Tag Archives: marathon training

Race Report: Philadelphia Marathon 2015


Yesterday was marathon number 13 for me. It was also my third Philadelphia Mararthon since 2011. I chose it as a fall marathon option in 2011 due to the timing and because it was not too far from home, about a 7 hour drive. My wife and I really enjoyed the trip which made the decision to return an easy one.

One thing about Philadelphia for those who have not been there is that references to the Rocky movies are still very present. I lost track of the number of times I heard Eye of the Tiger and Gonna Fly Now playing along the course yesterday.

I can’t claim to be a big fan of the movies but I recall watching the first three because my dad watched them and Rocky IV seemed like a great movie to me when I first saw it when I was 10 or 11, in part because the Cold War was still underway and the villain in the movie was Soviet.

On that note I began my race weekend by waking up early and going for a very easy run over to the Art Museum to run up the “Rocky steps”…

IMG_1671IMG_1674Once I got back to my hotel I continued the Rocky theme by watching the following clip for more inspiration since I would run by several of these sites during the marathon…

Sunday morning I had my usual wake up call for breakfast at 3:30. I tried to eat as quickly as possible and make as little noise as possible to not wake up my wife and kids. Usually try to get back to bed after eating but there was no point yesterday because my adrenaline was already flowing.

Given that I was ready to go and I was not sure how long it would take to get through security I headed over to the start line probably a little earlier than I needed to and there I was sitting along the Ben Franklin Parkway at 5:45 yesterday morning. A couple of volunteers were also there but I was the first runner in the maroon corrall.

The last time I ran Philly I was cold waiting for the race to start. I learned my lesson this time and had a pair of throwaway pants and gloves from the thrift store to keep me warm. I also had an old running pullover I no longer used.

Now on to the actual race. If you don’t want to read any further because I’ve rambled on long enough already here is the short version. My first half was slower than expected because I had to make a stop that cost me valuable time, much of the first 32 km was run into a headwind and I ran my fastest second half to a marathon ever to finish strong.

If you are still with me here is the more detailed version. Since there were only 3:05 and 3:15 pace bunnies my plan was to stay between the two and aim for a sub 3:15 finish. That plan was going well until I had to make a stop at a porta potty around 17-18 km into the race.

Around the 24-25 km mark I noticed there was a pacer ahead of me. I assumed it was the 3:15 pacer who must have passed me when I stopped. I eventually caught up to the group and asked the pacer if he was on target. He told me he was about 27 seconds ahead of his goal at that point. Given that I needed a buffer for a BQ I took off ahead of the group and continued to run my own race.

For those of you who have not run the Philadelphia Marathon the second half is an out and back that takes you out to the Manayunk neighbourhood. At the 32 km mark you turn around and run back to the finish line.

I hit the turnaround feeling stronger than I ever have at that point in a marathon. To add to that we ran much of the initial 32 km into a wind. Once I turned around I knew the wind would finally be at my back. Also, for a final Rocky reference Living in America by James Brown was blasting in the background as I hit the turnaround brininging back memories of this…

At this point I knew that barring any issues with muscle cramps I was going to reach my goal at the finish. I must say it is much more fun to be the guy who is still passing people in the last 10 km of a marathon than to be one of the people who are starting to hit the wall. The fact that I was still going strong gave me all the motivation I needed to finish and if that was not enough over the final 1 km – 800m I had multiple spectators calling out my name as I went by because I was still running hard and trying to pass people in front of me.

I managed to cross the finish line with a chip time of 3:12:29. Although that was 10 seconds slower than my time here in Ottawa in May it was 8 minutes faster than my previous Philadelphia efforts and thanks to the fact I move up into a new age category for 2017 it gave me my elusive BQ!

Following the race my 6 year old was dying for a cheesesteak so we grabbed a cab and headed to Geno’s for one of these…


I normally would not eat a cheesesteak but I have to tell you they taste pretty good after running 26 miles. If you do go to Philly I recommend a trip to Pat’s or Geno’s after the race.

With regards to my result, unfortunately I know it does not guarantee me entry to Boston. For 2016 the cutoff was 2:28 under the standard and I gave myself a buffer of 2:31. My plan for the spring will likely be to try and improve on my time from yesterday to improve my chances of getting in. For now I’ll take some time to enjoy the fact that I met the qualifying standard for Boston. Having one of these seemed appropriate last night…



Week 17 of Training for the Philadelphia Marathon

Race day is only one week away now and my last full week of training is complete. I ended up cutting a couple of my runs short this week but I am feeling pretty good about next week. I’ve had a good training cycle and managed to avoid getting sick or injured. Now I am looking forward to putting my training to the test. 

The key workout this week was a threshold effort on Tuesday. My schedule called for a 3.2 km warm up followed by 4 x 2 km @ 4:12/km with an easy 1:30 in between each set. A 3 km cool down left me with a 15 km workout. 

This is the second training cycle I’ve stretched my tempo and speed workouts to 15-20 km efforts during my biggest weeks of training. I think it helped me in the lead up to the Ottawa Marathon in May by having me run at a harder pace over longer distances. We’ll see in a week if it was in fact a benefit but for now at least it helped make me feel more confident about my training.

I ended the week with a marathon pace effort. I opted for a 16 km run today. I felt it was a good distance because it took me over an hour to complete but it wasn’t enough mileage to have a negative impact on my goal. 

Now the focus for the upcoming week will be to pay more attention to nutrition and rest. I’ll do one more tempo run on Tuesday but my key workouts are out of the way now. I just need to focus on being ready for next Sunday morning.

How did your week go?

Saturday Stories


It is 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…

Some useful tips as you wind down your race season.

A post about the benefits of a pause in training.

Finally, for some fun here is news that a beer lovers marathon will take place in Belgium next year.

Week 16 of Training for the Philadelphia Marathon


Race day is only 2 weeks away now. This week was another full week of training although I did cut back on my mileage due to time constraints on a couple of days. That said, I think it was still another solid week of training. The result was a 77 km week.

The biggest impact on my training this week was not being able to fit in my scheduled 16 km tempo run and 20 km worth of speed work. To make up for that I opted for 11 and 10 km efforts both at marathon pace.

This morning the weather was what I hope it will be on race day. There weren’t many clouds in the sky and it was cool with little wind. The previous two occasions I’ve run in Philadelphia it ended up being a little on the warm side for this time of year. Weather like we had here this morning would be great for running a marathon.

Once again this morning I brought my soon to be 3 year old along for the ride in the Chariot…

The plan for week 17 is for another solid week of training before I really ramp things back the following week. My plan has me coming in around 92 km for the week  which I think is a little more than I’ve done 2 weeks out from a marathon in previous cycles but I think it will be fine this time since I had a bit of a recovery week this week in terms of overall mileage.

How was your week?


Week 15 of Training for the Philadelphia Marathon


Today marked three weeks until race day. Based on how the last month of training has gone I am feeling pretty good about this training cycle. I had another solid week of training this week before I start to taper.

My plan for this week was for another solid week in terms of mileage and I managed to accomplish that despite the fact I ended up having to drop my Tuesday night threshold run.

On Monday night I started off the week with an encounter that was a first for me…

On Wednesday my run ended up being cut short due to something we do not deal with often here. The remnants of Hurricane Patricia passed through brining strong winds and a lot of rain.

After non-stop rain for most of the day the was a brief pause late in the day and I thought it would give me the opportunity to run home. However, the heavy rain started not long after I left work and I found myself running into strong winds and being pelted with rain. It was not a pleasant experience and I ended up taking the shortest route home.

Thursday night was a much better experience as the weather was much better and I was able to fit in my speed work. The schedule for this week called for a 3.2 km warm up, 6 x 200m hard/200m easy, 7 km @ 4:30/km, 3:00 easy, 6 x 200m hard/200m easy, 3 km cool down.

Today I ended the week with a different workout. When I reviewed The New Rules of Marathon and Half-Marathon Nutrition by Matt Fitzgerald back in July I said that one of the ideas in the book that caught my attention was running a 26.2 km race simulator. I tried that workout today with 26.2 km done in 1:53. I’ll know if a few weeks if it was useful but it felt good to doing the run today.

Next week will be my last week of full training before I cut back on my mileage and taper for race day. So far my training cycle has gone really well so my primary focus now is to stay healthy.

How did your week go?

Week 14 of Training for the Philadelphia Marathon


Race day is now less than one month away. My plan for this week was to continue my progress and put in another big week of training. I managed to finish the week with 104 km done. That makes three consecutive weeks of at least 100 km. For me that is a first and certainly a positive as I get closer to taper time.

I managed to average over 10 km per run again this week with my shortest one being a 10.2 km effort. Once again my threshold and speed workouts were by biggest efforts during the week.

Tuesday night’s threshold effort involved a 3.2 km warm up, 6.4 km at 4:25/km, an easy 5:00, 10 x 100m hard/0.30 easy and a 3 km cool down. I managed to plot out my route for this run properly as I arrived at the highschool close to my house in time to do my 100m sprints on the track…

With my wife being out of town Thursday I had to push my speed workout back to Friday night. This week my workout ivolved a 32 km warm up followed by 6 x 200m hard/200m easy, 6.4 km @ 4:30/km, an easy 1:30, 6 x 200m hard/200m easy followed by a ool down of just over 3 km for a total of just over 18 km done.

Unfortunately I was not able to make use of a track for my 200m sprints when I did this workout. Like I often do I ended up running it on a bike path on my way home from work with my backpack on. Fortunately it is still pretty warm here during the day and I am not having to load much in my backack so I did not really feel it.

This morning I ended off the week with my longest run with one of the kids in the Chariot. I ended up doing 35 km with my 2 year old along for the ride.

I know have 4 more weeks of running before race day. My plan is for two more weeks of solid mileage before I do a 2 week taper leading up to race day.

How did your week go?

Week 13 of Training for the Philadelphia Marathon

Coming off my biggest week of training my plan for week 13 was a similar one in that I was aiming to surpass 100 km for the week once again. My schedule of runs for the week was very similar to what I did in week 12. I ended up with 106 km done in week 13.

Once again longer tempo and speed workouts on Tuesday and Thursday were key in helping me fit in my scheduled mileage for the week. On Tuesday evening I ended up running for 1 hour at my tempo pace following an easy warm up. My total mileage was 19 km.

Thursday night’s speed workout was a tougher one, in part because it rained most of the time I was running. This time my workout involved 200m repeats. After an easy warm up I completed 6 x 200m/200m easy, 3.2 km @ 4:51/km, another 6 sets of 200m repeats and ended with an easy cool down for a total of 21 km done.

Yesterday I took my 2 year old out with me in the Chariot for my long run. We ended up doing 31 km…

Week 14 will follow a similar pattern before I start to drop my mileage with race day only just over a month away now. That means I will do one more 30 km run this weekend. 

How was your week?

The Runner’s High

When you run regularly some runs feel better than others. Some runs are tough and you get them in because they are on your schedule and you feel like you are getting them in because you have to.

Then there are runs that just feel effortless and remind you why you run. This is what come call the runner’s high. This concept has certainly been relevant recently.

For me I am currently at the peak point of my training for the Philadelphia Marathon. That means all of my runs are being stretched with extra mileage. My tempo and speed workouts last week and this week have involved 17-22 km efforts.

In terms of how they felt, my tempo and speed workouts last week and this week fell into the second category I described above. On each occasion I felt like I could have continued running at a hard pace longer than I did. Each of those workouts made me feel positive about where I am at with just over one month to go before race day.

Of course scenes like this while I was completing those workouts certainly did not hurt…

22 km done after work tonight #marathontraining #running #ottawa #Run613 #runner #runottawa

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

Ran through the arboretum tonight #ottawa #Run613 #runner #running #marathontraining

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

I’ve had other runs over the past two weeks that were not as smooth or effortless. Feeling the runner’s high after what was supposed to be my toughest workouts at this point has been a positive development.

Week 12 of Training for the Philadelphia Marathon

This week ended up being the big week of training I was looking for. After my long run this morning I ended up with 118 km for the week. I’ve made it over 100 km in a week on several occasions in the past but I think this is the most mileage that I’ve fit into a week of training. 

Hitting this total for mileage meant added mileage to each of my runs. For my easy runs that was not too difficult since I was just adding 1-2 km to each. It was my tempo run on Tuesday and my speed work on Thursday where I had to add the most mileage. 

My schedule for Tuesday called for a tempo run consisting of a 3.2 km warm up, followed by 3 x 3.2 km @ tempo pace and an easy 2:00. I ended the run with a 3 km cool down for a total of just over 17 km done. In order to fit in the run I was up early and out the door at 5:00.

Thursday called for even mileage with 22-23 km on the schedule. Fortunately I as able to fit this one in after work instead of getting up at the crack of dawn. My workout consisted of a 3.2 km warm up followed by 3 x 1200m @ 4:13/km and 1:30 easy. 40:00 @ 5:00/km, 3 x 1200m @ 4:13/km and 1:30 easy. I ended the workout with a 3 km cool down to give me a 22 km run.

I ended the week with a 32 km run. While my oldest was at swimming lessons with her mother I took my 2 year old in the Chariot…

With 6 more weeks to go until race day it means I still have 3 big weeks of mileage coming up. My schedule has me doing 2 more 30 km runs and I will be aiming for two more 100 km weeks before I start my taper.

How was your week?

Week 11 of Training for the Philadelphia Marathon


This week was a mixed bag in terms of training for me. On the positive side I had a solid tempo run and a solid speed session where I pushed the pace. On the negative side I had to drop my long run.

I’ll start my post by talking about the positives. Tuesday was my birthday and even though it was raining out I decided it was a good night to push the pace a bit. My schedule called for an 11-12 km run so I opted for a tempo run at that pace. I finished with a 12 km run in 51 minutes, a 4:17/km pace. It was a nice way to celebrate my birthday.

Since I was not able to fit it in Thursday night I ended up doing my speed session at the track yesterday. This time my schedule called for a 3.2 km warm up followed by 3 x 300m, 1:30 easy, 3:00 easy then another 3 x 300m, 1:30 easy. Despite the fact that it was windy out I felt like I pushed hard on the 300m and that made for a good workout.

The down side of this week was that I had to skip my long run planned for today. This is kind of a silly issue I have. If someone else were to ask me for advice I would tell them that missing one run wasn’t going to hurt their training.

However, when it comes to my training schedule I don’t like missing a scheduled run. I’ll be over it by tomorrow when I start a new week on my schedule but this was not the way I was looking to end the week.

Next week will see me aiming for even more mileage with my schedule calling for a 100 km week. If I manage to hit that target it will be the second time in this cycle that I have reached it.

How was your week?