Thursday, February 28, 2008

Lost and Found

Last night we were up in the slush that was Grouse Mountain.  It was two degrees on the hill and the fog was very thick.  I had worn too much clothing and took my light shell off when we got about 1/4 of the way into the snowshoe (at Snag Tree for those in the know).  The group that was there was fun -  the hardcores as I called them -  and we had a great time running out to Thunderbird Ridge and back.  I was happy with the run and happier to be able to catch an early tram down the mountain so I could get home and hang out with Sonja (I had a meeting after school, so I hadn't been home).  After arriving at the bottom of the hill, I checked the only zippered pocket I had for my car key.  

It wasn't there.

The zipper was open.

And everything was locked in the car.

My mood took a 180 as I didn't leave the tram and rode it back up to the top of the hill to check the Chalet for the single key.  Guest services didn't have any keys turned in and a quick but thorough check of where I had been in the chalet turned up nothing.  I stood at the doors of the chalet, alone, wondering if it was really even worth the effort to look for a single silver key in the dark after groomers and 60 snowshoers had run the course.

I strapped my snowshoes back on went for a look.  My second run felt good enough, but just the thought of everything that would need to happen to get into the car made me ill.  I ran a looked, scanning every piece of tree debris that was emerging in the melting snow.  I managed to get back to the snag tree knowing that I was not going to search beyond there.  Hope had ebbed and flowed along the route out and it peaked as I saw the glint of silver half submerged in the snow.  I let a whoop that woke the hibernating bears and ran hard back to the chalet, key firmly in grasp the whole way.

Tonight I found my legs as well.  Not wanting to be at the track and with the warm up feeling blase, Jay, Paul, and I convinced ourselves that there was a good workout residing within us.  The workout was 1 x 400m for warm up and then 3 x 600 fast, with 800m recovery.

The first 400 felt ok and we ran a decent 67.  I was not looking forward to the extra 200 that we would have to add on.  Coach John had us down for 95 second 600s, crossing 400 in about 63's.  After the opening 67, I wondered about his predictions.  We were all feeling the week of training in our legs, but the benefit of being in a group is that you are accountable.

Jay lead the first 600 and Paul and I slid in behind him.  It felt fine, but not great.  We finished in 96 seconds, right around where Coach had us.  The next one Paul took the lead and we finished in 94.  The last one I lead and we pulled off a desperate 93, having split the 400 in 62.  It ended up being a very good workout and we all felt great about it - afterward.  But still, the fatigue of the marathon program is beginning to wear on me.  I am running well and that is great, but I have to keep mentally sharp.  I think that some trails are what the doctor is going to order!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

18 of 24

As in 18k tempo of a 24k total run.  

I had to talk myself through this one.  I am now realizing that I have not been through a TRUE marathon training program before and this is mentally harder than I thought it would be.  However, with that said, I believe that these workouts are what is needed come 30k during the marathon.  

The first 6k were ok, the second 6k were good, the last 6k were tough.  But it is in the bank and I am looking next to the 600m repeats on Thursday.

Monday, February 25, 2008

I'm no Dennis Miller

but this is my weekend update!  (HA!  Man, sometimes I crack myself up!)  I am sitting in the living room typing this up as Sonja rocks out on our brand new Guitar Hero for Wii (which was a mutual Valentine's gift - it is pretty amazing so far, but I don't think I am much of a hero yet.  And I STILL need to get new strings for my real guitar!)

Friday night with Jen and Trevor was great.  We all had a good time and it was only late at night that I realized that I had no plans for my Saturday run.  Usually I am out in the snow with Eric and Simon, but the snow is not very good right now (10 degrees and sunny for a week will do that - NOT that I am complaining) and the next snowshoe race is not for two more weeks.  With that in mind, and with Paul calling me out on email, I decided to join in on the VFAC Saturday morning workout at Stanley Park.

I dropped Trevor off at SFU for a conference and was at Stanley Park an hour before the 10am start, so I warmed up around Beaver Lake and then the seawall.  It was a beautiful morning, enough so that there was a naked man in the ocean.  Hey, it was 10 degrees!

The workout was 1k, 2k, 2k, 1k around the 1k loop of Beaver Lake.  Paul and Jay were there which made things about a million times better, because I did not want to be doing that workout on my own.  Coach John looked us over and said that we should go just under 3 minutes for our first 1k, then hold 6:10s for our two 2ks, and "you will probably go 2:55 for your last one."  We all scoffed at this notion and then proceeded to prove him right.  Damn.  And it wasn't easy.  Jay was flying and I was working my butt off to keep in contact with Paul.  In the end I went 3:01, 6:10, 6:09, 2:56.  Similar to the 58s in the 400s workout on Thursday, I have not gone under 3:00 for a kilometer in many years.  I am definitely running fast, but I need to really work on being able to hold a faster pace for much longer.  

Sunday emerged as beautiful as Saturday.  We were going to meet Jen, Trevor, Tim, and Sarah down at Granville Island for late morning, so I met up with Simon for a long run at 7:30am.  We had 32k on the schedule, so we ran from East Van/Burnaby to Stanley Park and back.  We had great conversations (rookie nights, pregnancies, weddings, movies, running, books, etc) and kept each other from going too fast.  I had orignally planned on crossing Lions Gate Bridge and coming home along the North Shore; however, since Simon was going to turn around and head back the way we came, I decided to do the same.  I had thought that the 16k mark was at Third Beach, but when I got home I realized that I was mistaken.  After dropping Simon off, I had about 6k left to get home and the fatigue really started to set in.  I looked at my watch and wondered why I was at 2:30 and I still wasn't home.  Were we really running that slowly?  I mean, I had run 1:49 for 30k in a race - it shouldn't take me 50 minutes longer for a long run!

Turns out that my long run on Sunday was more like 36k than it was 32k.  Third Beach was the 17.8k into the run, not 16k.  It may not seem like much, but I definitely felt it in the last 4k.  I was pleased to have finished the run and took the opportunity to lay down on a log and bask in the sun for about 5 minutes before heading home and into an ice bath.  Is it bad when you look forward to the ice bath?

Tonight I felt the workouts.  My 10k recovery run was, in a word, hurtin'.  My legs felt heavy and I felt a little emotionally fatigued.  A combination of seeing good friends (and consequently realizing how much I missed them) and two very good (but draining) runs left me feeling a little underwhelmed today.  But, the legs eased up a little as the run progressed, but there is not much pop in them right now.

Tomorrow calls for a 18k tempo.  With six training weeks left until Boston (two week taper, I am assuming from Coach John), this is the meat of the training.  I have not run "hard" for the past two years as I have been following Maffetone and low heart rate training.  I am running faster than I have ever before right now, but I have to keep in mind that there is a price to be paid for this and it is doled in out fatigue.  But recovery (and an Easter Creme egg) makes you feel better very quickly!

In other news, the ENDURrun has 28 registered participants!  They are capping it at 30 this year.  This is amazing news for this great race!  In 2006, only 5 hardy souls took on the challenge of the complete ENDURrun, and yet it produced the closest finish.  This time, with close to 30 people, it will be an incredible event with many surprises and changes in position.  I am incredibly excited to compete in the ENDURrun this year!
Saturday - 1:00 base, 1,2,2,1 (3:01, 6:10, 6:09, 2:56)
Sunday - 2:38:44 (which would be a good marathon time!)
Monday - 36:18 (ok, not quite 10k)

Friday, February 22, 2008

Weekend Running

Jen and Trevor made it over safely for dinner and Wii in Burnaby.  I got caught up on the Victoria gossip (Jazz didn't tell me he got married - jerk!  How do I mend a broken heart?) and I definitely envious that they will be at GM Place for the Canucks game tomorrow against the Red Wings.  The way the 'nucks have been playing it should be an amazing game.

It was a day off for me and since the snow on Wednesday was not very good, I am going to forego my snowshoe run tomorrow and instead join up with the VFAC Saturday workout.  Sunday will see me on the trails with Simon, getting my arse handed to me bit by bit, hill by hill.

Hopefully the weather holds for the weekend so that I can bask in sun and relative warmth!


Thursday, February 21, 2008

Round and round we go

We gathered at the track tonight unsure of what awaited.  One of the group - Ynuk - has made his way back after battling the dreaded IT band friction syndrome for the past three months.  Based on his workout tonight, I am scared to see what happens when he feels fit again!

The weather here couldn't have been nicer today.  The clouds stayed high and the temperature hovered around 10 degrees for most of the day.  The evening was dry and warm; warm enough in fact that I broke out shorts for the first time this year.  The whole crew showed up tonight and it was a glimpse of how much fun and how great this group can be if everyone stays healthy.  There were 6 of us, with a newer runner Ben (who broke 1:16 for the half running with the Running Room running groups - this guy is going to fly!) doing 200s while the rest of did 5 x 400.

The first 400 was run as a warm up and the following four were to be done fast, but with lots of rest.  I felt much like Mike did the other night when he wasn't feeling so hot before the workout.  My legs felt heavy, weighted down I believed from the downhill running in the tempo workout on Tuesday.  My hip flexors were a little fatigued and I wondered if I was going to be going well this evening.  Coach John had me down to be running 59s.  I found this confusing as my recent PB was 59.    However, with the ideal conditions and the group around me, my legs came around.

After drills and some dynamic stretching and strides I felt better.  We opened up our "warm-up" 400 in 64 seconds.  But this felt good.  I followed Paul around in order to not get silly on the first.  Paul is the king at pacing and I knew it would be smart to hang with him.

The next four were fun.  Ynuk took out the first real one fast.  I worked hard to stay in his draft and I came around in 59 seconds, bang on what Coach John had wanted.  Ynuk ran an opening 58, which was unreal seeing as he hasn't done any track yet and is coming off injury!  The second one was with Ynuk again, and Ben leading us through the first 200.  This time we came in together in 58.  It felt fast, but the fatigue had yet catch up (although it was coming fast!).

The last two were a bit more of a struggle.  Ynuk backed off smartly for the last two and I ended up running alone on the third one, holding a 59.1.  The rest of the group was going well as everyone was in an around 60-63.  It was fun to give Simon a hard time, knowing full well he will be minutes ahead of me in the races we do this year.  

The last one was all out.  Jay decided to have a go and I heard his breathing from about 250m on.   I was fading and he was coming on strong.  We both crossed around 59 (plus or minus .5 seconds), which was his best time in ages.  Overall, the group ran very well and enjoyed each other's company.  I am very pleased (and somewhat surprised) with my workout tonight.  My track background shines through on nights like tonight, but I have to start converting that speed into a bit more endurance so that I can stay in touch with my teammates when we get into races longer than 800m.  I am excited for some long runs this weekend and a chance to see Jen and Trevor!  Couple that with a Pro-D day tomorrow and things are looking very good!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Lunar Eclipse

It looked pretty good from up on Grouse tonight.  The pleasant weather and the cool eclipse made up for the not so great snow.  I got some running in as I had to go back and forth between other leaders to make sure that everyone was on the same page in regard to leader-type stuff.  As a result, I got a couple good hills in, but overall it was an easy night.

Again, the red moon this evening made it all worthwhile.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

So, there is still some snow on the ground..

I was to complete the 17k tempo tonight, holding 3:35/km (or 5:46/mile for our neighbours to the south).  With the temperature reaching double digits around here recently, I was hoping that the paved road in Lynn Valley was going to have melted.  So it was with this hope that I made my way to the North Shore quickly after work, to take advantage of the ever increasing sunlight, and to get this longer workout done.

I parked my car outside the gate of the park and started the 3-ish kilometer run to the entrance of the park.  The signs posted around the gate clearly state that the gate will close at 5:00pm.  Seeing as how I started the run at 4:30 I didn't want to risk the chance of getting locked in.  However, with construction of a water filtration plant occurring on the edge of the park, there are many cars going in and out of the gate.  I still was unsure if I would be able to get out when I wanted to, so I used the 3k as a warm up for the tempo.

I arrived at the start of the road and I was not optimistic.  Snow sat everywhere, defying the sun to melt it.  I followed the worn snow path to the start of the road and was pleasantly shocked - the road was plowed!  This was amazing!  While there was snow everywhere else, the road was bare!  I started my watch began my run.  

That lasted 90 seconds.  About 400m in the plowing stopped.  It appeared that they plowed the road to some sort of storage hut, but not beyond.  There goes the workout.  I turned around and quickly decided I run back toward the car.  Seeing as how the distance to the car was close to 4k from where I was, I decided to do out and backs from the car.  The dirt road was in perfect condition, there weren't that many cars going by, and I was surrounded by forest.  It was also slightly downhill to the car and, correspondingly, uphill back to the start of the paved road.  This would make it difficult to hold 3:35 pace, but it would be beneficial in the Boston-sense of downhill running. 

So, an hour later, I was done my workout.  It wasn't what I had planned, and I had a rough patch on the first uphill portion, but seeing Tom and Duncan on the second downhill portion helped my spirit and I finished feeling good.  Again, I am not sure that I held pace, but my heart rate was up and it felt like tempo effort.  And it was a heck of a lot better than running in place on a treadmill.

It is supposed to rain for the rest of the week, but these few days of glorious sunshine has helped to rejuvenate my desire, reminding me what it is going to be like in a month from now.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Sore Ass

That is my fault I guess.  I should have known better than to run hard downhill for a total of 21 minutes.  What else should I have expected?

But what was unexpected was how decent I would feel throughout the rest of the day.  Minimal soreness as I went about my daily routine of teaching, but upon lacing up the shoes for this evenings brief recovery run, I found that the deeper muscle tissue was torn up.  I was quite hobbled for the first five minutes of the run, gingerly placing my feet one in front of the other.  But, over time, the blood began to flow and the muscles loosened up and the damage incurred as a result of yesterday's (necessary) run subsided.

Not to throw (a lack of) snow in the face of my Ontario friends, but today was 11 degrees and sunny.  It was beautiful, really.  And tomorrow is supposed to be nicer.  I can only hope as Coach John has given me a 17k tempo to complete.  I am hoping that there is not much snow on the North Shore as I would like to do the tempo on the road at Lynn Valley.  I guess I will have to check on my own tomorrow afternoon (unless anyone out there can give me the heads up?).

In other news, I finished the book Three Day Road by Joseph Boyden.  It was a great read and gave me a small sense of what the men of WWI must have gone through over in Europe.  I know that there is no way that a written account of the Great War can even begin to create a true sense of empathy within the reader - the sights and sounds and fear cannot be replicated in the safety of our homes - but it has opened my eyes to what it was like for some.  As well, the First Nations story within it was beautiful, with the character of Niska being one my favourite in recent reads.  I would recommend Three Day Road if you are at all a fan of historical fiction or war novels.

I am now reading a novel I was supposed to have read in university, but didn't.  Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison is one of the classics of African-American fiction.  I had a hard time with the start, but I am settling in well with it.  There is much written and studied on this novel, so I would suggest doing some further google research as I cannot possibly add anymore to the discussion, at least at this point. 

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Ups and Downs

The purpose of today's run was to get in some extended, fast downhill running.  With that in mind, I decided to do a loop of my own creation on the North Shore.  It was the first beautiful day of the late winter (I can only hope that it is REALLY late winter at this point), and I parked at the base of Mt. Seymour Parkway as the sun worked its way into the sky.  

I usually run my long run with podcasts of the sport and political variety, but after having sent my iPod shuffle through the washer and dryer, it wasn't up for the task (aside: after a restore this afternoon and some gentle coercing, it is back to life!).  So it was my and the road and my mind for the next 93 minutes.  I kept the run a little shorter as I did race yesterday and I didn't want to do anything too silly (especially with the amount of downhill I was hoping to do).

I made my way up Indian River Road, which is a 2.5 km climb to where the Baden Powell Trail intersects it.  From there, it is another 1km of uphill in the trails until Mt. Seymour Parkway intersects it.  From there it is a little over 2k back down to Indian River Road.  I wasn't sure how long the loop would take as it was approximately 3.5k of uphill and about 2.3k of downhill.  In the end, it was about 30 minutes per loop, which is a good time.  The uphill actually felt really good today - I am not sure if it was the lack of snowshoes or if I am getting stronger or if going controlled on the uphill helped a lot.  I also realized how much I miss the trails.  The short 1k trail section was eagerly anticipated each time and I felt so comfortable in there.  In some ways I can't wait for Boston to be done so I can put some focus back on the trails.  However, in the meantime, my legs have to get used to the pounding of the roads, especially the downhill.  Each downhill took just over 7 minutes, so it was about 21 minutes of hard downhill today.  I had the thought of adding a loop to the run every two weeks until I am doing five loops, which would be about 2:30.  I think that if I can handle that long run, then the Boston downhill should be tolerable.

The afternoon saw me and Sonja exploring Robson St. and then the fringes of Stanley Park.  We had a great walk, some hot chocolate, limited shopping and a few pictures.  A very beautiful, but still cool, afternoon.  However, I did appreciate it all the more after my mother informed me of the mess that Toronto is still in.

Duration : 1:33 - with 615m of ascent (which means I had 615m of descent as well)

Saturday, February 16, 2008

That's more like it

I picked up Simon and Katrina this morning and we made our way up to Grouse Mountain for the third race in the Yeti Snowshoe race series.  For the regular readers out there, you will remember my frustration with my last (which was my first) attempt at snowshoe racing.  Going out too quickly, not knowing the course nor the difficulty of running hard in snowshoes left me unsure as to whether or not I enjoyed the sport.  Today would be different than a couple of weeks ago.

My goal for the race today was to race smartly.  It seemed as though I had left my race smarts in Victoria as my first three races of this year all ended up with my blowing up.  Not spectacular bonks or anything, but I may have been a little too big for my britches as a result of the workouts I have had in the early season.  In my time since the National Triathlon Centre, I have forgotten that great workouts and great races do not always walk holding hands.  I have been reminded (three times) of that this early season.  And so, with all that floating around the empty space that is my mind, I remained humble before the race.

Katrina, Simon, and I boarded the gondola and arrived at the chalet of Grouse in plenty of time.  We had some good conversation and prepared for our warm up.  After trying to make sense of the course, we made our way into the snow and fog and had a good 15 minute warm up.  The snow, which was awful on Wednesday, was much better thanks to 15cm of fresh fallen powder.  Things were looking good.  We knew the course, we knew the terrain, and I had committed to myself to be smart.  

The start came and went and I settled into my group.  I purposely went out comfortable.  The Grouse course has what amounts to essentially two HUGE hills (about 20 minutes long for one and about 10 minutes for the other - which is a lot in a 58 minute race).  I knew that the last ten minute one was going to be the spot that people would blow up if they went too hard.  After that 10 minute hill it was literally all downhill (and a huge downhill at that) to the finish.  

I was pleased with my progress as we made our way to the peak of the mountain.  I had been hiking quite a bit as it was too long and too steep for me to try to run it.  The first two finishers may have run it all, but for me I would have gone too lactic.  I sat in behind some guys and passed them on the brief flats and long downhills.  At the turnaround I was 12th, but, as planned, I passed two guys on the ten minute hill.  I then had a grand ol' time bombing back downhill and finishing with a cartwheel - a stark contrast to the previous race.  I finished 10th, one place back from the last race (9th), but feeling much better.

Simon, for his part, went out hard and at the end he was essentially a mirror of the emotions I exhibited after my first race.  He finished 6th, a testament to his ability as he hasn't trained much in the past few weeks.  Katrina was second woman with a great race.  A hot chocolate later we were on our way down. 

Tomorrow is a long run, but looped.  I am heeding the advice of pretty much everyone I speak with in regard to Boston - be ready for the downhills.  Now, we know I love the downhills, but I don't think that I can over-prepare for them, so I am going to be using Mt. Seymour Parkway tomorrow for 2.5 km repeats of downhill running.  Should be good times!

Oh, and Definitely Maybe wasn't bad.  In the vain of Love Actually and How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days, (chick) flicks are starting to have a bit of a male oriented narrative which is (sometimes) engaging.  Last night's movie was one of those types of movies.  If you have to go, that is a good one to go to.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Friday Off

For some reason, this last Monday felt like a Friday to me.  It seems that it felt that way to a number of other people in this part of the country as well.  The week dragged on and on and on.  But Friday is here and it is a scheduled day off.  After a dinner of fresh wild sockeye salmon and a zucchini concoction that Sonja made up (delicious), we are off to a movie.  It is a "it's not valentine's day" date, which means a (chick) flick for us!


Tomorrow is my second attempt at snowshoe racing - I'll let you know how it goes.  At least Stefan Jakobsen won't be there, which means I have a shot a moving up a place.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Nothing like a little track to kick out the doldrums

Did I just write doldrums?  Wow.  I am old.

Some 300s tonight with Jay and Paul.  Apparently when Jay and Paul finished the half marathon on Sunday, Paul looked around and looked to Jay and said, "Wasn't Brad with us?"  I had a good laugh about that one.

Perspective is setting in on that race and I am pleased with the fact that, as Yoda said, I raced, I didn't pace.  There is a difference between going out and laying it out on the line and going out and being safe, hitting the predetermined pace times, but not ever knowing if you could have gone faster.  One is heart and one is head.  I raced with the heart, but there is most definitely a time and place for the head.  I am going to be smart this weekend with the snowshoe race, especially after being reminded about how big and steep the hills are at Grouse.

So, the workout was 1 x 400 (warm up), and 4 x 300 all out with 500m slow jog recovery.  I went 66 for the warm up 400 and then 43, 43, 42, 42 for the 300s.  It felt good, especially later in the workout.

Paul mentioned a half-marathon on April 1 that is really good.  He is going and it has a strong downhill component to it.  It is also in a beautiful part of BC - Gibsons.  I am very much considering that as it is three weeks out from Boston, which would be good timing and it would allow me to get used to the downhill aspect of Boston.  As well, it is another shot at a solid half-marathon while I am fit.  More to come on that front.


Wednesday, February 13, 2008


Last week was blizzard like conditions with perfect powder snow.

Tonight was a perfect view with crappy snow.  

What I realized tonight was that the snowshoe race this weekend at Grouse Mountain is going to be hard.  I mean, very hard.  So it is my goal to go out and race smart.  Controlled at the beginning and stay strong on all the hills.  

Time to put the smart back in smartass.

Duration  - 80 minutes of snowshoeing with the "advanced" group

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

20k later

Tuesday is usually reserved for tempo workouts, but seeing as I had just finished one on Sunday (my half-marathon race) I opted for a longer run today (although, ironically, not quite as long as the tempo on Sunday).  I went out for 20k after getting home later due to a meeting at school.  I left in the late dusk and felt the night fall on my shoulders.  I did a loop of the Mt. Seymour Parkway and Dollarton Highway (for those in the know).  The wind on the Ironworker's Memorial bridge was brisk, but not overwhelming as it has been in the past.

The first third of the run was interesting, as I felt a little lightheaded and lightfooted.  I settled in a little later and from then on things just felt smooth.  Turnover was not effortless, but I felt as though I was moving over the ground well.  I was not waning in energy and felt good even though I could see the bridge in the far off distance.  The air was not cold enough to chill, but I definitely was not warm.  I considered my dear friends in Ontario and appreciated the run all the more.  

90 minutes of a solid run.  Good for a Tuesday.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Floating Rain

A quick shake out of the legs tonight in the kind of rain that hovers.  25 minutes easy as dinner was cooking.

In more fun news, it looks as though I am finally going to be able to convince people to join together to form an ENDURrun relay team.  This will be great for me as I will get to see more friends this summer, and it will be great for the ENDURrun because it will expose more people to this amazing event.

Just a short update tonight, but thanks to everyone who has sent positive notes my way.  I recognize that I am being a little whiny about the past couple of races.  I think that the grayness of the skies is settling in my psyche.  


Sunday, February 10, 2008

Worst PB Ever

I have now had some time to think and talk about the race and I am more comfortable with it than I was immediately afterward.  Chatting with Simon Driver, Paul Krochak, Eric Langjhlem, and Adam Campbell has quickly put the run into perspective.

I went out hard.  Too hard.  But it felt so good.  I was sitting on Paul's shoulder, holding 5:30/mile.  We were a few meters back of Jay and another strong runner, Ian Druce.  I was pretty impressed that I was there as usually these guys are a pack ahead of me.  That should have been my first clue.

Rookie mistake.  The course was marked in miles, not kms.  I am not used to mile splits (although I better get used to them for Boston).  If I had seen that I was running 3:25/km, maybe I would have eased off a little.  But then again, maybe not.

We went through the first 4 miles and we were holding pace, although it felt to me as though we were picking it up.  That should have been my second clue.  I fell off pace a couple of times, but I worked myself back onto Paul's shoulder, not wanting to lose the group.  We were on the seawall and I knew it would be better to be in a group in case there was wind.  But I finally saw a gap open up just before 6 miles.  By the halfway point, they had 15 seconds on me.  36:21 was my split, which would be a 1:12:42 finishing time - a PB by 3 minutes.  That was my last clue.  

It was a bit of suffering from that point on.  I tried desperately to hold onto 6:oo/miles, sometimes more successfully than others.  I got passed by about 4 people.  I felt plodding and tried to focus on smiling and keeping my turnover up.  

I came through the finish in a disappointing PB of 1:15:38 for 19th place (10 seconds faster than the Royal Victoria Half-Marathon in 2006 - 1:15:48).  I did not race smartly.  I did not race within myself, going out with guys who I can run with in workouts, but who race faster than me.  Paul and Jay had great races, which is awesome.  I feel as though if I had been smarter I could have run 1:14:30, but I ran 1:15:38 so that is the new standard.

This is all training for Boston.  I also have to keep in mind that I have set two PBs in my last two races and in neither of them did I feel great.  That is the good sign.  I found my humility in this race and will focus on myself, not those around me, from here on out.  At the 8k, at the marathon last fall, and here today I have been looking for HUGE PBs, thus small ones seem to be less special to me.  But no longer - I am now focussing on a strong race and I will let the PBs fall where they may.

Thanks to the boys for talking me through this one.  


Saturday, February 09, 2008

Time to Play

The truth is that there is nothing noble in being superior to somebody else.  The only real nobility is in being superior to your former self. - Whitney Young, Civil Rights Activist

I am truly blessed to have friends who inspire me.  Some are professional athletes, some are world champions, some are occupational therapists, some are teachers, some are students, and some are coaches (ed note: this is not an exhaustive list, I just can't list everyone occupation).  The point is that I have been fortunate to come into contact with people that are amazing, and doing incredible things.  

In this clip below (which I watched on Simon's blog), he speaks about the difference in his attitude toward his Olympic races in 2000 and 2004.  Listening to his talk this morning really reminded me of the feeling I get when I am just out running in the trails.  I have not completely lost this feeling, but with the wearing winter and the track workouts and the splits I am supposed to hit, somewhere inside me the kid is fading.  

So, Simon (who I am lucky to call a friend) has reset my mindset for the race tomorrow.  It isn't an Olympic race, but the mindset will be the same.   Go out and play.  Enjoy the movement of running.  And, as cliched as it is, have fun.  The time will come.

Friday, February 08, 2008

I eat swimmers

As some are aware, I am a very soft vegetarian.  I will eat sour keys and yogurt, both of which have gelatin.  I am not too concerned if the soup being served to me at a friend's house was made with chicken broth.  I have been known to accidentally eat half a hamburger (I swear that I didn't know - but it sure was smoky!)

I have been off the land based meat since I lived in Colombia in 2000.  It was my second stint at being a vegetarian, the first one crumbling after two months of residence induced veggie subs and pasta.  This time I was better educated (by those who were already vegetarians) and it has, much to the chagrin of my mother, worked.

Sonja and I went to our favourite local restaurant tonight for dinner - Vita Bella.  If you are ever in Burnaby, you need to make it there.  The signature dish is the Linguine Fumate - a 
smoked duck, wild mushroom and truffle pasta.  It is the closest you can get to eating wonderful wonderful smoke.  Incredible really - Sonja won't eat anything else when we go there.

A picture of the Linguine Fumate.

As we were leaving, I asked one of the owners if there would ever be a vegetarian option.  She smiled and asked if I was really enough of a vegetarian to even not eat duck?  (Did she know me).  I smiled back and replied, "I only eat swimmers", going on to explain that while I will eat seafood (in fact, I had one of the seafood pastas this evening), that I wasn't quite soft enough to eat duck.  We explored the possibility of a vegetarian version and then we left as a table of friends approached her.

Upon arriving at the car, Sonja exclaimed "Best line ever! I eat swimmers! Ha!  You should be careful about when you say that."

"What do you mean?  I say that all the time."

So, with Sonja's objections to the phrase for reasons unbeknownst to me, I enjoy my day off before the light run tomorrow and the race on Sunday.  Mmmm....fumate.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Climate Change

In a day.  Yesterday was snowing and blustery.  Today was sunny and warmish.  Go figure.

We were back at the track tonight for the third week of the speed build.  Tonight was a one 400 (for some fast warm up) and then four 200s, all out.  I haven't sprinted like that since I beat a student in a barefoot race on a soccer field about 4 years ago.  We had full rest, so each one was to be as fast as we could go.  I felt like I was back at Centennial Stadium in Oshawa, chasing Jason Brumley around the track (man, was he fast!  I should Facebook him...)

Anyway, I ended up holding about 26s for each of the four 200s.  I felt good and fast, falling back into the ol' sprinting form surprisingly easily.  I am glad that I still retain some speed from the early days, but I would like to be able to translate that into the longer distances (10k and such).

Talked to Coach John about Sunday as well.  He thinks I should go out in 3:25/km and see how it goes.  That would put me WAY under my PB of 1:15:40ish, but I am thinking a more conservative 3:30 to start and see how it goes.  Of course, much depends on the weather, but it was supposed to be 8 degrees with light rain - which is actually very good running weather as long as the ground is not slippery.  It will be an interesting day as I am feeling relatively fit, but I am not sure about 1:12 fit.

Here's to a mini-taper! (Day off tomorrow and light run on Saturday)

Wednesday, February 06, 2008


I'm done with it.  At first, it was amazing.  Then it was fun.  Now it is annoying.  I didn't move to Vancouver to deal with West Coasters who can deal with a little snow on the ground.  Enough with the traffic delays and everyone freaking out.  I am done with winter.

Having said that, it made for amazing snow conditions for the Snowshoe Clinic tonight.  I had requested to go with the casual hikers this week so I could have a rest in preparation for the half marathon this weekend.  There was so much powder on Grouse that any step off the beaten path would land you in knee deep snow.  It was wonderful up there, on the mountain, but down in the city....

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

A dash of inspiration plus a pinch of accountability equals...

...a full tempo run.

My afternoon was made complete by a surprise phone call from Stefan.  It has been awhile since we spoke, so it was great to catch up with him.  Speaking of the training he was doing with one of my old training partners, Jon Moncrieff, I missed the old crew.  I complained about tempo treadmill runs, he complained about Ontario weather and the rigors of being a lawyer keeping him from training.  I explained my 15k tempo tonight and subtly called me out on bailing on the earlier ones.  So it was with the inspiration of running with Moncrieff, Timms, and Taylor that I approached the run this evening.

The 15k was to be run at 3:35/km pace.  This is faster than last time, and longer.  I figured it would take me 53:45 to complete the 15k, which was going to be tough.  As I eased into the workout, I found that the heaviness present in my quads during the warmup dissipated and I was able to get a comfortable turnover going.  The Vancouver Canucks game was on the TV, so that was a good distraction (except they are playing poorly recently, so I didn't watch too much).  The pace was fine, but the treadmill is relentless.  There is no opportunity for a change of cadence, for a little break, as the rubber keeps passing underneath my feet.  This is the challenge - the constant pace.  I found myself wanting to pull the plug around 25 minutes, even though both heart rate and muscular fatigue were not an issue.  I pushed through that rough spot, thinking about Boston and trying to strengthen myself mentally.  Around 40 minutes, I dropped the 1% grade to 0% for about 4 minutes to change it up.  I put it back up to 0.5% for the remainder of the workout, completing the full 53:45 - the first treadmill tempo I have full completed.  

I would like to believe that I was mentally stronger tonight, but it was shame that got me through the workout - the shame of having to tell Stefan that I stopped early.  But I didn't.  So I don't have to.  Thanks, Stef.

Monday, February 04, 2008

A case of the Mondays

Well, the second semester started today and no mister nice guy teacher.  I am laying down the law now, kicking butt and taking names (to the office).

But as for training, it is a day off.  After a fast workout on Thursday, a tough snowshoe on Saturday and 25k on Sunday, I am going to take tonight off.  I have a big tempo tomorrow, so a little rest (read: absorbing the training) is in order.  

I have also just ordered Again to Carthage.  I got my copy of Once A Runner back from a good friend in England (I hope she read it!), so it reminded me that I wanted the sequel to read before (or on the way to) Boston.  

Oh yeah, and about Boston - stupid Air Canada has changed my Boston itinerary FOUR times now!  I mean, get it right!  I am just got bumped from a first class portion of the trip (from Toronto to Boston) because they changed the plane that they were using (the new one doesn't have a first class section).  I phoned Aeroplan (I booked it on points) and they basically said, too bad.  After having them lose my luggage on a flight from London, Ontario to Vancouver, and now this itinerary run around, I am (for the first time) yearning for some (Canadian-owned) competition for Air Canada.  

Ok, rant is over.  I am going to go and continue to read Three Day Road because 1. it is really good and 2. I want to start some more books.  

(One last parenthetical statement to end the post).

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Long Run Sunday

Today was a beautiful day in Vancouver.  I met up with Andrea for lunch, caught up on what was going on n our lives (Hi Dave!) and then I went to scout out the First Half Half Marathon route for next week (an aside - check out the race preview on their website - there is NO escaping talent in this town).  Coach John had me down for 25k today, so I ran from Broadway and Hemlock to the start of the race and then tried my best to follow the map of the route.  Essentially, the route takes us on a loop around BC Place and then a large loop of the seawall in Stanley Park.  As I said, today was beautiful and so the seawall was a popular place to be this afternoon.  I made my way through the throngs of people and enjoyed the views of the mountains and ocean, understanding why so many people love this city.  

(I didn't take the picture of Brockton Lighthouse on the seawall, but ran through it today.)

It was a base run today, so I took it easy, especially after the race yesterday.  I felt good for most of the run but my quads started to shake a little near the end of the run.  It wasn't a big deal, and I just cruised in the rest of the run.  Overall, a good run on a perfect day.  I am praying for no more snow.
Bryan Tasaka, former race director of the wonderful Gutbuster Trail Race Series, sent me these pics from the race yesterday.  The second one depicts pure relief that it was over.
The mass start.  I couldn't see anything for about 400m because of all the snow that was kicked up by the snowshoes.  That and the white out conditions.
The end had finally arrived!

Saturday, February 02, 2008

The Yeti 10k Snowshoe (Mount Seymour) Race Report

Man, that was hard.

The best way to describe it is to imagine running hard for an hour on a soft sand beach, in flippers, with REALLY big hills.  Now make it -4 degrees celsius.  I am still trying to decide if it was fun.

The day started out rough as just getting the top of Mount Seymour was a treacherous ordeal.  I sometimes forget that even though we are in Vancouver, we are still in the mountains.  The REAL mountains.  And thus I underestimated my little cars ability to drive up a mountain road in snowy conditions.  She didn't fail me, as we made it there safe and sound, but the hazards got a workout and the 10 minute drive took more like 25.

The top of the hill was in near white out conditions and I was wondering if fate was being cruel by allowing us (I was with Katrina Driver) to make it to the top.  We found a parking spot that we thought we would be able to get out of and quickly went inside to get our numbers.  The race start time was quickly approaching due to the length of time it took to get to the top, so we hurriedly changed into race appropriate clothing and ran over to the start.  Fortunately, the start of the race was delayed a little to allow everyone time to get their registration done and come to the start of the race.  Katrina and I ran a little of the course for our warmup and then went to the Start/Finish line.  

One would think that a snowshoe race would not draw that stellar of a field, but on the line was a member of the Canadian Mountain Running Team, the Knee Knacker record holder, and one of BC's top endurance athletes.  I looked around and realized that I am in a community that has exceptional athletes.  So, I was definitely concerned when about 15 minutes into the race, the Knee Knacker record holder and the Mountain Running Team member went by me.  The fact that I was up that far was a little disconcerting.  As this was my first snowshoe race I had no idea of what to expect, but based on the people passing me, I surmised that I had gone out a little too fast.  

The race was three loops - a figure 8, going upper loop, lower loop, upper loop, resulting in us  passing the Start/Finish area twice.  This is fine, but the issue was that I found this out as I was approaching the Start/Finish area for the second, and what I thought was the final time.  I had been told before the race that the course was a figure 8 and had assumed that meant that I would run the figure 8 and that would be it.  So when I asked how much farther was left after the lower loop, the answer I was looking for was 100m or maybe even 300m - not one more loop.  

I was sad.  I had some conversations in my head.  Maybe I just don't like to hurt.  Maybe I am a wimp.  Maybe I am just that bad at hills.  And then I remembered that this was my first snowshoe race and that I was using this race to train for other more important races.  This made me feel better as 3 other people passed me.  The sun had emerged at that point and the terrain was unreal.  Snow covered trees and soft rolling hills of powder surrounded me.  I was out in the mountains of BC and running in snowshoes.  If I hadn't known about the hill that was about to come, I would have enjoyed the moment.  

So, one relentless snowshoe race done.  I saw some Victoria people (Hi Leigh-Anne!) which was great.  They loved the race.  Me?  I am still deciding.  But regardless of whether or not it was fun, it was good for me.  And I will do another (two).

The Yeti Snowshoe 10k - Mount Seymour:  62ish minutes.

PS. We think Katrina was 3rd, which was awesome considering it was her first race and she was not going too hard.


Friday, February 01, 2008

Day Off

I like days off.  I have recovered well (or so I think) from the 400s last night.  I am racing in my first snowshoe race tomorrow, as part of Team Atlas Canada.  It should be interesting.  I will take my camera and hopefully get a chance to take some pics, if not of the race then at least of the warmup/cool down.

Wish me luck.