A long Summer recapped

Greetings everyone!
My apologies for the lack of communication. It was one long busy Summer filled with training, racing, vacations, training, moving to a new work site and more training. Did I mention the training?

I was blessed this Summer with a season free from major injuries. I trained smart and followed a great training plan that helped me become faster when running, stronger in my core (and legs) and more confident in my abilities.

At the beginning of the Summer, I competed in a local race with my brother in law and sister in law. I raced a half ‘iron’ distance duathlon (while my brother and sister in law competed in a sprint triathlon relay). I ran 2km to start, biked for 90 km and then ran a half marathon. Our duathlon race also intertwined with the half iron distance triathlon that was running at the same time.

The duathlon field was small. About 25 competitors in the duathlon. The run start went very quick for me. A little too quick but I got into a rhythm of running a pace to keep up with the field. I am not the fastest runner and that was evident in the 2k start! I hopped on my bike. This is where it got a bit odd. In many of my previous races, I am used to doing most of my rides at the back of the field where I am the one whisking by people. But this race, I was at the front of the pack and I was being passed by a lot of strong cyclists. It was a bit of a head game for me. I was going my desired pace, but I was being passed and not doing the passing. I had to use some self talk early on when I was on the bike to remind myself that I needed to focus on my race and not the riding of others.

It was a 45 km ride out and then back. The ride out was great. It was a lot of rolling hills. I got a lot faster and faster as the ride went and my legs felt great. At the turnaround, I figured out why. The headwind! The ride back was much more difficult, especially into the wind. I persevered but used a lot of energy on the rolling climbs on the way back. That took its toll on my legs and the legs of my competitors.

Once I got to transition, I took my time, ate, and got ready for the run. I rolled out for the run but my legs were heavy and slow for the first 5 km. And then I got my rhythm. I got faster and faster and started to reel people in. I had a great run , especially in the second half and finished my run in 2:06, which I was happy with considering my first 6 km were ridiculously slow.

The great news was that I finished third in my age category and got a giant ass medal. It was a great day. I was happy with my performance and felt in great shape.

The race was in early July. So I took two days off to enjoy some chips and beer and then jumped right into marathon training. I took two different training plans, combined them and started to train. I reduced the distance after the race and really concentrated on trying to do three things. 1. Run faster. 2. Cross train. 3. Not overtrain.

So for the month of July, I spent time riding my bike 25-35 km while working on fartleks and running shorter distances at a faster pace as well as not feeling terribly bad if I missed a run. By not running 6 days a week, I was hopeful I could stay injury free. But there was on issue. The issue came on slow long runs. I really had to consciously slow down the long runs to make sure I was actually benefitting from a slow long run. That is hard because my natural pace was a lot quicker than last year and had to consciously run a lot slower. That gave me time to work on my form, breathing and my thoughts.

July was great. August was a different story. Training was sporadic and inconsistent because my family was in Huntsville visiting friends at the end of July, in Disney in early August, and the. in Mont Tremblant in mid August as well as changing work sites, so my ability to run in the day at an optimal time was compromised forcing me to either delay runs, miss runs or run at night.

Now that September is here, I am hoping for more consistency as I build up the core base of my big distance as I prepare to run the Niagara Falls International Marathon at the end of October.

I look forward to again running the marathon in memory of my uncle, Brian the Great, who succumbed to his battle with Non Hodgkins Lymphoma and to raise money for the Niagara Falls Children’s museum, which was his passion in life.

Stay tuned. I promise to give you more updates, some advice and my perspective on 8 months of training and preparation!
————————————————————————————————————–For more information on Andy running the Niagara Falls Marathon in October 2013 (and now October 2014) in memory of his uncle, Brian the Great, or to make a donation, please see the link on the homepage of the museum website at http://www.niagarachildrensmuseum.ca/. Help Andy keep Brian the Great’s legacy alive!


Week 1 of 16 for half Iron distance (70.3 miles) duathlon in July

So, I am back on the horse officially!
This is week one of formal training for the Peterborough Half Ironman distance duathlon that takes place in early July. I have taken a half ironman training program designed by Matt Fitzerald, a triathlon plan guru (who you can see in person, as he is the keynote speaker at the TriSummit in Muskoka in early April. For more information, check out http://www.muskokatrisummit.com/) and fitness writer. I took his plan and slightly tweaked it. I took out the swims and jilt in some BRICK workouts later in the training to adjust to some transitions. This training plan is very different than my plan last year, as my training has increased from five days to six days, but I really like this plan as the weekday portion is doable in terms of time it will take to complete the training, as well as the long distances are scheduled on the weekends!
So, week one started on Monday. It was a rest day. I love Mondays!!!
Tuesday was the first day back on the bike, which is set up on the trainer in the basement. 40 minutes moderately with some small manageable intervals spaced throughout the 40 minutes on the bike. It felt good while on the bike. I get off the bike at the end of 49 minutes and my legs felt like they were cinder blocks….I then did a small amount of core training that will grow in time and intensity as the weeks progress.
Wed was a 4 mile run with some hill sprints. I was kind of hesitant when I went out as I have spent less time running then on the bike over the ‘off season’, but was very surprised by how great I felt running. No pain, not slow and I felt great! It wasn’t exactly warm but I was pretty sweaty guy by the end of the run.
Thursday was a 40 minute bike ride that was consistent and Friday was a 4 mile moderate run that I thoroughly enjoyed. It felt great. My ass is experiencing some saddle soreness but my legs are really good, but I think that has to do with the amount of time I spend on the foam roller in the evening after each activity. Or maybe it is the new shoes!
The weekends are scheduled for the big distances.
Saturday I had to ride the bike (on the trainer) for 35km. Due to the shape of the day, I couldn’t ride till after the kids were in bed…and after dinner out with friends…and a beer….and half of the best tasting Cherry Donut I have ever tasted! So, the ride was long and hot. Did I mention it was long? However, it was a great time to catch up watching concerts and music videos on YouTube to keep my attention!
Sunday was a 10k run. Another cold day, but beautiful and glorious! The sun was out, not a cloud in the sky. A great day to be outside. The run was great. A wonderful run with a pretty good time for a ‘slow pace’. I made the comment to my wife that my muscle memory was great. The body kicked in, the legs and lungs knew what to do and I felt super and pain free throughout the run.

Let’s see how next week goes, so stay tuned!

————————————————————————————————————–For more information on Andy running the Niagara Falls Marathon in October 2013 (and now October 2014) in memory of his uncle, Brian the Great, or to make a donation, please see the link on the homepage of the museum website at http://www.niagarachildrensmuseum.ca/. Help Andy keep Brian the Great’s legacy alive!

Getting back on the horse

Exercising can be daunting for some people. Some of my friends love to have exercise as part of their daily regimes. Others feel like they need to add it to part of their daily routine. But for me, I love to exercise when I have a plan and a goal in kind. That is the motivation that gets me off of the couch. It is the motivation that keeps my hands out of a family bag of plain rippled chips. It is the motivation to get me on the bike on the trainer in the basement or running when the wind chill is cold!

So, it is this goal and plan that will help me as I say, ‘get back on the horse’. As most of you know, I have committed to compete in a 70.3 half ironman duathlon in early July and then the Niagara Falls International Marathon for the second time (to raise funds for the Niagara Children’s Museum in honour of my uncle, Brian the Great) in late October. So, looking at the calendar, getting back on the horse is what I need to do!

This week was getting my legs used to running again, a great week to do it considering it was our Spring break where I live and had time to dedicate to getting my legs used to running again. The bad news, if you can call it that, was that my family was on vacation in the White Mountains of New Hampahire where we skied and skied and skied. So, in reflection, I didn’t run as much as I would have liked, but did downhill ski, skate or run six of the seven days.

After returning home, I am currently nursing either a bruised shin or am suffering from what could be a shin splint, not necessarily from running, but from downhill skiing. We shall see tomorrow when I get out for a run!

Stay tuned for more info as this week, I attempt to get back on the horse!!!

————————————————————————————————————–For more information on Andy running the Niagara Falls Marathon in October 2013 in memory of his uncle, Brian the Great, or to make a donation, please see the link on the homepage of the museum website at http://www.niagarachildrensmuseum.ca/. Help Andy keep Brian the Great’s legacy alive!

Chapter Two – Marathon Training in Week Two – The Rubber hits the road

Chapter Two – Marathon Training – Week Two – The Rubber hits the road

Before we get to the record of training in week two, I need to come out with my

of many disclaimers! I am on lucky guy. I love my job. I enjoy work. I have a great family that is supportive. My wife is probably my greatest inspiration. She tells me all the time that I can do it and cheers me, despite dealing with a running injury for some time that has put her out of commission! So with that in mind, I started to think of the factors that need to be in place to make any training successful. Here are my thoughts as to what I know to be true during my second week of marathon training.

  1. Need time – You need to put in the time to properly train to ensure that you are prepared for the distance, know how to fuel, know how to adjust when your body wants to stop and know how to mentally prepare yourself for discomfort, pain and the time it will take to complete any race
  2. Need support – I am a young professional with a good career, a wife and two small children. I need to have support from my wife, family and friends to spend time away from them to ensure that I can train. Because my work schedule is inflexible and my wife still goes to the gym and has taken up swimming, my training schedule has become very flexible. I am very accustomed to doing a good chunk of my training after the kids are in bed. I have grown quite comfortable running with a safety vest, headlamp and running after the sun has gone down. I even can go to sleep at a decent time (not always)
  3.  Need money – sports aren’t cheap. Really doesn’t matter what sport you play. You need to invest money (and time) to ensure that you are properly outfitted. Properly fitted shoes, socks, shorts, technical shirt (wicking), watch, gps, fuel belt, gels, chews, electrolyte drinks, recovery fuel etc. are essential to prepare to run longer than 45 minutes.
  4. Need motivation – why are you training? What is the goal? I am very goal oriented. I need to set a goal and work to achieve a goal. However, for this race, I haven’t really thought too much about a race goal in terms of time. Maybe complete it in less than 4 hours? Instead, I am concentrating on the reason I am running the race. My uncle Brian. He passed away in March of 2011 from Non-Hodkin’s Lymphoma. It was devastating. He got sick and went downhill quite fast. He was so ill that he refused to see most people, so I never really got to say good bye. He was a huge inspiration for me. Many relatives see the similarities in our looks, mannerisms and accomplishments. (Uncle Brian was the curator and executive director of the Niagara Falls Art Gallery and the Niagara Children’s Museum, which he helped start. I am running in support of the Children’s museum to help raise funds to ensure that the educational programs continue to run to serve the learning and inquiry of children in the Niagara Peninsula). Uncle Brian was one of those family members that didn’t like to be called Uncle Brian (his wife was adamant that we not call her Aunt Deb). We did anyways. When I had children, we decided to christen Uncle Brian and Aunt Deb ‘Brian the Great’ and ‘Deb the Great’ since they were a great uncle and aunt to our children. Hence why I am running this marathon for ‘Brian the Great’.


I consider myself blessed because I have the four factors that I think I need to be successful!

So, week two of training. My first serious week of training! Last week was a mish mash of recovering from my duathlon and the busiest week of my professional schedule. This week was much calmer and saner!

My friend Deb sent me a training program that she is doing. Since she lives two hours away, we only get to run together when we get together, so I will be training solo. Her schedule is pretty much a carbon copy of the marathon training schedule set out in the John Stauton book, ‘Running: The complete guide to building your running program’.

Sunday – supposed to run 10 Km at a 6:30 pace. I decided that I would much rather get on the bike. So I rode my bike on a local hilly route for 28.37K at a pace of 2:07. Monday was the day of rest. Tuesday is tempo run day. I ran 6.47 K in 33:19 minutes at a 5:09 pace. I felt good. I ran a lot earlier in the day than what I am used to (running after the kids are in bed). I realize that I need to watch what I eat and drink and coordinate it with when I eat and drink to ensure that I am well fuelled and hydrated.

Wednesday is another tempo run. At 85% effort. But I am new to the heart monitor, I really didn’t know what 85% effort was. Is it 85% of my all out effort? 85% of my all out pace? I didn’t know. So, I did the math (with the help of a calculator) and only focussed on the heart monitor and not my pace and did 10K in 57:07 with a 5:43 pace and an avg. Heart rate of 150 (lowest was 146. Highest was 165). It was super hot and humid out that day and I did this run after a long day at work. No excuses. That 10K time is not my best. I need to do a better job of hydrating myself during the day.

Thursday I was supposed to do a steady pace run of 6K at a 5:55 pace. I rode my bike instead. 23.7Km in 51:33 at a 2:11 pace. That was a slower ride than usual. Also hot. It seems I am finding it a bit difficult to slow down and not go ‘all out’ on all training sessions. That is something to address over the next few weeks and months.

Friday was off and Saturday was supposed to be a stead 6K run. I road my bike instead! 23.73 K in 50:33 at a 2:08 pace. It is important to inform you, the reader that I am doing a team triathlon (I am doing the biking and running) with my wife at the end of July in Bala, middle of August in Ennismore and mid September in Welland/Niagara Falls, so it is pivotal that I do some training on my bike. It will be tricky to see what to replace and when on the training schedule in the weeks leading up to these races.

However, that is a story for next time!

For more information on Andy running for Brian the Great or to make a donation, please see the link on the homepage of the museum website at http://www.niagarachildrensmuseum.ca/

Chapter One – Marathon Training – Week One


Chapter One – Marathon Training – Week One         


Week one of marathon training starts as I recover from my participation in an Olympic distance Duathlon (2 K run, 40 K bike, 10 K run) at the 5150 event in Huntsville. This was my first race where I had to bike and run in the same race. I had been training for this event since the beginning of April, biking, running a variety of workouts (intervals, hills, time trials, BRICK workouts (where you run after you bike) and doing core strength exercises (and pilates). It went very well. I was very happy with all three times (9:09 2K run, 1:19:00 40K bike, 56:57 10K run) and finished 13 out of 23 participants.


Cross training was totally new to me. Thanks from some help from the Internet and a few friends, I was able to piece together a training plan that started in April. I was able to reflect a bit on the training for three months for a race. There were a couple of highlights. First, I was able to increase my pace on my bike and my runs throughout the training. Secondly, I felt good sticking to a set schedule for training. Thirdly, I haven’t felt better in years. I was energized (more so than usual).


However, in reflection, there were also some improvements and adjustments that needed to be made to ensure that I would be successful in this race and for the marathon training that I was about to embark on.


  1. Fuel – I am not accustomed to running with a fuel belt and really am sort of clueless about how to fuel and when to fuel and what to fuel with. This was something that I would have to learn about over the course of my training
  2. Nutrition – I am a pretty healthy guy who eats well. But being a vegetarian, I am always concerned about getting enough protein. I also had to change my breakfast to ensure that I had enough good food to fuel my exercise so I wasn’t lethargic our bunt out. I also had to revisit what I was eating and drinking pre, during and post exercise.
  3. Equipment – I run with running shoes, a good pair of shorts and a technical t-shirt. Either than that, I didn’t really have good equipment. I used an app on my phone to help with distance, time and pace. I didn’t run with a fuel belt. Didn’t run with a hat. Didn’t run with sun glasses. I didn’t really look like a long distance runner, and I was OK with that. My wife. She was not! She bought me a GPS watch so that I didn’t have to carry my phone. She made me use her fuel belt. She suggested that I run with a hat. She suggested that I look more of the part of a long distance runner


These three areas were identified as growth areas for me over the course of my training for the 5150 event and marathon training.


 So, when I started my training for the marathon, I was just coming off of the duathlon. It was also one of the busiest weeks of the year professionally for me as it was one of the busiest weeks of the year for me. Needless to say, I enjoyed recovery more than actual training. I rode my bike for 20K mid week, squeezed in a 6K run at a decent pace (5:40 per km) and then rode my bike again on the weekend, riding close to 26K on Sat and 28k on Sunday.


I really do enjoy the cross training aspect as I know my legs will be in shock when the distance starts to really increase when I start running 4 to 5 days a week, doing core strength on day a week and then figure out when I can fit the bike in!


However, that is a story for next time!