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.

Vacation running and some great views

The juggling act of keeping my running schedule on track is a tough one when on vacation, with various treks, meals, gatherings and must do outings as a family. It’s been a good week thus far and for the most part, I have kept to a reasonably solid schedule in the midst of our annual journey to the Island.
The first two days of vacation produced a pair of 8k recovery runs, one on a treadmill and the other through parts of Cavendish, near the dunes in the national park. That one was the first of two runs that were simply spectacular. There, while running on gravel, through a twisty trail segment you get surprised when you come to a clearing and all you see, in the glistening sunlight are these massive series of white sand dunes. Breathtaking. 
The next day was the test run, a 26k long run, with 13k at marathon pace. I did not get going until 9:30 a.m. And the sun was already beating down to the tune of 22C with not too much wind, especially in the opening 6k warmup. In fact, it was so hot , I was making adjustment plans to run without the 13k at MP, potentially opting for one even-paced long run. That was evident when I moved the warmup to 7k, instead of 6k. But I thought this is a test and it was important to see how far you can go. In the second segment, I hit the the first k in 5:32, the second in 5:30 and when I got to the halfway mark overall, I was cruising a bit at regular Kms of 5:20 pr so. The trek from Cavendish to Rustico is quite hilly, another aspect I was not sure I was prepared for. Coming back, I was able to hit my goal and complete the 13k and once again, with a twisting route and brilliant sunshine, the views of red soiled cliffs, deep blue water and white sand beaches were amazing. 
The following day, Kathy, who is doing the half marathon in PEI, and I ran the final hill stages of the actual route, a series of three hills that start at the 15 k mark for the half and the 35 k mark for the full. Elevation levels jump between 30-40 metres over 500-750 metres on the hills and while we ran at a conservative pace, they are sure to be extremely challenging come the final stages of the PEI marathon in October.
Wednesday was off and today, I am in the midst of the recovery stage of Pfitzner’s endurance component. That means 13k with 10×100 strides.
Saturday 8k at 645
Sunday 8k at 6:00
Monday 26 k 
first 7 at about 6:35
8-20 ranging 5:12-5:32
21 at 7:40
22-26 ranging 6:05-5:55
Tuesday 8k at 7:00
Wednesday – off
Today 13k, with strides

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.

Quick update – more later

It was bound to happen but I had to skip a run this week – an 8k recovery run Wednesday. Hope to get it in tonight, a scheduled off day.

Went Tuesday and for the 8k of tempo scheduled, came in under 5:00 per km each time, so that was good; last night, 16k run, that was as the week has been – some good, some not so good.

The Long Run – three weekends and more of bringing our once tired deck back to life.


“Oh, about 4-5 hours,” I said with confidence when asked how long it would take to rejuvenate our somewhat neglected patio deck.

Well, after three weekends and with another 5-6 hours of labour in the forecast, it is slowly coming together, transforming from its previous grey and faded state into a sharp Redwood colour. It is getting close to 30 hours now and definitely adding a challenge to the weekend running. That is especially so for the long runs, which for the past two weekends, started at or around 9:30 p.m.

The deck has a number of detailed challenges and I think running has assisted my energy levels in tackling them in the various stages. But this Sunday was a big one, as the first two gallons of stain were applied in the heat of the afternoon. Considering my previous long run was an exercise in fatigue through heat and humidity, I wondered if this week’s effort would develop into the same thing.  Working in my favour was a significant temperature decline of 8C to a reasonable 19C, and a slight wind off the river, which translated into a nice run – after the staining exercise.

Building on the poor performance a week earlier, I started slow and took it easy on the first 12k of a 24k run, averaging about 6:29 per km (aiming for 6:35-6:40). I read last week that controlling your speed is easier in a group setting and that is something I may want to entertain in the coming weeks, when the volume eventually hits 32k. Feeling good at halfway, I opted to try and increase my speed from 20 per cent above Marathon Pace to 10 per cent above MP, or 6:00-6:05 per km.

I broke that 12k into four 3km segments, and for the most part, it was pretty evenly paced, if not slightly fast at about 5:50-5:55 per km. Overall, though, I was happy with my effort this time, despite worrying about energy lost on the deck. It did not seem to have a dramatic impact as my 6-km splits were as follows 39:10; 38:43, 35:16 and 35:04. The last split was nice because I have to prepare for the P.E.I. Marathon and its tough finish of three significant hills, starting around the 35km mark. I plan to finish the long runs with two big climbs at the end (eventually three) to prepare for that late Island challenge.

Also, the long run produced a nice negative split of more than seven minutes, so all in all, a decent result. Now, if I can just finish that deck.

Saturday – Recovery run, 8km, approx 6:45 per km

Sunday long run – 24km @6:11.

First quarter 6:38; 6:39; 6:27; 6:29; 6:36; 6:23.

Second quarter 6:25; 6:33; 6:24; 6:30; 6:31; 6:21.

Third quarter 5:57; 6:02; 5:48; 5:50; 5:46; 5:53.

Final quarter 6:01; 5;45; 5:51; 5:42; 6:0; 5:43.

This week

Other than volume associated with the long run, which I do not really fear, the most troubling  training session right now is the Tuesday session or Lactate Threshold run, where you – in this case – run 8km at half marathon pace as part of a 14km effort. That pace, for me, is 5:00 per km and judging by earlier efforts, represents quite a challenge. I have gone 6, 7 and 8km in this format to date and it is a great feeling – when it is over.

Wednesday has an 8km recovery and Thursday sees a 16km general aerobic run on the slate.

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)

Humidity, walls, long runs and sweat, sweat, sweat

Monday, I spent most of the day longing for extra coffee, more sleep and, in between work assignments, any information on how to effectively run and train in hot, humid conditions. That comes on the heels of a slightly gruesome effort Sunday – a planned 23k effort that morphed into a respectable 22k effort but included three 90-second walking breaks in the final 3.5k.

More noticeably was a sense of bad deja vu, a feeling in the late going that I was close to the dreaded wall, the same wall I slammed into at the end of the Legs For Literacy marathon last October.

In short, not a good sensation as my aching legs and tired feet on Monday could attest.

When I finished, I dripped so much sweat, my jogging shirt and shorts were sopping wet, it was that humid. Safe to say, the high temperatures and humid conditions took a toll on the entire running community, including a great deal of those training for the P.E.I. Marathon. For me, Sunday’s long run was the first of the Pfitzner marathon training program that featured such warm conditions.

And I really did not have it as bad as it could have been earlier in the day when temps hit 34C and it felt like 41C. I ran in 25-27C and judging by the weather network data, it felt like mid-30s. Still quite uncomfortable.

My goal, I thought, would be to run 6:10-6:25 pace early on , sort of midway between the two extremes I usually aim for in a long run – go out 20 per cent slower than MP and come back at 10 per cent above MP. I knew it was hot, so I read if you douse your hat with cold water, it can help.  I drank lots of water before I started and had lots on the route.

Still, I got a little frisky with the early pace and just like the marathon back a year ago, I paid dearly in the late going. The good news is that it was just in training, I managed to get 22 k in, even with a few breaks and it was a great reminder of what happens if you do not run to the conditions, whether they be weather or fitness related.

The reading says be aware, do not beat yourself over slower than usual efforts in the heat or any major adjustments you had to make. It suggests that tough sledding in summer training will lead to wonderful conditions in the 6 weeks prior to the race.

Also, I checked the race report for last five or so PEI Marathons and temps have generally ranged from 10-15c. The main issues were some wind and rain, not excessive heat.

So to recap, five runs last week, 63 k.
Saturday – 8k recovery run at 6:41 per km.
Sunday – Averaged 6:17 in first 17:67 km before my battery went. What follows are the lap times for the first 17k, a clear indication that I was going too fast for even normal conditions.
6:02, 6:20; 6:13; 6:15;

6:20; 6:26; 6:20; 6:23;

6:27; 6:28; 6:16; 6:10;

6:15; 6:18; 6:10; 6:20;

6:15…..shortly after my batteries went, not long before my legs did :).

Tuesday – Back at it with 11.5 k at general aerobic pace of approx 6:05, ending with 3k of strides sprints 10×100.