If you’ve been reading along over the past week or so, you’re probably not going to find the topic of today’s post all that shocking. It’s time to set some goals for the new year; specifically some fitness goals1.
First and foremost I have to get back to my regular running self. I miss running. You might find that crazy, but I really do. I remember when I was younger, seeing runners out in the cold of winter, logging countless miles, and thinking they are out of their minds. But then I became one of them. I understood them. And I learned just how much running could do not just for my body, but for my mind. This isn’t a resolution, and this is so much more than a goal; it’s a way of life. My life. It has to happen. It will happen.
To ensure that it does happen, I’m about to start training for several races (assuming the ankle holds up). While I may not compete in all of these, I’m setting my sights on the following goals:
Run at least 12 half marathons (or greater) in 2014.
Run at least 2 marathons in 2014.
Run 1000km in 1 year.
To help prevent further injuries, I’m going to also be working on my strength training and my controlled flexibility. The specifics of this are yet to be determined, but I have a fitness expert in my corner who just happens to also be my Chiropractor. I have no doubt that he’ll help keep me in tip-top condition.
I’m also aiming to return to my regular practice of yoga in the morning (30 minutes per day, at least every other day). It’s amazing how much of my lethargy, and overwhelming sense of feeling gross comes from how achy I sometimes feel when I wake up. There are days when I feel so stiff and old that I want to kick myself in the ass for not keeping up with my practice. But I didn’t, which means I can’t, so my ass is saved from said kicking for now.
Finally, I’m going to make a point to reevaluate these goals on a more regular basis. I don’t want to set too many lofty goals at the moment for fear that my ankle will continue to keep me on the sidelines3. Whatever happens, anything that involves more movement than the past 6 months will be considered a success.
Oh 2014, you are going to be interesting.
1 I have other goals that I want to tackle in the shiny new year that will be known as 2014, however, I’ll focus on those in a separate post.
2 The training schedule for this race makes me throw-uppy. I based it on the schedule outlined here, but modified it for other races and my schedule. Here’s a rough sketch of the cumulative distance I’ll have to run to prep myself for the race in the 24 weeks leading up to race day.
So apparently I’ve been working steady since about 7:30 this morning. How it’s now after 11 pm is beyond me. I remember getting home around 5:30, having some food, rubbing Elliot’s belly, and then plopping myself in front of my trusty laptop to continue working on a grant application1, and one of three other draft proposals. The former is due on Wednesday, the latter three are due tomorrow.
Clearly my work day is not over.
However, given the hour I thought it best to take a break, have a scotch2, stretch, rub Elliot’s belly a little more, and clear my mind.
Having stretched, and with glass-o-scotch3 firmly in hand, I figured that I should take some time to review my exercise challenges for the year. I mean, it is July 30th – almost 60% of the year is behind us.
First, let’s review some of the goals I had set for myself this year.
Run a sub 4 hour marathon,
Run two marathons in a month,
Run three marathons this year,
Run 1610 km this year,
Walk 1500 km this year, and
Bike 2200 km this year.
So how am I doing?
Not too shabby I think. First, I ran a sub 4 hour marathon in May. Later that month I ran marathon number two – successfully crossing off the first two items on the list. I’m scheduled to run marathon number three in October – so hopefully, barring injury, I’ll be crossing that item off my list as well.
According to RunKeeper, I’ve walked, I’ve run, or I’ve biked a total of 2020.4 km this year. To put it another way, 2020.4 km is roughly the distance from Guelph to Winnipeg.
Breaking it down by category, I’ve achieved 53% of my walking goal, 40% of my running goal, and 25% of my biking goal.
But Dan, you say, 60% of the year has passed and you haven’t reached 60% of any of your goals!
That is correct, but fear not dear readers, as I am not worried. At least, not yet. Let me explain why.
My running numbers will surely be helped given that I’m about to start another few months of crazy long races. Specifically, I’ve got a 30 km race planned for August, a half marathon (or two) planned for September, the previously mentioned marathon in October, and a half marathon + two 5 km runs (back to back to back) in November. And there is of course the training that I’ll need to put in for all of these races, plus the crazy-ass adventure known as the Goofy Race that I’ve decided to run in January4.
From a biking perspective, I only started riding in May. So, in three short months I’ve already logged 25% of the total that I’ve set myself to bike this year. And given that I’m training to do a 100 km bike ride (with the possibility of something longer), I’m sure I can hit this goal as well. It works out to biking 330 km per month until the end of the year, or slightly less than 11 km per day. Since my bike to and from school accounts for more than half of the required 11 km I’d need to ride per day, I’m thinking 2200 km shouldn’t be too difficult to achieve.
Walking is the one activity I’m not so confident with. To hit my goal I need to walk about 4.6 km per day, every day, for the rest of the year. If I were to walk to and from school every day, this would be easily achieved – but then my biking goal would likely suffer. Clearly I need to find a balance between biking and walking – perhaps walking more frequently and saving my biking kilometres for longer treks. Something I’ll have to consider.
Regardless, I’m pretty happy with how things have been progressing for the year. We’ll see if I can stick to this and somehow make each of my goals.
I have to wonder though, how do I reward myself if I manage to cross off all six of these things on my list?
1 Specifically a Notification of Intent (NOI) to apply for the grant.
2 Because all good NOIs and proposals are written with scotch. That’s a rule – you should probably write it down.
Several months ago, after thinking about how much running I had been doing this year, and after sitting down and tabulating all of the running that I had been doing this year, I came up with the idea that I should be doing even more running this year. Profound, no?
Anyway, way back in the old-time-y days of May I made the decision that I should attempt to run at least 1 half marathon (or longer distance) per month for a year. This challenge was borne of the fact that I had already completed a half marathon (or longer distance) every month since February. The challenge seemed easy given that I already had 4 consecutive months under my belt.
Today I’m here to update you, dear readers, on that goal. I mean, it has been 2 entire months since I jotted down the challenge. So without further ado, I give you my list of half marathons (or longer distances) run since February of this year:
So there we have it. Six months and 10 runs later, with each month containing at least a half marathon distance, and with each run exceeding 21.1km. Which means I have only 6 more months to go. W00t!
But the story doesn’t end there. You see, while I am stoked that I’ve finished 6 months in a row, I have to say that today’s run was probably the toughest one I’ve done so far. There were several moments during the run where I fully expected to vomit, quit, quit and then vomit, or vomit and then quit. Today’s run was not pretty. Not by a long shot.
I knew the moment I woke up that I really didn’t feel it today. My legs were like lead. I lacked motivation to lace up my shoes and run. I felt tired. I felt weak. I felt dehydrated. I wanted to do anything but run. I just wasn’t feeling it.
After fuelling myself with some delicious oatmeal, raw peanut butter, and honey, and after slamming back a couple of tall cold glasses of water, I begrudgingly laced up and started to run. The first 5km were, well, awful. I really didn’t want to be running, but I figured if I could just keep moving, maybe something would click.
After 5km, I still felt like garbage.
Just do another 5km, then you can re-evaluate. I told myself.
By 10km, I was still feeling like garbage.
But you’re so close to the half-way point – just go to 10.55km. I kept running.
My body was still not responding.
By this point, I could have stopped. I could have called it quits and decided that today would not be the day that I would finish the half. I could try again tomorrow. Or Sunday. Possibly even Monday. But I couldn’t hold out too long because the month is all too sadly coming to a close.
Suck it up buttercup.
Yes, I actually thought this to myself. In fact, I said it out loud. Several times.
Suck it up buttercup.
SUCK IT UP BUTTERCUP.
I kept running, one kilometre at a time. While my body never truly got into the groove of running, the kilometres kept ticking away. When I hit the 16km mark I knew that I was going to do it. While this offered some comfort, I was still not really feeling the run.
I kept running.
I distracted myself with math. I distracted myself with mental puzzles. I distracted myself with music. I distracted myself with whatever I could to get myself through the last few kilometres.
Holy shit, one more!
And then it was done. Twenty-one point one four kilometres in 1 hour, 45 minutes and 2 seconds. Considering how crappy I felt during the run, I was stoked with my 4:58 pace. Mainly, I was just happy that I’d finished.
Anyway, it’s several hours later. I’ve rehydrated. I’ve eaten. I’ve stretched. I’ve had time to look back and reflect. Of all of the long distance runs so far this year, I’m going to have to say that this is one of the top three proudest runs for me. Not because it was a ridiculous distance. Not because I finished with a less than 5 min per kilometre pace. Nope. I’m proud of this run because I did it when my body, my brain, my everything was telling me I couldn’t.
Bring on August. My next long run is going to be a piece of cake after today.
Today I woke up very, very dehydrated. I’m sure it had nothing to do with the beer I had last night. I’m sure it also had nothing to do with the scotch I had before bed.
As I said, I woke up very dehydrated. I also woke up knowing that I had to go for a longer run. To be specific, I had decided earlier in the week that I needed to run a half marathon today. Part of the need to run a half marathon was the belief that it would purge the demons of what seemed a rather sedentary week for me. However, I also had in the back of my mind the need to work on my half marathon (or better) a month challenge.
So after waking, did I immediately jump out of bed and start this long run I was supposed to do?
I lounged in bed for a while, playing on email, playing KenKen, and trying to come up with every possible justification for not running.
I’m too tired.
My legs hurt.
I can run tomorrow.
I really am too dehydrated.
In short, they were all 100% bullshit excuses. In fact, I was probably spending more energy convincing myself not to run than what I would need to just get off my duff and start doing what I knew I needed to do.
So how did I convince myself to actually run? I started with small goals. Drink some water. Feed Elliot. Drink more water. Feed self. Drink even more water. Putter. Drink more water. Do some laundry. Drink more water.
Before long, I realized that I had sufficiently hydrated and I really just needed to get my race on. So I put on my trusty compression socks, my trusty compression shorts, and my shiny new runners, and I just started. One foot in front of the other. I started off slow, because I still had that stupid voice in my head telling me to stop, give up, save it for another day.
I took it one mile at time – one minute at a time. I wasn’t intending the run to be a fast run, I just knew I needed to do it. So I kept telling myself just go a little bit further, and then consider a rest. And that’s what I did; pushing my body just a little bit further until the miles started disappearing behind me.
When I had managed a third of the distance I took stock. It was then that it really dawned on me how fast I was pacing. Less than 5 minutes per kilometre (less than 8 minutes per mile). What the what? That was not part of the plan. Despite my brain suggesting that I should stop, my body didn’t feel the same way. In fact, my body felt really good. I kept running.
Two thirds the distance passed. My pace had not wavered. My body still felt good. I kept going.
At the 12.1 mile marker I started smiling. Holy shite, I’m going to do this. I’m actually going to run my first ever half marathon at a pace less than 5 minutes per kilometre. Holy freaking awesome.
I tried not to get too excited, doing some quick calculations to verify what was going on. It was going to be close, but I was sure my numbers were correct. I’d definitely cross the finish line in under 1 hour and 45 minutes. My smile grew wider and wider. An incredible wave of runner’s high poured over me and I easily sailed past the finish line, happy it was over, but even more happy that I had done it.
And just think, if I had listened to that voice in my head this morning, I wouldn’t have run and I wouldn’t now be enjoying a personal best (21.12 kilometres in 1 hour, 44 minutes, 43 seconds).
I love it when that voice in my head is wrong. It feels good to give it a mighty punch to the face.
Below is an updated list of the runs I have completed that are part of the Run at least 1 half marathon (or better) per month for a year challenge. Five months in, 9 runs longer than a half marathon. Awesome.
I just did something really, really, really awesome. Or perhaps really, really, really stupid. Only time will tell.
What have you done now, Gillis?
Well, dear readers, I’ve gone and registered myself for the Goofy Marathon and a Half – scheduled for the weekend of January 10-13, 2013. This means that I’ll be running the Donald DuckHalf Marathon on Saturday January 12, 2013, and the Mickey Mouse Full Marathon on Sunday January 13, 2013. That’s 63.3 kilometres of running insanity over the course of two days.
Fortunately I’m not alone in my insanity. My friend Mark – who ran the Ottawa Marathon with me this year and last, and who is also running the Toronto Waterfront Marathon with me in October – has agreed to be Goofy too. Because clearly he’s awesome. Or insane.
As I wrote in a text to him earlier:
We are effing insane. I love it.
I may also have written:
I think I’m going to throw up from the awesomeness of this.
I just hope I don’t throw up during the run. Actually, that’s the least of my concerns. I’ll consider myself successful if I can get through both races without collapsing into a giant puddle of goo. Okay, in all honesty, I’ll consider myself successful if I can finish both races without collapsing into a giant puddle of goo and if I do so without shitting myself.
Or Goofy. Either way, I’m sure it’s a bad idea. Or the most amazing idea in the history of ideas.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
A while back – perhaps some time last year – I was introduced to the Goofy Race at Disney World in Florida by my friend Carolyn. The idea – run a half marathon through Disney World on Saturday, and just for fun, run a full marathon through Disney World the very next day. That’s 63.3 kilometres of running in 2 days.
If one completes the full marathon only1, they receive a shiny Mickey Mouse Full Marathon medal.
But, if one completes both the half marathon and the full marathon2 they receive an additional shiny medal that is known as the Goofy medal. Because running a marathon and a half over the course of two days is Goofy. Or stupid. Or awesome. Or all of these things. And clearly it deserves an extra medal.
And really, who wants one shiny race medal when they can have three?
So this is where you might think me a little stupid – because I really think that I need to have these medals. Not want. Need3.
Of course, I’m all over the place with this potential challenge. On one hand, hells ya I’m going to do it. On the other hand I think holy crapshite, that’s a lot of running, and how will my body handle a marathon the next day after a half marathon, and holy crapshite, that’s a lot of running. Of course, when I question whether or not I’m capable of doing it I immediately think screw you self, of course I can. I also think there’s only one way to really know.
And so here I am writing about a challenge that is probably on the extra stupid side of stupid, and yet like some weird siren song it’s drawing me in. That is, dear readers, I would suggest that this particular challenge is going to happen. At least, I’m 85% sure that I’m going to do it. And if all goes well, I’ll be crossing the line twice in Disney World this coming January. Because why run a half marathon when I can run a full marathon? And why run a full marathon when I can run a marathon and a half?
Of course, I’m going to have to kick up my training ever so slightly. I’m also going to have to figure out how to schedule this particular race given that I will be teaching in the Winter semester. If all goes well, I’ll be able to fly down on Friday morning, run Saturday and Sunday, then fly home Monday eve so that I’m ready for teaching on Tuesday.
Hmmm, I’m already considering my training program and planning a trip around my work schedule. I should probably upgrade this challenge from 85% sure I’m going to do it, to 90% sure I’m going to do it.
Hmmm number 2. I just realized that my Not-So-Bucket-List list already has this listed as a thing I want to do (item #270, which strangely I don’t remember adding). I guess I need to update my confidence level in running this race again – from 90% sure I’m going to do it, to this is so going to be done.
I love being stupid.
2 With a pace that is less than 16 minutes per mile.
3 Okay, it’s not a need at all, but the want is so strong that I think it’s a borderline need.
If you’ve been following this blog you’ll already know that I am a runner of sorts. You’ll also know that I like to give myself rather crazy challenges. For example, I decided that this year I needed to enter and run in 12 different races. I also decided that I needed to run 2 marathons in a month, and that I also needed to run at least 1 half marathon (or better) every month for a year.
Why? you ask.
Why not? I say, and laugh maniacally.
Truthfully I’ve no idea why I make these goals for myself. All I know is that I find fun in the challenges I set for myself. There are, of course, great side effects to setting the types of goals that I do, including but not limited to, confidence, perseverance, determination, clarity, focus, and health. Beyond that, each successfully completed goal reminds me that there isn’t anything that I should truly fear1 – if I put my mind to it, I can do pretty much anything2.
I think learning that I am capable of so much more than I ever would have given myself credit to achieve is one of the best things that I’ve gained from setting goals. I mean, if someone told the teenage me that I’d run two marathons in a 3 week period, I would have thrown my head back and laughed, spitting small bits of chocolate frosted donut projectiles into their personal space as I chortled and jiggled; just before having an asthma attack at the mere thought of running.
In a sense, surpassing my goals provides me the ammunition against the voice in my head that insists that it’s not possible, or that I am not capable of doing whatever it is that I’ve set out to do. So every victory ends up as a giant screw you – a veritable punch to the junk – to the evil doubt filled Gillis that exists in my head. And the more ammunition I have against him, the better – because that guy is the douchiest of douches.
Anyway, after this weekend’s marathon I thought I would take a moment to recap – partly for accountability, partly to gauge my progress, but also to measure my successes – because the evil doubt filled Gillis always needs a kick to the head when he’s down.
For the record, my challenges were:
Run at least 1610km in 2012,
Run at least 12 official races in 2012,
Run 2 marathons in a month,
Run 3 marathons in a year, and
Run a half marathon or longer each month for 1 year.
And how are things going? Well, as of today:
I’ve run 538 kilometres. This represents 33.4% of my goal. Sweet.
I’ve registered for and ran 6 races – 50% of my goal. These have included the Around the Bay 30km, the Run for Retina Research Half Marathon, the TorontoYonge Street 10km, the Chocolate Race 10 Miler, the Toronto Goodlife Marathon, and the Ottawa Marathon. W00t!
Those would be the Toronto Goodlife and the Ottawa Marathons. This goal is done and done. Double W00t!
Two out of three are finished – only one more to go. In other words, ~66.7% of my goal is complete. Squee!
According to my calculations, I’m 4 months into this goal and going strong. In other words I’m ~33.3% complete. Not too shabby if I do say so myself.
I’m pretty confident that goal number 1 is completely within the realm of possibility, especially considering that goals number 2, 4, and 5 will contribute greatly – both in terms of official events and all of the training required to accomplish them – to it.
So here’s to the rest of the year. Here’s to more 5 kilometre, 10 kilometre, 10 Miler, half marathon, 30 kilometre, and full marathon races. Here’s to training hard, even when I’d rather curl up in bed and sleep for another 27 years. Here’s to knocking off each and every kilometre in my 1610km goal. Here’s to running. Here’s to health.
But most of all, here’s to kicking the evil doubt filled Gillis square in the junk, and laughing at his pain.
1 Except of course the spiders. They’ll get you when you least expect it.
2 Some notable exceptions include: give birth, be 6 feet tall, or believe that spiders aren’t out to get me (because they are)3.
3 One of the reasons they are out to get me, is because I know that they are out to get me, and they know that I know this.
And just like that, I’m on the train heading back to Guelph. The weekend was a giant big ole bag of amazing. I love Ottawa and I’m definitely going to miss it (as I always do whenever I leave). I’m also going to miss hanging out with Mark, my friend and fellow marathoner1. Without him, my trip wouldn’t have been nearly as fantastic.
Since the marathon was to start at 7:00am yesterday, Mark and I decided it would be best to get up at 5:00am. That gave us time to eat, stretch, and mentally prepare for the 42.2 kilometre trek we were about to embark on. As per usual, we were both filled with nerves and excitement and anxiety. I tried to burn off my nervous excitement by hopping around the hotel. It didn’t really work.
Around 6:30 we left the hotel and made our way to the starting gate. The number of entrants was mind-boggling. Thousands of people were nervously pacing – some with game faces on, some laughing, others stretching. The runners spanned pretty much every age, size, and shape possible. I saw blind runners, and runners who had physical or mental disabilities. Seeing so many people accepting the marathon challenge was inspiring beyond words. It was also just what I needed to get me pumped up even more. I was excited to start. I was determined to prove to myself that I couldn’t just run a marathon, I could run two in the span of 3 weeks.
I’ve got this, I kept repeating to myself.
Before I knew it Mark and I were running. Our pace felt good, my body felt good, the weather was perfect.
This run is going to be awesome, I thought.
My trusty RunKeeper reminded me every kilometre how I was doing. One kilometre down, two kilometres down. Average pace. Current pace. Before I knew it, I’d passed the 10km marker. I assessed the situation. Body feels good – check. Breathing is easy – check. Nothing feels stressed – check. Pace – 5:18 per kilometre – awesome.
I kept running and decided not to slow down. Nothing suggested I should. Fifteen kilometres – all was still good. Twenty kilometres – holy shite, I’m doing as well or better than my previous marathon.
Twenty-one kilometres. W00t! And at a 5:14 pace – even W00t!er.
Twenty-two kilometres. Woot! But with aminorblip. I hope this isn’t what I think it is I thought to myself. Just keep running – hopefully things will self-correct. Hopefully.
Twenty-three kilometres. Crapshite. Self-correction isn’t going to happen. I have to intervene2. The minor blip had turned into a full-on disturbance in the force. For those not aware of what a disturbance in the force is, I refer you to my previous blog post here. In short – it also goes by the name of Runner’s Runs. A clever and very apt moniker for gastrointestinal cramping and suchlike that sometimes hits when one runs for great distances. In some cases, breathing can fend off the impending attack. In other cases, you’re shit out of luck (no pun intended – ha!).
Sadly, the Ottawa Marathon would end up being one of those situations where I was S.O.L. Around the 23km marker I had to stop to, um, take care of business. Sadly, when I realized that ignoring the rumbling down below would result in me being that guy who shat himself while running the Ottawa Marathon was also the moment when I realized that the closest bathrooms were behind me.
Yes indeedio folks – I had to turn around and travel backwards while running the marathon. This would be considered by most to be counter productive to finishing the race.
Regardless, it had to be done.
I can honestly say, I have never ever ever been so happy to see port-o-potties as I was at that point. Normally they are disgusting and gross and so full of wretched evil that I can’t even fathom going near them. Yesterday they were exotic palaces, bastions of hope and sweet relief filled with unicorns and rainbows and chirping birds and everything in the world that is wonderful3.
Once I found the bathrooms, I had to wait my turn. And wait. And wait some more. And oh sweet baby Jesus wait some more. For comic effect, you might want to picture me doing the pee-pee dance that little kids often do. Except I’m an adult4. And except it wasn’t a pee-pee dance5. For extra comic effect, you might want to imagine how awkward and challenging it was, in the heat of the moment, to remove my compression shorts. For those of you not in the know, compression shorts are tight. Skin tight. The idea is that the shorts improve circulation and keep muscles and such in place while running – so that injuries are reduced, and recovery times following a long and crazy run are minimized. This also means that getting them off in short-order is pretty much next to impossible.
Needless to say, my average pace suffered. And it continued to suffer as I had to stop several times to, um, take care of business.
Despite all of this, I was bound and determined to finish the marathon. I mean, I was more than half way.
So I kept running in spite of the great disturbance in the force.
The kilometres kept dropping. Not as fast as before, but I was making progress. And fortunately nothing really hurt – well, some parts were tired, and some parts were a bit sore – but nothing to the point where I thought I need to stop. In fact, beyond the disturbance in the force, the race went exactly as I wanted. I ran, and ran, and ran. I was hydrated. I was fuelled. I wasn’t injured. And I was still smiling.
When I passed the 40km marker I smiled – inside and out. I was hit with a huge case of runner’s high and I just plowed through. It was around this point – possibly earlier, I forget – when the half-marathoners merged with the marathoners in a sea of crazy-ass people running crazy-ass distances. It was also at this point that I saw someone running with a prosthetic hand. And it was at this point that I was re-inspired.
I crossed the finish line truly ecstatic. My chip-time ended up being 4:05 (a 5:49 average pace) – shorter than last years Ottawa Marathon, but longer than the marathon from 3 weeks ago. But honestly, I couldn’t care less about the time. I’m stoked that I was able to finish given the situation. And I’m stoked that I was able to prove to myself that I could run 2 marathons in a month (technically in 3 weeks) without injuring myself.
Afterwards, Mark and I walked around for a long while to prevent our muscles from seizing up after the abuse we had put them through. We also treated ourselves to a very tasty beer (after stretching, hydrating, and showering of course), some sorbet, and then dinner at The Whalesbone. It was the perfect end to a fantastic day of running.
Thanks again to everyone who supported me along the way. To everyone who sent me Tweets, thank you. They kept me laughing and motivated. To those who attempted to follow along on RunKeeper – thanks!
For now, I’m going to enjoy the scotch that was just delivered to me, and I’m going to consider which marathon will be my third for the year.
Because why stop at 2 when I can do 3?
1 And kick-ass marathoner at that. Mark looked the Ottawa Marathon straight in the eye and laughed. He crossed the finish line 3 hours and 45 minutes after starting. I’m so freaking proud of him!
2 I realize that self-correction and me intervening are technically one and the same, but let’s pretend that my body is a machine that has a mind of its own and I don’t always have to do things to make it feel better.
3 Today they are, once again, gross and evil.
5 Okay, it was maybe 10% pee-pee dance. The rest was, well, a dance of other sorts.
Yesterday while running something crossed my mind. Specifically, I thought wow, I’ve run a lot of half marathons this year.
And then I wondered how many half marathons have I run? More specifically, how many runs have I completed that are longer than 21.1 kilometers?
After that, of course, I wondered would I be able to run 12 half marathons (or a longer distance) in 12 months?
So naturally when I got home (and after I had a nap), I started reviewing my running logs. And after reviewing the data I realized that I’ve completed a lot of half marathons (or greater) so far this year.
Which means that I could manage 12 half marathons in 12 months.
And so, just like that a new challenge was born. I am going to attempt to run at least 12 half marathons (as either part of my training for other longer races, or as official races) in 12 months.
The countdown to marathon number 2 for the year continues. As I write this, the challenge of running 42.2km through the streets of Ottawa is slightly more than 15 days away. On one hand this seems like a very short period of time. On the other, 15 days feel almost like an eternity. Weird.
My big challenge now is to figure out how best to train for the Ottawa marathon. Since I ran the Toronto Goodlife Marathon on Sunday, I figured I should take it easy this week to fully recover. Not an easy task for someone who likes to get up and go most of the time.
Can I tell you something though – just between us? I wasn’t completely at rest this week.
You see, I still had my daily walks to and from the office. Those walks were replaced midweek with daily bikes. On Wednesday I joined some friends for some more bouncing fun. And when on campus, despite the fact that I probably should have taken the elevator to really let my legs recover, I opted for the stairs 99% of the time.
I’m such a rebel.
The one thing I didn’t do was run1, and not running is making me antsy. Part of this is related to feeling sluggish and just wanting to get my feet back out on the pavement to log some more miles2. Part of this is related to the fact that I have a marathon approaching and I feel like I need to train more. And part of this is because I miss running.
So this brings me back to my current challenge: how does one properly train for a second marathon when the second marathon is scheduled to take place only 3 weeks after the first?
My thoughts are this: I should be running a longer distance this weekend – perhaps a half marathon, or 25km distance – so that I can get back into marathon form. And I should run an even greater distance next weekend – perhaps a 32km run. But, then the other part of my brain takes over and suggests that I should still be taking it easy this weekend, that I should perhaps go for a shorter run, building to a 25-30km run next weekend. But is that enough? Is it too much? I have no freaking clue. I’ve never done back-to-almost-back marathons before.
Anyway, I have no idea what I’m going to do this weekend. I think I’ll try for a 5k run tomorrow just to see how my legs feel. If that works, then I think I’ll attempt a half marathon on Sunday. Nothing fast – I’m not looking to make a personal best. I just want to shake out my legs, wake them up, and perhaps get rid of both the sluggish and antsy feelings that I currently have.
Most importantly, I just want to get out and run.
1 Well, I didn’t run so long as one assumes that kangooing isn’t running, even though it looks like running and feels like running. If we make that assumption, then I didn’t run.
Remember long ago when I ran a 3:48 marathon? Ya, that seems almost like yesterday – or perhaps the day before that.
Anyway, because I had such an awesome time, and because I’m clearly a glutton for punishment, I can’t sit around and glow in the awesome-tastic results of Sunday’s marathon. Of course, that doesn’t mean I’m not still smiling from the results – because I am1. It does, however, mean that I need to stay focused because my next marathon is a little more than 18 days away. Eep.
That’s right folks, the Ottawa marathon is approaching fast. I repeat – Eep!
While I went into the Toronto Marathon with the goal of running sub four hours, my intended goal for the Ottawa marathon is not quite so lofty. That is, I simply want to figure out if I can run two marathons in a month2. Several people have told me that I’m crazy to try, but I figure Why not?. Worst case scenario – I crash and burn and perform terribly.
Okay, okay. The real worst case scenario would be that I crash, burn, perform terribly, and soil myself3.
Point is, I have another marathon to run in just over 2 weeks. That means I should be running a longer run this coming weekend or the weekend after that before I begin another week of tapering. I haven’t decided how I’m going to lay out my training since:
The time between marathons is so short,
I need to spend a bit more time in recovery mode based on last weekend’s run, and
I might want to run another race this weekend in Toronto4.
Another race? Wouldn’t that make 5 straight weekends of running in a row?
Why yes, yes it would.
And that, dear friends, is probably why you are correct to call me crazy6.
1 In fact, every moment that I think about Sunday’s run I find myself grinning like an idiot.
2 And should marathon number two of 2012 go well, I may or may not be considering a longer distance. A 50k perhaps.
3 I’m skipping over the option of injury because I don’t even want to consider that possibility, other than to do everything I can to ensure that I do not, in fact, injure myself.
4 Carolyn told me about the Toronto Sporting Life 10k Run, and there is a part of me that wants to see if I can’t beat my current (and recently achieved) personal best 10k time of 45:105.
5 Hmmm, I just checked the website and apparently registration closed on the 4th of May. I might just have to do a longer run this weekend. Oh well.
Yesterday was the big day – the Toronto Goodlife Marathon. For those of you who follow me on the Twitter or Facebook, you’ll already know the results. For those of you that don’t, let me just put it this way:
Can’t stop smiling.
Honestly, that run went better than I had assumed it would. Far from better. If we were to put a stake in the ground and call that point better, my race results would have been about eleventy-billion light-years away. For me, it was just that awesome1.
Let me put this into a bit of context. My very first marathon was last year – the Ottawa Marathon. That run started out well, but by 36km I was in a bit of trouble. I messed up my IT band and that pretty much slowed me down for the remainder of the run. Don’t get me wrong, I was still ecstatic with my results. While I had hoped to run that marathon in under 4 hours, the IT band issue ended that dream. Regardless, I was more than thrilled to finish the race – proving to myself that I could run a marathon. My time: 4:08. Not too shabby for a first time marathon.
Flash forward to yesterday. In the weeks leading up to the marathon I have been training a lot. Putting in my time, trying to get appropriate rest, and attempting to stay focused on the prize: a sub 4 hour marathon. But despite all the training, anything can happen on the day of a race.
To say that I was nervous yesterday morning is an understatement2. Mostly, however, I spent yesterday morning – prior to the gun signalling the start of the race – feeling terribly excited. Almost throw-uppy excited.
Thankfully, having learned the mistake of under-fuelling during the Around the Bay 30k, I made sure to have half a bowl of oatmeal with peanut butter and honey prior to the start of the race. I topped that off with half a coffee – just enough caffeine to get things going, but not enough to cause gastrointestinal upset, or dehydration.
Anyway, before I knew it, we were off and running. The sound of several thousand people running at once through the relative quiet of Toronto at 7:30am is like no other. It’s almost hypnotic – with the repetitive clomp of left-foot, right-foot hitting the pavement, the breathing in and out, the shuffling of running wear. Running down Yonge street is also quite the experience. I enjoy taking my time to check out the stores that I’m passing – always in search of interesting places to eat. That’s right folks, I’m window shopping for food as I run. Slightly masochistic? Perhaps.
At the first kilometre checkpoint, RunKeeper dutifully informed me that my pace was about 5:55. Not unexpected given the congestion that occurs at the beginning of the race. But the pace dropped quickly. Before I knew it, I was running with the 3:45 Pacer-Bunny3. This was not intended, and at first I thought Whoa, slow down Gillis, don’t get too excited. You see, I was worried that I was running too quickly for the marathon. I wasn’t sure that I would be able to sustain the pace.
After some internal dialogue, I opted to see if I could keep up with the 3:45 Pacer-Bunny. I reasoned that my body felt great, my breathing was calm, nothing was achy or sore, I was hydrated and fuelled properly, and worst case scenario – I could slow down later.
Before I knew it, I’d covered 21.1 kilometres without any sign of slowing. I still felt strong. I continued running with the 3:45 Pacer-Bunny knowing full well that I lost all energy at the 26k checkpoint during the Around the Bay. Again, I reasoned that if I could make it to that point without issue, I might as well continue running the pace that I had set.
The kilometres kept dropping.
25 kilometres – no problems.
30 kilometres – no problems.
35 kilometres – no problems.
Holy shitballs, I thought, I’m going to crush 4 hours.
I was ecstatic, but also cautious. I didn’t want to get ahead of myself. There were 7.2 kilometres still to go, and I could tell that my pace had slowed – not enough to damage the potential crushing of the 4 hour goal, but enough to know that I probably shouldn’t push too hard near the end for fear of screwing up my run completely. Also, it was around the 36km point in the previous marathon when things went downhill – thank you very much IT band.
I kept running.
Can I really do this? I kept running.
Still running. I can totally do this. Strangers were yelling my name, cheering me on.
Still running. Smiling more. I could taste the end of the race. I’m totally doing this.
I could hear the sound of the crowd at the end of the race.
Only 3.2 kilometres to go. That’s 15 or so minutes. I can do this. Holy shit I’m going to do this. I can’t freaking believe how good I feel. I can’t freaking believe that I’m about to crush the 4 hour goal.
The smile on my face had to stretch from ear to ear. Pure exhilaration.
And so I kept running.
The cheers grew louder. My smile grew with them.
That’s when I saw Carolyn. She had just finished the half and was waiting near the finish line. She screamed my name and I managed to run over for the most awesome high-five a man who’d just run 41+km could have asked for.
I kept running.
And then I heard Dr. Mark and Dr. Julie screaming my name. Mark extending his hand for another just as epic and just as energy-boosting high-five.
I kept running. Beaming. Stoked. Exhilarated.
And there it was. The finish line. Forty two point two kilometres away from where I had started on the other side of Toronto. I can’t even begin to describe the feeling, or how good it felt to see the gun time. I can’t explain how amazing it felt to find out that my chip time was 3:48 – a full 20 minutes faster than my first marathon time. And then to see Jasper and Liz on the other side of the finish line screaming my name and cheering me on.
So. Freaking. Amazing.
Also incredible – all of the awesome tweets and text messages that everyone sent to me during and after the race. Honestly, they kept me smiling the entire time. They kept me focused on the task the entire time. And they reminded me how damn lucky I am to have so many amazing people in my life. The support was overwhelming. I may or may not have gotten a little verklempt after crossing the finish line and wandering the athlete’s recovery area.
Thank you to everyone that offered your support. Thank you for all of your words of encouragement. Thank you for coming to see me run a ridiculously long distance. Thank you for watching the race via RunKeeper. Thank you for making yesterday so amazing.
Truly, yesterday was a day that I won’t soon forget.
1 Having been a chunky-butt kid, teenager, and adult, completing a marathon is on par of an experience – for me – as finishing my Ph.D.
2 I may or may not have had to run to the bathroom 4 times prior to the start of the race. Too much information? I’ll repeat what I’ve said and written before about running – oh so glamourous. Ha!
3 A Pacer-Bunny is someone who wears pink bunny ears (seriously) that indicate how long they are going to take to run the marathon. Their purpose – to guide other runners to the finish line in the same time.
Today is the big day! Today I run 42.2 kilometres in the Toronto Goodlife Marathon. In fact, if it’s after 7:30am when you’re reading this, I’m already running. Eep!
This marathon marks the first of three that I have planned to complete this year. To say that I’m nervous and excited and just a little bit throw-uppy would be a huge understatement. But the anticipation and nervousness and throw-uppy feelings are all a part of the experience. Perhaps one day, after running so many marathons, I won’t feel this way anymore. Or perhaps this will always be a part of my morning routine before attempting to run a ridiculously long distance.
All I know right now is that I have 42.2 kilometres ahead of me, and I’m going to try to enjoy every single one of them. I’m going to remember that I’ve trained for this. I’m going to remember that I’ve done this before. I’m going to remember that I’m strong enough. And I’m going to remember there are a lot of people cheering me on.
I’m also going to remember not to shit myself, because that would just be embarrassing. ;)
As was the case for my previous races, and if you are interested in following along, here is a link to the live race. The marathon starts at 7:30am. My goal is a 5 minute 35 second pace (or better). That means I should be at the 10km point by 8:26am, the half way point (21.1km) by 9:28am, the 30km point by 10:18am, and finished by 11:24am.
I’ve got this.
P.S. Good luck to Rick, Shari, Sanjay, and Carolyn – who are all running the half marathon today (Carolyn in Toronto, the rest in Vancouver). You guys are going to crush the half. Crush it I says.
P.S.S. Good luck to anyone else running today. Crush it! Crush it I says.
During a short break between crossing off items 18 and 19 on my list of things to do today1, I decided to book my hotel for my first marathon of the season2. This just so happened to be item 20 on my list3.
However, before I booked I wanted to check to see if there were any deals for runners (which is often the case). I went to the Toronto Goodlife Marathon website and poked around to see what I could find.
Being the type of person that is easily distracted by any sort of shiny bauble or trinket, I soon found myself checking out a map of the course.
My first reaction as I traced the path from the Yonge and Eglinton area as it crisscrossed Toronto for 42.2 crazy long kilometres (check out the map here), was to think
What the eff have I gotten myself into?
And then I thought
Suck it up Gillis. You’ve done this before. You’ll do it again.
Of course, the second thought was also accompanied by a rather acute feeling of throw-uppy-ness.
I shook that off and tried to look at the map from a different perspective. I noted the 10km point and remembered – I just ran 10km in a personal best time. Ten kilometres – that’s easy. Then I hit the 20km point and thought – pffft, that’s not even a half marathon. I’ve done numerous half marathons already this year and lived to tell about it. I moved on to the 30k point and, while not as confident, reminded myself that I successfully ran the 30k Around the Bay only about a month ago, and I did so with very little fuel in my belly. And then I realized that only 12.2 km remained in the route. I thought – I ran almost that distance last night on the treadmill!
I can do this, I actually said aloud, feeling rather pumped.
Okay, let me be completely honest. I did say out loud for no one in particular (except perhaps myself) to hear I can do this, and I did in fact feel pumped. But I also still felt a little throw-uppy.
Perhaps that’s a good thing? Perhaps feeling throw-uppy will ensure that I train as best as I can so that I am as prepared as I am for the big day.
Or perhaps it just means that I’m going to throw up on race day.
Whatever. I’ve puked while running before. It didn’t stop me then. It’s not going to stop me now.
I’ve got this.
1 Which was a ridiculously long 39-item list.
2 I booked the schwanky Novotel in North York – the same hotel I stayed in when I ran the Toronto Goodlife Half Marathon just about 1.5 years ago – because it’s a stones throw from the starting gate of the race.
3 Crossing off things from my list while on break – that’s just efficient, that’s what that is.
In a word the run was amazing. There were 170+ runners registered to compete, 70 of them male. I was the 38th male to cross the finish line (and 47th overall – top 25% – not too shabby). In my age and gender group (Males 30-39), I was 15th out of eighteen2.
My time – 1 hour 51 minutes and 40 seconds. W00t! That means I managed to maintain an average pace of 5 minutes 18 seconds per kilometer. Sweet! I’m very happy with that result. Of course, I still aim to do a 1 hour 45 minute half marathon – so clearly further training is required.
Things that I loved about today:
Running with Carolyn. For those not in the know, Carolyn is freaking hard core. You’d probably never know it by looking at her – but beware, because she could crush you if she wanted. Both mentally and physically.
Running this particular half marathon. The course was awesome – winding through Springbank Park in London along the river. Seriously, the scenery counts for so much when I run longer distances. Being able to run through nature is a huge bonus.
The size of the race. There were only 170+ half-marathoners. This meant that the race was not crowded. It also meant that any winding was associated with the course itself, and not trying to step around slower runners.
Fewer walkers. I may have complained during the last race that there were too many people stopping and walking after only a short distance (e.g., 1 km in). Don’t get me wrong – I love that people are out and run-walking the distance. I fully encourage everyone to do it. But, for anyone wanting to get a certain time – the slightest thing can interfere with that. It’s similar to when you are driving on the highway and there is a driver in front of you insisting on travelling at 95 kph in the fast lane. Legal – yes. Frustrating as hell – absolutely. There is etiquette to running, just like in driving.
A surprising number of nice bums. Ha! Normally runners have rather flat butts (myself included). For whatever reason, this was not the case today. Given that you are almost always behind someone, having some nice scenery is a bonus. Double Ha!
Things that I did not love about today:
The rain. Actually – I kind of loved that too. It was a lot of fun, and helped keep me from overheating. Also, I felt a little like a kid whenever I ran through a puddle.
Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed today’s run. So much so, that I will definitely be adding this to my list of races for next year. And who knows, perhaps next year I’ll be under the 1 hour 50 minute time.
For those keeping score: 2 of 5 races completed; 52.1 km of 151.5 km behind me. That leaves another 99.4 km to go.
I’ve got this.
1 Because I keep yammering on about it.
2 Clearly most dudes my age are way faster than me. Whatever.