Friday, August 29, 2008

Week 13 - 18 miles? No sweat

Well, maybe a little bit of sweat.

I ran 18 miles today. That's the second longest run I'll do in preparation for my marathon. I felt pretty strong and I ran a negative split. That means I ran the second half faster than than the first.

I took two Powerbar Gels during the run along with some Gleukos sports drink and water. I felt sufficiently fueled but I still need to work on the mechanics of refueling. I tried squeezing out the gel with one hand while holding a drink in the other and continuing to run. Let's just say it wasn't effective. I think I'll take walk breaks when I take the gels during the marathon.

All along this journey I have been worried about whether my right knee would hold up to the training. It's been fine. Instead it's my ankle that continues to bother me. I took extra care to stretch it before the run but it is still sore. Next week is another stepback week and, once again, it's a welcome break. Still, the long run will be 14 miles (more than I had ever run a few short weeks ago).

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Dig deep like Whitfield

The 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing are over now but there were some memorable moments: the opening ceremonies and performances in the pool and on the track. But, for me, the events that held the most interest were the marathons and triathlons.

I didn't get to see the men's marathon but I watched parts of the women's. Watching Paula Radcliffe of Great Britain veer off to the side of the road, squat and relieve herself was amusing, especially in light of my recent musings on mid-run bathroom breaks.

The agony on the faces of some of the women was certainly sobering but, then again, I don't intend to push myself to finish the marathon in two and a half hours.

The men's triathlon was the most memorable race at the Games. Canada's Simon Whitfield was in fourth place during the run (the last segment of the 1.5k swim/40k bike/10k run race) with the three leaders pulling away from him with about .5k left to go. It looked like he was fading and a podium finish wasn't possible. Then, he threw off his visor and I thought, "He's going to go for it!" Remarkably, he refused to quit, digging deep to find another gear and he reeled in the leaders and took the lead on the final stretch. Germany's Jan Frodeno eventually also managed to find something left and he passed Whitfield in the final 100m to take the gold. Whitfield took the silver but it was a remarkable and inspiring run nonetheless.

While my goal isn't much more than simply finishing my upcoming marathon, if I find that I'm struggling during miles 20+ I plan to remember the determination and grit that Simon displayed and dig deep like Whitfield.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

I've got bradycardia

During my incident in the emergency ward, I was hooked up to an ECG. As I spent hours on end watching the ECG, I was surprised at my heart rate. In general, it was around 52 or 53. When I focused on it, I could get it down to 48 (at which point the numbers on the ECG all went red). I'm pretty sure that a year ago my resting heart rate was in the mid to high 60's.

Over the course of the afternoon, several nurses and doctors checked in on me. Several times, one would explain to the others "He's a runner." I guessed that that was to give them the context to explain my heart rate.

I googled "low heart rate" today. I have a condition called bradycardia. Basically, it simply means a heart rate lower than 60. It's completely normal for fit athletes (and obviously, that's the category I'm in ;-). "Too slow" is relative to your current medical condition.

I've been monitoring my resting heart rate each morning recently. An increase would indicate over training but I'm still consistently in the low 50's so I guess my body is managing to adapt to the ever increasing miles I'm running.

I've got bradycardia. And, that's a good thing.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Week 12 - only 6 more to go

I'm two thirds of the way through the Hal Higdon's Novice 1 training program. Week 12 was another stepback week with reduced mileage and, once again, it was a welcomed break. I still ran 29 miles this week since the "shorter" runs are getting longer but the long run today was only 12 miles.

My ankle was pretty sore from last week's 16 mile run but it wasn't painful and, if anything, felt better the longer I ran. It feels like a sprain but it's getting better so that's promising.

I have been using my new shoes for the shorter runs and should have somewhere around 100 miles on them for the marathon. That sounds about right for breaking them in.

The Portland Marathon is on October 5 so it's only 6 weeks away. I have three more weeks of 30+ miles each and then I'll begin to drop the mileage as I taper in preparation for the race. Next week's long run is 18 miles.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Hundred push ups - week 5 again

Since I failed to complete week 5 last week, I repeated it but this time I stepped down to an easier workout.

Day 1
Required: 35, 28, 25, 22, at least 35 (60 seconds between sets)
Actual: 35, 28, 25, 22, 20

Day 2
Required: 17, 17, 16, 16, 14, 14, 12, at least 35 (45 seconds between sets)
Actual: 17, 17, 16, 16, 14, 14, 12, 25

Day 3
Required: 16, 16, 14, 14, 12, 12, 10, at least 35 (30 seconds between sets)
Actual: 16, 16, 14, 14, 12, 12, 10, 28

While I did better than last week, I still didn't manage to make the 35 push ups required for the final set for each day. I'm going to repeat week 5 again but once again I'm going to drop down to the easiest workout.

I'm confident that I'll complete week 5 on the next go.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

I'm going to Portland

I did it. I signed up for the Portland Marathon. There's no turning back now.

I wanted to wait a bit longer before registering but they started a countdown on their website as they get closer to selling out and the spots are going pretty quickly. My ankle is bothering me a bit but I'm confident it's not anything serious.

I'm excited but a bit scared too. What did I get myself into?

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Hundred push ups - week 5

I tried to do week 5 of the One Hundred Push Up Challenge. "Tried" is the key word. It wasn't even close. Week 5 is so much harder than week 4. The time between sets of pushups is less, the number of sets goes up, and most notably, the number of push ups required for the final set goes way up.

Day 1
Required: 40, 32, 30, 25, at least 40
Actual: 40, 32, 21 (I gave up after 3 sets)

Day 2
Required: 20, 20, 18, 18, 15, 15, 14, at least 40
Actual: 20, 20, 18, 18, 15, 15, 14, 16 (not even close to 40)

Day 3
Required: 18, 18, 16, 16, 14, 14, 12, at least 40
Actual: 18, 18, 16, 16, 14, 14, 12, 14 (even worse)

My test after week 4 put me into the hardest category for week 5. I think I'll step it down a level and re-do week 5.

I think this 6 week challenge is (not surprisingly) going to take quite a bit longer. But I'm not giving up.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Week 11: lessons learned

After the low mileage last week, I wasn't quite sure how to resume training this week. Would the break from long runs help or hurt my training? Do I resume the scheduled (really long) runs? I decided to jump back on plan and do the scheduled Week 11 runs of Hal Higdon's Novice 1 Training Schedule.

I felt fatigued, more so than usual after each run, and my ankle is a bit sore but otherwise things went well.

Today I ran further than I ever have: 16 miles. I learned that I still have some long run logistics to work on. I need to figure out how much to drink pre-run to be properly fueled and hydrated but not so much that I need to stop for a bathroom break half way into my run.

I also have to practice how to drink on the run so I don't gag and spit a mouthful of water onto the gym floor (I know, I know... yuck). Aside from that, refueling went well. I tried Gleukos as a sports drink since it's going to be served on course. It was fine although I'm not fond of the lemon flavour. I hope they have other flavours available. I probably could have taken another PowerBar Gel as well.

By the way, yes, I ran for almost 3 hours on a treadmill. That's a long time, even for a devoted treadmill runner like me, especially when my iPod battery died (note to self: make sure to charge the iPod before a long run). Luckily, the Olympics were on TV.

All in all, it was a good week and I'm glad to be back on track. I'm going to have to make the decision whether to register for the Portland Marathon in the next few days.

Monday, August 11, 2008

All systems go

I had my heart stress test this morning after the chest pain incident a week ago. They hook you up to an ECG (electrocardiogram) and put you on a treadmill. You start out walking (on an incline) and then every few minutes they increase the speed. The technician told me that most patients don't last 10 minutes.

As you are walking/running they monitor the electrical activity of your heart to see if it changes as more stress is put on your body. Changes could be indications of partially blocked arteries. They also periodically take your blood pressure.

My test lasted 12 minutes. I didn't feel all that winded but I guess they had enough data. The results were good; very good. The doctor said that there was no abnormalities detected with my heart. She figured my chest pains were gastronomic.

The best part was that my wife was with me when the doctor said, "Go run your marathon."

That's it for now... I'm off to go for a run.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

One step closer to Team 2010

I received notification from VANOC (Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games) that they are offering me a volunteer role at a pre-Games event. I'll be working the Samsung ISU World Cup Short Track event in Vancouver in October.

Volunteering for pre-Games events increases my chances of working during the Games since I'll have direct experience working in the Olympic venues.

My job title is Radio Distribution. It doesn't sound like the most exciting or challenging role and certainly not what I expected when I signed up for the technology team. I'll give it a go, though, and see what it's all about.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Hundred push ups - week 4 again

My stress test is scheduled for Monday. They'll be hooking me up to an ECG while I run on a treadmill to see how my heart responds to the stress.

In the mean time, I have been taking it easy with running. I only ran 3 times this week with the longest being only 3 miles. I was scheduled to do a 15 mile run this week.

I did complete week 4 of the One Hundred Push Up Challenge. Each day you do 5 sets of push ups with a short break between sets.

Day 1
Required: 27, 20, 20, 17, at least 27
Actual: 27, 20, 20, 17, 27

Day 2
Required: 27, 21, 21, 18, at least 25
Actual: 27, 21, 21, 18, 30

Day 3
Required: 30, 22, 22, 20, at least 29
Actual: 30, 22, 22, 20, 33

At the end of week 4 you take another test to see how many you can push ups you can do. I managed to do 52. Half way to one hundred.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Back at it

I ran for the first time since the emergency room incident. I'm going to take things easy until I have my stress test but that isn't scheduled yet. In any case, I can't see that eliminating all exercise is going to be the end result.

I negotiated with my wife and she allowed me to do a one mile run. So I went and did a two mile run ;-). It felt good to run again.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Hundred push ups - week 4

This hasn't been a great week for me. Besides yesterday's adventure at the emergency ward, I didn't complete week 4 of the One Hundred Push Ups Challenge either.

While preparing dinner the other day, I managed to slice my finger. I think it's fair to say that my culinary skills are limited.

I did do days 1 and 2 before the accident.

Day 1
Required: 27, 20, 20, 17, at least 27
Actual: 27, 20, 20, 17, 27

Day 2
Required: 27, 21, 21, 18, at least 25
Actual: 27, 21, 21, 18, 28

As you can see, I'm barely managing to do the minimum push ups required for the last set. This challenge has quickly become a lot more difficult.

My finger is close to healed now so I'll re-do week 4 next week.

Friday, August 1, 2008

The marathon quest is over?

I didn't do the 10 miles I was scheduled to do today. In fact, today didn't turn out anything like I had planned.

I went to see the doctor this morning. Yesterday, I had a brief, sharp chest pain. It was the second time in the last week that I experienced it. I also felt some tightness in my chest during my last run. I figured I better get it checked.

The doctor did an ECG (electrocardiogram) and didn't like what she saw. She immediately referred me to the emergency ward at the local hospital.

I spent the next few hours with wires attached. They even fitted me for an intravenous in case it was necessary. After blood tests, x-rays, etc., I was finally released. The emergency ward doctor wasn't too concerned about my ECG but the tightness experienced while exercising was worrisome. I'm going to have further tests done, including a stress test.

The doctor didn't say to stop my marathon training but he didn't exactly endorse continued extended exercise either, especially until my stress test. Of course, my wife intrepreted what he said as "Don't train for a marathon."

So, I'm not sure but this may be the end of the road for the marathon. Even if nothing shows up on the stress test, I'm not sure I'm going to be able to convince my wife that pushing myself that hard is a good idea.

Oh, and it's a good thing my mother doesn't read this blog. I can just hear her now... "Ahou!"