Monday, September 29, 2008

Making a list...

I've been working on my checklist in preparation for next weekend's race.
  • Shoes - Asics Cumulus 10
  • Running socks - WrightSock
  • Patellar tendon strap - Pro-tec
  • Compression shorts - Sugoi
  • Running shorts - Lululemon
  • Technical shirt - Nike
  • Hat
  • Watch - Timex
  • MP3 player - iPod
  • Gels - 2 chocolate PowerGels, 1 vanilla
  • Advil
  • Bandaids
  • Vaseline
  • Money
  • Throwaway sweatshirt
  • Race bib
  • Timing chip
  • Pace bands

The long range forecast is calling for rain on Sunday morning so that sucks. If it rains, I'll add:

  • Long sleeve technical shirt - Lululemon
  • Throwaway poncho or garbage bag

My post-race gear:

  • Sweatshirt
  • Sweat pants
  • Shoes
  • Socks
  • Sports drink - Gatorade
  • Meal replacement shakes
  • Granola bars - Kashi

I can't help but think that I'm missing something.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Week 17 - T minus 1 week

This was an easy week as part of the taper leading up to the race. The long run today was an easy 8 miles. I tried to keep the intensity up this week, at or near race pace. I'm finding, though, that when I'm running outside, without the treadmill to dictate my pace, that my "natural" pace is faster than what I'm going to want to run the marathon at. I think I'm going to follow one of the pace bunnies to help set my pace during the race.

With one week to go, the runs will be short with the longest one being 4 miles. It's all about resting and carbo-loading. You want to ensure that your muscles are stocked with fuel efficient glycogen.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Runnin' in the rain

I think it would be fair to call me a fair weather runner. As most of you know by now, I do most of my training on a treadmill. If it's cold or wet outside, I'll just run indoors. Heck, half the time it's nice outside I still run inside.

But today, when I saw that it was raining, I decided a run in the rain was in order.

The Portland Marathon is in 11 days. They say that it has only rained once on race day in the last 27 years. That's actually one of the reasons I chose Portland over Victoria. I figured it was more likely to rain in Victoria in mid-October.

Despite this history, I thought it would be prudent to do a practice run in the rain since I can't remember ever doing so before.

I only had to do 3 miles. It was cool but the rain wasn't coming down too hard. I was torn between sprinting to get out of the rain and practicing trying to maintain marathon pace. I ended up doing something in between.

All in all, I didn't mind the run. It was refreshing and more enjoyable than running into the headwinds I encountered earlier in the week. Yes, my feet got wet and I noticed some potential chafe points but mission accomplished: I feel that I'm better prepared if it rains on race day.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Week 16 - taper time

I completed week 16 of Hal Higdon's Novice 1 marathon training program. This was the first week of tapering which is a reduction in the training load to allow me to rest my body after the last 15 weeks of progressively tougher training.

I'm maintaining a good pace for my runs, especially the shorter ones. The intensity remains the same; only the distance is reduced. I worry, like a lot of runners it seems, that I'll lose some conditioning as I cut back for three weeks but all the experts agree that this is not the case. Anyway, my key goal right now is to get to the starting line injury-free.

One of the pitfalls the experts warn about is weight gain during the taper. Many runners maintain their calorie intake that they are used to while their workouts are reducing. I'm not experiencing that so far. In fact, I've lost two pounds in the last week. This is certainly not intentional and I didn't think I have been eating less. As I mentioned in a prior post, I'm not running to lose weight. I don't want to put on too many pounds prior to the marathon but I certainly don't want to lose any more. Post marathon, I'll probably focus a bit more on bulking up a bit.

The taper continues next week with the mileage going down even more. Only two more weeks to race day.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Hundred push ups

You may have noticed that I haven't mentioned the One Hundred Push Ups Challenge lately. I hate to admit it but I fell off the bandwagon. I managed to complete week 5 and began week 6 which is supposed to be the final week leading to the ability to do one hundred consecutive push ups. I was failing miserably at the week 6 work outs so I simply didn't keep it up.

I do really want to take another shot at this, especially since the program has been modified recently to make the progression from week to week easier. However, I think I'll wait until after my marathon since I'm in taper mode now and not supposed to be adding more exercise to my regimen.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Week 15 - 20 miles seems much farther than 18 miles

I completed week 15 of Hal Higdon's Novice 1 marathon training program. This is the peak week of the 18 week training schedule with a total of 40 miles. I ran 20 miles this morning.

The 20 mile run is the longest run in the whole training program. While it's only a couple more miles than the 18 miler I did a couple of weeks ago, it seemed much more difficult. I felt pretty comfortable doing the 18 mile run during week 13 but I was already feeling tired today at the 15 mile mark and had to gut out the last 5 miles. I'm hoping it was just an off day today. Perhaps I went too hard earlier in the week when I ran a couple of fast (for me) 5 milers.

I can understand how they say that the 20 mile mark is like the half way point of the marathon and that it becomes as much a mental challenge as it is physical. I think that I will carry my iPod during my marathon just in case I really need a boost late in the race.

I was feeling a bit sore and stiff after the run so I took an ice bath (actually just a cold bath). We'll see how I feel tomorrow.

It's only three weeks to the marathon so it's time to taper. With fifteen weeks of increasing mileage under my belt, my fitness level has peaked and my body has become accustomed to the rigors of distance running. Now it's time to allow my body to rest to be primed to perform on race day. Next week's mileage will be only 29 miles and the long run will be an easy 12 miles.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

To iPod or not to iPod

Most major races ban the use of electronic devices due to safety concerns. However, the Portland Marathon bills itself as "MP3 Player Friendly" and actually promotes the use of MP3's.

I use my iPod during almost all of my training runs but I have not used it during a race before. I'm undecided whether to plug-in during the marathon.

I do find that an up-tempo song provides a lift when I need it. On the other hand, I'm tempted to go without it so that I can fully take in the marathon experience. I enjoy listening to the support of the crowd, the variety of bands on the course, even the panting of fellow runners as I pass them ;-)

There are supposed to be over 72 entertainment groups on the course so I don't think there will be long stretches of nothingness. Then again, I don't think they'll all provide the energy that I get from listening to my hand-picked song list.

Right now, though, I'm leaning towards going without my iPod.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Week 14 - Word of the day: chafe

chafe - verb - to become worn or sore from rubbing.

I completed week 14 of Hal Higdon's Novice 1 marathon training program. It's a stepback week and today's run was only 14 miles. Once again, I finished strong with a negative split.

However, when I was showering I noticed that my skin was raw in my underarm area. Chafing is one of the hazards of running. You hear stories about guys who put bandages over their nipples to prevent them from bleeding. Typically it's worse when wearing cotton clothing which tends to absorb sweat and becomes more irritable to the skin. I was wearing a technical shirt which is supposed to wick the sweat away and be less prone to chafing but it didn't help in this case. I won't be wearing that shirt for my marathon. I'll also have to give more thought about using Vaseline or Bodyglide as a preventative measure.

The Portland Marathon is now only one month away! Next week is the peak week for my training with 40 miles total for the week and a 20-miler as the long run. After that, I'll begin my taper where the training load is reduced to allow my body to rest in preparation for the marathon.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

How long is that marathon?

A friend asked how my running was going. When I told him that I was training for the Portland Marathon, he asked "How long is that marathon?" From the way he asked it, I could tell he had no idea that a marathon is a standard distance.

A marathon is 26 miles, 385 yards (approximately 26.2 miles or 42.2 km). But, it hasn't always been that distance.

The name marathon originates from the legend of Pheidippides. Pheidippides was a Greek soldier dispatched from the town of Marathon to Athens to announce that the Greek had defeated the Persians in battle there. Marathon is about 25.4 miles (40.8 km) from Athens. It is said that Pheidippides ran the whole distance and then collapsed and died upon delivering the news of victory.

The first marathon event at the modern Olympics was run over a distance of 40 km (24.85 miles). Over time the distance was changed to 26 miles. However, at the 1908 Olympics, an extra 385 yards was added to the course so that the royal family would have a better view of the finish line from their royal box. This new distance was adopted by International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) as the official marathon distance.

So, I have Pheidippides and the royal family to blame for the extreme challenge I plan to put myself to. As Frank Shorter (1972 Olympic marathon gold medal winner) once said at the 16-mile mark of one of his first marathons, "Why couldn't Pheidippides have died here?"