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...