Monday, November 17, 2008

Putting in time!

Tonight didn't feel great, but I think that is good.  Getting a little tired from the quality runs in the past week, so time to back off a little this week and absorb that goodness.  Tomorrow has my staying late a school, so I will miss the tempo this week, and I am not entirely sad about that.  An easy 35 minute run listening to the 60 Minutes interview with the Obama's with no rain - it's all good!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Round and Round we go...

Back to the track this morning for the Saturday edition of the VFAC runaround.  As there is a half-marathon tomorrow, many of the usual faces were absent this morning, but one new one showed up and did quite well in his early return to training.  It was great to have Nick Hastie joining us for 9 x 300m, but what a shock to the system it must have been, as it was definitely one for me.  I saw Nick last week at the Haney to Harrison relay and talked up the VFAC group, so he is "dating" us to see if it works out - but I think it will.  

As mentioned, we were told about the 9 x 300m as John walked onto the track.  The first three had 300m recovery, then next 3 had 200m recovery and the last 3 had 100m recovery, so things were going to progressively get more difficult.  However, when John told me that I was to run 47 seconds for each, I laughed.  That would equate to about a 63 second 400m, which I don't think I can do right now.  However, in that small microchip in John's head, he knew better what I was capable of than I did.  I held 47's for the workout and while I wanted to puke a little after the last one, I completed the workout.

With this past week now in the rearview, I am definitely pleased with where my training is at.  It was a big week of racing and hard training and through it al I have been running the same times as I did last year and not feeling any ill effects of it - either in the foot or elsewhere in the body.   I have two races left on the calendar - the two Gunner Shaws - and after that it is base running and snowshoeing for me until the new year.  I am pleased to have recovered back to the point I was at this time last year AND have times to empirically demonstrate that.  

I hope that the rain holds off tomorrow morning as I head back out into the trails and start to my winter dosage of long, long hills.

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Good News and The Bad News

The Thetis Lake relays were fun, but difficult.  I remembered why it is supposed to be a relay - four loops was fun at the start, but crushing at the end.  

It was great to see friends - Hicham and Jaymie were gracious and wonderful hosts - and run together for loop at least (Hi Mike!).  I don't regret going in the least, but I really wish the VFAC boys had been able to come over, especially after our workout last night.

Coming back from 4 x 5k on Tuesday, we had 2 x 3 miles on Thursday with the VFAC crew.  3 miles is 4.8 km, so not quite the 5k, but since we were running in the dark on a hilly course, we can say that is close to 5k in time, although this futile exercise in trying to equate times is a habit that runners find hard to break.  I was not looking forward to the workout after suffering for the last two laps of Thetis.  This was even more the case when John said that I was to run 5:20 miles for the workout.  I looked at Mike Wood, our final runner for Haney to Harrison last week, and openly scoffed.  I was quick to follow up that John had this way of somehow knowing what is within you even when you don't.

I went out with Ynuk, Simon, and Jay for our first of two loops.  We joked for the first kilometer before settling in (read: Simon and Jay left us).  Ynuk and I ran together for a bit before he left me on the first of the three longer hills on the Stanley Park loop.  I ran more conservatively for two reasons: not knowing how Tuesday would play into the latter stages of the loop and knowing that I could make time up on the downhills.  This worked well as I stayed at the high end of comfortable and pushed through the remaining two hills, finishing in 16:10.  This equates to 5:23/mile.  I was even more surprised when I finished the second loop within spitting distance of Simon (he of the newborn baby and 3 hours of sleep each night), in 16:04.  

I was impressed with these times because I felt strong throughout the workout, I am coming off two races in 4 days, I descended the workout (ran faster during the second loop), and both times were faster than 1 year ago (when I ran 16:15 on a similar night).  That night I was shocked and excited about the time.  This year is more relief that I am back to where I was a year ago, which means I can be fit come spring!

OH!  The bad news.  My phone died on me whilst I was in Victoria.  The good news?  I got a deal on a new iPhone.  That, my friends, shocked and excited me!


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Relays Abound

Saturday saw me up at 4:22 am in preparation for my second crack at the Haney to Harrison 100k Relay and Ultra.  For some, my wake up time was their start time as they ran the first 3 hours of their 100k race in the dark.  For those of us who are little less inspired, we were meeting our teammates in Haney, BC for our 6:30am start.

The Haney to Harrison is an 8 person relay that covers the 100k distance between the towns of Haney and Harrison, BC on the rainiest, most miserable November Saturday of the year.  A point to point race, it has a mythical status in BC, with hundreds of teams racing, some for pride, some for glory, and some for ridiculous fun.  VFAC had 4 teams in the race (Open Men, Open Women, Master's Men, Open Mixed).  It ended up being a great day for them all as we had two firsts and two seconds.  My team, the Open Men, ended up second overall on the day after an exciting battle with the Running Room team for the second spot; the first spot was claimed by an all-star team assembled to go for a course record, I can only imagine.  The VFAC Open Women and Master's Men won their divisions and the Open Mixed (men and women) came second.  Coach John was very pleased with his minions after that day.

Today finds me in Victoria preparing for the Thetis Lake Relays.  I have often said that this is one of my favourite races of the year as it brings out most of the island running community and it is always fun to run for people other than yourself.  With that said, I couldn't find anyone to run for other than myself, so I am running by myself.  That's right - team So Low is comprised of me.  The VFAC boys, understandably, didn't want to make the trip over after the long day on the road on Saturday, which left me scrambling to find a team; but on further reflection (and the fact that Coach John had me running an 11k tempo today anyway), I decided to go it alone.  I have never run this one solo, so it will be an exciting day for me!

A few more points, Hicham and Jaymie are making Sonja and I a wonderful breakfast as we speak.  Our friend Drew Mackenzie won the singlespeed World Cyclocross Championships. (I am not sure if that is a good thing or if he will end up getting the requisite tattoo).  And if you live in Victoria, please be sure to get out to vote on November 15.  Visit to see what Rob Reid would do as Mayor of this great city.

Lastly, and moat importantly, take a moment today to remember, reflect, and appreciate.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Falling darkness

The past two runs have been in the afternoon, which is now more like nighttime.  I was out the door by 4:30 for both runs, btu came home in the dark.  The extra hour of sleep was welcomed, but it is time to break out the headlamp again.

Tonight was a 10k tempo which I did up at Lower Seymour.  I had my geeky tech toys ready to go this time, but with the darkness descending my watch became useless and about 4k into the tempo I turned the podcasts off so I could concentrate on the run.  This time, it was my choice to remove the technology.  Feeling a little off at around 5.5k, I decided to run faster.  I had been told once that if you are not feeling good, run faster.  I have tried that in the past without much success, but tonight it worked.  I increased my cadence and focus and the last 4.5k went very smoothly.  The goal was for 3:35-3:40/km, but with the darkness and the watch running out of battery, I haven't yet looked at the splits, but I felt good.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Weekend Update

Not the funny Sarah Palin kind, but rather the running kind.

This week of running was all about intensity.  Coming off two weekend races last week, I jumped into an 11k tempo on Tuesday.  Sonja and I headed over to Lower Seymour to run along the paved riding/rollerblading/running road that I used briefly last year for my tempos.  It was a beautiful night and the colours of the leaves out here are reminiscent of Ontario.  As I started my run I hit play on my iPod shuffle, prepared to listen to my podcasts, only to find that the iPod was not ready.  Whether it was the battery or just the fact that I had sent it through the washing machine, it didn't work.  Oh well.  I looked down to my watch to see that it was low battery which means that it would die if I didn't turn off the GPS.  Since the kilometers were marked along the road, I shut down the GPS, turning my watch simply into a, er, watch.  A stopwatch, but no pace or distance or elevation or anything.  Before my first steps I had been rendered technologically impotent.  

And I had my best run yet.  I hit my pace times dead on (3:40/km for those keeping score at home) and felt strong throughout.  I was able to focus on my pace and form, letting my mind stay in the present rather than drifting off to the ideas posed during the podcasts.  It was good.

Thursday saw the 4 - 1 - 1 workout again with VFAC.  This would also be a good workout, but not feel good.  I started the first 4 mile interval with Ynuk, ahead of Paul and Jay.  Paul caught us around 1 mile in and I went with him.  Trying to match Paul's quick cadence, I hung with him through the turnaround and most of the way home.  It was about 3.4 miles in that I cracked.  I lost contact with Paul and watched Ynuk, who I had left when I went with Paul, fly by.  Jay had passed us like a train whizzing by gridlock traffic just prior to that.  Even with blowing up, keeping pace with Paul was a big step.  The same workout on October 2nd had me at 22:39 for my 4 mile piece; this week was 21:47.  A 50 second drop in a month is decent.  The following 1 mile repeats were pretty ugly.  I cracked on the first one and ran a 5:17, but pulled it together for the second one and ran a 5:04 (wind at my back this time).   A good night overall.

Today was 5 x 800m as I introduced myself to the track again after a prolonged absence; I am not sure my heart is any fonder.  I ran consistently, which was good.  I held the 800s between 2:24 and 2:26, but not without some discomfort nearing the end of the workout.  It was good to be going in circles again, and the speed will help with muscle fibre recruitment prior to heading into my base training in December.  This was something that Paul reminded me of on Tuesday; I had been a little concerned about the amount of intensity I had been doing in place of base.  Paul reconnected me with the idea that doing intensity allows for the recruitment of more muscle fibres, which means that when it comes time for base training and I will be able to affect change in more of my muscle than if I had not done the intensity.  It is a little opposite of most "traditional" training pyramids, but has worked with African runners.  We'll see how it works for this Wet Coast runner (yes, Wet on purpose).

All in all a good week of training.