Birthdays, summer, end of school and that mid-week medium run.

Hello summer, which in our house brings an added dash of celebrating as it is birthday season as well. This year, Avery`s birthday and the first day of summer also coincided with the final day of school. Needless to say, Friday featured powerful anticipation for the girls, especially Avery, and when the report cards came, it brought great pride for us as parents, because of their success in the classroom once again.

As it related to the P.E.I. Marathon, we have used some strategies from running to hit goals for academics. One was my youngest daughter’s desire to achieve a reading goal of 500 books. So she mapped out a little plan, followed it reasonably well and on Wednesday, she hit 500, delighting herself. She should be happy. She worked hard, was dedicated and through it all, came to love reading more than she thought she might. When looking back at Day 1 of the year, it is heart warming to see her progress.

For Jaime, an avid reader herself, one goal was improving her violin abilities. So part of her routine was 15-20 minutes of work, 2-3 nights a week during the year in addition to her regular homework. That was rewarded with a concert at the local high school where all her class played on the big stage. For one of the selections, Jaime and her friend were front and centre. Was she nervous? Most definitely. But she pulled it off marvelously.

Now, there are big birthday events for Avery Saturday – which brings a challenge of restraint with all the cake! Next weekend brings Jaime`s 10th birthday celebrations and even more cake!

This are obvious parallels to the school year, practice and the long path to achieving a goal with running. It wasn`t always easy but the girls` dedication was a great example for all of us. And maybe this is my way of saying that if I crack four hours in P.E.I. in October, I want cake.

As for my first full week in the Pfitz plan, the biggest challenge was fitting in that mid-week `medium`long run at a pace 15 per cent above intended marathon pace. That meant 14.5 k on Thursday. After a day at work, then soccer, I admit, my energy levels were not high at 9:30 p.m. when I started but once I got rolling, it was good. I ran this one on the treadmill to catch Game 7 of the NBA final. I started while the experts were discussing the matchup in the pre-game show and ended with 1 minute remaining in the second quarter.

What a great sweat. I was worried about the recovery but Friday, other than a bit of fatigue, I felt great with only a slight tightness in my Achilles area (which is pretty normal; or last has been normal for the last 2 years).

Tempo Tuesday was a great challenge and it sapped me – especially the 7 k at half-marathon pace; which I figured to be 5-minute kilometres. More on the tempo business later on in this journey.

Have  a great weekend.

Tuesday

13 k

3 k 6:19 per km pace

7k @5:00 per km pace

3k @ 6:19 per km pace

Thursday

14.5 km @ 6:07 per km pace

Weekend 

Two runs 6 k recovery; 19k long run

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The art of dealing with distractions

I recently changed jobs and among the biggest benefits was an opportunity to ease back into the volunteer sector. At my previous post, while the hours were reasonably regular, there were enough irregularities that you could not firmly commit to something like coaching. Many a night last summer, we arrived at the soccer field with just enough time for a goodbye wave before the girls quickly sprinted to meet Coach A or Coach B.

So this summer, I have, thanks to better timing, opted to coach Avery’s under 7 girls soccer team. When I was younger, I coached a decent amount but since the move to New Brunswick a way back when, my soccer involvement has essentially been limited to several seasons in a Sunday night league in Fredericton (A masters loop that was quite enjoyable) and one interesting summer on a B-Division squad named the Grim Reapers. Grim was our record but the team featured a bunch of interesting people I really enjoyed competing with against, often times, superior opposition.

So what does this have to do with the P.E.I. Marathon?

Last week, plenty.

As part of the preparation requirements, each coach at the U7 level was encouraged last week to take a 7-hour community coaches clinic – 3.5 hours on Tuesday and 3.5 hours on Wednesday. Because of the timing, I stayed in the city after work and headed over to the sparkling UNBSJ turf soccer field for two worthwhile nights of learning, drills and a bit of peer teaching.  Energetically, and somewhat optimistically (foolishly?), I ran after work Tuesday for 7k through the hills of the city prior to the clinic. I skipped the run Wednesday but thought the clinic hit a number of good notes that night, preparing all for the rush of U7 activity on the pitch, beginning June 4. The only problem, from the running point of view,  was the carryover effect, which ate into one of my long runs on Thursday because I was pretty tired – sapped actually – and I was asleep early.

On Friday, by the time I was ready to run, it was 9:30 p.m., so I rescheduled things and opted for a 10 k run Saturday and the 14-k long run Sunday, on plenty of rest. It worked out well. I felt content with both those runs. Overall, there should not be many evening-clogging events all summer – or at least in huge midweek blocks – as soccer night is about 1.5 hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

However, the soccer-running combo last week provided a good lesson in discipline and time management. One thing about this training is the focus requirement; the need to hit the mini goals along the way and plan accordingly to meet them. It is early, but I’ll need to improve in dealing with potential curve balls that could and will impact or hamper the running schedule.

That said, I hit 41 k for Week 2 of the 4-week base-level training plan and put together a decent 14k run Sunday at 6:31 for the first 7k and 5:56 for the second 7k. Just two weeks away from the first true stage of the Pfitz 18/55 Marathon plan, I am confident I can hit comfortably meet the early weekly demands. The first week calls for 53k overall, ending with 19k run – the shortest long-run of the 18-week training period.

Last week – 41k, long run 14k.

This week – 50 k, long run 16k.

One week down, 21 to go

The first week of training served notice that yup, I am actually doing this. Time for a deep breath. The running total was 43k (in eight days mind you), with three 10k runs in there. Nothing that fast or slow, just average pace. Still feeling the impact from the flu bug now two weeks old and it was tough to get going all week as I felt worn out.

Not encouraging considering what lies ahead but it is something I believe to be short term. It was reflected in my 5k time in a race at our school Sunday – 26:35.

I did accomplish a dubious first though – missing the start of the race. There were several races that day for the kids – one 500 metres, another just over 1k. When the longer one was finished and my daughters celebrated their runs with a medal and a tasty Popsicle, I thought it was safe to run to the facilities.

When I got back, the crowd looked more sparse than I had remembered. Avery, seeing me there, frantically says, ‘They have already gone, get going.’ I did not believe it but yup, the race directors confirmed the race was about 2 minutes old. Not a great way to get underway but a good lesson learned. I was able to catch a few of the runners ahead and considering the remnants of the flu or the small chest cold I was still dealing with, the overall outing was not that bad.

It rained most of the weekend, broke in time for the race and then rained again in the afternoon, so the timing worked out well for organizers.

Last week – 5 runs, 43 ks.

This week – 5 runs, 50 k, including one long run of 14k.

– Kevin