Friday, March 17, 2017

Barca Rules

A Spring marathon?  In Barcelona?   Preceded by two weeks of renting a flat and working from there?   Dialling into conference calls from a sunny roof terrace?  Reviewing documents over fabulous cortado?   Carmen at the Palau Musica?  All the tapas you can eat?    Now that's my kind of marathon taper and carb load!
I'm training for my first 100 miler, in April, so a March marathon was never going to be speedy - the goal was to insert it into the ultra training schedule so I could run a big city, well supported marathon 'on tired legs'.   Not shredded legs, but not well-rested.   And then let the crowds pull me round, and all I have to do is rein in the Need for Speed   (and consequent failure, injury and risk to the 100).

So:  first thing....I've got one helluva base.    Last year's running streak topped out at 2409 miles.    Sweet.  It would have been more though if I'd not had a bad bronchial infection in Dec.   Then I had the same again in Jan and in Feb.   So this meant I did just a lot of LSD and some hill reps for 'marathon training'.  

Not at the same time you understand.  

Including one of these:

Then more running in Barcelona than I would normally pre marathon.   The town has some splendid views: 

But they come at a cost:

And thus, since my legs were falling apart just from some running and a ton of touristic walking, I confirmed with Spencer, Ted and Max that I should indeed take it a bit easy on myself with three days to go, so some light unfinished church sightseeing

and some great but oddly named food:

and then the excitement builds!:

Roads being shut down

Expo firing up (a really amazing one!) - on nice soft carpet too:   MUY EMOCIANADO!

and then the big day:   
THE START:   20, 000 of us at Placa Espagna

My plan was for steadiness throughout - not get carried away at the start but not go hard for any negative split at the halfway mark.   

Decent heart rate drift, during hilly course:

And despite heat and hills, I think I did ok!

Not my fastest but not the intent.   I got through it.   CONSISTENTLY    EVENLY PACED.   On less than ideally rested legs, and with some proper recovery, the 100 miler attempt should still be ON!

And the only thing, the only mantra I had throughout this marathon was this one word:  



And so I ENJOYED ... while I endured.
and thus, I heartily commend to you Barcelona in March.    Not too hot, despite the soaked kit above.    Amazing crowds, great bands on the course, and superb organisation.  

and the OJ is cheap and everywhere                

Gracias, Barcelona  - marathon #21 was a pleasure to run with you.  

Monday, January 16, 2017


That's the number of miles I ran last year and both the good news and the bad news for my 2016 running.  Had I known where I stood in the final week I would have upped my game in Asia and crossed the line at 1000 just like I used to cross the line of 2000 billable hours a year in mid to late December while in private practice.

On the other hand, this is about 50% more than I did in my injured and rehab year of 2015.  More important, form and breathing are better and knee pain is way down.  Did 2 half marathons in decent times without incident and with joy.  Averaging my usual low 9s for the daily plod but my sprints are well under 8 and occasionally under 7 without too much huffing and puffing.

Congrats to Phil who more than doubled up on me mileage and here's to a new year with 1000 mile goals and an Antitrust Marathon to look forward to.

My running New Year's resolution wasn't a streak but a trainer.  Had my first session this morning.  #restorethecore Hope to run with everyone at least once along the way.

Friday, November 11, 2016


A late race report but hopefully welcome because we all need a bit of good news!   

Nearing the end of my 2016 running streak, the small but perfectly formed marathon in the neighbouring town of Abingdon loomed.  

Loomed, because there is nigh zero crowd support (just the odd sheep); you aren't allowed to wear earphones as they don't close the roads, and the weather can be precarious.   Nevertheless, it was selected as it is an 11 minute drive from home, and anyway... it all went ABsolutely-FABulously.  

Daughter as race crew as wife had to go to Canada urgently -
but she watched my progress on iPhone findfriends

Executed marathon properly.  Finally.   For the last three marathons I've failed at sticking to the plan.  Either too little running and too much rowing.  Or went out too fast and blew up.  Or just failed, full stop.   Or followed the plan and the legs didn't cooperate after 18.   But today it all worked.  

Plan was 10, 10 and 6.2:   first 10 miles of patience and holding back.  Rein rein rein.   Starting with 8.45 miles and gradually easing down to 8.35s by ten.  Letting people run away knowing I'd pick them off later.  Enjoying the views.  Turkey farms and sheep and no crowds just countryside.    
This is on my arm, not leg.   Haha  

Then 10 miles of focus, getting down to 8.30s and holding there.  Not suffering or racing just hold hold hold.   Picking off runners and executing the plan.Then the last 6.2 was drive drive drive.  "None shall pass" me.  And no one was allowed to.  Pace thus picking up and dipping under 8.30s.   

I physically felt the Wall at 22: It was a double loop course reasonably flat and suddenly at 22 I couldn't breathe for half a mile as my body switched to fat burning.   
Amazing that I didn't fall apart but I'd run 2000 miles in training this year so my body and little mind could handle it.   So I gulped air and Gu and dug in for the final push.    And SMILED AND SMILED AND SMILED

Ecstatic at the Finish.  Daughter got the announcer to name-check me as I ran around the stadium track, noting this was my 20th marathon and that I'd last run this one in 1998 when daughter cheering me on was 3 years old!

Then tea and results check 3.41.01.    Faster than the last time I ran this course all those years ago!   And better than I'd aimed for for the last three marathons and this one i.e. 3.45.    Fabulous.     The days of 3.16 marathons may be gone but I'm really chuffed.    Phew!!!!  

and finally, here is a photo from the same race in 1998, with the same daughter as pacer that time


Saturday, November 5, 2016

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

The Catch

So, recovery from the Chicago Marathon proceeds apace. I have a few pulls here and there (calf, left shoulder) that I think have more to do with doing less and not stretching enough than they have to do with running the Marathon.

Yesterday I took a group of students running, and I was focussing on form rather than speed.  Today I cross trained and, on the bike and in the pool I was focussing on a smooth pedal and swim stroke.  It occurred to me that in all three disciplines, a (the) key to a smooth and efficient stroke/stride was timing "the catch."  This is more obviously and traditionally a part of the wisdom on swim technique.  The stroke is divided into the glide, catch and pull.  But the same is true on the bike, as your foot hits the bottom of the stroke, you pull back, engaging the hamstring.  That little pull back is the difference between pounding like a piston and a smooth circular pedal stroke -- stomping v. spinning.  I didn't really realize until recently that the same is true with running.  How smoothly does your foot transition from landing (toe/midfoot/heel) to catching and pulling you back. Ideally the plant and the catch are virtually simultaneous.

In all three disciplines, the catch is where the stroke/stride shifts from getting into position and/or shock absorption to transmitting power.  Timing "the catch" makes a huge difference.  In the swim, you suddenly notice yourself moving steadily (rather than choppily) through the water.  On the bike, your hips pivot slightly forward, your legs relax, and the power transition seems natural.  Running, suddenly the stride gets smooth.

Does this make sense? Am I making it up? Max??

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Wednesday, October 19, 2016


Ten days out. Recovery seems to be going smoothly.  I did a shakeout run on Friday after the Marathon -- 3 miles slow.  Sometimes my legs feel zippy during the first run after a marathon.  They did not  No pain, though.  Saturday I met D and we went for a birthday run. His b'day was 10/8, mine 10/13.  He is a lot younger than me, but we are slowly returning to the running form we both enjoyed a few years ago.  It was delightful.  Then out for coffee.  Then Sunday swim and spin, followed by an actual run at pace on Monday.  I'm feeling good. This makes me nervous.  The few weeks after a marathon have always been dangerous for injuries, so I'm trying to take it easy, but it's going to be hard. . .