Monday, August 28, 2006

Jasper Wins Ironman Canada!!

I ran some of my toughest training runs with Jasper this summer in preparation for the ENDURrun.  We ran at Elk/Beaver Lake (a 10k trail loop) where we were holding 3:50/km for a given period of time (my two runs with him were for 90 minutes and 2 hours - he did many more).  Running with him worked well as Jasper was training for Ironman Canada and 3:50/km was his goal pace for the marathon.

Well, on the strength of a 2:48 marathon, Jasper won his first Ironman title this weekend!  I am so proud of him and this amazing accomplishment.  His dedication to his training, and the way he takes care of all the details (recovery, stretching, icing, nutrition, etc) is inspiring.

Jasper Blake - 2006 Ironman Canada Champion!

Wel done Jazz!  Check out for more details.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Back In Victoria

Hey Everyone.

Just wanted to drop a quick note to let you know that I am now back in Victoria, safe and sound. I still feel great, but I am really holding back on running too much right now. I have to respect the distance I ran last week and not push too hard. To that end, I have now officially registered for the Royal Victoria Half-Marathon, where I hope to run a personal best. I am hoping that I can get near 1:15:00, but you never know what can happen on a given day.

I will continue to update this blog, granted with a little less frequency and less verbose entries, but I hope that you will continue to check in. Further to that, I hope that you will ask me any questions you might have regarding training and let me know about your goals and successes.

All the best. Run great!


Sunday, August 20, 2006

Stage 7 - The Marathon

Stage 7 – The Marathon

Last night – no crickets. My friend Jay Bentley had come down to run in the 10k time trial yesterday and afterward, upon returning to Darren and Krista’s house, we went outside and made some modifications to the exterior of the house. First, we ripped out all the weeds from outside the basement window. I then sprayed Bug-B-Gone poison all in the window well before we engineered a saran-wrap protector across the top of the window well. I had also left a flashlight, the Bug-B-Gone, and my flip-flops by the door in case I had to make a midnight killing.

The result was no cricket singing outside my window last night. Sweet, sweet sleep.

I woke up this morning feeling good. Last night, after coming home from the wonderful BBQ hosted by the Schmidt’s (the race director’s family) at their house, I spoke with Darren for awhile about the race. Darren is a two-time former Clydesdale World Champion triathlete (Clydesdale is a division for athletes over 200pds), and a former training partner from my time at the Triathlon Training Centre in Victoria. He knows racing and he knows me, so we sorted through a race plan. I knew that a sub-3:00 marathon was going to win the ENDURrun, but I wasn’t sure how far under 3:00. Bob had been speaking about wanting to run 3:00, but I knew that he could go faster than that. Darren suggested watching heart rate for the first loop of the two-loop marathon course, and then trying to put pressure on Bob after that. We had looked at possible split times and then tried to determine what was realistic. We determined that I would try to keep my heart rate around 155bpm, while holding about 4:10 min/km for the first 21.1km. After that, I would try to increase the pace over the next 15km trying to run away from Bob, hoping that his big run from Friday (the hilly trail run stage) was still in his legs. I would descend to about 4:00 min/km over the second half of the run, which would leave me running a 2:51 marathon. I figured if I ran a 2:51 and Bob still beat me, then he had earned his win.

I arrived early at the race site and the specter of rain hung about. The clouds to the west were daunting and the wind was beginning to pick up. The amazing volunteers had been here early since they were also hosting an 8k race while the marathon was going on. I checked in with Lloyd and said hello to the rest of the crew. This was it – 3:11 was the difference between Bob and I and there was no race tomorrow, which, as odd as this sounds, was a weird thought to comprehend. We had become used to racing with the thought of racing the next day in mind, that this concept of leaving everything on the course was almost scary. There was no safety net – if you have a bad day, there is no redemption.

I began my warm up and felt quite good, except for the soreness in my glutes. Yes, my ass hurt. I did intervals of light jogs and bathroom visits. I thought of the warm up I have my clinics do, and made sure that I did my A’s, B’s, C’s and some strides. My glutes began to feel better and, if you hadn’t told me I had done 128km in the past 7 days, I wouldn’t have known. I felt light and my turnover was there. I knew what had to be done, and I knew it was going to hurt, but I felt as though I was prepared.

The only other marathon I have run was at the Royal Victoria Marathon last October. It had been interesting; a great experience, but not a great race. I had been on canoe trip with Esquimalt High for the two weeks of my taper, alternating between sleeping on the ground, sterning a voyager canoe in the ocean, and doing water runs in the same ocean with my triathlon wetsuit. This trip was incredible, but the cramping, walking, and stretching that happened after 32km of the Victoria marathon were not. I ended up running 2:59:58, a good first marathon time, but not what I felt I was capable of.

There were a few guest runners, the two relay teams, and then the five Ultimate boys. We lined up as the wind gusted in our face, prepared for our two laps of 21.1 km. I was ready and looking forward to seeing how the day went. Lloyd, in his understated way, started us with his “On You Mark”, and we were off. One of the relay runners, or maybe he was a guest runner, went out front immediately and I decided to ey off him. I had put a gap between myself and Bob within the first 50m and I wondered what his strategy might be. For a moment I considered one of my earlier race plans, which was to run really hard for the first 30k, trying to run close to 1:52:00, and then hold on for dear life. I figured that even if I ran an hour (which would be 5:00 min/km) for the last 12, I would still run a 2:52. The gap was short lived as Bob pulled alongside us and I went back to my current, and more sensible, race plan. We went through the first kilometer in 4:18 and my heart rate was 149 at that point. I was well within what I was hoping to do and, more importantly, I had taken the first kilometer slowly. The marathon is a race that will bite you in the ass if you don’t respect it – go out too hard, too early and you will suffer in the end. The course followed the same start as the half-marathon from a week earlier, so I knew the first 4k well. We cruised through the second kilometer, into a strong headwind, in 4:15. I was happy that we had gone out conservatively, but I knew that running this easy was not going to get me closer to my goal of breaking Bob. I pulled out from the draft of the relay runner and started to pick the pace up a little. An awkward water station mix up (the relay runner stopped in front of Bob I found out later), allowed me to gap Bob again. I was beginning to feel more confident about this plant, thinking that Bob might be feeling the previous two days running. We went 4:09, 4:10, 4:03, and we were back on the 4:10 pace I had decided upon the night before. My heart rate was under control, averaging about 157 bpm at this point – a little higher than I had wanted, but not too much.

There were some extended downhills which I took advantage of, running a 3:53 in the 6th kilometer, once again creating a little gap from Bob. I ran a 4:04 next kilometer (7k), and Bob ran back up to me. Ray, Bob’s coach, was out on the course, giving us our pace times and offering us support.

A diversion on Ray for a moment. This is a coach who drove his athlete 10 hours from Rhode Island to participate in this event. He is a Boston Marathon Course Certifier (he actually certifies the Boston Course whenever there is a small modification, something as small as a traffic island going in), and he has a PR of 2:23 for a marathon. His longest training week was 270km in his prime. But more than all of that, he was a consummate gentleman. Throughout the week, he was giving me feedback on my form, providing me with encouragement in every race, regardless of my position, and giving me splits. Today, he handed me water whenever Bob and I passed through an aid station manned by one volunteer. It was a pleasure to meet him and his character shone through.

The next 8k passed pretty uneventfully. I ran ahead of Bob a little, but by meters. We were always together and Ray was showing up with surprising regularity. My heart rate stayed true (fluctuating between and average of 155 and 159 bpm for each kilometer) and I felt quite good.

8k – 4:18
9k – 4:06
10k – 3:59 (41:19 10k split)
11k – 4:06
12k – 4:14
13k – 3:57
14k – 4:04
15k – 3:55

Approaching kilometer 16 we faced a longer hill. This was the first real test for us. I decided to make sure that I took the hill well, but not hard. We split 4:31 for the kilometer and went then the fun was going to start. Along the backside of the course we had a terrific tailwind. I actually looked over to Bob and commented on how nice it was. He reminded me that we had to turn back into the wind soon. I didn’t like him for saying that.

We ran through a little neighbourhood and toward the path that we would take back toward the start/finish. We went 4:16, 4:14 for kilometer 17 and 18 as I keyed off Bob for a moment, checking to see what he would do if in the lead. The slowing of the pace didn’t work for my plan, so I took the lead again at kilometer 19 (4:01) and started the fun. That 4:01 was uphill into the wind, as I tried to establish a gap that would hold. I didn’t want Bob sitting my draft throughout the windy side of the course – I wanted him to have to fight the wind as well. I pushed a hard 3:59 for the 20th kilometer and then a 3:51 for the 21st as we left the hills. My heart rate had picked up to a 165 average for that kilometer and I still had really left Bob. I had about 10m, so he was dealing with the headwind as well, but I hadn’t been able to extend that 10m. I slowed up and decided that I would let him pull me through the headwind that awaited us.

21k split – 1:26:30

We had begun our second lap in earnest. I knew that I had 21k to establish a 3 minute lead on Bob, so I plotted. I sat in and let Bob pull through the wind for a little, but we slowed up a little. I knew I would have to go hard, so I pulled around Bob and started a push that would last 10km.

22k – 4:14
23k – 4:03
24k – 4:06
25k – 4:09
26k – 3:46
27/28k – 7:28 (3:44 splits)
29k – 4:06
30k – 3:53
31k – 3:52
32k – 3:58 (10k split from 23k to 32k – 39:21)

I had pushed the pace for 10k, and Bob, well Bob was still there. Throughout this surge, I thought of the tremendous support that I have received from everyone throughout the week. I thought of the advice from my friends (SMILE!, and run my race plan), and I knew that I had to leave everything on the course. I thought to myself, both of us are going to break, but it is who breaks first.

33k – 4:11
34k – 4:01
35k – 4:12

Bob had held the pace, but I had fallen off. It wasn’t a heart rate thing, it was a strength thing. My legs were deadening beneath me and I was having trouble matching the pace I had established. Bob held the pace and continued to establish a gap. After 32km, anything can happen. I tried to stay on top of my form and keep my legs going because I thought that Bob might blow up before the end of the race.

I continued to run but I was not getting any faster and Bob was not coming back.

36/37k – 9:01 (4:30 split)
38k – 4:22
39k – 4:44

I realized that I was not going to catch Bob, and focused on running my race, trying to still run a good time after all the work I had put it. It is in these moments that the race becomes more of an internal race. I was putting one foot in front of another. I kept going, even though it was getting tougher.

40k – 4:39

I rounded the corner, heading downhill and into the headwind. I tried to open up my pace, but at the bottom of the hill, my hamstring started to cramp. I came to a stop and stretched it out quickly, beginning a modified run. I tried to relax and the hamstring eased off and I started running again.

41k – 5:07

I considered what I had done this week. I ran 160km over seven stages, running faster than my times last year. Our 30k split in the marathon was faster than our 30k run earlier in the week. I had run hard and left everything on the course. Though I had come second in the marathon, and in the ENDURrun, I knew that I had had a great week of racing and was content in the knowledge that I wouldn’t have done anything different this week. And I thought of the unbelievable support that I had received from the volunteers, my family, and all my friends, both here in Ontario and out West. I knew that my week had been a success, and with that knowledge, I smiled (thanks jen) and tried to push it in for a good time.

42k - 4:41

I rounded the final corner to see the group of volunteers under the Finish banner, cheering me in. With a smile, and a bittersweet twinge, I ran the last 200 yards to the finish, completing the marathon in a time of 2:55:53.

I had come second in the 2006 ENDURrun by 8 minutes and 10 seconds (ish). I had also just run a PB by 4 minutes in the marathon after running 128km as my taper. I had worked hard throughout the week and was very happy with my result. Darren and I had decided last night that if I ran a 2:51 and Bob still won, then he deserved it. Bob finished in 2:50:12, an incredible time for a marathon, especially at the end of this week. Ray, who had been such a support throughout the week, said told me that if last night I had told Bob that I was going to run a 2:55 today, he would have been “quaking in his boots”. Bob and I pushed each other all week, and we ran better for it.

So, with that, I am going to go to bed. I will write a wrap up post for the ENDURrun tomorrow. Thanks for reading and all of your support – it has meant the world to me.

See you soon!

Run well.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Stage 6 - 10k Time Trial

Note: My friends Jay and Danielle are here, and there is a BBQ at Lloyd's house tonight, so I endeavour to write more about the day later tonight.

Abstract (ok, short post).

Started second to last in the time trial with Bob starting one minute behind me. One minute in front of me was Ken (of Canadian Mountain Running fame, and first finisher at the Stage 3 30k). I held Ken's stagger for the first while, and Ray, Bob's coach, was giving me feedback about Bob throughout. After 2k, Bob had made up 6 seconds on me. I went 3:25, 3:26, so he went faster. I stayed on my cadence and rhythm and trusted in my run. Over the next kilometer I gained back one second and then the next time I saw Ray I had gained one second on Bob (meaning I was getting time back). The next time I saw Ray, about 7k, he said I had a nine second lead on Bob. I kept working hard, knowing that would be the last split i got before the finish. Ken had held the stagger, running well so I knew I had done alright. I finished and waited for Bob.

1k - 3:25
2k - 3:26
3k- 3:38
4k - 3:32
5k - 3:33 (5k - 17:36)
6k - 3:32
7k - 3:31
8k - 3:35
9k - 3:37
10k - 3:30
Time - 35:24

I waited for one minute and six seconds. Bob ran 35:30. Ken had run 35:22. I had gained back six seconds on Bob, but more importantly, found my legs again. So, tomorrow will begin with Bob in the gold jersery and a 3:11 second lead (I think the official time yesterday way 3:17). That is about an 800m difference in the marathon. With everything going well, we are looking at a sub-3 marathon to win it tomorrow, for either of us. I will let you know.

Thanks to everyone for their incredible support and words of wisdom. They mean a lot to me.

Run well.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Stage 5 - 25k Hilly Trail Race


I felt good heading into the run, and for the first two laps, Bob and I ran together, but Bob pushed the pace on the third lap and I wasn’t able to respond. I thought he might come back later in the race, but he had a great day and now leads the ENDURrun by 3:20(ish).

You wouldn’t believe me if I told you that there was a cricket outside my window last night, so I won’t. But there was. And after a great day with Kate and Stefan, I only got six hours of sleep, but I am not sure that affected the day.

This was my third stage last year, and I ran with Mike Strano for most of it, before he pulled ahead on the last loop. While Lloyd had made some small changes to the course this year, I felt that my experience last year would serve me well today. I had two good treatments yesterday and, even though I didn’t sleep as well as I would have liked, I felt good when we walked up to the start line.

Today was going to be an interesting stage as it was the last chance for any real change to occur in the overall standings of the ENDURrun. It is the first of three days of running and the hilliest (and some would argue the hardest) stage of the race. 5 loops of a 5.2 kilometer course that features 2.5 summits of Chicopee Ski Hill each lap. The total elevation for the entire course was 725m, which is more than Comfortably Numb 25k in Whistler, and about the same as the Iron Knee 25k (which was 770m). The difference between this one and those is that you get the same hills every lap, providing very little relief and no extended downhills. I should qualify that; the extended downhills in the course today were pretty much straight down ski runs, which meant that I was breaking the whole time as the hill was not groomed (read: long grass with possible holes anywhere), and decently steep (read: too steep to just throw it in neutral and go).

The first lap was a get acquainted lap as a relay runner, Peter, and Mike Strano, back for another round, took an early lead. Bob settled in on my shoulder, and we took it out conservatively, with me setting the pace. In my head I kept thinking, “the race starts at 17k”, and I wanted to get to that point feeling good. We had a quiet first lap, a little chatting, but the hills kept us quiet.

The course starts with a technical section that is relatively flat and last about 1500m. After passing an aid station and the Start/Finish, we then turned up a gravel/sand road and climbed to the 2k marker, where we leveled out for a little while. The course was well marked again by Lloyd and after a short road section, we were back into technical trails which switchbacked up the rest of the hill. We passed the 3k mark as we emerged on the summit of the hill and promptly were lead straight down the main ski run of Chicopee, back toward the Start/Finish. This course is great because you pass the Start/Finish, and all the supporters and volunteers, at least 3 times per lap. This connection with everyone really helps the motivation, especially later in the race as the fatigue and doubt set in. After passing through an aid station at the Start/Finish, it was straight back up the ski run next to the one we just descended. This was a long, grueling climb, completely exposed to the sun and heat and with a nasty pitch change at the end of the climb. Once we summited the hill again, we ran around the backside, past the 4k marker, and down another run. This run followed a switchback route down, as we swooshed (yes, we swooshed) across the hill as we descended. It was then a flat grass section until we hit the “little bastard”, a short hard climb which lead to yet another downhill, complete with long grass and pothole and the 5k marker. From there it was a little rise and a 150-200m run to the Start/Finish.

I had taken it out conservatively, hoping that we would decide this race in the last 10k. Bob seemed content to stay on my shoulder, so I ran my pace. Now, the issue with going out a conservative pace is that it is sometimes quite difficult to drastically change speed. Your body becomes used to running at a given pace and it becomes hard to increase the range of motion and power needed to go faster.

coming out of the trails early in the race

The first 10k felt quite good, as it should have, and it actually went by quickly. The heat was rising quickly as the humidity settled. There is a call for a thunderstorm tomorrow, so if you are aware of Ontario before a storm, you will understand what we were feeling. As we came down the last hill of the lap, Bob and jockeyed position in order to get what we needed at the aid stations. I had left another hand-held water bottle with Eload and some gels, and Bob ended up in front of me getting water. As we entered the flat technical section, Bob began to push the pace. We went through the first kilometer 30 seconds faster than we did the previous lap. I saw this, and while I felt good, I decided not to try to stay with him at this point. We were only 11k into the run and I knew how this course wears you down. We had passed Peter and caught right up to Mike Strano. I decided to stay steady and let Bob go at this point, trusting that consistency would win out on the day and he would come back to me later. I backed off on the climb to 2k and watched Bob push the pace more.

I had been feeling good on the first laps, but it was quickly becoming apparent that I didn’t have the power in my legs that I would need to run fast on this course. Any success that I have in trail races is largely accounted for by the technical descents, where I am able to make up lots of time on people who are otherwise stronger runners than me. This course had a no net elevation gain (which means it starts and finishes at the same elevation, or spot), but all the downhills were wide open ski runs. This essentially nullifies my ability to “rest’ during the race and forces me to really recruit my quads, groin, and glutes, in slowing my descent. This eccentric contraction (the muscle is under stress while it lengthens, as opposed to when it shortens, which is concentric) is very hard on the muscle fibre and, ultimately, left me facing my weakness (running uphill) without my strength (running technical downhills).

Ray, Bob’s coach, gave me my time behind, 40 seconds, at the top of the long hill (a testament to his character, giving his athlete’s competitor course information). Bob was still at 40 seconds as we went through the Start/Finish, completing our third lap (15k). That was the last time anyone would give me a split on Bob, out of kindness rather than withholding of information. As I slowly deteriorated, he became stronger. I saw the lead stretch to a minute, before I no longer saw him. I kept taking water and trying to cool off as well as invoking Mike Liedtke (another trail runner who I try to emulate when running uphill – small steps, small steps, keep up the cadence) and Jasper Blake (remembering the times I as struggling to maintain contact with him in our long runs at the lakes). Mike passed me again on the 4th lap, running very well, and yelled at me to get going. We ran together for almost a loop, all the time he was talking me through the run. He was great at getting me motivated, but the legs just wouldn’t respond. He too left me and ended up having another great run.

The last loop felt good, but I was on my own. I actually zoned out so much that I missed a turn, only to end up in someone’s driveway, swearing and turning around, losing about 15 seconds. I summited the hill and descended the ski run to the incredible support of the volunteers. If anyone decides to come out to Ontario in the future to take part in this event, it will be the dedication of the volunteers that you will remember most fondly. Their unending support and enthusiasm has carried me through some rough spots in this race. And it is the same support, genuine energy, that is given to every runner, although the comment of one younger volunteer to Bob today (“Run like you play ping pong!”), left me wondering if I should have been playing Ping Pong. Maybe tomorrow night at the pre-marathon BBQ.

As I turned up the long, hard hill for the last time, with no Bob in sight, that things had changed dramatically today. I had hoped to run with Bob for the race, carrying to Gold Jersey into tomorrow’s 10k Time Trial, starting last and beginning with a lead heading into the marathon. This was not to be. I now had to run to stop the clock. Once Bob crossed the line, the counting would begin. It was up to me to stop it.

I tried to be consistent up the hill, no walking this time (like I did on the 4th lap). I passed Spencer, one of Lloyd and Julie’s (his wife) six kids. Spencer has been great as he has been running the loops at Bechtel Park (the 30k) and at Chicopee in skate shoes. We think it is tough for us, but Spencer is up early setting up the course with his family, and then he does a lap or two – and he is, I am guessing, about 13/14. It was with great joy that I saw him on the hill, as I had someone to focus on, and someone to say hi to. It can be a lonely day when things are going as planned.

I ran the backside of the course as well as I could, feeling decent, but not fast, and finally crossed the line at 2:03:48. Early in the second lap, Bob had asked me what time I had run here last year. I had answered around 2:01. Turns out I lied. Lloyd informed later, with last year’s results in hand, that I had run 2:05. Bob ran 1:58:59. When I heard that, I was impressed. It also helped to clarify some things for me.

1. There was no way I as running a 1:59 today, even under good conditions, so I felt better knowing that Bob had a great day.
2. I ran faster than last year. It must be stated that this course was slightly different, but I don’t think it was significantly shorter. A technical section at the top was replaced with a technical section at the base, and while it may have been a little shorter, the 180 degree turn in sand coming out of the forest, slowed us down each time. The conditions (warm and dry) were better than last year (cold and wet), so that helps. But for me to feel as weak as I did, and think that I had an off day, and to have run faster than last year, encourages me.
3. Bob had a good run, and is a stronger hill runner than I, but we will see what occurs over the next two stages, which are flatter road runs.

So, if one ice bath is good, then two must be better! Two ice baths later, and a short nap, some food and a little clean up of the house, and here I am. I start in the penultimate position tomorrow, so now I am being chased. This 10k is going to be short. Mark, from Price Chiropractic (who are sponsors of the event and very good chiros) worked on me and I feel good now. I will stretch tonight and seek out crickets with a vengeance like you have never seen from me!

I would be remiss if I did not mention how well the other guys are doing. Chris is looking strong and it still amazes me that he was barely running for a couple of weeks prior to the event because of an injury. And not only that, but he did a 5 Peaks trail race the day BEFORE the ENDURrun started. Steven, in his fourth ENDURrun, is a model of consistency, today running within seconds of his Bechtel Park time. And Jeff looked solid as always, running with great form and a steadiness that I wished for today.

So, tomorrow is the prelude to the big one. Bob is hoping to run sub 2:40 for the Philadelphia marathon, which shows the kind of shape that he is in. Nik Southwell, in all his deranged wisdom, believes that I can run near that time as well. Neither of us will be close to that time on Sunday, but it should shape up to be a pretty cool run.

I find myself thinking about this run and trying to really comprehend it. When I first came across it, I thought doing the 30k and 10 miler were going to be crazy. But then I added the 25k, and I survived. If I was talking to me, I would say I was crazy for doing this, but once you are in it, maybe you lose perspective, but the next day comes and you run. It is not an impossible race, but you have to be realistic with yourself. You cannot run hard everyday, and there are going to rough patches (i.e. today). But it is an amazing event as the community of runners, spectators, and volunteers comes together. It takes longer for people to leave after each race as more stories and insights are shared. If I make it back to this race next year (an Iceland ultra is still dancing in my mind), then it will be for the camaraderie and community.

Thanks for reading. Things just got interesting. Enjoy your run!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Stage 4 - 10 mile Hilly Road Race


After the extra recovery I felt quite good heading into tonight's run. Although I ran faster than last year, Bob left me on the last hill to win the stage by 12 seconds. It was a great run and I am feeling good heading into the recovery day.

I am taking full advantage of Kate and Stefan Timms' broadband internet. I have added pictures to the Stage 3 post as well as putting tons onto this one. You may never want to see another Brad running picture again after this post.

So, the day begins without an alarm and slight sleep in. I woke up feeling good after the ice bath and massage the day before. Darren and Krista bought a new car the night before, and have graciously offered to loan it to me for the duration of my ENDURrun. Before the ink had signed on the car deal the minivan was returned. I got a ride back from the car rental place and spent the afternoon napping.

This is a good moment to mention how incredible baby Mark and baby Luke are. They are HUGE babies and they are the happiest, most well mannered babies I have ever met. They sleep like, well, babies, and I have not heard them cry yet (except when they get their legs wedged in their crib). They out napped me on this day, but I put a good 90 minutes in.

Last year, after a tough 30k, I came back and felt great on the 10 miler and ended up winning the stage. That wouldn't happen this year as Steve Drew, a relay team runner, ran 54:00 minutes on a very hilly 10 mile course (I believe that works out to 3:21/km) - an impressive run on that night.

I packed my bags in preparation to go to Toronto with Kate and Stefan after the race and, after the babysitter had arrived to take care of the incredible twins, we were off. We reached the race start and everything went normally. A little warm up (they are getting shorter) and then we walked to the start line. The start of this race is on an uphill. The finish is also on an uphill. Lloyd is not very kind.

10 of us started, and Stefan, arriving late due to traffic in Toronto and heading into Kitchener, started about 10 minutes behind the rest of the field. Ken, our Canadian Moutain Runner, had come back for another round, so it was "On Your Mark" and we were off. Steve was out like a bullet, and I actually laughed at one point because he had put so much distance between himself and the rest of us so quickly. Ken pulled ahead and Bob and I settled in. A slower first kilometer (partly due to a hill and partly due to warming up still) let us ease into the race. The first few kilometers were relatively flat and on paved road. Bob sat on my shoulder as we ran this part the race, both of us acutely aware that the hills were going to be where the race started. We hung a left onto the dirt road and the fun began.

I knew the course, and while the hills were big, they weren't overly steep. As we hit the dirt road I started to dial into a more steady pace. Through 5k, we split 19:22 and then we hit the big hill, slowing us to a 4:10km. I felt good up the hill and focussed on running over the hill (as I have told my clinic athletes so many times). The course was rolling out toward the turnaround and I felt strong on the hills and smooth over them. Our splits varied from 3:55 to 3:30 depending on whether we were going up or downhill. As we rounded the turnaround (which was at about 9.5k into the run) the pace continued to increase, all my fault as I was leading us. We split 10k in 38:34 and began to straight road back to the finish.

3:54 - 11k
3:36 - 12k
3:17 - 13k

In the middle of a surge

I had put in a push to try to create a gap with Bob, but to his credit he is a strong downhill runner and closed the 10 meters I had opened up on the downhill (and I was running the downhill well).

Putting some distance between us, but not for long

As Bob pulled up beside me I decided to let him set the pace for a little while. I had done my part and he stayed with me, so I eased up and settled in on his shoulder. We ran together for the next few kilometers, neither of us getting a lead.

Bob and I running together one of the last downhills

3:44 -14k

3:55 - 15k

Thoughts of yesterday started to swirl in my head. I began to determine what I was willing to put out for the finish. Like yesterday, the finish was on a uphill, but a decidedly longer and harder hill. The pace began to pick up as we crested the penultimate (second-to-last) hill and descended to the beginning of the final climb to the finish. I decided that at this point, Bob would have to run a 3:10 final kilometer to put 20 seconds into me, so I would stay steady and not try to engage in another sprint finish.

the calm before the final hill

3:30 - 16k

Bob pushed the pace on the last hill and began to separate from me. I put in a little surge, but then settled into a steady climb. I swallowed my ego and ran in strong, watching Bob take some time out of the lead that I had. In the end, Bob finished 12 seconds ahead of me, reducing the lead to 1:27. I felt good finishing, although it was a tough final 6k. Is it wrong that 10 miles is beginning to feel short?

After a cool down and a treatment I went out for dinner with Kate, Stefan, Darren, and Krista. It was a nice dinner, but great company. It is always so easy with old friends, to fall right back into a rhythm. All through dinner I felt very good about the run. Lloyd mentioned to me that I had run faster than my time last year, which was very inspiring to me. Bob had run a great race and it was fun to actually race with him. I am enjoying his company on the runs and hope that we both are able to complete the ENDURrun to the best of our abilities.

Kate and Stefan chauffered me back to Toronto, where I was able to upload pictures quickly AND had two great recovery sessions. The first was with Dominque Forand, one of the greatest chiropractors in the world! She treated me like king and I walked out feeling very good. But I was still in for more as I saw the massage therapist that Stefan goes to. Mr. Andrew Foster surpassed anything that Stefan had prepared me for - an incredible massage and, overall, an experience that left me peaceful and centered! I am going to see them both again after the marathon in the hope that I will be able to walk of the plane normally.

I am not sure if I have mentioned this yet, but I was going to decide about my fall race after the finish of this event. However, I can say now, with a good degree of certainity, that I will likely be running the Royal Victoria Half-Marathon. I don't see the marathon this Sunday as being an easy jog, and thus I am not sure that I will have sufficient recovery to put out another strong marathon effort only six weeks later. I would like to run a fast half, and I think that I will be able to do that. Things can change, but I am definitely leaning to the more sane distance.

So, it is a 25k hill run tomorrow. I am excited for this race as it is a tough course, but it is fun. 5 loops of a 5k course. Each loop has 2.5 summits of Chicopee Ski Hill. It will be an interesting race and the last real chance for any time change prior to the marathon.

Thanks again for reading. What follows are two pictures of Darren and Krista's place in Cambridge. It is so wonderful. Thought I would share.

Have a great run!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Stage 3 – 30k Trail Run

Pictures have been added, but they are little blurry because of the extremely fast speeds we were running. I am surprised that the volunteers taking the pictures were actually able to get us on digital film.


A solid tactical run, a bit slower than last year. After finishing in a dead heat after a sprint finish, the same time was attributed to both Bob and I, leaving me, officially, with a 1:39 advantage.

Although there was a heavy rain yesterday afternoon, there was only dew to show for it on the course this morning. Today’s run was a 30k trail run – not trails like trail races in Victoria, but rather akin to running a 5k route around Beacon Hill Park. The route started out on grass by going around a soccer field, and then on road for about 800m to the next grass section – a loop with a sharp little hill in it (we will call that Hill #1). Upon finishing that loop you turned left and started a different little loop with a longer harder hill in it (Hill #2). After that it was down a hill and into a forested loop for about 2k with a big hill in it (Hill #3), before re-emerging and going up the hill that lead into the forest (Hill #4) and then 200m to the Start/Finish. Repeat 6 times.

But before we get into the race, let’s go back to last night. After being both grateful for Internet access at Darren’s, and frustrated by the speed of loading photos with a dial-up connection, I went to bed. I tried to get to sleep starting about 11:30ish. Around 11:40, I began to hear a cricket, and not the romantic evening walk with your sweetheart serenade, but a piercing, grating cricket chirp emanating from somewhere close by. I am staying in a basement room, so after about 30 minutes of trying to fall asleep I swore "Death to cricket!" I had assumed that the cricket was right outside the basement window as it was so loud. I turned on the light and went to the bedroom window to see if I might be able to reach out and crush the cricket with my bare hand. Standing on the bed to put my ear close to the window, I realized something very quickly; the cricket was not outside. The infernal chirp was coming from the foot of the bed. For those who have lived with me, this will come as no surprise, but I have my clothes thrown into piles against the wall at the foot of the bed. Turning my head from the window, I glared into a pile of shirts sitting innocently against the wall. I jumped down and opened my new white technical running shirt from the ENDURrun, only to find a black, chirping cricket. I wrapped the shirt back around the cricket, walked to the bathroom, and sent the cricket to meet his watery grave. Finally, sleep found me about 12:25am.

My alarm found me at 6:21 am. I woke up, got out of bed, dragged a comb across my head. Made my way upstairs and had a smoke, and looking up, I noticed….nothing. Actually, I shaved, showered, got ready and drove my minivan to the race. I felt good as I arrived at the race site and seeing last year’s winner, Mike Strano, was cool. We warmed up together and talked about running stuff. I also articulated to him that him racing a 30k race in Waterloo at 8:00am was not conducive to him catching his flight to Alabama out of Toronto Pearson International Airport at noon. I caught up with the other runners and then continued my warm up. I did an abbreviated warm up today and definitely an abbreviated cool down after the finish (trying to build suspense, although I kind of ruined that with the Abstract – damn you Trevor).

I donned the Gold Jersey for a second day and made my way to the line as Lloyd was calling going through the roll call. There were a few more people there today, one of which was a member of the Canadian Mountain Running Team (he ended up winning the day, becoming only the second person to go under two hours on this course). Lloyd, with his traditional On Your Mark call, sent us on our way. The run began quite conservative, with a 4:14 first km. This was a stark contrast in time to the day before, but oddly enough, felt as though it was the same effort. This was going to be an interesting day. By the end of the first kilometer, Mike had established a very good lead, easily 200m. This would be one of the last times we saw him. By 3.5k, our Mountain Running compatriot passed us, and like Mike, we would not see him again.

(The start/finish of the Trail Race)

Bob and I had, up until that point, been running together. The phrasing of the preceeding sentence seems to lead to the idea that we actually separated at some point, but don’t be fooled by your desire to predict the outcome (again, damn the abstract and Trevor). We were chatting about all sorts of things that you talk about on a run – recipes, favourite colours, broken hearts. The pace had also been quite comfortable – splitting just under 21 minutes for our first 5k. Again, yesterday I went 17:40 for my first 5k, but today’s terrain (soft grass and mulch) was not conducive to a fast pace. The other ENDURrun boys are doing great – John, Chris and Steven are running fantastic – but my focus is on currently on Bob. Mike was still blazing a trail out there, determined to finish quickly in order to catch his plane, and the Canadian Mountain Runner was passing Mike (side note: Mike stopped running after 25k, got in his car and booted it to the airport. I do not know if he made it, but I will find out as he is coming back to race the 25k Chicopee Hill run on Friday.)

The race has become tactical, which is very exciting. Bob had his coach, Ray, out there, as he does everyday. Ray is a great guy and is very encouraging of both us, giving us both our splits, but obviously, and rightly, giving Bob feedback and strategy when he can. This is how the race went for the first three loops (15k):

Bob would pull away on Hill #1 as I ran conservatively up the hill. I would catch him on the subsequent downhill, only for him to pull away on the Hill #2. I would catch up to him on the downhill into the forest and then we would run together to Hill #3 where he would pull away. I would close the gap across the flat and then pull up beside him after a short downhill. Bob would then pull away on Hill #4 and I would catch him about 200m past the Start/Finish.

(Bob and I running through the forest section of the race)

This scenario played out, to varying degrees for the first 15k. I would sometimes take the lead, and sometimes sit on his shoulder, but generally the uphills were his and I tried to close the gap on the downhills.

After 15k of running together I thought I would see what we both had in the tank. I pushed a little harder for the first 3k of that lap. Bob responded well and we ran together and spoke less. I realized that he was going to go with me regardless of my pace and thus I backed off at 18k. (side note: I had a friend do some internet research on Mr. Robert B______ and discovered that he has run a 34:20 10k this year and his last marathon was 2:46. That 10k is pretty much my 10k time and his marathon is my goal time. Folks, we are very close). We went back to our predictable ways, uphills and downhills. Up to this point my heart rate had been in check, but I had been getting progressively more fatigued. I had settled into a rhythm and I knew it was going to take a lot for me, and I believed for Bob, to really change the pace drastically. We finished our 20k with Bob having gapped me a little through the Start/Finish. I hung back a little to take a gel, but when I saw him pass Ray I wondered if this was go time. I worked a little to try to close the gap and got back up to Bob about 400m later, hoping that my presence would nullify any ideas of a surge. It didn’t.

At 22k Bob started to push. I felt the pace pick up and he used Hill #2 to gap me again. This time it would take me until after Hill #4 to completely close the gap, but once I did and we passed through 25k together, I thought we would cruise it in.

(The downhill part of Hill#4. The right turn leads us into the forest and we complete the lap by coming back out and up the hill that you see us runnign down in the picture)

The next few kilometers went well and we actually slowed down a little. Tomorrow is a 10-mile hilly road run, so I hoped that we would concede that in the next 2.5k neither of us would make any significant time gain. I told myself that I was going to stay on Bob’s shoulder up the hills so that I wouldn’t lose anytime on Hill #4 and through to the finish. This worked well through the first three hills, but as we began approaching the finish, the pace began to quicken. There is a nice gently sloping downhill leading into Hill #4 which Bob used to begin a surge on the uphill. I gritted my teeth and responded, carrying too much ego to let him run away from in the last 400m. I made up the two meter gap and then threw a surge of my own in as we crested the hill. The finish was now only 200m away. In all the different aspects of running, the final kick is where I believe I am strongest. I figured that, in the parlance of poker, seeing Bob’s surge and raising him a sprint, I would take the stage. When Bob pulled up on my shoulder, and then began to pass me, I was surprised, impressed, and thus dug deeper. The last 25 meters of this 30k race turned into an all-out sprint, with nothing on the line except pride and ego. I pulled back beside Bob and at the line he out leaned me (I mean, who gets out leaned in a 30k race!!) to win by three centimeters. Bob took the stage but we were given the same time, so as things stand going to bed tonight, I am still up by 1:39.

After heaving and panting and stumbling around for awhile, I took a small walk/run cool down (and thanks for the advice on warm up/cool down – Jazz, no bike or pool, but that makes the most sense; Carmen, good thoughts as well). I ate, drank, had some therapy done, and, at the behest of my friend Stefan Timms, bought 6 bags of ice on the drive home. Thankfully Mark and Luke were already awake at home when I lowered myself into the ice bath. 15 minutes of bliss later, I was out and numb. I followed that up with a massage a few hours later and I am on the road to recovery. A great pasta dinner and some sitting time tonight and I will be good to go tomorrow (I hope).

Today showed me that this is going to come down to the marathon. The 10k on Saturday is a time trial, but I don’t think either of us is going to risk much going into the marathon. The 25k trail run on Friday will be interesting as some time could be made up or lost there, but I don’t think either of us are going to make significant gains on that day. Tomorrow’s run has potential as well, but since we will be finishing in and around 60 minutes, it doesn’t have the length to make much of a dent. While the next stages will be interesting, I think it is going to be the marathon. Bob has two to his credit, and I have one. Hmmmmm.

Thanks again for reading for all the comments. Run well!

Monday, August 14, 2006

Stage 2 - 15k Time Trial


Started 11th of 11 runners in a time trial format (1 minute intervals between starters), 1 minute behind the second place runner. Ran well; made up the stagger and added a few seconds to retain the Gold Jersey and increase the lead to 1:40.

The rain held off. Days like this, overcast and cool, are not very nice for a walk in a park, but make for a perfect running day. The mild temperatures help with hydration and staying cool while the lack of sun makes squinting just look weird.

I arrived at Riverside Park at 7:15am for an 8:00am start. I like arriving early for races so that I can socialize before I begin what seems to be an increasingly long warm up. I met the crew as Lloyd, the race director, had just come in from off his bike after having marked the entire course so that we wouldn’t make a wrong turn. I will likely say this more than a few more times, but the lengths that Lloyd goes to in order for the racers to feel comfortable in the run is unbelievable. We all notice it and are thankful that his main concern is our race.

I went for a little jog with Bob to the washroom where we joked about how tired we were and openly discussed the course. When last year’s winner, Mike Strano, pulled out of this year’s race, I was disappointed because I was looking forward to our friendly rivalry. We both pushed each other last year, but not for a moment did I feel that either of us wanted to do better at the expense of the other. This sense of wanting to compete with someone when both are performing at their best is great and I am thankful to have found that in Bob.

I finished my warm up on my own and came back to the start where Lloyd read out the roll-call. There were to be 11 racers today - the 5 ENDURrun boys (Chris was the name I forgot yesterday and he ran a marathon not 6 weeks ago!), Katrina (a lady who is running every stage except the marathon), the two relay teams, and 3 guest runners. We were starting in reverse order of yesterday’s finish, which put Bob starting one minute in front of me. For clarification, in a time trial format you start at different times, but your time starts when you do, thus one may finish 30 seconds behind the person in front of them, but their time would be 30 seconds faster. Does that make sense?

As the runners each began I continued my warm up. I made it back in time to see the last three people start in front of me. Lloyd looked quite worried as I warmed up in my Frontrunners shirt, and made sure that I did in fact bring the Gold Jersey. I assured him I did as Bob began his time trial. He looked quite good leaving the start area and I wondered what strategy he might employ today.

Bob (right) awaits his turn as Brent gets info from Lloyd.

I didn’t realize how distinct an advantage I had beginning last. The course did about a 1km loop around Riverside Park before heading out into the roads. The park was wide open and thus I was able to see Bob almost the whole way around the park. Add to that the long, straight roads that we ran on, and I was able to see Bob for about 85% of the race. This allowed me to check my progress as I would check my watch as he passed a marker of some sort. As I passed the same marker I could see how big the difference was between us and create my race strategy based on that. Ray, Bob’s coach, was out there on the course giving him feedback, but the frequency with which I could check my progress made this race much easier for me than for Bob.

My first km ended up being a 3:19. This was much faster than I thought it should have been, but the idea of chasing someone always makes me go faster. Heck, the idea of chasing a ball makes me go faster. I had taken a couple splits against Bob in the first kilometer and realized that I had not put any time into him. This was a little concerning as I had just run a fast first kilometer and I had only matched his pace. I started to wonder about the rest of the run as I approached what was to be the largest hill in the run.

I had a few mantras swirling in my head: cadence, patience, tomorrow tomorrow tomorrow. I wanted to be consistent again today and keep myself relatively fresh for the next three big stages. I also had to make sure I realized that I didn’t need to catch Bob right away, but that I had 15k to do so. I also had to make sure that I didn’t sacrifice the 30k trail run tomorrow for a fast run today. With all this fighting against my ego, which wanted to lay the hammer down and run right up to everyone, I ran a 4:06 second kilometer (which had a large hill in it) and then settled into the next three kilometers, focusing on form and cadence (cadence is the number of times that your feet strike the ground per minute – ideally, a runner wants to be around 180 steps/minute). They came fast as I continued to take splits against Bob. 3:27, 3:28, 3:33. My 5k split was 17:55. This was faster than I had wanted to go, but the fact that I had put 15 seconds into Bob didn’t help the quiet voice that wanted me to slow down. And seeing a long line of runners extending down the road in front of me didn’t encourage the diminishing of pace either.

3:31, 3:36, 3:21 (a long downhill), 3:32, 3:44. My 10k split was 35:40. I tried to be consistent, and I was, until I caught Bob as we ran along a beautiful riverside trail. I ran on his shoulder for a few hundred meters before taking the lead. He ran on my shoulder as I looked up at Steven and got the urge to chase again. I put in a little surge and separated from Bob and tracked down Steven. What is great about this time trial was that you get to encourage everyone as you meet up and in doing so, gain some of their energy. The trail was an out and back section of the run, so we got to see everyone again. This serves two purposes – one, you can cheer them on, and two, you can see clearly how far ahead or behind you are. Brent, a relay runner and Ironman athlete, was the only one left in front of me at this point, and as I came around the turnaround, I saw that Bob was not that far behind me, but I had in fact put a little time between us. At this point I worked to lower my heart rate, dropping my pace to a half marathon effort in order to conserve some energy for the days ahead. I still wanted to catch Brent and be the first to cross the line, but I was able to quell that ego-driven desire, and settled in, preparing for tomorrow. I hoped that Bob would just cruise the run in as well, but at 13k I felt him on my shoulder. I had gone from 3:30s to 3:48, 3:53, 3:45. My kilometer with Bob, from 13 to 14, was 3:45 again, so, once again, I thought that he might content to run it in together. I was fine with this as I would have made up the difference in our start time, adding another minute to the lead. However, Bob took the lead and started to push the pace as we crossed the 14k marker. I had been running comfortably for a little while, lowering my heart rate about 6 beats per minute, so I matched his surge. He began to run faster and I once again matched his speed. I began to think more about form and efficiency, at which point I picked up my cadence and put in a final surge in the last 400m. I gapped Bob a little and held that through the end, finishing in 54:18, with a 3:24 final kilometer (for the other nerds out there – 173 bpm avg, 183 max, 70m ascent). Bob finished just 5 seconds back of me, but finishing in a time of 55:23.

Bob and I 400m from the finish line.

This run felt good, but I wonder how its quickness will play out in the long run. I changed my very wet Gold Jersey for a Frontunners shirt and went for a cool down. I invited Bob, but he declined today, which leads to an interesting question – to warm up and cool down or not to warm up and cool down?

Being a 160km race, warm up and cool downs each day can add a considerable amount of distance to the week. While the race today was 15km, I probably ran 20 with warm up and cool down included. Yesterday I think ran 25k in total. Adding 5k of running before and after the race each day adds up to 35k over the 7 stages. So I pose this question to those that feel comfortable enough to answer – yes or no to warm up and cool down? I think I know what my answer is and why, but I am curious to hear what others think.

After the cool down, which consisted of 2kms of slow running with some walking, I got some recovery food/drink into me, had some therapy done, and chatted. It is a great event because you see everyone everyday and develop relationships. People are not so much racing against each other as they are against themselves. We just use the other runners as added motivation to work hard and be smart. As Lloyd and I discussed this morning, it would be an amazing race if there were 100 people at the start and you didn’t know who had done what and everyone was out there. The number of strategies being employed would result in an exciting race and people coming out of the blue to grab the Gold Jersey for a stage. While I am excited to be racing this year, the thought of having 100 others on the line brings a giddiness to me. I hope that others will soon take up the challenge.

From there I got a ride to a mall where I picked up The Office (BBC version) for Darren and Krista, and a couple of cds for me (K’naan and Metric) and my rental minivan (they didn’t have the accent I reserved, so they gave me the minivan for the same price. Uh, thanks, I think). I drove back to Darren and Krista’s house, narrowly missing the rain that is now falling on Bechtel Park for tomorrow’s 30k trail race. This is going to be intereresting as this was the first of the three stages that I did last year. I ended up losing about 5 minutes to Mike Strano in the last 7k last year, so I will try to be smarter with my race strategy this year. That also goes to show that 1:40 is not really very much time at all and can be easily lost in any of the next three stages. Bechtel Park, while being a trail run, has grass, road, and non-technical forest trail in it (think of running all over Beacon Hill Park). It is 6 loops of a 5k course which allows for lots of feedback while running, and lots of contact with people cheering you on. I am not sure which shoes I will wear yet – my trail shoes (New Balance 872) or my race shoes (New Balance 825). A check of the course in the morning will let me know - a wet course dictating trail shoes.

The last thing I want to leave you with is the amazing volunteers – these wonderful people stand out in the middle of nowhere for long periods of time and when you run by, they are excited, courteous, and amazing. I cannot say enough about how much they bring to this event. I always look forward to seeing a yellow T-shirts on the course. (And thank you to Spencer for taking the pictures with my camera today!)

Again, I only ran 15k today, but you read this whole post – guess who is more tired? Thanks for reading and please feel free to leave a comment or ask a question about the race or my preparation or (almost) anything – I am all about interaction.

Have a good run!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Stage 1 - The Half Marathon


Perfect day for a run. I ran well and felt on control. I ended up going 1:20:28 for the first stage (Half Marathon - 21.1km) to win it, thus earning the Gold Jersey.

The day started quite early as I woke up at 5:45am in the guest room of my sister’s house in Toronto. A half hour later we were on the road to Waterloo, but lacking a map in the car. Luckily, nerdy as I am, I had the course map downloaded on my computer, so we used that to direct us, hoping that University Ave E ran into Highway 89N. Fortunately for me it did, which makes for a good race, but not as exciting reading.

Pulling up to the race site I saw the familiar shirts of the ENDURrun volunteers, a veritable army of them (more than 190 over the week), and saw many more cars and people than I had expected. Last year I participated in the three middle stages, and thus was unaware that Lloyd, the race director, also runs a 5k on the first day and an 8k on the last day. The two races were run separately, with very little of the course overlapping, but it was nice to have that many people around, adding to the ambience of the event. I think in the future that it would be great to meld the races so that the profile of the ENDURrun can be raised.

I found the registration without problem and met Bob, the runner who Lloyd had emailed me last month. He came up from Rhode Island and has wanted to run this race for a year or two. In a testament to the type of race this is, Lloyd is billeting Bob for the duration of the event.

After getting a GREAT race package (complete with three shirts – one technical, a technical running hat, a cool running bag, food and drink) I headed back to the car and began my warm-up. I had already been to the bathroom twice, and was awaiting my customary third visit. The warm up felt good and light (this taper thing actually works). The weather was perfect, it was a cloudless sky with no wind and a cool breeze – it couldn’t have been more than 15 degrees.

Lloyd corralled everyone to the start line where I finally found out who I was going to be racing. Bob I had met earlier and as he was wearing Saucony Grid Tangents, matching singlet and shorts, I wondered how he would run. There was also Steven, who has run every ENDURrun thus far. Jeff and one more gentleman (i have forgotten his name) rounded out the ENDURrun field. Unfortunately this year’s field is smaller than in the past due to injury withdrawls. This is not an event that you can come to unprepared or injured. This is a reason why there are no female competitors this year – injury has befallen some previous ENDURrunners. However, the five guys that were there were ready and the smaller field did not deter from the excitement of finally starting this journey. There were two relay teams and a number of guest runners (runners who will run individual stages – this is how I become involved in the event last year as I ran three stages). Lloyd welcomed everyone, did his roll call and started us with an On Your Mark, Get Set, Go!

First out of the gates was Kevin, a relay team member with the “Runner’s Choice Dudes”. We saw him for the last time at about 3k as he went on to run a 1:12 – a very solid run, but a little off of his 1:11 from last year. The rest of the field settled in and a short time later we began to find our pace. Bob and I ran through the first km marker and took our lap splits together. This facilitated the first conversation of the race – I yelled out “I am a hero!” Well, I wasn’t, but the 3:15 first km looked pretty amazing until I realized that we had just run by the 5k marker, not the Half-marathon marker, which was waiting for us 40 seconds up the road.

L-R: me, Bob, Dan (a guest runner)

A 3:53 first km was good, especially since it felt slow. In the previous 6 weeks I have run a few times with Jasper Blake, and two of those runs were at Elk/Beaver Lake. I jumped in with Jazz as he trained his goal pace for the marathon at Ironman Canada this year. The workouts were holding 3:50/km for 90 minutes and 2 hours, respectively. These were tough workouts, but paid huge dividends today.

Today’s course consisted of two loops; one larger loop which included a part through a park, and a second smaller loop which cut that part out as it made its way back to the start. Bob and I ran together most of the first loop; I was listening to his footfalls as he ran off the back of my left shoulder. As the first loop worked its way through the park I was able to put a little distance between us. I felt good throughout, waving and thanking the many volunteers that were giving up their Sunday for these five guys and numerous other runners. I passed the 13k marker where Bob’s coach, who has traveled up here with him to check out the event and help his athlete, gave me my split.

I was running very even splits to that point. 5k = 19:01, 10k = 38:01. “49:35” Bob called to me. What I was really listening for was his voice speaking to Bob after I had gone by. I didn’t hear him, so I thought that was a good sign. I tried to focus on my running and keep pace. I thought of Jasper and how we ran so steady and tried to emulate this. I continued on the second loop and felt good throughout, splitting the kilometers within 2 seconds of the first loop. As I passed other spectators and water stations I continued to listen, starting to hear the cheers for Bob a little after I passed. I knew that I was comfortably ahead, but not far ahead.

I pushed a little harder in the last kilometer and tried to gain a few more seconds. I rounded the corner and finished well. I looked back and saw Bob coming down the same straightaway that I had just finished on. The clock was ticking, but not for long. Bob finished 35 seconds behind me and set up an interesting race for tomorrow.

The time trial tomorrow will have me starting last. The runners will leave in reverse order (5th place begins 1st) and we will leave on one minute intervals. There are relay and guest runners that will be in the mix as well, but Bob will leave one minute in front of me. The course has many long straight roads, so I should be able to see him, and thus gauge how things are going. I am not sure if Bob was holding back today – again, he has a coach and looks to be a good runner. And that is thing about this race – 35 seconds is nothing. I am used to knowing the runners at the race, and knowing their race history, but being here in Ontario and not knowing the runner's past - this will definitely be an interesting week.

I am now staying with Darren and Krista Henry with their beautiful 7 month old twin boys, Mark and Luke (but I don’t think he was named after Dragstra). They are treating me better than I ever deserve to be treated, and I am soaking it up! Their boys are wonderful and it is very peaceful at this country home in Cambridge. I am going to sleep in my fifth different bed in five nights, but I am happy to have a race under my belt and feel confident in my training.

Thanks to everyone for your comments and congrats to those who made it this far in the post.

Have a great run!

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Like good times, some angles never die


I had fun at a cottage with old friends. I did my final taper run this morning and everything felt good. I am now at my sister's house in Toronto.

10 Ways to Ruin a Taper (and possibly a race)

1. Meet up with old friends from residence at a cottage for the annual Boys' Weekend.
2. Bring lots of chips, cookies, ice cream, and alcohol.
3. Go Tubing behind a Jet-Ski.
4. Eat copious amounts of chips, cookies (Peak Freans Fruit Creme), and ice cream (Rolo and Kit Kat).
5. Consume copious amounts of alcohol.
6. Make fun of people who didn't make it to the cottage weekend.
7. Stay up way too late.
8. Practice Greco-Roman wrestling in the living room of a cottage.
9. Get up early and run.
10. Drive back to Toronto shortly after.

Ok, so I skipped numbers 5 and 8, but I did the rest. And I did not eat copious amounts of ice cream, but four BIG spoonfuls, and I did limit my tubing (although I wanted to do WAY more) because I didn't want to carry any soreness into the race, and the cookies were just way too good and and I hadn't eaten any of them in way too long, and I slept well, just not a long time, and then run felt alright everything considered and the drive home went super fast as an old friend and I caught up on the past 5 years, and the chips, especially the Ruffles Sour Cream and Onion, were AMAZING. The moral is - do as I say, not as I do.

Spending time with old friends, like time spent running on trails, shouldn't count toward your allotted time on this earth. Seeing the boys is always great and it shocks me how quickly we fall back into things. We are getting older and the topics of conversation have started to widen, including house purchases and kids, but it always comes back to the guitars on the docks, the groggy morning after, and the kinship of close friends. Thanks to Kevin for offering up his beautiful cottage to us this weekend. We will rebuild those broken parts next time.

And I would like to commend both Dave and Chris for making it out on the run at an 8:00am which came quicker than most. The run was fun, but the lake was divine!

And special thanks to Kevin for driving me up to the cottage and to Jason for getting me back to Toronto.

So, it begins tomorrow. I am now at my sister's house and going to eat well tonight and then off to the race in the morning. I am getting adjusted to running at what my body thinks is 5:00am, but it shouldn't be a problem after tomorrow.

Thanks to everyone who has left a comment - it is nice knowing that there are masochists who will suffer through reading my posts. You rock!

Run great!

Friday, August 11, 2006

Ahh, this is why....


Toronto traffic sucks.

Sometimes we need to escape the bubble in which we live to see its beauty. Victoria, while incredibly beautiful, can become very small very quickly. The first thing I notice upon arriving back in Toronto was the amazing array of skin colours. Having grown up in a ethinically diverse community, and attending a high school that was very much the same, I miss that aspect of Toronto (and surrounding area) terribly.

However, this, I do not miss. A friday afternoon heading away from Toronto at 1:00pm. 1:00PM!! And this was the less busy direction. Had we been going toward Barrie, we would have been done for!

This was near Whitby, home of Craig Taylor. The traffic eased up a later, but man, just seeing it sends shivers down the spine. Oh, simple Victoria, sometimes I love thee.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

You can always go home...

My roommate, Trevor Millar, knows my propensity to be loquacious, and thus has requested an “Abstract” of my posts - a kind of “get to the point Brad”. So, to appease him….


I arrived home safe and had a good 30 minute run.

Here is the rest of the post…

I woke up this morning to CFAX 1070AM talking about the terrorist threat emanating from the UK. No liquids or gels are allowed in carry on baggage – there goes my hydration and hair styling. Tim Dewailley, sleeping on our couch last night, graciously drove me to the Victoria airport where I moved through the lines with relative ease. In fact, my WestJet flight arrived in Toronto five minutes early due to a tailwind – hopefully the first of a week of tailwinds!

After taking a cab home to Pickering, about an hour from the airport, I went for a run around the old neighbourhood. I ran by my elementary school, taking a moment to peer in the front door and reminisce about how our gym teacher, Mr. D, made everyone in the school run cross-country. I liked running then and did well enough, but upon entering high school I gave it up for grades nine and ten, just because I could. Without Mr. D coming to hound me everyday, I lost the motivation to run. As a Physical Education teacher now, I look back and realize how great it was that Mr. D got everyone out and running – the importance of activity at that age cannot be overstated. I eventually found my motivation again, and I ended up running cross-country in my last three years (yes, we went to grade 13) of high school as cross training for my other sports and to escape class more often. I sent a thought to Mr. D and continued on my way.

I had mentioned in the last post that it is taking a while for me to find my legs. I used to be hounded about “winning the warm up”, but now I am definitely taking it slow out of the gates. I started to find my legs around 20 minutes into my run, just as I was cruising down Finch Ave, passing a couple of teenage boys “doubling” on their bike. Man, I haven't seen doubling in years. That used to be such a great way to get around. Anyway, they called across the road to me, acknowledging that I was going faster than them. I am not so sure that it was me going fast, but rather that they were VERY unsteady on the bike and going very slowly, but either way, they seemed impressed that I was running. This may be a cultural difference between the suburbs of Toronto and the hyper-active community of Victoria, but it is not a good thing when teenagers find runners an interesting sight. Runners should not be a oddity.

The rest of the run felt good, had a big pasta dinner prepared by my mother, and took care of some errands. Tomorrow I am heading to a cottage near Peterborough where I am looking forward to spending time with old friends from Edwards Hall (my residence at McMaster University). I am actually excited to go for a little run with a number of the boys on Saturday morning. This is exciting because two years ago, I was running with one person, last year with three, and this year with five. The boys are getting in shape! That is why I love coaching; the enthusiasm of people rediscovering their inner athlete is inspiring to me. This exists in friends, the clinics I work with, and the individuals I coach. It is amazing to me!

Well, that is all for now. Thanks for reading and I hope your run is great!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006


I am a sucker for DVDs; however, it is not the high definition image nor the high fidelity sound that draw me into the purchasing them. I am a sucker for the behind the scenes stuff: the banter about the piece of art on the wall behind the main character and how the director stole it from his great aunt's garage when he was twelve and how it contributes to the mood change from the first act of the movie to the second.

I am that nerd.

But for that reason, the numbers that lay behind athletic performances always interest me as well. You know the ones; where Michael Jordan has missed 26 game winning shots or Wayne Greztky used 5 sticks per game*.

So, to that end, I will share some numbers with you on this night before I leave for Toronto.

Most Hours Run in one Week in preparation for the ENDURrun: 10 hours and 47 minutes

Number of Times I ran with Jasper Blake in preparation for the ENDURrun: 3

Number of Shoes I will wear during the ENDURrun: 3 - New Balance 825 (Half, 15k, 10 mile, 10k, Marathon), New Balance 872 (30k Trail, 16 mile Trail), New Balance 1060 (all warm up and cool down).

Number of times I emailed Lloyd Schmidt, the race director for the ENDURrun, asking all sorts of questions that he patiently answered for me: 4

Number of minutes that it now takes me to feel warmed up: 30

Number of beats per minute I have noticed my average heart rate drop (during a base run) since starting this training: 15

Number of degrees that I am used to training in: 22 degrees Celsius

Number of degrees that Waterloo is predicted to have on Sunday: 27 degrees Celsius (plus humidity)

Number of books I am taking with me: 3 - Training for Endurance by Dr. Phil Maffetone, The Best American Science Writing 2005 - edited by Alan Lightman, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close - Jonathon Safran Foer

Number of friends doing a stage of the ENDURrun as a guest runner: 2 (so far) - Stefan Timms, 10 miler; Jay Bentley, 10k

Number of comments so far on this blog: 1 - from Scott Dunlop (how cool is that?)

As I find more interesting numbers throughout this endeavour, I will post them.

Have a great run tomorrow!

*(note: I don't know how many sticks the Great One used per game. I totally made that up so this seemed more interesting.)

The Taper

The taper is in full swing, and as such, I am off to my massage. I wanted to set this blog up so that people would be able to check in with me as I tackle the Endurrun. This stage running race is going to be an exciting test of physical, mental, and emotional endurance, and I look forward to sharing my thoughts with anyone interested in reading. If you would like to ask a question or just leave a comment, I would encourage you to do so as I will have lots of time off after each race.

I look forward to sharing this experience with everyone.