Sunday Running is Back

I haven’t run on Sunday morning at the Running Room since before the marathon. Now that my parents are back from a trip to Holland, we have a place to send the kids on Sunday mornings and that meant I could get in a run with a few friends.

The group was small because of the Ottawa Race Weekend and Cabot Trail Relay which took a few people out of the city this weekend. The next clinics for summer and fall races haven’t started up yet and quite a few runners are taking a bit of time off before rolling into training again.

But a small bunch of us headed out for 16km around Toronto. I mapped out a fairly tough route that started with a run up Jarvis and Mt. Pleasant all the way to the Beltline trail. On the bright side, the way back was a pretty easy downhill cruise.

There were a few new faces on the run with us including a guy who was getting ready to start training for his first marathon. We had a good chat about how to go about that, and enjoyed a nice run through some of Toronto’s neighbourhoods.

Taking the Forerunner 620 for a Treadmill Run

Granted it was a treadmill run, but I did get out for 6km with my new Forerunner 620 today.

I’ll probably write up more about this gadget over the next few weeks, but first impressions are that it’s a really nice addition to my pile of running stuff and a huge upgrade from my clunky old Forerunner 205.

As expected, the internal accelerometer is out of whack and, as a result, the distance on the watch was substantially lower compared to what the treadmill reported. That skewed the reported pace and other metrics as a few are based on distance as well. A run or two outside with the GPS active will automatically calibrate it and I’m expecting it to be pretty accurate for treadmill runs in the future based on reviews I’ve read.

So far I’m loving being able to see heart rate. Given that I’ve never looked at anything besides distance, time and pace, the additional data points (cadence, ground contact time, etc.) will be fun to track going forward. I’ll have to do some reading to understand what those metrics mean and how I can use the data to improve my performance over time.

Family Workout Nights

Family workouts are becoming a thing at our house. We’re trying to all get out at least once or twice a week to get some physical activity in.

Tonight it was over at Variety Village where we’ve held a family membership for five or six years now. Mac is old enough to use some of the cardio equipment now and enjoys the elliptical machine. Lindsey is still too little for that, but there’s a 200m indoor track that is perfect for her to run on.

While Ginny was on the treadmill putting in her miles, I ran 2.2km with Lindsey on the track. She’s doing really well and that distance is nothing special for her. She’s signed up for the Toronto Women’s 5km later this summer.

I didn’t get a quality run in, but that’s fine with me. I’m still taking it easy after the marathon 10 days ago and this summer is all about Ginny’s training.

On Selling My Bike

I sold my road bike today.

It was a somewhat bittersweet moment. I really loved riding that bike because it felt effortless to go fast when I rode it. It was one of the nicest things I’ve ever owned.

IMG_4276-270x300The reason I haven’t been on it much since the accident it that it wasn’t comfortable to ride anymore. I took it out a bit with the family and I did a couple of longer rides too. But every time I rode it, I paid the price physically with a sore left arm and right shoulder due to the fact that my left arm isn’t as strong and doesn’t extend into a good riding position.

It also wasn’t comfortable mentally. Intersections and traffic terrified me. The thought of falling and hurting myself again was always on my mind. I didn’t enjoy it like I did before my accident.

So instead of riding it, the bike just sat leaned up against the wall downstairs. Every day I walked by it and it made me sad.

It deserved better

This was literally a $4,000 bike back in the day. It’s made from carbon fiber and weighs something like 19lbs. You can literally lift it with a single finger. Until you’ve ridden a bike like this you can’t understand how much difference a really nice bike can make. It is like going from a Honda Civic to a Formula 1 race car. A race car shouldn’t be stuck in a garage, and similarly it didn’t make sense for this bike to just sit there in the basement.

The other day I decided it was time to let it go and I listed it for sale on Kijiji. I didn’t expect too quick a response because it’s a large frame and it’s an older bike. But for the right person, I knew it was a great bike at a really good price; just like it was for me a few years ago when I bought it.

Sold to the aspiring triathlete

As it turned out, a tall guy looking for a good starter triathlon bike ended up buying it 36 hours after I posted it. He was a bit taller than me and couldn’t find a good 62cm road bike anywhere in the city, new or used. His current bike had been damaged beyond repair and he was ready to give up on a summer triathlon as a result. Doing the deal reminded me of when I bought the bike myself back in 2011.

I was happy to sell it to him at a fair price. It made it easier to part with it knowing that he’ll use the bike as it should be used. I think I’m most happy about that.

While I’ll miss how riding it made me feel, I’ll also enjoy taking the cash and turning it into something I can use. I’ve already got my eye on a new Garmin Forerunner 620 running watch to replace my ancient and huge Forerunner 205 that I bought before my first half marathon.

Race Plans for the Rest of the Year

Nothing leads to a lack of regular running than not having a race or two on the schedule.

I’ve been taking it easy since the BMO Vancouver Marathon on Sunday. I ran a decent 5km on Wednesday, and I’ll probably get 8 or 10km tomorrow morning at Variety Village.

With Ginny starting to ramp up her training for the Chicago Marathon in October, my schedule takes a back seat to hers. But I’ll still try to get out three days a week if possible.

I’m not going to run another marathon this year (promise). But I think I will try and take a run at my half marathon PB at some point, and I’ve got my eye on the new Toronto Ten Miler or the Midsummer Night’s Run 15km as options. Those are both distances I’ve never raced before so…guaranteed PB!

With a PB in the 30km, and the marathon so far in 2014, if things play out as planned it could be the year of the PB for me.

Back at It

Three days after the BMO Vancouver Marathon and I’m back running again.

I hopped on the treadmill for 5km at Variety Village tonight. One of the reasons I opted for the indoor run tonight is that I could moderate my pace a bit. The other reason is that Toronto is currently infested with midges. Tiny little bugs by the millions are all over the place and running outside means running through big swarms of these annoying bugs.

I played around with pace a bit tonight to see how things really felt. Most of the run was at an easy 7.0mph (about 5:30/km) with a few faster segments mixed throughout. Overall it ended up being 5:18/km which is a bit faster than my average pace on Sunday.

The legs felt about as good as they did halfway through the marathon on Sunday. Last night, when I went for a little trial jog down the street, it was more like 35km. Taking that extra day to recover was a good idea, I think.

Never Again…Until the Next One

Pretty much every time I run a marathon:

  • At the start: “I think this might be the last time I do a full marathon.”
  • At about 20km: “Yeah, I’m pretty much done with this distance. Too much work and the race isn’t even enjoyable. Why did I even sign up for this stupid thing?”
  • At about 32km: “This isn’t horrible. Maybe these legs will take me all the way this time!”
  • At about 35km: “I’m dying. I am so completely finished with the marathon. Done. That’s it. I’m retiring as soon as I get my medal.”
  • At 42.2km: “Never again. Ever. Never ever.”
  • Later that same day: “I wonder when I can work in a recovery run.”
  • The day after: “Let’s see how these legs are working! Hey! I can still run! I can run!”
  • Two days after: “Wonder which fall marathon I should do?”

That last one isn’t a factor this year. I’m done until 2015 and it’s Ginny’s year to run a marathon in Chicago. But I am already thinking about the next one and when and where it will be.

Heading Home

Another year, another trip to Vancouver for the BMO Vancouver Marathon.

I’m sitting at YVR Gate C43 waiting for my flight back home to Toronto to board. That gives me some time to reflect on the weekend, and the last few months of training.

A long tough winter

It wasn’t an easy winter this year in Toronto and that meant I did the majority of my training runs on the treadmill at Variety Village. I’m thankful that I had those treadmills available to me. I couldn’t imagine having to gear up and run in some of the freezing cold weather we had this winter.

IMG_6249-300x300That said, I did my share of cold weather running on Sundays at the Downtown Yonge Running Room. As usual, the gang hung together and we made it through some really difficult runs. Ida, Lynne, Jeffrey, Kathryn, Alice and Sean (and others) were always there with encouragement.

I said it to John Stanton at the end of the race yesterday when he put my medal around my neck, but it bears repeating. The Running Room community is amazing and together we all do amazing things. Running solo is hard. Running in a group, even when the weather sucks and the distance is long…it’s just plain fun.

I wouldn’t be the runner I am without the Running Room. And when I say the Running Room, I’m talking about both the store, and the community of runners I’ve met at the various stores I’ve run out of over the last six years.

Vancouver

Vancouver…I’ve got a thing for you and your race.

I’ve run seven marathons now and Vancouver is the only one that I’ve run more than once. This was my third time coming out to #RUNVAN and they put on another amazing race weekend for us.

IMG_6232-300x300Yes, the weather kind of sucked (typical rain for a change after two beautiful race weekends in 2011 and 2012). But the volunteers and crew were all amazing. I made a point of thanking them at each of the 20+ water stations along the route. Every single one of them was out in the rain, wearing plastic rain panchos, with beaming smiles. “Ultima first! Water next!”

Their enthusiasm was contagious. I would say, “Thank you guys for being out here,” and they would say back, “THANK YOU for running! You are amazing.” Here I am running along for my pleasure and benefit and these people who are giving me their time so I can race are thanking me. That’s Vancouver. I truly believe that is part of the legacy of the 2010 Olympics. A giving population that loves to get out and be a part of making events like this happen.

West Coast friends

To my friends – Jon, Jennifer, Kirsty and Jess too. I’m blessed to have some good friends out here and I owe that all to Jon who reached out on Twitter to some stranger from Toronto back in 2011 and then invited him for dinner with his group of #YYJrun friends at the 2011 race weekend.

Jon, seeing you on course at 22km was an energy boost and I appreciated the familiar face and encouraging words. You didn’t have to come over to Vancouver for the weekend, but you did. And it meant a lot to me. That you were also there in the last 600m was an added bonus.

Jennifer, you kicked butt and rediscovered running. Awesome. Conversation at dinner on Saturday was a highlight of my weekend and the best way to get ready to race. The steaks and crispy mashed potatoes were good too, of course. I wish I would have hit the finish line five minutes earlier to see you cross the line. Next time for sure and maybe it’ll be the finish line in Toronto at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon.

Kirsty, I was pretty surprised to see you just before the Seawall at around 31km. Last time we ran that section, you were on your way to a PB and a sub-four hour marathon and I was on my way to a lot of walking and a tough last seven kilometres. It was good to see you there, and to run a few hundred metres together. I knew a PB was mine if I didn’t stop running on the Seawall and I thought back to your run in 2012 and made that happen for me this year.

For Jess, my virtual training partner…this year kind of sucked and I was bummed when you had to accept the fact that you couldn’t run. That’s how it goes sometimes, and while it was crappy to not see your face this weekend, and see you finish your race, I know you’ll be back on course soon. Maybe Vancouver will call me back again for the first Sunday in May sometime in the future and we can run another one of these things.

Adventure over for another year

That’s it. My flight is boarding soon and I’ll be home by 9pm tonight. The only question that remains is when I’ll be back out here again either to run, or to spend some more time in one of my favourite places on earth.

Race Report: 2014 BMO Vancouver Marathon

I’m going to start at the end: 3:48:30.

That’s a new personal best for the marathon by 5:29 and a full 20 minutes better than I last ran this course in 2012. I’m pretty happy.

Rain. It was bound to happen.

It was raining this morning when I got up. That was expected as the forecast called for a 100% chance of light rain all day and light winds. I left for the start pretty early which normally would be a dumb idea for a wet race.

racedayweather-300x300However, I bought the Platinum Package for $99 which included a VIP tent at the start to chill out in. They had a heater and despite getting there soaked including wet shoes and socks, within a half hour or so, I was dry and comfortable. The other bonus was private, luxury ports-potties. No lineups, and flush toilets! Win!

About five minutes before the race we did the bag check (also VIP) and walked out into the rain. By now it was more of a misty drizzle instead of the steady rain the half marathoners left in.

The start

Then anthem was sung, and the countdown started. I crossed the line about a minute after the gun and we were off.

The first couple of kilometres are uphill, and I resolved to run them fairly easy. 5:11, 4:59 and 4:54. So much for that idea.

I was feeling good and the weather was much better than expected, so I just ran what felt comfortable. Lately that’s been around 5:00/km and today was no different. Kilometres 4 and 5 were run in 5:03 and 4:55 respectively.

Then the course starts heading downhill for a bit. I stuck with the same effort which meant a faster pace with 4:46 and 4:45 for kilometres 6 and 7. Kilometres 8 and 9 were 5:00 and 5:13 as they had a bit of incline and I convinced myself to ease it back a bit. I took a gel at 8km as scheduled.

Camosun you don’t scare me

Then comes the hill known as Camosun. This thing is a monster. 7% grade for 900m with some more hill on either end to keep you honest. I ran kilometre 10 in 5:39 and 11 in 5:38. That felt good and my heart rate and effort were controlled. I was glad to have it behind me, but it’s far from the end of the hills on this course.

It’s another 4km to the campus of UBC. There’s a new little out and back section here too and that was uphill for the run north, downhill for the run south. 5:11, 5:15, 5:05 and 5:07. Time for UBC.

UBC

The campus is nice. It really is. But all I could think about was getting to the big downhill section and banking some time. 4:59, 5:08, 5:06, 5:04. Pretty consistent through here as it’s fairly flat and easy running. It was also cold and a bit breezy. For the first time I thought maybe long sleeves would have been smart.

The hill! 4:40 and 4:53 for kilometres 20 and 21. My half split was 1:47:15 which was a touch fast, but I didn’t feel like it was too fast.

Spanish Banks, Jericho

I saw Jon Suk here and that was a nice boost to the psyche. It was also starting to rain lightly again as we ran along Spanish Banks towards Jericho. 5:05, 5:05 and 5:30. There was a decent hill there for kilometre 24 and I eased back to keep things under control.

Jericho is next and the residents really get out to support the runners through here. That provided a decent boost, as did the gel I took at kilometre 24. I remember thinking I couldn’t believe that I’d already run 25km. I felt tired, but time was passing quickly. 5:13, 5:23 and 5:24 for kilometres 25-27. I was slowing a bit.

The Burrard Bridge

Then the gel kicked in and the crowds picked up and I got things back together with a 5:11 for kilometre 28. It was short lived and the Burrard Bridge was coming up soon. 5:32 for kilometre 29 and then 5:48 up and over the bridge. I was glad to be done with that as it’s the last real hill before the finish stretch.

Kilometre 31 is down hill and then you hop on the Seawall. I ran it in 5:15 and then was surprise to see Kirsty (who I ran the 2012 race with). She ran along side for a half a kilometre so I kept the pace up and ran a 5:16.

Seawall…the long, tough Seawall

The Seawall is my nemesis. It killed me in 2012 and I ended up walking a lot of it. I was much more prepared mentally this time around and I had a good ten minutes in my pocket to play with over the last 10km. I resolved to not walk this time.

5:30, 5:38, 5:42 and I was through 35km and had just 7km to go. Don’t kid yourself. The Seawall is long. I still hadn’t run under the Lions Gate Bridge and I was really starting to tire. My pace over the next few kilometres reflected that. 6:01, 6:22, 6:31. I was hurting. But I was running.

Brockton to the finish

The Lighthouse was in sight and I knew that meant three kilometres to go. A big PB was within reach if I could just keep running decently. 6:27 to the Lighthouse. I started getting a rush of energy thinking about the finish now. 6:04 to the yacht club which was the turnaround for the Friendship Run on Saturday. 2km from here.

Finally…done with the last of the Seawall and could see the crowds starting to pick up. Lots of encouragement here from spectators urging us to the finish. 6:16 and the turn up Denman was in sight. 1.2km to go. Still running. Time to dip into the reserves for the run up to the finish.

I ran a 6:23 here to get within sight of the line. I passed Jon again and he said I was looking strong. A huge PB was waiting at the finish along with a medal and a hot shower. It was pouring ran and I was cold and wet and ready to stop.

Finisher

Through the finish and none other than John Stanton of the Running Room was there to put a medal over my head. I thanked him again for everything he does and told him I wouldn’t have accomplished what I have in the last six years without his stores and the Running Room community.

And then my right leg totally seized up. I could barely walk, but luckily I had the VIP bag check pickup inside my hotel. I got my bag in a lovely conference room on the third floor and called Ginny and Mac on FaceTime. My phone was constantly beeping with notifications of Facebook likes, texts and Tweets.

Twenty minutes after I finished I was in my hotel room for a nice hot shower and I was finally warm again.

Best race ever, and my best race ever

I know I faded in the last 7km but I also knew that I would. I banked up some time early and held on for a five-and-a-half-minute PB. I wouldn’t change a thing about the race. I think I ran it about as well as I could, and I know I didn’t leave anything out there. Other than a bathroom stop around 10km and a few steps at a water station at 39km, I ran this thing from start to finish.

I love the Vancouver Marathon. I’ve never run it well, and until today, I’d never run it under four hours. Considering that this is a much tougher course than the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, I’m really proud of my result today.

Best marathon ever.