Finding joy in February

28 Feb

Another cold month of training went by. It is often difficult to get feedback on my fitness when the weather is not cooperating. For now, I am approaching the workouts with a different mentality. The goal is to finish each workout strong, and not worry about the time. After that, my runs became more enjoyable, and I am looking forward to each day of training.

I raced at Ile Bizard to defend my title. I won the 5k in 17:00, and placed 3rd in the 10k in 35:09. It was very windy for the first 2k of each loop, and I was hesitant to take the lead. After I took the lead in the 5k, I pressed the gas pedal all the way to the line and got a decent time as a reward. In the 10k, I had the pleasure of racing against my teammates, Nic and Mel. The initial pace was too strong to contend for the win, but I hung on and had a great workout. Nic is regaining his fitness as he is aiming for a Marathon at Ottawa, and Mel ran a solid 34:48 on the road. I look forward to see what they can do in the spring/summer.
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Thanks to Skechers Performance Canada for supporting my friends! Below is my training for the month,

Week of January 30-February 5 (185k)
M: 20 w/ 10@4min/k
T: AM: 10 w/ strides; PM: 21 w/ strides
W: 20 w/ 35min tempo
T: 23 w/ strides
F: AM: 2k in 6:30; 2*(300;400;500;400;300); PM: 10
S: AM: 20; PM: 10 w/ strides
S: AM: 15 w/ strides; PM: 20 w/ 10@3:50/k

Week of February 6-12 (155k)
M: 20 w/ strides
T: 20 w/ strides
W: 8min tempo; 10*hills; 8min tempo
T: 15 w/ strides
F: AM: 6*800 in 2:28; 2minR; PM: 10 w/ strides
S: AM: 22 w/ 20min@3:35/k; PM: 10 w/ strides
S: AM: 19; PM: 6

Week of February 13-19 (190k)
M: 26 w/ strides
T: AM: 10 w/ strides; PM: 10*400 in :68; 1minR;
W: AM: 10; PM: 5
T: AM: 24; PM: 10
F: AM: 15 w/ strides; PM: 5
S: AM: 27 w/ strides; PM: 6
S: AM: 20 w/ strides; PM: 16 w/ strides

Week of February 20-26 (117k)
M: 11 w/ strides
T: 10 w/ strides
W: 8min tempo; 8*:45 hills; 8min tempo
T: 11 w/ strides
F: 5
S: 15 w/ strides
S: AM: 1st for 5k in 17:00; 3rd for 10k in 35:09 at Ile Bizard; PM: 10

Jumping to January

31 Jan

Another month of training went by very quickly.

At this time of the year in Montreal, I usually write a blog complaining about how terrible the conditions are or brag about how hard I trained despite the terrible conditions. On January 9, I ran 170k in the previous week, and headed out the door for a morning run in -30C. I lasted about 10 minutes. On my way back from defeat, I saw Lord Shalom Pearson and his wife running on the streets. At age 77, he owns many of the age group records in Quebec and was a provincial champion in the past. There will always be someone out there working harder than you.

This year, I am again grateful for the support of Skechers Performance Canada. Currently, I am using the GoTrails for most of my runs in order to get some traction. Trail shoes are heavy, but they keep my feet warm in the winter.
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Below is my training for the month. I was hoping to run a bit more, but the usual excuses got in the way. I am excited for the racing to begin next month.

Week of January 2-8 (170k)
M: 20 w/ strides
T: AM: 14; PM: 5*k in 3:05; exercise in between
W: AM: 16; PM: 17 w/ strides
T: 20 w/ strides
F: 3*5*150-200; exercise in between
S: AM: 23 w/ strides; PM: 10 w/ strides
S: 20 w/ strides

Week of January 9-15 (160k)
M: 5
T: AM: 21 w/ strides; PM: 13 w/ strides
W: 36min @ 3:40/k
T: 20 w/ strides
F: AM: 5*k in 3:15; 2minR; PM: 10 w/ strides
S: AM: 19; PM: 10 w/ strides
S: AM: 10 w/ strides; PM: 17 w/ strides

Week of January 16-22 (167k)
M: 21 w/ 10 @ 3:50/k
T: AM: 12 w/ strides; PM: 20 w/ strides
W: 16 w/ 15 min @ 3:40/k
T: 21 w/ strides
F: AM: 2*10min@3:28/k; 4minR; 3*(500 in 1:40; 1minR; 300 in :49; 3minR); PM: 10 w/ strides
S: AM: 16 w/ 20min pick-up; PM: 10 w/ strides
S: 23 w/ 11 @ 4min/k

Week of January 23-29 (146k)
M: Rest day
T: 12 w/ strides
W: 20 w/ strides
T: AM: 3*4*200/300s in :32; PM: 16
F: AM: 10 w/ strides; PM: 16 w/ strides
S: AM: 22 w/ 25min tempo; PM: 10 w/ strides
S: AM: 20 w/ strides; PM: 10 w/ strides

Dashing through December

29 Dec

I got some momentum in training this month. Montreal is recovered in snow this year, so the footing is not great. I am using the GoTrails for most of my runs in order to get some traction. Running 160k in the snow feels like 200k since they take a lot more out of my legs.

I spent Christmas at my parents’ home in Toronto, and raced a 4 miler on Boxing day. The race started with the highly competitive 10 miler, and I had the opportunity to run with fast company for the first 2 mile. Since I did not train as much as I would have liked last month, I thought 4 mile would be a better test of fitness than the 10 mile. Unfortunately, I followed the leader who did not know the race course, and we both turned around at the wrong point. We were not included in the race results, but I estimated that I averaged about 5:10/mile for 4 miles.

Below is my training for the month, I am putting in good work this month. I am excited for the racing to begin in March.

Week of November 28-December 4 (124k)
M: 22
T: AM: 14; PM: 13
W: 10 w/ strides
T: 5
F: 12 w/ strides
S: 24 w/ strides
S: 24 w/ strides

Week of December 5-11 (178k)
M: 21 w/ strides
T: 5*3min interval w/ exercises
W: 24 w/ strides
T: AM: 10; PM: 21 w/ strides
F: 10-8-5-4min fartleks; 3minR
S: AM: 24 w/ strides; PM: 10 w/ strides
S: AM: 12; PM: 24 w/ 12@3:50/k

Week of December 12-18 (160k)
M: 18 w/ strides
T: 4*3min intervals w/ exercises; 6min interval
W: 18 w/ strides
T: 16
F: AM: 5 & 50 min treadmill; PM: 14
S: AM: 18; PM: 22 w/ 10.5@3:50/k
S: 22 w/ strides

Week of December 19-25 (140k)
M: 16
T: 5*2min intervals w/ exercises
W: AM: 15; PM: 20
T: 26 w/ strides
F: AM: 3*(200;300;200;300; planks in between); exercises in between; PM: 20 w/ strides
S: Rest
S: 20 w/ strides

Week of December 26-January 1 (142k)
M: 21 w/ 4 miles @ 5:10/mile
T: 11 w/ strides
W: 25 w/ strides
T: 15 w/ strides
F: AM: 20 w/ strides; PM: 10 w/ strides
S: AM: 10 w/ strides; PM: 10
S: 20 w/ strides

New challenges in November

30 Nov

This month, I experienced a lot of challenges from my non-athletics aspect of life. I am currently travelling a lot for interviews, and running often takes a back seat when I travel. Travelling a lot also got me sick. This makes coming back to running very difficult. I am trying my best to run everyday, but being in new places and being sick make running workouts very difficult. With the lack of workouts, I will not travel to race in Houston and Austin in January and February, respectively. Travelling to race in the winter is both time consuming and costly, therefore, I will only race if I am ready.

As a scientist, I gained a tremendous amount of knowledge in the last month. Travelling to new places and meeting new people allowed me to explore and experience many interesting new things. I am grateful that my passion for science has led me to where I am today.
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Below is my training for the month, I hope I will be able to bring some quality to next month’s training.

Week of October 31-November 6 (160k)
M: AM: 12 w/ strides; PM: 4; 50min spinning
T: AM: 12 w/ strides; PM: 3k in 10min; 4min R; 800 in 2:25; 2minR; 2400 in 8min; 4minR; k in 3:10
W: 18
T: AM: 12 w/ strides; PM: 2*(5*450m in 1:20; 1minR); 5minR;
F: 24 w/ strides
S: 23 w/ 30min@3:35/k
S: AM: 22 w/ strides; PM: 6

Week of November 7-13 (160k)
M: 24 w/ strides
T: AM: 12 w/ strides; PM: 5*800 in 2:30 w/ circuit exercises
W: AM: 16 w/ strides; PM: 18
T: AM: 12 w/ strides; PM: 4*4min @ 3:12/k; 4min active R
F: AM: 10 w/ strides; PM: 5
S: 26
S: 13

Week of November 14-20 (158k)
M: 13
T: 11
W: AM: 22; PM: 21
T: AM: 12; PM: 12
F: AM: 22; PM: 15
S: 20
S: 10

Week of November 21-27 (100k)
M: Rest
T: 17 w/ strides
W: 20
T: 24 w/ strides
F: 11 w/ strides
S: 5
S: 23

Onward to October

31 Oct

As athletes, we always wish to go onward and upward. Last month, the Montreal Marathon was my goal race for the fall. Now, the Marathon seems like an eternity ago. Part of me is never satisfied with my results, and wants more. I continued to train after the Marathon. My workouts were terrible and I dropped out of a race. After the race, I decided a break was necessary before I begin a new chapter of training and racing. I am now trying to enjoy the downtime nursing my injuries from basketball and weightlifting.
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On a more personal level, I decided I will no longer affiliate with the McGill Olympic Club (MOC). The MOC was my home in Montreal. The MOC was where I met many of my good friends. Most importantly, the MOC was where John Lofranco encouraged me to take my running seriously. Therefore, my decision to leave the club was very difficult. Recently, a lot of issues with the leadership and administration of the club left me feeling frustrated and angry. Currently, the best option for myself is to train with Dorys’ group and affiliate with Sherbrooke in the new year. Running is a simple sport, and it is not difficult to find the right environment for me to be happy.

Below is my training for the month,

Week of October 3-9 (174k)
M: 12 w/ strides
T: 21 w/ strides
W: 25 w/ strides
T: 23 w/ 5 @ 3:40/k
F: AM: 2*(4*400 in :67; 1:45 R); 5minR; k in 3:10; PM: 15 w/ strides
S: AM: 16; PM: 20 w/ strides
S: AM: 15 w/ strides; PM: 15 w/ strides

Week of October 10-16 (115k)
M: AM: 7; PM: 10min + 8min @ 3:20/k; 3minR;
T: 3
W: AM: 17 w/ strides; PM: 13 w/ strides
T: 3*6min @ 3:22/k; 3minR
F: 8
S: 16
S: AM: Stopped at 6k of the Parc Lafontaine 10k; PM: 5

Week of October 17-23 (40k)
M: 10
T: Rest
W: Rest
T: Rest
F: Rest
S: 7
S: AM: 18; PM: 5

Week of October 24-30 (160k)
M: 14 w/ strides
T: 13 w/ strides
W: AM: 16 w/ strides; PM: 18
T: 24 w/ strides
F: AM: 7*(300 in :51; :45R); 5minR; 4*(300 in :51; :45R); PM: 13 w/ strides
S: AM: 17 w/ strides; PM: 13 w/ strides
S: AM: 15 w/ strides; PM: 5

Settling again in September

30 Sep

“Life is like a Marathon, not a sprint”. As a Marathon runner, I would say life is not like a Marathon at all, because the race only lasts about two and half hours. Life is more like Marathon training, because you never know how good you can be until you have given your all, and there are just too few opportunities to get it right.

The early fall Marathon in Montreal was due to a quick return to Marathon fitness after my failure at Ottawa, the proximity of the race, and the lucrative prize money. This was my third time running the Montreal Marathon, and I could not have asked for a better weather. Sunday morning was 10C with little wind compared to usual. My race plan was to get close to 2:30 and hopefully get into the prize money for the top 3 Quebecers. I figured that a 2:30 would be enough to get into the top 3, which it was. When the gun went off, the front pack took off much faster than the 2:30 Marathon pace that I was hoping for. I stayed back trying to run 3:30/k. I went through 5k in 17:18 and 10k in 35 minutes. Half was in 75:34, and things got hard after that. I forgot how rough the roads in Montreal are and how much a Marathon was suppose to hurt. At 30k, I pulled even with the eventual 5th place finisher. At that time, I was still optimistic that 2:35 will be possible. However, the wall came at 35. Retrospectively, I should have carried gels with me. When I realized there were only electrolytes on course, I should have taken a banana. In a long race, there are just too many what if’s. I tough it out at the end and crossed the finish line in 2:38:48. It’s still a PB.
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Photos: Stephanie Theoret

I have many people to thank for this journey. For example, my PhD adviser for giving me the flexibility to train, Mel for being a great role model and friend, etc. Here, I would like to highlight the contributions of an individual and a group of individuals, without whom I would not be able to have accomplished my goals. The first individual is my coach, John Lofranco. No matter what goals I told John, whether it was 2:35, 2:32, or even 2:30, John’s response to me was, “you are better than that.” I understand that, for John, he was simply doing his job. But, John’s belief in me kept me waking up every day and attempted to be the best runner that I can be. The group that deserves a special mention is the training group led by Dorys Langlois. Dorys was the brain that drove the workouts, and David Le Porho and Philippe Viau-Dupuis were the limbs that carried me through them. Marathon training is very simple, but their professional attitude towards consistent work gave me the confidence to compete at a higher level. This is not to downplay the roles of my other teammates, who were also there at many key workouts and group runs, and I thank you all for being part of this journey.
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My biggest supporters. Photo: Gilles Cloutier

The supports I received during this journey also extend to the running community in Montreal. My last example of this comes from a conversation with the 3rd place finisher after the finish. He said, ‘Out of all the people in Montreal, you were 6th. We were all at 2:38 sometimes during our career. See you at another Marathon.’ Coming into the race, I was delusional to think that a 72 half was equivalent of a 2:32 Marathon. I was also naive to think that a few weeks of 200k was going to make me a good Marathoner. The reality is that my competitors trained and competed for years and decades at that level. Runners are only as good as the numbers they put up. Therefore, I am not a 2:30 Marathoner, Yet. Malcolm Gladwell said it takes 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to perfect a skill. I don’t wear a watch when I run, but I estimate I averaged 10 hours per week, 500 hour per year for the last 12 years. I look forward to the next 4,000 hours of running.

Below is my training for the month,

Week of August 29-September 4 (183k)
M: 24 w/ strides
T: AM: 16 w/ strides; PM: 20 w/ strides
W: AM: 12 w/ strides; PM: 22 w/ strides
T: AM: 17 w/ strides; PM: 21 w/ strides
F: 4*(k in 3:02; 1 min R; 500 in 1:27; 4 min R)
S: 21 w/ strides
S: AM: 11 w/ 4 @ 3:50/k; PM: 5

Week of September 5-11 (170k)
M: AM: 30 w/ 26 @ 3:45/k; PM: 3
T: 19 w/ strides
W: AM: 16 w/ strides; PM: 6 w/ strides
T: 20 w/ strides
F: AM: 4*(600 in 1:44; 1:30R); k in 3:01; 3minR; 3*(600 in 1:44; 1:30R); 5minR; 4k in 13:20; PM: 14
S: AM: 17 w/ strides; PM: 4
S: AM: 24 w/ 20 @ 3:35/k; PM: 3

Week of September 12-18 (94k)
M: 9 w/ strides
T: 13 w/ strides
W: 13 w/ strides
T: 13 w/ strides
F:  4*800 in 2:23; 2min R; 6*300 in :50; 1min R
S: 4
S:  10k at La Grande Vadrouille in 37 min; 5k in 17:06

Week of September 19-25 (93k)
M: 10
T: 5
W: 15 w/ strides
T: 5
F: 5
S: 8
S: 6th at Montreal Marathon in 2:38:48

Week of September 26-October 2 (58k)
M: Rest
T: Rest
W: 13
T: 5
F: 5
S: 15 w/ strides
S: 20 w/ strides

Already August

31 Aug

August is already over. As a graduate student, for the past couple of years, this means getting ready to patiently teach undergraduates how to program. However, this year I am excited to be taking on a new responsibility of making my personal training program. I will still train with Dorys’ group whenever possible and consult John about training. Since my training and racing schedule do not match with anyone in the group at the moment, I look forward to the new challenge of making my own schedule.

On the athletics side, I finally won the Mont Tremblant Half after racing it 3 years in a row. I was third in 2014, second in 2015, and I finally completed my medal collection this year. This race was also part of an awesome weekend with my teammates from the McGill Olympic Club. We had a blast volunteering at the race, and came home well contended.
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3 days after the Mont Tremblant Half, I raced the highly competitive 5k Endurance at DDO. My legs were still heavy from the Half, but I was proud of the effort. This was a great confidence booster to resume training after a difficult recovery from the Mont Tremblant Half.
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At the end of the month, I competed at the Half during the Quebec Marathon. The race was more competitive than recent years due to a group coming from Toronto. I gave a good effort for the first few kilometers, but the pace got a bit too much to handle after that. No matter how much I train and improve, there will always be better runners, but I unfortunately allowed that to negatively impact me mentally during the race. After falling off the front pack, I lost focus and eventually came through the finish line in 74:04. On the plus side, the weaker effort helped me to recover much more quickly than the Mont Tremblant half, and I am happy to be back to training on the next day. This race was part another great weekend I spent with the Paquet family in Quebec. They were wonderful hosts that contributed to another great day of running.

After 3 races, it is time to get back to the final preparation stage for my Montreal Marathon in September. With each cycle of Marathon training, I am learning something new and improving slightly. I hope to nail my final few workouts and the taper before the big day.

Below is my training for the month,

Week of August 1-7 (203k)
M: 22 w/ strides
T: 22 w/ strides
W: AM: 12 w/ strides; PM: 18 w/ 15 min @ 3:25/k
T: 23 w/ strides
F: AM: 4*mile in 5 min; 3 min R; 400 in :68; 3 min R; PM: 15 w/ strides
S: AM: 19 w/ strides; PM: 14 w/ strides
S: AM: 29 w/ 12@3:23/k; PM: 13 w/ strides

Week of August 8-14 (135k)
M: 19 w/ strides
T: 34 w/ 4*20min @ 3:35/k; 2 min R
W: 20
T: 15 w/ strides
F: 4*k in 3:03; 300-400-500-400-300 pyramid; 3 min R
S: Rest
S: 1st at Mont-Tremblant Half in 72:43

Week of August 15-21 (142k)
M: 2
T: 5
W: AM: 5; PM: 5k Endurance in 16:05
T: AM: 12 w/ strides; PM: 15 w/ strides
F: AM: 17 w/ strides; PM: 15 w/ strides
S: AM: 10 w/ strides; PM: 19 w/ strides
S: AM: 4; PM: 26 w/ 25min@3:35/k; 10min@3:25/k; 15min@3:35/k

Week of August 22- 28 (118k)
M: 16 w/ strides
T: 16 w/ strides
W: 22 w/ 3*mile in 5:10; 2 min R
T: 20 w/ strides
F: 12 w/ strides
S: 5
S: 7th at the half in Quebec Marathon in 74:05