Category Archives: Uncategorized

Various thoughts as of 6/13/2022

  • I finally spent the last few weeks on an extended break. After coming back from Memorial Day Weekend in Flagstaff I did one 50 minute run after work the next day, then (in part because of continued sleep problems) I took it easy the rest of the workweek. I did some break running that Friday, strength trained Friday and Sunday, run Monday and Tuesday and basically took all of last workweek off from training. I was honestly rather tired, and decided to just make it an extended break.
  • I did a sizable cross-train session this Saturday, running 5K on the treadmill, strength training, easy 20 minute sessions on the spin bike and elliptical. After taking the last week basically off, I wanted to do some extended easy work knowing I was going to take it easy the rest of the weekend, which I did.
  • One factor in why I’ve been so tired the last few weeks: Vegas is obviously heating up for summer. Last week in particular was a heat wave and temps have hit 103-105°F. The heat subtlely saps your energy in general. Taking it easy was probably not a bad idea, especially given that following Van 2022 I continued running for a couple weeks afterward, so I never really took a true extended post-marathon break. At least I didn’t take a break due to injury or legit burnout. I just noticed I was tired, and with no goal races on the horizon I decided to just take it easy.
  • I ended up not giving up coffee, just yet. The time may be right to give it a go, but I get a lot out of a morning routine over a cup of coffee so I’ll keep drinking it for now.
  • I have settled into a strength training progression that’s now working quite well: I have ten base exercises (four pull exercises, four push exercises, and for core/abs I usually do hanging raises and pivot to sit-ups if the captain’s chair isn’t available) done between a two day split.
  • I started with 4 sets of each at a manageable but demanding weight (the hanging raises are following a progression since they’re bodyweight and barring gluttony and sloth that isn’t increasing; I can add weight for the sit-ups if needed).
  • I start by doing each set at 8 reps, and after one day of each, I increase to sets of 9 reps. After one more day of each, I increase to sets of 10, and so on.
  • Once I complete training days with sets of 12 reps without any problems, I then increase the weight on every exercise by 5-10 pounds depending on the exercise, and then reduce to sets of 8 reps with the heavier weight (or more demanding core exercise). Once again, after a day of each split, I increase to 9 reps, and so on. After 12 reps of each split, I add weight again, repeat.
  • This so far has been working quite well, and I will continue with this strength approach however many days per week I can reasonably strength train. I’ve been resting if sore, and have scheduled rest days on top of that. If I only strength train twice in a week, fine, and if I manage to train 4-5 days in a week with no problems, that’s also fine.
  • I tinkered with work day runs and according to my Forerunner 945 that’s helped quitee a bit with quick heat acclimation (I went from 5% to 70% in about a week). But the UV index is high (even in the morning it’s basically camped at 10, which means 10-20 straight minutes of sun should burn you) and my arms while not burned have been a bit irritated the last week. I not only took it easy last week on running but stayed in shade on whatever walking I did while limiting my overall time outside.
  • I’ll probably just stick to treadmill running for most run training until the fall. Now and again I’ll run outside for some heat/sun exposure (in fact I plan to today, though I only plan to do it today for this week). This is more for skin protection than it is for avoiding runs in hot weather. If I could handle running easy for 40-60 minutes in 90°F weather I’d do it but it’s the sun exposure that’s my problem there.
  • I’m looking at following a modified 80/20 Running marathon plan for summer, as the midweek workouts don’t ask for more than 60-65 minutes are designed to be done uninterrupted which makes them good for treadmill work, and the plan permits cross training out of easy run workouts as needed.
  • Despite the long break, my marathon shape hasn’t fallen too far, at 54% now compared to the 60’s when I ran Van 2022. I project it to fall to about 47-48% before levelling off and improving again.
  • I intend to run as many 5K-10K races this fall as I can get away with, and the marathon training should get me in good enough shape by October that I can race just about everything up to the Half Marathon distance. The Hoover Dam Half/Full Marathon is in December, and that would be the first Half I’ve run in almost 4 years. It’s been that long. Prior to that, there’s as many as 5-6 other races at 5K-10K that I could do.
  • As for now, priority one is building on strength training with the next priority being getting back to regular 40+ minute runs, mostly easy with a couple of brief bits of speedwork and a longer weekend run mixed in each week. All of this will be on the treadmill, at a sustainably easy set of paces I’ve finally locked into after months of experimenting and tinkering.

End of May 2022: Still recovering, debriefing Vancouver ’22

Hello for the moment from Flagstaff, where I spent the long holiday weekend. I had no training objectives coming here, and only went on one 4 mile run Saturday morning. I also strength trained Saturday and Sunday, which it turns out is real hard at full effort in high altitude, harder than the run. But this was basically a long weekend vacation.

After Vancouver I had kept the run streak going for a couple weeks before deciding to kill it May 15. Since then I’ve taken liberal days off, though I did make sure not to take more than 2-3 days off at a time. I’ve only run about 10 miles a week, with some cross training and strength training in-between.

I’m still a good deal tired. While I want to resume base training I’ve gone touch and go with resuming any treadmill running or cross training, since I don’t have any goal races before this fall. This weekend, I’ve noticed how weary I’ve felt in general, more so than previous trips into altitude.

Over the last two weeks, I’ll have days with good energy, but most days feel like an uphill battle. I suppose that’s par for the course after a marathon training cycle and (even if I could not finish) running a marathon.

I stayed at much better accommodations this time in Flagstaff and was much closer to Downtown, which allowed me to easily walk to and from most places I wanted to visit. Still, I did walk several miles each day, and I have to keep in mind that unlike when I lived in Chicago this is far more walking than the 2-3 15-30 minute walking breaks I’m used to in Vegas. These trpis have been some form of light aerobic training.

I splurged this time thinking it’ll be a while before I have a reason to come back here. I originally came here to train long and escape the Vegas heat, and though I’ll likely want to escape the heat during summer, I’ll probably visit other locales like Big Bear and Utah for that. Those road trips are only 2-3 hours while this one is longer at 4+. There’s also not a ton of places to visit aside from the tourist locales here, and the cheaper accommodations are a bit out of reach from those.

Over the summer, my general goal aside from consistent strength training and building weight/volume on my base exercises will be consistent 45-60 minute midweek aerobic training a few times a week, getting some brief runs outside for heat acclimation, plus working on stretching out a weekend treadmill long run to 2-3 hours at least twice a month. Since I’m not marathon training I don’t have to worry about hitting a mileage total, so I can just go as far as I’m comfortably able to handle, and take down weeks and days off where desired. But I don’t want to totally lose fitness and have to start over in January.

If I get to cooler months in October having done that much in base training, I can actually race those fall Vegas races instead of surviving them or seeing what I can do as I had to do in past years. Then I can ramp in 2023 for Vancouver 2023… because, yes, there will officially be a Round 4 between me and the Vancouver Marathon.

This time I’ll not only plan to be far better trained, but will also make sure to avoid the lane markings on the Burrard Bridge! Those bots dots sneak up on you.

I’ll have other adjustments too. After several years of staying at The Burrard Hotel, which I still like and endorse, I’ll probably pick a place in the West End closer to the places I frequent. The big issue for me with the Burrard turns out to be its walking distance from the places I want to frequent. I was often walking about a mile one way to go to most places and around 7 miles each day. In past years that wasn’t a problem because I walked all the time in Chicago. It was basically the same stimulus. But now, not walking as much all the time in Vegas, I noticed it much more this year. I need to spend extra if needed to stay closer to my usual spots.

I also previously arrived in Vancouver a few days before the marathon and then stayed 3 days after before leaving. Next time around I’ll arrive closer to the marathon, then stay basically for the week afterward to enjoy the city before returning. I probably can’t help wanting to walk around and explore, so getting there Thursday night or Friday I can be a shut-in and make those first 3 days all business, then I sleep off the marathon, wake up Monday and have all week to enjoy Vancouver.

I also pretty much live off sushi, ramen, and the occasional fried food or greasy spoon breakfast when I’m in Vancouver. Did that have an effect on my ability to sleep well? Possibly. In past years I was more aggressive about getting and eating fruit, so I’ll probably need to plan out balanced nutrient intake for that trip.

If I do another marathon this year, which I’m not counting on, it’ll be close to home. The Hoover Dam Marathon is in December and Lake Mead Marathon is in January, both around the Lake and along the Railroad Trail. They also do a Half and shorter distances, and at the least I’m seriously considering doing one or both Half races. I’m open to signing up for one of the fulls and then using it as a long training run, going through the Half distance and then tactically dropping out once I’ve had my fill. These are smaller races so training for either would not be the big deal a destination marathon is. Perhaps the lower pressure stakes would make one or the other do-able?

I have no set plans right now. I am thinking about it. There would be plenty of fall training time to get in marathon shape if I wanted to, and it would be easy to bail if it ultimately turned out I didn’t.

Given my ongoing sleep issues, I am also considering a huge step: I may wean off and give up coffee, at least for a while. After working on all sorts of variables with my sleep, I realize my daily caffeine intake is the one I haven’t gone after. I don’t drink more than 16oz coffee in a day, and it’s usually done before I get to work, often by 8am. But who knows if the half life and fat soluble storage isn’t contributing to my inability to stay asleep most nights.

To avoid withdrawal symptoms I would wean off in 72 hour stages, cutting to a flat 12 oz for 3 days, then 8 oz for 3 days while transitioning in black or green tea, then switching to tea or half-watered-down-coffee for 3 days, and then finally at a suitably low dosage giving it totally up within the following 3 days.

Anyway, I’m heading back to the Vegas Oven in a little bit. I didn’t sleep great last night, so I likely will nap once I’m back and hopefully get better sleep this night. More to come later on after I return.

The Burrard Bridge wins by TKO: 2022 Vancouver Marathon DNF at 30K.

I rolled my left ankle at the end of the Burrard Bridge at 19 miles, and though I could run on it I turned the corner and decided to drop out of the Vancouver Marathon there.

It had already been a struggle. I did not sleep well at all that night, woke up at 1:30 after maybe 4 hours sleep and simply could not return to sleep before having to get up. I dressed for the race tired, (ironically) wanting to go back to bed, with various aches and pains around my body.

This was similar to 2018, where a lot of bad shit was happening with work (I left the job shortly after returning) and dealing with the fallout followed me to Vancouver. This time though, I had no such issue, and just have been struggling in general with sleep. I hadn’t slept particularly well the previous night, or any night since getting to Vancouver. The first two nights were okay, but the last three nights hadn’t been great (less than 6 hours each).

I enjoyed the trip to that point. The lack of heavy sleep hadn’t really bothered me, but not getting enough sleep prevented me from shedding the little aches and other issues that taper-rest should have eliminated. Going on my annual 7 mile exploratory run around Stanley Park on Thursday after I arrived probably didn’t help with recovery either.

I decided to make a point not to complain about it, that it could go better than expected, and many people have to deal with far worse. I was in a better place than 2018, and better equipped to handle it than I was then.

I would grind it out as far as I could. I wasn’t totally confident I could finish the marathon in my condition, but after everything to get to this point I felt I at least had to make the good faith effort to run it. At the very least, I wanted to get as far as Kitsilano, if for no other reason than I at least didn’t face a long walk back to base (like I did in 2018 when I pulled out at 5K and had to walk several miles through neighborhoods).

I also decided to bring my hydration pack, sans hydration. The bag could hold my Xact bars, a couple protein bars I decided to include, a shirt to change into. It allowed me to not forget anything without cramming or weighting down my fanny pack or pockets.

We had a lengthy delay to the start due to police activity on the route, and the marathon started about 9:15am (45 minutes late). That at least gave a good buffer of time to power nap a bit, use the port-a-potty without pressure, drink some extra fluid at the start line. I felt back and forth between being amped for the run, and exhausted wondering how the hell I was going to do this.

Once we were going, I was calm and steady. After a brief inexplicable heart rate spike into zone 5, my HR settled back into 147 bpm, and to my pleasant surprise stayed right there most of the way, through more than 3 hours of running. I did a really good job of adjusting and moderating my effort to the situation, even up the dreaded Camosun Hill and the long descent down the Marine Drive hill out of UBC.

I only stopped to walk at aid stations, and I took fluid at every one along the way. Turned out that after the 3rd aid station or so none of them were sering Nuun electrolyte fluid, only water. Whether they ran out, or mixing it was too much of a problem (I noticed the stations that did offer it were struggling badly to keep up with Nuun cups), they stopped offering it from the 3rd or 4th station all the way up. This created a big problem for a lot of runners, whether they knew it or not.

While fortunately the cloudy overcast had returned for the often sun-baked portion in Point Grey and Kitsilano, I was now struggling badly, and that 147bpm heart rate began climbing to 150. My stomach was also struggling to take on any more fuel (I had brought several Xact bars and took some offered on-course, having put down about 6 of them at this point plus one of the protein bars), the electrolyte deficiency from the course’s lack of Nuun making it harder to tolerate any more glucose. I got around this in 2019 by having 2 liters of electrolyte-rich Gatorade on my back, but no such luck here.

Sure enough, my energy levels collapsed hard around 25K, on top of the cumulative fatigue of grinding out a slow marathon effort on extended short sleep. It didn’t help that, to everyone’s surprise, the sun came out early in the race (at least for a while), which heated things up a bit more than expected and emptied everyone’s tanks a bit more quickly.

To my pleasant surprise I found open port-a-potties at 26K, earlier than expected (in 2019 I did not hit an open one until 28K in Kitsilano, right before the Burrard Bridge). I used it quickly and popped out with very little spring in my step. My Stryd readings showed throughout the race that I was holding 180’s, 190’s, low but easy, but now I was struggling to get out of the 160’s.

I had come-and-go nagging pains that had followed me for months showing up throughout the race. At one point my left hamstring felt like it was going to pull, but that went quickly away and didn’t recur. My right hamstring, that proximal tendon (opposite of the one that derailed me last year), both achilles tendons, parts of the soles of both my feet, were randomly squawking here and there throughout the run, and in some ways it felt like I was holding everything together by a few carefully managed threads.

This whole marathon I soldiered with the sense that it would be something to go in with all this working against me and still someone find it in me to finish. But even the motivation of that had faded like the earlier sunshine well before the Bridge.

Onlookers here in Vancouver are great about cheering you on, and you get the sense of not wanting to let them down. That was probably the biggest reason I never slowed to a walk before 28K (even then it was to sit down and get a rock out of one of my shoes).

I decided I would get across the Burrard Bridge and head towards Stanley Park before re-assessing on finishing. The Bridge made the decision for me.

I decided to charge up the bridge at speed, passing dozens of bonked runners walking up the bridge. I actually did a solid job with effort and pace. The effort however could not undo how tapped I was feeling. The potty stop did bring my heart rate back down, but the fatigue was a growing monster I had already been carrying for a couple hours.

I crossed the 30K timing mat, wondering exactly how much I had left for the final 7 miles and whether I had enough to finish, when I stepped on what’s called a Botts’ Dot.

Those dots on lane markers in the road are called Botts’ Dots. Canadian roads don’t have many of them (it snows in Canada a lot, and plowing over them is impractical), but on the Burrard Bridge a few reflective dots are interspersed on lane markings along the road. I stepped on one near the north end of the southbound lanes and rolled my left ankle (supinated).

I quickly recovered and kept running. It felt weird for a couple steps, but I was able to keep going with no other distress and turn the corner onto Pacific. However, everything else I mentioned above, multiple doubts about being able to make it, now were combined with knowing I had just rolled my ankle and though I could run on it adrenaline may be masking any issue with it. I said enough.

I found an empty space on the south sidewalk of Pacific, stepped off the roadway and stopped my watch just a bit over 19 miles. I sat down and pulled off my bag and singlet. It was not a hard decision. Maybe the ankle felt okay now, maybe I could hold up as it was. But for another 7.3 miles? In my condition? And if I had to drop out in Stanley Park, there was no way out of there other than the miles of seawall in either direction? It didn’t seem worth the risk, and again by this point finishing the race felt more like an afterthought than a goal.

So there you go. The Burrard Bridge delivered the knockout punch at mile 19. I felt good about going 19 miles in the condition I was in. A lot of runners wouldn’t have even started in the shape I was in. I didn’t just run out 19 but stayed consistent in effort throughout, even as fatigue hit me hard coming out of UBC and going through Point Grey. To get that far was in itself an accomplishment, even if the record will show a DNF after 30K.

The ankle didn’t feel bad at all, but I took it slow walking under the bridge and back up Burrard Street to my hotel, which was fortunately only a few blocks away. I didn’t have to do much to stay slow and easy: Everything hurt. I was tapped out. What had been passing pain in my achilles now became clear, stiff soreness in both tendons. My right hamstring ached. Other things probably hurt too, but it was hard to notice. If anything, my ankle ironically was one of the things that didn’t seem to hurt much at all. But even after 19 miles, I was as totally beaten as if I had run the whole thing. I may recover a bit more quickly than if I had run it all, but I still need some downtime.

Overall, it wasn’t the best training cycle. Turned out there was a lot I hadn’t done as well as I should have, challenges came up that made it hard to stay on track, the run-up to the race in itself had a variety of issues (I didn’t even get into the complications with the Canadian COVID travel restrictions and what I did or didn’t need to do to enter the country, never minding the airport test), and then back-end insomnia screwed up my fitness for the race itself. In-race complications didn’t help, but I was already battling leading into the race itself.

So, in a way, this was just the cherry on top of a weird cake that fell apart. I think about how it would have gone had I stuck to the original Higdon-style training plan, but my complications with the long runs as it warmed up probably would have derailed those more than they did with the training I had done. And I wouldn’t have had as much volume, plus the scheduling might have overtrained or burned me out before race-day. I probably salvaged quite a bit changing things the way i did, even though the end result was still far from perfect.

That said, the classic post-marathon “never again” feeling only lasted about 18 hours. I feel like Vancouver Revenge Tour in 2023 is necessary, to even the series at 2 wins apiece. Vancouver beat me in 2018. I beat Vancouver in 2019, and Vancouver beat me again this year. I now have improved training knowledge (which came far too late this time around), which should make a 2023 effort go far better.

Still, I wonder if there’s a tug of war on these Vancouver visits between the marathon itself, and actually enjoying a vacation in Vancouver. I did try to take it easy in the days before, but the city and where I’m staying just requires so much walking everywhere. I couldn’t log less than 5-6 miles walking a day without spending too much on taxi rides or being a hermit in general (plus I had to go to the Expo to get my bib, of course). In Vegas, even with work break and lunch walks, I only log about 2-4 miles walking on weekdays. I had forgotten how much more walking I did in Chicago. While walking in Vancouver was normal compared to life in Chicago, it was a lot more stressful on my body than everyday life in Vegas, where people drive everywhere.

As much as I like staying at The Burrard, turns out it’s a bit out of the way from places I’ve visited more often in Vancouver. I’m often walking a mile each way or more. Again, living in Chicago the long walks weren’t so different from the usual, but now it actually kind of added to the stress (and yes, it’s probably part of why I couldn’t recover before race day). It’s not like I’m getting a discount staying at The Burrard either (plus while the hotel itself is nice, the surrounding area admittedly is a bit sketchy). So maybe next time I need to bite the bullet and get a room at a nice Downtown hotel closer to where I’m going.

Though I had considered running another marathon this fall, I think I have enough other things I want to improve fitness-wise that I’ll shove that idea aside. And of course, I’m in no hurry to go through the training and the pain of running a marathon again this year, in a potentially warmer and less vacation friendly environment. I’d also have to burn off the rest of my work vacation time, which could create a problem if something came up where I’d want/need to use it.

I want to get back to strength training, and rebuild my base run fitness from scratch, which is real hard to work on when marathon training. I also need to clean up my diet, and not having to pound calories to fuel training will help a lot with slimming down. I also have Vegas races in the fall I like running too, so not coming off a marathon training cycle will help those go a lot better.

So, I’ve got a couple more days in Vancouver before heading back to the Vegas oven. I have enjoyed the cooler, cloudy and sometimes rainy weather. Summer’s not really fun no matter where I am, so can’t exactly rue the imminent arrival of another summer in Vegas when it’s probably also uncomfortably hot elsewhere. I’ve got some errands and similar to attend to when I get back, not to mention needing to rest and heal up overall. So we’ll see after that what’s driving me next.

Checking In From Vancouver (4/29/2022). Vancouver 2022 Looms

Good morning from Vancouver BC Canada.

Arrival at Vancouver Airport on Wednesday began with a relatively harrowing experience. First, I get off the jet and noticed I couldn’t find my keys in any of my bags. I even went back to the aircraft to verify I hadn’t dropped them at my seat (which I hadn’t). I usually keep the keys chained on my belt with a watch lanyard, but though I remembered transferring them to my duffel bag for safekeeping I didn’t see them in the bag. Had I dropped them at security in Vegas or elsewhere?

I left that behind for the moment and walked down to Customs at YVR. The kiosk ticket spit out an ominously vague number 00 ticket, and when I got to the border agent (fortunately that wasn’t a hassle as it was in prior trips) he handed me a colorful placard with my ticket and told me to take it to the exit. I was among the (un)lucky few to be selected for a random mandatory COVID test.

I figure, no big deal, we’ll knock this out, I’ll get the results and be out of here soon. Uh, no. Lest I forget, I’m in Canada. And any government functions don’t move particularly efficiently in Canada.

I’m directed to the Covid test aisle and walk through the double doors… into the back of a long line remininscent of the airport security checkpoints during holiday season. Except that line moved like NASCAR compared to how this line was moving. It was more like a Chicago expressway in mid-afternoon. Ten minutes passed and I did not move.

I curse my fate wondering… did going back to check for my keys lead to being randomly selected, whereas if I just walked straight down it wouldn’t have happened? Did stopping to let that couple of young girls pass ahead of me out of the kiosk section, that if I walked ahead of them one of them would have been picked instead? Had I been randomly selected by my kiosk number, and I was going to be “randomly” selected by the kiosk no matter what?

After that ten minutes (and some choice grumbling from the other visitors ahead of me), the line began to move a bit faster. After about 30ish minutes of waiting I get to a counter, where a nice lady had to manually enter my information into the Canadian federal health system (so I have that going for me, I guess).

I was given a slip and sent down another aisle to another line (fortunately nowhere near as long) where I waited another 10 minutes or so before a nice Chinese attendant led me to a much less nice, rather surly Slavic doctor who asked me some basic questions with the hospitality of an FBI interrogation opener, swabbed my mouth and then right inside of my nostrils (way better experience than prior Covid tests), told me I’d have results in 1-3 days and sent me on my way.

I walked out about 45 minutes after I expected to, with the following knowledge:

  • Instead of a comfortable amount of time, I now had less than an hour to get to my currency exchange spot in Downtown before they closed today.
  • Unless they were in my duffel and I missed them, my key ring was likely completely gone. Unless airport lost and founds got substantially better in the last 10 years, I’d have to get several new keys and a couple of new tags, including my gym membership tag.
  • Most of all, if for some reason my Covid test came back positive in the next couple days, this trip was basically over and I would not be running Vancouver 2022 after all.

So, whatever excitement I had that morning heading to the airport was understandably dampened. Oh, and I still had to get to the hotel and check in, still get Canadian currency, still go and get something to eat, still get some basic groceries for tonight before turning in, and maybe get some sort of a run in before the last one. I was hoping to do my traditional Stanley Park seawall scouting run after arriving, but with all this it was going to have to wait for tomorrow.

I was exhausted. I still got out and ran about 1.4mi before getting dinner and groceries. Running at sea level in cooler climes definitely felt much easier, even though the trails and park were super busy because (if you didn’t know) it had been raining for the last month straight in Vancouver and the weather had finally cleared today. People were definitely happy to be outside, at least.

Yesterday I did some more bag searching first thing, and fortunately found that my keys were hiding in a compartment I had checked earlier. So that crisis was averted.

Siwash Rock along the Stanley Park seawall in Vancouver

I got out for morning coffee and breakfast, waited out some abundant sunshine before some clouds returned, then headed out in mid-afternoon for the seawall run. A sizable portion of the seawall had been closed for months due to storm damage in January, and it had JUST re-opened fully the day I arrived. So, lucky me.

I stopped along the way and took a ton of pictures (by request back home) on a very easy 7mi+ run, and am actually a bit sore. I had managed to keep my run streak going up until my flight (it’s now at 59 days), but it may be time to end it today so I get some extra rest.

This morning I finally got the news that the Covid test was negative, clearing the final hurdle for this race… well, aside from weary legs. I’ve mostly rested this last couple weeks, but true to form, Vancouver has required quite a bit of walking.

Garmin’s a lot better at tracking my Vancouver walking than my old Fitbit was the last time I was here, and yesterday alone I walked over 7 miles, not including my easy run around the seawall. Over 14 miles total! Much of the walking was out of necessity: To get to the store for necessities or to key eating spots I had to walk over a mile one way. I’m taking it easy however much I can on these walks, but it’s still time on my feet.

I’m fortunate this morning to have found a good coffee spot open early only 4 blocks from my hotel, plus there is a coffee place right next to my hotel (which is alright) for tomorrow morning. I can venture about 20-30 feet in steady rain much better than a mile or so.

Good thing too (and this may help with compelling me to rest) that tomorrow morning it’s supposed to rain somewhat heavy, so I won’t want to be outside at all until that’s done. There are a couple of okay dining spots near the hotel, so once I finish business at the expo I’ll probably stay close to base until Sunday morning’s marathon.

Runalyze’s numbers on my training and fitness have settled the last couple weeks, and now I’m thinking I’ll just run this marathon out and not worry so much about goal times. Training went okay at best, with some clear base training gaps I want to work on filling in this summer (whether I run another marathon in the fall or not). Though I did a good portion of what I wanted to do in training, I left a lot on the table, as my body just couldn’t do much more than I ended up doing. But I also learned a lot in the process, and have a much stronger idea of how to get it done sustainably next time.

If I have one actual regret, it’s that I wish I thought to bring more Tissue Rejuvenator than I ended up bringing.

Last long run of Vancouver 2022 training complete

I’m now tapering for Vancouver 2022.

I got this weekend’s long run to 3 hours, and stopped shortly thereafter at a bit over 17 miles. I had hoped to stretch it to 4 hours and maybe top 21 miles. But, even though aside from expected laboring I was running just fine with no serious pain, I saw a sign that I had to stop the run early.

I wore and salt-stain sweated through my singlet during last weekend’s treadmill 20 miler. I had done the same on the treadmill with this weekend’s long run singlet.

However, along with feeling uncomfortably warm, I noticed about 2.5 hours in that the sweat coating my singlet had began to dry up. This was a sign that I was overtly dehydrated, and that continuing much longer would be a bad idea. My singlet last time was soaked pretty much throughout the entire run, and I didn’t certainly feel cool or relaxed through hour 3 of this run.

I was certainly hydrating throughout the run. For both long runs I infused Nuun tabs with a liter bottle of Smart Water, which itself has added electrolytes. I had been drinking from both this and an additional 17oz bottle of water, the latter of which I mainly used to wash down the Xact Nutrition bars I was practicing with during the run (as they’re the fuel for the 2022 Vancouver Marathon). That said, could my hydration before the run have been better? Maybe, but I certainly didn’t feel dry going into the run.

In any case, that was the last long run before Vancouver 2022, and now all taper running will be short-medium runs at marathon effort/pace or harder. I used this approach before Chicago 2018 and was in great shape for that race (before the hiccups derailed it). So the plan is to use it again.

Runalyze has my current Marathon Shape at a relatively disappointing 62%. And the taper will unfortunately take that number lower, though (in no small part because) the shorter pace running will conversely buoy my EVO2max somewhat higher.

I had been hoping for 70% shape, and if I had acquired a Runalyze account months before I started training for this marathon I would have understood how to effectively get it to 100%. But that’s a lesson learned for next time, and water under the bridge.

At my current VO2max fitness, I’d have the fitness to run sub-4 hour at sea level if in 100% marathon shape. But with only 62% shape my prognosis is more like 4:25, and presuming it drops the upside will be more like 4:30-4:40, a bit slower than my original goal. That I can live with: When I started with Runalyze my shape at the time allowed me to run a 5:30-6:00, so where I’m at now is much better. Plus, associated issues throughout the months limited my training, and there was only so much I could do this time around.

I also learned quite a bit through training about training, and have a much better idea of what I can feasibly, consistently handle (I’ll discuss it all down the line). I had to deal with sleep issues, earlier than expected rising temps in Vegas, having to figure out treadmill training. Speaking of which, I finally got a handle on effective treadmill training, what adjustments to make to get equivalent workouts, and could actually train through summer without overexerting myself or causing other problems.

Weather in Vancouver is expected right now to be at least overcast in the 50’s, possibly some light rain. The forecast for rain on race day has receded a bit, so it’s possible there may be none on race day. It has been raining in Vancouver almost literally for the last month straight, so I’m sure they’re getting tired of it and wouldn’t mind it going away. Even if the sun does come out after all, temps should hopefully stay a bit lower than they were when I ran in 2019.

My first 20+ miler in three years

It took a good deal of patient, steady effort, but I knocked out 20 miles on the treadmill this Sunday afternoon over 3 hours 45 minutes. Along with being the single longest treadmill workout I’ve ever run, it’s the first 20 I’ve done since the last time I trained for Vancouver in 2019.

One big help was ironically a pair of shoes I had bought but left mostly unused. On some recommendation I bought a pair of New Balance FuelCell Rebel v2’s this January. Like my Altras, they feel unsteady unless your form is sound, though unlike the Altras they’re lighter, and they have a very spongy cushion. They were a bit weird to walk in, and they’re actually a bit more of a pain to slip and tie on than my Topos/Altras, so I didn’t use them much.

But last weekend I wore them on both my runs, feeling really tired, and discovered that the cushion and ride was actually quite a bit more supportive than my typical minimal Topos. realizing the 20 was going to be brutally long and challenging I decided to wear the NB’s on the treadmill, and they made a huge difference in how the last couple hours of the run went once I began to tire. I underestimated the importance of the cushioning and support once I began to wear down.

So I not only plan to wear the NB’s on future long runs, but I decided I’m going to wear them as my race shoe at Vancouver, mildly ironic given my devout loyalty to Topo over the years (in fact I ran Vancouver 2019 in Topo ST-2 flats).

I have one more critical long run this next weekend. Runalyze’s marathon shape metric (which through some research I’ve somewhat cracked) indicates that going 21+ is critical to getting my overall shape above the minimum 70% threshold I need this time around to make my Vancouver time goal feasible. The metric logarithmically weighs the long run, so going 10-17 miles isn’t a huge deal, but getting the long run to 20-22 is much more of a big deal. And no, doing two 10 mile runs back to back (instead of one 20 miler) is almost worthless to the metric’s long run cofactor. You need your long run to go very long to have an impact.

I could just surrender, do a shorter long run and begin the taper now. This would set me around 59% (I’m at 57% now) and make my B goal my absolute ceiling. If I’m in condition to go 4 hours on the treadmill this weekend (which itself would be the prime objective), then I could go 21-22 and that would get me above 70%.

In fact, though I won’t currently get into how the marathon shape metric does this, it turns out it’s more valuable to add a mile onto a 20 mile run than it would be to run an additional 25 miles elsewhere during the week!

(Obvious caveats: If that extra 25 is mostly part of another single long run, that’s a different story; my premise above is the 25 are spread between multiple non-long runs and recovery days)

In any case, having a shot at my A-goal depends on this next weekend’s long run, just as much as it depended on yesterday’s 20 miler. That’s partially my fault: Had my previous training included more, consistent mileage, perhaps these runs aren’t as critical ahead of the taper. Maybe I’d need only one 20 in April. But here we are, and next time around the final month should be a bit easier (though not by much).

As I mentioned earlier, my midweek workouts while still 90 minutes shouldn’t be as long as last week’s. In fact, if indeed the Vegas weather cools off as expected this week, then I can even do those runs in the park. Then I’ll aim for a 4 hour long run this weekend, and then taper from there.

That’s all for now.

Finally Figuring Out Treadmill Training

March was a tough marathon training grind. I finished with about 134 miles, barely more training miles than January. I only stretched my long run out to 17 miles, and each of my longest runs was a slow, very tough effort.

The key issue wasn’t a surprise: Las Vegas got warm. Winter’s over, and Vegas wasn’t going to stay cool forever. It’s not desert-hot yet, and we should avoid the worst heat before I shove off to Vancouver 2022. But temperatures got hot during stretches the law few weeks and the last weekend of March they topped 90°F. I also had trouble sleeping over the last few weeks (though I’m hoping to have nipped that). Even in the evenings, running was hot enough (temperatures in the high 70’s F) that I had to slow down and cut down the length of runs some.

I experimented with changing locations on my weekend runs, but ultimately my best options has once again become the gym treadmill. However, in the interim my research discovered some new hope for a previously hopeless training apparatus:

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