Tag Archives: marathon training

Training for the Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon

I am a little late on this post since I have actually completed my first two weeks of training for the Ottawa Marathon. As usual I will start posting a weekly update of my training on Sundays. Since I missed the first two weeks, mainly because I did my long runs in the evenings after the kids were in bed, I will use this post as my first update on my this training cycle.

This year will be the 8th year in a row that I have run the Ottawa Marathon. I ran my first one in 2009 thinking I would try the marathon distance once. Now it has become an automatic entry on my calendar every May.

Once again this year I will also be raising funds for the Ottawa Hospital as part of my participation in Ottawa Race Weekend. The funds I raise will be directed to the neurology unit at the hospital in memory of my father who passed away after suffering a stroke four years ago. To find out more, please visit my fundraising page here. 

In terms of my training I am back to running long runs of over 20 km – 22, 24 and 21 km the past three weeks. As a result my weekly mileage is back up in the 60-70 km range. I’ve also started going to the indoor track again for weekly interval sessions to add some speed work to my training early on.

My training will start to pick up toward the end of the month and into March when I add more mileage to my runs. Again this year I also have a couple of shorter races planned in the lead-up to Race Weekend, a 10 km in March and a half-marathon in April,

Changing Plans

Sometimes in order to fit in a run we have to change our plans in order to fit in a scheduled run. Yesterday was such a day for me. With 24 km on the schedule I initially planned to get in my run early in the morning. However, my plans had to change when it became apparent I would not be able to fit in a morning long run.

I then decided to go for my run in the evening after the kids had gone to bed. Doing a long run at night is generally my least favourite option, I find it tougher to prepare and stay motivated for. That said, when the alternative is not running I’ll take it.

Since I was now expecting to run around 8:00 got prepared by having my usual pre long run breakfast consisting of a bowl of oatmeal and a banana. I headed out a couple of hours later as planned.

Unfortunately it was raining when I headed out and with the temperature starting to drop it made for icy sidewalks in places. Despite that I managed to get through my run as planned. The only downside was a fall a few hundred metres from home when I lost my footing going around a corner…

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Other than that, it was a good run. It was the type run that I can look back on for motivation when I get closer to race day. I did not run it in ideal conditions but I fit it into my day and after a busy day it was a good way to decompress.

Back to the Dome

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As has become my routine at this time of year for 3 or 4 years now I returned to the indoor track under the dome last night. The discovery of the dome, thanks to a neighbour I run with, is one of the best things that happened to me since I started training for marathons.

With the snow and ice we tend to have covering our sidewalks when winter starts it is tough to fit in speed work and even tempo runs outside. Running at the dome has allowed me to continue these workouts without interruption during the winter months. I think there is no question that it has benefitted my training.

Last night was  my first outing of the year. I opted for a workout consisting of 5 x 800m. I end up with splits splits of 3:04, 3:03, 2:58, 3:03, 3:04. Having not done much in the way of faster pace runs, other than last Sunday’s race, since the Philadelphia Marathon I was pleased to see that I was still able to run at the same pace I did my workouts in my previous training cycles.

Since I am a member of Team Nuun this year I also made sure to have some Nuun on hand to fuel my workout..

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Race Report Richmond Road Races 2016

imageThis year I got my race season off to an earlier start than usual. I ran a 10 km race about 20 minutes from home. The Richmond Road Races have been going on for 34 years now but it was my first time registering for one of the races (5 and 10 km).

Since I have not done much in the way of speed work and tempo runs since the Philadelphia Marathon back in November I did not have a time goal for this one. My plan was just to run based on how I felt.

It was cold at the start, -11 C (12F) and closer to -20 with the windchill. Fortunately the races start and finish at a high school and the gym was open to runners. The race course was a loop through town and along country roads.

Like I said at the start I went into this race without a time goal. I was surprised at how good I felt running a hard pace. By time time I reached the halfway point I figured I would be able to finish in around 40:00-41:00.

View Photo: http://www.zoomphoto.ca/viewphoto/19838-110-26010773/1/

I managed to maintain my pace over the second half of the race. When the clock at the finish line came into view I still had a chance to slip in under 41:00. I didn’t quite have enough left in the tank for that and crossed the finish line in 41:06.

My result was about 30 seconds off my current pb for the 10 km. I’m quite pleased with the result. It was a good way to start off the year. This week I will be starting my training plan for May’s Ottawa Marathon so this was a great way to get started.

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My Plans for 2016

In one of my previous posts I reviewed 2015. Now seems like a good time to write about my plans for 2016. While I don’t have the upcoming year fully planned out I do have a good idea of what I want to accomplish and how I would like to do it.

Once again my plans for 2016, or for the first half of 2016 at least, revolve around the Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend in May. For the 8th consecutive year I will run the Scotiabank Marathon here in Ottawa. In addition, I also plan to continue to combine fundraising for the Ottawa Hospital with my participation in the marathon.

In terms of my goal for Race Weekend, at the risk of sounding like a broken record, my goal in training will be to put myself in a position to beat my times from 2015. This time I have more motivation. Coming off a BQ in November I’m now motivated to add to my buffer of 2:31 under my qualifying time.

In order to do so I will be following a similar plan to previous years. To get ready for Race Weekend my plan will to run 2-3 10 km races between now and May and one half-marathon in April. I’ll use the 10 km races as tempo runs in a race setting.

The half-marathon will be an opportunity to test my training. With it being about 3-4 weeks before the marathon it gives me a good opportunity to push the pace and recover in time before my goal race. The past two years I have managed pb’s of 1:27 two years ago and then 1:26 last year.

I’m not sure how much farther I can go in the half while focused on training for a marathon but if I can get within a couple of minutes of my times from the past two years I will be pleased with my preparation for the marathon.

I don’t really know what to expect yet in the second half of the year. Once again I will plan to be a pace bunny in the Army Run half-marathon in September. Beyond that I will probably wait and make plans after Race Weekend.

What are your plans for 2016?

2015 in Review

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With one day left in 2015 I decided to take a look back at my year. It was a productive year for me, producing some results I am very pleased with.  You can read longer recaps of al of my races on here so I will try and keep the summaries short.

Before I get in to my review here is a quick summary of my 2015 in numbers:

  • Mileage: 3454 km (2146 miles)
  • Busiest Week: 118 km (73 miles)
  • Busiest Month: October – 424 km (263 miles)
  • Number of pairs of shoes used: 6 (of these 2 pairs were New Balance Fresh Foam Zante which is my current favourite shoe)
  • Number of races: 8 (2 marathons, 1 trail 30 km, 2 half marathons and 3 10 km)

My goal for the year, once again, was to run a Boston qualifying time. Once again I took two shots at it. Once here in Ottawa in the spring and once in the fall in Philadelphia.

My lead up to the Ottawa Marathon followed a similar pattern to previous years where I ran a couple of 10 km races and a half marathon in the months leading up to the marathon.

Coming off a two month layoff to end 2014 due to a ruptured appendix I was not sure what to expect with my training for the Ottawa Marathon. I surprised myself in April by shaving 1.5 minutes off my pb in the half-marathon with a 1:26 finish. The result gave me a needed boost a few weeks before my first marathon of the year.

2015-04-12 | 2015 Run for ReachGoing into the Ottawa Marathon in May I once again needed a sub 3:10 finish to meet the standard for the 2016 Boston Marathon. Unfortunately I ran out of gas in the later stages of the marathon and fell just short of that target.

However, it was still a solid result and my friend Greg did manage to get one of my favourite running pictures of me reaching the finish line with my family cheering in the background…

11334120_10155621672245311_4632173115371333696_oWith the Ottawa Marathon out of the way my focus turned to Philadelphia Marathon in the fall. Highlights during the lead up to Philadelphia were my busiest month and week in terms of mileage ever and of course my annual gig as a pace bunny during the Army Run half-marathon. This year I was a 1:35 pacer…

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With that our of the way I was ready to tackle the Philadelphia Marathon in November. Since my time would count toward the 2017 Boston Marathon it meant that I now needed a sub 3:15 in order to qualify.

My plan was to aim for 3:10 again in order to give myself enough of a buffer to ensure I would be accepted. In the end a stop just before the half cost me valuable time but another 3:12 finish was good enough to meet the Boston standard with a buffer of 2:31.

imageOverall I’m pleased with my 2015. Time will tell if my marathon time will be good enough to be accepted for entry into Boston but I do have a shot at improving my time here in the spring and regardless of what happens I will be applying for entry into Boston for the first time when registration opens in September.

Back to Running

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It’s been a little over a week since I ran the Philadelphia Marathon. I had planned to get out for an easier run a couple of days earlier but had to wait until yesterday to get out for my first run since the marathon. I’m sure the extra couple days of rest did not hurt at all.

Now I am slowly going to ease back into my routine. I was tempted to want to run another race this month just for something to do but options are limited here at this time of year. Instead I am going to try and go on a bit of a streak and run every day in December. It will give me something to aim for as 2015 comes to an end.

As previously mentioned on here, I will be running the Ottawa Marathon again in May. In order to get ready for that I will get back to a structured training routine in mid to late January. That will include at least two 10 km races and a half-marathon leading up to May.

Until I get back to a structured routine I will probably run based on how I feel. I’ll throw in some tempo runs when I feel like it and probably get in a couple workouts at the indoor track before then. However, I’m going to try and not obsess over my mileage or pace until the time comes to start another marathon training cycle.

What do you have planned for the rest of 2015 and the start of 2016?

Race Report: Philadelphia Marathon 2015

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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…

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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…

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