I am in
-73 DAYS TO GO!

LATEST RUNS

Mar 11, 2018
26.98 km | 2:37:06 | 5:53 min/km

Mar 10, 2018
6.58 km | 40:09 | 6:06 min/km

Mar 8, 2018
17.03 km | 1:48:31 | 6:22 min/km

Mar 7, 2018
10.57 km | 1:11:38 | 6:47 min/km

Mar 6, 2018
8.28 km | 52:53 | 6:23 min/km

The Grind Winding Down

April 21, 2018 | 3 weeks out

This past Sunday, I posted my last 30 km run on Strava, Garmin, etc.; it included a steady, pressing effort over a hilly 25 km segment that depleted every bit of energy that my glutes, quads and hamstrings could produce. Sunday's route took me up Amblewood Hill for the 3rd consecutive week, though this week, I held a race effort through the crest of the hill. I thought of Vancouver's Camosun Hill the entire way up.

Looking back on the distance and elevation change, I am concerned about my fitness for the full marathon, 25 km is not 42.2 km.

Tuesday had me back on the PT table for a pre-race check up. Both ankles and my piriformis were worked on. Other than feeling beat up from the last 15 weeks of running, my PT says I am structurally cleared for the big run in a couple weeks.

My second quality day included 5 miles of easy pace running followed by 3 repeats of 1 mile at threshold pace. I felt good after this run; the repeats produced a smile similar to last week's track session.

This Jack Daniels 2Q marathon program that I have been following, had a small reduction in mileage for this week. The difference was just 6% (60 km down from 64 km). As this week comes to an end, the step down in mileage is being enjoyed by my legs and feet. I can feel that the end of this grind is getting closer.

The Long Grind

April 14, 2018 | 4 weeks out

Some days I feel like I am just barely staying ahead of what my body can do. The fatigue in my legs is inescapable now and, in some ways, I feel like I am regressing in fitness too. I want to say it is all in my head, but my Garmin has a little fitness predictor built into the watch, an even it is saying that the miles may be catching up to me.

Last Sunday, I set out on my weekly long run. I decided to incorporate the Amblewood Hill like I did the week previous. This is a long uphill slog that might resemble Camsoun Hill on the Vancouver Marathon course. Once up and over Amblewood, I did my best to hold a steady effort for the next 17 km of rolling hills out to Colwood and eventually home. I was happy with the effort and sore for a few days after.

For my second quality session, I headed to Oak Bay for a 6-mile warm-up on the north segment of the Victoria Marathon course then to the local track. Out on the marathon course, I had a good time soaking in the familiar view from last year's training runs; unfortunately, my legs felt heavy and sore the whole time. Once on the track, I felt like I had worked out the soreness and I ripped off 5 x 3 minutes at 4:45/km pace and 4 x 1 minutes at 4:20/km pace. I was happy with that effort too.

So, despite getting in two decent quality sessions and besting my weekly mileage goal (57 km) by 3km (got 60 in), I am finding that recovery at this point is a practically a fantasy. The growing number of niggles feel like borderline injuries; they start from my thoracic to the balls of my feet. I have focused on my diet and tried to get a few more hours of sleep and made best friends with my lacrosse ball. Still the beatdown from training continues. When does the taper start?

It Is More Than Just Legs

April 7th, 2018 | 5 weeks out

The long road of marathon training hit me a couple weeks ago. The toll of running caught up to the enthusiasm that I had when I started my training program back on December 31st. I worked through a period where lacing up the shoes was, at times, the hardest thing I did in a day. Some mornings, my bed was warmer than my drive to get out on the road; some days the excuse of weather had me running after dark even though I could have been out the door earlier.

Fighting through this funk is part of the marathon process; I know this as I recall this feeling at roughly the same point in my run up to last year's Victoria marathon. Here is what I have been doing to keep up the momentum:

1. Recognize that a mental low for what it is; a perfect opportunity for the train my mind as well as my legs for the mental grind that May 6th can deliver.

2. Shake up the training by going back to the treadmill. It may be nice to run outside these days, but some of my hardest run/workouts this winter have been running on the belt. For me, hard push on the treadmill seems to release a distinct set of endorphins for my brain to work with.

3. Be kind to myself. Understanding that this training cycle has been good so far and there are just 5 workouts left to put the last little bit of hay in the barn.

I have been hitting my weekly mileage goals by clocking 65 km this week and last. I broke the Jack Daniels protocol of not running longer than 2:30 and I comfortably ran up to 31 km last Sunday. My legs are telling me that they are willing to put in the work, a mental shakeout is needed from time to time too!

Stacking Up Good Weeks

March 10, 2018 | 9 Weeks To Go

The anticipation of a hard workout churned inside of me. This week's first Quality Run looked to be a notch above my fitness; this Sunday, I was going to be challenged. I procrastinated getting my runners on and out the door. The thought of this workout had me a bit intimidated.

Well, those feelings were put to rest half way through the marathon pace segment of the run. I hit my paces (maybe a touch fast) and finished the workout with a new HM PR! I wonder why I procrastinated on this one?

I also ran without earbuds on Sunday too. The idea was to tune into the effort rather than a beat or podcast. I found it liberating to run without drowning out the outside world. I practiced with gels at pace too and had no issues with digestion.

By Wednesday, I didn't feel recovered enough for another hard effort so I ran my second Quality Session on Thursday. With the confidence boost from Sunday's effort still fresh in my mind, I tackled Q2 with a better mindset. I needed it; the workout's second 2 mile repeat took all of my focus to get through. A marathon podcast that I subscribe to describes these type of efforts as, "putting the tiger in the cat." I guess the wobbly feeling in my legs after Thursday's run could be called, "purrrr-fect."

The usual slow running filled in the mileage through the balance of the week and my goal of 64 km was checked off the list again. In fact, where a weekly distance of 64 km felt like an overzealous stretch, I am feeling quite comfortable at this volume today. In fact I am wondering if I should position that bar a bit higher?

Finding a Groove

March 3, 2018

This week's mileage goal of 64 km came a day early and I did it with 2 Quality Workouts and 2 easy days of running. Previously, getting to that distance in a week seemed like a daunting task; even during the peak of my ramp up for the Victoria Marathon last summer, 60 km was the best I could ask from my legs. It is Saturday morning and without a top off run to do, I will likely do some mobility work and prep for tomorrow's Quality Session; which looks to be a beast of a workout.

Also this week, I finished reading a new book titled, "ENDURE | Mind, Body and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance" by Alex Hutchinson, Ph.D. It is a book the I learned about from one of the various running podcasts that I subscribe to. The book was easy for me to get immersed in given that I am at the halfway point in a marathon training plan. There is a particular chapter that talks about the pain that body experiences during an endurance event. The insight from that chapter is making my long runs more interesting; I am tuning into myself a little differently

I almost forgot to mention, my total distance for the 28 days of February was 257 km! This is a new personal record, besting January by 31 km!

70 Days Out

February 24, 2018

I think I vaguely remember this feeling during my ramp up to the Victoria Marathon last summer. It is the feeling of when the cumulative fatigue of training begins to set in. This was the week that my bed felt warmer in the morning; this was the week that the run before work was scheduled for later in the day, or maybe tomorrow. What is the weather doing anyway?

I could point to a number of reasons for this feeling. The first being that the weather really was bad this week (relative to Victoria). On Wednesday, a blast of arctic air brought snow to Southern Vancouver Island. A week earlier, we were mowing the lawn. It could also be that my marathon program had me at 64 km of running the previous week and "just" 57 km this week. That reduction in distance felt like an exhale; a chance to take the foot off the gas and my body likely responded in kind.

It could be that any heaviness I felt in my legs is just that and I am overthinking things.

Regardless of the perceived challenges I felt about training this week, I did run my 2 Quality Workouts well, hitting the prescribed mileage and paces. I also hit the 57 km total distance with the help of the treadmill at my gym. Even more important than hitting numbers or checking things off a calendar, I have run without a hint of Achilles pain for the first time in 6 weeks.

A Really Good Week

February 17, 2018

Elk Lake is a popular area to run here in Victoria. The setting is a nice, lakeside 10 km loop with runners of all levels on sharing the path and Olympic rowing hopefuls training on the water. It consists of mostly flat, compacted gravel roads and trails. My Q1 workout called for 12 miles with some easy, some marathon and a mile of threshold pace running; that distance is roughly 2 laps of Elk Lake. While running around the lake, I felt fantastic and pushed the marathon pace section a little faster than what was called for. The result was a 10K PR over the course of a 20 km run; quite the confidence boost.

Q2 had me running on a sunny, February afternoon, out and along the scenic shoreline of Dallas Road. This run was another 20 km session with 2 threshold pace efforts of 3 miles and 1 mile. I hit those paces as prescribed and finished that run depleted and happy.

This training week also had a scheduled mileage goal of 64 km. This afternoon, with a Pacific storm blowing outside, I exceeded that goal on the treadmill finishing a hair over 64 km.

Overall, I am excited about how I feel at the 6-week mark of this plan. That been said, I still need to be mindful of the accumulation of stress that work, training, and life present. The time to celebrate my 6th week is nearing its end and the focus will soon be on tackling training week 7 of 18.

Pointing in the Right Direction

February 10, 2018

This week, my training plan called for a steady, two hour run, a threshold pace workout, and my usual balance of easy pace running. Although Sunday's two hour run included a good amount of elevation change, I did not feel overly taxed by it. That let me get my second quality run in on Wednesday instead of Thursday. That second workout was a beast of an effort.

I program each quality workout into my Garmin watch; this makes running the Jack Daniels program simple. It is simple unless you mistakenly set up 2 mile repeats as 2 metres. On Wednesday's workout, just as I started to ramp up to my threshold pace, my watch buzzed and told me it was already time to recover. I figured it out immediately and luckily, I was running on a treadmill that was programmed in miles. I didn't miss a step and finished one of the harder runs for me in some time.

Contributing to Wednesday's good effort was my left Achilles. It has been responding well to treatment lately. Discussing things with my Physiotherapist on Thursday, I am ahead of schedule with this injury. This is great news though I am not completely healed yet.

I hit my mileage goal of 57 km with an easy run this morning. Next week starts tomorrow; it looks like there is a bump in the intensity of the Q Day Workouts and there is a planned ramp in the mileage to 64 km. I am excited for the next challenge!

Seeing Some Progress

February 3, 2018

2 Quality Workouts in and I met my weekly mileage goal of 57 km! This past week of training went according to plan. To top it off, my total mileage for a calendar month was a 225.7 km; a new Personal Record. My previous monthly peak mileage was September of last year (the last month of my program leading up to the Victoria Marathon). I bested last September by a whole 1 km but still, I am excited to be where I am in this current cycle.

What I think is helping is that I have been dealing with a dual edged sword for the better part of this past month. My physiotherapist calls it an Achilles Tendonopathy. I see it as my training governor. It forces the easy days of my training plan to be easy and makes me pay greater attention to recovery in between runs. The pain from my Achilles is dull and more of an annoyance rather than being acute. I feel like injury is healing and without looking too far ahead, my program is calling for a week of mostly easy running; giving my Achilles an good opportunity to heal further.

Other exciting developments from this past week are the that BMO Marathon swag was revealed. The souvenir tee and the medals have a new design and I think they are great! Also, a colleague of mine from Calgary has signed up for his first 42.2 as well; way to go Mike, I am looking forward to seeing your journey to Vancouver!

99 Days to Go

January 27, 2018

This week of training started well despite having a sore left Achilles and a sore right ankle (from compensating perhaps?). I hit my paces on the treadmill during Sunday's quality workout. That was a total of well-earned 11 miles (17.7 km). I noted in my journal that I felt better running at speed versus running easy; probably the effects of adrenaline. This week of training was off to a good start.

The weather was dry on Monday, but I opted for a rest day instead. Tuesday, I went to my first visit to a physiotherapist. I am taking a different approach than I did for the Victoria Marathon. Instead of guessing and working through the aches, this time I am seeking a professional's opinion. After an initial exam, I was told that my injuries are manageable and more importantly, running was still on the table. Feeling invigorated with the news, I hit the treadmill Tuesday night and ran an up-tempo 10 km.

I was quickly brought back to earth with this rehab process on Wednesday evening. Not all pain is equal; a dull ache is not an acute pang and that is what I felt one mile into a run. I shut my effort down and walked home. That was unfortunate because Wednesday evening was a rare, non-rainy weather window to get some outdoor miles in.

Thursday had me scheduled back on the PT table. Some tibialis posterior work to release some tension was the ticket and I was able to click of another (relatively) pain free 10 km on the treadmill later that evening.

I looked out my window this morning to dry roads and nice weather. By the time I got my shoes on, the rain had set in; I opted for Gore-Tex instead of the treadmill and I am thankful that I did. I ran 14 km about as relaxed and as easy as it gets for me. The purpose of this run was for easier base miles and this was achieved.

I am finishing up this week's training a little behind my total distance goal but feeling healthier than last week. My takeaways from this week are that I can have days where running is more comfortable than last week; just as long as I listen to my body and continue to address these niggles.

Rehabilitation Continues

January 20, 2018

Despite still being hobbled with a stressed Achilles on the left, and what feels like a mildly sprained ankle on the right, I pushed through the week as gently as I could. My marathon program's mileage goal was 57 km; I reached that with a pedestrian paced run earlier this afternoon.

I am focusing on the positives from these physical breakdowns I brought on myself during the first week of this program.

The first positive is that I am hyper focused on running with good form. The moment that the discomfort starts to affect my gait, the run ends. I am running without earbuds more often and tuning into sound of my foot strike; the goal being to pay better attention to running softly.

Secondly, being forced to run with slower paces has me dialed into proper heart rate zones for easy running. Gone is the temptation to run down that person further up the bike path or match strides with the someone that is passing me on the left.

The third positive thing is my attention to the non-running activities. I started working on mobility during the months leading up to the Victoria Marathon but didn’t stay consistent with it over the winter. I am back on task with mobility work. I even have an appointment booked with a PT next Tuesday to get a professional opinion too.

All said, this week has been about solving the soreness problems; with both Q-Days completed and the mileage goal reached, I might get through this program too.

Too Much, Too Soon

January 13, 2018

Whatever gain I thought I banked from my first week of this 2Q Marathon Plan was pretty much erased this week.

It started on last Sunday with a 10K Recovery Run. My muscles felt fine, my heart rate was normal, and breathing was easy. I was not pushing any sort of pace but an acute twinge in my Achilles (both left and right) showed up around 7 km. I ran through it, focusing on keeping my calves relaxed. I stopped to walk for a bit at 8 km and that helped calm them down a bit. I did my best to lightly jog back home but the damage of too much mileage was done.

Monday was a forced day off and that lead into Tuesday. On Tuesday, I laced up the shoes and walked, determined to get blood flowing into my tired lower limbs. On Wednesday, I was brave enough to go for a carefully planned easy run around the neighbourhood. Running close to home meant the first sign of a twinge, I could stop my Garmin and comfortably walk home; I got 7 km in.

Thursday was more injury prevention running, but this time I wised up and finally found a treadmill to run on. I have not been on a treadmill in months (last August) and it was time for me to get a punch card for the fitness centre at my local arena. I ran for time and by heart rate on the treadmill and was able to get 65 minutes of easy running in. My Achilles, especially the left one was still on the mend, but I felt good that I was still getting time on my feet.

The rain finally broke this afternoon (Saturday) and I was able to clock some more time running easy outside. I got 11 km in this afternoon though I am still on the mend.

There was a component to the program I followed for the Victoria Marathon that I have been neglecting this winter; that was mobility work. Stretching and massage have never shown there full worth until tendons become sore and guitar string tight. This week, the thought of not getting to Vancouver healthy had me refocused on getting the soft tissue work in so that setbacks like this are not as big.

A hard lesson learned. Clocking 64 km and cramming 3 Q-Days into a 2Q week was an unhealthy choice. I have little choice but to run super easy as I heal tendons that are sore.

First Week Back At It

January 6, 2018

My first challenge showed up near the end of my first run last Sunday. Going out on my first Q Day in a brand-new pair of shoes may not have been the best decision. A blister formed behind the ball of my right foot. Grrr...

What looked to be the size of a dime after Sunday's run, by the end of the week was as large as a toonie (Canadian $2 coin). A good first Q Day (minus that blister) was followed by easy running and a struggle on the second Q Day. Weather had me move that second workout from Thursday to Wednesday and my legs let me know that an extra day was needed.

I did get a night run at easy pace on Thursday as there was a break in the rain. I really enjoyed running in the dark; therapeutic might be an adjective I would use. Along with the lack of light, there seemed to be a lack of noise from the city.

The Daniel's 2Q Plan, besides the 2 workouts a week, revolves around a target for weekly mileage. My target for this week was 51 km. Going into today, I had just 6 km of easy running to reach my target. It is winter here in the Pacific Northwest and rain, sometimes heavy, is a reality. One of those rainy systems is due to hit in the middle of the night. I decided to run tomorrow's Q Day while the weather was nice, and I will run that 8 km in the rain tomorrow. For the time being though, I am at 64 km for the week; that is another Personal Best!

Happy 2018

January 1, 2018

I can say that I have not made any specific New Year's Resolutions for this 2018. It is pretty hard to predict the future. Last year for example, I started 2017 thinking about kayaking adventures and doing the local Times Colonist 10K in April. I had zero thoughts, notions or conceptions of completing a marathon. Now I have a shirt, a medal and the entry fee paid for a second attempt at 42.2K; if I have a resolution, it is to continue to see where this running journey will take me.

I did resolve to try a different training program however. Yesterday was my first day on that plan.

The first "Q Day" of the Jack Daniel's 18 Week 2Q plan had me start of with 3 miles of easy pace, then 4 miles at marathon pace, then 1 mile at threshold pace, 1 mile back at marathon pace and finally 2 miles of easy pace to bring it home.

I plugged this all into my Garmin and it converted the workout in to kilometres; which was cool. Running the efforts miles, or fractions of kilometres however, was something of a new experience. In my head I have learned to gauge an effort in whole kilometers, but needing to hold yesterday's threshold pace for an extra 600m was an "adjustment".

The unintended result of yesterday's run was a 10K personal best. It was a terrific way to finish 2017 and start 2018.

Shoulder Check on December

December 28, 2017

Christmas has come and gone. Being just a few days away from wrapping up 2017, I am about 16 kilometers away from a yearly total of 1,400 km. I set out 2017 without an annual running goal so 1,400 is a bit of a novelty.

This past December, I bettered the mileage I ran back in June; my first full month prepping for the Goodlife Victoria Marathon. I am feeling good with the maintenance phase that I have put in this winter.

Next week, the training for May 6th begins in earnest. I am going to use a different plan for Vancouver; Jack Daniel's 2Q plan. It seems to include a more balanced training week than the "Full Potential" plan included with Garmin Connect. We'll see how to goes!

2017 Distances

Footnote: Total km for 2017 was 1403!