Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Xmas

to all...

There are many beautiful things in the this world, and no matter how much consumerism may have robbed this holiday of its original meaning, we can still use the time to reflect on things and people important to us. In reflection there is appreciation.

And to all a good night.

PS. It is FREAKIN' cold in Ontario. My smile was frozen on my face whilst running back into the bitter wind yesterday. Brrrrrr. But I appreciate soup and hot chocolate and warm showers.

Friday, December 21, 2007

The Evening Run

After a day off yesterday I was eager to get out and stretch the legs. I am heading back to Onterrible tomorrow in the early afternoon, so I wanted to get in a longer run this evening. I went out into the darkness, which came as early as it will come this year, and made my way to Ironworkers' Memorial Bridge. I had it in my mind that I wanted to make this a strength run so it seemed to make sense that I would go up. I crossed the bridge, the water beneath me making its escape to the ocean as I escaped into the forest. The climb to the gazebo in Lynn Valley (or Canyon or Creek - I don't which one it is) Park is 25 minute climb up road, through a graveyard and finally along a dirt road.

The funny thing about hills is that they only last about 10 minutes, no matter the distance. After that first 10 minutes, the hills disappear. You become accustomed to the slower pace, the shorter stride, the higher heart rate. You accept the hill, and continue.

I turned at 42:30 and made my way back down the hill, covering the distance to the bottom of the hill in 15 minutes, 5 minutes faster than it had taken my to ascend. I meandered back over the bridge, along the TransCanada Trail and then home. A beautiful evening run.

Tomorrow I will be joining Eric to run the first 45 minutes of the Knee Knacker course, which is basically 45 minutes of climbing. I have run the last part of the Knee Knacker course a few times now, so I am interested in seeing the start. And after that it will be the snow of Ontario underneath my feet.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Misty Mountain Hop (Radiohead-style)

The most wonderful thing about snowshoe running is running downhill in powder.

The most terrible thing about snowshoe running is running uphill in the powder.


Downhill in Powder Fun > Uphill in Powder Terribleness

It was a fun, but very misty night atop Grouse last night, but the group was in fine spirits. Devoid of the views from last week, it became a surreal experience as we were actually running through cloud, over 1000m above Vancouver. The downhill was brilliant, as was the company of the leaders sharing a meal together at the "Bistro" (read: mid-price restaurant at the top of the hill).

And tonight, Xmas came early for me. I received the Radiohead "In Rainbows" discbox. It is a beautifully packaged vinyl and cd set of their latest album. I thought I had sent it to Pickering so that I would be sure to have it over the holidays, but I must have made an error and had it sent here. Thank you Santa! So tonight, it is me and Radiohead, snuggling* in the dark, as the vinyl plays for the first time.

*(I don't know how snugly Radiohead is, but you get the idea)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

It's raining again...

A easy run tonight in the floating rain. The usual route. 35 minutes. I started to feel good on the way home, the run from the weekend slowly leaking out of my legs.

I also found this article on streak running on the Prairie Inn Harriers website. The main focus is a guy by the name of Raven - a Forrest Gump like man who has run everyday since January 1, 1975. Take a look.

I thought I ran a lot....

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Out and (not quite) Back

Last week I wasn't able to make it to Deep Cove as I had a two-hour self-imposed time limit, so about 1/3 of the way down the last descent into Deep Cove, I had to turn around. Today, with no plans on the "To Do List", I resolved to make it to the end of the Baden Powell Trail, which is also the end of the Knee Knackering North Shore Trail Run.

The run itself was good, but I didn't realize that it would take 1:20 to get to the end of the trail. Enroute I passed two, yes two, lost dogs. One came up to me whimpering, so I had to stop (my watch). I hung out with teh golden retriever for about 5 minutes. The dog had no tag, so I began to wonder how I was going to resolve this as I was only 8 minutes into my run. I could take the dog with me, or I could try to understand the motions the dog was making toward the torrent of mountain run-off cascading through the canyon 50m below. Oh damn, I thought, did your owner fall into the water, because that is way too crazy. Fortunately the owner came running back looking for her dog and all was good. I was off again.

The one great thing about hometown races is that you get to know the course so well. I am really getting to know the portion of the course from Lynn Canyon to Deep Cove, but unfortunately for me that is the easiest part of the race.

The second lost dog wanted nothing to do with me, so I left it to its own devices. I tried (I DID!) to get it to come to me, I even faked treats, but it was having nothing to do with me, so I continued on.

The toughest part of the run was the 45 minute climb out of Deep Cove, starting the return to the car. I was hoping to even split the run, but there was little hope of the at as the way back is WAY harder. I had to make the "smart" decision to not complete the out and back, rather I took a short cut back to the car to finish the run in 2:40, instead of close to 3:00. This is "rest" time for me, and I had to remind myself of that and swallow my pride for my greater good.

But, unlike my friends and family in Ontario, there was now snow on the ground the 8 degree weather was just perfect.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Two down, one to go

First I committed to Boston.

Now, it is the ENDURrun.

The Knee Knacker is a lottery, so we'll see what happens with that....

I wish all those back east a happy (and safe) snow day tonight and tomorrow!

Friday, December 14, 2007

A Long Way Gone

In my class we are listening to (slash) reading the memoir A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah. It is an incredibly written, absolutely heart-wrenching account of his life, from young boy who loved rap music to becoming a child soldier and his journey to redemption. It has been interesting watching the boys in my class, the same age as Ishmael when he was fighting, listening to the story.

I have been listening to the story as an audiobook as well, mostly because I don't have time to sit down and read the novel. I have been listening to the story as I have been running, being alternatively horrified and laughing as I climb and descend the hills of the North Shore.

Tonight's run was a run that I felt should never end. Even though it was only 36 minutes long, I felt light and fully recovered, especially after a good adjustment and day off running yesterday. However, I made the mistake, today, of flipping ahead in the novel and briefly seeing what is to occur in the next chapter of Ishmael's life. So it was for two reasons that I didn't want my run to end.

Ishmael's story is remarkable, and after all the hardships that he has endured (and caused), it is a testament to his strength that he is able to sleep, let alone advocate about the plight of child soldiers.

A Long Way Gone
Interview with Ishmael Beah

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Place Where Everyone Knows Everyone Else's Name

A day off today. A visit to the chiro. An understanding that everyone in this town is connected. Dr. Pelly ran with Eric at SFU and the band that Tasha, the receptionist at The Pelly Clinic, is going to see tonight is Bedouin Soundclash, who are friends with Adam.

I feel lonely.

Yesterday was a great two hour run along the Baden-Powell trail toward Deep Cove. It ended up great, but it didn't start out well, with me swearing loudly after only 5 minutes. I had twisted my right ankle on the first downhill and I wasn't sure that I would be able to run back to the car, let alone for another 1:55. But after running back up the hill, cursing the air and ground, the ankle started to feel better. It might have been the cold air numbing the pain, or I may have been a baby, but I turned around and went back down the hill and finished the run.

I didn't quite make it to Deep Cove, but maybe next time. This cold weather is keeping me well bundled, but I don't mind it too much. It reminds of late night runs in Hamilton where I would run a video back to Jumbo Video and then run up the escarpment and home, usually following Yoda.

I am looking forward to snowshoeing on Wednesday! Hopefully there will be more snow on Grouse this time!

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Frosty the Morning (and a Santa sighting)

This morning, the frost was very light on the windshield of my car. It flew off lightly as I quickly scraped, hurrying to get into the car and out of the frozen air. But with frost clinging to everything it touched, I knew that the car was not going to provide respite from the cold. I blasted the hot air and drove over to Lynn Canyon, to meet Eric for 8:00am.

Eric, and my new favourite trail running dog, Angus, rolled up at 8:00am and we were off. I had asked Eric to show me around the trails this morning, and with the goal of around 90 minutes, we were off.

We crossed the canyon a couple of times, over the Twin Falls (Idaho) bridge and the Lynn Canyon Suspension bridge.

The from the Twin Falls bridge this morning.

Angus, as nimble as he was over all other terrain, balked a couple of times at bridges and had to be brought over the suspension bridge. It was pretty funny to see him take on bigger dogs, but still need Daddy to help him over the bridge.

Lynn Canyon Suspension bridge. Eric with Angus in hand.

The brave warriors make it across in one piece.

The overnight frost did help make the run cleaner. Most of the mud pits that had been created from the heavy rains of the last week were frozen over. The rocks were a little slippery, but nothing that was of any concern.

Rice Lake - don't tell me it doesn't get cold out here

Eric and I talked the run away, exchanging stories about races, lost runners, and him telling me where we were. A beautiful, crisp morning for a run. And Angus changed some of the thoughts I had about little dogs. He was pretty awesome out there this morning.

And last night I watched a rerun of Corner Gas that I hadn't seen before. Corner Gas is a great Canadian comedy if you aren't watching it already. The reason I bring it up is that the writers featured "blogs" in the episode. They had the dim-witted character, Hank, start a blog. It was especially funny because they featured an inner monologue through his day, the inner monologue was the blog he was composing while going throught the activities of his day. I often find myself doing the same on my runs - what will I write about? What is something funny that I can make seem important? Anyway, check out "Hank Talkin".

Oh yeah, I saw Santa today. Driving a bus. Weird. I took the picture stealthily, not wanting to upset him in the middle of his route.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Again to Carthage

If you have not had the chance to read "Once A Runner" by John L. Parker, good luck. Try a library, or if you are a bit more nerdy like I am, you can spend $50-$150 for this cult paperback (it is reported that there are only 100 000 in print). A novel about a young runner named Quentin Cassidy, it is a favourite among runners for the ability that Parker has to render the running experience into words.

Now, the long awaited sequel has been released. Actually, it was released a little while ago, but I just found out. I found out as I was loading my iPod with podcasts for my run this evening (a 30 minute EZ run toward town and back), and saw that Endurance Planet had an excerpt of the book as their podcast. Suh-weet. And it was.

Check it out here. (or use this url http://www.enduranceplanet.com/programs/12-07-07_Carthage.m3u)

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Bring on the snow!

Tonight was supposed to be about mud, especially since it was about 10 degrees in Vancouver all day with some rain. So when I got to Grouse Mountain this evening, I was not expecting to be snowshoeing. After filling out the requisite paperwork, Eric took some of the clinic leaders up the mountain and showed us around. I felt a little like a fraud as I had never been snowshoeing before. I have a had a pair of running snowshoes for about 4 years, but I have never used them. In fact, my friend Tim Dewailly is the only person to have worn my snowshoes, as he did a Yeti Snowshoe race a few years ago with them.

So it was with a big grin that we got off the tram to the top of the mountain and found the conditions much more favourable than we had anticipated. I would not have wanted to be snowboarding on that snow, but for snowshoeing it was perfect! We launched ourselves into the night and went by the reindeer, by the lake and hibernating grizzly bears (both the bears and reindeers were in pens, so don't worry!). We explored some of the terrain we will be taking guests out to and had some fun running down a ski slope!

I was surprised with how easy snowshoeing was. It felt very natural and was more fun than I was expecting. I am excited for this cross-training activity, especially with the planned active rest.

But the best part of the night was meeting the rest of the crew who will be leading the snowshoe clinic. They are a fun bunch of people and, thanks to meeting 5 of them tonight, I have officially doubled the number of people I know in Vancouver.

And for my new colleague Tom, here are the links to the Iceland pictures and race report.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Home for a rest

This used to be the signal that the night at the John (the old campus bar at McMaster) was over and the reality lights were about to come back on. Inevitably, there would be a girl looking over at me with amazement, thinking to herself, "Oh jeez, this was a mistake."

However, the phrase is used tonight, not to indicate that someone would rather be somewhere else, but instead that I have been placed on "active rest". I had a good chat with coach (John Hill) tonight and he told me to put the watch away and go run for a month (not continuoulsy), but not to think about it. If I feel good, go longer. If I feel tired, play video games (ok, he didn't say that, but I think it is a good plan). For anyone who has read Einstein's Dreams, it is akin to going to "body time", as opposed to "mechanical time".

I am actually quite excited about this. While the workouts have shown me what I am capable f, I think that this month of running for fun is important. I will go back to the Maffetone-type training that I was doing for the past couple of years and learn the trails in this part of the world.

Tonight though was a 10k tempo holding about 3:35/km. It felt good and I hit the same deserted road that I have been on for all of these runs. I was out in the fading daylight, so I actually saw some of the hills I have been running, and they are not nice. But these hills, done over and over, are going to help me better (I have to remind myself of that). I think I will do some tempo over the next month, but nothing more than 40 minutes of effort and not too often. I am enjoying the feeling of running quickly in the dark too much to not do it once in a while.

The rain is supposed to subside over the next couple of days, which will be good, but I am curious how my first snowshoeing adventure at Grouse Mountain will go tomorrow since the temperatures hit about 11 degrees today. Might be a little slushy, but a lot of fun!

And while the rest of Canada gets winter....

we get rain. and lots of it.

No runs to speak of since Saturday. I have a 10k tempo tonight, so I hopefully the rains that brought Noah's flood will have eased before then.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Gunner Shaw Part Two

So it was the Vancouver version of Gunner Shaw this time around, and it was not much like the Victoria version. Where the Victoria one is gnarly, the Vancouver one is relentless. Where Victoria is technical, Vancouver is strength. And where Victoria is wet, at least this year the Vancouver one was cold and slippery.

A Light Dusting

The temperature when I left the house was a balmy -1 and the snow had just started to fall. The light flakes were dry, and while they would not pose any immediate difficulty, the light dusting added a layer of slickness to the course. Perusing the chatlines from other running clubs (www.pih.bc.ca), they suggested spikes, which unfortunately I don't own. I thought that spikes might have been a bit of overkill, but that thought just demonstrated my ignorance of the course.

I saw Eric Langhjelm as I arrived and he was kind enough to direct me to the registration table. After a quick and easy registration I walked back out into the elements. I was wearing a full base layer of merino wool, yet still shivering. Someone, I have forgotten who, commented that it was -7 with the wind. Not quite typical Vancouver weather, but I appreciated the elements as this race is not for, quoting Bob Reid, "sissies".

The Frozen Creek

The race started and I tucked in behind a couple of guys, placing myself in fourth. The lead runner went off the front pretty quick, but after the initial 400m didn't we kept pace with him, so his lead did not get any larger. The pace felt comfortable to me and, as I didn't know the course, I thought it prudent to stay behind some people who did.

The Beach

As we reached the beach section on the first lap I was thankful that there were people in front of me to break the whistling wind. We trudged through the sand and emerged onto more stable ground and I decided to go after the guy in front. I tried to bridge up to the person on front, but that didn't work out as well as I had planned. After evenly pacing him for the first 2k, the lead runner put 100m on me each time I saw him. It was like he decided to start racing and left us.

I completed the first lap in 17:00, which wasn't bad; however, the second lap would prove to be a little tougher. As my fatigue increased, my form decreased, and as a result my footing become more precarious. I had felt decent through the first lap, but it was on the second lap that I realized how much I had underestimated the value of spike on this course. I ran decently well through the lap, but around 8.5k I was caught by one of the guys I was running with at the beginning. He went by me easily and continued to extend his lead to the finish. With Eric yelling at me from 50m back, I kept my focus and tried to push through to the end.

My time was respectable and I ended up 3rd. Not the best race, but a good one in tough conditions. I had a very good two weeks of running with a breakthrough workout last week with VFAC and a breakthrough race last weekend. As well, I ran a 13k on Tuesday and had a good hill workout a couple of days ago. I am pleased with where I am right now and it is know time to start snowshoeing and some fun in the trails. The next big race is in February - The First Half 1/2 Marathon. But there are many miles of trials before then...

Friday, November 30, 2007

VFAC Thursday

A smaller group out last night. It was a beautiful night for running, but the workout itself was ok. It was the same workout I did on my first night with the group, so it was good to know the route. I felt fine, but a little heavy from the 13k tempo on Tuesday and Gunner last Saturday.

This Saturday brings with it the Vancouver version of Gunner Shaw. Apparently there is water in this one as well, but as it is a two loop course, we get it twice. Good times.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Gunner Shaw - Part One

Thanks to Tony Austin and Mark Creery for all of this year's fantastic pictures. I don't have a credit for the older one.

Gunner Shaw is a man I never met. According to people and websites, he was a great runner and a great person. The reason I have never met him is that he died at the age of 39 in a car accident. This was in 1984 and I just raced in the 24th Annual Gunner Shaw Memorial Cross Country race in Victoria. This is the first of two Gunner Shaw Cross Country races I will be racing this year - the second being at Jericho Beach in Vancouver next weekend.

The Victoria version (Part One) is my favourite race of the year. It is a no frills, bare bones, hang it all out kind of race. There is a "puddle" that we run through and the end of the race is in a lake. This is the race that turned me on to trail racing. For time immemorial, if it is humanly possible for me to be at this race, I will.

The "Puddle" this year

The "Puddle" in years past. That is Frontrunners owner Rob Reid leading the Gunner Shaw.

Yesterday saw perfect running conditions. That meant it was terrible Gunner Shaw conditions. Bob Reid, the race director, cringes if it is not raining, 0 degrees, with the "puddle" navel-deep and covered with ice (for example - last year saw "perfect" Gunner Shaw conditions). The "sissies" edition this year may be a reason that there were over 500 registered participants, making this the largest cross country race in Canadian history.

Jim Finlayson and Lucy Smith, two iconic Victoria runners, were the winners of the race in their inaugural runs of the Gunner Shaw. While warming up with Jim, I asked him if he ever trains at Thetis. His response, dead panned, was...

"I have run here twice, each time for the Thetis Lake Relays. I got lost once." (The Thetis Lake Relays course is a loop around the lake and it takes effort to get lost. I thought that this played into my favour...)

The start of the race saw some yahoos running out front, shirtless and smiling. They would later be crossing the finish line cold and wet and (hopefully) still smiling. After a few hills, approaching the first bridge, the field had sorted itself out and I was a little further forward than I was used to being. This meant that I could still see Jim, Stefan, and Eric, which was definitely a bit surreal. I felt strong, but I wondered how long things would last.

We summited the first true hill of the course and I moved in front of Eric prior to a technical downhill. Coming around the corner to the "puddle" I saw Stefan and Jim about halfway through.

Stefan and Jim breaking the ice for me.

After the puddle, I had pulled up next to Jim but once we could our feel our legs again, Jim decided that he wanted to start running fast, and that was pretty much the last Stefan and I saw of him.

For the rest of the race I talked myself into staying with Stefan. Again, I was unsure of myself, running on the shoulder of Jaker for so long. However, the longer I was there, the more comfortable I felt. I took the lead a couple of times, but realized that I was better off to stay tucked in behind, knowing that Stefan is a much better climber than I am. But I definitely felt Eric catching us a couple of times, so I would try to get Jaker to push the pace a little to make sure we didn't get caught.

Stefan's crazy legs kept him in front of me.

As we approached the last 800m, there was a good sized hill which Jaker gapped me on and, try as might, I couldn't catch him running through the lake. I ended up 3rd overall, and had a great time in doing so.

Running with VFAC and John Hill, with guys like Paul, Simon, Jay, and Ynuk has been very beneficial for me as I am learning how to run quickly. The base training from the past couple of years is paying off now as I am layering on some more speed. This is going to be fun winter.

However, the best part of the day was seeing the huge grin on my good friend Jay Bentley as he finished his first Gunner Shaw. He was excited and stoked after the race, even though he was a little tentative about doing the race in the days leading up. He took the start line and had all the requisite war stories about the race afterward. I love seeing how this race affects people!

Stay tuned for Gunner Shaw Part Two as I race in the Vancouver version next weekend.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

VFAC Thursday

With the moon shining bright once again, and the brisk air causing a slight shiver prior to the start of the workout, I set out for 2 x 3 miles around Stanley Park. Some of the big boys were out tonight - Paul Krochak has his marathon in Sacramento in 10 days so he was looking for one last solid workout and Simon Driver was out to pace him; Ynuk returned from his Australian holiday to join the fray. With Gunner Shaw coming up this weekend, I wanted to be controlled, but the night did not allow for that. The weather was perfect and the darkness concealed the hills. I ran well for the first 3 miles (16:15) and, in consultation with John, I went out with the boys on the second one to see how long I could stay with them (Paul went about a minute faster than me for the first three miles).

As the second loop began I became acutely aware of the moment. The moon lighting the road as it did the other night, four of us running hard together with the lights of Vancouver reflecting off the ocean as we circumnavigated Stanley Park. And me, I felt smooth. And we ran fast. And I smiled. Broadly. It was an amazing 1.5 miles that I ran before I decided enough was enough. I could have struggled through the second half of the loop, but my better sense prevailed and I shut it down in anticipation of letting it back out on Saturday. Hopefully. Regardless, it was a great evening workout and I left feeling fulfilled.

Paul looks sharp for Sacramento. Simon is fit and Ynuk, coming off jetlag and vacation is running well. This bodes well for the winter.

On a more disappointing note, Bob Reid (Gunner Shaw Race Director) had this to say about his race this year....

The 2007 Gunner Shaw course is a race for sissies. There is not only a lack of puddles and mud, but I had to re-route the finish using Trillium Trail rather than the rock stairs. The result is that you are only running a little over 9K this year. Next year Gunner will be a certified BCA sanctioned event. I have measured the 2008 course with a wheel and added 800 metres to the old course so it is precisely 10K now.

I will make my ferry reservation for next November now. But I am concerned that the old Gunner courses were 9.2k? That means my times were not nearly what I thought. We had always pegged it at about 9.6k, but 9.2k is quite short. I guess the wading through a 200m, 2.5 ft deep puddle made up for the shortness of the course.

See you at Gunner!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

"I'm throwing rocks tonight!"

name the movie.

No run tonight (I am taking more off days to allow for more recovery as I increase the intensity of other runs). As it was Jay's birthday, Sonja, Jay and I went out to a great Italian dinner at Vita Bella.

After a divine meal, we meandered over to BOWLING!!

The black lights were on and Salt'n'Peppa were in full effect. We strode confidently to our lane and proceeded to run 'tings. Jay bowled an impressive 168 and Sonja followed up with solid 99. I started with an 8 in the first frame and followed that up with 8 straight strikes. I was better than Jesus (not our Lord and Saviour, but Hey-zeus, from The Big Lebowski - see "name the movie"). I finished with a 239. I followed that game with a 121, dropping the average quite drastically.

This goes to show that you never know when your big performance will come. I am now worried about Gunner this weekend. Not so much because The Flying Finn is in it, but because I have used up all my good performance power on bowling.


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Night Shadows

An 11k tempo run was on the schedule for this evening.

I hurried home from school in order to maximize the light as I was heading back to Lynn Valley, the site of my long run on Sunday. Mike and Gray had shown me a road which was marked every kilometer for 10k. It also happened to be beautifully paved and was not open to vehicles. This road also ran through a conservation area forest, surrounded by trees on either side, with bridges spanning fast flowing creeks and small rivers. Imagine your perfect road, rolling hills, no cars or lights, kilometers marked, still cool air and the moon shining bright enough that the breaks in the trees look bright.

Tonight was a pretty surreal run. I may even look forward to tempo runs...

Monday, November 19, 2007

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Sunday Morning Beauty

My drive to the north shore trails.

After the rain from yesterday left the coast, the sun and fall air emerged. It was dry in the air, but the trails were still gushing with water. The plan was to run out the Baden Powell trail again this week, toward Deep Cove. This plan didn't even make it out of the car, because as I stepped out to start my run, Mike Medland and Gray Taylor emerged from the trail. As shoe reps that I had worked with during my Frontrunners time, it was great to see them out on the trail. A kind offer for me to join them and we were off. I am not entirely sure where we went, but it was beautiful and fun.

After about an hour together, they dropped me off near the gates of Lynn Creek, leaving me with directions for another hour loop. I continued on my way, discovering some amazing new places. The "Long Loop" was pretty amazing. The first part was quite gnarly - lots of water, roots and rocks.

It eventually opened up and was more runnable (I just made a new word) and I cruised back to the Lynn Creek gates. Rather than taking the boring road back to the car, I chose to follow the trails, which I forgot included another 300 stairs. The good part was that I ran into Chris Downie, another VFAC member, and we made plans to run part of the Knee Knacker in two weeks time. Twenty minutes later, I was done my run. A beautiful morning with some random run-ins and two and a half hours of beautiful scenery.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Saturday Morning Fog

And by fog, I mean rain that doesn't really fall. I think this is something that I will have to get used to here in Vancouver. However, being in the trails of Stanley Park in November Rain (ahh...G'n'R) is somewhat satisfying.

The workout today involved the famous 1 5/8 mile loop in Stanley Park. Apparently, if you speak to people who are in the know, they know ALL about it. There are records for it and a stake at halfway to let you know that you are, well, halfway. We did a full loop, 2/3 of a loop (2k) and 1/3 of the loop (1500m). John Hill, the VFAC coach, had us out there running hard, avoiding mud, dogs, walkers, and each other. It was a fun morning, especially when fast Jay showed up for the last two intervals. I ran well and felt good, although the first interval there was a little tightness in the hip flexors; however, after cresting the first hill it dissipated and the rest of the workout went well.

8:12 1 5/8 miles
6:08 2k (net downhill)
3:44 1500m (net downhill)

In more exciting news, I registered for Gunner Shaw today (the Victoria version). I am pretty excited to be back on the Island and running in Thetis Lake. I am hoping that the puddle won't have ice on it this year, as that was not much fun last fall.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Thursday Workout

Tonight was back at Stanley Park with the VFAC crew. 4 x 800m with two hills in each repeats and one stride uphill during the recovery. The light rain was tenable and the wind was enough to keep you cursing. I started controlled as I was unfamiliar with the workout and the terrain. Both Simon Driver and Paul Korchak were coming off big runs this Monday and so I was able to hang around them for most of the workout. This was fun, especially knowing that I won't be that close to them very often.

I held 3:00 flat for my first three and then descended to 2:54 for the last one. Legs felt strong and it was great to have those two out in front as it gave me a chance to play with my stride and see the effects. I definitely have to shorten my stride for the uphills as I was able to stay with them easier when I did this. It feels weird, but it worked. A good workout overall, and I am feeling good about running right now.

On another note....

Paging Jim Finlayson. I have a question for you.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

A couple of days gone...

Just a quick update...

Monday was a wonderful recovery run in the blustery, but dry, weather that was Vancouver on Monday. The remnants of a big storm tried their best to knock me down, but to no avail as I was stronger than wind! (God may smite me for that one.)

Tonight was a tempo run that ended up being decent, but not what I had expected. I have learned that planning a route on google maps and then running it in real life is not as easy as you would think it is, especially in the dark. I got 36 minutes of good tempo under me, even though I was NOWHERE near where I was supposed to be. I don't even know how it happened!?!

Monday - 45:00 EZ
Tuesday - 36:00 tempo

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Yours To Discover

For those who remember this slogan from Ontario, it applies well to my life here right now. At least my running life.

I had 1:45 on the schedule today, but after being awoken by loud voices intruding into my bedroom via the slightly open window, my motivation was still sleeping. The looming clouds across the inlet also reminded me that Vancouver is going to be wet for the next few months, and that there is no escaping the falling water. I preoccupied myself with some email and some web surfing in an effort to escape the run, but knowing that it was only going to get worse as the day wore on, I donned my running garb and grabbed my iPod, knowing that four episodes of Pardon The Interruption would help me get through the run.

I decided to explore the Baden Powell trail because it is famous and runs the entire length of the North Shore. I have not really had a chance to run on it yet as weekend races have made it difficult to get out for longer trail runs. But this idea allowed me to have a focus on the run and, with a focus, I drove to the bottom of Lynn Canyon and found my way to the trail. I went east, toward Deep Cove, and was astounded. It was very rocky and rooty, and quite wet, but incredibly beautiful. This is the trail that the Knee Knacker follows, so thoughts of the race danced in my head as I stepped lightly over wet roots and rocks, and bridges spanning gorges of fast flowing rapids. I am excited to continue to explore this new (to me) trail over the coming months and, hopefully, have a good race on it come June.

Duration - 1:45 EZ (680m ascent)

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Meanwhile, back at the track...

Brad was completing his first track workout in a very long time. In another life, the track was an integral part of his weekly routine - being driven out to Centennial Stadium in Oshawa to train with the Durham XL's. Jason Brumley and Jason Bacchiochi (sp?) kicking his butt all over the place. Hurdles and 400s were his race, but now, years have passed, and even though the sun was shining in rainy Vancouver, this was not going to be like it was.

The blue track of Point Grey Secondary School was inviting and everyone that showed up for the 9:15am start left and completed their warm up. The coach, John Hill, gave pace times to the group and started them off. Brad was to run 69 second 400's for this 10 x 400m workout.

It started a little slow, with a 73 second first quarter. During the 200m recovery (about 1:45) he reminisced about how easy 67s had used to feel. This reminiscing was cut short by the start of the second interval. The running didn't feel laboured or overly difficult, but the turnover and stride length were hiding. They would hide until about the 6th interval when they would emerge, after which 67s felt easy again.

The workout ended with a long talk with Coach about the plans for the the next year and the next two weeks of running. A beautiful morning on the track and in the fresh and pleasantly dry Vancouver air.

10 x 400 on 200m recovery (avg recovery 1:50)

Friday, November 09, 2007

They can't kick me out now!

If it wasn't official before, it is now. I received my 2008 Boston Marathon acceptance card in the mail today. Pretty exciting. I also received my order from Speed Stacks, although those are for my classroom. And yesterday I received a french magazine from Christophe, the guy I ran with in Iceland. He was shooting pictures during the race and I ended up in the magazine. Some pretty amazing shots.

One from when I was doing well....

One from when I wasn't doing as well...

Thursday, November 08, 2007

The Park in the dark

I rode my bike down Hastings St to Stanley Park for the VFAC Thursday night workout. A forty minute ride through some of the more interesting parts of Vancouver and I was there. Stanley Park is beautiful, and this warm, rainless evening was not going to change that impression. In the light of the towering condos and boats in the marina, the VFAC crew ran along the seawall, completing a workout I have never done.

The workout was 1 x 4miles, 2 x 1 mile, all with full recovery. It is interesting running the semi-darkness along the seawall, dodging other runners and the occasional dog. I had taken a couple of days off as a commitment to my chiropractor that I would take it easy this week, so I was a little tapered for the workout. I ended up running 22:26 for the four miles, and my two one mile repeats were 5:15 and 5:10. I felt good throughout the workout, although my calves are a little tight right now - I am not used to that kind of speed recently.

The plan right now is to run the two Gunner Shaw races (one in Victoria and one in Vancouver) and possibly the Khahtsahlano 15k this coming Monday. Eric runs this race as well, so I know it will be a good one - it may be a good tempo run (and hilly at that!)

Tonight was fun. Running in the dark is fun. Running with people is fun. Running fast is fun. Good times all around.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Faux Anniversary

Since Sonja and I don't really have a day that we first started "dating" but rather a period of time, tonight was our Faux Anniversary. We had a nice dinner at a nearby Italian restaurant (vita bella) and then went to see Craig Cardiff in concert. However, due to it being late and us being tired (and old and maybe lame) we came home early.

However, I am going to see Craig on Friday and to make amends for leaving his show tonight early, here is a Cardiff performance. You should also check him out at www.craigcardiff.com He is a brilliant singer/songwriter and all around great guy.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

A commitment is a commitment

I am writing because I said I would, not because I have a lot to say.

I ran on Sunday and Monday and checked out a new chiro tonight. It is Craig Cardiff tomorrow night and VFAC workout on Thursday.

Other than that
- Simon won in Cancun, but Brent McMahon and Paul Tichelaar, two other Canadians, were 2nd and 4th, respectively. Awesome work, boys!
- Jasper and the crew are somewhere in Nepal doing something amazing.
- I have registered for Boston; accommodation, flight, and entry are done.
- Gunner Shaw is coming up and I am disappointed that Bob Reid showed people the course. I wanted everyone to be running blind! How fun would that be? (Not literally, just that we wouldn't know what is coming up next).

That is all. I am excited to see Mike's prep for his marathon - I call for a great race!

Sunday, November 04, 2007


Ha. Figure that one out.

Haney 2 Harrison was interesting. It was fun, most definitely. I saw some old friends (Hi Jen!) and made some new ones (Hi VFAC!). I ran decently, but not amazing. And we came fourth. But is wasn't a simple as that.

The day started off in the dark with a lot of enthusiasm and expectation. We had a strong team and VFAC was hoping to podium. The event consists of teams of 8 runners running different lengths of stages, but the total distance is 100k. We were in the second wave start, 6:30am, and cheered our first team member, Jorge, on as they ran into the darkness of morning. It was drizzling and cold and very dark. This is where the race went downhill.

We drove ahead in our car and waited at about 4k for the runners. There were slower runners from the first wave trickling through still, Chris and Jeff and I chatted about the strategy for the day and hoped to see in the top three positions. We became concerned when another team member's father ran past us and we still hadn't seen Jorge. We figured we missed him the dark and drove to the end of stage one hoping to find him. While we were waiting for Jorge and having trouble seeing him (and others) due to the drizzle and lack of light, he and about 10 other people missed the first turn of the race and ended up about 5k off track. There was apparently no marshall at the turn and everyone went of course, some more than others. Jorge ran back to the start of the race and eventually made his way to the finish of the stage - good for 73rd overall for that stage.

The hand off to Simon Driver was made and we were in 4th by the end of the next stage, a position we would keep for the rest of the race. The boys ran hard and ran well, but it was very lonely out there as we were 15 minutes behind the top three and about 40 minutes ahead of the next team. It was 6 degrees and the rain was floating more than falling. I felt ok about my stage - 13.08k of rolling highway. I ran 3:34 pace, good for 4th in the stage overall, but lost time to the guys ahead of me; however, those guys usually beat me, although not by that much. The day finished and we wondered about what could have been. I was impressed by the support shown for each other and the desire to perform well even in imperfect situations.

The conversation at the pub after was great. There wasn't a lot of hang wringing about going off course and no one was really bitter, although we were definitely disappointed about not being in the mix. But the talk was about training and future running and goals - very geeky running talk (the value of VO2 versus vVO2, ideal cross-training for injuries, and figure skating - don't ask.)

Overall, a very good introduction to the VFAC club. I got to put faces to names that were always way ahead of me in results and it is going to be fun to have these to chase them in workout. But the group is supportive and fun and that is the key to success. Thanks to Jeff, Chris, Ynuk, Jay, Graeme, and Paul for a fun and educational day.

Friday, November 02, 2007

And we're back...(fuller update)

Note: After reading Eric Langhjelm's blog, I felt that I needed to add some more about the Hallow's Eve Trail Half Marathon. See the update in italics below.

After a hiatus from posting due in part to having not enough time to write, I am going to try to blog more often. In fact, there is a whole initiative amongst the blogging community call NaBloPoMo in which you are supposed to post every day for one month. I am not saying that I can complete this event (especially since I missed the first day yesterday), but I will try.

(Yeah yeah, I know I have said that before.)

So, since we last spoke, I have come 8th in a trail half-marathon on the North Shore of Vancouver, a mere 15 minutes from my new residence. In most cases, I would be disappointed with 8th, but this was one of the deepest trail race fields I have seen. In fact, I was running right around where I though I should be, but there were many many fast people there which always makes it fun. I had been prerunning parts of the course in the two weeks leading up to the event, and I didn't think it was going to be that difficult. There were some difficult parts, but nothing that I thought was too insane. However, I did not run one very, very important part of the course, the Baden-Powell loop.

Before the race, Eric, the race director, told us that there were 1700 total stairs in the race. I still find that hard to believe, but I believe that Eric would go out and count them. The course started with a uphill road run through a nice cemetery (very appropriate for the theme of the race - of which there were many costumed runners; I wore orange and black). A group of about 12 people jumped out to the front, with Adam Campbell, Simon Driver, and Mark Bates in there. I sat back as the uphill start was going to be about 2k long and I could do some serious damage to my race if I tried to stay with those guys going up.

We got into the forest and I quickly caught back up to what was now the second pack, the leaders having already distanced themselves. The race was a windy trail through open forest and then a steep descent to a boardwalk and the first stairs. It was a race of two peaks, the first one coming about 8k in, after a grueling climb of stairs. I was not expecting that, nor was I expecting the dirt road climb AFTER the stairs. But the downhill made it all worthwhile!

The second climb I was ready for only because I had stumbled across the route two days prior, but in reverse direction. Again, it was a steep climb up, but it was good. I was fortunate to be around Katrina Driver (Simon's wife and one heck of a runner) and another guy who I had caught. At the end of the this climb in Lynn Valley, it was essentially a downhill 4-5k run to the finish - some technical stuff at the start and then road running at the finish.

As usual, Eric puts on a great event. The atmosphere was great and the course was well chosen. Eric had said that all the races he does are his favourite training routes. My race went well, but at this time of the year I am looking for the races to be fun and I am not too concerned about the results.

While the race was good, the most intriguing part of it was the cool down. I ran with Adam Campbell, a good friend form Victoria, and Simon and Katrina Drive, the overall male and femal winners. In fact, I barely held off Katrina for 8th place - the girl can climb AND descend. Anyway, the cool down was intriguing because Simon told me about his run club, Vancouver Falcons (VFAC), and invited me to come out. I listened politely and asked a few questions, but wasn't really too interested. I have been coaching myself to some good results in the past two years and didn't really want to commit to weekly runs. I was more interested in somehow convincing Simon to let me join him in some of his trail running training. We finished our cool down and I came home and persued the VFAC.ca site. I have been looking at some different coaching options of late, mostly reading more about Lydiard and Daniels and looking to incorporate their philosophies into what I believe about Maffetone (the real running geeks will understand all that). But after spending some time on the VFAC site I began to change my mind. The tone of the site was very supportive and there were some very good athletes training there. As well, many people were setting personal bests in a number of different distances. I emailed the coach, John Hill, and after an hour on the phone I decided to give it a shot.

That decision has landed me on the VFAC relay team for the Haney 2 Harrison 100km relays race. It is an epic and infamous race held about 45 minutes from here and while I have heard a lot about it, I have never had the chance to be a part of it. Some unfortunate injuries left the VFAC Open Men's team short a runner, so Simon put forward my name and now I am waking up at 4:00am to drive out to the 6:30am start. This will be fun, but I will be a tired boy tomorrow night.

So there is the update and my commitment to post more this months has begun.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Weekend Warrior

Well, maybe not a warrior, but it was a great weekend of running.

This is the first weekend in a while that I didn't have a race or any other type of commitment. I took advantage of this by going over to the North Shore and exploring some trail there.

Saturday was a light 35 minutes around Lynn Creek Valley and this morning was an hour or so exploring the route of the Hallow's Eve trail race, which occurs in a couple of weeks. I found a suspension bridge and Twin Falls - pretty incredible sights. Not the single track like Thetis, but a good place to go (and only 15 minute drive away)!

The legs feel quite good, but no intensity for another week, then I will build back to 2 hour trail jaunts. Motivation is good and body is feeling good.

And mad props to Sam McGlone and Jasper Blake, for different reasons. Sam for being a stud and coming second in her first Ironman (oh, it was the World Championships) and to Jasper for going for it, even if it didn't work out this time.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Post-post marathon musings...

  • I am recovering well. That may be due to the (very) slow last quarter of a marathon.
  • I am making sure I am not overdoing it. 3 x 25 minutes so far this week.
  • Jerry Ziak, who ran a 2:17 marathon, also had issues while running the Toronto Waterfront Marathon.
  • There are some ENDURrun athletes going to Boston, which means more fun for me!
  • There is NOWHERE around here that is flat. Even recovery runs are hilly.
  • Work doesn't stop for running.
  • The painting/fixing of our place is almost done, which means a clean house for us!
  • K'naan cancelled his show in Van. That sucks.
  • Craig Cardiff and pretty much all of the Arts and Crafts label are coming to Van in the next month. That is cool.
  • The new Radiohead is quite good. And they are touring in '08.
  • Read Jazz's blog. He is racing Kona this weekend.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Post-Race Breakdown

2005 49th place Time: 2:59:58 Half-split 1:24:11
2007 44th place Time: 2:59:27 Half-split 1:21:28

Two years apart. 3o seconds apart. It seems as though I am destined to run 2:59 on this course, FOREVER. Well, ok, maybe a bit of hyperbole, but I couldn't believe the similarity of this race to the one two years ago.

The start of the race was picture perfect. No rain. Cool weather. Slight cloud cover with some sun breaking through. Ideal race conditions. "If you are going to do it, today is the day do it."

The first kilometre was great. A little slow - 3:55 - which is what I wanted. I would have to run 3:48min/km to reach the gold goal of 2:39:xx, but I didn't want to start out to quickly. I settled into a steady, easy rhythm and was pleased to see that most of my kilometer splits were a few seconds too slow. The easiest way to ruin a marathon is to be a few too seconds too fast in the early going. I also proved that that is not the only way to ruin a marathon.

Through 5km I felt good and by 10k I was about a minute off pace. I didn't let that bother me too much as it was my intention to be a little slow in the first part of the race, thinking that I would be able to make up the time later in the race.

The day continued to unfold well. I started to pass a number of people quite convincingly. I had moved through about 7 or 8 people in the time between 8k and 16k. At 10 miles (16k) I was back on pace and feeling relatively good about things. I had, at that time, put myself in a position to achieve 2:40. But things were beginning to feel a little laboured. Just a little. But that is not the time you want to feel anything but exceptional.

I went through the halfway point in 1:21:27. I was ok with that. A little slow, but that is better than too fast. Or so I thought.

From there things went downhill slowly. I felt good for about another 5k, but then started to feel things get a little heavier. The road home is long and winding one, with a few hills thrown in for fun. While I was slowly starting to feel the race leave me behind, I had the highlight of the race. At the top of a small hill near the end of the Victoria Golf Course, there was a line of students (and one awesome colleague) performing the wave for me. Their energy carried me down the hill and past two more sets of students who were volunteering. If only they could have been at every corner for the rest of the run.

This time, two years later, the cramping started 50m before the spot it did in 2005. The left hamstring. Seized. Completely. I came to a complete stop about 250m after seeing Trevor, Jen, and Sonja (they were superstars, being everywhere on the course, watching the gradual decline). This was Oak Bay. I stopped. Stretched. Ate some salt. And started onwards.

This time, two years later, the lead woman - Suzzanne Evans - passed me 50m before she did in 2005. And she looked strong. I tried to get on the train, but was unable to hold the pace for more than 100m. This was nearing Fairfield.

And so it continued. People passing me. Cramping. And watch watching. I have 40 minutes for 5k. That is 8 min/k. I can run 5k in 40 minutes. Even with cramping. Can't I?

The clouds have covered more of the sky at this point and the rain had started, but it wouldn't fall in earnest until I was within 1km of the finish. I saw Stefan Jakobsen, a great athlete (runner, cyclist, triathlete), and one of the nicest people in the world (literally), about 8oom from the finish. Stefan was supposed to have been racing, but a calf injury had kept him as a a spectator on this day. The reason I knew it was him was that I was able to carry on a full conversation with him as my left hamstring refused to stop cramping. I was stranded in the middle of the road, with people encouraging me to run when those who have experienced a full muscle spasm know that there is nothing you can do until it releases. Stefan was understanding and just encouraged me to move forward. I had about 12 minutes to move 800m in order to qualify for Boston. Doesn't seem like to would be hard to do, but I was afraid that if my leg(s) didn't release, or if both legs went at the same time, I might be forced to run another marathon in order to get a qualifying time.

Stefan's suggestion worked though. I moved forward, very slowly at first, and then into a Terry Fox-like shuffle, and then into a running shuffle. The main goal was not to cramp before the finish line.

And with that, the rain starting to fall with purpose, and the temperature dropping, I approached the finish line. No sprint finish. No triumphant yawp. A glance up toward Bob Reid who was in booth above the finish and a hug from Rob Reid on the ground. A long day, but in the end I got what I came for. I can now register for Boston.

A HUGE thanks to my many friends out on the course who shouted encouragement at every point of the run. As mentioned before, Jen, Trevor, and Sonja were spectacular, and it warmed my heart to see former students out on the course (especially the bald ones - good for all of you!) And I was able to meet PK for the first time as well. That was pretty cool! (Hi Jennie!)

This morning was spent researching marathon training programs. I need to deal with this cramping and the last 12k. Suggestions are welcome. But for now, a week or two of downtime before beginning back into some good base mileage and a strength program.

Lots more to follow.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Pre-Race Ramble


That is the time that I woke up this morning. Jen and Trevor have kindly allowed Sonja and I to stay here this weekend, but my body is still in Burnaby. I wake up at 6:06am each morning for school, so 6:26 was a bit of a sleep in. My stomach, used to nourishment shortly thereafter, woke up as well. It is amazing the pattern that the body gets used to, the rhythm it finds when the same pattern is repeated day in and day out.

I have heard a few different numbers, but they are not that far off - 10 years/10 000 hours or the one I have read recently is 15 years. That is how long it takes to truly master a skill. To become an Olympic athlete requires a decade of training. Consistent training. 10 000 hours worth of training. Same rules apply to concert pianist. But not only that but you need to have a master mentor/coach in order to fully realize the potential of the training. Consistent training.

It might be this consistency of waking up 6:06am that allows my body to almost
"switch on" in the morning. I am trained myself to get up early. Is that my Olympic calibre skill? Waking up? Oh, what of my life if it is?

"Brad Cunningham passed away today at the age of 101. Known for many things throughout his life, he will be most remembered as being able to wake from sleep at a given time each day without and alarm clock."

Not much of an obit...

But I digress (mostly because I have time to); I have woken up back in Victoria. Driving in from the Nanaimo ferry last night, Victoria seemed much smaller. Living in Vancouver will make many places seem smaller, but for the first time I felt the "quaintness" that everyone speaks off. Everything you need is here, but it is not far away. And the buildings are smaller. The streets are calmer. And the marathon? Well, the marathon, I am sure, will be the same length.

I woke up at 6:26am this morning and could not fall back asleep. 3:44min/km danced in my head. I have been playing with numbers this week, trying to find a pace to start at. I did some mile repeats at the SFU track and found that I had a hard time going slow enough to hit my marathon pace, but that is quite normal in running a one mile repeat. 3:44 is a bit fast. Should be more like 3:48 to start. The worst thing I could do tomorrow is run a 3:35 for my first kilometer. 3:55 would, in a counterintuitive kind of way, be WAY better than a 3:35.

I tell people I coach that they should have three goals heading into an important race. I, and I am sure many others, call them the Gold, Silver and Bronze goals. Bronze is the one you KNOW you can do, even when things go wrong. Silver is your realistic one, and Gold is your dream goal. It is important to have more than one option during the race, because when something goes wrong, you can refocus your energy to achieving on of the other goals. You always shoot for the Gold goal, you put yourself into a position to have a shot at the Gold goal, but in case that doesn't work out, the other two goals are there for you. The other thing we know about goal setting is that you have to tell people your goals so that you are accountable for them. So here goes...

Bronze - 3:10

This is the qualifying time for Boston and I am pretty sure that I can run this even if I need to walk due to cramping or some other issue. To understand this goal, it is important to know that the reason I am running this marathon is a number of my friends had lightly committed to going to Boston in 2008, so I need a qualifying time in order to join them on the start line in Boston. (ed. With new babies and new houses and other commitments, I am not sure how many of the aforementioned friends are going to be able to make it, but I think I am going to go regardless)

Silver - 2:45

2:45 is the time that I have had in my head since my first marathon. This is the time I have always felt I could run, but haven't yet (2:59:58 and 2:55:36 were my other two marathons). The taper for my first marathon was an amazing two week school canoe trip off the west coast of Vancouver Island. I ended up walking good chunks off the last 8km of that race. My second marathon was at the end of the ENDURrun, capping off 100 miles of racing in one week. I would like to finally put a check beside this time and move onto a new goal.

Gold - 2:39:xx

If you peruse Liam's blog you will see that this is his goal as well. This is an elusive target and one that I have just put my sights on recently. Since arriving back from Europe and starting my last training block, I have been surprised with how much fitness I have carried from the Iceland race and from Europe in general. The 5k last weekend also showed me that I am ready to have a good go at this. However, the weather report for Victoria tomorrow (15 degrees with rain, heavy at times) is not necessarily conducive to a fast time. I have definitely prepared mentally for being out in the rain with some wind. This is the "if everything goes right" goal.

Jen picked up my race kit for me, so I don't have to wade through the madness that is a marathon expo. I am going to go for a 25 minute run in about an hour and then visit with some friends and basically try not to walk too much.

Looking out the window, it seems that the emerging day that looks promising; however, I know Victoria too well to think that it will be like this in a few hours.

You can check www.royalvictoriamarathon.com for live results tomorrow. I have a number of friends running in all the races (Mike Lord is cruising the Half as is Jen Maclean as they are both looking forward to other races; Adam Campbell is running the 8k after having done some hard uphill races in the past months; Stefan Jakobsen and Steve Osaduik are the ones to watch in the marathon). I am sure that others friends are running this as well, so it should be fun to be back on my home course.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Am I a bad person?

I have thought about this for a couple of years, but never had to deal with the reailty of it. You see, the CIBC Run for the Cure is a 5k race held the weekend before the Royal Victoria Mararthon. As far as training goes, a good 5k a week out is, in my opinion (although not shared by all people) a good idea. A strong effort for a short period of time, geting the body ready for the longer effort the weekend after. Recovery is pretty short and the kickstart to the lungs helps with the race following.

But here is the dilemma. I have always wondered if it is bad to win a charity race. Luckily for me I had not had to deal with this. Both previous times that I have run this race, there has been a faster person than me. This has meant that I could avoid that spotlight of being "first". Ah Victoria, where one can't even win a charity race.

Fast forward to last Sunday. A cold, rainy day in downtwon Vancouver. 12 000 runners huddling together in front of BC Place awaiting the starters gun. In Victoria I would have spent the morning catching up with friends and fellow runners, chatting away until the start of the race. Not knowing anyone in Vancouver I had performed my warm up on my own and now waited on the start line, quiet, listening to the fitness experts on stage leading the group warm up. I finished my strides, quietly looking around to see who else might be running hard on this day. In preparation for the marathon, I was wearing the same attire I would in a week's time, but this was in stark contrast to the ipod-ed runners on either side of me. I saw a couple of people that were also performing running drills in preparation for the start and wondered to myself if I should start next to them. But then I saw my nemesis and decided that I would start next to this runner.

Gordon Campbell
didn't even wear shorts to the race. I lined up beside, him being all cocky - "Look, I am on the front line in pants! No one can beat me! Mwhahaha!" I waited patiently fro my opportunity to strike. However, with all the cameras around, I would have to wait until later in the race.

The gun went and we were off. In the first 50 meters there were about 5 of us - me, the lead woman, and three guys with cutoffs and ipods. Gordie was no where to be seen (ed. He had decided to pull out after the first corner. I think it was because the rain was causing him to melt).

At 100m it was me and the lead woman.

At 200m it was me and the lead car.

We're not in Victoria anymore.

I ended up winning the Vancouver CIBC Run for the Cure, finally having to face the question - is it bad to win a charity race? I mean, the whole point of the race is to raise money and awareness of a cause, not to go out and smash it. But, on this cold, rainy Sunday, a harbinger of the winter to come, I ran a PB of 15:58. I felt good throughout the run; controlled and strong. I did not repeat the mistake of a year ago, running the first kilometer much too quickly and paying for it in lactic acid in the last 3k. I am pleased with the result of the race and I am looking forward to Sunday.

To that end, training has been going well. My runs have felt good and I think I am ready. I am not sure that one is every really sure if they are ready for the marathon until they hit 30k of the race, but I am as prepared as I have been for the other two - much more prepared in fact. The 55k this summer in Iceland has prepared me mentally for the length of the race and the consistent training has been preparing the body. My nutrition during training has been taken care of by 7systems.ca and I am confident in my gear. It is taper time.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

5 Peaks at Buntzen Lake

I raced in the half-marathon category at the 5Peaks Trail Race at Buntzen Lake this morning. This is what it looked like. The red line is my HR. The blue line is the elevation chart. Suffice it to say that there was a lot of hiking at the start. I ran with Mark Bates for a good amount of the race (Canadian Triathlon Legend - yes, capitalized), and while he ended up beating me for second place (2:15), I race a solid race for 3rd in 2:18, still 4 minutes under the previous course record. A very strong race by the winner, Mark Bennett (2:13). This was the last hard hard effort before Victoria in three weeks. There are more tempo runs on the plan, but no more race efforts.

Good luck to our friends in Beijing competing in the test race for triathlon for the Olympics and to Liam in his half marathon in Hawaii.

Off to watch Flight of the Conchords. If you haven't heard of it, thank me later. That means you, Tre. It is a pair of Kiwis in a band in New York and they are trying to make it there. The clip below is from the first episode (in every episode there are AMAZING original songs - just watch and see!)

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Week One

Another week.

We have settled into the house well. Most of the running around and buying the little things that take so much time has almost come to an end. We actually have our first overnight house guests next week - it is all so surreal.

This week in training has been good. I have been trying to build up the volume a bit this week. The first week of teaching has forced me to cut some runs short, but it has been fun exploring the (many) hills around our place. I think I have found a replacement for my oceanside run in Victoria - this one takes me along the TransCanada Trail and around a par 3 golf course before returning home.

I also had my first race as a resident of the mainland. It was the Coho Run 14k (but apparently was more like 13km which is not good for the psyche). A run starting in Kitsilano and going through Stanley Park before ending up at Ambleside Park in West Vancouver, following the ocean the whole way. I was surprised to see some people I knew from Victoria here and it made me feel a little more at home. As I am preparing for the Royal Victoria Marathon, I needed a longer run today. The race is a point to point race, so I decided to ask a someone to take my bag on the bus to the start and I would run to the start - a 13k warm up for a 13k race. It would allow me a good 26k run, with 13k of it being tempo or faster.

I arrived at the start line with about 15 minutes to spare and changed into my race gear. The start of the race was lonely, missing all the joking and laughing that occurs at Victoria-area races. And the pace off the gun was dead slow. For a moment I wondered if I could win this thing!?! That dream was shattered about 2k as four of us separated from the field and the pace kept climbing. I was soon alone in fourth, where I would remain for the rest of the race. It was a good mental test. I felt good, but a little heavy on the long uphills over the two bridges (Burrard and Lion's Gate for those keeping score). My time was not very quick - 48:30ish - but it was alright. I held about 3:44/km pace, which is about the pace I ran the Around the Bay in last March. That pace ends up being about 2:37 for a marathon, which is way below my goal of 2:45. Now, I did not run that fast to the start of the race, but I also have not tapered for it either. More important than all these numbers is that the day was absolutely beautiful and I was back racing.

Next weekend is the 5 Peaks Trail Half-Marathon at Buntzen Lake. I am looking forward to it, although I have been warned that it is likely more than a 21k and I should be looking for a time around 2:20. That would actually be ideal for me since it will be a long run at effort, but my legs will be spared the concrete. But, again, more importantly is that I will be in trails again. I am excited.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Burnaby or bust...

I am not sure if I am allowed to say that once I have arrived somewhere, but I just did.

Burnaby has been good thus far. I have discovered the Trans Canada Trail (TCT) that runs right across the bottom of my street. In one direction it goes up hill and the other direction leads me toward Vancouver proper. There are some fun hily single track trails just off the TCT which I explored yesterday. Tonight was a slightly rainy run over Ironworkers Memorial Bridge into the North Shore. I ended up right near the hotel that Rozee and crew stayed at a couple of years ago for the Iron Knee race. This was a great marker for me because I now know I am only 15 minutes running from there, which means I can run to some trails relatively quickly.

But dinner is cooking and unpacking is still occurring. I am going to try to update more regularly now that I am starting to settle in. The RVM is only 5 weeks away today, so tomorrow sees two hours with an hour of tempo and an hour of goal pace.

Friday, August 24, 2007


From the 416 to the 905 (with a little 519 thrown in there)

Onterrible isn't that terrible. It has been very humid, but not bad. Running has been alright. I keep forgetting that heat takes a bit out of you.

Being back with the sister in Toronto has been awesome. Time in London was great as well, finding out some of my oldest friends have been infected by an alien and spent some wonderful time with the Weaver clan.

I had the chance to see Kate and Stefan Timms - Kate is wonderfully pregnant and looking beautiful. I also picked up some more 7Systems, so I am ready to take on the world.

Now that I am back in Canada, the move to Vancouver is becoming more real. August 28th is the day we take our stuff from Victoria and truck it on a ferry over to the mainland. I have a lot to do in terms of the move, so while it will be fun to play house, I am a little overwhelmed with it all.

Oh, if any Victorians are going to the Fringe Festival, you really need to check out The Fugitives. They really are amazing! Reaaallllyyy! These are their times - check the program for the venue...

Vancouver BC
Performance Poetry/Music • 45 mins • $9 / $8
Ages 12+
Sat, Aug 25 • 6:00 PM
Sun, Aug 26 • 7:15 PM
Mon, Aug 27 • 7:45 PM
Wed, Aug 29 • 10:15 PM
Thu, Aug 30 • 5:00 PM
Sun, Sept 2 • 3:30 PM

Friday, August 17, 2007

Back at my first home

Ontario isn't that bad. At least it wasn't last night, but we will see what the weekend has in store.

We arrived back in Toronto without too much hassle, but we still haven't seen our bags since Madrid three days ago. As I am heading up to an annual cottage weekend with university friends, the bags are (hopefully) being delivered to Sonja's house in London.

If you are in Victoria and haven't heard about the superfast 10k at Oak Bay on September 1st, you should go. The fast boys (read: Jim Finlayson et al.) are looking to go sub-30 minutes for 10k, and it will be fun to watch. 7pm. Free. What could be better? Go to 215north.com for more details.

Other than that I am feeling good and excited to be home and start some real running. Picked up a new pair of Glycerins from my old running store in Hamilton, Runner's Den (www.runnersden.com) and I will put them to immediate use today at the cottage. Nothing like going for a run in the sweltering heat of southern ontario only to plunge into a brisk lake. It is good to be home.

If you haven't been following the ENDURrun, you should check out the site today as it is nearing the end. Only three stages left! www.endurrun.com

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Travel Days

Finished up Madrid with a quick 45 minutes around town. I found a very cool urban athletic park, replete with driving range, rubberized 1200m perimeter track and tennis facilities.

It is now onto a plane tonight back to London and then home to Ontario on Thursday morning. The trip has been great - the stark beauty of Iceland to the food of Italy and the history or Paris and the warmth of Spain. I am looking forward to being home and starting a brief prep for the Royal Victoria Marathon, but some good family and friend time in Ontario before all that happens.

If you still haven't been to 215north.com you really should check it out. It is a great website done by some friends as a documentation of two Canadian marathoners and their pursuit of Beijing as they try to beat the overly difficult time standard imposed by Athletics Canada.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Madrid and Fall Races

I've been running twice here so far and I have to say that Madrid is a city I could live in. The people are kind, there are tons of parks (more manicured than BC, but open spaces in the city nonetheless), great climate, and tons of culture. It might help that my past two runs have felt amazing and they were both here.

Since my almost two hour jaunt in Barcelona on Saturday, I have had great runs. Yesterday i explored Madrid on a sleepy Sunday evening, and this morning I went the other direction and hit Madrid on a very wakeful Monday morning. Both rus felt great. Smooth, quick, good turnover. It has me excited about racing again.

As I am moving to Vancouver, my staple races are going to have to change. I can't just nip up the peninsula for the Land's End Half Marathon anymore. What used to be 20 minutes away is now a 40 minute drive plus ferry. I think I have settled on two races to shock my system back into shape. There is a cool looking 14k run on Sunday September 9th (www.cohorun.ca). It is a point to point run from Kitsilano to West Van, going through Stanley Park and over two bridges, hugging the ocean the whole way. I am looking at that race for turnover and running quickly. I am not tied to a time or result, but just want to run quickly with other people around.

The second race is six days later, Saturday September 15th and it is a trail half marathon. In a way, this is a blessing. I wasn't able to race at the Gutbuster Half Marathon this summer, so here is a replacement. It is a 5 Peaks event at Buntzen Lake and it looks to be good. I was going to do an uptempo 2 hour run on the Sunday anyway, so this gets me running with purpose (and exploring new trail areas which will be useful for the winter training). Neither of these are going to race specific preps for the Royal Victoria Marathon, but they will get my head back into race mode and be a lot of fun in my new city. Thoughts on the choices?

We have one more night (and day) in Madrid before heading back to London for one night (and day) and then flying home. From there I am whisked away to the annual Boys' Cottage Weekend. I will continue to get my runs in and updating pictures as I can. There are new pictures up at the website on the top left of the page and I have added new captions as well.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Barcelona and some shameless plugs

Firstly, everyone should go to 215north.com and 7systems.ca Two very incredible endeavours being launched by my good friends. Trust me, both are worth it.

Running more consistently now. Heel is still hurting a little, but I am managing it fine. It is much shorter to Oct 7th than it seems right now.

I went for a jog around Barcelona today. I ran up a hill. It is a huge park with roads and gondolas heading up its slopes.

It is an incredible view from up there. But what do you think lies beneath this view.

YES! One of the most beautiful pools I have ever seen. It is their "Municipal" Pool.

Continuing my run around the park, I happened across this....

Yes, the Olympic Flame (which was not burning). For those that saw the lighting of the flame in 92, it is even more impressive to see how that guy hit that from so far away (he shot an arrow).

And the chance to see the olympic stadium was very inspiring.

But there is not only the one Municipal Pool in this park, but they also have the OLYMPIC POOL. Man, for all the trials of hosting the Olympics, they do leave behind some amazing facilities.

I am now stoked to keep running. Just being around the place where so many incredible people ran is amazing!

Sunday, August 05, 2007

I'm from Barcelona...

Off to the hometown of the venerable housekeeper Manuel (of Fawlty Towers fame).

We will lose internet again, so updates may be minimal, but if you haven't read the full Iceland report, that should take about a week.

As well, the ENDURrun begins in a week, so you check it out at www.endurrun.com It is an amazing race and it should be fun to watch Bob Jackman (and Mike Strano?) battle it out.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Well...it's done.

No. Not my running career.

I couldn't believe it, but with only 30 pages left, I couldn't go on. I fell asleep last night just when Harry.....

But I woke up this morning and finished it. All 607 pages of "children's" fiction are now read. Finally. It is good. And satisfying. But I will say no more.

Today, running started to feel good again. I am little concerned about my right heel, but it seems to be doing alright (read: not getting worse). About 50 minutes booting around Paris trying to get a little lost. I ran by the main train station and then down to the River Seine. Ran along the riverside walk for a while before finding my way into a long tunnel leading to the street. It was about 2km long and the darkness and solitary nature contrasted the bright and bustling streets I had just be cruising along. I was listening to a podcast about marathoning and I definitely had a moment of quiet reflection; my footfalls pacing the story of a person's struggle through a marathon. I felt like a runner again.

If you are interested in more pictures from the trip, you can follow this link.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Running in Paris

The Full Iceland Update is now done and is the post below this one. Thanks for your patience....back to Paris...

So I went for a run the other day here in Paris....

I started down my street,

past the Paris Opera House (read: where the Phantom lives).

I continued down until I saw some red tape blocking cars from proceeding.

And then...

I waited for almost two hours....

for this ....

Ok, not my picture, but I was standing on a street post (one to stop cars from driving on the sidewalk) out of the top left of this picture. That's right. I watched the end of the Tour. I missed the start of the Tour in London by about 3 hours, so I made it to the end. Pretty cool run (with almost two hours of standing in one spot so I wouldn't lose my post).

This was my view from the post (the next day as my camera died on the way to the Tour) - imagine about 30 000 more people and a bunch of cyclists.

My other Paris runs so far have taken me here...

The view from behind Notre Dame. It is no St. Paul's Cathedral, but...

and here...

The Arc de Triomphe (it is REALLY big)

and to watch this...

I think Matty Rose is in town as well.

But I don't know if I will be able to go and see him. If not - go fast!

Lastly, Paris has a turned the side of the Seine into a beach - they call it Paris Plage. It is pretty incredible, and rather busy...

(not for those who get motion sickness)

Paris has been great so far. Some tours and a ferris wheel ride last night at a Carnival just outside the Louvre.

We actually went INSIDE the Louvre today. Pretty incredible stuff, but if I see one more painting of the Lord Jesus Christ I might cry. I mean, he is important and all, but EVERYONE wanted to paint him.

Tomorrow, some more museums and maybe a run. I was thinking of purchasing some new shoes, but my Glycerin 5's are about $200 CDN. A little steep, so I will just be aware of the pain in my heel (I am wavering between plantar fasciitis or a slight bone bruise from continually having to jump down from my post while waiting for the tour - regardless, no more flip flops for me).