Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Gearing up

I recently posted a new header picture on my blog that includes my shoes, and it's already obsolete! I'm not sure how many miles I have on my old Asics Cumulus 7's but it's at least 200 and I have another 300 to go for the remainder of the training program so they'll definitely be past their prime by the time I'm ready to run the marathon.

My wife says they still look new. And they do since most of the mileage has been on a treadmill but in "shoe years", they are getting up there. Shoes may still look okay but they lose stability and shock absorption capacity as the midsole wears out. It's generally accepted that running shoes should be replaced every 350 - 550 miles. Since I'm light and most of the running has been on a soft surface, I should get to use them towards the upper limit but it's time to start breaking in a new pair of shoes.

I picked up a pair of Asics Cumulus 10's. Although they are a neutral, cushioning shoes and not made for a over pronator like me, I have orthotics for my pronation problem. I have read debates whether orthotics work best in a neutral shoe versus a stability shoe. Some people insist that a cushioning shoe does not provide the support necessary to allow the orthotics to do their job. Others claim that a stability shoe will lead to over correction if used with orthotics. My orthotics worked well in my Cumulus 7's so I'm sticking with using them in a neutral shoe.

I'm going to rotate the use of my shoes up until the marathon.

I must have been in a shopping mood since I also went out and bought a new pair of sunglasses as well. I didn't want to spend a ton of money even though I've heard great reviews for Oakleys. I picked up a pair of Phoenix sunglasses from MEC. Now I just need the sunshine to return.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Team 2010

The 2010 Winter Olympic Games and Paralympic Games will be held in my hometown, Vancouver. Being part of the Olympic Games would be a great chance to give back to the community and take part in an event that is a once in a lifetime opportunity.

But, becoming an Olympic volunteer isn't quite as simple as signing up to help out at a local race. I, along with 50,000+ others, applied several months ago to be one of the 25,000 volunteers at the Games.

I was called a few weeks ago for a phone interview. That went well enough and I went for an in-person 5 1/2 hour interview/orientation/training session yesterday.

First up was a security check with the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police). After that was a group orientation session and then a one-on-one interview. I had indicated an interest in volunteering for the technology team and I found out that they have me slotted for telecom services. The rest of the day included some group activities and more general information on the Olympics and service training. I thought it was a bit odd that we were being trained even though we weren't actually selected yet.

Now, I wait. I think my interview went well but it may be months before I know if they have selected me.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Week 8: keep on running

I completed Week 8 of the 18 week Hal Higdon Novice 1 marathon training program. I did a couple of up-tempo runs to start the week but then took it easy for the next one since my knee was a bit sore. A rest day took care of that and I finished off 13 miles today feeling strong. My wife commented that I looked so fresh compared to how I looked after the BMO Vancouver Half Marathon. I told her that the slower pace made a big difference but she was still impressed.

Next week is another stepback week and marks the half way point for the training program. However, even the recovery weeks are starting to get harder. The mid-week kinda long run goes up to 7 miles and the day 3 run increases to 4 miles. The long run is only 10 miles, though. The weekly total is only 1 mile less than week 8.

I also completed Week 3 of the One Hundred Push Up Challenge. This is starting to get tough. In the first two weeks, I easily surpassed the minimum push ups required for the final sets. Not so this week and on Day 3 I barely managed to do the 27 required. On to Week 4.

For my One Hundred Sit Up Challenge (modeled on the One Hundred Push Up Challenge), I'm doing a bit better than the push ups. I did 34 for the final set of Day 3 but this is still down from week 2 as the sets get tougher.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

How long will it take?

An acquaintance, upon learning that I planned to run a marathon, asked how long it was going to take me to complete it. I'm not even signed up yet and I certainly didn't want to publicize my goals this early.

I hemmed and hawed at bit but gave in and told her.

It's something that I've been thinking about for a while. There have been a few sleepless nights when I would wake up and then start doing race pace calculations.

As with any first timer, my real goal should be to simply finish. But, I want more than that.

I have been doing my long runs at around a 10:55 pace. I feel pretty comfortable at that pace and I feel I can continue at it for much further distances. If I ran that pace for the whole marathon, I would finish in 4:45:49. I'm hoping that's my worst case scenario but I would be pretty disappointed at anything more than 4:30:00. Heck, even Oprah finished a marathon in 4:29:20.

A 10:00 pace should be reasonably do-able (says a guy who has never run more than 13.1 miles). That would put me at 4:22:00.

Using the McMillan Running Calculator, I should be able to compete a marathon in 4:08:50 based upon my most recent half marathon result. That's a pace of 9:30 minutes per mile. I'd be very happy with that.

My ultimate goal, the one I didn't want to say out loud but did anyway, is 3:59:59.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Don't do it!

My 79 year old mother isn't exactly a supporter of Nike's slogan, "Just do it."

She was pleased earlier this year when I told her I wasn't running the 10K Vancouver Sun Run. Then I told her that the reason I wasn't running the Sun Run was because I was running the BMO Vancouver Half Marathon a few weeks later.

"Ahou!", she scoffed. Roughly translated, that's Japanese for "fool".

Now, of course, she's equally against me running a marathon. I believe she thinks I'm going to drop dead as a result of attempting it. She doesn't comprehend any of the health benefits of running. So, when I told her I was running a marathon she predictably told me, "Don't do it."

Her genes are probably the cause of one of the reasons I run. I have high cholesterol just like she does. She takes medication to control her cholesterol levels. I'm not on medication and I'd like to avoid them. Exercise is supposed to increase the level of HDL (the "good" cholesterol) which should counteract the bad cholesterol. My doctor is surprised at my cholesterol levels given the amount of exercise I do and the reasonably healthy diet I follow. She attributes my cholesterol problem to hereditary causes.

So, despite the lack of support (to put it mildly) from my mother for my marathon quest, I plan to just do it.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

OHPUC - Week 2

I completed week two of the One Hundred Push Ups Challenge. Here's a summary:

Day 1
Required: 12, 12, 9, 7, at least 10
Actual: 12, 12, 9, 7, 30

Day 2
Required: 16, 13, 11, 11, at least 15
Actual: 16, 13, 11, 11, 32

Day 3
Required: 15, 15, 12, 12, at least 15
Actual: 15, 15, 12, 12, 34

I really struggled, especially on days 1 and 2. I simply didn't have any energy and, as you can see, my final sets were down from what I did in week 1. I was still well over the minimums for the last sets, though.

At the end of week 2, you do another test to see how many push ups you can do. I managed to do 42. That's a pretty good improvement over my initial test (30) just two weeks ago.

Week 3 is noticeably harder than week 2 so we'll see how it goes.

I also completed week 2 of my One Hundred Sit Ups Challenge. I did 52 sit ups for my week 2 tests. Half way there!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Week 7: a week of firsts

I completed week 7 of my marathon training.

On Monday, I ran my fastest 3 miler ever, finishing it under 24 minutes.

I ran 12 miles today and it was the first time that I've run for over 2 hours. Although I ran further for my half marathons, I completed both of them in under 2 hours.

It was also the first time that I've used a gel to refuel mid-run.

Gels are gooey concoctions with a mixture of carbohydrates and electrolytes (primarily sodium and potassium). They are designed to be quickly absorbed by your body to provide fast refueling during intense exercise. They help avoid the condition known as "hitting the wall" or "bonking". This is when an athlete suddenly loses energy and becomes fatigued due to a depletion of glycogen stores. For runners, this typically occurs after 15 to 20 miles of running.

While I was in no danger of hitting the wall during my 12 mile run, I'll definitely need something for the marathon. There are a number of gels on the market and from what I've read, everybody is different when it comes to liking the taste and texture, being able to stomach the gel, etc. I've got the next few weeks to experiment with a few gels to find one that works for me. I took a PowerGel at the 8 mile mark. It was chocolate flavoured and yummy. It also contained caffeine for an extra boost. I didn't really feel that it made a difference but maybe the difference was that I didn't tire as much as I might have. I felt pretty good for the whole 12 miles and I don't seem to have any post-run soreness.

I ran a total of 24 miles this week and that's the most I've ever done in a single week.

So, it was a week of firsts but there are many more to come. By the time September swings around, these records will all seem insignificant.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Week 6

I have completed week 6 of the 18 week Hal Higdon Novice 1 marathon training program. I am one third of the way there. This past week was a step-back week so it was pretty easy.

Next week is tougher. We're getting into the territory of "longest, evers". The long run is 12 miles. While this is short of the furthest I have ever run (13.1 miles for my half marathons), it will be the longest, time wise, that I will be out for a run (since I'm not running at race pace). I have some Powerbar gels that I'm going to try.

I also completed week 1 of the One Hundred Push Up Challenge. The last workout required sets of 15/13/10/10 and then as many as possible with 2 minute rest breaks between sets. I did 36 as the final set.

I also did week 1 of my hundred sit ups challenge. I did 42 sit ups as the final set for the Week 1/Day 3 work out.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Portland bound?

No, I haven't signed up for the Portland Marathon yet. But I did book a hotel room just in case. I'll decide in the next 3 weeks whether I'm going to do it or not.

Today was Day 2 of Week 1 of the One Hundred Push Ups Challenge. This workout called for sets of 12/12/10/10 and finally as many as possible (minimum 10) with 90 second breaks. I managed 31 push ups for the final set.

I have also decided to adapt the hundred push up program for sit ups. So, I'm now doing the One Hundred Sit Ups Challenge as well. I did the 12/12/10/10 sets and then did 40 sit ups as the final set. I'm doing the sit ups with arms crossed over my chest, knees bent and with nothing securing my feet.

I also had my mid-week kinda long run today. It was only 5 miles and felt pretty good. I took it easy on yesterday's 3 mile run. As I mentioned, my legs felt pretty tired the morning after my 10 mile run last Friday. By Saturday afternoon, it turned to actual soreness so I have decided not to push things too much this week. It's a recovery week any way.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

One hundred pushups

I know I haven't been complementing my running with cross training as much as I should. In particular, I've been wanting to incorporate some strength training since I'm the poster boy for scrawny. Losing weight certainly isn't one of the reasons I run.

I stumbled across this site while reading a blog. I have been doing some push ups recently and this looks like a challenging (to be honest, excessively challenging) way to progress.

It's a six week program with three workouts per week. In each workout you do several sets of push ups with the last set being as many as you can manage. An initial test determines which of the three programs to follow. I can do 30 push ups so that puts me in the hardest program.

For Week 1/Day 1, you do 10 push ups, then 10, 8, 6 and then as many as you can (minimum 7) with 60 second breaks between the sets. I managed to do 26 as the final set.

So, it looks like I have a new goal and we'll see where this takes me.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Week 5

I ran ten miles yesterday, completing week 5 of my marathon training program. When I woke up this morning my legs felt dead. There isn't any pain and sore isn't the right description either but they feel tired.

The upcoming week is another "step-back" week with the long run only 7 miles and the total mileage back under 20 miles. I think my body is telling me to enjoy the recovery week.