Why do I do this...

Why? To be better...

1. I promised (only a few people will know what this means, and if you don't, you will).
2. I am better than this.

Personal Bests

Santa Race November 25, 2012
5k 30:51 min/sec 6:11 pace per km

Boxing Day 10 Miler December 26, 2012
16.09 k 1:42:22 hr/min/sec 6:23 pace per km

Road 2 Hope Half Marathon November 4, 2012
21.1k 2:16:41 hr/min/sec 6:27 pace per km

Road 2 Hope Marathon November 5, 2011
5k 34:18 min/sec 6:52 pace per km

Around the Bay March 25, 2012
5k 32:07 min/sec 6:26 pace per km

Burlington Runners Good Friday 5k April 6, 2012
5k 31:22 min/sec 6:22 pace per km
(Garmin Race Time 5k 31:12 min/sec 6:14 pace per km)

Imperial Glass 4/8K Grey Cup Run November 26th, 2011
4K 26:55 min/sec 6:44 pace per km

Non Race Personal Bests

2.4km 13:19 min/sec 5:31 pace per km
July 17, 2012

5k 28:13 min/sec 5:40 pace per km
Nov 15, 2012

10k 1:02:25 hour/min/sec 6:15 pace Aug/29/2012

Challenge Start: July 18, 2011
Start Weight: 286 lbs
Current Weight: 208 lbs as at November 11, 2012
Total lost: 78 lbs
Goal Weight: 197
Last Cigarette: June, 2011

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Boxing Day 10 Miler

The 92nd Boxing Day 10 Miler

This was my first year at this race and I have to tell you, the way I felt after it, I almost wanted to say it could be my last.

In a bit of a spur of the moment decision I decided that I would run this race on December 1, and race day was Boxing Day, obviously. Training would last for three weeks (until December 21), with a program self designed to increase my physical toughness. It was 21 days straight of workouts with alternating run days. It worked out that I ran 3-4 times a week, 2-3 times per week of weights at home and 1-2 times per week of Crossfit. It was, for me, a pretty intense three weeks which left me a bit broken and sore.

Looking back and thinking more about this race I should have known not to take my body to the edge like this considering it was a 16.09 km course which according to the race website, is described as challenging. Confidently I agree and feel this it is a course for the experienced runner, which I am not.

The Hamilton Road2Hope Half in retrospect was equal in difficulty, if not, easier. Yes, it was longer but the entire course was down hill. The same can't be said for the Boxing Day 10 Miler, rather the last third is basically hills and the largest being a 3/4 climb of the Hamilton escarpment.

Because of the hills I think my training was all wrong for this race. As I sit here typing, my calves are still burning from a mistaken attempt at going for a PB on a hill course at sub zero temperatures, 60 to 80 kph winds, ice and snow covered roads in certain areas and lastly, a muddy trail portion which after that Chedoke Hill felt very similar to ice.

Here is a link to the Race website, if you would like to know more about it. http://www.boxingdayrun.ca/

My largest error was in the amount of hill training I did and my final selection of pace for race day. Before race day I had some great runs which were quite fast for me. However most were on flats and or only half the distance which was not a true indicator of the pace I could hold for the entire 16kms.

In those three training weeks before the race I did muster two long runs (13.6km and 14.5km), but in retrospect one was a run above my abilities (a one off), and the other was more in my range (a bit slower). The other costly mistake in regards to my training runs was not taking an actual average of all my training runs, rather, I did a guesstimate.

I believe now that guesstimate was even less of a guesstimate, it was actually an emotional expectation of what I think I should be doing in regards to pace and speed. Do not get me wrong, I think its good to push yourself but as I learned from the half, the numbers are the numbers, and you cant expect to go out and run something you never have before. One again this is a generalization, and yes the race atmosphere can bring more out of you but not an unrealistic amount more.

Here are all my training runs for the month of December (you be the judge)...left to right..DATE, TIME, DISTANCE, ELEVATION GAIN (in meters), and AVERAGE PACE.

Sat, Dec 1, 2012 3:51 PM





Sun, Dec 2, 2012 1:43 PM




Wed, Dec 5, 2012 11:25 AM




Sat, Dec 8, 2012 8:02 AM




Mon, Dec 10, 2012 12:50 PM




Thu, Dec 13, 2012 11:09 AM





Fri, Dec 14, 2012 1:42 PM




Sat, Dec 15, 2012 9:07 AM




Mon, Dec 17, 2012 12:41 PM




Thu, Dec 20, 2012 8:57 AM





So when I looked at this I just made an assumption on the pace. What I should have done is thrown out all the 5k times and thrown out the Dec 20th run as that was the one off. I was running beyond my abilities that day.

So my emotional guesstimate for race day was 6:00 min per km pace. Based on the above numbers it would have worked out to be 6:06 pace per km and that would have been closer than what I picked but still not a true reflection of my actual abilities. I picked 6:00 min per km for race day on race day! (smart)

The difference between 6:00 and 6:06 pace per km is not a lot of time but it is for me and especially over 16km. The other failure in my guesstimate was only 3 of those 10 runs included serious hills. Over 50 percent of my training runs were not realistic examples of what I could do at the 16km distance and definately did not take into account for the aggressive hill terrain. Oh and all the hills are in the last third of the race.

My final pace for the Road2Hope Half Marathon  was 6:27 per km which I was very pleased with. My final time for the Boxing Day 10 Miler was 1:42:22 which is a pace of 6:23 per km. Now this is a small difference but it still is an overall improvement of pace on what I feel was a very challenging route compared to the half marathon even though it was shorter.

Having gone out with the mindset of a 6:00 min per km pace made me diminish my improvement of pace (I think i could have run 6:15-6:20) as you can tell most of my fast training runs were with little elevation and did not surpass 10k. Because I did not analyse this pre-race and went out with the mindset of 6:00 min per km; at the 11km mark, my legs filled with lactic acid right before the Chedoke Hill and I did not get my legs back until the 15th km.

I am quite positive if I had held back just a little bit in the front 10 I could have definitely performed much better but as I said, I learned a lot and will hopefully account for these underestimations the next time out.

KMS 11 through 14 were very disheartening kms as I passed a great deal of people (km 5-10) and then...yep you guessed it....the worst happened, a few even talked about it, "see its back and forth, we are passing those that passed us, just keep our pace."

You have no idea how angry that made me, and to make it even worse (typically my anger gives me another gear), I could not respond due to physical inability. A lesson I wished not to learn!

If you want to see the course route, please go to this link provided by Garmin connrct (tm). http://connect.garmin.com/activity/254923634

Here are my splits from race day.

KM1. 6:19 KM2. 6:03 KM3. 6:00 KM4. 6:02 KM5. 6:14 KM6. 5:55 KM7. 5:50 KM8. 5:57 KM9. 6:40 KM10. 6:05 KM11. 6:13 KM12. 7:19 KM13. 7:18 KM14. 6:21 KM15. 7:05 KM16. 6:11 KM17. 5:41

Best Running and Fitness wishes for 2013!!!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Part III Race Day

Hamilton Marathon Race day Recap

So as I reflect back on this morning, I truly believe I would not have done one thing different up to and including race day. I believe my preparation and preparedness was the best it could be for a beginner who is over two hundred pounds and up until 2011 could probably say he hate running!  On top of that, I have to admit that when I was in any kind of physical condition,  running was more like punishment than any type of enjoyment. 

Race start was scheduled for 8:45, so to be well prepared I got there with a ride from Enz @ Downward Trenz. We were nice and early, the way I like to be and even though we were early, parking was not easy. Because of the hassle of parking, next time I will use the shuttle service that is provided.

We proceeded into Dofasco Park and were instructed once inside that all the half marathoners should go to the gymnasium which I did. Once in there, I took my layers off and gave all my unnecessary items to Enz and she took them and agreed to go outside to see the start of the full and lookout for another friend.

This left me to myself which I must admit I quite enjoy.  Its an opportunity to go over everything I had planned and do a light warm up of light jogging, high knees, toy soldiers and some easy stretching. That time was an all around great relaxing moment to take it all in, stay warm, and enjoy the time before the race started.

Our race was to begin at 8:45. I headed to the door about 10 minutes beforehand but noticed no one was really going out. I decided staying warm was more important than being outside and I am glad I did this as the race started a little late. Only once more people started to exit did I leave (thought it was a bit funny that organizers were not announcing anything) but I thought to my self that as long as I follow the crowd it will be all okay. I was there to finish not jostle for position and regardless the start line is there even if you are the last one to cross it.

Once outside I casually got in line for the race start. If I had to guesstimate, I was probably 200m back from the start line. This was closer than I expected and as I got in line I am sure it doubled behind me.

During those 5-10 minutes outside waiting, I just stayed focused on my plan of going out controlled. No out of breath running is what I promised myself and I reminded myself that people passing me is okay because if it was their first half also, it was also highly likely we would meet up again later on after they spent too much energy at the start. I drilled this into my mind, that there is no benefit to go out fast and then not be able to be give my best effort in the end.

Once the race started, that is exactly what I did, just ran a comfortable pace and there were many people passing me but I just ignored it. That is a difficult thing to do especially when you know you can go faster but I knew it was necessary and convinced myself that this may hurt many of them. Likely it didn't but I knew it could hurt me, especially my hip. Stay the course and finish.

The 3k mark was the first water station which I passed on, but it was the first time I looked at my Garmin and saw that I was a little off the 6:30 pace I planned. I was warm and lose so I picked it up a little. I felt great and can really say I was enjoying the group of people that were around me.

There were a few spectators at Centennial Parkway which was nice to see and always adds a small spark to my step. Now they were there for their friends or families but they were hooting and hollering which makes for a great running experience. 

The next water station came and went (6km...no water for me) but another look at my watch and I was below that 6:30 pace which pleased me and I still felt great. I believe it was 6:26 per km which as mentioned before is approximately what my average pace was over my training runs so I wasn't worried. The course was treating me well, I wasn't out of breath and not at all like I was pushing myself so I kept it there. Energy levels were good and no feeling that I was building lactic acid too early in the run. 

Now being at 6km this is where I needed to start being more careful and keeping thoughtful as for anyone that knows this course knows it is a complete downhill course right to the end and the next 5-6 km were going to be the steepest and I knew this could be a problem if I let myself go faster than I should. During this section there would be over a 100 m elevation change as we headed towards Lake Ontario.

Here is the link to the course map if you would like to take a look. http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=5520844

Interestingly, I never trained much  for a steep downhill but I did heed the warnings. Reading something and doing it, really does not provide exact expectations. I am glad I thought about this because on km 7 I let my legs go a little bit (faster) and I found out why one needs to conserve on the downhill portions. That km was my fastest yet at 5:55 per km. I felt my breathing come up a little and decided to back off.  I am SO glad I did because on the next km I began to feel pain in my right calf which I had never felt before. It was not bad but focused in the middle of my calf like a slight burning sensation. It was not overly painful but enough to make you mindful and wonder if it was going to progress into something more.

This was what everyone was talking about when running downhill; the calf muscles are always stretched out rather than contracted like going up hill and they were not accustomed to it. When you read that, it really sounds like a minor difference but its a big difference for the muscle. I am convinced that if I kept that pace going which I could have, it would have most definitely caused a catastrophic injury in my calf and likely caused me to stop or seriously slow my pace. Thank-fully, I stuck to the plan and backed off.

 At about the 8k mark it was time for a gel pack.  I tore the top off and push the glob into my throat. It is kind of like the texture of honey but a little more fluid and less sticky but none the less a different sensation to try and consume while running!! Down it went and at the 9k mark there was another water station and because of the gel I took a cup and WHAM! Wow, I should have tried that pre-race. Its hard to explain but basically it was a pasty, sugary sweet but sour taste in my mouth. At the time I thought I was drinking sugar water instead I now know it was the combination. I thought this because I remember reading in race info that they were going to offer a energy drink at the water stations but I don't remember seeing any indications that it was anything that I took. Thankfully it did not cause any stomach issues so I just pushed on.

Here is the gel I used.

Approaching the 10k mark I knew there was a small elevation to get off the Red Hill Valley Parkway so I increased my tempo to maintain pace and started to pass a few people. As I rounded the corner on to Barton St I saw my friend and his son. This gave me an energy lift and the support was appreciated.

We  then entered the short trail portion down to Van Wagners Beach |Rd. There were some small hills through this section and the trail was very narrow. Not sure if this convergence made me nervous but it did increase my pace so not to block the elite runners. The Marathon leaders had already passed but the remaining top runners were coming through at the same time as my group which is far slower than them. I am not sure but I think this portion of the course likely annoyed many of the elite runners as we (I did) the recreational runners had no idea they were coming and it would have made them work harder to get through this area and maintain their pace. My pace went down to around the 6 min per km pace which was at about the 12km mark.

Here are my 1km splits up to getting down to Van Wagners Road.

So you can see that the major downhill started at about the 6th km but I did correct my pace and held back until that 12th km were there was a lot of passing and concern for being in the way of these amazing athletes. My time for the fist half of the race went to plan and I was still pain free (other than that small pain in my right calf).

Now because I did go a bit faster than I should have in the 12th km I slowed it down and took the atmosphere in and let me say this was most interesting time during the race. The way they laid the course out split the beach road path in two, so the slower runners could see all faster ones.  The expressions on the runners faces is what interested me most. They were in their last 5kms and watching is what I did for the next 3kms.

What an amazing story each face told. I mean many you could tell they were chasing personal bests, some were in pain, others had little expression, and then there were the few that you could tell they were filled with joy and were just so happy with their race/day. It was interesting to say at the very least and many runners made eye contact with me which was almost like a mutual hey and obviously many were doing the same as I. This was very cool and I am so glad I took that time to watch the race while being in it.

During that time I also took my second gel pack and made sure to ask at the water station that it was water that I was taking. They confirmed such and that's when I figured it was just the water with the gel pack that made that odd taste but I was expecting it this time so it was all good. That was about kilometer 14 or 15.

At km 16 it was time to run my race. It was my plan to run my hardest for the last 5.  Having past the 16 marker, I began to increase my turnover pace and it felt good. I began to look ahead and try to dial people in to chase. For me this is a great motivator. You can't always catch people but it creates a drive to go faster.

From that point on, I do not believe anyone passed me. Interestingly though, shortly before the 16 km mark, a man that I estimate was about 275lbs (looked like an offense lineman) passed me. I had passed him earlier and he was with a couple of friends and was running what seemed to be 10's and 1's. This is the person I chose to chase. He was about 100-150m ahead of me when I started my run for the finish.

Every time he stopped for his walking portion I would catch him a little but when he began to run, the gap went back to what it was. He was amazing and during this time I passed many people but not him. Gradually I lost sight of him, it must have around the 19k mark. He must have decided to run the remaining km's and not walk. It was amazing, he brought me along with him but had another gear and pulled away. This confirms that healthy people come in all sizes in my opinion.

I finished the race pushing as hard as I could, passing and out of breath. My last km was my strongest and relatively pain free (just exhaustion). I am proud of that finish and now have a better understanding of "running your race." I believe I ran the best I possibly could have.

Here is a picture of me taken crossing the finish line by our local newspaper  As you can see there was a young lady that must have been passing many behind me and caught me right at the finish. She recently swam one of the great lakes (Ontario I think) and I thought it was funny that I got into her picture.

 Here are my spits for the last half.


My chip time was 2:16:41 for a pace of 6:27 per km. As I said in part one, my hope was for a 2:30 marathon and at best a 2:20. Expectations were surpassed and with little stress. I believe my race was prepared, planned and followed. All that training was worth it to know I ran my best and can positively say I enjoyed every step.

I leave you with a final picture of me staying warm at the finish at the Road2Hope Marathon, Hamilton 2012.