a definitive cause of cramping I did find out that dehydration and overexertion are potential causes. As a result, I have added mileage to my training program (I ran 415 km in August alone) and I started using Zone Caps–p136182 on hotter days as well as for my long runs.

With only a few weeks to go now before my next marathon I will soon find out if these changes to my training will payoff!

Trail Running

My experience with trail running is limited to a couple of runs. During my training for the 2010 Ottawa marathons I had a chance to complete a 16 km trail run a couple of weeks before the marathon while I was on vacation on Vancouver Island. I enjoyed the experience as it felt like a complete change of pace from my usual runs through city streets. Of course the background of snowcapped mountains and the Gulf Islands in the Strait of Georgia certainly helped as well.

Last month I had an opportunity to complete my first trail race as I participated in the 5 Peaks Enduro Race at Camp Fortune, a ski hill near Ottawa Given that I am currently training for the Prince Edward County Marathon on October 3rd, I treated this race as more of a training run than an actual race.

Two options distance options were offered for this race. The Sport Course (6 km) and the Enduro Course (12 km, two laps of the Sport Course). I decided to register for the Enduro Course in order to keep up with my weekly mileage for my marathon training program.

It was quite humid the morning of the race and it was raining on and off so the course was slippery, especially on the rocky portions. The first half of the course primarily running uphill on narrow switchback trails leading to the top of the ski hill. I managed to complete the race in 1:11 which was good enough for 20th place out of 57 finishers. Seeing as how I did not have a set goal going into the race I was quite pleased with my result.

Once again a trail run provided me with a change of pace and a nice diversion from my usual training runs through the streets of Ottawa. I am not sure that I want to take up traail running regularly but I would certinly contemplate doing this race again next year.

My Running History

I will start off by telling you a little about myself. I am relatively new to the sport of running. My introduction to running came four years ago when my wife talked me into joining a Running Room 5 km clinic with her. At the completion of that clinic we ran our first race, the 2006 MDS Nordion 5 km which took place during race weekend in Ottawa.

Following the completion of that race I decided that running wasn’t so bad and that I would like to try a 10 km race. At that point I had no intention of progressing to longer distances. Funny enough, I completed my first 10 km race and once again decided that a half-marathon might not be so bad. At this point the idea of completing a marathon still seemed crazy!

I think you can kind of see where my story is going now. Here I am four years later having completed two marathons and currently training for my third which will take place in less than a month. I think it is safe to say that I am now hooked on running. In four short years I have gone from a reluctant 5km runner to a marathoner with his sights set on eventually qualifying for the Boston Marathon.