Saturday, May 30, 2009

Row Four Memories

I just attended my marathon clinic's first meeting on Thursday, May 28 at the Markham Runningroom as a repeater (I did not fail the last one, I just want to master the training :)). Our instructor is the same guy, Ray Lim, early 60s, who in the last clinic's first meeting impressed all of us when he said he'd done 57 marathons, one each month after he did his first in 2004. Five months after, his credentials have improved, now with 62 marathons under his belt.

Same as the last time, Ray, spoke about the clinic's training schedule, training days, training logs,types of training, duration, graduation race, run club days, running goals, speakers, topics of discussion. He again introduced the clinic's group leaders who are all accomplished marathon runners in their own right. A few of them are past and present qualifiers and finishers of the Boston marathon . Some of them were former marathon clinic instructors themselves, while others are not only into running but also into triathlons.

Of the more than 20 runners signed up for the clinic, I was one of a few who have never completed a full marathon. Most of the runners there are repeat clinic members who have completed marathons before and are just training for another race or trying to improve their times. Two people said they plan to run an ultramarathon in less than a month's time. Some have just run Boston, while others have times that are close to Boston qualifying times.

As we heard from each runner in that room about his/her running experiences and goals, Nette (my LSD running partner), who also has not run a marathon before looked at me with a smile and whispered in my ear, " Bong, are we in the right clinic?"

My mind then wandered back to my elementary school days in the Philippines, and I still recall vividly while in a classroom during a written test, the teacher saying, " Pinis or not pinis, pass your papers!" :) I was then always in row four or farther from the front row, always wondered how and why my row 1 classmates almost always passed the papers ahead of us and still got the highest marks. :)

Now I know that for me to achieve my goal of finishing a full marathon in September, I have to think positive and rid my psyche of "row four" memories.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

A Fun Sunday Walk/Run With Jason's Learn To Run Group

Jason leading his Learn to Run Clinic group out of homebase with friends Nette and Annissa.


Jason looking strong and showing good biomechanics

Second to the left is Alice, a Boston marathon finisher in her late sixties who's a great inspiration for all new runners at Runningroom running club.

Nette, Jason and I hit a nearby trail for our 10k run after the nice warm up with the Learn to Run group.

Jason, myself (notice my six pack, lol), Annissa (my half marathon clinic teacher) and Boston finisher Alice

We had a blast enjoying the warm weather, the shade of the trees,wooden bridges, birds chirping, other runners, and lots of talk about running.

Behind is one of several wooden bridges that we passed on the trail during our run.
This beautiful,sunny Sunday morning, I had the privilege and good fortune to join my runner friends Jason and Nette do the Sunday walk/run of the Learn To Run (LTR) Clinic group on its 2nd Sunday session. Jason, who teaches the clinic started running almost the same time as myself 2 years ago and was a member of the same half marathon clinic that I attended a year before. Nette, on the otherhand has been my ever reliable LSD running partner, who's also joining me in the new marathon clinic next week.
I was also happy to meet the always smiling Annissa, my half marathon clinic coach last year, who I am very fond off (coz she was so nice to tolerate my slow pace and ran side by side with me on the LSD runs in her clinic last year). Also joining us in the LTR walk/run was Alice, a Boston marathon finisher a few times, who at 67 is a great inspiration for all of us new runners at the Runningroom running club. When I see the words courage and determination, I think of Alice. She was hit by a vehicle more than a year ago during an evening training run that caused her serious injuries that prevented her from running the 2008 Boston Marathon (she ran it the year before) , for which she qualified for. Slowly, from being comatose, and then bed ridden for a time, she's bounced right back thru sheer will to walk and run again. I won't be surprised if she qualifies and runs Boston again in a year or two.
After the nice warm up walk/run with about 20 or more very enthusiastic and quite happy group of new runners, we returned to homebase. As I look at the new runners' tired but contented faces, I smiled, remembering that I looked and felt the same 2 years ago after our walk/runs. Next week, the runs in this LTR clinic will be increased to 2 minutes and every week thereafter, 1 minute is added until they are able to do 1 minute walks and 10 minute runs. Then, they can apply what they learned from the running clinic by running a 5k "graduation" race at the end of the clinic. From this new batch of LTR runners, some you'll never see again, but some will have a small spark in their hearts that will turn into a continuously raging fire that will make them runners for life.
Jason,Nette and myself then hit the trail close to homebase for another easy 10k. Overall, it was a very fulfilling day.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Dealing With Runner's Burnout

Just a couple of months ago, my neighborhood looked like this during my winter training runs.

Now, my place is slowly changing into this.

Appreciating wild flowers in one of my leisurely runs.

On my runs around my neighborhood I enjoyed taking pictures of spring flowers everywhere.

These tulips stopped me for a minute, had to savor the sight coz they don't last very long.

More tulips of different colors

These trees were barren of leaves barely a month ago. I love running this trail close to my house.

Because it is now warmer here, it was refreshing to run in the rain in this trail.

I rested my tired feet by trying this nearby high school track one lazy afternoon.

The ground in this track is much softer than asphalt or concrete, my feet, muscles and joints love it.
How does one deal with runner's burnout? After continuously running in all kinds of weather in the last 2 years and increasing my distance from 5k races to a 30k race, I succumbed to what running experts call "runner's burnout". In the last few months, while attending a marathon clinic, I had been used to running between 15k to 25k long runs on Sundays and 10k runs 2 or 3 weekdays. But after my last race, the Toronto Sporting Life 10k on May 03, I started to feel sluggish on my training runs and I gradually reduced my mileage and speed to the point that I've never run more than 6ks in any one day since then. I also felt pain on different parts of my body everytime I tried to run faster or longer. I do not know if my body was just fooling me, but the moment I increased my speed or intensity I would feel some discomfort or pain either on my feet, knees, lower back, ankle, hamstring, calves, or anywhere. What's puzzling is it doesn't come from the same spot, and it (the pain)disappears as soon as I slow down or walk. It is funny but true. As if my body has a mind of its own and just decided enough of this hard training already.
Anyway, to stop all these nonsense coming from my "lazy" body (I know it's just laziness because the pain (imaginary or not) is not caused by any injury), I decided to sign up to run my first full marathon, the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon on September 27, 2009. I also signed up to repeat the 18 week marathon clinic at the Markham Runningroom to prepare for this race. The clinic starts on May 28. That's next week, Thursday.
In the meantime, these past few days, my mind/psyche had to allow the body to not work hard and just rest. My last few runs were quite short, slow and leisurely. No more than 6ks. And just around my neighborhood, where spring flowers most notably tulips adorn the front gardens and yards. I tried the nearby high school track which I found easier on the feet and legs. I also ran on a trail close to a park in my area. So,for now, the body can take it easy and have its way. Next week will be a totally different story.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Toronto Sporting Life 10K In Pictures

Runner #4810 celebrating life with more than 10,000 runners at Yonge Street, Toronto.

It was cold, 7 above zero in the morning before the race.

Runners started arriving early for the 8 am start time.

Volunteers were busy, what with more than 10,000 participants.

Runners were assigned a corral depending on estimated finish time, mine was blue - for 1 hour or less.

I like being early to drop off my bag, take pictures and enjoy the sights and festivities.

The start line area 45 minutes before the race.

Yonge Street, Toronto shortly before the start of the race.

This lady devised a good way to find her runner, a stick with a red plastic shopping bag.

Finishing uninjured to run another day is a blessing, plus the medal of course.

With more than 10,000 runners, it was anarchy to find your friends or relatives waiting outside the finish line.

With no more than 4 hours of sleep last night (from watching and celebrating Pacman's win against Hatton), I ran the Toronto Sporting Life 10K Run with more than 10,000 other runner participants along a route that was mostly downhill starting at Yonge Street south of Eglinton Avenue, turning right to Front Street and finishing at Fort York, Toronto. The annual charity run raises money for the support of kids with cancer.

It is considered the fastest and biggest 10k race in Canada because of the relatively downhill race route and the most number of participants. This year more than 12,000 people registered for the race. I was aiming for a new PR, a time faster than 1:02:01, my previous best in the 10k distance that I did in the Oasis Zoo Run last year. My other target goal was to go below 1 hour for the first time. I gave it my all to achieve both goals and was happy and thankful to finish in 1:00:16 a new PR in the 10k. It was so close and yet so far to break the 1 hour barrier as I missed it by 16 seconds. The thing is, when I crossed the finish line, my Garmin 305 gave me 10.61 kms. total. So, if my Garmin was working good I got shortchanged by more than half a kilometer , which when converted to time is about 3 minutes and change. Oh well, you can't be too greedy. Tomorrow is another day.