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Monday, November 21, 2011

Winter Break

Many signs in the city remind us that winter has arrived earlier than usual this year. Grouse and Cypress have beautiful snow caps. Big-O-Tire on W. Broadway is busy as drivers desperately winterize their vehicles. Robert is staying home today coping with a cold after a soccer game this weekend at snow-covered UBC in sub-zero temperature.  Noah fired an email last week advertising new running apparel available in Alma RR and suitable for cold weather conditions. I may need a new pair of warm running gloves myself.
On one of those cold and rainy days last week, long awaited subscription of Runners World finally arrived. To my delight one of the featured articles discussed a necessity to take a winter break to rest and get ready for a new running season next year. After a very intensive training for races in Eugene in May and New York in November, I felt that my body needed well-deserved rest. As part of my training I ran close to 1,650 km from December to May and 1,850 km from June to November, enough to cover a distance from Vancouver to Chicago. Yes, it's time to take a break and follow some of the recommendations from RW:
  • Make time to cross-train: spin cycling, swimming, yoga, cross-country skiing, or weight training for the first two weeks of rest
  • No long-runs:  run no more than 30 to 40 minutes at a time and reduce your mileage to 25% of your regular weekly mileage for the next two weeks
  • Reduce your weekly mileage to 50% for the next one or two weeks, and to 75% for the final week of rest
  • Eliminate speed work.  However, run up to 5 short intervals of 3 minutes each at a pace that feels moderately hard twice a week to keep your legs and lungs strong

Time off in December is also an excellent opportunity for me to catch up on reading or watching a movie, preferably about running J

Run Strong! Enjoy your winter break.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

New York, New York

With blue sky, sunny weather, and refreshingly cool air on Sunday morning, 47,000 runners could not ask for a better day to run New York Marathon. Janet asked me to enjoy the start of the race which turned out to be high-ceremony and featured signing of the Star-Spangled Banner, speech by the president of NYRR, Michael Bloomberg on stage, choppers above, media everywhere, several celebrities running for charities, the world’s top elite runners ready for 26.2 mile sprint, and thousands of runners from over 100 countries on Verazzano Bridge embarking on a journey through five boroughs to the tunes by Frank Sinatra’s New York, New York. Yes, it was a big event on a big stage, and Madlene, Wayne and I were lucky to be part of it.  I’m happy to report that our small contingent from Alma RR did just fine.

Age Group
Age Group Place
Madlene Lazarian
Wayne Pagens
Jacek Gorwa

Madlene called me right after she finished. Her legs were sore. The second half of the race was harder and as expected slower, but she sounded very happy. Wayne decided to enjoy the experience and take it easy. I’m looking forward to seeing the photos he took throughout the course. 
Slowly shuffling back to my hotel after the race, I had some time to retrospect and quickly came to a realization that my expectation of breaking a personal record in NY was simply unrealistic. The course is hard. Climbing five bridges and several hills required fast downhill running to compensate for lost time. Countless repeats of running up and sprinting down eventually took a toll. By the time I left Queensboro Bridge and entered Manhattan my quads were shot. In great disbelief I had to admit that my race was over. The group of French runners I was following in Brooklyn was long gone. I could barely walk and there were still 10 miles to go. Someone once said about long distance running: pain is inevitable, suffering is optional. And at this moment I knew that my trip to the Big Apple was all about finishing those remaining long, very long miles to Central Park. Feeding off the energy from screaming crowds along 1st Ave, I started running again one mile at a time, hoping to reach the finish line in the best possible time. My memories are blurry from this point on.  I was reminding myself to look for a gospel choir in Harlem, Pepe was telling me about. Did I miss the college band playing a theme from Rocky? Was Robert able to get through thick crowds and watch the race close to Columbus Circle subway station he was going to come to? Most of the time I was simply too tired to think. 
Crossing the finish line in Central Park was anticlimactic. No jubilation. No despair. Exhaustion and simple satisfaction from finishing. Realization that it was an amazing yet very tough race. A text message from Robert popped up on my phone shortly after I changed to dry clothes. He saw me at 26 mile. Made me happy.
This was my 8th marathon. It was the largest, the hardest, most spectacular, most painful and yet most memorable race. Chris is right. New York Marathon is, without a doubt, the best. Would love to do it again.   

Run Strong! 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A Race Like No Other

After 22 weeks of training it is time to start packing and getting ready for a trip to Big Apple to run 26.2 miles across five boroughs: Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx, and Manhattan. This year’s marathon has a special meaning to many. It marks 10th anniversary of 9/11, a tragic event that forever changed this great city. Grete Waitz passed away on April 19 this year. She won New York Marathon a record 9 times. Her husband Jack Waitz will be running this Sunday along 47,000 runners who are coming to New York from all over the world. On November 6,  Madlene, Wayne and I will have a privilege of representing Canada. My Maple Leaf shirt is already folded and ready on top of red-and-white racing Kinvaras. Garmin is being charged at this very moment. Compression socks, or leg warmers as Helen calls them, are packed as well. Chris warned me about potentially long and very cold wait in the start villages at Fort Wadsworth on Staten Island. A trip to Thrifty Store on W. Broadway resulted in throw-away sleeping bag for $14.99 and winter jacket for $9.99 that should keep me warm. Probably the best $25 spent on running this year. My spirits are high, but the self-inflicted challenge of breaking 2:50 in New York sinks in. Noah and Carsten described this course as very difficult with long stretches of uphill running to cross five bridges and many hills especially in the last 3 miles in Central Park. Looking at the elevation map I could appreciate the sheer size of almost two-mile long Verrazano Bridge. To relax and take my mind off time goals, race pace, negative splits, running strategy etc, I decided to look at this amazing race from a light side, as a once-a-lifetime event that should be enjoyed due to its beauty, size and uniqueness. Here are some interesting facts I found on ESPN site about the biggest marathon in the world.
  • 127: Number of runners who toed the line at the very first New York City Marathon, held in 1970. Only 55 actually finished.
  • 9: New York City Marathon victories by Grete Waitz, a Norwegian track star who turned to the marathon at the suggestion of her husband -- and never looked back.
  • 47,000: Number of participants projected to race in this Sunday's marathon.
  • 38: Percent of those racers who are women.
  • 84: Age of Joy Johnson, the oldest female entrant this year.
  • 3,538: Number of entrants from Italy, the country with the most participants outside of the U.S. France and Germany rank second and third for foreign entries.
  • 1,663: Number of attorneys entered in this year's race. Also in the top 10 of professions? Physicians (1,073 entries), good in case of injury along the course ...
  • 8,000: Number of event volunteers during Sunday's race.
  • 2.5 million: Expected spectators along the course.
  • 74: Number of UPS trucks that will take participants' bags from the start in Staten Island to the finish in Manhattan's Central Park.
  • 18,000: Cans of Coors Light ordered for the pre-marathon pasta dinner on Saturday night, which will host 15,000 runners and their families.
  • 4,500: Pounds each of rigatoni pasta and elbow macaroni to be served at the pasta dinner.
  • 17,000: Pounds of clothing discarded at the start line of the race and collected for local charities.
  • 368: Number of portable toilets positioned throughout the course, at more than 35 locations including every mile.
  • 62,370: Gallons of Poland Spring Natural Spring Water available to runners.
  • 32,040: Gallons Gatorade G Series Pro Endurance Formula along the course.
  • 2,300,000: Paper cups used during the race.
  • 60,000: Number of PowerBar Gel packets for runners at mile 18.
  • 130,000: Amount in dollars awarded to the male and female runner champion (amount increases to $200,000 if last year's winner wins again).
  • 31: Amount in millions expected to be raised by all 210 2011 race charities combined.

--Facts and figures provided by the ING New York City Marathon 

Additional Links

Run Strong! New York, here we come!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Will Run for Beer

Chicago Marathon is a great race for a number of reasons. The city is simply awesome. The course is flat and fast. Close to 1 Million spectators come out and cheer. And what was a big surprise for me last year, after you finish and receive your medal, you can enjoy a glass of chilled beer. Its bitter taste is such a welcome change after over-saturated sweetness of energy bars, sports drinks and power gels. But why beer you might ask? Well, majority of runners have long suspected that running and beer went hand in hand. Drinking beer after a run was simply a very enjoyable way of "carbo-loading".  And now there is a solid proof that wheat beer offers additional health benefits. 

Runner’s World recently published a study from Munich University that demonstrated that moderate drinking of beer helps prevent colds. Beer includes polyphenols from brewing grains. Polyphenols are known to improve immune system and prevent inflammation:

"it was shown that non-alcoholic wheat beer containing polyphenols has a positive, health promoting effect on the human body: inflammation parameters in the blood were significantly reduced, and there was a lower frequency of infection with milder symptoms."

Recommendation for runners: drink a moderate amount or regular or non-alcoholic beer per day! 

And for those occasions when we need to drive or stay alert, non-alcoholic beer is a better option. It may be a little challenging to find one, but a friend of mine found a German non-alcoholic wheat beer, Erdinger.  It is carried by Legacy Liquor Store in the Olympic Village. 

BTW. Many runners from Alma are planning a trip to Berlin next fall. Not surprisingly, a glass of beer is offered to finishers of Berlin Marathon as well. Watch how Haile Gebrselassie, who won the race in 2009, enjoyed a super-sized glass of Erdinger. 

Drink responsibly! Run Strong!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

October Marathons

It was a very busy Thanksgiving weekend for the Alma group. Noah, Christine, Helen, Andy and I traveled together to Victoria were many runners from our running community took advantage of a perfect sunny day and set new personal records. It was very exciting to see Sid finishing his first marathon under 3:30!! Great job, Sid!

I compiled results of some of you I know were running in Victoria and Chicago. Results on Chicago Marathon website provide no indication if the posted times are based on Gun Time or Chip Time, I assumed the latter. Glenda's time will be posted once Lake Garda Marathon results are available online. Allison is running Nike Women's Marathon in San Francisco next weekend and her result will be added later.

Victoria Half-Marathon
Age Group
Age Group Place
Helen Mackie
Noah Wallace
Andy McIntosh
Christine Lang
Emma Keely
Suzanne Pearce
Corinne Norbraten
Jacek Gorwa

Victoria Full-Marathon
Age Group
Age Group Place
S Bastien Renaut
Sid Hosseni
Vicki Mann
Brian Uliana
Ken Hamilton
David Pearce
Christine Papau

Chicago Marathon
Age Group
Age Group Place
Saleema Erickson
Chris Erickson
Janet Scott

Update on October 23, 2011
Allison finished San Francisco Nike Women's Marathon in 4:15! A respectable time considering a very hilly course.
Glenda came back from Italy and joined us for a Sunday morning run wearing very cool looking black compression socks! Finished scenic but windy race in Lake Garda in 3:46!

Madlene, Wayne and Jacek are tapering and getting ready for a race in New York in two weeks.
Andy and Paul are still on target for a race in Sacramento in early December.

Congratulations! Run Strong!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Diet: 24-hours Before Race

Even though hard training for marathons in October is practically over and most of us are tapering, there are still things we can do to improve performance come race day. One of those things is diet.  It’s especially important what you eat a day before marathon.  Paul and I religiously followed a diet from Jeff Galloway’s book a day before Eugene Marathon on May 1st.Yes, the number of energy bars raised eyebrows, but the diet worked for us. Here you go:

Day Before Marathon
9:00 AM
Cereal or bagel with low fat cream cheese, coffee or tea. Drink 8 ounces of water or orange juice or a sports drink
10:30 AM
An energy bar or whole grain bagel or baked potato with nonfat coleslaw. Drink 8 ounces of water or sports drink
12:00 Noon
A grilled chicken sandwich or sliced turkey breast on whole grain bread, steamed broccoli or spinach salad. Drink 8 ounces of water or sports drink
1:30-2:00 PM
An energy bar or cereal or a baked potato with non-fat sour cream. Drink 8 ounces of water or sports drink
3:30-4:00 PM
A grilled chicken sandwich or turkey breast burrito with pinto beans and sliced tomatoes; an energy bar. Drink 8 ounces of water or sports drink
5:30-6:00 PM
A baked potato with non-fat sour cream or brown rice with steamed broccoli; an energy bar, if hungry. Drink 8 ounces of water
7:00-7:30 PM
An energy bar. Drink 8 ounces of water
9:00 PM
An energy bar. Drink 8 ounces of water

Marathon Morning

5:00 AM
Wake up. Drink 8 ounces of water
6:00 AM
An energy bar and a cup of coffee. Drink 8 ounces of water
6:30 AM
Drink 4 to 8 ounces of water, if there’s no sloshing in the stomach
7:00 AM
Start race

Good luck on Sunday. Run Strong!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Law 13: Rest Before a Big Race

Did you know that benefits of tapering before a marathon were introduced to recreational running community only about 20 years ago? In the 90s more and more experienced coaches started sharing their knowledge with increasing number of recreational marathon runners and finally the word got out: take a rest before a race. 
Even until the early 60s, the majority of elite marathon runners believed that training hard till the last day would benefit their performance on a competition day. It was quite common to go for a fast 20K+ long-run even a day before a race.  Importance of rest before competition was noticed sporadically on some occasions, one notable example, later named Zatopek Phenomenon, occurred before 1950 European Games. Emil Zatopek trained very intensively, but got sick and had to be hospitalized for two weeks. He was released 2 days before competing in 10,000 m which he won by a full lap. A few days later he won 5,000 m by 23 seconds. His convincing success was attributed to the enforced rest in a hospital prior to the games.
Nowadays, almost every marathon training book has a chapter about tapering.  I listed some key points Hal Higdon offers in his book: Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide
  • Taper is mentally difficult.  Doing nothing is not easy after several weeks of intensive training; use this time to catch-up on things that were put on a back burner during your training.
  • Cut total mileage. For the last 2 to 3 weeks total mileage doesn’t count , it may hinder your performance. A simple way to reduce mileage is to reduce number of times you run by eliminating easy days
    • 3 weeks before a race reduce mileage to 75%
    • 2 weeks before a race reduce mileage to 50%
    • 1 week before a race reduce mileage to 25%
  • Cut distance not intensity. Reducing distance doesn’t mean you need to slow down. You need to train at or near race pace on your tempo runs and interval training.
  • Cut the lifting. Stop weight lifting to reduce chance of injury.
  • Cut back on calories. Watch out what you eat, when you’re running less you’re also burning fewer calories.
  • Change Diet. Start carbo-loading 7 days in advance of the race.
  • Skip Cross-Training. Don’t cross train in the last week  prior to the race.
Hopefully, by following these simple rules you’ll increase your chances of reaching your ecstatic goal in coming races in Victoria, Chicago, Lake Garda, Portland, New York or Sacramento.

Run Strong!

Friday, September 2, 2011

How to manage expectations?

Before my race in Chicago last October, a friend of mine told me to have three time goals in mind: “Ecstatic”, “OK” and “Pissed-off”. She was prepping me to manage my high expectations and post-race feelings that quite often are the hardest aspect of recreational competitive running or any other activity where massive amount of training and complete commitment is involved. We go through physical pain, put relationships at risk, give up TV, buy coconut water, grind flax seeds, spent fortune on massage therapy and do all sorts of crazy things only to shave-off few minutes, reach a new PB or get a qualifying time. And when you invest so much it is only fair to expect a payback. But sometimes this payback is less than what we expected. Mine in Chicago last October was in “OK” category, a category that offers some consolation and gives a little bit of satisfaction, sort of like a bronze medal. My finish time of 3:03 was a New York Marathon qualifier and should have been a great reason to celebrate, right? Well … I just missed my “ecstatic” goal by three minutes. 

After the race, my friend texted me: “I know what you think. Forget it. You ran an amazing race”. Yes, I did but only for the first 23 miles. Then I hit the wall and the last 3.2 miles were brutally painful and slow. There were many pretty good excuses I could have used: stomach flu and lack of appetite before the race, or unusual humidity and heat close to 30C on a race day. But eventually you need to face the facts. The time of 3:03 was ruthlessly honest. It was a good time by any standards especially for 44-year old, but it wasn’t good enough for me. And it doesn’t matter how many messages you get on your Facebook wall from your friends congratulating you on your achievement. Deep down I knew I was disappointed. This disappointment is all gone now, but only after another 6-month long block of hard training, countless boring hours on a treadmill, and unforgettable race in Eugene in May when finally all stars were aligned and Running Gods helped me reach my goal. There is no doubt in my mind that this day will also come soon for my friend Geoff who finished an amazing Ironman race under 11 hours; an excellent time that just happened to be “an inch” short of his own high expectations. 

Many of you are getting ready for a 25k benchmark run to evaluate your readiness before a race coming in October. Running comfortably for 16 miles at a new target pace four weeks before a race is according to many coaches a pretty good indicator whether you can sustain this pace for 26.2 miles. Weeks of training, tapering and carb loading will give your this extra oomph on a race day. Use this benchmark run to set three goals to manage your own expectations before, during and after a race to achieve the ultimate goal: running with joy and having fun. 

Run Strong!


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

26.2 Questions with Madlene and Carsten

1. Your name?
Madlene: Madlene Lazarian

Carsten: easy :-) Carsten

2. Profession?

M: Controller
C: Software janitor ... analysing, developing, and cleaning up other people's software mess

3. Favorite way to relax (downtime)?

M: Anyone who knows me knows relaxing is difficult for me. I like to walk with Rio and Carsten in the trails, just being in the trails is beautiful and all the dogs there – I love it
C: Madlene suggested a walk together with her and Rio along the Fraser (in the Southlands) but this is too specific. Relaxing in a lounge chair in the backyard on a sunny day eating gelato/ice cream from the tub is part of it. I think it comes down to not having a watch (or other time measuring device) within reach. Kicking back and not having the feeling I have to spoon up the ice cream faster because in 3 minutes 25 seconds I have to move on to the next task ...

4. Favorite movie?

M: There are many that I like but I can say that I really like the Harry Potter series. I cannot say I have one all time favourite movie.
C: The Matrix - don't we all live in

5. Favorite running legend?

M: I unfortunately don’t know too many – I would say Dick Hoyt with his son
C: sorry, never had a real idol or role model

6. Your inspirational role model?

M: Every time I am out there running and I see someone who does not fit the “typical runners profile” I am inspired. When I hear about people running who have faced physical challenges or are older and are still out there running - I always say to myself if they are out there running I have no excuse.
C: see 5

7. How long have you been running? 

M: I have always been running. In high school I was on the track team and I always preferred the longer runs at the track meets (1500m to 3000m) even though now that is not long at all. I continued running as a way to maintain fitness and weight. In 2003 I decided to run a marathon and I trained on my own and ran Vancouver. In 2008, I decided to go back to running but I started with the half and I went to Alma running room to train with others. I enjoyed the half and training with the group and I decided to go for the full. The half was in Victoria in November and I decided to do LA in February 2009. I figured I already started training so I just needed to continue and I chose LA because I had grown quite attached to LA. Everyone talks about Boston and I decided that to become my next goal. I actually was not that familiar with the significance of the Boston Marathon until joining Alma. Fortunately or unfortunately, LA marathon was postponed for the first time ever from February to May 25 I think it was due to sponsorship problems (it is now back to Feb). this gave me the chance to train with the Alma group that was training for Vancouver in May since LA was only a few weeks later. I have been running ever since.
C: I ran for a bit in 2002 and did the Vancouver Half - hated it ... returned to the couch right afterwards, then began Jan 2004 to train for marathon and caught the bug

8. How many marathons have your done? 

M: 7
C: I stopped counting at 20 but I can't remember if I just stopped last year in Chicago - i.e. 20 or 21.

9. When was your first marathon? When was your last marathon? Can you list some of the special for you marathons you did in between? 

M: My first was Vancouver 2003 and my last was Eugene 2011.
C: Vancouver 2004, 3:57, last: Eugene 3:36, Berlin (2005) loved the race, Boston (2006) loved the experience, Chicago (2005/10) personal menace, both times stress fractures, Big Sur (2008), major stomach issue, loved the scenic course ... oh and there was LA

10. What is your PB? 

M: 3:42
C: 3:14:32 Vancouver 2005 BQ, come back 3:19:02 Sacramento 2009 BQ hardest last mile ever

11. Must have accessory when you travel to run a marathon? 

M: My Garmin and my running cap LOL (I don’t think I have ever
run without my cap)
garbage bag, sweat shirt and body glide

12. Your most memorable race, when, where and why? 

M: Oh this is a tough one – I guess I would have to say Victoria 2009 because it was the first time I qualified for Boston
C: would that be LA? It's the only marathon with a lasting effect

13. Your next race? 

M: I am signed up for New York 2011 in November
C: 50yrd dash down the aisle ... or waiting at the finish; no races in the line-up but London is on the horizon

14. Hardest part of training? 

M: Realizing the difference when I don’t feel like running because I am tired and I actually should run and listening to my body when it really does need the rest. It is hard to know the difference. Usually after a run you will know if it was a good idea – if after the run I am feeling rejuvenated I know I was just being lazy but if I come back from a run even more tired than maybe it wasn’t such a good idea for me to run in the first place
C: Hearing the rain against the windows at 7:30am on a Sunday morning long run to Deep Cove

15. What’s your motivation to get out and run even when you’re not feeling up for it?

M: I am meeting friends a lot of time and the great feeling I have after I finish a workout and on the same note – the bad feeling I get when I decide not to go – I fell guilty.
C: motiwhat? I am worried that without the feeling of responsibility for the clinic bad (lazy) things might happen

16. Your favorite workout? 

M: I cannot believe I am saying this because I used to detest these workouts but I am beginning to enjoy track. It’s a short workout but I can notice the difference already in the pace I am able to keep on the track. I also really enjoy running the trails but I view those workouts as more of a relaxing activity rather than a workout
C: I like track workouts ... Yasso's 800 is cool but tough!

17. Your favorite cross-training workout? 

M: I am swimming right now once a week as a way of cross training, I prefer to do a spinning class but swimming works out better in my schedule and I think it is better for me overall. I also do Pilates once a week. I don’t think I cross train enough
C: do as I say not as I do! I don't really cross train. The closest cross training is North Shore trail running which has a lot of "hiking";

18. How many days a week do you run? 

M: Right now I am running 4 times a week but soon I want to increase it to 5 by adding a short steady run.
C: I usually run 4 times a week, at the moment time is a t a premium which means more than 2 days is hardly possible

19. Do you prefer to run in the morning or afternoon? 

M: I prefer to run in the mornings (but not early like 6am)
C: longer runs in the morning but I enjoy the evening as they help getting over the annoyances of the day

20. Do you listen to music when you run?

M: I have started to listen to music again during my tempo runs but generally I don’t like to carry more things on me than I need to.
C: never

21. Your favorite fuel before, during and after a long-run? 

M: Roctane Gu jel 15 minutes before and during. I am not very diligent about refueling after a long run
C: I eat a normal breakfast before a run, Nutella is an essential ingredient. On the run I stick with water and GU (tri-berry or the yummy blueberry Roctane)

22. What is your favorite pair of running shoes? 

M: Seems my new favourite pair is now the Nike Free – I use them for the shorter distances and tempo runs, for the longer runs I am using Mizuno’s
C: Will hooked me up with a pair of Brooks Trance a couple years ago when the RR was still selling them. They never let me down, the RR did by not selling them anymore

23. How many pairs do you have?

M: I just have 1 of Nike’s but about 3 pairs of Mizuno’s
C: 2 active Trance, a pair of trail running shoes and one or two Trance in a box. I don't keep shoes for sentimental reasons - old shoes take up space hence they need to go (and make room so Madlene can keep more sentimental things)

24. Your favorite shirt color you would wear if you were to run through a “screaming” tunnel (like at Wesley College in Boston) dominated by spectators of the opposite sex?

M: Yellow
C: Sorry Madlene ... but even before Madlene, Wellesley College wasn't for me, so white it would be ...

25. Indulgence after a long-run? 

M: I don’t have much of an appetite after a long run
C: Ground for Coffee warm cinnamon roll

26. Your favorite “recovery” drinks at a post-race party?

M: Tequila
C:  chocolate milk

26.2 How do you reward yourself after a race?

M: I cant think of anything that I specifically do after a race to reward myself. I am really happy once a race is done but I don’t do anything specific. I know I take a break from  running for a couple of weeks LOL!!
C: Q42.195: I try not to indulge too much but occasionally I did enjoy an Advil, extra strength. Most marathons go without Advil now, it does help to relax the legs especially the next day

RPB: Thank you. Have a very happy lifelong running together!

Run Strong! 

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