Monday, September 27, 2010

Chicago Marathon Training Summary - Weeks 14 and 15; Vacation in Vancouver, Canada

Weeks 14 and 15 of my 17 week Chicago Marathon training is done.  Yes!!!  I am now in taper mode now, which I am very excited about.  I feel great and am 95% healthy.  My knees and IT bands feel great, with the exception of the ganglion cyst that continues to sit behind my left knee.  It doesn't bother me when I run, but I definitely feel it the next day after a long run.  I've had the cyst on and off since March.  It goes away when I reduce my mileage and gets bigger when I do long runs.  Overall, I'm very pleased and happy to be feeling so good at this point in my marathon training.  For my previous 2 marathons (NYC 2009 and Kenosha Wisconsin 5/2010), I was extremely fatigued at this point of my training, so much so that I desperately needed the taper.  This time around, I feel so good that I don't even feel like I need the taper (although I'm definitely still going to taper so I am fresh for the marathon on 10/10/10).  For this my marathon training, my motto has been "less is more".  After my last marathon on 5/1/2010 (and during my training), I had severe IT band friction along my right knee and bursitis behind my left knee.  Both required a cortisone shot to get better.  I decided that running 6 days/50 miles a week was too hard on my body.  My doctor recommended physical therapy and triathlons, saying "you never do enough swimming, biking, or running to really hurt yourself".  So I went out and bought a road bike and started swimming (I had never owned a road bike before and hadn't gone swimming since high school).  I picked a Hal Higdon easy marathon training schedule and started my training.  This schedule requires running 4 days a week (Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday), with not as many long runs on the weekend.  For my NYC marathon training, I did 3 long runs of 20 miles.  For Kenosha, I did 4 long runs of 20 miles.  For the upcoming Chicago Marathon, I only did one 20 mile run (during week 14).  We shall see if that helps or hurts me on October 10th.  I also have been doing leg strengthening exercises that I learned about during physical therapy.  To my surprise, I found that my legs were weak (and in particular my glutes), so since I learned this I have been doing exercises at home with big rubber bands to strengthen my glutes and legs, which has really helped.  Additionally, bike riding has really strengthened my legs.  Finally, I have been trying to get more sleep.  While I haven't been great at getting enough sleep during my training, typically averaging about 6.5 hours per night, during our vacation in Vancouver I had 4 days were I got at least 8 hours of sleep a night and another 2 where I got more than 7 hours.  On the day we got home, I slept almost 10 hours and woke up feeling like a million bucks.  I have read all over the place that sleep in the single best recovery method from heavy physical activity, and I definitely feel rested after our vacation.  I also regularly do ice or cold water baths with Epsom salts.

Week 14 Summary - peak marathon training week
  • 6 workouts - ran 5 times (43 miles in total), cycled once (43 miles, approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes) - total workout time approximately 8.5 hours over 5 days.
    • Monday - 5 miles (8:19 pace) - heart rate monitor battery dead
    • Tuesday - 10 miles (8:19 pace) - heart rate monitor battery dead
    • Wednesday - 5 miles (8:19 pace) - heart rate monitor battery dead
    • Thursday - Off day - travel to Vancouver
    • Friday - 20 miles (8:47 pace, ran negative splits and stopped many times to take pictures (see below) - heart rate monitor battery dead
    • Saturday - Off day
    • Sunday - Brick workout -  2 hour and 30 minute bike ride (43.34 miles) followed immediately by a 3 mile run (overall 7:39 pace) - with the first mile off the bike at a 6:48 pace, which I was working hard for.  Slowed down after that.
    • Overall, started out each of my runs easy (except for Sunday) and finished strong.  Had a few workouts where I ran 1-2 miles hard with splits in the 6s
Week 15 Summary - 6 workouts - ran 4 times (31 miles, 5, 8, 6, and 12 mile runs) and cycled twice (once on a trainer for 55 minutes, alternating between 5 easy minutes and 5 hard minutes) and once for 30 miles in Central park
  • Continued to feel good and really enjoyed my workout on the bike trainer.  I definitely need to buy one for our apartment for winter training (plus I feel like I got a different type of workout which I liked).  Can anybody recommend a good trainer to buy at a reasonable price?  Does anybody know of a used one for sale?  I will be doing a lot of trainer work this winter to build my base for my Ironman Canada race on 8/28/2011.
Over the last 10 days, we were on vacation in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.  We had a great time (although it rained almost the entire time we were there - we only had 1 sunny day out of the 10 days we were there).  We stayed with our friends PN and MM, which was great (thanks Paul and Miranda, we really appreciate it!)  Both PN and MM are also training for Ironman Canada in August 2011 (the three of us will be doing the race together).  I trained with Paul 3 times while I was there, which was great (he ran the first 13 miles of my 20 mile training run with me, we did a brick together, a 2 hour and 30 minute bike ride immediately followed by a 20 minute run, and a 50 minute run together).  Paul is an extremely talented and gifted athlete  - he was nearly a professional cyclist and left me in the dust on the bike when the hard part of his workout started, and during the brick run, he ran the first mile off the bike at a sub 6 minute per mile pace (while I was happy with my 6:48 per mile first mile off the bike split, I was easily far behind him). 

By far, the best part of the week was our daughter Kaiya turning 2 on 9/21 (I can't believe that she is 2 already!).  So, for the second consecutive year, we celebrated her birthday in Vancouver and Miranda and Paul's house.

Here is a picture of Kaiya while at Whistler (she picked out and put on the hat herself)

Some pictures from my 20 mile long run in Vancouver:

I ran along the water every day - absolutely beautiful

I took a wrong turn and my 20 mile long run unexpectedly became partly a trail run.  I have a new-found respect for trail running.  It is hard and hilly!!  This is a view from the top of one of the trails as I head back to easy, flat running....

A 137 meter pool in Kits - they keep the water cold and allow wetsuits!  A triathlete's dream!  Remind me again, why do we live in New York City?

The first sign I saw as my long run became a trail run.  Hmmm....

The trail run begins

starting to get into the was is hilly and muddy!  All I was thinking was "where the heck am I?" and "I hope I don't get bitten by a tick!"

blurry because I was running to get out of there fast!

 A nice creek along the trail....


  1. Great report Jim -- you have really put together a great training program. Enjoy the taper!!

  2. Nice stuff. be careful, though...the trails might just draw you back in like a magnet. :-)