Saturday, June 28, 2008

Week 4

I ran 9 miles yesterday. That's 1/3 of a marathon. It felt good. So good that I picked up the pace for the last mile. I upped it from really slow to just slow.

The long runs are now over an hour and a half so I have to start thinking more about mid-run fueling. I used Gatorade for yesterday's run. It's all I have ever used for my long runs including my two half marathons. The Portland Marathon doesn't serve Gatorade. They provide Ultima and Gleukos. I have never tried either. Ultima replenishes electrolytes but doesn't contain carbohydrates. Gluekos provides the carbs but I'm not sure it's available in Canada. I'm going to have to decide whether I'm going to carry Gatorade for the race and, if so, how. I may also experiment with gels to decide whether to go that route. Water is provided on the course and carrying gel packs is probably easier than wearing a water bottle belt. Using Ultima or Gleukos on race day for the very first time is not an option.

For week 5 the distances continue to go up. The mid-week sorta long run goes up to 5 miles and the weekend long run will be 10 miles. Ten miles is the farthest I have ever run outside of a race. The weekly mileage passes the 20 mile threshold.

Friday, June 27, 2008

You pay money to do this?

A friend asked me whether you have to pay to run a marathon. When I said yes, she asked whether it was around $5. No, I told her, closer to $100. She couldn't comprehend paying hard earned cash to put yourself through the rigours of running 26.2 miles (or 10K for that matter).

None of my friends run. None of them remotely see the appeal.

My wife would like to run but she has back problems and her doctor told her to cut running from her exercise routine. She recently re-introduced short distances so she could run last week's race. However, even she is constantly questioning my desire to run a marathon. Her biggest fear is that I'll get injured.

So, this got me thinking. Why am I doing this? Why a marathon?

Some days, I think the answer is similar to that of the proverbial question, "Why climb the mountain?". Because it is there.

But, really, it's more than that. I started running because I wanted to improve my health and fitness. I got a gym membership and there were plenty of options for exercising. However, long term motivation was always a challenge. It was too easy to skip a day or two, or even weeks at a time.

But with running, there are races. The race provides that line in the sand, a benchmark, a goal. It was an immovable point that forced me to reach a certain level of fitness. It provided a measurable challenge and a public one. Letting others know of your intent certainly adds to the motivation to achieve the goal.

Each step of the way, the challenges have become tougher. In the beginning, running 10K was a significant achievement. It would take me 3 months to be "race-ready". Then I decided to do a triathlon. The fact that I could barely swim was only a minor inconvenience. Then came a half marathon. Which leads to my latest challenge.

But, besides being in it for the challenge, I simply enjoy running. Not only that, I like treadmill running which puts me in a small club. I don't find it boring like many do. I enjoy the solitude, the "me" time, the time to let my thoughts wander.

By the time I complete this marathon quest, there's a risk I may not enjoy running as much (like that short period of time during my last half), but for me the marathon has a certain mystique. Even if those around me don't share in the sentiment.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Week 3

Three down, 15 to go. Last week was a recovery week with only 15 miles of running. I ran pretty hard on Monday, averaging 8:18 per mile. It was also my first outdoor run in a while. I tend to run faster when not on a treadmill. I took it easier on the other runs.

Today begins week 4, and the long run upcoming on Friday is up to 9 miles so we're starting to get into more serious distances.

My wife ran in her very first race last Friday. It was the Chip's Not Dead Yet Memorial Mile. It's a fundraiser for the BC Children's Hospital. Chip Wilson is the (not dead) founder of lululemon athletica and he matched all entry fees with a contribution to the hospital. It's a one mile race up a rather steep hill. I didn't race but I volunteered as a greeter at the event.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Triathlon World Championships

Last Sunday, I volunteered as a course marshal for the elite race at the Vancouver BG Triathlon World Championships. I had a great view of the bike leg as the athletes climbed up Thurlow Street towards Davie Street. The highlights were broadcast on CBC yesterday and in this picture taken from the show, I'm the guy holding up the red flag on the left.

Fortunately, the weather cooperated and the conditions were cool but dry. Unfortunately, the results for the Canadians I've been following wasn't what I was hoping for with Simon Whitfield only managing a 6th place finish and Kirsten Sweetland finishing 38th as a result of a heel injury. Whitfield will be representing Canada at the Olympics but Sweetland was not chosen for the team.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Week 2

I have completed week 2 of the 18 week training program I'm following (Hal Higdon's Novice 1 Marathon Training Schedule). Each week there is one long run and three shorter runs. I have decided to run one of the shorter runs at a faster pace (nearing race pace) and one on hills. The other shorter run will eventually get sorta-long so I'll run it at a slower pace -- the same pace I'll run the long run at.

The long run this week was 7 miles. I felt strong and didn't get my heart rate too high. I could have kept on going with no problem. The long runs are run at a pace slower than my anticipated race pace. The idea is to get accustomed to the distances and not worry about speed.

Every third week is a "stepback" week where the mileage is reduced to allow recovery in preparation for building up mileage in the next couple weeks. So, next week will be an easier week with the long run only being 5 miles. I don't feel the need for a recovery week yet but I'll follow the program and try to avoid injury.

I'm starting to feel more confident about actually doing the marathon although I have a long way to go still.

Monday, June 9, 2008


My wife decided we should attend a yoga class. I figured that it could help with my running and fitness since I'm not very flexible. I'm not really that interested in the spiritual side of yoga.

We went for a free beginner class at lululemon. There were a few others there but we were the only yoga virgins (and I was the only guy). We let the instructor know that this was our very first yoga class so she made sure she explained all the moves and positions.

We did some basic poses like the downward facing dog.

We also did some more difficult poses such as the crane pose (bakasana). My wife managed to face plant into her mat and I didn't fare much better.

I was surprised by how much trouble I had with a tree pose (vrksasana). It looks simple.

All in all, I actually enjoyed the session and I think we'll add some yoga into our routine.

Photos from

Friday, June 6, 2008

Volunteering at the Vancouver BG Triathlon World Championships

I woke up at 4 am for my 5:45 shift as a course marshal for the sprint distance races of the Vancouver BG Triathlon World Championships. The weather was miserable. It was 8 degrees Celsius and raining.

I was stationed in Stanley Park near the bottom of the hill leading to Prospect Point. This is the same hill I ran as part of the BMO Vancouver Half Marathon. The triathletes had to climb this hill 3 times as part of the bike leg of the race.

My job was to control pedestrian access to the bike course. This wasn't much of a task. We were in the remotest portion of the race course in Stanley Park which, for the most part, was closed to all traffic. Let's just say I didn't see many pedestrians during the 4 hours I stood in the rain holding up my red "don't cross" flag. Actually the first one I saw was a trail runner that came from behind me and I didn't see him as he darted across the course as bikes whizzed by. I guess I wasn't a great course marshal.

The most unexpected event of the day was when a fireman asked me to move some pylons so they could turn their truck around. He said that someone had jumped off the Lions Gate Bridge and they were trying to get down to the sea wall. I later heard that witnesses said a car stopped mid-span and a guy simply got out of the car and jumped. He died. I watched the news but there was no report of the incident.

The athletes were obviously suffering from the affects of the cold. I found out on the news that hypothermia was a common problem.

A few of them talked to me as they passed. These were mainly the back-of-the-pack racers who thanked me for being there, or blamed me for putting a hill in front of them, or to tell me that they were on their last lap and that I wouldn't see them anymore. I enjoyed it when they interacted with me. I have to remember to try and talk to the volunteers more next time I run a race.

All in all, I didn't mind getting out there and helping but I sure hope it's warmer and drier for my next shift on Sunday.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Week 1

And it begins...

This is week 1 of my marathon training plan. I'm following Hal Higdon's Novice 1 training schedule. It consists of four runs per week. Up until now I have only been running three days a week so I have always had a rest day between runs. It'll be interesting to see how my body reacts to running three days in a row plus a long run, week after week.

The LogYourRun summary in the side bar includes the planned runs.

The first week should be pretty easy with a total of 15 miles.

I'm going to see how it goes for a couple months before actually signing up for a race.