Sunday, June 29, 2008


Terry at SFU

Terry in Victoria

and the living is easy.  

With the sun out and finally showing off its strength, I ran to Terry again.  This time, however, I left the road and followed the Trans-Canada Trail to the top of Burnaby Mountain.  It was a run which never felt good, but was neither slow nor bad.  I hit a rhythm pretty quickly and just held it for the duration of the 84 minute run.  I am definitely getting in some more hills, but with the Knee Knacker in less than two weeks, I am going to need every hill I can get.

Sonja and I are heading out for a couple days of camping at Golden Ears Provincial Park.  It is about an hour from here, but it is in the middle of the mountains (how cool is that?).  I am excited to run some of the trails there as it is a regular venue for the 5 Peaks Trail Race Series.  In preparation I  have some printed off some maps and will have my trusty Garmin 405 compass in case I get lost.  

Saturday, June 28, 2008

My New Career Aspiration

Sonja and I went to Cirque du Soliel last night.  We were treated to a wonderful performance of their Corteo show.  It is a little more traditional circus (complete with little people and a giant) than other Cirque shows, but I enjoyed that aspect.  I was amazed at what could be put together underneath a tarp - the mechanics of the stage and set were incredible.  Overall, an amazing show and it doesn't lessen my desire to join the circus (or at least an adult gymnastics club).

Thursday's VFAC workout went well.  We did the 1 7/8 mile loop.  I will have to look back at my log to see what my times were last time, but the first loop was 9:32 and the second loop was 9:42.  Good times considering 1/3 of the of loop is uphill.  I was pleased with the workout, especially since my legs were a little heavy after running downhill from SFU in Tuesday.  

It also seems as thought summer has arrived.  I know this because I am officially done school (although unofficially I have some work to do this summer in order to be prepared for September) and because the forecast is for beauty for the next week!

Time to go run.  

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Why do I do this to myself?

Running makes sense.  Most of the time.  You move forward.  Quickly, some of the time.  Left, Right, Left.  Arms move opposite to your legs.  The faster you go, the harder it is.  But, for running, I would suggest that is about it as far as basic technique is concerned.

Golf is a different story.  You do the same thing twice and you get enormously different results.  Since there is a different result, something must have changed.  The change,  however, is so miniscule that it is not noticed by the uneducated golfer (read: me).  It is this lack of reproducibility that causes the cusses to come out shortly after every second swing.

Sonja joined a third of the NWSS staff at our golf tournament today.  Surviving the shop-talk that occurs whenever teachers are within shouting range of each other, she acquitted herself very well on the course, winning the men's long drive hole.  I, on the other hand, had disdain for any club that didn't have a P or 6 on it.  Losing 4 balls on an 18 hole executive course has got to be some sort of record.

I enjoy golf.  And sometimes, for two shots in a row, I am good at golf.  But I would much rather play speed golf than go out for four hours on a true 18 hole course.  I guess part of that is the fact that I take over 100 strokes during a real round of golf, so I am pretty emotionally drained from swearing so much.  I would like to take lessons on how to swear less, but it is difficult to make the time.  But soon, I hope.

Our group of four did alright this afternoon.  Sonja and I are comparable in skill; in fact, we complement each other well with her ability off the tee and my short game.  We were not the best team, but we were not the worst.  We had fun, which is important, but what I really want is to figure out how to put together more than two good shots in a row.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

My new Terry run

In Victoria I had a recovery run along the waterfront that passed the bronze statue of Terry Fox.  Terry, long a hero of mine, was brought to Victoria by Rob Reid a couple of years ago.  Since his arrival, I used the monument at Mile Zero as a ritual.  During my waterfront runs, I would run by and rub Terry's left foot for good luck and to take a moment to think about how any suffering I have during running is nothing in comparison to the suffering that Terry experienced.  

It was pleasing to find a similar bronze statue at Simon Fraser University in the fall.  As SFU is Terry's alma matter, he was a Kinesiology student, it is not surprising to see his likeness posed in mid step-hop, presiding over one of the many quads that make up the mountain-top campus.  And so, as I was laying on the floor outside the office in our suite, a day that never seemed to end coming to an end, I laid out my run route.  I would once again run to Terry.  

Getting to Terry is not a big deal.  While it is not a recovery run anymore, he stands only 9k from our place.  The only issue is that about 3k of that 9k is running up Burnaby Mountain.  I had previously run halfway up the "Mountain" in the winter, but this time, with all the uphill running I have been doing recently, I decided that I getting to Terry would have more of a training effect than it did Victoria.  I had to earn my visit with my hero.

Comfortably Numb was still sitting in my legs, so the first part of the run felt a little rough, but after about 20 minutes (and a well placed port-a-potty) I started to feel good.  The climb was steady, not fast but strong, and not once did I feel bad or struggle.  I can't imagine what I would have thought about that climb a year ago.  Living on this side of the water has definitely changed my view of what constitutes a big hill.

I finished the climb running through a few quads and a bunch of stairs.  I found Terry, frozen and stoic.  I approached him, rubbed his much lower than Victoria left foot, said a word of thanks to whoever is responsible for me having the opportunity to run a 3k hill, and turned home.

I arrived home feeling much better.  My day had ended with me bathed in sunshine and sweat.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Numb, but not comfortably

Here is the ubiquitous "Sorry I haven't blogged in ages" line.  Now that that is out of the way...

I raced Comfortably Numb again this year.  Last year, this was a watershed race for me.  In coming third, I ran faster than the previous course record.  The bad part was that my good friend Adam Campbell ran faster than I did and thus set the new course record.  Adam, a stellar runner and extraordinary at going uphill, had to slow down substantially on the very technical downhill on the course.  This allowed me and J.F. Robert to eventually catch him, only to have him run away from us on the gravel road leading to the finish.

Without the company of J.F. this year but with two great runners, Aaron Heidt and Mark Bennett, I knew that the course would fast once again.  What I forgot about was how relentless the course is.  It is a mountain bike trail, so there are lots of little bridges and many many switchbacks.  A point to point race, I believe it is only about 13k from the start to the finish, as the crow flies.  The race is about 25k, which means that for about half the race, even though it is point to point, I am running away from the finish.  

After the Iron Knee I wasn't feeling so hot about training, so I took a 10 break, as prescribed by the venerable Jim Finlayson.  It did the trick, and after the 10 days of doing what I wanted when I wanted I felt refreshed mentally and rested physically.  The frustration of not being able to replicate the 1:12 half marathon from earlier this season was weighing on me.  My own expectation that I should be setting PBs every time I race was setting me up for disappointment each time I toed the line.  

The past week has been good training.  A couple of great of 90+ minute trail runs and a good 18k tempo with Simon Driver over 4 days launched me back into training.  I ran a workout with VFAC, doing 5 x uphill 800s holding 2:45 which earned a "that's pretty quick" from Coach John.  Not quick like Jay's 2:33, but quick nonetheless.

So with all that in my legs heading into Comfortably Numb I was still hoping for a good race.  I felt decent throughout the first 1:20 of climbing, which was positive.  That is something that I have been working on this spring and I think I am starting to see some of the results.  Unlike last year where I ran the second half of the race with J.F, I didn't see anyone after the first 15 minutes of the race, and thus my desire to push hard on the second half of the course wasn't as high as last year.  This was part of the reason that my time this year was about 5 minutes slower than last year.  However, in a display of trail running prowess, Aaron Heidt took almost 10 minutes off of Adam's course record.  Incredible. 

So, I am back at it and I will continue to update things as both Knee Knacker and ENDURrun approach with increasing speed!  

Thursday, June 05, 2008


The best line of the day came over the announcements first thing this morning.

"Hey Everyone!  Welcome to June-uary!"

10 degrees and pouring rain.  This, my dear friends, is what we call pathetic fallacy.  

The Iron Knee is a great race.  There was great weather (last weekend, prior to the fours day of grey and rain).  A new course record.  And Simon did a great job as race director.  I had a decent race, about a minute slower than last year's time, a result of going out with the leaders (or at least close to them).  I got my heart rate up a little too high too early and I paid for this in the last third of the race, where I was passed by two fine runners going up Powerline Hill.  With my quads carrying your share and my share of lactic acid, I wasn't able to push on the downhill like I wanted and thus was not able to retake the positions I had lost.  I ended up 6th overall, which is fine, but I was disappointed more in my time.  I had perfect conditions and was not able to have a great day.  But that is why we race - the search for the elusive perfect day.  The true problem is finding that day, for after that the desire to replicate the day becomes overriding, and the results that are posted are compared against said day.  Having had that day at the  Comox Half-marathon, I have been searching and comparing since.  

With that said, I have spoken to a good friend (who happens to be a remarkable runner) and discussed what my last three performances.  His thoughtful recommendation was to take 10 days off.  I was hesitant at first, and agreed with his assessment that our first instinct is to do more when things are not going well.  We begin to think that it is our training that is wrong, we are not running hard enough, long enough.  He astutely pointed out that I have had good races this year, so the fitness and strength resides within me at this point.  Rather than go beat myself up more, he suggested to rest.  Allow the body to recover.  Rejuvenate the mind.  Rebuild the desire.  

The fact that the weather is awful has weighed on me as well.  I can put my mind to getting through four, even five, months of Vancouver grey and wet.  However, when winter extends into summer, my fight is reduced to flight.  Thus the ten days off will serve me well.  I am going to run when I want for as long as I want as fast as I want.  As the rain has been falling steadily for 3 days, with the thermometer hovering between 10-12 degrees, I have had a few days off.  This has been good to help reduce a burgeoning plantar fasciitis in my right foot.  I am also skipping the Gutbuster Half-marathon this weekend, which is too bad as it is a great race, but I just don't have it in me to make the trek to the island to race.  

And speaking of races, stay glued to this weekend as the ITU World Championships are in Vancouver this weekend.  There are spots for the Olympics up for grabs for Canadians, so it should be exciting - and it is in my backyard (figuratively, of course).  I am going to head down on Sunday to watch the elite races, but good luck to Jay Macdonald and Stefan Timms who are racing in the age-group races tomorrow!