Sunday, June 17, 2007

Back At It

"In a world of counselors, self-help books and quick fixes, all I needed was some time alone on the trails." - Michael Lord

This about sums it up. Mike wrote this about a run he had this morning, and in doing so, eloquently described the effect that trail running can have on one's soul.

I had taken the last two days off as my right calf has been giving me grief recently. I twisted my right ankle a little last weekend while running a Thetis Lake, but it is generally fine. The specific part of it is that I think I tweaked a little muscle that has become quite tight and resulted in other pains in my Achilles and the bottom of my foot. The days off have helped, but so will acupuncture and massage and chiro next week.

My run today was fun. I found out I was not needed for the relay part of the
New Balance 1/2 Ironman so I went to Elk/Beaver Lake with Jen and Trevor. I had planned on a 60 minute tempo run, with a 20 min warm up and cool down. We were hoping to see some old training partners racing. After the warm up and running about 25 minutes of the tempo with Trevor, I continued on, holding 3:50s at at a HR of about 168 for another 20 minutes. It was at this time that I ended up at the transition and I saw our friend Jonathon Caron come barreling out of transition. I decided to run with him. He was by far the fastest person out there, but he kept asking me if anyone was in front of him. I didn't realize that there was an extra $500 for the first person across the line, man or woman. In what is known as an "equalizer", different categories start at different times and the first person across the line gets the bonus money. I ran with Jonny for 5k and he looked great, but I don't know if he caught the lead women who started the run nine minutes ahead of him.

As well, in Des Moines today, more friends and former training partners were racing for the largest triathlon purse in history - $200 000 USD for first place in both the men's and women's race. Our old training partner, the wonderful Laura Bennett (nee Reback) won the women's race, while wonderful Victoria-girl Kirsten Sweetland was in the top three until 700m left in the race when she collapsed. No update on her, but she is one of those rare athletes that don't have an off-switch; she will run until there is nothing left. I think that is what happened on a hot, humid day in Iowa. Mr. Whitfield was in a similar position, running second for a good portion of the race, but ended up in sixth - amazing considering his last week (winning a World Cup Tri in Vancouver, hosting family, pending birth of his first child, arriving the day before the race). And Brent McMahon had a good go as well, finishing a solid 18th in a very deep field.

In other news, Adamo has decided to race Comfortably Numb. Damn damn damn.

Duration - 90 minutes
Intensity - steady state/tempo
Felt very good.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Tomorrow is one month

July 14th. Iceland.

Today was good. I saw Day on Monday for an adjustment. She said I was a car wreck, but she fixed me. Somewhat.

I have felt heavy and tired recently. I wondered why until I saw that last week I ran for 8 hours. That makes sense. However, all fatigue aside, I have been running well. My standard Marina run has been consistently a minute faster at the same heart rate. This is encouraging, but I need to tend the tenderness of my lower right leg, specifically in my achilles. More stretching and massage needed. When is it not needed?

I may or may not be running as part of a relay at the NB 1/2 IronMan triathlon this weekend. I will find out soon, but I won't be racing it. It will be a training day, similar to the one with Jazz a week or so ago. And then Whistler.

Thank the sweet sweet lord the race is not up the mountain.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

End of the Week(end)

Today was supposed to be a longer run for me. I had idealized doing a 2.5 hour and a 3 hour run this weekend in preparation for Iceland. Maybe it was the weather, maybe it was the body, maybe it was the motivation, but it didn't quite work out. That is ok. I don't mind.

Friday was a solid 90 minutes.

Saturday I played in Thetis, running along Mackenzie Creek and Seaborn, climbing Stewart Mountain and generally getting completely soaked.

I ended up sleeping about 10 hours Saturday night, which knocked the wind out of my running sails as Sunday morning arrived. Three hours turned into 45 minutes along the waterfront, which was fine. I turned my ankle a little during the last five minutes of the Thetis run; today was feeling it out, making sure everything was in working condition.

I am going to try to have a larger week of volume this week before starting to tone it down leading into Iceland. Whistler is booked and ready to go, but if Adamo shows up I may be relegated to second place for a third consecutive year.

And a HUGE congratulations to Mr. Whitfield for winning a World Cup Triathlon in Vancouver today. A great win for a soon to be father. To Ms. Groves, a solid race. And well done to Mr. Tichelaar and, with the race of the day in my opinion, Mr. Jenkins - well done! Next week will be very interesting in Des Moines, with
$700 000 up for grabs along with Hummers for the Mens' and Womens' champ. I wonder if it is the Hybrid Hummer?

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Trials of Miles

A windy evening along the waterfront. My quads were still heavy from the weekend, but my run was decent. I saw Adamo along the road, still recovering from his killer race this weekend. That race I mentioned in my last post, the one where all the fast people were, well, Adam came third in that race and in the process has become hooked on trail running. We may run together tomorrow and plot our path to trail running greatness! Or, at least his path.

Duration - 58:12
Intensity - Cruise-y

Monday, June 04, 2007

Iron Knee 25k and Mt. Doug Gutbuster

Two races in one week. Two different results. 49 seconds.

The Iron Knee 25k is a fun up and down race on the North Shore of Vancouver. I took the Club Mud crew over as their culmination race of the clinic. Their performances were inspiring! A great finish to a great clinic with an amazing group of people!

My race started well. The Iron Knee always begins with a loop of a parking lot before heading up an extended climb. I am always conservative at the beginning of a trail race as I am not the strongest climber and going lactic too early will lead to a lot of pain later.

The first hill went by quite uneventfully. I found myself running behind some people, trying to maintain a steady pace and heart rate. It was on the first downhill that I began to pick up the pace. I went around one guy and ended up behind Mark Bates. Mark Bates. For those that don't know, Mark Bates was one of Canada's top triathletes before triathlon blew up thanks to Simon. Mark Bates won this race last year. Needless to say that I was surprised to find myself behind me this early in the race. I was a little concerned. I shouldn't be this close to this man this soon. But I felt good and we were still a little ways back from the leaders, so I sat in behind Mark on the downhill. And then reality kicked in....

HOLD UP! I can't run behind Mark on the downhill! He is going to CRUSH ME on the uphill. I need to get ahead of him!

And so I did. I went around him, knowing that I would likely see him again. I bombed down the hill and hit the flat between the hills at full stride. I made my way back to the people ahead of me until they left me at the beginning of the next hill. I put my head down and proceeded up Powerline Hill wit my head down, with fleeting glances of the runners ahead of me. About halfway up the hill, Mark cruised past. I continued on, cursing the hill. Going over the top I knew that the time to go was fast approaching.

I passes a guy that was looking a little rough, commenting that I was going to go for Bates. "Have fun," he said. Knowing that my technical downhill skills were better than Mark, I went for it. To my surprise, he came back to me pretty quickly. We exchanged some pleasantries (I mean, this guy is somewhat a legend within the Canadian triathlon community), and we tried to catch the guy in front of us. At that time he was only ten seconds ahead.

By the time we finished, he was thirty seconds ahead. I had forgotten about a number of little climbs on the last descent which slowed me right down. My mind turned to staying ahead of Batesy (yes, we are BFF now). I knew that I had to be quick footed on the downhill in order to stay ahead of Mark. If we were side by side when we hit the road 300m from the finish, I would be in trouble. So, staving off some cramping, I kept moving quickly down stairs and over roots.

I finished the race at 1:41:18, about 6 minutes faster than previous fastest time. Mark, to his credit, didn't have a great race when compared to his previous races. I was fortunate to be near him and to run with him. But it was a nice moment to share the trail with someone I thought I wouldn't be near, not for some time at least. I ended up 5th overall; however, I was only 40 seconds from being 3rd. I wonder if I had run harder earlier....

The Gutbuster at Mount Doug a couple of days ago was fun. It was a tough race and I felt heavy after being at Swangard Stadium at the BC Track and Field Championships the day before. My warm up felt great, but after about 5 minutes into the first climb, I knew that the uphill was going to be tough. It was an interesting race though. Because of a major trail race on the same day on the mainland, there were none of the favourites at the race. It left Shane and I as the top runners. Neither of us had ever won a Gutbuster and this was a new course, so it was wide open. To boot, Shane had also raced the Iron Knee the previous weekend. Shane is a better climber than I am, and I can outrun him on the flats, but we are pretty equal on the downhill. I knew early that I would have to let him go on the uphills, using the extended flats to put some time into him. It worked the first time, as I pulled within 5 seconds of him, but on the way to the second summit I ended up walking, struggling to keep the legs going. Shane, to his tremendous credit, ascended like it was nothing. In very little time I lost sight of him, not to regain it until the very end of the race. I pushed pretty hard on the mile long run out to the finish, closing to within nine seconds, but not enough to win my first Gutbuster. Shane earned full points for his gutsy wire to wire win in this race, pushing hard early and often. I was happy with my race, but wished for 200m more of road at the end of the race.

40 seconds from 3rd. 9 seconds from 1st. 49 seconds. But they were both good races.

Sunday saw a 20k tempo with Jasper and today was a massage with Rene. Tomorrow begins my build for Iceland. I have one more race, Comfortably Numb, before Iceland. I am excited with where my training is at. I am putting up consistently faster times than last year and I am energized to train.

Now, if I can just survive school....

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Recap - Pt. 2

Nik suggested that I massage my quad a little to help stave off the cramping. As I sat on the rock conveniently placed on the side of the trail, massaging my thigh, Nik told me how I might have died if I was in the Canadian Death Race. He said a bear would have found me and that I wouldn't be able to climb a tree and then I would be dead. Then he laughed at me - continuously - as we ran through the lower trails of the Hartland Dump. It was here that I had an epiphany.

You see, I started this run with lots of water and food, but no electrolytes. Rookie mistake. The epiphany went something like this - sweat is how I am losing salts. I know at the end of long hot races I have salt marks on my face. I wonder if there is salt on my skin. A quick like of my arm suggested that there was in fact salt on my skin. I need salt to forestall the cramping in my quads. There is salt on my skin. Thus began the reclamation of salt from my sweat.

It gets worse.

If there is salt on my skin, I wonder if there is salt in my merino wool base layer as it is holding a lot of my sweat.


Instant salt.

So, as we descending out of the dump toward West Saanich Rd, I tried desperately to get salt back into my muscles without inducing anymore cramping. Nik continued to laugh at me, even after he left me at the corner of Prospect Lake Rd and West Saanich, wishing my luck on my journey back to Thetis. He had my pegged at a 6 hour run based on my current state. He was wrong.

After thanking Nik for getting me to the turn off, I focused on myself. I walked the hills on Prospect Lake and had to come to a complete massage stop a few times, but I managed, and I made it slowly to Francis King Park.

Once at Francis King I could sense that I was going to finish the run. Prospect Lake Rd had been a bit of a soul search, but a great learning experience. I knew that I had to make it through this run (or run/walk). The whole point of the endeavour was to go longer than I had ever gone before in order to see what happened to my body. I found out. Now it was what was going to happen with my mind that was important.

I started to feel better once I got off the road. Francis King is a beautiful park and I was excited to be in it. I knew my way home now. I was starting to run more than walk and hills were ok, although still a little tenuous.

Upon exiting Francis King and entering Thetis Lake, I began to feel overwhelmed. This was my stomping ground and the realization that I would soon be leaving this amazing place struck a cord. I soaked up the moment and quietly thanked the park for the hours of life it had given me. I continued to run, albeit slowly, and made my way through three hills that signify the last hurdle to all the wonderful races that occur at Thetis. I did my best to run them, to show them the respect that they deserve, but the fast hike was all that I could manage.

The final descent toward the lake was bittersweet. I was elated that I had finished the run, but saddened that the run was over. I knew that there wouldn't be time to do another run like this before leaving, so this was the only epic run I would be able to do prior to my Icelandic expedition. I had learned a lot about what is required to run for 5 hours, and I was pleased with my finishing time of 4:30. I have races to run prior to Iceland, but this run was me pushing myself in a way I hadn't before.

I liked it.