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


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.


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.

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.

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?


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


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


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.


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...



I am;




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)

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

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?