The Running Whys – Brenda Guitard


Brenda Guitard is shown here in the 2013 Boston Marathon, turning onto Bolyston Street toward the finish line.

Many people in the Saint John running community will recognize the person we have profiled – Brenda Guitard. Originally, we asked a few questions and Brenda suggested we weave them into a story.

But she’s done such an awesome job of detailing her career, her words are perfect.

Here is today’s Running Whys for the Marathon by the Sea, which takes place Aug 12-14 in Saint John.



I was born and raised in Saint John. After graduating from University, I moved to Northern Ontario, where I taught high school for 18 years. In 2008, I returned to Saint John, supply teaching and working at the Running Room. For the last four years, I have been teaching physical education in elementary school – One year at Sussex Elementary School before moving Belleisle Elementary School, where I am in my third year. I continue to work at the Running Room part-time. Continue reading

Recovery, fond memories, next goals


This was in the early stages of the P.E.I. Marathon Sunday as we ran adjacent to Brackley Beach.

I figure it took about 72 hours after the marathon for my legs to feel right. The biggest pains were in my thighs and walking to my second floor office was a chore on Tuesday and Wednesday.

But other than that, the physical discomfort and pain levels after the P.E.I. Marathon were surprisingly low, at least compared to a year earlier in Moncton.

I must admit, I have slept very well this entire week and while there was an urge to Continue reading

Race recap – P.E.I. Marathon


Here we are, celebrating at the finish line on Sunday.

So how to reward yourself after running a full marathon?

That’s right, hot hamburger and fries at the Big Stop in Salisbury. Extra Ketchup? Indeed.

Anyway, still in recovery mode from the big race Sunday.

Below I’ve listed the technical details, include a time break down and other thoughts. If you are not into numbers and KM splits, this is probably a little tedious.

Later on this week, I’ll post some random thoughts on the event, the weekend and the Old Home Week-like feel at the finish line as well as a few photos.

I was delighted with the result and now, some 48 hours after the start, my legs are still aching pretty good.

Well worth it though.

Anyway, here is the recap of the race.

Awoke at 5:45 a.m. for 8 a.m. start, got ready and was not thinking much as everything was laid out the previous night. Got dressed quickly, said goodbye to Kathy, who was running the half and off I went. It is a point-to-point race from Brackley Beach to Charlottetown. We were transported Continue reading

Tempos and a missed run

This was not the greatest week for running as for some reason, it was a mental fight to get out the door each session. It cost me one session Wednesday as I just did not have it to get going after a day at work and then a special freelance photo job in the evening. Possibly, I will make it up Monday.

Overall, it was tough to take that first step all week (maybe the deck work caught up to me) but now that a week of vacation has hit, it figures to get easier. I must admit that reading others’ blogs or updates got me going with some messages of inspiration or dedication. Reading those made me think that October’s run will get rated as a success only if I put in the work now. I’ve done that in the past but maybe because I am blogging, the accountability factor has jumped and there is no room to slack off.

And this is an intense week in the Pfitzner training plan for the P.E.I. Marathon so if I make up the lost run (8k recovery pace) on Monday, all will be good.

The big session of the week was Tuesday’s tempo effort, which consisted of 8km at 5:00 per km pace of a 14km run. It equalled the longest tempo distance of training so far and took me through some solid elevation swings. Good news is the tempo paces were all under 5:00 per km, averaging 4:55 and ranging between 4:48-4:59.

After Wednesday’s missed run, I hit the road for 16km on Thursday, averaging 5:57, which is consistent with my pacing (15 per cent above Marathon pace) the previous two times I ran that distance.

Friday was an off day and Saturday morning, I hit the treadmill for a light run at 6:47 per km.

Now to get back on track.


Tuesday – 3k warm up, then 8k tempo, aiming for 5:00 per km, 3k cool down

Thursday – 16k average 5:57

Saturday – 8k, treadmill. 6:50 pace while watching the British Open.

Sunday 26 k, with 13 at marathon pace

Good news is that weigh in this week was 182.5 pounds, down from 189 earlier in this cycle.

Mini goal and striding

trainingRemember those number games I mentioned a while back, the mental math you play sometimes when on a long run to help you get through some of the tougher parts of two-plus hours on the road. It always seems that the roughest parts of any run are the early segments. The old adage that the hardest aspect of running is getting out the door really is true. Once those first steps are out of the way, it seems to get a bit easier the rest of the way – in most cases.

Well in terms of the Pfitzner training program for the P.E.I. Marathon, I hit a mini goal this week – the one-third threshold or 7 and 1/3 weeks. That includes the four weeks of base building and while there is plenty of heavy lifting ahead – particularly in August – but it is nice to hit this stage with more ups than downs.

This week saw the introduction of strides to the program, a series of 100-metre sprints (10) over the final part of a general aerobic run (15 per cent higher than Marathon pace), which I gather helps with form, speed and strength. The idea is to build up to 90 per cent of your sprint speed in the first 50 metres and then ease up to the end of 100 metres, followed by 200 metres of easy jogging. Repeat 10 times. So that means for 3k, near the end of your run, you are ‘striding’.

I think I did it too fast though, as I was sprinting throughout the 100 metres. By the time I hit the 8th set, it was starting to hurt. But I got through it. And after Sunday’s battle with humidity, I was not sure how it would work out. Yet the temperature and the run, save for a little sprint fatigue at the end, was virtually perfect at 20C and no wind.

Wednesday was that recovery run (at 25 per cent higher than Marathon pace) and Thursday, the once daunting 16k mid-week run came off in reasonable fashion in a time of 5:57 per km.

This weekend sees an 8k recovery run and a 24k long run. This weekend’s other duties include a soccer tournament and staining the deck. We shall see how it all goes.

Tuesday – 11.5 K with 7.5 k at general aerobic pace, then 3k that included 10×100 strides with 200m slow jog of recovery, followed by 1k recovery

Wednesday – 10k recovery pace run @640-7:00 per k

Thursday – 16k General aerobic run. Aim to hit 6:12 per k; Averaged 5:57 per k

Splits (may not be exact, due to rounding) – First 4k – 6:04, 6:04, 6:00, 6:10 (24:18); Second 4k 6:05, 5:59, 5:51; 5:57 (23:53); Third 4k – 6:02, 5:54, 5:51, 5:58 (23:44); Final 4k – 5:55, 5:51, 5:47, 5:49 (23:37)

Mother nature


It started slowly but just after I began Saturday on a recovery pace for my 8-km run, the skies opened up, and the pouring rain was accompanied by plenty of thunder and lightning.

Canada Day brought out a rare sight in Quispamsis Monday – the sun. For much of the past week, the prevailing conditions were rain, clouds, darkness and relatively cool temperatures. Mind you, since I had a few extended runs scheduled in my training for the P.E.I. Marathon, I did not mind the conditions that much. In fact, two of my most enjoyable runs ever happened in cloudy, cool or rainy conditions – Fredericton half in 2012 and PEI 10K in October 2010.

But this week, two runs were interrupted by Mother Nature. First, the strides workout I had planned for Tuesday was altered to a tempo run on the treadmill because of a threat of lightning. In fact, there was a tornado warning for the evening, which had me wondering just what the heck to do, if our house was strong enough to last through a tornado, do we have supplies, will we be safe, etc etc. etc. The warning lasted all of 45 minutes but was enough to keep me inside on the treadmill that night. I opted out of the strides because they are 25-30 seconds of sprinting followed by two minutes of a slow jog – repeated 10 times. I just felt so much button-pushing on the treadmill was not worth it, so I switched to a 3-7-3 tempo format with the 7k run at 5 min pace.

Thursday, it was overcast and cool but at 13-15C, it was a beautiful evening for a run when I got going on a 16k effort. I tried to keep it at 6:20 per km but came in at 6:10 per KM. I read that the training pace needs to keep slow in order to 1) log the time and get your body burning fat on the aerobic jaunt and not producing lactic acid (more on that later in the process – when I figure it out! and 2) not burn out.

But the temperatures made for a comfortable run on my favourite route, which takes me adjacent to the Kennebecasis River. Ironically enough, as I ran, Saint John-like fog had rolled in and the river was a blanket of white.

Saturday was a crazy day at our house as were prepared for my oldest daughter’s 10th birthday party – Double digits, big time effort. So we hosted a sleepover for eight of her friends and my youngest daughter. It all went well as could be expected and I even had time for an 8k recovery pace run starting at approximately 4:45 p.m. before everyone arrived. I got going on a nice pace, again a little quick but not too bad. After just one km, the clouds opened, sprinkling with a light rain. Not bad, I thought. Refreshing even. At 1.5 km though, it really started to pour and at 2 km, I heard the first rumble. It was distant but distinct. I thought I’d go 500 more metres, possibly another km and turn around to cut it short to 6km overall.

A 2.5 km, the rumbles grew in volume and at 3 km, there was a none so subtle ‘BANG’. I sprinted for cover outside a local restaurant, and waited and waited and waited for the storm to let up. Finally, after 20 minutes and with no relief in sight, I called for a drive home. The rain was so intense, it was streaming off the roof of the restaurant – see the picture above. The rumbling lasted another 30-45 minutes but by then, the birthday guests were arriving. So I cut it short – 3km run.

After the excitement, came another one of those Pfitzner tests – a 21.1 km long run with 13 km at marathon pace on Sunday. For me, that meant a 5:36 km effort from the 4km mark to 17 km, achievable but after not doing that pace for that distance for a while, not a given. The key was to hit the time pretty well right on and not attempt to bank time, as I did in Moncton last year, a strategy where I ultimately paid dearly. But when you are feeling good and can go with the speed of the day as warranted by conditions and your energy level, it is hard not to run at the faster pace. This will be the biggest challenge in training, I figure – running disciplined.

Safe to say, this is a lead in to report I was not disciplined Sunday, completing the entire 21.1 km route, warm ups included at 5:36 or 1:57.4x.

My warmup 4 k splits were 6:01, 6:13, 6:08, 6:07 – a tad faster than the 6:25 I was hoping for.

The 13 k splits (again aiming for 5:36) were as follows:

5:34, 5:31, 5:45, 5:24, 5:24, 5:16; 5:26; 5:12; 5:16, 5:18; 5:13: 5:09; 4:55.

This was about three minutes, 35 seconds, or almost 16 seconds per km, faster than I should have been. It might not seem like a lot, but over the course of a full marathon, this will be a killer. I know first-hand. Looking at the splits, I suspect I felt nervous after that 5:45 time and decided I did not want push it so close the rest of the way. The final 4 k were a shade under 6:00 coming home.

Overall, I felt good, really good for the first half I’d run in more than 6 months and 8 k of that half was at a slow pace. But after the 17th K, I was feeling it and was more tired than possibly I should be to end Week 2 of training. So the next big test for marathon pace is in three weeks. We’ll see if I can use this lesson and come closer to the goal of 5:36.

Last week

4 runs, 53 k

This week

5 runs, 64 km, long run 23 km