Sunday, March 30, 2008

And then the hail left...

It has been busy since returning from Ontario. Three days of school in an abbreviated week, running, volunteering for a race and trying to deal with the crazy weather has been draining.

The 45k sojourn took its toll on me as I was reduced to a walking tempo on Tuesday. I was supposed to do 22k, but after a mere 12k, I was slowly grinding to a halt. It wasn't that I was aerobically challenged, but rather my legs just gave out underneath me. I had not strength to get through the work out. I was speaking to Paul or Simon (I forget which one) about this on Saturday and he mentioned that Coach John believes that throughout a marathon build you have two throw-away workouts - workouts where things are not working and there is no point in pushing through it. Tuesday was my first throw-away workout. Fortunately for me (note the sarcasm), I get to have another crack at it this coming Tuesday.

My Thursday workout was good though. Meeting up with VFAC again, Paul and Jay and I ran a hilly 3k, 2k, 2k (10:05, 6:10, 6:06). I was pleased with the workout, especially after the debacle on Tuesday, but it was interesting to note that none of us were feeling that hot. I always find it incredible interesting (and somewhat comforting) that we all experience similar highs and lows and similar times. The human experience isn't all that unique in the end.

Saturday I volunteered at the VFAC Spring Classic 5k. This the first time I have volunteered for a race and I really enjoyed it. It was great to be in the culture of a race, but not have the pressure or expectation of racing. I was a course marshall at the Gluekos Power Mile (the first man and woman to the mile won $50), and it was very cool to see the leaders hammering through. The event was a success and the home baked goodies that the VFAC crew brought were appreciated by everyone (including me!). The run that afternoon was 10 x 1 minute on/ 1 minute off, which felt surprisingly good, even as hail pelted me in the forehead for the first half of the run.

Today was another 35k-ish, which I chose to do on the treadmill so that I could watch the Elite Eight of the NCAA Basketball tournament. This was harder than I thought as you become acutely aware of how boring the end of a basketball game can be when one team is up by 20 points. But, it is done and I am done.

This is supposed to be a much nicer week here, and Graeme Wilson and Ynuk Bosse are coming back out to Thursday workouts, so our group is almost all back together (Simon is still too busy to make it out consistently). With only three weeks left until Boston, most of the work is done. However, I am also planning out life AB (after Boston), where I once again get to do fun things (like running in the trails more!).

And a BIG SHOUT OUT to Mr. Paul Tichelaar, Mr. Kyle Jones, and Mr. Colin Jenkins who, after spending a month training their brains out at altitude in Flagstaff, had amazing results in their first World Cup triathlon of the season (respectively 7th, 10th, and 49th with the fastest swim). Well done, boys. I am glad to say that I taught them nothing at all about triathlon, which might be why they are having so much success.

Monday, March 24, 2008

The Longest Run

The transition from Pickering to London went pretty smoothly.  I arrived to Sonja's home with the emergence of beautiful weather and clear roads.  This was going to be beneficial to me as I had two workouts to complete over the weekend - a 10 x 1 minute on/ 1 minute off and a 38k long run.  I was able to quickly fit in the Saturday workout after arriving from Pickering, running along the Thames River.  The first 4 intervals felt a little awkward, the Friday having been a day off and having an abbreviated warm up.  The final 6 felt a little better, I found my stride and the wind at my back made me feel like a runner.

The Sunday long run was another story.  Sonja's father, Evan, graciously planned a route for me that would take me out and around some of the smaller towns situated on the edge of London proper.  Working with his computer program, he came up with a route that was 37.8km, door to door.  He even then wrote the directions out on cards so I could remember the directions.  Furthermore, he printed me a map of the route.  So, it was with some humility that I called the Weaver residence from a pay phone three hours and seventeen minutes after commencing my run, asking for a ride home.

The run started out well enough: sun shining, birds singing, river flowing - you know the deal.  I had my podcasts lined up and made myself start conservatively; I didn't want to bonk on this run.  Running beyond 30k is definitely my weakness, but with four 30k+ runs in the past 5 weeks, I am starting to gain some confidence.  The weather was indeed ideal for running and I was looking forward to the exploration of the route - Evan even included a short jaunt on Boston Rd!  

I made it to Komoka with no problems, listening to some politcal podcasts debating the effectiveness of Obama's speech on race (they thought it was an "historic" speech, but wondered if blue collar Pennsylvania workers would want to listen to a 45 minute speech about race).  I knew that my next turn was to be Oxbow Rd, the same name of the lake that Olympia Sports Camp sit on the edge of.  However, I thought that Oxbow Rd was outside of Komoka while it was actually just within the city limits.  This would be my downfall.  I had my head down, at this time listening intently to a podcast by EndurancePlanet, when I went past Oxbow.  Being ignorant to the road less travelled behind me, I continued on, looking at each crossroad for the elusive road home.  

It wasn't until 7km later that I realized that I had missed my turn.  I ran into a major road, at which point I consulted the now sweat soaked map that Evan had given me.  To say that I was a little disheartened at my (major) error would be a little bit if an understatement.  Knowing that I wouldn't be able to consult the map again (it was falling apart in my hands), I planned my route home.  With Sarah Slean's new song, Get Home appropriately playing on the podcast, I started my new route home.  

The run was supposed to be about 38k, or 2:45.  So, it was at 45k (3:17 in) that I finally found a pay phone and sheepishly called Sonja to come get me.  Fortunately, I was on the right track as I was only about 5k from home at the time of the phone call.  I bought some Powerade from the Sunoco station and waited for my ride home.  

I slept well that night.  And while the last 3k were pretty soul-crushing, it was good to know that the time and the distance would have equated to about a 3:00 marathon, which is great for a training run.  I am excited to finish off this week of training and start the taper toward Boston.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Oh Toronto!

Not many updates as the internet isn't available in Pickering (or at least in my mom's house in Pickering). 

Tuesday - 35k in the sleet and wind.  I finished the run without feeling in my hands or the left side of my face (the wind was coming from the east).

Wednesday - An easy 10k around Pickering.  No sleet.  Much better.

Thursday - 2 x 17 min tempo around Mt. Pleasant Cemetery.  Lots of hangin' out with the little dude.  Very cool.  Legs are a little sore from Tuesday, but not as sore as they will be after the 38k on Sunday.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Eating and Sleeping

Two words that best describe Michael James.  I am now back in Toronto for a few days before heading to London.  I had the chance to meet my nephew for the first time; he is a wonderful young man, but if he isn't eating, then he is falling asleep while eating.  It was still pretty surreal to hold him and realize that he was in my sister's stomach not two weeks ago.  

No ill affects from the run yesterday.  I am still pretty happy about the whole thing.  I forget to whom I was speaking when I said this yesterday, but my race yesterday has caused me to rethink a few things.  Nothing drastic, like trying to make Olympic standard or anything, but just to rethink where I place myself on the running continuum.  At the very high end you have Kenyans and the like, running 26 minutes for 10k.  At the international level we have some Canadians who flirt with 27 minutes.  On the national level there are a bunch of people who can go sub-30.  I list these times to illustrate that I am no where near the high end of the running continuum, but I am have to start considering that I have moved a little closer to it.  For many years I thought that I could be a 34:00, maybe a 33:45 10k guy.  Those are good times.  But I didn't see 1:12 coming, and this has thrown me for a loop.  The equivalent 10k time for that 1/2 marathon is (according to the Prairie Inn Harrier's Race Calculator) a  32:48.  I have not considered running sub-33 and yet I obviously need to.  Running fast is not just training, but like most things in life, has a component of belief in it.  I have to start that process now - believing that I can run times like that.  When it I will actually post those times is another story, but the belief has just started.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Comox Valley Half-Marathon

I am not sure how to present this race report.  I think I will do it in moments, in no particular order.

Hanging out with the Victoria crew before and after the race.  Stealing donuts and seconds of vegetarian chili and soup.

Chatting with the winner, Jerry Ziak, after the race and him having remembered meeting at a previous race.  His sincere interest in my running and plans for the year.  He ran 1:07 off base training.  

The understanding of how important my training has been as I saw a new PB (2:45 faster than before) crossing the finish line.

Only getting a true understanding of the hills leading out to the turnaround upon seeing them as I was running down them on the way home.

Mark Cryderman pacing me throughout the race.  Good conversation and support throughout (at least throughout the first 10k, couldn't talk that much after that point).
Hitting 10k at 35:00, right on pace for 1:13:50, which was my goal for the race.

Ollie Blake and Kristina Rody picking me up from the ferry in Nanaimo, enabling me to NOT bring my car across, and in doing so, saving me $100 on the day in ferry passage.

Meeting Ron, possibly the funniest driver of an incredible motor home, ever.

The course was dry and wind was not a big deal.  Perfect conditions.

Waking up at 5:00am to get to the ferry for 6:15am.

Pushing hard in the last kilometer - very hard - for a chance to make it under 1:13.

I need to learn how to run a marathon before I race one.

Getting out of the car, in the rain, and running down the road in Nanaimo to make the ferry home, with only a minute to spare.  Stupid ferry traffic, but a HUGE thank you Ollie and Kristina for driving!

Wondering if I would still be on pace after my splits for 6k - 10k were 3:35, 3:33, 3:45, 3:37, 3:31.

Watching Jason Louttit take the tangent on the first corner, making up 5m on Jerry Ziak and Ryan Day.

Placing 3rd in my age-group, but 4th overall.

Missing the Island.

Running with Ian Druce, but disappointed to find out that he had been injured.  He is training for the Paris marathon, but hopefully will consider Ottawa if his injury disrupts the lead up.

Phoning Simon and Eric to let them know how I did.  Finding out that my PB for the half is faster than Eric's!

Counting up to 20 and backwards from 20 so that I could focus on running.  I think it was Paul who provided me with this tidbit of info.  It worked.

Running in new race gear.  Thanks, Gray!

Negative splitting the race by a minute and change - I love downhills.  I was told to treat the race as though it was a 15k (Coach John) or 18k (Kelly Guest) race, and that was the best course info I could have ever received. 

Finishing in 1:12:52, going about a minute faster than what I thought would have been a great race.  

Saturday, March 15, 2008

St. Paddy's Day come early

Last night I went out for an easy 45 minutes.  This rest week has helped a lot, mentally and physically.  The run last night felt amazing - light, easy, floaty (yes, it is a word!)  As a result, I was pretty stoked for the 5k this morning.  I quick perusal of the start list indicated that not many fast people were going to show up - I may just have enough to get into the money!?!  A long conversation with Coach John last night to discuss strategy, both for this weekend and long term, and the decision was made; if a bunch of fast people showed up, then shut it down and run the 5k as a tempo.  If I didn't recognize anyone and found myself in contention, then go for it.  

Having played a number of different sports throughout my life, at a number of different levels, I feel I have the ability to "get up" for the big game/race, as well as the ability to put the ego aside and do what I have to do for the larger goal.  Right now the larger goal is Boston, and thus the Comox Half-marathon is more important, so being able to shut it down in the middle of a race is important.  Fortunately, that wouldn't be hard today.

I showed up a little early to avoid the lines in picking up my race package for the St. Patrick's Day 5k.  I also don't mind doing a little extra warm up around Stanley Park.  Coach John had described the course correctly, but I wanted to run it to get a feel before I raced it.  I set out backwards on the course, just enjoying the morning, when I saw a tall Nike sponsored runner.  Hmmm.  Ok, he looks for real.  That is one.  The warm up continued.  "That guy looks familiar," I thought to myself.  Dave Jackson.  Well, that is two.  And then I saw Jason Louttit.  Well, that is three.  Add in Simon and Paul, that is five.  So, I was wary at best about going hard.  It seems that Coach John, who had said that people would show up at the last minute, was right.  The start line also included Bruce Deacon.  Wow.  So, it was good that I knew from that start that I wasn't going to challenge the race.  With that said, I still wanted to go out and get a feel for pace.  

The race started and I sat on Paul's shoulder, knowing that he is a great at going out controlled.  Simon was in a group about 10 meters ahead of us, but I felt very good in being where I was.  The first kilometer, which was along the seawall, was pretty flat; we went through in 3:11.  That is 15:55 pace for the 5k, and I didn't feel taxed very much.  I stayed with Paul through the mile (5:07) and when we hit the first hill I backed off.  I had chatted with Marilyn Arsenault at the beginning of the race and she was looking at running around 17:00, so as per Coach John's suggestion ("Focus on a friend and help them through the race.  That will keep you honest and not going too hard."), I said I would help her stay on target.  Her coach, Paul O'Callaghan, another Islander, had said that she was going through 3k controlled and then build the last 2k.  So it was at the hill that I eased up and waited for the women to come through.

Marilyn was in second place by about 10m when she caught me at about 3k, so I just ran a little in front of her, quietly encouraging her.  She was running incredibly well (especially as she is doing Comox tomorrow as well) and it was fun for me to be the bridge between her and first place.  At 4k I felt a little like Tom Miller, Katherine Switzer's boyfriend who cleared a path for her at the Boston Marathon, as I tried to clear a path through a group of four guys so that Marilyn could make an attempt at catching first place.  Marilyn had a great final 400m and as she began hauled in first place, I stepped aside and watched the battle from a few meters back.  

Marilyn won.  I finished in 17:10ish, but it felt very very comfortable.  During a cool down with Paul (he ended up running 16:00ish), I started to play with the numbers: 17 x 2 = 34 for 10k.  A 35 minute 10k is a 1:13:50 half marathon.  If 17 felt easy, a 35 10k should be quite doable, which means that I could run sub-1:14 for a half.  That is a pretty exciting prospect.  Adding up numbers does not equate to performance, but it is fun to think about.  And Coach John had said that if I held back today, I was allowed to go hard tomorrow.  I am excited.


Thursday, March 13, 2008

Bright Night

Last night was the first night that we were able to snowshoe in the light.  It was a very different experience in a few ways; first, we were able to see where we were going and second, a small "advanced" group allowed for us to go exploring.  Eric led the group as we went on a few new trails and caught some spectacular views.  The snow was pretty good as there has been a little powder from earlier in the week.  This was my last week guiding as I will be in Ontario next week, ironically, likely running in snow.  

Tonight was parent-teacher interviews, so no run for me.  I will get out tomorrow and have a light run before the races this weekend.  I am not too worried about the races - just training through them.  

And for those that know, LOST is getting a little crazier.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Faux Gutars, Taxes, Idol, and Rest

An eclectic night of Guitar Hero, filing taxes, going for an easy 45 minute run and watching some American Idol.

1. Guitar Hero - I am on the medium level and getting three stars.  It is kind of fun, but kind of weird.  I get songs stuck in my head and the streaming notes flicker in my head when I lay in bed, invade my dreams when I finally in sleep.

2. Taxes - did them on a whim tonight.  A good return, thankfully.  Doing taxes online is such an easy process.

3. EZ run - went along the Trans-Canada trail in the fading (albiet later than usual) sunlight.  Listened to sport news podcasts and enjoyed the rest.

4. American Idol - ok, I NEVER watch American Idol, but with the American Idol Wii game coming out, and the contestants singing Lennon/McCartney songs, we watched it during dinner.  It wasn't as horrific as I thought it would be, with some performances actually being ok.  But it was more fun watching Ryan Seacrest and Simon Cowell hate each other, and guessing if Paula Abdula was drunk or high.

Last night, during my day off, I planned out my trail racing schedule for the summer.  I am excited to do the Iron Knee 25k on May 31 and I am considering doing Comfortably Numb 25k in June for the 4th time.  I am also excited to go to the Island in June for the Gutbuster Half-Marathon in Nanaimo - one of the most perfect courses I have ever run!  July will see the infamous Knee Knacker 30 miler and August is the ENDURrun.  The other trail races will occur in the fall, with the 5Peaks at Buntzen Lake and the Iron Lung 20k in September, the Hallow's Eve 1/2 Marathon in October and the Gunner Shaw races in late November (Victoria) and early December (Vancouver).  I have all these races before (save the Knee Knacker and Iron Lung 20k), but I love the challenge of revisiting a course to better my time.  And as a guy who eats Peanut Butter and Jam sandwiches every single day for lunch, I don't mind doing the same thing more than once.  

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Two Down...

The day threatened rain, and for a moment it did fall gently, but overall it was a pretty ideal day for a run.

I arrived early at Stanley Park after much deliberation about what to do about my long run.  I considered running from home (about 12k) and then racing, before running back home.  In the end I decided to drive down early and get an hour of running in before the race, and follow the race with another hour or so.  This worked out very well for me.  Not only did I run into Richard Rycraft (a friend and one of my former athletes), I was able to get a good parking sport, avoid the lines for package pick up, and I got to preview the course.

After parting ways with Richard, I finished my warm up with some drills and strides before making my way to the start.  I was given an "elite" number so I was able to be at the front of the corral, but seeing Steve Osaduik and Ryan Hayden there, I knew that I was "elite" only in name.  
I was actually feeling pretty good after the warm up; yesterday's race was sitting ok in my legs.  The 8k started with a bit of an uphill, so, with Paul's reminder, I took it easy off the start - no need to blow up in the first 50m for an extra 4 seconds.  The race was actually a little sketchy at the start with some narrow paths, poles in the way and 180 degree turns on wet dirt.  We all survived fine and I hit my pace target for 1k - 3:15.  Coach John had suggested that I go out in 3:10, but I thought that with the race yesterday that I should back that off a little.  I would rather finish with a 3:10 then start with one.  

The field spread out very quickly with the 4 true elites off the front and the rest of us racing for time.  I was behind Paul and Jay, but perfectly so.  I have learned that I can run with them in workout, but not yet in races.  I was pleased with my position through 2k (3:18) and not much was going to change from that point on.  Someone once told me that where you are at 3k in a race is pretty much where you will end up (the does not work if you go out WAY too hard or WAY to easy).  This was to be the case today.  

I ran well through the next 6k, but not really making up much ground on the people in front of me.  It was interesting to watch the race ahead of me though, as the Stanley Park seawall affords some extended views.  Paul was ahead, pulling two guys through the gentle headwind, only to have them sprint by in the end.  Jay, like me, was on his own, two places in front of me.  I tried to will him to catch Paul's group (he was about 15 seconds back), so that they could work together, but my mental energy wasn't enough.  I had one guy about 10 seconds in front of me for the last 6k, but I wasn't able to get going enough to catch him.

My last 6k went as follows -  3:19, 3:20, 3:20, 3:21, 3:21, 3:15.  I ended up running 26:30 (chip time, I WANT that 26:30, not the 26:31 gun time).  I am pleased with this run today - 11th overall.  It is a PB by about 30 seconds (from earlier this year  - 26:59).  None of us were truly rested for this, so Paul's 25:50 and Jay's 26:10 were very solid as well.  A good day - and we won the team division which means the ten member of VFAC's Team Z won $100 gift cards to Harry Rosen's.  I am not sure which pair of socks I will buy with it, but they will be nice!

I finished the day with an hour of base running with Paul.  Good, geeky runner talk made the run go very quickly.  I am going to back off a little this week - I have had a solid 5-6 weeks of training, so a little rest is in order (and I have Parent-Teacher interviews this week).  This may also give me a little taper heading into the races next weekend.  After seeing the results from the Bazan Bay 5k today, and looking at how fast my friends are going, I have to ante up!

Saturday, March 08, 2008

One down, three to go

The Yeti National Snowshoe Championships transpired this morning at Cypress Mountain in West Vancouver.  By National Championships I mean the Championship for people who lived within driving distance of Cypress Mountain.  I don't think that many people would fly out west to compete in the race, which in a way is too bad, but completely understandable.  The race was well run and the route was beautiful - tons of single track with twists, turns, rises and descents.  A runner's course more so than the previous races, I felt good throughout the day.  

The snow was slushy at the start/finish area as the combination of the groomer and warmer weather made it feel as though we were running on sand.  However, the snow in the forest was very runnable and it was there that I felt best.  With fewer long hills I was able to get into a flow and draft some good runners.  Tim (who I met after the race) dragged me through the first lap.  I was conservative, sitting at the back of the third pack.  Jason Louttit, teammate Colin Dignum, and Shaun Stephen-Whale were out on there own.  Teammates Simon and Adam were in the next group, with me in the third pack.  The two loop course allowed for some opportunities to see each other, especially at the start/finish, where I was about a minute back of Adam and 90 seconds from Simon.  It was at this point that I moved through my pack and the aerobic beast that is Eric Langhjelm (who hasn't run in 2 weeks as a result of a car accident) joined me.  Whooping and hollering, he took me through most of the second lap.  We distanced ourselves from the group behind us and slowly gained on the boys in front.  Going out conservatively paid off big time as we were able to run the single track quickly and I felt strong on the hills - a stark contrast from my first snowshoe race where I suffered on every hill during the second loop.  We eventually caught sight of Adam and pushed a little more, with me taking the lead.  It was not important for me to beat Adam (a grade 12 kid who recently ran a 4:32 mile after only starting to train last year), but there was a team award that we were chasing - the team award was decided based on the combined time of the top 4 guys and top girl, obviously with the lowest time being first place.  Placing was not as important as making up seconds, and I was able to pull within shouting distance of Adam as we came out of the forest and sprinted to the finish.

I am pleased with my race.  Colin was 2nd, Simon was 6th, Adam 7th, and me 8th (I think those are right, but I haven't seen official results - we may be one place back).  Katrina Driver, one of girls (who is 4 months pregnant) pulled out as she wasn't feeling great, but Brooke (our other girl) ran well and with her finishing time secured victory for Team Atlas Canada.  So, there it is - we are the National Snowshoe Champions.  I write that with a little smile on my face because there was really only one other team there that was competitive (and they did great), but it is not a true nationals (yet).  

I enjoyed my snowshoe racing season.  It didn't start out that way, but after learning about how to race on the snow I am looking forward to next year.  There are some amazing runners who have done very well snowshoeing, so I am not sure if I will be selected to Team Atlas next year, but it has been fun this year.

Tomorrow is the 8k.  Round two.  Here we go.

Friday, March 07, 2008

8 days, 4 races

This is not quite the ENDURrun, but it is as close as I am going to get in the early season.  I am racing in the National Snowshoe Championships tomorrow at Cypress Mountain.  Sunday is the Harry's Spring Run Off 8k in support of prostate cancer research.  Next Saturday is a St. Patrick's Day 5k and then the Sunday is the Comox Valley Half Marathon.  A whole lot of racing prior to me going home to Ontario for March Break.  I am definitely training through the races in preparation for Boston in April, but it will be good to sharpen the edge that comes with racing.

Our workout last night at the track was not what we were expecting.  Based on the previous workouts, I thought that we were in for all-out 800's or 1k's, two or three at the most with full rest.  Instead, John dropped 5 x 800 with short rest (200m or 1:30-1:45).  We were to go 2:22-ish for the five.  Thank goodness that Jay and Paul were there to pull my butt through the workout.  Paul is running so strong right now and Jay is finding track legs he didn't know he had.  We warmed up with a 66s 400m before launching into the workout.  Initially I thought that holding 71s for 400m wouldn't be that tough, especially as we had been running 61s of late.  However, the short rest is what gets ya!  We worked well together (and by work well together I mean that Jay and Paul did most of the work), and I went 2:24, 2:18, 2:22, 2:18, 2:21.  We were all within 3 seconds of each other for all the 800s, so it was a solid workout for everyone.  I am pleased with how this week went - I felt stronger and more rested than last week even though I ran more.  

Tomorrow will be interesting.  I have called out Simon, so I fully expect to get my butt handed to me.  As well, he and I drew into the Knee Knacker.  There is a lottery each year as they are only able to have 200 starters on the line.  Unfortunately, Eric didn't get in.  This is entirely disappointing because of the amount of effort he puts into the trail running community.  He is also a former 3rd place finisher at the Knee Knacker.  And, lastly, I wanted to kick his butt!  He is going to train with Simon and I, but it will still kind of suck that he isn't on the start line with us.  Maybe he can be our support team?

Lots of race reports to come.  Stay tuned.  If you are bored, read this.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008


I didn't lose my key this week.  Couple that with the good workout yesterday and it seems that this week is WAY better than last week.  

The snowshoe tonight was quite beautiful.  I was up on the mountain a little earlier than usual and was able to watch the sun descend behind Vancouver Island, creating a mystical mountain panorama.  The snow alternated between very hard packed and soft, shallow powder.  If the snow is as hard as it was tonight come Saturday, it is going to be a fast race indeed.

However, perspective came to me this morning at around 6:30am when my mother's phone call awoke me from my slumber.  My sister, Julie, gave birth to her and Rob's first child (and my first nephew) - Michael James.  He weighed in at 8lbs 6oz -  mom and son (and dad) are doing very well at this time.  I have seen many of my friends have their first children recently (and one already has two - Hi Meat!), but it is definitely a different perspective when it is someone in your family.  Yeah, weird - I am an uncle.  Very cool, but weird.  It will take a little getting used to, but I think that the world will seem in its place when I first hold my nephew (yeah, still weird to say that) in a couple weeks.  Anyway, I am very proud of my sister for being so amazing throughout the whole pregnancy and birth - she is definitely the stronger of the siblings.  She and Rob are going to be amazing parents (and I will be the "cool" uncle - although Rob also has two brothers, so lots of "cool" uncles for Michael).

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

What a difference a week makes

Last week I struggled through the 18k tempo, tired and drained, both physically (from running) and emotionally (from teaching).  My first loop that night was mediocre, my second was ok, but my third was completed with wheels falling off the car (even the spare was about to go).

Tonight, buoyed by 11 degree weather and a blue sky, I ran the same 6k loop (3k downhill, turn around and 3k back up), but felt strong.  I am not sure if it was the 600s from last week, which John and Paul (but not Ringo and George) said would make a big difference in our running.  I am not sure if it was the 8 hours of sleep I got last night (where I dreamt that I was playing football for against the BC Lions and then bought books authored by Gayle Cazalet at halftime).  I am not sure if it was the new brook gear I was wearing.  Whatever it was though, it worked.  Maybe it was the rice krispie square at lunch?  Regardless, tonight I felt strong during a tempo run for the first time in a long time.  I negative split the workout, with my last loop being my fastest uphill one and within 3 seconds of my fastest downhill.  I felt my stride relaxing and my turnover was happening easily.  It was by no means a breakthrough workout, but rather a solid boost in confidence heading into two races this weekend (National Snowshoe Championships on Saturday and the Harry's Spring Run Off 8k on Sunday).  Overall, a very good 19k tempo.  Put it in the bank.

Monday, March 03, 2008

If it's Monday then it must be raining

Man, it was cold here today.  Not Toronto cold, but Vancouver cold, where the air makes skin impermeable to the chilled rain that is held in its grasp.

As a result of the cold rain and a weird smell (that we figure was a result of the combination of nearby oil refinery and rain), we spent this evening in the gym.  It was nice to set the treadmill to a nice easy pace and turn my brain off - no hills, no pace times, no distances.  It was about recovery tonight and my legs felt the better for it afterward. 

I have been working behind the scenes to put together a relay team for the ENDURrun and I think I have been successful this year.  I have a tentative team ready to go and a few backups in case things fall through.  I am excited about the chance to have friends at each of the stages, but with 28 people registered in the full race, I am sure that I will have many people to talk to (in 2006 there were just 5 of us registered in the Ultimate category!).

I was also fortunate to receive confirmation of an elite bib in this weekend's Harry's Spring Run Off.  It is an 8k in Stanley Park in support of Prostate Cancer research.  It will be fun as VFAC has put together a team to go for the fastest combined time.  It will also allow me to make up for my last foray into the 8k a couple of months ago.

The sun is supposed to come back tomorrow, so here's hoping!   

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Poker Star

To enjoy my Friday off, Sonja and I went to a co-workers house for a BBQ and poker.  Having watched Sonja play her share of online poker (and win a few tournaments - she is quite good!), I gleaned some strategies.  It was only a $10 buy-in to play with our friends and there were seven of us.  My luck from finding my key in the snow on Wednesday transformed into some beginner's luck on Friday where I was able to come away winning the whole shebang!  In doing so I realized that poker is all about winning a few important hands and folding a lot.  Also, there may be some bullying involved.

We were up quite late on Friday so Saturday morning came with an abruptness that wasn't appreciated.  I made my way out of bed and met VFAC down in Stanley Park.  I really have been impressed with Vancouver this past week.  After complaining about greyness and wetness for the past three months, it was absolutely beautiful this past week, Saturday being no exception.  The weather was perfect for running.  Ynuk made it back out to workout, knee still intact.  We had an interesting conversation about running track this summer - he may have convinced me to buy some spikes and run a few 800's or 1500's.  I haven't been on the track in a race situation since grade 11, so it would be fun (read: pull my heart out of my chest to stomp on it kind of fun).  
Paul and Jay met us at the start of the workout which was to be 5 x 800ish uphill.  The hill was very runnable, but definitely uphill.  The recovery was to run back to start, with a 200m stride in the middle of it.  Ynuk looked good again and the four of us stayed together very well, pushing each other to stay on pace.  We started out conservatively (I opened with a 2:48) and then descended throughout the workout so that my last two were 
2:40.  It was a very good workout for us.  I felt much better at the beginning of this workout than I did on Thursday, so that was encouraging.

Today I went for another long run.  Again, it was supposed to be 32k, but my time was 2:30, so I am hoping that some small wrong turns and slight route deviations caused me to get to 33k (or 34k). 
The map is for my 36k long run next week, but I followed the same basic route, just turning toward the middle of Stanley Park at 17k instead of at 20k.

The run went relatively well.  It is always hard in the last 25 minutes, especially when I was expecting to be done at about 2:10.  It wasn't a fast run, that much is for sure, but it is somewhat comforting knowing that come Boston I should only be running for 15 minutes longer than today and 7 minutes longer than last week.  The time of my feet is important, but I sometimes wonder if I am going to be able to hold pace (3:55/km) during the race.  However, that is what these long runs are for, not to mention a taper!

I also went a visited with Gray Taylor tonight, he of Brooks Running fame.  Gray is the rep for Brooks around here and the gentleman who has graciously sponsored me again this year.  We looked at and talked geek talk about shoes (there are 7 different Brooks shoes I would like this year - Glycerin 6, Ghost, track spikes, cross country spikes, a marathon shoe and a shorter racing flat, not to forget the absolutely amazing Cascadia trail running shoe).  He also passed along this year's racing kit and it received Sonja's approval ("Way better than the grey colour from last year!")  I am fortunate enough to have a few people who support me in my running (Frontrunners, 7systems Endurance Sports Supplement and Westcoast Orthopedic Laboratorys being two others) and I am very grateful and appreciative of their support.  I am also very proud to represent these companies as I believe fully in their products and will continue to use them as long as I run.  I don't do a very good "sell" job on them because I don't want the perception being that I am using them because I am receiving money (which I am not).  I read some reviews of products by sponsored athletes and they seem disingenuous and that is the last thing I want to project.  I do sincerely believe that the products of these companies are helping me to run faster than I have ever before and I would love to chat to anyone interested in any of them and how they might work for you.  

Now, if I could only hook up a sponsorship with Garmin so that I can get their new Forerunner 405 when it comes out!