Sunday, December 31

Last Trail Run of 2006

After heavy legs on Friday and an undemanding day yesterday, I was looking forward to seeing how the legs would respond today. I halfheartedly tried to find some company but in the end headed out to Elk & Beaver Lakes by myself and U2 (the picture was taken by Ally earlier this fall as there are definitely no leaves on the trees at the moment).

After reading Jim’s post earlier this morning, I thought I would try a progressive run, easy for the first 15-k, with some solid tempo running toward the end. I was making it up as I went and although my coach would almost certainly protest, I wanted to have some fun.

I have a love/hate relationship with the lakes while doing easy runs. The 10-k loop, with markings every kilometer, makes it difficult for me not to assess my pacing (trying to run with a low HR and maintain 4:00/km doesn’t always work when you’re out of shape). Usually while out there on a long run, I’ll purposely head up Bear Hill or play in the side trails behind Beaver Lake so that my time/pace becomes moot… not today though.

I started out at a comfortable pace and although I tried to keep my HR between 138-140, I have up after a few kilometers. I finished my first loop in 41:50.3, grabbed a quick drink of Gatorade and was off again. I tried in vain to hold myself back for the next 5-k not wanting to turn this into a 10-k TT. After passing the 5-k marker on the second loop, I steadily picked up the tempo. After 16, I shifted gears again running by feel and not looking at the monitor. The legs were relatively smooth and I was surprised to see a 3:20/km. My pace dropped a tad, something closer to half-marathon pace, over the next kilometer and my breathing became labored. At this point I contemplated shutting it down but as the next kilometer was over a fairly even and wide trail and I thought I give it one last go, concentrating on a smooth turnover, relaxed shoulders and light feet. I couldn’t tell you where the 3:15.5 came from but it was a nice way to end the run and the year!

All the best to everyone this evening and in 2007!

Training: 1:29:04, AHR 145, 22-k

0 to 5-k: 21:08.5, AHR 146, MAX 157
6 to 10-k: 20:41.8, AHR 145, MAX 151
11 to 15-k: 19:54.6, AHR 144, MAX153
16-k: 3:57.0, AHR 148, MAX 157
17-k: 3:20.7, AHR 158, MAX 159
18-k: 3:39.9, AHR 156, MAX 162
19-k: 3:15.5, AHR 155, MAX 163
20-k: 4:24.4, AHR 139, MAX 162 (18:37.5 for 5-k)
21 to 22-k: 8:41.7, AHR 129, MAX 140

Island Life (Galiano)

How about that view every morning while perusing the paper and sipping on a coffee? Late yesterday afternoon, Ally and I hopped on a later ferry to Galiano to explore her parent’s new property. It was my first trip to the island named after a Spanish explorer, Dionisio Galiano, who first visited the island in 1792.

After a salmon dinner, a relaxing evening with her parents and an absolutely p-e-a-c-e-f-u-l sleep, we spent most of the day performing yard work, as the two acres of English Cottage Garden was unkempt due to the recent storms. I enjoyed the work and was amused most of the day by a pair of eagles (keeping watch on my activity).

Having spent most of the morning in the garden, I did manage to get out of a quick jog just before lunch. After feeling sluggish and heavy yesterday, I was pleased to see the legs feeling fresh and snappy (although it was only 20’ at a walkers pace). Tomorrow I want to get out for a good trail run in the morning and Ally and I are even contemplating a local 5-k race, the Run Through Time before heading out for the evening.

Training: 20:45, 4x strides

Friday, December 29

Ouch!

Like a bag of smashed asssholes, thats how I felt today. I have to be brief as I have one foot out the door.

First off, I like the comments made by Mike and Andrew to yesterday’s questions. I remember Bruce mentioning something about a semi-depleted state toward the back end of my recent training; I’ll have to ask him his thoughts next time we talk. Remind me.

I noticed my HR while seated, tying up my shoes, 46. I was surprised as I expected it to be higher given the loss in fitness.

After yesterdays beating, I set out at a pedestrian pace only to find the body sluggish and heavy. Apparently, I wasn’t up to anything remotely close to pedestrian. I eased back on the effort a tad and continued.

Waterfront, Ross Bay Cemetery, Chinese Cemetery, King George Terrace, Witches Hat, Windsor Park and home along Brighton.

Training: calisthenics, 1:05:56 (we took the picture this summer while atop the cairn, what I’ve always called the Witches Hat).

Thursday, December 28

A Single or Double Shot?

I vaguely remember having this discussion with Jim and Carter a few months ago, and as it was probably while running, helps to explain why I can't recall whether we reached a satisfactory conclusion.

After recently reading, "Running with the Buffaloes", it became apparent the emphasis that Mark Wetmore and Adam Goucher place on achieving mileage through singles (one longer run a day vs. two shorter runs, a double). There are also those,
Andy Palmer, Ph.D (former Running Times Senior Writer, 2:16:25) who advocates doubles for 20 of a 24 week marathon build (Mondays and Fridays).

And perhaps this discussion quickly becomes moot when we throw variables like:
training goals, experience, training phase, recovery, and available time into the mix. But, the questions I'll pose still stand:

  • Do you run doubles, and if so, why?
  • If you don't run doubles, is this a decision based on commitments (family, work, a social life)?

Having spent five years in a past life training for triathlons, performing two workouts a day became a necessity. After stopping in 1999, it wasn't until training for Knee Knacker (a local 50-km trail race) in 2005 that I revisited, however infrequently, the twice-a-dayworkout routine. Having worked with my current coach since February (training for Ottawa), I was surprised when he introduce doubles in several of my peak mileage weeks (at times 8 runs/week with one day off) while training for Sacramento this December.

Having talked with him before, at the time he wasn't a huge fan, fearing that running twice a day can negatively effect the following days run. Personally, I like running doubles as:

  • they are usually logistically easier for me to fit in (2x45' vs. 1x90');
  • they are physically easier on my body; and
  • they seem to aid my body with recovery.

Thoughts...

I was going to jog a variation of the Seven Sisters this evening but after running three hills I bumped into an up-and-coming
local female athlete and ran (insert: struggled to keep up) with her for the next 25’. If this was an easy run for her, I’m going to have to talk to her coach about pacing as she put me to shame. Once home and warmed up (it was -2), I hopped into the tub for an Epsom salt bath and then stretched (the legs feel better for it now).

Training: 45:51, AHR 145 (78%), MAX 160 (86%), 6:40 pace

Wednesday, December 27

Sunshine in December

Today, because I could, I decided to do a double. I had originally planned on a longer run but recalled shorter intervals were supposed to be in order and not wanting to overdo it… anyhow, I thought a double might help accomplish a) time on the feet and b) the interval session.

After enjoying a relaxing daybreak and a couple cups of Kicking Horse of coffee, I was out the door into a bitterly cold morning. I’m glad I wore my damp toque and had my gloves not been sopping wet I’d have sported them as well. The run felt relaxed and noting my pace afterwards, perhaps a tad faster than “easy” but nothing that stopped me appreciating the view of the Olympics across the straight.
­­­­­_________________________________________________

With the sun setting on a cloudless sky, Dallas Road was more reminiscent of a mid-summers evening then late December (
Jim would've hated it). I even saw one fool running with his shirt in hand, eejit. It's amazing how the sunshine brings everyone out of the woodwork.

The workout (10-15 x 1’) felt better then expected, the legs great, the ticker… working hard to keep up. The first five went by effortlessly at which point I figured I might do 15. By eight, I was working hard, and after 10… after 10 I contemplated stopping but figured I could squeeze two more out (as long as I didn’t overdo it).

I am happy with how the session progressed particularly given it was my first speed session since Sacramento. I might do some strides later in the week but will leave it at that until next week when the fun begins. Now if only I can remember to stretch this evening.

Training:
Morning: calisthenics, Hollywood Graveyard Loop, 26:00.1, AHR 143, 6.5 km (approx. 6:26 pace)
Late afternoon: calisthenics, 10x (1’ hard, 1’ easy), the hard at sub-5k pace, 51:55.3, AHR 143, MAX 163

Tuesday, December 26

Neuschwanstein Castle

After observing a higher then normal HR this week, whether attributable to a reduction in fitness or the onset of illness, the last few days would surely have helped.

Once up at me mums, I quickly took advantage of having no agenda a proceeded to nap, gorge, read and assemble the puzzle (we set out to construct this year’s 3D conundrum, something of a tradition at our place, the Neuschwanstein Castle)… it was truly one of the more relaxing and enjoyable holiday seasons.

With one eye on the intricate puzzle and the other transfixed out the window, I lingered patiently for a break in the deluge; I guess you should be wary what you wish for? Only hours earlier I remember yearning for a Pacific storm to roll in and take the Tiredness Birds away, unfortunately, I received what I asked for “and” the rains to boot. With prospect of a respite slight, I headed out to stretch the legs… and was thoroughly drenched, that cold, dank, sopping wet sort of feeling one can only receive from true West Coast Rains! It was bloody freezing, and invigorating… I loved it.

Once inside and with Monday (Christmas) a scheduled rest day I proceeded to put out of mind, in no small part due to the three month old hot water bottle (my brother’s new child) slouched on my chest, the recent bone chilling I’d received. The week has been okay, building from the last, to finish with 4:58:49 of running (approx. 70-k). This upcoming week I hope to build again (approx 5:30 of running) and then start training proper in January.

_________________________________________________

Today, after returning from trapshooting on the way down from mums (something of a Boxing Day tradition on the girl’s side… don’t ask, this is new to me too) we were short on time before heading to dinner at Papas (the girls grandpa). With that said and not a moment to lose, I dashed out the door and managed to squeak in a handful (5) of the dreaded Seven Sisters. Can’t remember much of the run, as once again I was too busy dodging raindrops.

P.s. Regarding trapshooting, Ally kicked my ass and walked away with a colossal pork loin roast too.

Training:
December 24, Sunday: undulating soggy run on rural roads, 25:44 (felt smooth and untroubled). Couldn’t help but notice how good the pins felt.
December 25, Monday (Christmas Day): day off
December 26, Tuesday (Boxing Day): Five Sisters (not enough time for the complete Seven) 29:53.2, AHR 146 (HR a tad misleading given it sat unperturbed at 181 for the first 9’ and I wasn’t bothered to do much about it).

Saturday, December 23

I'll Trade You One Linus For Pig-pen

I started this mornings run with the same amount of enthusiasm and determination as a heavy-eyed Two-toed Sloth. Perhaps now that Seamus has returned home for the holidays his Pigpen-like cloud of tiredness has drifted down the street and taken up new residence. If that’s the case I can’t wait until the next Pacific storm blows in and takes this unwelcome guest with it.

We had some last minute running around to do before heading up to me mums. Ally dropped me off at the Cedar Hill Golf Course (CHGC) and then nipped over to the shops. Without much thought, I mistakenly asked her to be back in 45’ minutes.

The first loop slipped by with the same amount of ease and simplicity to that of running on a treadmill. It was as if someone had preset the pace and there were no handrails or room to jump off... so this is how it was going to be. I looked down after the first loop and was surprised to see 14:50. Apparently, the leg bones weren’t talking with the stuffed-up head bone and instead had a mind of their own. What was the rush?

Now I could’ve done 2 ½ loops or some combination of figure 8s and walked away a smarter man, but I dismissed that and immediately set myself a goal of three loops despite my lassitude. If I was going to complete this in less than 45’ today was not going to be a recovery run, not at least in my current state.

I changed direction on the second lap enjoying the back half with the sun on my face (14:27) and a grin creeping across my mug. The last round was perhaps the easiest, the pace had been set, I was warmed up and had only one place to go. I didn’t once feel like I was racing but thoroughly and utterly enjoyed the up-tempo effort, surprised at how unforced the running seemed (14:06). With yesterday’s run a tad longer then anticipated, perhaps tomorrow I’ll be able to coax my sister out for a relaxed jaunt on the rural roads up island.

I hope everyone makes the most out of the holiday season, until later then…

Training: 3x CHGC on undulating chip trail, 43:23, AHR 149, MAX 163

Friday, December 22

Thetis Lake, Health and Friendship

My run today was one of the more pleasant and invigorating this month on two accounts, company and location. Carter swung by (with his lovely wife Aviva) and picked me up shortly before 11:00, allowing for a glorious and relaxing early morning.

After arriving at Thetis Lake, we discovered to our annoyance the rear passenger-side tire embedded with a screw. Bugger. For a brief moment, we debated the idea of changing the tire now vs. post-run, only to close the car doors and scamper off into the woods.

The park was established as Canada's first nature sanctuary in 1958 and offers fantastic undulating trails through swamp, Garry oak, Douglas-fir and lake ecosystems and provided me ample training ground when preparing for the
Knee Knacker two years ago. Today, we re-traced a good portion of the Stewart Mountain 10-mile Cross Country Challenge, which features many a puddle, branch, rock and stream on a very runnable wilderness trail. The added challenge today (in addition to the flat tire) would be navigating the numerous trees that had fallen down during one of the cycle of storms to hit the coast this month.

My legs and spirit were in good health and although my AHR was lower then yesterday, that may be misleading given numerous detours. I think the real test for the pins will be next week when I try some up-tempo 1’ & 2’ intervals. Today though, was all about health and friendship two things I’ll be sure to raise a glass for in the days coming. After completing his law degree this month (congratulations), Carter is dedicated to regaining some of his
former glory (see M25-29)and health having committed to running a spring marathon (more on that in the weeks to follow) and Ironman Canada in August 2007. I for one will be looking forward (& over my shoulder) to his company in the weeks to follow.

Training: Although on Tuesday, I’d considered an easy 1/2 to 1 hour jog for today, given where I’m at with my training/recovery, I’d easily substitute a trail run with friends, 1:20:18 on soft west coast trails, AHR 129, MAX 154

Thursday, December 21

Rest and Recovery?

“You never really appreciate what you have until it’s gone”. While sauntering to work this morning the birds were singing, I had an extra step in my stride and a car stopped in the middle of the road to let me cross. The sun was shining. Without conscious thought, I found myself planning this evenings run… I know. I wanted something different, something where I wouldn’t have to think but could simply run. I decided on the rectangular Mount Tolmie loop, a route involving very little decision making.

Conceivably, it is the fact that the girl has been sick for the last two days and I’ve managed to catch something, or, that while being sick she has baked Nanaimo bars, shortbread and ginger crinkles… or else, perhaps I was just tired.

After heading out the door I wasn’t long into the run when noticing, in view of the effort level, my HR was higher then normal. I attempted to ease back, attempted. I tried to casually dismiss the elevated HR as being due to the gradual 6km uphill, but I couldn’t buy it, the proof didn’t hold during the subsequent 4km gradual decline. Was this a sign? Should I grasp the holiday season by the tail and ride the coattails of every nap, drink and third helping of cranberry sauce into the night? Perhaps. I’ll have to reassess things in the morning.

The run, regardless of the HR, felt great. The view from the top of Tolmie was fantastic and the legs, the legs were p-r-e-t-t-y damn good.

Training: calisthenics, 1:01:44, AHR 146 (78%), MAX 166, approx. 14.5 km, 4:15 pace

Wednesday, December 20

The Seven Sisters

With a hill run of 1/2 to 1 hour on the current schedule, I decided to head out onto the Seven Sisters Route, a legendary training circuit for those living in the Victoria area. My choice of running routes was well selected as I was almost knocked over by a gust of wind when opening the front door. How many wind warnings can you have in one month?

SOUTHEAST WINDS 80 TO 100 KM/H OVER REGIONS FROM NORTHERN VANCOUVER ISLAND NORTHWARD BECOMING SOUTHWEST 70 TO 90 KM/H OVERNIGHT. SOUTHEAST WINDS OF 50 TO 80 KM/H WILL DEVELOP ACROSS THE SOUTH COAST THIS EVENING. WINDS WILL INCREASE TO 60 TO 90 KM/H OVER EAST VANCOUVER ISLAND THE SUNSHINE COAST AND WEST VANCOUVER ISLAND THIS EVENING. WINDS WILL BECOME GUSTY SOUTHWESTERLY 50 TO 80 KM/H ACROSS PARTS OF THE SOUTH COAST EARLY THURSDAY MORNING. THIS IS A WARNING THAT DAMAGING WINDS ARE IMMINENT OR OCCURRING IN THESE REGIONS. MONITOR WEATHER CONDITIONS..LISTEN FOR UPDATED STATEMENTS.

The run itself, or at least my version, bounced me between a Richardson and Rockland via a select series of climbs: Moss, Robleda, Lotbiniere, St. Charles Street, Gonzales, Oak Shade and Green Oaks Terrace.

I ran the flats steady and held the effort (perhaps leaning the odd shoulder forward) on the hills and gently cruised the descents. The body felt fantastic and I contemplated running further but decided otherwise, remembering tomorrows run of at least one hour.

Once home, my right hamstring felt tight, almost on the verge of cramping (not quite sure what to make of it). How long can the effects of a marathon linger? Other then stretching, anyone have an idea on how to deal with chronically cramping muscle (or at least the appearance of)?

Training: calisthenics, 36:08.9, AHR 141, MAX 163, approx. 7.90 km

Tuesday, December 19

Lydiard

I received an email from my coach last night. Although brief, two points were made:

  • Build up the long run to 95' but keep the overall weekly mileage below 325’; and
  • Have fun, feel good, and keep things stress free.

With the next couple of weeks being unstructured and… not doing well without structure, I decided to fall back on old faithful… Mr. Lydiard.

Lydiard’s “conditioning” phase, a 2-week cycle, to be continued as long as possible (the period between the finish of one season and the start of the next) is listed below. As I’m not to run over 325’/week, I’m aiming a whisker beyond the lower target.

Monday: Aerobic running 3/4 to 1 hour
Tuesday: Aerobic running 1 to 1.5 hours
Wednesday: Run hilly course 1/2 to 1 hour
Thursday: Aerobic running 1 to 1.5 hours
Friday: Jog 1/2 to 1 hour
Saturday: Run hilly course 1/2 to 1 hour
Sunday: Aerobic running 1.5 to 2 hours

Monday: Run hilly course 1/2 to 1 hour
Tuesday: Aerobic running 1 to 1.5 hours
Wednesday: Time trial 3000 or 5000 meters
Thursday: Aerobic running 1 to 1.5 hours
Friday: Jog 1/2 to 1 hour
Saturday: Relaxed striding of 4 to 8 times 200 meters
Sunday: Aerobic running 2 hours or more

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This evenings run was a reconnaissance mission of sorts. With the Third Annual Dave Smart Tribute Beer Mile taking place at Oak Bay Track tonight, Jim and I set out on a mission… to locate, inspect and obtain the winning beer. We discussed a variety of factors, alcohol content (> 5.0%), bottle vs. can, IPA vs. stout, the combinations and permutations were almost endless.

After swinging by a couple of shops, quickly perusing the aisles (I could paint you a picture but it would be self-incriminating) I left Jim at the track and headed home to get changed. Ally and I popped by Oak Bay just in time to say hello to a few old friends and then watch a record number of participants set off. The noise of 40 plus cans cracking open at the sound of “Go” was epic.

Congratulations to everyone who participated, but predominantly: Jim (who won in a time of 5:10), Stefan (who proposed to his girlfriend only days back… you’re a brave girl Ceri), Ceri (for participating, and more importantly saying yes), Sean “fcuk’n” Clarke and Donna.

Training: calisthenics, 51:32, AHR 130, MAX 157

Monday, December 18

A Week in Review

Today is the first day back training with any regularity and coincidently... yet another scheduled day off (if good fortune prevails, I’m hoping to squeeze a few stretches out of the day).

I’m looking forward to a full yet easy week of running and will try to avoid any 1h20 midweek misadventures. That said, and with the holidays season imminent, a few longer runs at Thetis with the boys wouldn’t go amiss.

My plan is to spend December recovering from Sacramento ensuring that I’m physically and mentally rested and healthy.

[just finished this mornings second stick of Walkers, Pure Butter, Shortbread]

January will be the groundwork for Boston, training to train with the real work starting at the end of the month.

I was pleased with last weeks running and surprised to see it total 4h21.

Until later then...

Sunday, December 17

Old School Sunday - Elk/Beaver Lakes

Yesterday was a scheduled day off and rather then, a day or respite, Ally and I made good work of our waking hours pulling hard on the reins and bringing Christmas back under control. After ordering my first seasonal coffee of the year, cautiously walking out of Starbucks with my eggnog latte in hand and a grin on my face, we proceeded to scour the local shops seeking gifts for friends and family.

This morning I called up a friend from work, a guy I’d met almost two years ago, and made arrangements to head out onto the trails. After picking him up, we decided to forego Thetis for another week and set out to Elk/Beaver. I always love returning the lakes. Introduced in 1996 and quickly becoming a staple in my diet, I all too frequently pass by a visit these days rather heading out to Thetis, Goldstream or Mackenzie Bight. Today, with the sun shining and the cool crisp air I enjoyed every footstep.

Jim, not to be confused with Seamus, has been recuperating from an unrelenting injury for the last two years only recently to have made gains enabling him to train with consistency (and talk about racing this upcoming year). After parking at the Rowing Club, we headed counterclockwise, detouring up Bear Hill, back down via Odyssey Lane and then continuing our way around the lake. We again opted off the beaten path, slipping passed the Riding Ring and weaving our way through the maze of tails at the southern end of the lake.

I was happily surprised to see Jim not only make Bear Hill look like a speed bump, maintaining good form and a steady pace, but once down, stretch the legs out all the while keeping me informed of his future plans to visit NYC… the things we do for a great woman?

Training: 1:16:32

Saturday, December 16

It Reminded Me of Being Free


Last night Ally and I had to baby-sit for some friends while they enjoyed their annual Christmas party at the Empress. I miss the parties at the Empress.

My week hadn’t been terrible, but as the days progressed and Friday neared, I would return home at dusk feeling that much more weary, exhausted. After arriving home last night, I phoned a few friends looking for company, but unfortunately, I wasn’t having any luck. Feeling selfish, this only added to my annoyance.

With yesterday’s 80s still loaded, I turned right and headed up toward Rockland with Starship as company, immediately bringing a smile to my face, "...knee deep in the hoopla, sinking in your fight. Too many runaways eating up the night". The jaunt up the short hill aggregated my heels/achilles again, something I’m going to have to resolve prior to Boston.

I opted for a slightly different route this time, deciding to drop down Green Oaks Terrace, the length of Richmond to Gonzales, and then along Foul Bay to the water. Once on Hollywood Crescent I picked up the tempo slightly, rising up onto a plane. I was running faster then the prescribed easy jog but didn’t care, tonight was a much needed therapeutic and invigorating run. Lengthening out the stride and slowly watching my heart rate climb was enjoyable. I kept this effort the entire way home; it reminded me of being free.

Training: calisthenics, 33:20.4, AHR 141 (76%), MAX 156 (84%), 8.07km, 4:01km/pace

Thursday, December 14

We're beaten and blown by the wind

After last night’s shenanigans and having an office Christmas bash late this afternoon I decided to set out this morning for an easy jaunt. I don't know, perhaps it was Jim popping over a few nights ago to grab some tunes or singing along with Hall & Oats in the car yesterday (much to Ally’s frustration), but I decided to dump Bruce and download a fresh batch of 80’s classics.

For a change of scenery, I turned right crossing Richardson and up toward Rockland. I started easy with a shortened stride and I bop - you bop - a - they bopped up the road. My heels were tight going up the protracted climb but extending my stride rolling over the apex I figured nobody gonna slow me down, oh no, I got to keep on moving. Right on Oak Shade Lane, right again on Richmond, down toward the water.

As I crossed Richardson again I was almost hit by a cyclist, eejit! It’s weird how people are strange when you’re a stranger, I let the cyclist go and proceeded on. I was feeling good but had only been out for less then 20’. I was conscious of my gait, the cool air and the sound of my shoes striking the road. I was in a good mood, bad news don’t ruin my appetite, don’t let the papers tell me what’s wrong or right, I just do what I do…

Right again once I hit the water and ducked back down a side street. I’m not sure where I was at this point but knew that I wanted to run, I wanted to hide, I wanted to tear down the walls that hold me inside, I wanted to reach out and touch the flame where the streets have no name.

I remembered my calisthenics only after I’d arrived back home, I’ll have to improve on that. Off to work, I’ve got a 9:30 appointment; I just need to find my sunglasses… for the walk home.

Training: 30:40.7, AHR 139 (75%), MAX 151 (81%), approx. 7.07 km.

Wednesday, December 13

Lost in Translation

Perhaps it wasn’t the translation tonight, but amidst the showers and wind shear that had been wreaking havoc on the city he was, lost, in Oak Bay.

He goes by the name of Papa, Jim, Seamus and the Flying Finn, to name a few. He’s a male, Caucasian, Leo and rumor has it he like the movie… Hero. He was last seen tearing it up around Windsor Park wearing battleship grey and orange Adidas tights and a long-sleeved green shirt. If you’ve seen him please call 555-4648 (operators are standing by).

Shortly after 4:30 p.m. we met outside his house, his curiosity had been piqued and I was along for the ride. After the tempo session had finished, during which I was reminded of the JF05 Model, something I hadn’t seen for a long time (relaxed shoulders, a quick untroubled gait… this bodes well for JFo7, “The Terminator”), the plan, as best I remember, was to meet after 20’ of intervals. Neither of us contemplated a problem; we’d seen each other at least ten times throughout the tempo session.

Unfortunately when the large drops started, you know the ones, the drops that hit your clothing with uncharacteristic torrential weight drenching a disproportionate amount of your clothes. When they started, I knew we were in for difficulty. The light sprinkle hand turned to showers, the showers to rain and then, then, they happened. Somewhere amidst the blur of Christmas lights, puddles and eerie blackness we lost contact. I could’ve promised he said 20’; I slowly jogged from one corner to the next, changed direction. He couldn’t be lost? I do vaguely remember a stifled shout ten minutes in, I hesitantly yelled back but only managed to frighten a man dashing from his car to a nearby restaurant. After a cold eight minutes I pulled away knowing that we’d missed each other.

The run home wasn’t nearly as enjoyable; the feet seemed that much heavier, what felt like an old pair of sodden, mud caked Nike Air Structure 2s had been mysteriously attached to my feet. My calves hurt. I took “off” my gloves because the dampness made me feel colder?

I hope he made it home…

Training: 1:23:39, AHR 130, MAX 163, 5x 1’on, 1’ off. I wish I could tell you far I’d gone but, well, I can’t.

Tuesday, December 12

A Year in Review

With no running on the schedule for today I thought I’d use the occasion to reflect on my running. It was about this time last year, while listening to Jim recount his marathon trials and tribulations, that I decided to revisit a goal I’d originally set for myself years back…. to see how fast I could race a marathon.

To me, the challenge would be different from that encountered while participating in ultra marathons during the last few years. I was confident in my aerobic fitness and thoroughly enjoyed trail races but I knew there existed a vast disparity between simply going further, and going faster, racing. What I wanted was to experience a 26.2 mile contest, a battle. I wanted to toe the line and feel the adrenaline and excitement, step off with a pack of runners and not run, but race. I wanted to hit upon a rhythm and go, feel great, and push the limits watching the hard work pay off. I wanted to be the one turning the screws this time.

With this in mind I set one purpose and two objectives for myself, improve upon my marathon PB, Ottawa in the spring and Sacramento in the fall… everything in between would be a means to an end.

Part I: Spring 2006
January 29, Mill Bay 10k, 36:08, 3:37/km
February 26, Hatley Castle 8k, 29:21, 3:40/km
March 19, Comox Valley Half Marathon, 1:19:56, 3:47/km
April 2, Sooke River 10k, 35:14, 3:31/km
April 23, Vancouver Sun Run 10k, 34:36, 3:28/km
May 7, Vancouver Half Marathon, 1:17:31, 3:40/km (PB)
May 28, ING Ottawa Marathon, 2:45:29, 3:55/km (PB)

Part II: Fall 2006
July 30, Esquimalt 8k, 29:42, 3:43/km
September 13, Rock Solid 3k, 9:55, 3:18/km pace
September 17, Maui Half Marathon, 1:18:29, 3:43/km
October 8, Royal Victoria Half Marathon, 1:17:34, 3:41/km
October 29, Shawnigan Lake Half Marathon, 1:19:03 3:45/km
November 19, Bear Mountain 10k, 37:29, 3:45/km
December 3, California International Marathon, 2:40:19, 3:48/km (PB)

Looking back on these 14 races, each one seems like yesterday. Finishing the Mill Bay 10k in January shocked to find I couldn’t break 36’, only to watch the seconds fall like autumn leaves by April ultimately setting two PBs in May.

After taking some time off in the early summer months I was again (borrowing a phrase) reminded of that not so great sensation, “feeling like 10 lbs. of shit in a 5 lb. bag” while crossing the line in Esquimalt. Again, only to set my second marathon PB for the year in December.


All these joys and stumbling blocks, and everything in between, I wouldn’t pass up for one second… I’ve had a good year, a great year and look forward to more.

Monday, December 11

Bob Geldof, I Do Like Mondays

As twilight came and went I did something today I haven’t done in three months. I’m sure if I carefully scoured the pages of my training log I’d uncover that I actually haven’t done it for many more months however I’ll leave the log alone on the kitchen table.

Unlike Bob Geldof and the Boomtown Rats, I do like Monday’s, or at least this Monday, today.

Why?

It’s simple, straightforward… I was going to run.

Today was a break from routine, a change of pace and I was set on taking advantage of the occasion. Once home from work I hurriedly changed, slipped on my well aired Asics 2110s, grabbed Bruce from my desk and headed out-of-doors. Like yesterday, I performed a few calisthenics down the covered driveway and then was off into the wind and rain.

I took advantage of the fading daylight and skirted Beacon Hill, ran passed Terry touching his left shoe out of admiration and good fortune and lengthened out my stride along Dallas. Perhaps it was, “… chrome wheeled, fuel injected and steppin out over the line” that triggered my quickened pace but I didn’t object. For the first time since the race I felt almost smooth. On any other night I would’ve called them strides but given the conditions tonight I dropped a few squalls, with the wind and rain at my back they gave me the boost I needed and it the felt fantastic.

The numbers (35:50, AHR 134 (72%), 3x squalls) don’t look striking on their own but given my recent training I’m happily surprised at the way my body is responding, and more importantly contentedly aware of my hunger.

Sunday, December 10

Victoria, B.C.

With a warm westerly breeze blowing off the Straight of Juan de Fuca and the sun’s warmth on my face I traversed the southern exposure of Beacon Hill Park.

The weather, fickle as it is, has changed dramatically since I’ve returned home but for a brief period this morning I was treated to gorgeous winter’s day.

I know it’s not prudent to buy yourself gifts in the weeks leading up to Christmas but yesterday, while strolling Victoria’s bustling holiday streets, I happened upon a copy of Bruce Springsteen’s Greatest Hits and couldn’t resist (much to Ally’s chagrin and embarrassment). After a light stretch and with the Boss crooning in my ears, I headed outdoors. Prior to running, I decided to introduce a few calisthenics: 5x vertical jumps, 4x horizontal jumps, 3x one-legged vertical jumps, 2x one-legged horizontal jumps… finished I was off into the park.

The pins much better then Friday and I felt my stride returning to some semblance of normality. The figures: 39:58, AHR, 138 (74%), MAX 173 (93%)

Saturday, December 9

The Recovery Plan

Last night the lads and I managed to sneak down to the local drinking hole and, while necking a few pints of the black stuff, discuss most of the world’s problems. The evening allowed me a much looked-for opportunity to chat about my recent scurry with friends who have experienced a marathon or two themselves... and I thank the buoys for humoring me.

With training for Boston starting at the end of January it’s important that I get ample physical and mental recovery over the next few weeks, that and it will ensure a guilt free enjoyment of Christmas dinner. After finishing my first Ironman in 1995 I learnt a hard lesson when I started training for the following season without taking any down time and ended up succumbing to mono.

Having thoroughly enjoyed yesterday’s run then, I let the trainers air out today and benefited from one more scheduled day off. Instead, I enjoyed a relaxing hike with some friends and Ally this morning out on the Peninsula and even managed to spend a little bread and honey holiday shopping (one down, nine to go).

Tomorrow and Monday I’ll head out for another short jog, followed by a further day off and then back at it Wednesday (on, off, on, on, off, on, on, on, off, on). This will take me through to the end of next week and allow mi-wadi to ease back into running.

Friday, December 8

In Need of Cathartic Release

While at work this morning I couldn't focus. How many cups of coffee did I drink (I hadn’t been concentrating)? Two. Was it the fact that I had too many, or, not enough? Perhaps I needed another? I had another, an Americano to boot.

Ahh… wait!

My body still didn't feel right, I was a small child trapped inside on a rainy day with an inability to channel his energy. I found myself staring out a window, longing to be anywhere, but here. What was wrong, why was I antsy?

Not only did I have an abundance of energy but I was run-logged. After an enjoyable twelve week build for Sacramento I couldn’t disengage from race day. I couldn’t stop thinking about what was, what might have been and what might become, I needed a cathartic release, I needed to run. I wanted to experience race day again!

The end of my work day arrived with the same speed and intensity as does Christmas morning to a child on December 24th. Once home and changed I was out the door, running. I turned left, toward Pic-a-Flic, dropped off Tuesday night’s movie (
Keen Eddie v3) and then toward Beacon Hill Park. I skirted the park, enjoying the feel of the grass and mulch beneath my feet, up an over the hill and down, passing Terry and then home.

The body initially responded better then I could’ve imagined but the last 5 minutes were reminiscent of my ability to walk on Monday, ouch. Run time 30:01, AHR 127 (approx.69%), MAX148.

Thursday, December 7

Kemibe's Marathon Training

I came across a thought provoking article this morning, Kemibe's Marathon Training. The piece is geared largely to athletes with several years of consistent, focused training under their belts and the desire to improve competitively. It’s not designed for first-time marathoners unless they have an excellent record at shorter distances, and it’s not targeted to those whose goal is simply to finish the race.

As for me, and given that yesterday was the first day I haven’t had to lean on the handle rail when descending stairs, tomorrow, I run. I suspect it won’t be huge but I’ll be out there, running by Terry (a reverent nod of the head) and back along the trails skirting Beacon Hill Park. I’ve already made tentative plans for the following weekend out at Thetis; I’ve been missing some of my old haunts, the staples, the routes that get you through the tough weeks and I eagerly anticipate our upcoming meeting.

Until then…

Wednesday, December 6

The Future… Spring 2007

Granted you may believe it’s premature for me to be considering my next marathon given Sacramento was three days ago and I’m still having difficulty walking down stairs, but the seed for spring 2007 was planted in autumn 2005.

Ally and I spent two weeks touring Ireland and were in England visiting my relatives. While seated on a topless double-decker bus touring around London the guide made reference to the
marathon route. “Wouldn’t it be fantastic to run through downtown London starting in Blackheath and ending at the Mall right in front of Buckingham Palace?” Imagine running past the Royal Naval College and Maritime Museum past the famous clipper, The Cutty Sark, over Tower Bridge, the Tower of London to your left… the seed had been planted. I initiated the application process this summer, first sending a money order and self-addressed return envelope so that I could receive the appropriate application form, submitting said application form and then… waiting.

The waiting for me coincidentally ended with my return to Victoria last weekend. In the mail was a thin envelope from the UK in which was enclosed my official regret letter. Bastards. There is still a slim possibility I may be able to toe the starting line on April 22nd but I’m not holding my breath, let’s say it hinges on a friend of a friend, situations that sadly, on no account, seem to never unfold according to plan.

Luckily for me, having achieved the required Boston qualification standard in May (35-39, 3h15) I had sent in my application and was successful. My plan at present, subject to a good deal of discussion and change, is to run the
111th Boston Marathon on Monday April 16, 2007, 131 days and counting…

Training (12 weeks out) officially starts January 29, 2007.

Tuesday, December 5

California International Marathon (the details)

Going into the race I felt nervous, somewhat fearful at the opportunity of been given my chance but most importantly excited. I had been training for this race for the last 12 weeks and my preparations had lead me to rural Auburn-Folsom Rd. not far from the prison made famous by Johnny Cash.

If I could have changed two things leading into the race they would've been a) getting a massage in the days leading up and b) ensuring I had a more nutritious pre-race meal. Standing on the start line moments before the gun was to go off I don’t remember feeling anxious, but only now surprised at how calm I felt. I was chatting to Scott Peterson who I had met moments earlier, sharing our expectations and dreams. I remember him telling me he had run 2:2x:xx but today was eager for 2:34:00. I was setting out for a 2:36:00 finish (5:57 pace).

Given hydration difficulty in Ottawa I leant on some experience gathered while training for the 2005 Knee Knacker and started Sacramento with a handheld water bottle full of diluted Gatorade. I finished the bottle by mile 6 and probably drank more in those first 36’ then the rest of the race.

The first two miles went by in a blink of an eye (5:58 & 5:59) and I was delighted at how effortless they felt. I started at the front and quickly settled into a comfortable rhythm, telling myself to relax and drop my elbows (I have a bad habit of running with my shoulders around my ears).

Even though I tried to slow my tempo I accumulated a 22” surplus running miles 3 through 6, closer to 2:33:49 pace and regrettably outside of my fitness level. I was to reap the ill gained rewards from my enthusiasm later in the race.


7 - 5:57 (Gu #1), this was to be the only mile in the race that I nailed my pace.

8 - 6:05

9 - 6:05 (ditched gloves)

I split miles 10-12 in 18:19, somewhere in-between my left hamstring cramping for a brief second. Not a debilitating spasm but a sharp jab, reminiscent of a play yard bully reminding you he’s watching. I made note and tried not to adjust my stride, damn bullies.


13 - 6:02 (Gu #2), I split the half in 01:18:32 feeling comfortable and in control, content that I was on 2:37 pace.

During mile 14 (5:58) my left calf cramped for a long-lived second, I’d never had calf problems before and was concerned. By mile 15 (6:11), my quads and hamstrings had received a beating and appeared on the verge of cramping. Was I to hold pace and risk suffering the cruel sting I received at mile 22 in Ottawa (dropping 30-45 seconds a kilometer) or persist? As I was reminded prior to the race, I ran with a hint of madness in my eye, ditching my toque and dropping a 5:56 for mile 16.

At mile 17 (6:13) I miss shifted from 5th gear into 4th, no longer being able to turnover with graceful ease… I was slipping. During mile 18 (6:12) I abandoned my arm warmers and decided to take an extra Gu (#3) eating one at 18, instead of 20, hoping the extra calories would compensate for my loss of speed.

19 - 6:08, unlike Ottawa I felt my nutrition was improved, feeling greater mental awareness and happy I was in the game this time around.

20 - 6:14

During miles 21 & 22 (12:45, Gu #4) my gearbox fully broke, leaving me with only three gears. I contemplated turning off the watch but had enough consciousness to know I’d later appreciate the humour. I continued taking splits but didn't look, instead focusing on the runners ahead.

23 - 6:24, thought I'd pick it up.

Nearing the end.

Could struggle through a cramp, right?

24 - 6:26.

Good thing I didn’t try too hard earlier.

25 - 6:15.

Pissed off at the guy who received aid from his friend. Why was he allowed help? How come nobody was riding beside me handing me that last gel. If I tripped him would I have felt better? Damn him and his speed…

As I came around the last corner I couldn't see the time, (not wearing glasses) but I could make out the shape. Bugger, I wasn't going to run a 2:3x:xx today. Although I didn't hit my pace time I was only 4 minutes off and did set a PB of over 5 minutes...

Finished;

2:40:19;

I am;

Happy;

Want;

More!


Monday, December 4

Choosing a Marathon

“Question for you Mike: Is it [Sacramento] indeed a PR course? Did it feel/seem easier than Victoria? Vancouver? I am wondering if it’s worth skipping Victoria to train through an extra 2 months of dark and rain.”

Someone asked me whether I thought Sacramento was a PR (personal record) course. Simply put, it’s the course I ran my quickest marathon ever and therefore yes. Unfortunately the last time I “raced” either Victoria or Vancouver was 1996 and it would be unfair to compare absolute times given my increase in experience and fitness.

Sacramento is definitely a fast course. Bruce Deacon (2 times Canadian Marathon Olympian) set his PR, 2:13:18, on the course which could lead one to conclude it’s not sluggish.

Elevation Change
The Vancouver route looks similar to an Italian bowl of spaghetti with more twists and turns then Maui’s Hana Highway. Victoria is much more civilized and Sacramento even more so (point to point). I couldn’t find a net elevation change for Vancouver but the start and finish is very close together and I’d be surprised if the difference is anything but negligible. Victoria has a net change of 4 feet and Sacramento 340 feet. Unfortunately Sacramento’s net change isn’t a gradual decline but a series of climbs that can wreak havoc on the quads if ill prepared. Too hilly and the course beats you up, pancake flat and I’ve been told the repetitiveness can be equally tiring.
Advantage: Sacramento (minor)

Weather
The RVM site indicates the average temperature on race day is 14 °C but suggests you visit Tourism Victoria
for more information. Vancouver has an average temperate of 12°C at the start, an average race day high 21°C and a 25% chance of rain. During Sacramento’s 24 year history 20 races have had no rain, very light winds and temperatures about 3-4°C at the start and mid to upper teens at the finish (typically there is a 13% chance of rain). I don’t run that well in the heat and would personally choose Victoria or Sacramento over Vancouver.
Advantage: Sacramento & Victoria

Marathon Course Records
Vancouver 2:17:01 (2002), Victoria 2:16:49 (2006), Sacramento 2:10:27 (1993). This statistic on it’s own is misleading, the question you should be asking is, “why are fast athletes racing in Sacramento?” An answer could be prize money, $10,000 US for the first open man in Sacramento, $3,000 US in Vancouver and Victoria… $1,000.
Advantage: Sacramento

Summary
When I ran Vancouver ‘96 it was on the old route: through Stanley Park, over Lion’s Gate Bridge, along the North Shore, over Second Narrows and back. It felt like an adventure, I had an objective in mind the entire time. Although not a terribly fast course it was enjoyable and in my opinion the organizers never should’ve changed it. Victoria isn’t slow, we all saw Steve turn in a great performance this year. That said, if I was given a choice of the three courses to run a PR on I would pick Sacramento, Victoria and Vancouver in that order. I liked Sacramento. The aid stations were well organized and the course was run on a closed, four-lane, point to point route with a net elevation loss of 340 feet.

Sunday, December 3

Sacramento Marathon 2006

Officially, I was:

45th, M35-39. #2076, 06:07 pace/mile, 01:18:32 (half), 8th in age group, 2:40:19.

Full results here.

I'll write a longer report in the days to come and outline some ideas I have for the future but for now I'll leave you with a brief summary and my mile splits.

I was up at 2:40 a.m. and felt great, rested 10 hours yesterday. Out for a very short (8') jog, ate, relaxed, i.e., Sudoku. Hopped on the bus at 5:00. Talked with a nervous runner, giving him race advice made me feel better (he was trying to qualify for Boston, needed a 3:10). Dropped off at the race start just after 5:30... it's cold. I'm guessing it was around 1 - 2C for the start of the race but clear. Tried to stay relaxed and warm. Race started at 7:00.

I managed to start at the front and as discussed before aimed to take it out in 5:57 pace (2:36:00).
1 5:58 (rolling hills from 1 - 15 miles)
2 5:59
3 5:49
4 5:53
5 5:52
6 5:53 (it was around here that I remembered how long a marathon was, yikes, what have I signed myself up for?)
7 5:57 (Gu #1)
8 6:05 (big hills start)
9 6:05 (ditched gloves)
10 & 11 12:13 (at around 10 miles my left hamstring cramped for a brief second, I tried not to adjust my stride, frustrated)
12 6:06
13 6:02 (Gu #2)
14 5:58 (left calf cramps for a brief second, have never had calf problems before)
15 6:11 (nasty hills begin to fade, quads and hamstrings are taking a beating and on the verge of cramping from here on in, was afraid to push the pace for fear of walking as happened in Ottawa earlier this year)
16 5:56 (ditched toque)
17 6:13
18 6:12 (ditched arm warmers, Gu #3)
19 6:08
20 6:14
21 & 22 12:45 (I contemplated turning off the watch here, continued taking splits but didn't look, just focused on the runners in front, Gu #4)
23 6:24 (thought I'd pick it up here as I was nearing the end, thought I could struggle through a cramp)
24 6:26 (Good thing I didn't pick it up earlier)
25 6:15
Finish 2:40:19.

As I came around the last corner I couldn't see the time (not wearing my glasses) but I could make out the shape, bugger. I wasn't going to run a 2:3x:xx today. Although I didn't hit my pace time I was only 4 minutes off and I did set a PB by over 5 minutes... I'm happy with but want more!

Okay, my duty free scotch is finished (the glass not the bottle) and I'm off to bed.

Friday, December 1

What Ever Happened to Old School Chocolate?

I managed to have a great sleep last night, eight hours of uninterrupted silence, fantastic. After breakfast, Ally & I walked around "Old Town" Sacramento, imagine Government Street with wooden boardwalks (but filled with more knickknack shops then I cared to see). Ally humoured me and we did check out an old military museum and met a very friendly 85 year old retired Lieutenant Colonel, he was full of stories. I would've loved to have shared a drink with him.

After lunch, and a restful nap, I figured I'd head out for today's workout. I grabbed the schedule, "20 with 5x strides". "Twenty minutes", who runs twenty minutes? I was reminded by Ally that she runs twenty minutes, s-o-r-r-y! I changed, headed down the elevator and outside. After running on treadmills the last three days I was very excited to hit the trails... no trails. All wasn't lost, I found a bike path that started feet from the hotel and ran along a river. For those of you familiar with Calgary imagine the Bow River, it was sunny, uncrowded and quiet...nice. The weather here has been perfect, today felt like Victoria in the late spring.

Soon after I started the run I approached a group of teenagers, when passing one of the girls yelled, "No one is chasing you"! I smiled and ignored her only to have her yell again, "I'll give you something to run for", after which she proceed to try and catch me...

After dropping said crazed girl, I turned around in what felt like seconds and decided to do a few strides on the way back. The legs felt good, minus the ubiquitous aches and pains. What do you expect? What I was excited about was my energy, I wanted to run!

I met with Bruce on Wednesday to go over the race plan. My training has been going well and I've had some great workouts. Although I don't feel fast I do feel strong. After listening to him describe the course, we've decided I should aim for a 2:36, should be interesting and if nothing else I'll have a good tale to tell when it's over.

This afternoon I picked up my race package, lucky number... 2076! Nothing left to do now but rest up and relax:)

P.s. Still haven't been able to find a regular PowerBar, everything here is Protein Plus, Triple Shot, with Carbohydrates on the side. What ever happened to the old school Chocolate?

Thursday, November 30

Big Portions, Big Day

It has been a very long day. I was up at 3:30 this morning in order to get to the airport by 5:00 so that I could catch my 6:00 flight. Damn icy roads! Unfortunately for me, due to the runway being 80% covered with ice and the plane having to be de-iced for over 2 hours I didn't leave until... 11:00. Wow!

After arriving in Seattle I hopped on three trains, rushing to my connection only to be told there was a mechanical problem with the plane resulting in me being delayed for another 2h30... it was a long day. That said, I did enjoy a comfort of home (a great Chai Latte in Starbucks).

Arrived at the hotel (Holiday Inn, very nice people, letting me use their computer) only to find Ally knocking at our room door 10 minutes after I arrived. The catch? Ally had to work today and left Victoria at 2:00 p.m. The lesson? I should always travel with her:(

Managed to get in yet "another" run on a treadmill, but only because were staying right downtown and it was dark when I arrived. That said the hotel athletic center is fantastic, one could hold a training camp in there. The treadmill was state of the art and was far faster then I could handle (I stopped at 12 m.p.h.). Tomorrow I'm running on a bike path just across the street, no treadmills I promise.

Just came back from dinner, Fat City in Old Town Sacramento (very cool place with cobble stone streets and wooden boardwalks). It is the only place where when ordering a pasta dinner I had more chicken then pasta, you wouldn't believe it if I showed you a picture.

Tomorrow I go for an easy run, a few strides and then pick up my race packet. Oh yeah, tomorrow I also decide on the pace I want to go out, but... more on that tomorrow. Until later then, enjoy Kitangus this weekend and have a Guinness for me, buggers!

Ciao for now!

Wednesday, November 29

Searching for 10.0 +

If I keep this up for an additional 28 days to the passer-by it may seem a habit, or conceivably a vice (it’s a matter of perspective isn’t it). Today was my last workout, and it was to be short and sweet. The plan was to sharpen the legs, get them turning over, but unfortunately I wasn’t going out on the roads:

20' wup, workout at 1% grade: mile (11 mph), 2' jog, 1/2 mile (11.4 mph), 2' jog, mile (11 mph), 10' wdn

Towards the end of yesterday’s workout I played with the treadmill, I was curious to see how fast I could go… it could go. Regrettably all the treadmills at the YMCA are capped at 10.0 (6’ mile pace). Bugger. After some research, I discovered that several of recreation centres have treadmills capable of going 5'/mile pace. Commonwealth (about 5), Henderson (2), Gordon Head (2), Cedar Hill (2) but as a rule prohibit intervals, Crystal Pool (1) busted as of last week and Oak Bay (about 4). I planned to go Recreation Oak Bay (ROB).

I had never been to ROB in the morning (5:48 a.m.), having to wait at the bottom of the stairs with 15 of my closest early morning enthusiasts. Much like yesterday, made my way upstairs, disrobed, pressed start and jumped on. There were at least four of us, our reflections cast out over the road almost teasing me. Come on, I dare you. I felt like an ethereal spirit, my face undistinguishable, just the clip of feet holding me to this world. With detached enjoyment I started the workout; there was no sense of speed, no wind in my face, just the ceaseless whir of the machine. The exercise came and went.

When I left the building I looked back over my shoulder, there was a line of people running and going nowhere, conceivably a nightmare, but in amongst them there was a space, one treadmill was idle. I was glad to be finished. I pulled my toque down further and turned back around.

P.s. Watched Saint Ralph last night (again), a fantastically inspirational movie! There is no doubt that I’m in great shape and should I race as well as I’ve been training… it is pretty reassuring to know that you really don't need to do anything more spectacular than you have been doing.

Tuesday, November 28

Brass Monkey, That Funky Monkey

I did something this morning that I haven’t done since the spring of 1997 and something that while living in Victoria I thought I’d never do again, I ran on a treadmill. Given the current inclement weather and slippery roads conditions, I was warned to be careful.

“The risks of stressing muscles or having a fall this close to the race are just too high. You should use a treadmill for the next few days. Fortunately, the runs will be short.”

With yesterday a scheduled day off, I was to run 45’ today. Prior to going to bed last night, I went online and checked the schedule for the YMCA, they opened at 5:30. Perfect.

I’m not sure of the exact point at which the monkey’s tails becomes at risk of freezing, but as I stepped outside this morning at 5:28 a.m. on my way downtown it was bitterly cold and the wind didn’t help.

Bundled up, I tentatively made my way down the middle of the street. This wasn’t too bad, it was cold and the wind brisk but… whooah. Alright then, to the Y it is. It took me 6’ to get there, paid the nice man at the front desk and then made my way upstairs. Disrobed, pressed start and jumped on. I felt I was going reasonably quick (8.2) given my HR so I increased the elevation (1.5) and settled into a very, very boring groove for a long 35’. I looked longingly outside… across the road… past the old church, I wished I was out there, running.

Total time today was 45:03, AHR 130, AHR while on the treadmill 139.

Monday, November 27

Snow Day

Closed the bedroom door last night with the cat (Timone) on the other side, felt I needed a peaceful night’s rest… I succeeded in having a relaxing sleep.

Woke up this morning to find it had snowed, a lot. I bundled up and went to work only to find I was one of few, one of the minority that made it in. I spent most of the day lost in thought, distracted, unfocused, preoccupied, trying to decide how best to get to Seattle and more importantly Sacramento.

The predicament… I’ve booked return confirmed flights from Seattle to Sacramento and decided to fly stand-by from Victoria to Seattle (don’t ask, it’s a long story but ended up saving me a lot of money). Back to the quandary, today, because of the snow, all the flights from Victoria to Seattle were canceled. Bugger. Given the forecast on Thursday is calling for a 90% chance of rain or snow, SE winds at 10 km/h with a high of 3C and a low of -2C, the day I had planned on flying out, should I:

a) Take my chances flying stand-by on Thursday afternoon possibly missing my connection in Seattle;
b) Buy confirmed tickets from Victoria but inevitably still roll the dice concerning my connection;
c) Leave on the 5 p.m. Clipper to Seattle on Wednesday night, spent an evening “Sleepless in Seattle”;
d) Drive down the I-5 to Seattle, leaving the car there; or
e) None of the above.

My mind is still spinning.

Perhaps my bewilderment stems from the fact that I haven’t run today. Like most of the preceding Monday’s, today was a scheduled day off. Unfortunately, running calms me and given my decreasing volume of running and I’m beginning to feel restless. Double bugger.

Okay, I’m off to shovel the girl’s car out from behind a small snow bank and perhaps run a few strides up the street. Perhaps.


Epsom salt bath. Stretch. Bed.

Sunday, November 26

Winter Wonderland (Victoria, B.C.)

When I woke this morning I reached over and furtively pulled aside the curtain looking to see if it had snowed, I was disappointed, not unlike a child waking up on Christmas to discover it was the 24th. After spending so many formative years of my childhood in the Canadian North, snow is synonymous with Christmas for me, you can’t have one without the other. “It’s okay”, I told myself reassuringly, “there are 30 more days until Saint Nick comes, still time”.

Up, grabbed the paper, fed cat, put the kettle on, coffee in the bodum, bread in the toaster and sat down to start the Sunday Sudoku. I think it was while finishing my second cup of Grizzly Claw (Kicking Horse Coffee), that it started to snow. Bonus.

I helped the Missus finish putting up some Christmas decorations and then called a friend to see if he was up for keeping me company on today’s run, he was. I bundled up, headed outside and made my way up the street. The plan was to make our way in the direction of a particular links course, “with its breathtaking seaside scenery and craggy coastline”, child’s play. Had we followed through with our plan, we might have jumped on at 17, run over 1, 12 and 11, crossed the road, up 3, 4, 5, 6, and 10 and out to the tee box at 9, Gibraltar. It would be at this point, with the wind whipping the snow horizontally across our faces and the large grey waves breaking onto a craggy outcrop that we most likely would have retraced our steps. Most likely.

The run was bittersweet; although incredibly enjoyable my friend had an untimely exit as a nagging grievance reared its ugly head. For those reading outside of B.C. (Saudi Arabia, Indonesia and Mexico) and unfamiliar with snow, enjoy the picture. 1:07, AHR 134, AHR 155.

Saturday, November 25

Seven Days and Counting

The run today was pretty straight forward, 20’ easy, 15’ at marathon pace/effort followed by a 10’ cool down. After a leisurely morning, one cup of coffee, Saturday’s Sudoku and 20’ of stretching, I opened the door and was greeted to an arctic air. Apparently it was +1C, with 25km/h SE winds making it feel like -1C. After living in Yellowknife for seven years it reminded me of winter; I was loving it.

I jogged down Linden to the water, turned right along Dallas toward Beacon Hill for a leisurely loop of the park (could’ve sworn I saw a fast moving Finn in the woods, perhaps an apparition). I noticed my HR was elevated on each rise, ouch, but I’m sure that not getting to bed until 2:30 a.m. didn’t play in my favour. After reaching the start of the mile loop I hit lap and quickly settled into my groove:

1st mile, 5:58, AHR 153, MAX 159
2nd mile, 5:57, AHR 158, MAX 161
Last 3’, 3:01, AHR 159, MAX 161

I definitely didn’t feel spry and was happy not to be racing Sacramento today. That said, I was pleased to see that I found my pace with relative ease (unlike a few weeks back where I opened in a 5:40). The total running time today was 46:33, AHR 143, MAX 161.

After the run Jim, Ally & I headed out to Thetis to watch the 22nd Annual Harriers Gunner Shaw Memorial Cross Country Classic.

Prior to the race start I was able to catch up with a few old friends, the infamous Padraig McCluskey currently completing his residency here in town and Alex Coffin, former Manager of the Running Room, visiting this weekend from the Maritimes. Alex ran the Marathon by the Sea in Saint John N.B., August 13th of this year.

Considering the reputation and history of today’s event the weather didn’t disappoint as it was cool, threatening to snow, and the puddles were overflowing. According to one friend who stepped off the beaten path, the puddles were deep enough to have her swimming, nice one Claire. It was great fun being able to cheer on one’s friends… congratulations Rumon, Larry, Brad, Alex and everyone else participating.

Friday, November 24

Cracker…

This morning I was reminded of something that at times I think we overlook as adults, childish abandonment of all things sensible; the idea of wading into a puddle with absolute disregard to the water level and corresponding height of your boots. Jack didn’t care whether he got wet, not when there was excitement to be had. His behavior also surprised me when he inevitably fell face first in the pond. Although shocked, with modest encouragement he was on his feet and standing proud. Life for him is fun and adventure.

I headed out the two by four this afternoon with this mornings memories still strong, trading Chris Botti for Josh Ritter, and a goal of running off the beaten path, off the worn trails and instead through the grassy fields, connecting urban pathways and lost alleys. Apart from my left heel being a tad tight the legs felt cracker and my body was ready to race. The outing totaled a relaxing 30:51, AHR, 136, MAX 151.

Note: For those running tomorrow’s self-described, “all trails, many tough hills, rocky, rough, always wet course with roots, rocks, stumps, puddles, branches & boulders - no whining!” fall classic, have fun!

Enough of my blathering…

Thursday, November 23

Chris Botti, Again

After a restless sleep I woke up this morning happy to find my legs in amazingly good spirits. The inside of my left heal has been giving me a varying degree of grief the last 2 months and although it had settled down, I wasn’t surprised to see it aggravated slightly given the workout last night. To help settle things down, I managed to get in another massage, this time with Lindsay (James Bay Chiropractic & Massage). After an hour long, 45’ massage (thanks Lindsay) I left with the pins feeling relaxed.

This evening I was scheduled for an easy run and with the holiday season fast approaching I again slipped in Chris Botti’s December and kicked about the neighborhood for and easy 30:51.

P.s. For those of you living in and around the Capital Regional District be sure to checkout tomorrow’s Times Colonist, rumor has it that a local athlete (& promising young writer) has composed an article concerning this weekend’s Gunner Shaw Cross Country Classic 10-k.

Christmas Lights: 6 set

Wednesday, November 22

Yasso 800


The workout this evening: 20' warm up, 10x800m with 2' rest run at 5-10k effort, 20' warm down. This was my last hard session and I was instructed to “train, don't race, but run hard”. I wasn’t quite sure what that meant but figured I’d leave the contemplation to the track.

I was very excited when I first saw this workout, I love 800s.

After one of my training partners pulled the plug to attend a hair show (don’t ask, he better have a good reason) I sent an email out looking for company. A friend,
Brad, replied informing me that he couldn’t make it but pointed out that I was doing the Yasso 800s. Wait a minute; this workout had a name… my excitement quickly turned to apprehension. I only know one named workout and it is spoken by better runners then I with hushed reverence (The Michigan). What was I getting myself into?

I was dropped off early at the track with my flats in hand. Running unaccompanied wasn’t to be as shortly after I arrived Judith pulled up and I was also pleasantly surprised to see a Mr.
Rumon Carter, the man himself pull in (the buoys are back in town).

We jogged around Ring Road twice to warm up, changed into our flats, and stretched the legs striding up and down the back stretch. We discussed strategy for a bit, Rumon was going to lead Judith, and then toed the line. I had initially considered running 2:44 to 2:40, but after reading up on Yasso I thought I’d see how the body found the first quarter and then adjust accordingly. This was supposed to help predict my marathon right?

After opening in a 0:36 200, I could hearing Rumon calling at me to pace my self. A furtive grin crept over my face, it was going to be one of those nights and I was to love every stride. I opened in a 2:36 and decided to set the bar there. I was amazed how effortless the first four were, scarcely breathing hard and my HR dropping below 130 in a few paces. It was after the 5th one that I was conscious that it was taking me 50m to recover… so this is how it works. The last three were fantastic, I felt like I was in the closing stretches of my own race. I was intently aware of my surroundings, my breathing, the one dark puddle at the north end of the track, the breeze hitting your face before turning in front of the stands… the last few strides. The scores (time, AHR, MAX):

1 2:36 (162, 169)
2 2:35 (161, 169)
3 2:35 (162, 169)
4 2:36 (162, 170)
5 2:35 (163, 170)
6 2:34 (160, 171)
7 2:33 (163, 172)
8 2:33 (164, 171)
9 2:33 (163, 171)
10 2:30 (163, 172)

I couldn’t have had a better workout, on a more enjoyable fall evening, or with better friends.
My Average Time for the 800s: 2:34

Tuesday, November 21

I Own This Street

It was a tad crisp when I stepped outside for my run this evening, but more enjoyably it wasn’t raining. My intention was to see how many sets of Christmas lights I could find and to put me in the mood I had loaded up the shuffle with Chris Botti’s December.

The legs felt energized and clicked over effortlessly, jogging down Linden toward the park, I love tapering. I received the weeks schedule last night and was smiling as I read through the events, it dawned on me that all the hard work was behind and it was time to get ready for the Grand Old Party.

I skirted the park and then headed toward Ross Bay Cemetery, toward an all too familiar street. You see, I own this street. Not because I live there (we live three blocks west) but because shortly after 6:00 p.m. this evening I was the fastest runner present. There exists an old bollard at one end preventing cars from coming down the east end. Just in front, a yellow 12 foot square, my starting block. About 100m down the street on the right hand side a basketball hoop and the space in-between… is mine.





The last few weeks my right gluteus/hamstring has been bothering me intermittently and although I was aware of it tonight I wasn’t concerned. I put my head down, leaned forward until gravity took over and kicked in the overdrive. Tonight I did six strides and they felt progressively faster, I was happily surprised not to feel the ill effects from Sunday’s race. The scores on the boards: 46:01, AHR 141.

Christmas Lights: 1 set

Monday, November 20

Rest and Recovery

Well, after volunteering to baby-sit for a good friend this evening I received a phone call just after getting home to find out that my services were no longer required. It turns out that Joe wasn’t feeling well and as a result, we, are going to the symphony! Karma, providence, fortune… what goes around comes around, thanks Joe.

“What does going to the symphony have to do with running?”

Nothing specifically, but today, like the previous ten Mondays, is a day off, i.e., no running. Therefore, attending the symphony this evening will only aid in my rest and recovery (both physical and mental). It was soon after completing my first Ironman in 1995 that I fully comprehended the benefits of proper recovery. There was no coincidence in my trying to get a leg up on training for the subsequent year (two weeks after finishing Ironman Canada) and being diagnosed with mono the following week. We live and learn.

Proper recovery is crucial in allowing your body to absorb the work you’ve been putting in. Not only did I have a scheduled day off to aid in my post race recovery, I also had an appointment with my witchdoctor. Janet works as a massage therapist at James Bay Chiropractic & Massage and saved me from what I thought might become a huge setback while I was training for Ottawa earlier this year. Since then, and as the volume of running increases, I’ve been scheduling regular sessions (it also helps to compensate for my lack of stretching). Don’t get me wrong, Janet’s a wonderful woman but the treatment she imparts doesn’t leave you with that warm fuzzy feeling (not at least until she stops). Most sessions involve her laughing, perhaps at me, while I squirm face down trying to reposition myself so that she cannot reach what ever body part she is working. After 45 minutes today, my shins and right gluteus were singing her praises.

The previous week was pretty solid, 7h17 (approximately 63 miles) of running, just over 70% of my maximum volume, with 12% quality, e.g., races, intervals, hills. Tomorrow, irun.

Sunday, November 19

Evening Run 11/19/06

Just returned from a delicious Sunday dinner at the little sisters. Who would’ve thought salmon and prosciutto would make a good such an agreeable pairing? I didn’t, but why would I ever doubt my sister.

On the way home from the race, and with my legs feeling… tender, I decided to stop in at London Drugs and buy myself some Epsom salts. The jury, my jury, is still out on the benefits of the salt bath but I’m not prepared to forego any potential benefits just yet. Lucky for both of us I thought I’d do a little investigative research. Previously unknown to me, studies show that benefits from the major components of Epsom Salt may:

Magnesium:
Ease stress and improves sleep and concentration
Help muscles and nerves function properly (nice)
Regulate activity of 325+ enzymes (didn’t know I had that many)
Help prevent artery hardening and blood clots
Make insulin more effective
Reduce inflammation to relieve pain and muscle cramps (okay, now we’re getting somewhere, I like this one)
Improve oxygen use

Sulfates:
Flush toxins
Improve absorption of nutrients (does that imply vitamin G would be better absorbed while in the bath?)
Help form joint proteins, brain tissue and mucin proteins
Help prevent or ease migraine headaches

After the bath then, and prior to dinner, I laced up my reserve shoes and headed back out the door. I bee lined for the waterfront to take advantage of the grass along the coast. Looped around Clover Point, said hello to Terry as I skirted the edge of BHP (it was dark) and slowly retraced my steps home. It was a pleasant night and a relaxing way to end the day; the stars shining, a warm (really) breeze coming off the water and Simon & Garfunkel playing in my ear. The legs were feeling surprisingly good, really, who would’ve guessed. At one point I even enjoyed the company of a young Great Dane as he bounded haphazardly beside me, tongue wagging.

39:59 easy, AHR not applicable (it was easy and I was supposed to shake out the legs).

Morning Run 11/19/06

It dawned on me as I was driving out to the race, “drafting behind a lean, perhaps skeletal runner might be as fruitful as applying Hawaiian Tropic SPF 2 to stop you from burning”. It’s just not going to happen. As best laid plans usually end up, I needn’t have heeded the wind warning but perhaps the race organizers might have considered a TREACHEROUS TERRAIN WARNING, wow.

After signing up for the race I asked one of the
organizers to point me in the direction of the course so that I could get a taste of things to come. Finishing my 20’ warm-up, including 4’ at or near race pace, I decided to change “out of” my flats and into my trainers as I was going to need all the cushioning I could get if I was hoping to arrive in Sacramento in one piece.

The course is scenic and had the concrete cart path been substituted for a chip trail this runner would’ve been that much happier. My plan was to take the first few kilometers (and hills) comfortably and then put the hammer down at the 6-k mark. Unfortunately unbeknownst to me, also at 6-k was an unbelievably (Mount Finlayson like) hill that wielded a bigger hammer. Bugger.

In retrospect I am pleased with the race and felt very solid throughout, not fast, but relaxed. I did start comfortably and eased into the first 3-k (the hilliest part of the course) deciding to instead concentrate on turnover, love those baby steps, rather then grunt up the hills. I continually passed people during the first 5-k and moved up from 14th to 8th. I passed runner number 7 at 6-k only to listen to his deafening footsteps for the remaining 15 minutes. Zach ensured I wasn’t going to coast to the finish line. My
final time was 37:29 good for 7th overall and 3rd in my age group (M3039). Coincidently I ran the same pace, 3:45 km, which I hope to hold for Sacramento.

I ran, 1h59 this morning (did an easy 61’ as part of my cool down) and my splits for the race are as follows (km, time, AHR, MAX):

1-k 3:23 (156, 165)
2-k 4:03 (165, 168)
3-k 4:35 (166, 168)
4-k 3:18 (164, 168)
5-k 3:32 (165, 167)
6-k 3:27 (163, 166)
7-k 4:15 (164, 167)
8-k 3:41 (160, 165)
9-k 3:27 (161, 164)
10-k 3:45 (164, 167)

Until later then…

The Wind at Your Back (and in Your Face)

The good news is we’re to receive merely 1-3mm of rain this morning, Sunday morning. The bad news is I’m racing on the summit of a local mountain and there is a WIND WARNING for Greater Victoria.

I can hear Annie Lennox now, “Here comes the rain again, raining in my head like a tragedy…”, you know the song.

Okay, just like the guy next to me I could use a little help a times, and a stiff wind at my back makes me feel like I’m flying. Trouble is, when you’re not running a point to point (not to be confused with a pint to pint, thanks RC) route, I’ve only described half the battle, and there exists… the other half, the back half. And it turns out that Mother Nature tends to the fickle side: a headwind slows you down more than a tailwind speeds you up.

“Studies have determined that a 10 mph tailwind will nudge you ahead about 5 percent faster, while a 10 mph headwind slows you down by about 8 percent.” My strategy then, lean into the wind, and stay as relaxed as possible… conserve energy. And there's always drafting.

I'd best finish my coffee and prepare to leave (have to hit the bank on the way out there, forgot to register).

Until later then...