Posted by: roblanger | January 22, 2011

Adapting to the Change

So I’m now about one month into my new full-time job, and as much as I want to continue to post to this blog on a more regular basis, I have you to adapt to the major changes in my life.

I have gone from working in my home office, which allowed me to train pretty much whenever I wanted to, to waking up at 5 am to ensure that I can get my workout in before heading off to work.

This also means that I’m in bed every night by 10 pm, which gives me about an hour and a half of free time after my daughter is in bed, which I like to spend reading.

So, how do I fit this blog into my new lifestyle? Adapt. I’m thinking about simply “micro-posting”. Not quite as short as a tweet, but short thoughts on things that are having an impact on my life and training.

Speaking of training, so far it’s been going great. I’ve been averaging about 100k the last few weeks and been feeling really incredible!

One of the things that is keeping me on track during the challenging times I’m facing with both work and training is maintaining a focus on daily incremental improvements. Each day, I ask myself the question, “What can I do today that will help progress a little bit from where Iwas yesterday?”

Over the course of the last month, that simple question has led to some pretty amazing gains in all areas of my life. So, what have can you do today that will help move you a little bit further toward your goal?

Posted by: roblanger | December 8, 2010

More Change

I’ve decided to take a somewhat new approach with my blog. While I will still post about trials and tribulations as I prepare for the 115th running of the Boston Marathon, I’ve decided to take a more generalized approach to achieving excellence with my blog (read the About page for the details).

Given that, I would like to recommend a wonderful book I recently read, Linchpin, by Seth Godin.

LinchpinIf you want to become indispensable at work, then you absolutely need to read this book. Seth argues that we all need to be artists in our jobs, continually creating and recreating our roles, opportunities, and the way that we approach our work.

Do this, and do it with the passion of a true artist, and you will become indispensable.

Is there really any other way to live? The alternative seems to be a life sentence of compliance, and striving for mediocrity.

Posted by: roblanger | December 3, 2010

Change

It’s interesting what achieving a major life goal like qualifying for the Boston Marathon does to one (OK, I’m making the assumption here that others who have achieved major life goals went through something similar, which may or may not be the case).

I learned a lot from my experience because of the important choices I had to make about the way I was living my life if I wanted to succeed. It wasn’t just that I had to train hard and eat well, but I also had to make the time to train hard, which meant giving up other activities important to me at the time (like sleep and tv), and had to learn to love the new food choices I needed to make (I prefer to look at this way now, than to think that I was giving something up, which may have been oh so delicious to me at the time).

We all have tough choices to make in our lives, but with a single minded focus on how those choices can impact our goals, the decisions should be easy. At least for me the decisions were easy. The tough part is always sticking with those decisions and being committed to following through. If the goals are important enough to you, commitment and follow through becomes a breeze.

I’m now able to bring that type of decision making, commitment and follow through to other areas in my life. Change is a natural and critical part of life, and 2011 is going to be a year full of change. It will also be filled with commitment, growth and incredible opportunity. I’m excited.

Posted by: roblanger | November 30, 2010

Ready to go

Ok, the last few weeks of running have been really great. I’ve been averaging about 90k/wk and have been eating well enough to get my weight down to about 71 kilos, which is the weight that I ran the Mississauga Marathon.

If I remember correctly, my weight when I started training for Mississauga was about 73 kilos. So, if I happen to drop 2 more kilos while training for Boston, that would be great. Will that mean I’ll be faster? Hopefully, so. Studies have shown that there is a point of diminishing returns with weight loss and speed. However, I think I’m a long way off from that point, at my height.

My 18 week training program officially starts exactly 2 weeks from today, and I’m beginning to get a little bit anxious about it. It’s 18 weeks of intense work and the last thing I want to do is injure myself so that I’m unable to run Boston. Fortunately, I’ve been feeling 100% with all of the kms I’ve been running, but I haven’t been doing the type of speed work that will be required once I start training.

Finally, a huge congrats goes out to my friend Kristina who qualified for Boston in her first go at 42.2k!! The woman is a superhuman so I’m not surprised by her amazing accomplishment. I told her that should would do it, and she did!

Unfortunately, her qualifying race was this month, which means she won’t be able to run Boston with me in 2011 since registration closed this year on the first day. 😦

See you in Hopkington in 2012 Kris!!!

Posted by: roblanger | October 19, 2010

He’s Baaaaaaaaack!

Ok, I’ve been rather delinquent in keeping up with this blog, when I said that I would continue to post.

I think part of the reason has been that it took me a long time after my BQ qualifying marathon to get motivated again about training. I certainly didn’t stop running; I’ve still been putting in about 75 kms per week on average, but I haven’t been doing the really tough workouts that were hard to recover from when I was training full on.

I’m motivated now though. Yesterday, I secured my entry into the 115th running of the Boston Marathon, and consider myself fortunate to have done so. Registration closed in 8 hours, shutting out thousands of qualifiers who want to run!!

I knew that the race would fill up quickly, but had no idea that registration would close on the first day. Last year, it closed after a couple of months, and the year before that you could still register well into the new year. Hundreds of runners on the Facebook Boston Athletic Association page are voicing their frustration and disappointment.

Officially, I will begin my 18 week Advanced Marathon training program on December 13th. However, I would like to lose about 5 or 6 kilos before then. I now weigh about 73 kilos, only 2 kilos more than when I ran Mississauga. But I would really like to be lighter for Boston, and I think around 66 or 67 kilos on race day will be ideal.

I have never been that light as an adult so I’m not sure what to expect when I get down there. I may find out that it is not optimal for me, but we’ll have to wait and see.

To accomplish the weight loss, I plan to increase my mileage and be very strict about the type of food that I eat. I still think I consume too much processed sugar and simply eliminating that from diet should go a long way to helping me reach my goal.

Thanks for reading and I’ll try not to be so delinquent with future posts.

Boston, here I come.

Posted by: roblanger | May 24, 2010

Recovery and Beyond

Recovery from my goal marathon has gone surprisingly well. Certainly, it’s been better than what I experienced after Around the Bay, and that was only 30km.

So, now that I’ve achieved my goal of qualifying for the Boston Marathon, what’s next? Well, in the immediate future, I have a race next weekend in Nova Scotia; The Cabot Trail Relay. I participated in this event last year and had such a blast that I wouldn’t have missed it for anything this year.

But, back to what’s really next. I’m the kind of person that believes in the Japanese philosophy of kaizen. In a nutshell, this is the concept of continual improvement, primarily applied in a business context, but there’s no reason it can’t and shouldn’t be applied on a personal level either. So to keep me motivated and improving, I need a new BHAG.

For those of you who’ve never come across this acronym (pronounced bee-hag), it stands for Big Hairy Audacious Goal. My raison d’etre for this blog was to help me achieve my previous BHAG of qualifying for Boston. Having accomplished this goal, I now need something even bigger.

I have two thoughts in mind. The first would be to go faster. How much faster? Well, I think if you’re going to have a BHAG, it has to be very fast, and in the case of the marathon, I think in my case, breaking 3 hours would take a tremendous amount of effort and good fortune. I know what kind of effort it took for me to stumble across the line in 3:13 so to even begin to think about shaving 14 minutes off of that time is pretty scary.

The second would be to go further. How much further? Well, I’m pretty confident that I could do a 50k ultramarathon given my current fitness. I’m not so sure about a 50 miler though. Now that’s a BHAG!

I’m going to take a bit of time before I decide on this one. Both will require a big commitment of increased training. I don’t want to cut into family time any more than I did during my training for Boston so this new BHAG will require some careful planning.

Any comments or suggestions would be appreciated.

Posted by: roblanger | May 17, 2010

Mississauga Marathon Race Report

Wow, what an incredible day. Conditions at the start of the race could not have been more perfect. It was about 10 degrees celcius and sunny as the gun went off at 7:30 am on Sunday morning.

The start corral was marked off for runners to line up based on where they thought they would finish. The front was for sub 3 hour runners and behind that was 3:00 to 3:10. This is where I lined up. Why? Well, this was actually my “A” goal. Given my training, I knew that I was fit enough to come in at sub 3:10 and this was truly what I was shooting for. So I was pretty much at the front of the pack and didn’t have to weave through anyone at the start.

I went out pretty fast, caught up in all of the excitement and the slight downhill that begins the course before it flatens out about 500 meters into the race. First kilometer in 4:11. Better ease off just a bit, I thought. There’s a long way to go.

The first part of the course was mostly flat with some downhill sections so I ended up reeling off sub 4:20 kilometers for the first 15k of the race. This could only lead to trouble. WAY TOO FAST!! Who did I think I was? Some elite African in the body of a middle-aged white guy, that’s who! Robert “Cheruiyot” Langer goes through the half in 1:30:54, on pace for a possible sub 3:00 finish! Go Robbie Go people cheered along the beautiful streets of Mississauga. “You’re in 72nd place”, yelled one fan counting the runners as they went by the 22k marker. “Seventy-second place?”, I thought. “Better step on the gas!”

Robert “Cheruiyot” Langer was feeling great and nothing would keep him from smashing the Langer household marathon record by nearly 2 hours. Unfortunately, it seemed like he couldn’t differentiate the gas peddle from the break, and he ended up slowing after the half, but Robert “Cheruiyot” Langer crossed the 30k mark in 2:11. Forty-nine minutes and 12k to glory. Forty-nine minutes for 12k? No problem! Not for an African-Canadian like me.

Thirty-five kilometers and still going strong. Wait… what’s that? I’ve been stabbed! Someone just stuck a knife in my ribs and is twisting. Help! Police!

Where’s the blood? NO BLOOD? Must… Keep… Running…

Uh oh, can’t keep my eyes open. This is not good. Must… Keep… Ru… walking… NOOOOOOOOOO! Don’t walk. Pick it up in 3, 2, 1, go…

Great, back to running with only 4k to go. But someone please take the knife out of my ribs !! Every footstrike reverberates in my head with the sound of Bonk, Bonk, Bonk, Bonk.

My run is now at 10:00/k pace. Just keep running. Wait… that’s walking pace. Hey, who’s that funny looking guy with the rabbit ears with the 3:10 sign going by me at 39k? Noooooooooooooooooo. A little bunny just crushed my spirit and took the last remaining Cheruiyot out of my body.

Ok, 2k to go and I can still achieve my “B” goal of sub 3:15. Get your arse in gear and finish strong, no excuses. Ok, maybe not strong, but finish running!

Down the finish chute, lined with people on both sides, I stepped on the gas and crossed the finish line in 3:13:26; 86th overall, and 12th in my division. Robert Cheruiyot would have been proud of the gutsy finish. Robert Langer certainly was.

One year and ten months of running. Four and a half months of hard training. Three hours, 13 minutes and twenty six seconds of hard racing. One Boston qualifier. Priceless.

Posted by: roblanger | May 10, 2010

Race Week

It’s finally here. After four and a half months of intense training, this is the week I’ve been preparing for. I’m ready.

I’ve been a bit on edge this past week, and I can only imagine that it will get more intense as the week wears on. Taper madness has certainly taken hold of me. I think it is mostly due to the fact that I just don’t want anything to go wrong on raceday that is outside of my control, like bad weather, sickness etc., given all of the hard work and dedication I’ve put into trying to achieve this goal. I’m not dwelling on it, but it’s certainly making me a little bit anxious.

Last week was a very good week of training. Total distance run was 61k, with one pretty hard workout; 13k with 3 x 1600m @ 5k pace. That was my last really tough workout, although I have one hard run/confidence builder this week, which is 11k with 3k @ goal marathon pace, on Wednesday. Other than that, the goal this week is to rest and recover with a bunch of really easy, short runs.

Long range forecast for next Sunday is good, with a low of 11 degrees, but a high of 21 and not much wind. Fortunately, the start time is 7:30 am, so it’s not likely to hit the high while I’m on the course. If it stays under 15 degrees, it will be a perfect day.

I have been getting a lot of rest since I came home from Atlantice city. I’m generally asleep before 11pm and awake by 6:30 am. Unfortunately, I have to travel for work this week and will be gone for two nights, but will be home on Thursday. My plan is to wake up at 5:30 on Friday, and 5:00 on Saturday so that I will fresh and ready to go early Sunday morning.

My next post will be my race report. I enjoy posting to this blog, even though it’s only read by a handful of people. So my plan is to continue writing on a regular basis about my running as I prepare for the 2011 Boston Marathon!

Posted by: roblanger | May 4, 2010

Final Long Run in AC

Less than 2 weeks to go now and the last long run of my training program was definitely one of my best. I was in Atlantic City for the weekend, which gave me the opportunity to do my long run along the city’s famous boardwalk.

I headed out from my hotel at about 6:30 am and arrived at the boardwalk, which was about 3k from the hotel, about 15 minutes later. When I arrived at the boardwalk it was pretty deserted at that time of the morning, as you can imagine. However, there were some random homeless people and a few others doing the early Sunday morning walk of shame.

Within about 45 minutes though, the boardwalk began to come alive with other runners, bikers, and walkers. This was nice because I find it helps me keep my energy and pace up when there are other people around.

It was absolutely beautiful running alongside the ocean at that time of the morning. As much as I love music, I don’t run with headphones (for a variety of reasons), so it was really calming to run with the sounds of the ocean waves crashing against the shore.

Most importantly, it was a completely pain free week of running. I think now that I’m in taper mode, and have reduced the overall distance I am  covering, I will continue to recover and become stronger before my race. Total distance for the week was about 80kms, which feels really easy coming off of all of those 100+km weeks. This week will be around 60k and then next week I will run about 40k before my marathon.

Atlantic City Long Run

Posted by: roblanger | April 26, 2010

And so it begins…

After having completed the third mesocycle in my 18 week-70 mile/wk Pfitzinger marathon training plan, I now enter the fourth cycle, the taper.

While I still have some tough workouts ahead of me, all of the really challenging and high mileage weeks are complete, and I’m ready to make my assault on a Boston Marathon qualifying time. And, this was a really satisfying week to boot too.

Total for the week was 115k. Had an amazing and challenging workout on Tuesday; 18k with 5x1200m @ 5k pace. That was tough, but it felt so great to complete it. In addition, both of my long runs felt really easy this week. My Sunday long run was challenging because of some very high winds, but other than that, it was a real pleasure.

I didn’t suffer nearly as much with ankle pain this week as I did last week. In fact, I really didn’t have any trouble with my ankle at all. Could I be turning the corner? Just in time for my marathon? Fingers and toes are crossed.

My biggest challenge now will be psychological. Tapering can be very difficult mentally because of the reduction in overall distance and intensity. I just have to trust that I won’t lose any fitness by backing off, but I will be strengthing my body through rest and recovery, in preparation for the pounding it will take during the marathon.

My new shoes are great! I did 23k on Friday and 35k on Sunday with no pain and no hot spots. In fact, these shoes have the most amazing amount of cushioning for such a light weight racing flat. I almost felt like I was wearing a far more substantial cushioning shoe. The difference, however, is that these shoes really make me want to go fast! I absolutely love them.

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