Officially registered


OK, no turning back now. We are all officially registered for the P.E.I. Marathon next month. A mere formality but significant one, none-the-less.

Yup, we are all in – running the full, the half and the Spud Run, a two-lapper at the UPEI track for the girls.

I held back a bit before signing up because the refund policy is not great for many marathons if something arises – injury for example – that causes you to miss it. But hopefully that will not happen. A lot of races, like this one, will allow you to forward your entry to next year if something pops up but who knows what next year will bring.

With a lot of good options in New Brunswick and elsewhere, maybe other centres will interest us. Or maybe ,…well, won’t think about other maybes. Thus, the delay, even though the commitment was essentially made in May.

Also, this week was the deadline for getting a personalized bib and considering the significance of the event, that was a nice incentive to finally shell out the cash. That is purely from a scrapbook point of view but more and more marathons have these and it is a nice touch.

Finally, as you can see by the screen grab above, the time is ticking for training.

Pacing this week has been good. On Tuesday, it resumed with a 13k that included 5×600 metre speed segments that I pulled off at 4:30 per km or better pace, a big carryover in confidence from the Hampton 5-Miler on the weekend.

Wednesday’s medium long run of 19 k was pushed to Thursday, in part because I was pretty tired but also because a lightning storm hit when I would have run anyway.

I switched it with a planned off day Thursday but the run then conflicted with the Pats-Jets game. I needed a plan.

I thought I figured out an app to listen to the game on my iPhone while I ran- how good was that? – but after the pre-game show ended, and my anticipation levels rose, the pre-game show repeated and I had no live feed.

I am sure there was an easy or alternate solution but 3.5 k in at 9 p.m., I was not blessed with time, light or patience to figure it out.

So instead, I logged onto ESPN and got the regular updates from the web. At one point though, right around the time a Jets TD was being reviewed (an ultimately overturned) I stopped running and kept hitting refresh. Since there was light rain, I took my glasses off to get a look. The review seem to take forever. I started to walk, then run, slowly, with no glasses, an iphone to my nose, waiting for the result.

Then I clued in – this is a little ridiculous.

Must have looked odd – in the rain, blurred eyes trying to focus on the phone while walking/running in the dark.

Not good. Luckily, I escaped my madness unharmed!

However, I regained focus, got home in time to catch the second half, the Pats won and I completed an interesting 19.5 km effort in warm, misty, foggy conditions.

This weekend includes two 8km runs and one 29k effort with 23k at marathon pace.

Thankfully, the Pats won’t interfere with this one.

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.

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