Monday, February 26, 2007

I love Victoria weatherpeople

Please, keep calling for rain! You have called for rain for the past four days, yet these days have all been more than bearable.

Today's run was completed in a balmy 7 degrees with sun and very little wind. I ran "Babel" back to DVD4U, a small, ultra-nerdy, ultra-cool movie store in the Fairfield Plaza. From there it was a quick jaunt to King George Terrace, up the stairs, back down Denison to Fairfield, through Ross Bay Cemetery and home. Legs felt a little heavy, but that isn't surprising after the past few days. Heart rate was rather low, which is interesting. As mentioned earlier, I will continue to monitor the ol' HR and see how things progress.

In other news - Macs are sexy. And so is the new Airport Extreme. Check it out.

Duration - 40:00
AHR - 134 bpm
Weather - pleasing

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Quick Update


Clinic runs went well. Ran with the Reynolds crew and then with the Frontrunners Clinic. I am always inspired after leaving clinics - the effort and progress that everyone is making reminds me why running is powerful.

Duration - 1:20 (combined)


A combination of busy-ness and fatigue and more important priorities required a day off.


A killer workout with Mike.
8 x (4 minutes hard/2 minutes easy) holding 5:27min/mile pace (3:23 min/km), which equates to a 33:50 10k, which would be a personal best. The good part of the workout was that I felt strong. I was working, but still felt strong. It was great to be running fast (for me) with someone, although I may get used to camaraderie thus making my solo runs harder to do.

Duration - 1:36


Ran at Church* with Club Mud. It was a glorious day, although a blown down tree took out one of our crew. She is ok, but is now much closer to nature than she thought she already was. The day was great and the creek cold, but it is a pleasure to show everyone the amazing trails of Victoria.

Duration - 2:17

Week Summary
Duration - 7:49
Sessions - 6
Days Off - 2


Hatley Castle 8k has been my nemesis for a few years now. Last year I ran two hours before finishing off with the race. The year prior it was my first race after a long lay off. It is a hilly monster that will own you if you don't show her enough respect. I had come off a couple of days of solid training, so I was concerned about how my legs would react to the hills. As it turned out they liked it. Not an amazing time, but I held the same pace that I did at the Mill Bay 10k a month ago. This is exciting as the Hatley course is not conducive to fast running. I am entering this week riding a wave of confidence in my training. The Around the Bay 30k is fast approaching, and with a couple more longer runs I should be ready to run well there. At least, I hope so.

Duration - 28:16 for 8k
- 25:00/15:00 warm up/cool down

* - Thetis Lake, as described by Simon circa 2002

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

It wasn't raining...

It was sleeting. At least it was at first. I only noticed it when I looked down at my gloves, about 30 seconds into the run, and noticed that there were white things on it. Shortly after that, my thighs started to freeze underneath my quickly dampening pants. Mike had said on the phone that I should have run a half-hour ago - I quickly saw why. It wasn't sleeting then.

The irony was that it wasn't sleeting at the end of the 45 minute run with Mike either. It seems we had timed it perfectly. The run felt awful for the first 5 minutes, bad for the next 15, and then somewhat normal. I took yesterday off and every time I take a day off running, I am quickly reminded how much of a "feel" sport running is. Swim coaches say that it takes three practices to make up for every one missed, and I wonder if running is similar to that. It is not about the fitness, because no fitness will be lost in one day of rest, but rather the feel of the road, the synchronicity of arms and legs and foot strike fades a little with each passing hour of not running.

I didn't make my double today. Again, this grey persistent rain does not inspire me to drag my tired body out of a warm bed. I am person who will change when I feel pressure to do so, and I guess I am content with the way my training is going at this moment, so the urgent need to add a second run to the day has yet to hit. I will sit down over the next week and draw up a more detailed training plan than the nebulous one I have in my head right now. Once I have a detailed plan, then the elusive doubles will (hopefully) fall into place.

Duration - 47:01
AHR - 147 bpm
Weather - Sleet, then rain, then wind and rain, then wind, then sun, then cloud, then sun and wind, then cloud and wind.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Rain Rain

go away
come back another day.

preferably not tomorrow.

a day off due to generally crappy weather.

which means a double tomorrow. clothes are laid out and everything.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Weekend Antics

Saturday is reserved for running with Club Mud. This group of adventurous trail runners trusts me with their training and in return for their trust they get to run in both beautiful and ridiculous places. This weekend it was time for the ridiculous. As we are in an "Adaptation Week" (renamed from "Rest Week" because many clinic members don't believe in rest), it was a relaxed 80 minutes around town. However, as the goal race we are training for is basically two long hills (see the new link for the Iron Knee 25k), I wanted to get some hill training while surrounded by concrete. This called for parking garages. And so we went out to find as many parking garages and stairs as we could find. Five parking garages later we made our way home, having viewed the city from a perspective few take the time to find. The city looks much different, much quieter, from roof level. Older. Wiser. You can almost look into its history from the roofs and read the lives of the people who built these aged buildings.

This morning brought an opportunity to run with Jasper Blake. My runs with him last year were some of the most important training runs I had. The fitness that I took out of those long Sunday morning tempo runs carried me through the ENDURrun and through my fall races. Jazz went on to win Ironman Canada in August, so we were excited to start up the runs again. He was coming off an illness, so we kept the tempo pretty low this morning. We chatted easily about life, training, business as a professional athlete and holding true to your honour and ethics. He also gave me some good advice regarding preparation and racing for the 55k run in Iceland. Overall, a great run. I am looking forward to two weeks from now when Jazz is feeling better and we churn out a 90 minute tempo holding 3:45-3:50s. Should be awesome!

We won our soccer game this afternoon and then I had a good dinner with Sonja at Samuel's by the Bay, part of Dine Around Victoria. I didn't make it to Todd's party - sorry Todd - as I was bagged and ready for bed at 9:00pm. And this begins a new week of training.

Duration - 1:20:00
AHR - 117 bpm

Total for the week
Duration 8:48 hrs
PBs - One; 12k 43:05
Doubles - None (yet)

New week

Duration - 1:40:00
AHR - 155 bpm

Friday, February 16, 2007


Tonight's jaunt started with an email I sent to Hicham this afternoon asking about his plan tonight. I was looking for a running partner for this evening and Hicham was game. I left the apartment around 5:00pm, after the rain had eased, and headed out to Oak Bay to pick him up. Unfortunately, Hicham was held up in a minor emergency, so after waiting for a couple of minutes I continued on my sojourn sans ami.

I decided to run back from Oak Bay along the water, turning toward the Oak Bay Marina and continuing Cook and Dallas, via King George Terrace. It was a quiet evening, the still air moist with the day's rain coating the road and sidewalk. I felt good throughout the run and like Mike mentioned in his post today, I noticed my heart rate was lower than I thought it should have been for the speed I was going. I too will monitor things over the next little while, but this should just be an indication that my body is responding to training stimulus. That would be cool.

Duration - 1:06:06
AHR - 148bpm
Shoes - Brooks Glycerin 5 with MoGo! Yee-haw!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

This Thursday is Friday

For those that aren't aware, I am an english teacher. Tomorrow is a Professional Development day for us, which means that there are no kids at school. All day it has felt like Friday. I am excited for tomorrow as I get the chance to spend the morning discussing the finer aspects of teaching with one of my mentors and I get to pick Sonja up from the airport in the evening. But my Thursday did not start off well.

I am trying to get caught up with Lost. I am just starting the third season, downloading shows so that I may sit with my bethren on Wednesday evenings wondering what will happen to Jack and sweet, sweet Kate, all the while hoping that they will kill off Claire and her annoying habit of speaking. It was for this reason that I was late to bed on Wednesday evening, thus the sudden arrival of Thursday morning was not welcome. I had intended to get out for a short jaunt this morning, but the rain falling outside my open window was chanting "Sleep Sleep Sleep". So I did. Resetting the alarm I sought out the warmth of my bed, falling asleep to the cheers of the rain.

This afternoon, after helping said mentor find a pair of shoes at Frontrunners, I drove home, did a quick change, and drove about halfway to the Oak Bay track. I ran the final ten minutes to the track to find Hicham warming up. I joined him running loops in lane 5 as we waited for the arrival of Hugh. This was my first workout of the year. Up until today, with the exception of races, my runs had been base runs. Tonight the work began.

The workout Hicham had recieved from Coach Finlayson was a progressive tempo - 15 minutes at 1/2 marathon pace, 10 minutes at 10k, 5 minutes at 5k - for a total of 30 minutes of workout. Hicham, who came to Victoria after years in Montreal, is finding his legs again. Sporting a PB of around 1:12-1:13 in the half (I might be off a little, but only minute or two), he is a formidable runner. Hugh is well known in Victoria as a fast runner. Although tonight he spoke about getting back into consistent training, it seems to me he is fast at any race, any time of year. To do a tempo workout with these fine runners was going to be fun!

The weather was beautiful tonight. The chanting rain had made its way to another window and the sky had gaps in the ceiling, allowing us, for once, to see the sky. The wind was a presence, especially along Beach Rd, where we were to run most of the workout. It was cool enough to need a vest, but warm enough to not be chilled. An ideal running night.

The workout started well, with the three of us chatting about training and generally catching up. This is the first time I have had the chance to train with Hugh, so it was nice to chat with him about both our racing plans and his acting! The 1/2 marathon piece went by smoothly. Watching the metronome quality of Hugh's stride juxtaposed with Hicham's African sway was enjoyable. Everyone moving along, feeling good, and running well. The 10k piece pretty much ended the chatter as we opened up our stride and let our feet land more underneath us. This ten minutes took us into the hills near the Oak Bay Marina and Victoria Golf Course. I never consider myself a strong hill runner, but tonight I felt good on the hills. Strong and smooth as we crested them, I was easily able to let my legs turnover as I relaxed and rested on the downhills. It helped that the section of road we were on is the path I have worn all winter; running there at least 4 times a week I have gained an intimate knowledge of the hills and turns. It was nearing the base of King George Terrace that we hit the 5k piece. Lengthening our stride once again, I tried to keep pace with Hugh. His earlier qualifications that his legs were feeling tight rang hollow in my head as he gracefully pushed the next gear. I know he wasn't lying about his legs feeling tight, and I was glad that he wasn't feeling in peak condition as I would have been left behind.

It was at this time my thoughts drifted back to my classroom. Earlier today I had my students do a piece of writing where their sole purpose was to make it sound beautiful. Using literary devices in constructing the paragraph, they were to consider what makes language sound beautiful. One of my students wrote a piece in which her character was running. I have forgotten the context but when her character had to run faster, "he put more pressure into the pavement" to outdistance his rival. I am not sure I have quoted it correctly (I will find the proper quote on Monday), but the idea of running faster as putting more pressure into the pavement stuck with me. I loved the concept. And it was in the 5k piece that this phrase popped back into my conciousness.

I was able to hang with Hugh for the last piece and we all jogged back along Beach Rd for our cool down, chatting about life, relationships, and everything that runner boys talk about after a beautiful workout. Arriving back at Oak Bay, Hicham went to do drills on the track, Hugh went to row and do some core strength inside, and I, with a silly smile on my face, jogged back to my car and drove to Thrifty's to buy some food before ordering dinner from My Thai Cafe, which is open again after their annual holiday.

A great first workout. Hopefully this is the beginning of a great season.

Duration: 1:27:29
AHR: 146
Workout: Warm Up - 28:08 AHR - 132
1/2 Mar - 15:06 AHR - 152
10k - 10:00 AHR - 168
5k - 5:10 AHR - 174 (Max - 180)
Cool Down - 29:08 AHR - 143
Legs: Felt good the whole time.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Two times

A bunch of my peers are running doubles now (read: running in the morning and the evening). I have pondered joining them in this routine. I have spoken to well read runners and they suggest that to start seeing real improvement I should be running nine times a week. It was with this in mind that I started to consider running on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. Considered...

It is now three weeks since I "considered" this for the first time. I ran a double today, but a different kind. I double coached. I have two clinics that I am coaching and they both occur on Wednesdays, about an hour after each other. So it was from the rain in the afternoon that I made my way to Frontrunners to coach the Club Mud/Marathon/Half Marathon kids. The first run was fun - another teacher and three hyper grade nine boys amusing us as they splashed puddles at each other. The night run was more serene - no rain and running in circles. My legs felt surprisingly good during the second run. Not the conventional double, but it works.

Tomorrow is Thursday. I am running with Hicham and Hugh Trenchard for a tempo workout. They are both quite strong, so I am excited to see if I can hold on. I am curious to see how the morning approaches - with or without a run.

Duration: Rain Run - 59:08
Not Rain Run - 45:05

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Out and about

A couple of podcasts and an hour later I am home. A still evening graced with about 12 other runners, passed with slight waves of the hand, acknowledging that we both got home to get out the door.

Duration: 59:34
Avg HR: 150
Sunset: Missed

Sometimes there is good in the world....

from the Prairie Inn Harriers chatline.....

Hello Ross, Steve Kent passed your email on to me. Yes, Ken Pungent suffered a heart attack with 1 k to go at yesterday's race. Initially he was taken by ambulance to Nanaimo hospital where he was stabilized. By 4:30 he had been transported by air ambulance to the Royal Jubilee in Victoria where at last report I had from his family, he is doing as well, if not better, than one might have expected.

There were several people near him when he collapsed and 2 women in particular happened to be infant resuscitation specialists, as well as others with medical knowledge including St John's staff. Without their valiant work on Ken for at least 20 minutes prior to the arrival of the paramedics Ken would not be alive today.

On behalf of Sooke Trail and Road Runners, Ken's family, and Ken! ...we thank everyone who helped keep Ken alive. Please feel free to share this information with anyone who may have run by and wondered, or went back to check... I know so many people expressed their concern and offered to help and will be wondering how Ken is doing.


Jackie Eddy

It is great to hear that news. Hopefully, Ken, who I do not think I have met but likely recognize from the close-knit running community, will be out running again sooner than we might expect. All the best Ken - your result was the best one of the day.

Monday, February 12, 2007

How to set a PB (or a PR)....

#1. Run a distance that you have never run before.

#2. Refer to number one.

A 12k is an odd distance, but one that for some reason spoke to me this year. I had never had the desire to make the drive "upisland" for a race - it seemed that two hours of driving to race for forty-odd minutes was silly. This year, though, something about the Cedar 12k beckoned. And seeing as how it was to be my first 12k, I would pick up another PB.

I was happy that Trevor made the trip up. He was kind enough to drive, so I offered the car for him to drive. It was good to see him getting back into racing after a self-imposed hiatus.

Maybe that was it this year. You see, there is a stigma attached to 5k's and 10k's. We all know the numbers and what they mean. A 37 and you will be shaking your head in disappointment, wondering what had happened to those low 35's that were once yours. But with a 12k, no one knows what the numbers mean. What is a 44? And it is my belief that it is because the 12k is an "off-distance" that people are more relaxed. There was a definite difference in the energy of the people at Cedar. Less worry and more fun.

For me, Cedar was to be a workout. Yoda has suggested descending throughout the race, and Rumon's comments at 2.5k of the race rang true in my head - this is going to be hard to do. You see, it is downhill on the way out and uphill on the way back. Running progressively faster as you continue to go uphill is not the formula for a good time.

I will include the details at the end, but suffice it to say that I surprised myself. I ended up running the workout as described, which pleased me. And while the race itself was fun, I echo the comments of my friends on other confessionals - it was the warm up that really reminded me that running is about community. Warming up the the likes to of Todd, Trevor, Stefan, Jim, Rumon, and Mike was a pleasure. A leisurely jaunt where everyone rotated around and shared stories. I openly mused about doing our long runs together in this fashion, although I know that is very wishful thinking. As runners we tend to be masochists, and as such we will suffer in isolation, braving the elements so that we may later passively brag about it to our comrades. But the moment of having everyone there feeling good and about to share in a common experience was refreshing for the soul of this runner.

But while I enjoyed my time with the boys, it was a sobering moment in the cool down that put everything in perspective. As we ran back along the course, about 1km from the finish we came upon a St. John's Ambulance and a person on the ground, having compressions performed on his chest. It was an eerie silence that followed, the weight of what he had witnessed grounding us on the road. The sound of footfalls on light mist was all that was heard until Todd, who works in health care, turned to see if he could offer assistance. For the rest of us, Jim, Rumon and I, we kept on as there were already many people attending to the situation and there was nothing more we could have added. It doesn't take much for us to be the one on the ground and that, in a strange way, added to the appreciation of the day. We later found out that the man was brought back and will be ok, but the moment had left its mark.

Today was a comfortable run along the waterfront. Got out and moved the legs, feeling smooth, imagining that if Jim Finlayson had appeared in the distance, that today, today I would catch him. I know that wouldn't be the case, but it was a fun thought.

Cedar 12k Details
km Split HR Avg
0-1 3:48 146
1-2 3:37 162
2-3 3:41 166
3-4 3:39 171
4-5 3:30 170
5-6 3:48 170
6-7 3:30 173
7-8 3:32 175
8-9 3:39 174
9-10 3:35 179
10-11 3:26 180
11-12 3:13 182 (MAX 187)

12k 43:03 170

Duration: 34:15
Intensity: Recovery

Saturday, February 10, 2007

The Dump

It is the home of world-class, world famous mountain bikers. Roland Green. Geoff Kabush. Seamus McGrath. Ryder Hesjedal. These are just some of the famous mountain bikers that have graced the trails of what is affectionately known as "The Dump".

There is talk of great flow in mountain biking. The way the corners blend into each other, the up and down of a roller coaster, drops and climbs. Imagine the fun of mountain biking, but on two feet. That was us today.

On a day that once again proved to me that Victoria based weather people have no idea what they are doing, Club Mud enjoyed the sun early this morning. For many of them it was the first time on these beautiful trails, and for me it was a pleasure to show them off, as if they were mine. Sometimes I feel as though they are.

Two hours later I was duly impressed with my group and basking in the glow of a sublime run on a glorious morning with inspiring people. Not a bad start to the weekend.

Tomorrow is the Cedar 12k. Trevor decided to come and race at dinner. A free entry has a powerfully persuasive effect. My race plan, after some consultation with Yoda, is to descend 1-4 by 3k. 3:45s, 3:40s, 3:35s, 3:30s. Should be interesting, especially as the last few kilometers, from all accounts, are uphill. I think the plan may be optimistic as I am running on slightly fatigued legs, but I just look to Jim to gain perspective whenever I begin to look for excuses. That is real running. Doing a workout after a race. Sheesh. He is the man.

Duration: 2:10
Ascent: 535m

Friday, February 09, 2007

Running into people

One of the things that I will miss most about Victoria, if I ever leave, is running into people.

Of course not the literal.

I was about 27 minutes into my forced run when I saw a friend come out of the blue and start running about 20m in front of me. As he too was knee-deep in a recovery run, it wasn't hard to catch him. We ran together for the next half-hour, talking leisurely about life and running and racing. It was unexpected but very welcome for a dry, somewhat mild, and partly cloudy evening.

After dropping him off at his house I ran home, finishing up just shy of an hour. Like Mike, I felt good in the latter parts of the run tonight. Tomorrow is Club Mud and then racing on Sunday.

Duration: 57:50
Intensity: No
Fun: Yes

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Sweaty Talk

A quick update.

Last night was fun - two clinics. The first with staff and students from school, getting all dirty running hills on Mt. Doug. Then off to Lotbiniere with the Frontrunners clinic, running hills again.

Duration: 2:02:04 in total (with coaching)
Fun Level: wooden roller coaster

Tonight I was on the breakwater when I realized that there was a distinct possibility that I was going to be late for a talk I was to give to the First Steps/Next Steps clinic at Frontrunners. My base run turned to tempo. I made, albeit sweaty, to pass on what little knowledge I have about running to those just starting out. It really is inspiring to see people making a change in their lifestyle!

Duration: 45:06
Intensity: Unexpected

In more boring news, I got my Brooks racing kit today. A singlet and short shorts. Should be a sight at the Cedar 12k on Sunday.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

How to get out the door...

Strategy #1 - Call a friend.

Fortunately for me, Liam was home and heading out for 45 minutes easy.

A good chat, and 55 minutes later I was home, remembering how much fun it is to run with other human beings.

Duration: 55:44
Intensity: light
Avg HR - 150bpm

Monday, February 05, 2007

How to Catch a Fin(n)

I started the night with one, but ended up snagging two.

I went out for my recovery run this evening,
toqueless for the first time in a winter's age. I set out, feeling brisk as I rubbed Terry's foot and proceeded toward the breakwater. It was on the way back from the signal light that I saw a fastee (to steal a term) speed by along Dallas Rd. Thinking that it might the one and only Jim Finlayson, I quickened my pace in hopes of catching him.

Now, you must understand that on a good day, Jim's base running pace is my tempo, so for me to make up the 300m or so would be a Herculean effort, but one possibly worthy for the

I emerged from
the breakwater fence and worked up to a 3k pace. In my haste I had failed to remember that heading back toward Beacon Hill Park from the breakwater is a consistent uphill. I was reminded of this about 2 minutes later when my heartrate had spiked through the roof and I was not making up anytime on this elusive runner.

Thoughts about the identity of this runner began to consume me. It didn't seem like Jim as I had closed the gap to 290m - too much heel kick. Trevor O'Brien, an easterner with a penchant for running fast? The thought stayed with me for a little bit until I recalled that T
O'B runs with a high knee drive, not heel kick. (one thing about Victoria is that you begin to recognize people by their running gait - what a weird place) I put in a sustained push until I came within 20m and saw the writing on the wall (or shirt as it were). Frontrunners Westshore printed on the back of a Mizuno shirt.

"Findlay!" I gasped. Eric Findlay turned quickly to see me panting and trying to keep my legs under me. 2km later I had caught my Fin, although not the one I had initially pursued. Eric kindly ran with me for a bit before sauntering off at a pace I hope to hold for 10k sometime soon.

To catch the other Finn, you need only bait him
Guinness and video games. It worked perfectly. He is much slower in the Xbox world than in reality.

Duration: 32:07
Route: Waterfront Recovery
Intensity: Super Easy, Super Hard, Recover

Sunday, February 04, 2007


Trevor (of the Haligonian Millar Clan) once said that he would hang up on anyone who went to the other line to answer a beep for more than 20 seconds. If they took more time than that, they weren't his friend. I wonder what he would say to being on hold for two months?

The boys at three.roads have inspired me to continue to write about my running experiences. It is in the day in day out world of training that the breakthroughs occur. Some of the malaise in my writing comes from the idea that I would bore people about the daily rigours of putting one foot in front of another, but sometimes there are moments that make the grind something grander.

Heading out in the rain is not one of my favourite things, but, as I tell people who come into the store looking for waterproof jackets to run in, once you are out running you will be wet from rain or sweat at which point nothing else matters. It is the process of getting wet that frightens me, but once I am soaked through it's great.

I tried avoiding the raindrops at Gowlland Tod provincial park today. I was thinking of taking Club Mud out there next week, but in my absence, I swear that the park grew a hill. When starting from McKenzie Bight, the Timberman Trail has a 15 minute climb to welcome you to your run. I was expecting more storm damage, but not expecting the hill to be bigger than my memory recalled. About halfway up I heeded the latent concern I heard in Rozee's voice when mentioning that we were going to Gowlland Tod next week, and decided that we would not make that the second trail run for the group. We will come back to it.

I ran out Jocelyn Hill where I enjoyed a spectacular view of the inlet (I believe it is the Saanich inlet, but I am not sure - it divides the peninsula from the Malahat). As I emerged from the forest I stood above cloud that looked to be falling in on itself, floating downward toward the water, as though the ocean itself was inhaling. The sky was a West Coast winter grey and the rain seemed to pause in the air for that minute, holding its position so that I alone could absorb the phenomenon. It was at that moment that I was happy that the rain had permeated me.

I ran out, a little lighter for the experience, finishing my visit and paying respect to the fallen trees.

Duration: 2h 09m
Venue: McKenzie Bight to Jocelyn Hill, looping Jocelyn twice
Company: the rain, the trees, the clouds