Six Weeks To Go and Feeling Strong

42 days to go until I run 42.2km in Vancouver on May 6. Training is going really, really well.

I had a 32km run today which is where I’ll start since it was a great run. I kept a consistent pace from start to finish on this one and ran my fastest km split for kilometre 31. There was plenty left in the tank today.

The Week that Was

I missed another run this week becuase of travel, but it was the Tuesday 6km tempo run. No big deal in the grand scheme of things.

Wednesday I got out for 11km with 9 hills on the treadmill at Variety Village. I didn’t much feel like running those hills, but I did them and it felt good to stick to the schedule.

Thursday’s 8km steady run was tough thanks to a hard hills workout the night before, but again, I got it done and that’s what it’s all about in marathon training.

Saturday was the usual 6km run which was nothing special and that’s how I like them.

Through the Worst

I’m through the worst of the training now. These three weeks are always the toughest both physically and also mentally. Three super long Sunday runs with lots of hills in between and some travel made for some extra fun. The first 29km and last 32km runs were both great and the 29km in the heat in Florida was fine too when you account for that warmth and sun.

I’m happy to have a bit of a step back here now with just 23km next Sunday and the last of the hill training on Wednesday. I’m ready for the last push here to the taper with just a pair of runs in that 29-32km range now.

My Strava Fitness score is now 68 which is pretty amazing. I had set a goal of hitting 70 before race day and it seems likely that I’ll hit that this week and push through to the mid-seventies or higher before May 6 rolls around.

I’m feeling better than I ever have at this point in training for a spring marathon.

A Week in Florida

Getting the runs in while on vacation is always tough. We’re in Florida for eight days and with four days at Disney parks, and another few days down in Naples, it was going to be a challenge to get in the usual five runs a week.

img_0135I snuck in the fist 6km on the Tuesday we arrived. The Disney resort has a nice running trail that’s about 2.75km but just about 6km if you double back around on the last section.

Wednesday I was scheduled for 10km and I skipped this run since we were spending the entire day at the Magic Kingdom. Such is life.

Thursday morning I got in the planned 8km on the trail before we went over to Animal Kingdom for the day. Ginny got out on the run with me too so it was nice to have someone to wave to every so often.

Saturday was checkout day, but we both snuck in another run and that meant the usual Saturday 6km for me.

Long Hot Sunday Run

That brings us to Sunday. With a 29km run scheduled, I mapped out a nice route from our place in Naples down to the Gulf and back. It was already 19ºC when I set out at about 8:00 A.M. and it just got warmer from there.

That beats running in the cold…sort of. Truth be told, I really don’t like hot weather running and this one was a bit of a slog for the last 5km or so. But things could be worse, right?

Fitting in runs when travelling is always tough, so to be able to get all but about 10km in is a good accomplishment. I’ll still easily clear 200km for March. After today’s run Strava says my fitness score is 67 which is higher than I was even after the BMO Vancouver Marathon in May. Training is going well.

First 29km in the Books

Things get serious fast when training for a marathon and this was the week it all happened.

The schedule called for 29km today – the first of three weeks of runs in the 29-32km range. With just eight weeks to go now until race day, this first 29km run is always a test of how things are going.

I’m happy to say that I passed today with flying colours. I ran a very solid 29km today with tons of energy and pace left at the finish. I dare say I could have grunted out a full 42.2km today if I had to.

Tempo and Hills

I ran the usual weekday runs this week, including a 7 hills run on Wednesday. That sort of kicked my ass and Thursday’s 8km run wasn’t easy. My legs felt a bit dead, but I toughed it out and finished up the 8km that was in the calendar. A rest day on Friday was just what I needed and I had the usual power and energy on Saturday for the easy 6km.

Fit and Feeling Strong

Strava now rates my fitness as a 62 which is better than I was at any point of my training last year, including the day before the race. I have to say, I feel stronger and fitter now than I have in a really long time.

We’re off to Florida on Tuesday and that will be a bit of a challenge in terms of training. I hope to be able to get in a quick run on Tuesday some how, then also a couple more while we’re at Disney. We’ll see how that goes. Sunday’s long run will be in Naples, Florida and I’m looking forward to running in the warm weather for a change after a pretty tough winter up here in Toronto.

Sticking With It

I need to just keep the pedal to the metal now and push through for the next two months. Race day is just around the corner and there are just five weeks until things start to ease back into the taper. As tough as training is, when you get to the plateau, it’s really not a long time spent there.

How I Am Keeping My Content in My Control

I’m mostly documenting this for myself, but if it helps someone else, that’s great! This is also a work in progress.

The centre of my online world is a WordPress install using the domain jameskoole.com. That site is hosted by Siteground at the moment, but because it’s WordPress, I can move it around as needed.

I’m using the theme Independent Publisher 2 which looks nice for short posts and is free. I’ve done some limited customization via CSS.

WordPress has a few plugins installed to make my life easier.
* Jetpack: mostly for Markdown support and also to make it easy to post from the WordPress app on iOS.
* JSON Feed: creates a JSON feed that micro.blog consumes in addition to the usual RSS feed.
* Really Simple SSL: the best way to get SSL support in WordPress (along with a cert from Let’s Encrypt that is all handled by Siteground in cPanel).
* Markdown Editor: a nice replacement for the post editor in WordPress that has Markdown syntax highlighting and support.
* Insert Headers and Footers: an easy way to add “rel” links to the header to identify other sites you control.

I write most of my posts in WordPress, although I can also post from the micro.blog iOS app, or the WordPress iOS app. Once posted, they spread out via the JSON feed to micro.blog which posts them to my timeline there.

Posts get tweeted via micro.blog which has an API integration that works very nicely. You have to pay for the $2/month plan, but I’m, happy to support the service. Another option is to use IFTTT.com and the RSS to Twitter recipe.

Instagram is complicated because they suck and don’t have an API that allows posting. Currently I post to Instagram natively, and then I use the Sunlit iOS app to manually report that picture to Sunlit which really just posts it to my WordPress blog (and micro.blog via the JSON feed). That also posts to Twitter, although I can exclude those if I wanted to.

I tried OwnYourGram for a short time to automate all this and it worked okay. The biggest downside is that the cross-posting from Instagram to everything else can be delayed by hours and hours depending on polling times. I’d rather just manually repost to Sunlit so I’m in control.

Nine Weeks to Go

It’s just 63 days until the 2018 BMO Vancouver Marathon now and the training continues to go well.

This week was a step-back week in my training program. That means that rather than continuing to build on the mileage for the long Sunday run, this week featured a shorter run than the last few.

With just 19km on the schedule, these step-back weeks provide a chance to rest up and recover a bit before the next push that will take me into the 29km and 32km runs.

I usually work in a full week of easier runs on step-back weeks. I took it a bit slower on Tuesday, still ran the hills on Wednesday and then ran just some real steady pace miles on Thursday and Saturday.

The run today wasn’t easy as the route included Mt. Pleasant which is a bit of a grinder of a hill. With an overall average pace of 5:35/km, this was one of my slowest Sunday runs so far.