The calm before the storm


The race gear is ready for the 2013 Prince Edward Island Marathon.

Less than 12 hours away from the big race, we were carbed up, we were about to say goodbye to the girls for the night and my wife and I were headed back to our hotel to a good night’s sleep before our respective full and half marathons as part of the Prince Edward Island marathon weekend.

There were plenty of well wishes and words of encouragement and this piece of sage advice from one – ‘don’t you two have a wild night at the hotel’

Well now.

It has been a busy weekend already. We arrived Friday in a pretty decent downpour, took part in the kids Spud Run on Saturday, an event that featured sun but wind gusts of more than 35km hr. We did some visiting, took the kids swimming and enjoyed a wonderful supper with friends, family, and fellow Continue reading

Mid-training notebook; Limited miles, wedding, travel and my wife is out of town

Just a series of notes in a rather limited week of training this week, which I need to address.

Marathon By the Sea

Last year, the Marathon By The Sea represented my third half marathon and after a 1:42:53 effort in Fredericton a few months earlier, I was pumped for a better result in Saint John. The course was hilly, and I did not really taper for the event as it was part of the plan for Moncton and the full marathon at Legs for Literacy in October. With that as the background, I may have got a little too confident and when I encountered plenty of hills in the early going of the annual mid-summer event in Saint John, I ran past my new (reduced) level of fitness. Fredericton was flat and fast and I tried to carry that to MBTS and in short, it did not happen, crashing after 8-10 km of hills, fog, rain and humidity and essentially limping home. I learned a lot on that day, how to deal with a number of hills, big humidity and pacing when it is not your day. I finished just shy of 1:53.00 and vowed revenge this year!

However, a family commitment (see below) has me out of town this weekend and as a result, I will have to resume the battle with MBTS next year. Still, I look forward to reading the results and hearing the details of this year’s event, which rates as difficult compared to many in the region. But a large field is expected, in part because of a neat three-part medal that is given out at the three big races in Fredericton, Saint John and Moncton.


I have struggled this week juggling a few things and I have missed several runs after the 29-km effort on Monday. The personal schedule is not great for medium runs this weekend, so I want to get in a few shorties and then one long effort Sunday. Mileage was supposed to be in the 50 mile range but it will not be that great. The training guide says every now and again, life takes over. This is one of those times. The good news is the under 7 Soaring Blue Eagles have really progressed this year and have made some great strides on the pitch. The season wraps up Tuesday!


The girls and I are headed to PEI again, this time for my cousin’s wedding, where, among other things, I am going to follow the bride around for the day and get lots of photos to chronicle the day. That should be a lot of fun. That also opens an opportunity for a long run Sunday over the final part of the course for the P.E.I. Marathon. Really looking forward to that.

Wife’s journey

Kathy will not be in PEI and after a solid 14 km effort last week, her job takes her across the Atlantic Ocean for the next week or so. She left Thursday, with work gear in hand as well as her Garmin, iPhone and running gear. Some 5km runs in the Scottish Highlands or along the Norwegian coastline may be in order. How good is that!

Good luck to all on the roads this weekend, training or racing!

A birthday party, family runs and going out a little too fast

The biggest week so far in the Pfitz training cycle for the P.E.I. Marathon ended Monday with a 29 km long run, that was great for 25.5 km and not so hot for a walk-run portion in the final 3.5 km. Still, after racking up 80 km for the week, it was a solid series of runs, efforts that took me to the halfway point of training for the Oct. 20 event.

Most notably, we celebrated my wife’s birthday and enjoyed cake, ice cream, a few other treats and cheered her on as she hit 14 km in her training regiment for the half marathon in P.E.I . as well. To put that into perspective, her longest race to this point is the Hampton 5-miler last September and prior to a month ago, she had never run further than 9 km. Her determination is outstanding. So her progress to P.E.I., a sentimental journey of sorts for both of us, is fantastic.

In addition, both my daughters are gearing up for the Spud Run, which is a one or two lap race (depending on age) the day before the big show gets underway. We went to the local school and banged off 1.0 and 0.5 km respectively. We are not sure how many times we may train, but it was a start!

As for me, I took a while to recover from that successful tempo effort Wednesday, struggling through an 18-km effort Thursday and then enjoying two straight days off (so tired, both nights). That set the stage for an 11 km general run on Sunday, with 8 x100 strides near the end. It went well. The strides are difficult but I worked out at the track (trail-like surface) close to our house and it was a neat way to knock those repeats down. Still, the legs were pretty heavy but I seem to be getting the knack for doing them better each time out.

It was a bigger effort than I anticipated and that caused me to worry some about the long run Monday, where the goal was to go out in 20 per cent more than marathon pace and then come back in 10 per cent above projected marathon pace. That meant about 6:30-6:35 for the first half and 6:00-6:05 for the second half. The temperature was cool at the start and there was a slight breeze. After doing some reading about the importance of closely hitting the splits in the big race, even though it may seem slow, I went out and messed that up as I was ahead of pace the entire day. I took some gels and had some water midway through and then hit the second half in fine style, cruising until the 25-km mark, where facing a large hill (70 metres elevation in 750 metres) I went to walk-run style, walking for 250 metres and then running for 500-750, the rest of the way.

I finished and felt too tired, a tell-tale sign I blew the pacing, especially with slightly tired legs after the stride show.

But it was not that bad, considering I never stopped totally, walked four times and had one break for the washroom. It was the longest run thus far and the first of 4-5 runs at that distance in this plan. I have 32 km slated for Sunday and we’ll see how it goes in the pacing department that day.

Recap Sunday 11 km with strides.

(1-7 km) – 5:46; 5:54; 5:47; 5:47; 5:49; 5:53; 5:48

(8-10) (with 8 strides) 4:51; 5:15; 6:06

(11) – 6:05.

Sunday 29 k – 3:00:33

(1-10)  6:31; 6:16; 6:16; 6:19; 6:24; 6:29; 6:18; 6:17; 6:25; 6:20

(11-20) 6:10; 6:04; 6:09; 6:05; 6:17; 5:59: 6:05; 5:55; 5:56; 5:51

(21-25) 5:54; 5:59; 5:55; 5:54; 5:56

(26-29) 6:39; 6:47; 6:46; 6:24.

On deck: Tuesday-Wednesday – one 11km recovery run and another 18km medium effort run.


Sometimes, I hate gadgets and treadmills

“Well,”’ says my wife after I completed my long run Sunday. “At least it makes for some good blogging material!”

I love the various gadgets associated with running, those to keep track of everything from pace and distance, to our treadmill that allows you to train indoors when the weather dictates or provides you with a change of pace as required.

With that in mind, we concluded our vacation to PEI on the weekend and there were a number of goals – like getting home in a reasonably sane state of mind. This included a pair of runs, one 13km at 6:05ish pace and another long run of 19km, aiming for a negative split between 6:05 pace and 6:35 pace.

So after a long couple of days Thursday and Friday, I took to the Cavendish trials on Saturday morning, one last outing near the beach and through the outstanding trail system that makes it very encouraging for bikers, runners and walkers to get out and get active.

I started a bit fast according to my Garmin but when I went to check my pace at the 1.5 km mark, the Garmin’s battery was gonzo, a victim of a week away from charging devices. No worries, I thought, I’ll just enjoy the run and since I had gone 13 kms Thursday, I knew where the route would take me. Also, I had read that it is good to get rid of your watch from time to time and enjoy the pace, free of the actual timing restraints.

Admittedly, I struggled, a function of becoming addicted to constant glances at my watch during training efforts and I probably pushed it too fast, knowing I had a small window of time before we had to move onto other tasks on our final day of visiting.

Long story short – I cut it to 11 km on a reasonably muggy morning that eventually produced some rain later in the day. My legs felt heavy and tight and the sweat soaked my t-shirt, a good indication of the conditions and my too brisk speed.

After a few visits and lots of driving, we made it home Saturday night. We all enjoyed a great  sleep in Sunday before chores took over – cleaned up the car, house, picked up our dog, groceries, stained more of the deck and some laundry. Later in the day, we went swimming and when it came 10 p.m., I was committed to 19km on the treadmill. There is a lot of construction around our home right now and it is blocking access to my normal route. So I figured to test myself on the treadmill, and since there was a baseball game on, I watched the game and started at 10:32 per mile, a leisurely pace.

The goal was to pick it up to 9:45 per mile in the second half of the run but that is where the second round of trouble started. For some reason, our treadmill shuts down after an hour or sometimes when the speed is faster than eight minutes per mile.

That happened last night, when after 70 minutes, it shut down. I started it again and after 90 seconds, it conked out again. Finally, after it went down after only another 90 seconds – and I was only 11.1 km into the run, I took to the streets, opting for another route close to home.

As it turned out, the path I chose measured 630 metres one way and after 1.2 km, it started to drizzle, then rain, then pour and then really come down, stopping shortly before I wrapped up my eighth and final kilometre of what became a too fast finish of a run highlighted by frustration and more than a few choice words.

Drenched and exhausted, I returned home determined to recharge my Garmin after every run and to get someone to look at our treadmill.

So there it was, 19.1 km on a night that included four innings of watching baseball, running in a rain storm and plenty of quotes that went like %*&#*#%**#%*#. The final tally was something like 9.5 km in 6:32 pace, and 9.6 km ranging from 5:30 to 6:05 per km.

Of note, though, was the conclusion of the first stage – endurance – of the Pfitz 18-55 plan –  and the onset now, of the second stage – Lactate Threshold + Endurance – which includes more tempo runs and greater distances over a five-week span. This is the heart of this plan and the most difficult.

This week includes a 29-km long run on the weekend and another 8km tempo as part of a medium long run Tuesday.

Vacation totals – seven runs, 95 kms.

Getting ready to take on the Pfitz


The sunny beaches of P.E.I. look fantastic in the summer. My wife snapped this great shot a few years ago during one of our many visits to da Island. Symbolically, I wonder how they will appear in October, in the cool fall atmosphere, moments before the P.E.I. marathon kicks off.

A question for another day!

This week’s update comes on the eve of a small accomplishment. With just two weekend runs remaining, the first mini goal of the training program is almost complete – four weeks of progressing to the baseline of the Pfitzner 18/55 training plan for the P.E.I. Marathon.

There are a number of stages in the complete plan, with the next six weeks dedicated to endurance building. Long runs in this stage peak at 26 k and there is even a mid-week ‘medium long run’ that hits 16k at one point. Longer efforts are in store in the subsequent stages but this stage essentially builds your stamina on top of the blocks achieved in the preliminary round.

This week’s runs have included a tempo effort, with 4k at 5:00/per km pace as part of a 10k run, then a 6k recovery at 6:39/per km and a 12k general aerobic run Thursday at 6:21/per km.

On the weekend, I have an 18k long run planned for Father’s Day! No sleep in but I should be able to hit more than 50k for the week in five outings.

There is big news in the house this week, though. My lovely and talented wife is also going to run in P.E.I., as she is taking on the challenge of running the half marathon in and around Charlottetown. She is making great progress and is combining her efforts in the gym with running. It has already made a big difference as earlier this year, she knocked almost seven minutes off her 5k time from 1999!

This is what she wrote in her column this week: “Running a half marathon has always been on my bucket list, and I’ve got a ‘significant’ birthday coming up this year. It’s the perfect time to do something scary and challenging.

Awesome, I say.

Seems no shortage of marathon topics to read and watch as many have just started or are about to start their summer training for October marathons. On YouTube, one interesting topic was a screening this week of Spirit of the Marathon II in the U.S., a documentary on a number of runners at last year’s Rome Marathon. It looks fantastic and the trailer can be seen here.

However, there are also trailers for the opening version – Spirit of the Marathon, along with the entire first documentary, based on training for the Chicago Marathon in 2005.

This weekend, of course, many Dads will get crazy ties, gift certificates for the golf course and lots of special attention. I really can’t wait to see what the girls have in store. It is also a time of reflection though, one in memory of my father Jack. I wrote a piece after he died and I find myself reading it once in a while. From time to time, I find this story is a great reminder of days gone by.  I have a photo of him and I at the end of the 2000 Confederation Bridge run. He showed up to see what all the fuss was about and was there when I finished the 14k trek. I’ll try to track that down.

Have a great weekend.