Sunday, September 28, 2008

Cross Country Saturday

Just a quick note to say that the race on Saturday went well.  I ran within myself and had a decent result.  I held a faster pace than the week prior; however, the course was much easier and very runnable.  I finished second, running most of the race with the two guys I did the week before.  It is cool to see the same faces and have fun battles week in and week out.  This week was the first week I didn't feel strong - it may have been from the VFAC workout on Thursday and then the Turbulence Training workout on Friday, but I didn't have it on the little hills that we did each loop.  Not a big deal - I'll just make sure I don't workout as hard the night before a race.

Friday, September 26, 2008

VFAC Thursday

Last night was my return to the VFAC fold as I met up with the crew in the dimming light of Stanley Park.  After the cross country race on the weekend, I knew that I was able to run the workouts, but I was unsure as to how well I would be able to run them.  Survival may be the order of the day, or the evening as it were.

I was pleased to see Jay again after hearing about his running exploits.  What I hadn't heard was the he had been invited to participate with the big boys at the National 10k Championships in Ottawa.  Apparently they had been watching him from afar and an unsolicited email showed up in his inbox.  Suffice it to say both of us were pretty excited for him and I have no doubt that he will rise to the occasion on the day.  Paul Krochak was also there so it definitely felt like not too old times.  

The workout was 1 5/8 mile loop and then a 2k loop and then a 1.8k loop.  I thought I had heard Coach John say that we may only get the first mile and 5/8 in before it got too dark, so I was pleased about that.  Nothing like a shorter workout to start the comeback.  Much to my dismay, we got it all in.

The 1 5/8 mile loop went quite well.  I started out slowly and controlled, focussed on being strong throughout.  Like last weekend, I found the hills not to be a problem, but the turnover was proving to be tougher to maintain.  I ended up finishing the loop in 8:31, which I think is a decent time considering what I thought I would be.  

Paul and Jay and I jogged up to the start of the 2k, but after a couple of minutes of waiting, we realized that no one was following us.  The others had opted for the safer (more well lit) 1.8k loop of Lost Lagoon, while we stayed in the rapidly darkening forest.  To say I was concerned about the loss of light would be accurate.  Running on the trails of Stanley Park is not treacherous, but being my first workout back, I didn't want to twist my foot on a rock or fallen branch in the low light.  This made me a little wary as we started out 2k loop on our own, but didn't really slow me down too much.

The 2k loop loses elevation from the start to the finish - not a lot, but enough that it makes for a quick time.  I felt good for about 1200m, lost it for about 300m, found it again for 100m when Jay, who started 20 seconds behind me, passed me, and then lost it for the last 400m.  When I say lost it, I am speaking about control and running form.  I felt wobbly and gangly - two words that I don't usually use to describe my compact frame.  The lack of running was showing up in my form.  However, I still ran a 6:24 for the 2k, which was a little shocking for me.  I didn't think I was moving that well, but the clock doesn't lie and the GPS had the loop at 1.99k.

The 1.8k was another story.  We made our way over to Lost Lagoon to find the rest of the crew and joined in the last interval of the evening.  I was able to run well for about 600m, but then the wheels started coming off quickly.  I decided to listen to my screaming hamstrings and calves and so I backed off my pace and ran more comfortably.  This was the first workout back - no need to break myself again.  But when Roy and Coach John passed me, they encouraged me to stay with them, which was the motivation I needed to finish the interval well.

The workout was definitely a success and I was pleased with my showing.  I recognize that I have lost endurance, but the speed is still there which is important for me heading into the shorter distances of the cross country season.  It was my longest run since July 12, and there were no ill effects from it (at least in regard to my foot - my hamstrings are still sore).  I am still going to be smart about the back to back days of running (read: not do it), but I am confident that come the spring I will be faster than I would have been had I not been injured.  The forced rest and the focus on strength training are going to pay dividends as I regain my endurance.

On another note, Sonja and I went to the play Doubt tonight at the Stanley Theatre.  It was very good and thought provoking.  We became season ticket holders for the ArtsClub Theatre and I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the play and the acting.  I am definitely looking forward to the next play - Cyrano de Bergerac.  If you are in Vancouver, and want to go to a show, I would definitely recommend it.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


I was doing my daily perusal of blogs when I noticed that Liam has a new blog list on his blog.  The sidebar actually indicates when the listed blog was last updated.  I appreciate that Liam has my blog on his list, but when I saw that I last updated my blog four days ago, I felt shame.  Shame lead to action and thus this update.

The recovery from the race has gone well.  It was only an 8k race, so it isn't like a marathon in terms of recovery, but I have been pleasantly surprised at how good my foot felt in the days following the race.  There has been no pain in the foot at all and if I was not being "good" about not running on back-to-back days, I feel as though I could have run on the Sunday.  

Tuesday was a gym day and I got to start a new Turbulence Training workout, having finished my first four week program last Thursday.  The new one looks to be fun, with lots of chin-ups and barbell lifting - definitely no machines.  As I mentioned in the last post, I am noticing a difference in my core strength and leg strength during my running, so I am excited to move onto a new program and continue to see the benefits.

I have also signed up for another Cross-Country race this weekend.  However, before that, I have my return to VFAC tomorrow evening.  I am excited to be back with the crew, but I am in for a rude awakening during the workout.  I will have a good time and I am definitely aware that it will take some time for the fitness to come back.  Paul Krochak made an insightful comment about that on Saturday, mentioning that it is actually pretty inspiring when coming back because you get to see yourself improving on a weekly basis.  As Mr. Miyagi would have said, "Patience young grasshopper."  

Time to wax on, wax off.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Pinetree Classic X-Country Race Report

Abstract: I completed my first race since breaking my foot on July 12.  The race was not fast, but it was successful in that I was in it and my foot felt good. 

Yes.  You read correctly.  Race report.  That would indicate that the foot is feeling good after the first outdoor run at Burnaby Lake on Wednesday.  It did.  And I raced.  And it was hard.

(Follow this link to the see the GPS and map and HR data and other cool stuff)

Mundy Park on a nicer day than today. (Photo credit: Random Synpase -

After two weeks of Summer weather, Fall made its intentions known to Vancouver this morning.  Complete cloud cover and misting rain greeted me when I opened the door to make my way to the race.  The rain intensified as I drove to Coquitlam for the 10:00 am start, but thankfully subsided for the start of the race.  

After the realization that the ENDURrun was not going to happen for me this year, I decided to really rest and rehab my foot well.  I have been patient and done what I was supposed to do.  I had great doctors and chiropractors giving me valuable and, in my eyes, correct advice for my situation. 

(Long Sidenote: Kirsten Sweetland, the alternate for the Women's Olympic Triathlon Team, suffered a similar injury as mine to her foot in the week leading up to the World Championships.  It was more stress related, but she ended up racing on it and in a show of strength, courage, and pain tolerance, she completed the World Champs on a what turned out to be a broken foot.  After the race, her doctors put her in a walking boot.  I met up with Kirsten at a pub in Victoria a few weeks ago and we compared broken foots.  Yes, foots.  When discussing the fact that I didn't have a walking boot for my broken foot, she said she wished she hadn't had one.  The recovery from the recovery was taking longer than she had thought and it was frustrating.  Scar tissue, muscle atrophy and loss of proprioception were factors that I haven't had to deal with as a result of the a smart ER doctor at Lions Gate Hospital and Dr. Pelly, my chiro.  I have known Kirsten for a number of years now and know that she is fiery and inspired and will be fit sooner than later, but I was pleased to realize how fortunate I was to have received the advice I did.  With all that said, our injuries were different and Kirsten may have had no other choice than to have a walking boot - I know she has great practitioners helping her out.  I am just pleased that I had great practitioners as well.)  

Where was I?  Right.  Patience.  I have been in gym staying strong while my fitness has slowly been slipping away.  I have reintroduced running systematically and listened to my body.  And today, 10 weeks to the day since I broke my foot, I raced.  And it was glorious.

Mundy Park is beautiful, so I was excited to run in the park regardless of the race.  I have always loved cross-country, so I was excited to make it a focus for regaining fitness.  And when I got there and saw that my VFAC teammate Paul Krochak was there, I was excited.  Even the rain was somewhat fitting for the kick-off to cross season.

The warmup was good.  We approached the start line and we started with almost no warning.  I settled in quickly, but kept my race plan securely in the front of my mind.  The course was essentially two loops of the park, with a 800m from the start to the beginning of the loops.  I wanted to try to negative split the two 3k loops.  This meant that I would need to be very patient on the first loop as many people would run away from me.  So, it was at the beginning of the race, when I was starting to settle in with the leaders that I had a quick reality check.  SLOW DOWN!  I did.  

The first loop passed well.  I was running with Mike Murphy, a former national level triathlete from the days when Stefan Timms and Mark Bates were racing, who is now a track cyclist.  I knew that he would be smart because he had not been training for running recently, so I decided to pace off his shoulder for much of the first lap.  I felt strong on the uphills which I attribute to the gym, but I really had to focus on form.  I slipped past Mike on a downhill and moved a little closer to the group of five guys who had been running about 30m ahead of us for the lap.  

The second lap saw me draw a little closer to the group, making up time on the hills, both up and down.  I noticed that my running rhythm was breaking up.  Until today, I have not run more than 30 minutes since July.  That 30 minutes includes a warm up, some base pace type of running, and maybe a little bit of faster running in the last 5 minutes.  The loss of form was to be expected, especially as I fatigued in the second loop.  Most noticeably my stride rate felt slow.  I pretended to be Simon Driver with his little strides in order to counter this.  It actually worked and I began to reel in the last guy I had a chance to catch.  Two others were now out of reach, so my focus was on the guy in the white shirt.  As before with Mike, I sat on his shoulder for a little while, until we reached the last long hill.  I have to say, I am impressed with how much the strength training I have been doing with Turbulence Training paid off on the hills.   I relaxed and opened up a gap by the top of the hill and maintained that for the downhill run back to the start (caveat: While I felt strong on the hills, my HR was 189 at the top of the last hill, so I have a lot of aerobic base to rebuild, but the strength is there).

I finished unofficially in 29:00 (official results to come tomorrow).  I wasn't sure that I would be able to hold 4:00 min/km, so to run 29 flat was pleasing.  It was an undulating course with three good hills each loop, so it wasn't a fast course.  It may have been a little short according to my GPS, but I feel like that time would be pretty accurate on a flat road course.  If so, then it is very similar to the time I posted at the Pioneer 8k in 2007 (28:48).  The Pioneer 8k is the first race of the season in Victoria; a January tradition where everyone realizes that they have not raced in awhile. I bring this up because I ran that time after a full winter of training.  I got faster that year, but if I can run a similar time when I just coming back from 10 weeks of injury rehab, then things are looking good for next spring.  I held to my race plan and was very aware that I am stronger than I was when I was on the start line of the Knee Knacker.  I was also aware that today I was running a slower pace with a higher heart rate than I would have 10 weeks ago.  That was expected but is still a good reminder of the work to come.

Paul, who is also recovering from being hit by a car while commuting on his bike earlier this summer, ran to a third place finish.  It is great to see him rounding back into form as he has been working diligently to get to this point.  His injuries were so much worse than my little broken bone, so he gives me lots of hope for my own path to fitness over the next few months.  I was patient in letting the bone get strong again; I must now be patient in letting my fitness return.  Today was a great first step toward that.    

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

And, we're outside

Burnaby Lake trails

Unfortunately, due to a cold, the friends that Sonja and I were to meet for our run had to send their regrets.  However, that did not stop Sonja and I from making our way to Burnaby Lake for a little run - my first true run outside since the morning of July 12.  

Vancouver has been blessed recently with summer weather, but it is supposed to disappear tomorrow, so we enjoyed our 24 degree afternoon while we had it.  In advance of a cross country race this weekend, I wanted to see how my foot would handle being outside.  Sonja and I started our run together, navigating our way through swarms of little bugs that decided to gather in the way of all oncoming runners.  Lemming-like in their desire to die, the bugs attached themselves to our skin, only to be crushed as we tried in vain to brush them off of us.  

After deciding we had had enough protein for the evening, we decided to head back to the parking lot.  I wanted to try some race pace running, so I went ahead, and to my pleasant surprise my foot felt great.  That is not to say that I wasn't aware of it, but it was much better than I had imagined it was going to be.  That was the good news.  The bad news was that tonight was a reminder of the fitness that I have lost during my downtime from running.  3:30 min/km was a struggle this evening when not two months ago that was tempo pace for me.  I know that it will all come back in time, but it was humbling and reminded me of the consistent work that I am going to have to put in this winter so that I am ready for the spring races.  I am not afraid of the work, but it is always difficult to look at the mountain from the bottom.  That means it is time to start climbing.  And I am glad to be able to be outside to do it.

Monday, September 15, 2008

School's back for the fall!

That was supposed to follow the tune to "School's out forever!", but doesn't quite work.  Oh well.

As a result of being thrust back to the front of the classroom, removed unwillingly from my summer, I have been remiss in updating the blog.  I have, however, been training still, going to the gym for my every other day dose of Turbulence Training, followed by 30 minutes on the treadmill.  I have been waiting for my foot to improve to the point where I have little to no pain during or after the run, especially the next day, and I am proud to say that I think I have reached that point.  I am going to go for my first true outdoor run on Wednesday with Sonja and some of our friends, and if that goes well, I will sign up for a Cross Country race this coming Saturday.  The x-country race is more for my soul than for training.  There is a series of cross races in the Lower Mainland and while I have raced one off races, I have not done them consistently since high school.  I am looking forward to running around hill and dale and feeling good about it again.  There are no illusions of going fast (my HR was at 180 bpm when I put the treadmill to 2% at 6:00 min/mile.  I used to be at 165-170 bpm), but I am looking forward to having fun with running as I get back into shape.  There is no real need to be fast until March, so it is definitely playtime for the fall and winter!

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Weekend Warriors

As I stood in circle with Ross Taylor, Kelly Guest, and Jordan Bryden comparing war wounds (Ross once had a 17 inch rod in his femur; Kelly and Joran both have had broken elbows with pins and wires; my comparatively wimpy non-displaced fracture of the 5th metatarsal), I realized that overall I have been quite lucky in my athletic career.  I have been involved in many different sports and all I had to contribute to the conversation was a broken toe.  I would love to believe that I am a warrior, but I will settle for cannon fodder at this time.  Seeing Kelly, an old training partner from Victoria, as well as Ross, Melanie McQuaid, Stefan Jakobsen, and Norm Thibault, well, it felt like I was back on the Island.  It was unexpected but quite welcomed.  Stefan and Mel won the races, while Kelly, recovering from the nasty broken elbow, won the 10k trail race.  Seeing them has added some fuel to my training fire, especially talking about Gunner Shaw with Stefan and the Thetis Lake Relays with Kelly.  

  The mountains look big here, but they are bigger in real life!

This conversation took place at the Canadian Off-Road Triathlon Championships at beautiful Buntzen Lake in Port Moody.  The venue is absolutely gorgeous and is the site of one of my favourite runs of the year - a two and a half hour epic trail run with Simon Driver as he lead me through about 6 of the 10 vistas around the lake (Buntzen Lake is also home to the ultra Diez Vista and a stop on the 5 Peaks trail race series).  I was at the race volunteering as Gray and Teri Taylor, my Brooks sponsors, are the race directors.  They were hoping that I might race the associated trail run, but I opted for the volunteering instead.  It was a difficult thing to not jump in the 5k run, but I am going to be good and not do something silly that might jeopardize the healing that has occurred to this point.

I came home reinvigorated and had a nap.  But then I went to the gym and did Workout B of the Turbulence Training program I am using, and then ran 30 minutes on the treadmill.  I wore my Garmin 405 for the first time since I broke my foot so that I could see my heart-rate.  It was a little higher than I had hoped it would be for 4:40/km (it settled in about 155 bpm).  I recognize that it is going to be a little while before my heart-rate drops back down, so I will diligently put in my base miles to help facilitate that.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

The treadmill is getting boring

I think that is a good sign.  When I first got back to running, I loved the treadmill.  The 10 minutes passed quickly and with a smile on my face.  Even the next few times I went on the tready it was easy and fun.  Just running was fun at that point.

Tonight I began to watch the clock.  I wanted the minutes to pass faster.  I wanted to be done and off.  This is good because it means that I am settling back into running and as such, I am no longer satisfied to be just running, but rather, I need to be running outside.  I am not going to do anything crazy, but I think the time is nearing where running outside will become my reality again.  The foot felt quite good during my 25 minutes, so I am encouraged.

I also completed Workout A from the Turbulence Training program I am following.  Lots of core and legs tonight, but I also threw in some of the chin-up/knee-ups that Craig has written about.  The one thing that I am really enjoying about this program is the noticeable difference in strength each week.  I recognize that the increase in strength is as a result of more neural connections with the muscle, but that works for me.  I am definitely not looking to gain mass, but rather use what I have more effectively.

I am going to try a little outdoor run (not just to get my dinner) on Saturday.  I am excited.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

The Real First Day

Today was the first day of classes and it went well.  My throat is a little sore, as it usually is after the first day of teaching.  So much talking after a summer of relative quiet wears the vocal chords out a little, roughing them up.  They adapt pretty quickly, but until then it is zinc lozenges.

Not much activity today - a day off.  Some Wii Fit games and maybe I will challenge my virtual training to a plank contest?  But a needed day of rest otherwise.  Back at it tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

A new home!(?)

Hurried for time due to our chance at winning a new home in the PNE draw tonight, Sonja and I quickly completed our Turbulence Training workouts.  It was good because we have wanted to see how quickly the workouts could be done, but never had incentive to rush until this evening.  
I was done the strength part of the workout in little over 30 minutes, but then went to buy salmon from the fish market, only to find that they were sold out of fresh salmon, which meant that I had to run the 1 mile to Safeway to wait behind a guy who wanted to know how much a whole frozen salmon cost, much to the chagrin of the fish counter girl who didn't know the code for a whole fish so when she told him $35 dollars he said "Forget it! I'll go catch my own fish for that much!" and promptly left, but meanwhile I have been waiting for 5 minutes, sweating and worrying, and all I wanted was a fresh Coho fillet, which I finally got, and paid for and then ran the mile back to the car to find Sonja, who had finished her intervals in the gym, looking for me at the other fish shop, which didn't have the fish.  I was out of breath by the time I got back.

Suffice it to say that dinner was divine and we do not have a new house.

And I ran outside for the first time in 7.5 weeks!

Monday, September 01, 2008

T-minus 11 hours

Welcome back, Kotter!  A show that was on while I was alive, but too young to watch.  I have been told that my longer-haired self resembles Kotter, and it is said that I work with the Sweathogs, but I should watch some of the classic television series to see the comparisons for myself.

Tomorrow is the first day of school and while I am excited, I am sad to be leaving vacation mode.  I had a restful summer and I feel ready to begin anew, but the unresolved runnning goals of the summer are starting to haunt me a little.  I definitely wanted to run today, but heeded the advice of Dr. Leblanc, "Don't run two days in a row until there is no pain."  I didn't really feel any pain today, but I should allow my body to continue to heal, rather than give into the mind's desire to push it.  

I was glad to see that Hurricane Gustav didn't do its worst, but sad to see that we are going to polls in the near future.  Can't we all just get along?

Today's activity was playing on the Wii Fit, which is surprisingly good.  I was very skeptical when we first got it, thinking that I was too good for it, but I got my butt handed to me when it pronounced my Wii Age as 49!  I have since lowered my age, but there is some gold in that game, especially when considering that it will be getting people off the couch.  I am most impressed with the strength and balance games, but the yoga and the aerobic games are fun as well.  Not as challenging as Turbulence Training, but fun for an off day when I wouldn't have done any core work if it wasn't there.