Thursday, December 27

Dream

It’s an overused cliché but I really don’t know where to begin. I can sense my emotions swirling around in my head but as time passes, they become diluted, confused with the past and an unknown future.

I spent too much of Christmas Eve in the hospital consoled only with the echo of a tiny heartbeat contentedly pulsating, oblivious to an outside world. I try to pull together my feelings but choose to let them slide through my fingers knowing that some questions are best unanswered. Or, perhaps enjoying the view of a glorious distant horizon while not wanting to fixate on the ground needed to be traveled.

We spent a relaxing and happy Christmas at my mothers and I managed to squeeze in a few runs, the more enjoyable of which led me atop Maple Mountain alone with Matt, four inches of snow and a set of very outsized cougar tracks.

After having accompanied Ally to another doctor’s visit, I now quietly sit back in Victoria wondering how to be emotionally strong when the mere question causes my eyes to brim with drops of fear. Ally is 25 weeks pregnant and tonight I’m praying she’ll make 28.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like I’ll be racing the Phoenix Marathon in January as my attention and energy over the next three weeks will be better spent here.

Training:
Sunday: day off (scheduled, swapped with Monday)
Monday: day off (unscheduled)
Tuesday: mountain run, 1:06:17
Wednesday: easy 1:08:42
Thursday: day off (unscheduled)

Saturday, December 22

Merry Christmas

Have to run (figuratively) as once out the door we are off to the ferry terminal. It’s been a bit of a whirlwind of a day, not the least of which was returning home from my jaunt to find that the girl(s) had had a bit of a scare. Everything appears okay and we’ve been given the green light.

I woke up this morning to once again the sound of rain pounding against the windowpane. I love this weather. After a bowl of oatmeal, two cups of coffee and one cup of Earl Grey the conditions settled down and I was off. I felt like crap during the warm-up, which as the past has shown usually means I’ll have an okay run… history held true to it’s course. On a slightly undulating route I focused on running within myself tried to keep the splits between 3:47 and 3:55; my slowest, 3:54, my fastest 3:40, I won’t bore you with the details.

Should I not get a chance to post before Monday evening, I hope everyone has an enjoyable holiday season filled with friendship, love and if you’re lucky enough to find the time, an enjoyable three fingers of scotch. Until later then, Merry Christmas!

Training:
Friday: hilly 51:39
Saturday: 1:56:39 with 21k at MP (1:19:28)

Thursday, December 20

A turn for the good

After running to work yesterday morning, a slight detour after forgetting my work socks, I sat at my desk frustrated and discouraged with the lack of speed with which my ankle is healing. You’d think it would be a quick fix?

Twenty-four hours later, my demeanor had changed. Whether due to the reinitiated stretching or some achilles exercises, my ankle recovery appears to have made a turn for the good. This was confirmed during this evening’s bitterly cold workout.

Home a little late, I’m now off for what I hope to be a relaxing twelve days, the sun had already set by the time I’d reached the trailhead. After a light warm-up, I tentatively eased into the kilometer repeats (at this point I was looking for any excuse not be run). I was aiming to hit between 3:17 - 3:20, and without the regular feedback from a marked track, I was surprised with my accuracy. The even times had a slight uphill finish which probably explains the slower times, and the last 400+ meters of the last interval was run under a darkened (spooky) canopy of trees which may have attributed to the leisurely time, maybe (3:19, 3:19, 3:16, 3:22, 3:20, 3:23).

Although I’m happy with the w/o, I was surprised at the perceived effort I had to put in. That said, the last seven weeks have been predominantly about increasing my aerobic capacity, not my speed.

If you haven't already visited this page, check out Reid Coolsaet's blog; he's one of Canada's faster milers (1500m: 3:40.38, 5000m: 13:21.53 & 10 000m: 27:56.92).

Training:
Wednesday: A.M. easy 45:49, P.M. steady 59:52
Thursday: 1:14:44 with 6x1k

Tuesday, December 18

2008 Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Marathon

My ankle was acting up this morning more than it has in the last few days. I found this discouraging (and uncomfortable) but hope it has more to do with having not run yesterday, rather that it regressing. On a positive note, the tenderness has left the ankle and traveled up the back of the achilles; the fact that the soreness is moving is good right?

As I’m not working with a coach for this marathon, and following in last night’s footsteps, I’ve posted my draft training schedule for this marathon. For the most part, I’ve been reasonably consistent, but that might change this week with the holidays arriving and having to travel to the Gulf Islands. Over the next 3 ½ weeks I’ve got five key workouts (highlighted in blue) that I want to hit, everything else will be a bonus.

Training:
A.M. easy 39:28
P.M. easy 35:46 with 5xstrides

Monday, December 17

Ultra-marathon Training Programs

“… lessons learned the hard way, Thomas, this is for you. Please note, I’ve included what I did, definitely not what I should’ve done, and I haven’t checked my arithmetic. I hope this will give you some comfort in what you’re doing, and if nothing else provide you with a laugh”.

I found my logbook this evening, not one of the black ubiquitous Blueline A9 Series that sit on the shelf, but a uniquely unexceptional book, one where I record my greatest lessons learned.

I open it randomly and find John Treacy’s 15-week Marathon Training Guide. I recall pasting the schedule in and being stunned at the prescribed volume, week 13 peaking at 54 miles. I smile aware that the numbers haven’t changed, only my perspective. I flip to the last page and find my Flora London Marathon 2007 finishers certificate, “Runner number 991 successfully completed the Flora London Marathon on the 22nd April, 2007”. I ask myself what I learned that day.

I flip through and find a tattered page, inked numbers already fading, where I’d recorded my mileage for the 2003 White River US National Trail Championships (50 miles). Lessons learned/reinforced, a) don’t race injured, b) don’t go out too fast; c) the mind is stronger than the body. Why this race, I’d made the mistake of chatting to Scott Jurek while racing my first ultra earlier that spring, he inspired me. I shouldn’t have been so gullible (although he did buy me a beer).

I continue toward the middle of the book, passed my West Coast Trail Odyssey, the Harrier’s Elk/Beaver 50k Ultra and the Half Knacker arriving at was is probably my favorite trail event, the 50k Knee Knackering North Shore Trail Run (5:43:39).

Training: day off (unscheduled, I’m learning)


Okay, I need help, how do I paste an Excel document (sorry Thomas, you'll have to wait)?

Sunday, December 16

Pleased

I feel I’m closer to that figurative “line in the sand” than I want to be, and after a little self diagnosis (and a remark from Mike), I’ve decided not to go forward with tomorrows run but rather help the missus with some Christmas cards (scotch in hand). Although I’ve managed to slip the lingering affects of the cold I’m still carrying two battle scars. A few weeks back while running in the ice and snow I pulled a muscle deep in my left hamstring, nothing serious, but something that skulks to the forefront late in a two-hour jaunt. That and my ankle is still sore; I’m able to run on it but it’s tight (and sore now).

That said, I managed to close the week out with 10:31:01 of running under the belt (approximately 150km, 94 miles). Although I had hoped to hit 100 miles, know that I’m very pleased to settle where I did.

Yesterday I decided to put the ankle to the test and headed into the hills like a man overcome (and ignorant of the following day’s w/o). Regardless, I felt like an aerobic freight train and was content to roll with the punches.

Today, with Hicham closing out his own (and first) 100 mile week, we set off into the farmlands. After warming up, I progressed into the w/o hoping to move between 3:35-3:37. While in the trees, I kept a consistent 3:30-3:35 but during the second interval, with a “massive” tailwind I clocked a 3:07 and laughed. I thought I’d misread my watch, but a few minutes later once turned around we ran into a veritable brick wall and proceeded to struggle back through the open fields. Hicham kept me honest/put the fear of God in me during the last interval, after which we dragged out beleaguered bodies home.

The next few weeks will be gradually lighter but unlike the last two marathons, I’ve decided to keep the volume slightly higher.

Training:
Saturday: A.M. strong hilly 1:23:22, P.M. easy 28:58
Sunday: 2:00:02 with 2x10’ tempo, 60’ easy, 10’ tempo

Friday, December 14

McDonald’s Christmas tree

Last night, with flaks strategically stowed, a friend in I decided to take in all that was Christmas and walk the halls of the Empress Hotel, drinking in the bountiful varieties of festooned trees. This one caught our eye, as it was the only white tree and made entirely of feathers, chicken feathers. Note the five naked birds at the foot of the tree. What next, McNuggets?

Yesterday, I decided to test the ankle and once out the door probably should’ve turned around. Instead, I plodded on along the Lochside Trail silently cursing each time my right foot hit the ground.

The run didn’t do anything to aid recovery and I couldn’t help but think my marathon preparation was over.

Today, perturbed, I headed out and although I could feel the ankle almost immediately the pain didn’t progress. The ankle definitely feels swollen and is tight, the loss of flexibility noticeable but hopefully things are on the mend. This was supposed to be my peak volume week, but the this new injury and the linger aftereffects of last week’s cold, I’m not optimistic about hitting my target.

Mike, should you read this take note I didn’t complain about the weatherJ.

Training:
Thursday: easy 39:31
Friday: easy 1:25:04

[Photo courtesy of Jim Finlayson]

Wednesday, December 12

Sprain

Despite not having any company, my run in this morning was pleasantly enjoyable. Perhaps it was Jack Johnson, or the extra hour of sleep, at any rate I felt like a man in the midst of a 100 mile week. I started out cautiously, as one might on a path littered with black ice (slipping twice), but nearing town started to wind things up, cognizant though of the evening’s workout. After feeling so tired last night I was surprised to find strength and snap in the legs.

After work, I headed out along the waterfront feeling light and comfortable. I miss the old hood, the Olympic Mountains a distant purple hue in the distance. Unfortunately, about 15’ in I rolled my left foot while running on the grass and subsequently pushed off awkwardly with the right resulting in a strain. Bugger it all! After plying soccer for so many years, I pride myself in having strong ankles… it’s time for a bit of footie again. With a tight timeline to keep, and 1h+ from home I decided to carry on. The workout was descent, the first three intervals feeling great, but fading slightly on the last (the foot starting to tighten up).

I’ve got an easy 45’ on the schedule tomorrow, but will have to see how the body is holding up.

I think I need some new shoes.

Training:
A.M. steady 38:14
P.M. 1:21:42 with 4x10’ tempo (2’)

Tuesday, December 11

Tired

On a scale from one to exhausted, I’ve self assessed myself at very tired (just this side of shattered). My evaluation is rather disconcerting given that I’m on day two, of seven, amidst a potentially very heavy week.

The day started well, I met Carter at the bottom of the trail outside my place and we meandered along the Galloping Goose towards town. Victoria is a sleepy city at 6:30 in the morning, and very dark, the sun not rising until 7:56 (conditions that favour winter naps not frigid exercise). Regardless, the journey was short and the company terrific; if it wasn’t for it being a weekday, I almost suggested continuing our run, out along Dallas, passed the breakwater and home back home along the waterfront. Those were better days, different days, when responsibility meant dressing yourself and morning would last all day.

The run home was okay, but I think I was subconsciously carrying the burden of an utterly unnecessary and very distracting morning discussion. Rest assured my actions were supported; unfortunately, I was placed between the preverbal rock and a hard place and feelings were hurt (thankfully not mine).

On a very positive note, I was offered a new and challenging job, one that after talking it over with the missus, I will accept. More responsibility and more opportunity, I like it!

Training:
A.M. easy 41:48
P.M. easy 59:17

Monday, December 10

Adriane!

As left the front door, ambling down the gradual incline and away from our house, I couldn’t help but wonder when this bloody cold would rid itself of me, how long does it take? I feel I’ve managed to incubate the perpetual pre-cold, sore throat and sniffles, along with an unhealthy amount of self-pity. Enough!

Ten minutes later, and running on a new series of undulating roads I was a different person. I felt fantastic, strong and smooth, particularly given yesterday’s run. I’m always amazed at the apparent random nature of recovery, and favoring a good surprise, never attempt to analyze my training too much.

This last week was slated for rest and recovery, fortunate given my cold. I managed to squeak in 6h01’17” of running (approx. 85k or 53 miles). Looking ahead, I aim to make this week my peak volume (insert Rocky theme music) before gradually reining things back.

My week in review:

Monday: day off
Tuesday: easy 46:28 (sick)
Wednesday: easy/steady 44:10 (sick)
Thursday: day off (sick)
Friday: 1:22:15 with 2x20’ tempo
Saturday: easy 41:09 (sick)
Sunday: easy 2:27:15

Training: steady 53:03

Sunday, December 9

Snow… again

In this calendar year, it has snowed three times that I can remember, twice in the last two weeks (both on Sunday’s). I rest my case.

Yesterday sucked. My running window, with respect to enthusiasm and energy was at 9:00 a.m., due to prior commitments I chose to run at 4:30 p.m., it wasn’t what I was looking for, and definitely not what I needed.

Today, amidst large snowflakes, Matt, Ian, Rosheen, Hicham and I headed out into Mount Doug for a very enjoyable jaunt. After an easy hour, Hicham and I left them to discover some new trails in Broadmead, the best of which was a sustained 10’+ climb; I loved every minute, Hicham didn’t... I can’t blame him, it was his birthday (and he’s not training for a marathon).

This next week should be interesting/challenging as I aim to make it my peak volume. Got to run (figuratively), I was “asked” to mind the bar for a friend's Christmas Party (at my favourite restaurant in town), how could I say no, really?

Training:
Saturday: easy 41:09
Sunday: easy 2:27:15

Saturday, December 8

Healing

I decided to forgo a scheduled light run on Thursday and rather focus on some proper rest and recovery. I can remember a few years back when the thought of missing a scheduled run would’ve caused me to breakout in hives, dragging my weary body out the door irrespective of my ability to perform. I think I’m a better person now.

Yesterday, deciding I had turned the corner, I stepped out into the icy silence of the night with Nickelback urging encouragement (Breathe), and after a gentle warm-up slowly started to turn the screws. It felt incredible. There are a few runs a year when, while still maintaining the calmness of an aged gunslinger, I feel that I can’t run fast enough. My legs can’t drive quick enough to keep up with my lungs, and for some precious minutes you feel unbeatable. This was one of those evenings.

This morning then, despite not thinking my legs were earning their keep yesterday, I’m reminded that all is not as it first appears. My aching legs, “Now I feel it, feel that I've been there, I didn't need this, somebody help me stand…”

Training:
Thursday: unscheduled day off (opted out of a light run)
Friday: 1:22:15 with 2x20’ tempo

Wednesday, December 5

Less than 100%

Still sick. Still walking around with a pained throat. Funnily though, my legs felt great on the run this evening. I smiled while cursing along and feeling quick, wondering how much fun I could have if my throat would sustain the effort. But, I am sick, and this is a recovery week.

Training: easy/steady 44:10

Tuesday, December 4

On the backside of a long day

Although I’ve been washing my hands religiously and sleeping on my side of the bed like it was a lifeline, I woke up this morning with a sore throat (the girl has been quite sick for two days). Now, on the backside of a long and weary day, I’m tired, my sore throat is still in attendance and I’m feeling sorry for myself. I did manage to get out for a light run, and couldn’t be more thankful that this week was slated for recovery.

Training: easy 46:28

Monday, December 3

Rest and recovery

After two 90+ mile weeks I’ve decided to rein it in slightly and allow the body time to recover and absorb the increased volume; this weeks total being 10:32:05 (approximately 150 km, 94 miles). It was this spring, in March when I was last hitting these numbers with any consistency, and if memory serves correct feeling far more exhausted. I’m quietly content with my current progress.


Monday: 42:34
Tuesday: A.M. 37:26, P.M. 1:06:09
Wednesday: 1:11:24 with 10x800m tempo (30”)
Thursday: 1:43:08
Friday: A.M. 39:28, P.M. 56:27
Saturday: 1:20:54
Sunday: 2:14:35 with 2x20’ tempo

A question I was recently asked, and one I’ve been trying to overlook, is just how fast I aim to run in Phoenix. I’d like to break 2h40 (and know that I can), but question whether I’ll have amassed enough quality and quantity to reap such a reward. I additionally don’t want to sell myself short. I’ll mull this one over for the next couple weeks, for now, I’ll enjoy my Guinness in eager anticipation of next week… where the fun and games will begin.


Congratulations goes out to Mike who ran a very solid training run on his way to finishing 5th in the Tuscon Marathon on the weekend, stopping the clock at 2h41... well done!

Training: scheduled day off

Sunday, December 2

Procrastination

…is a type of avoidance behaviour which is characterised by deferment of actions or tasks to a later time. Psychologists often cite procrastination as a mechanism for coping with the anxiety associated with starting or completing any task or decision.

It’s raining outside, a lot! The snow has all but gone as a result of the damned Pineapple Express, which in a world of overdramatization, is the news anchors way of grabbing our attention. It’s cold (2C) and wet, very wet; “they” are calling for 30-40 mm of rain. My brother spent the night as the road conditions were too bad to make it home, as a result we had a relaxing morning trading stories about new houses and future children (he wife is excepting their second child).

He left for work and I had every intention of heading out, but was stopped in my tracks as I peered out our doorway which was more reminiscent of the backside of a waterfall. So, I sit here, waiting for the rain to subside and drinking my second cup of Earl Grey tea (hand delivered from London). I have some work I could do but that would be pushing it.

I made the mistake of checking the forecast as I "was" getting ready; "they" have just posted not one, but two Weather Warnings (a snowfall warning and a wind warning)! I know, I'm whining. I'm going, really...

That was bloody cold. When my head and fingers thaw, I might decide to write more. As it was, I suffered through more than enough sleet and should it snow in Phoenix, I'm confident I will be prepared.

Training: 2:14:35 with 2x20' tempo, + 10'

Saturday, December 1

Snow

Yup, just like they forecasted, it snowed this morning. A friend later informed me that Environment Canada believes this could be one of the colder winters in Victoria for some time… great, p-e-r-f-e-c-t marathon training weather.

That said, Cater braved the elements with me and in an effort to avoid the hard stinging flakes we decided to head into Mt. Doug and loop through the trails, taking advantage of the protection the canopy provided. A truly perfect run in rare conditions.

Training: relaxed 1:20:54

Friday, November 30

A long(er) road home

This evening as I ran home along the waterfront, I was treated to the most spectacular sunset; unfortunately, I was heading in the wrong direction and found myself constantly trying to sneak a peek over my left shoulder. Despite yesterday’s sluggishness, coupled with heavy legs during the first 10’ of the run, I quickly loosened up and decided to go with the flow, opening up the gates just a tad, and rolled over the hills on the way home feeling strong.

Training:
A.M. easy (relaxed) 39:28
P.M. strong rolling 56:27

Thursday, November 29

Must remember to stretch

If I was clunky yesterday, today my legs were tied-up and unresponsive. I’m not too surprised given yesterday’s workout amidst arctic conditions, and a complete lack of stretching on my part. Quickly recognizing the state of affairs, I worked in a few seat kicks and a couple 400m strides but couldn’t shake the lethargic sensation, and so settled in for the long haul… every stride feeling a Herculean task. I’m thankful I wasn’t wearing a GPS as my pedestrian pace would’ve forced me to unnecessarily question my training. Rather, I decided to stick with the trails leaving Rithet’s Bog and weaving my way towards, up, and around Mount Doug.

Training: sluggish 1:43:08

Wednesday, November 28

Just the facts

I don't have much time this evening so I'll be brief. It was wet, and very cold, two of my least favourite conditions. Regardless, I decided to go ahead with the workout. I don't think my calves ever warmed up and I felt rather clunky; it didn't help with my head not being in the game, too many other distractions.

Training: 1:11:24 with 10x800 tempo (30")

Tuesday, November 27

Content

I was running home from work this evening, the sun slowly setting over the Olympic mountains, as I weaved my way through the old neighborhood allowing my mind to freely wander, truly unconstrained, when it dawned on me that “I” was “running” and loving it. My legs were clicking along like a piano metronome, tick-tock-tick-tock, shoulders relaxed and my breath at ease.

It seems I started training only yesterday and although I don’t feel fast, or remotely race ready, I’m content (and surprised) with how my body has responded. Compared with my previous three builds which integrated weekly speed work (5k-10k pace), I’ve decided to incorporated slightly slower paced tempo (10k-HM pace) workouts into the current program that I’ve constructed. Unfortunately, there are too many other variables that have changed to draw any comparisons but this evening as I sit here, I feel okay, and that speaks volumes.

Training:
A.M. easy 37:26 but cold, -1C… and damn icy
P.M. easy/moderate 1:06:09

Monday, November 26

Where dreams are made

Tonight’s run was good. I managed to find some time yesterday evening to do a little stretching. You know, arms at shoulder height, bent out at right angles, followed by a few twists of the trunk, perhaps even looking behind to exaggerate the rotation. Next, arms straight above, followed by that dreaded reach for the floor only to arrive at your shins?

Shins, what?

Back up, down again this time with speed… all-most there, once again, this occasion throwing your weight (?) and smiling as your arrive at your destination, the floor, only to be reeled back in like a bungee jumper having leapt toward the Nanamio River. That was me. Tonight then, I felt marginally supple, smirking at the headlights, as they illuminated the freezing rain, and me, enjoying the refreshing shower hoping (and getting) a brief respite.

Once home the rain turned to snow and with smiles on our faces we hopped in the car, driving off in search of our ideal Christmas tree, the one dreams are made of.

Training: easy 42:34

Sunday, November 25

What’s the sense in hurting my pride

Waking up this morning, I was subjected to a voice far too cheerful for that hour of the day and who didn’t posses half the ability that Ella did, but unfortunately shared the same message, “baby it’s cold outside”.

Today’s long run had some intensity early on to start the ball rolling, 3x2-miles tempo (2’). After putting on a toque, gloves, both long and short sleeved shirt and half tights I was out into the bitterly cold day (-2C). I made my way over to Rithet’s Bog where the undulating trail around the marshland is +/- 3k, not 2 miles but close enough. I started the first interval trying to rein things in but found myself questioning the pace after not too long; I recall my watch reading 5:02. The second time around I focused on keeping my strides light, quick and smooth, and was amazed to shave off 5”. The last lap I paid attention to keeping my effort consistent and was further surprised with the last lap being the fastest (10:53, 10:48 & 10:45).

I’m pretty happy with how my week shaped up, the total being 10h20’52” (roughly 148k or 92 miles).

Training:
Saturday: easy 1:10:21
Sunday: 2:14:16 with 3x2-miles (2’)

And tonight, to facilitate easing everyone into the holiday season, I’ll leave you with these few words:

“The neighbors might think - Baby, it's bad out there

Say, what's in this drink - No cabs to be had out there
I wish I knew how - Your eyes are like starlight now
To break this spell - I'll take your hat, your hair looks swell
I ought to say no, no, no, sir - Mind if I move a little closer
At least I'm gonna say that I tried - What's the sense in hurting my pride
I really can't stay - Baby don't hold out
Ahh, but it's cold outsid”

Friday, November 23

I spoke too soon

I’m in the midst of a busy day so I’ll be brief, I’m tired. Remember yesterday when I mentioned that I wasn’t physically or mentally fatigued, well I’m still mentally in the game but during both my runs today my legs felt as if they’d been put through the wringer. Just now, for a brief second I contemplated having an epsom salt bath but I wouldn’t have a clue where to begin searching for the salt and I know that we don’t have a bath plug… two more items for the list.

Training:
A.M. easy 30:12
P.M. easy 39:49

Thursday, November 22

The solitude of a lone runner

With the Weather Office forecasting colder temperatures (it was -2C when I left the house), and me leery of riding to work on slick streets, I decided to run to work… again (more unplanned mileage).

I took a more direct path this morning, opting away of the scenic Galloping Goose Trail (it’s pitch black), but subsequently having to shuffle my sleepy body along a seemingly endless succession of hills. You defeintely get a different

With a longer run originally scheduled, I decided to take in the sights and smells of the old neighborhood, kicking leaves in Beacon Hill Park, passing along Dallas stopping to admire a gorgeous sunset, eventually making my way to UVic and home only after skirting Mount Doug. As enjoyable, and cold as the journy was, I was happy to see that my ankle wasn’t aggravated even though I wasn’t wearing my flats.

Despite increasing the mileage faster than I would’ve liked, I’m surprised that the physical/mental fatigue hasn’t hit me unlike previous builds (London in April). I wouldn’t advocate being under prepared but if the alternative was being over trained, well, I’ll take the former.

Training:
A.M. easy 37:36
P.M. easy 1:27:26

Wednesday, November 21

Running to work

With the weather increasingly more frigid in the morning I thought I’d try a different form of commute, and so late last night I was down in the basement rummaging through unpacked boxes searching for a small rucksack that I could squeeze some clothes into.

On the tail of a restless sleep, and after fueling the body with two pieces of peanut buttered toast, I strapped on my pack, laced up yesterday’s saviors and set out the door. In short, a) running is just as cold as cycling, b) takes almost twice the time and c) was surprisingly efficient, even if my body wasn’t.

Late in the day I dreaded the journey home as my lunch at Earls wasn’t sitting well, fortunately, and uncharacteristically, my stomach settled and the uphill journey verged on pleasant.

Training:
A.M. easy 41:09
P.M. easy 38:45

Tuesday, November 20

Still hanging (on)

First, it was bloody freezing out there this evening. I don’t know where they take the readings but it felt far more chilly than the reported 2C.

Riding to work this morning, my foot rolling in side my riding shoe, it wasn’t long before I was favouring my left stroke trying not to aggravate the ankle. Necessity being the mother of invention, this annoyance gave me an idea… this evening I compared the heel cup (and supporting sides) of both my regular shoes to find that they were similarly high. I grabbed my Supernovas from the shelf, last worn on a three-hour adventure hike on a Hawaiian lava field, and was happy to discover the sidewall was considerably lower. Recognizing the risk that sporting worn flats probably wasn’t smart, I decided to wear them hoping that running the planned workout on the Lochside Trail would help mitigate any exposure.

From the moment I slipped my foot in, until the long seconds where I pathetically tried to untie my laces with frozen hands, my ankle couldn’t have felt better.

The session called for 12x1k tempo, off a minute. As I’m still hopeful to run a descent (2h41-2h40) race in Phoenix I decided to aim for pace times between 3:37-3:40. Running on a marked two-kilometer section of uneven trail without the constant feedback of the track, I found it difficult to dial in my pace and became frustrated with my inconsistency despite feeling relaxed and comfortable.

3:27 (153, 161)
3:36 (155, 160)
3:33 (155, 159)
3:30 (155, 162)
3:29 (154, 160)
3:37 (156, 161)
3:36 (156, 162)
3:37 (157, 162)
3:37 (153, 161)
3:39 (156, 165)
3:40 (150, 161)
3:38 (158, 162)

I managed to find some uniformity over the last seven, and after returning home couldn’t help but wonder if I sold myself short and should’ve been aiming for 3:34-3:37. I’ve convinced myself I did the correct thing given that I started this training block from a undersupplied cardiovascular position.

Training: 1:20:04, AHR 143, with 12x1k tempo (60”)

Monday, November 19

Hanging on

I had to pop into work this evening only unlike the mornings this time I had the luxury of our car. Without anything else to do other than listening to Bruce Springsteen’s Santa Claus is Coming to Town, I decided to time the journey. The result, car ride = 15’, my bike commute in the mornings = 20’ (not taking into account the post-cycle change).

Coming home, I couldn’t help but notice that every second vehicle appeared to be driven by a complete idiot. When did I drastically age?

I had entirely forgotten about my sore foot until I was lacing up my shoes, when the shoe wall instantly aggravated my ankle. I found the sore point and it was definitely tender to the touch, but didn’t feel muscular. I decided to switch footwear and lace up my old adistars minus the top eyelet but this didn’t seem to work. Undeterred, I left hoping that I wasn’t doing anything foolish. My ankle was intermittently sore for the first 15’ after which things improved. On the back of yesterday’s long run, I was actually quite surprised at how good my body felt which is comforting given the week ahead.

With that, I’ll leave you with some fine words from Theodore Roosevelt, “When you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.”

Training: 1:01:14 with 5xstrides (1’)

Sunday, November 18

The baffled king composing hallelujah

Following Thursday’s workout, I wasn’t surprised at the weariness in my legs come Friday; what did surprise me was just how heavy, verging on cumbersome, they were. I jogged down the dirt hill from our place and onto the trail, taking note as I leisurely passed the first kilometer marker… 5:02 later I decided not to press the pace, but rather convinced myself that today, merely moving was an accomplishment.

Yesterday was uneventful and the pins felt particularly good as I stretched them out with a few 30” strides towards the end of the jaunt.

This morning I wrapped up an easy week with a not-so-easy long run. I was hoping to cruise through feeling graceful and in control; unfortunately, this was not to be. The first hour passed quickly enough but my perceived effort was very much real, with emphasis resting unhappily on the effort. As misery loves company I begun the up-tempo session fully expecting he worst but was pleased to discover that with the pace quickening, and efficiency gains realized, that same perceived effort remained the same.

On a disturbing note, my left foot was giving my grief toward the end of the run. It feels as if a bone has become jammed resulting restricted movement and some discomfort (the camber of the terrain being influential). I noticed it first yesterday but didn’t think much of it at the time, perhaps it’s a result of Thursday, the twenty quick accelerations?

Training:
Friday: slow 29:37
Saturday: easy 43:30 with 5xstrides (1’)
Sunday: 2:07:10 with 60’ up-tempo (4:10 to 3:48 pace/km)

Thursday, November 15

My (other) Girl

This afternoon amid grey, wet and dreary conditions, Ally and I went to the ultrasound clinic. Minutes after arriving, we were ushered into a very comfortable room with soft indirect lighting and a warm soothing colour on the walls; it was a room that couldn’t be more conducive to long winter naps. A moment later Ally was up on the bed, after which all I could think of was one of the original episodes from Star Trek. My center of attention on a monitor showing glimpses of white among a black background and then… we had contact. A human head, mouth slowly opening and closing, the unhurried raising of an arm followed by a indolent stretch only to recoil into a position that would make a sleeping cat envious. I don’t remember talking for ten minutes, my world full of pictures of our daughter; even now you might think I’m blasé but you’d be mistaken, for an endless reel of images and corresponding emotions is running through my mind.

My run this evening was good although my right calf remains a little to-ight! I decided to wear a small headlamp, which interestingly enough turned yesterdays Sleepy Hallow into today’s Creepy Hollow. I followed the Lochside trail out into the farmland perusing my 1’ intervals, the rate of the first few akin to my 800m pace (standing tall, long relaxed strides with an effortless turnover)… this changed, my pace settling, but my form remained true. I’ve been very happy with how my body is responding but the real test will come next week.

Training: 1:22:23 with 20x1’ hard (1’)

Wednesday, November 14

Searching for the way

Nothing of note tonight, apart from enjoying a brief moment alone while out on the trails. With the rain clouds having settled in for the season, ruling out all possibility of a setting sun, the darkness creeps up slowly while changing through mottled shades of grey. At this time of year, running home along the trail at the base of our house is like threading a needle through Sleepy Hollow, tall overarching trees creating a claustrophobic corridor lined with a veil of shifting fog.

I’m going to have to find another way home.

Training: easy 21:54

Tuesday, November 13

Registered

This afternoon I decided to stop pretending and register for the damn race, and with that, I was in. I found it exciting; as I’ve mentioned previously I thoroughly enjoy this part of the build where possibility & hope thrive. Where the destination is far enough away that nobody can question your path and yet close enough to feel the gravitation pull. My next act was to email the elite coordinator to see if I could still be seeded in the preferred coral. As the deadline had passed I wasn’t optimistic so I played the my-wife-is-pregnant-and-have-had –to-change-my-race-schedule card (not to be used lightly) and through the compassion of Heather everything looks like it will work out just fine (I’m forever grateful).

Now, as I type, my run this evening couldn’t seem farther away. I remember feeling okay, I had an upset stomach but my legs were fine. And, as the light faded and then the twilight weakened further still I remember feeling even better, my pace and confidence crept up leaving a trail of complete and total satisfaction.

I now wallow in fatigue with only self-pity and lethargy as company.

Training: 1:11:05 with 5xstrides (1’)

P.s. Mike, thanks for the code, much appreciated!

Monday, November 12

The prudent person

A prudent person would be forgiven for thinking that that with only nine weeks left to train, and having only started last Monday, that it could conceivably be a tad premature to schedule a recovery week. Regardless, that’s what I’ve done.

My body feels solid (perhaps better than it has in months), my motivation for this race is at an all-time high and most importantly I have a deep burning desire to train, that yearning you get when you’ve decided to focus all/most of your energy on one event. That said, after reflecting back on my training throughout the last five weeks, coincidently beginning with my most recent race on October 7 (the RVM where I ran a 1:20:40 half), the timing couldn’t be better (week ending, time, approx. km):

10/14/07 6:31:25 92
10/21/07 2:32:18 36
10/28/07 1:17:50 18
11/4/07 5:35:09 80
11/11/07 7:22:39 105

This next week will be relatively light then, the focus being on maintaining my motivation and preparing for the following two weeks. I’ve scheduled one VO2 max workout for Thursday and a long run on Sunday, the rest, gravy!

Training: scheduled day off

Sunday, November 11

CIS Cross Country Championships 2007

Between running errands, watching the CIS Cross Country Championships and preparing for my mothers visit, I had only a 30’ window of opportunity to run and ended up pushing the boundaries at that. I savored every moment while out on the trails and my body reacted correspondingly, each stride feeling effortless and more powerful than the last. I began comfortably, heading out along Lochside and into Broadmead, only to slowly wind things up to on the return to a relaxed 6:35 mile/pace.

This morning, with heavy grey clouds threatening rain, and wanting to give myself enough time to make it back for the Thetis Lake Relay (observing only), I didn’t hesitate for a second and was out the door earlier than usual. With necessity not allowing any room for contempt, I felt unexpectedly comfortable throughout the run (however cold), with the first hour passing quickly. Given the abbreviated training schedule (and I know the risk in trying to make up for lost time, you can’t) I decided to add some up-tempo segments to the run, 1x10’ (2’) + 2x5’ (2’) + 5x2’ (1’) + 10x1’ (1’); if nothing else they helped keep me honest and made the second our pass in seconds.

I was surprised that I was able to hold form throughout the run, expecting the combination of the intensity and distance to force a more pedestrian effort.

Training:
Saturday: easy 38:25
Sunday: 2:15:06 with 1x10’ (2’) + 2x5’ (2’) + 5x2’ (1’) + 10x1’ (1’) up tempo

Friday, November 9

Tired

I don’t think I had been out for more than five minutes yesterday when I knew the run was going to be a struggle. It might have been the four slices of pizza in my stomach, regardless; I pulled the brim of my hat lower (narrowing my focus), dialed it back and continued onward… Cedar Hill, Mt. Tolmie, skirting Mt. Doug and home. It seems that whenever I start to build for a race I invariably have a run like this, one that tests our character and fortitude more than any aerobic ability. I could have easily pulled the plug early on, the depressingly dark grey clouds certainly didn’t aid any.

It wasn’t until I had walked in the door and was grabbing a glass from a cupboard so that I could have some water when I noticed there on the fridge, was v3. What I didn’t realize until then, was that on v3 (unlike any of its predecessors) I had scheduled 2x20’ MPE for yesterday’s run. Who knew?

So today, in an attempt to make up for yesterday’s lapse, I decided to squeeze a (variation of the) workout in on the Lochside Trail. The plan was, 2x4k at MP (approx. 3:36-3:48/km).

14:49 (3:28, 3:46, 3:45 & 3:50)
15:05 (3:42, 3:52, 3:47 & 3:45)

The first interval was okay but I was starting to tie up during the last kilometer. After splitting 3:52 for the second kilometer in the second interval, I considered stopping as I felt, or I thought I did, that I was falling to pieces. I picked up the effort slightly and managed to hold it together, feeling relatively smooth for the last 2k.

Now, we’re off to Zambri’s as soon as I find a way to wake Ally up without disturbing the bear?

Training:
Thursday: easy 1:20:06
Friday: 59:12 with 2x4k (2’) at MP

Wednesday, November 7

Old Speckled Hen

Perhaps not the most beneficial recovery drink, but the “Old Speckled Hen” that is quietly sitting beside me, tiny beads of moisture clinging desperately to the side, makes for some good company.

It rained again today.

On Monday I mentioned having made a new marathon program, today I am on version three (v3). I love tinkering with race programs; at times I’ve questioned whether I enjoy preparing a program (where the possibilities remain limitless) more than I do the race itself (definitely more so that the training). V3 then, a couple more MP efforts and I’ve introduced a little speed work into next week, the volume remains the same. At times like this, I almost wish I were coached.

Arriving home it was still relatively light, that is subjective as the uncomfortably close clouds were a depressingly flat grey hue, regardless, I decided to explore the neighborhood discovering a new park (Playfair) and four new trails… success in my books.

Training: relaxed 43:05

Tuesday, November 6

Damp

It took a little over a week before I was able to thoroughly revel in what will likely be months of fine west coast commuter weather as today, it rained. And, after looking at the long term forecast it appears I will have plenty of time to adjust to these inclement conditions. No, this evening as I biked home I was treated to an inky damp blackness occasionally riding through a shroud of mist hovering atop the warmer ground.

With it getting dark an hour early, and not being familiar with my surroundings, I was at a bit of a loss as I headed out the door. So, like the creature of habit I am I decided to skirt Mount Doug, detouring through Ritchet’s Bog before returning home. I decided to wear my HRM for the first time in months and was surprised at the relatively low readings I was getting… when I was getting them, 125-135. I decided to ignore the watch, and after convincing myself I wasn’t going to fade, was surprised that my frequency and stride length held for the better portion of the run as I lightly pressed the pace.

Training: wet 1:06:26

Monday, November 5

Phoenix (abridged)

I love my new house. It dawned on me this evening as I was standing in the kitchen; I’d just finished making cheese sandwiches on our new butcher’s block, and after putting tomorrows lunch in the fridge, I decided to grab a bottle of Jura down from the cupboard for a nightcap. The lights were dim, a soft jazz tune floating up from CBC Radio 2 and some scotch in my hand. As I said, I love my new house.

A comment Mike made has been eating me up inside for about a week now. He called me a veteran marathoner, which completely caught me by surprise and then suggested that with only 10 weeks to prepare for Phoenix, I still might be able to pull myself together. With Ally due in April, and a severely truncated spring marathon window, I’m wrestling with the idea of setting aside my ego and racing regardless. How fit can you get in ten weeks? Somebody once told me, or at least I seem to remember, that you can’t over-train in twelve weeks. With these thoughts in mind I’ve decided to recommit to the race (although I still haven’t registered) and have made myself a ten week marathon race program.

With no time to lose, and hot on the heals of yesterdays run, I decided to go with the flow (or in this case my enthusiasm) and head out this evening to stretch the legs. I’m sure the run achieved little or nothing at building any aerobic capacity, but I’d made a conscious mental shift as I left the house. No longer was I allowing myself to wallow disappointment, no, I was focused, I had purpose and I was going to run.

Training: easy 20:19

[photo: Mount Doug]

Sunday, November 4

When it rains

I had just finished disposing of a grimy load of scrap at the dump, remnants of our renovations, when one of the workers pointed out that the right front tire was low. I had borrowed a friend’s truck and convinced myself I could make it to the nearest station, I didn’t. Five minutes later, I found myself laying in a puddle of brown muddy water underneath the box while struggling with a broken security release so that I could lower the conveniently placed spare tire down… I couldn’t. Such was the beginning of my Saturday, which only proved to get worse.

Despite a weekend full of unplanned surprises, I managed to squeak in a few runs, and salvaged the better part of a troubled week. Yesterday morning saw me skirting Mount Doug, something I imagine to become routine given my new abode. And today, Hicham dragged me through Rithets Bog and out of town, looping around Elk & Beaver Lakes and home, but not before we managed to get ourselves lost in Broadmead. I didn’t deserve to feel as good as I did, but graciously took what I could. I still haven’t decided whether to race Phoenix given the extremely undesirable build and ten brief weeks remaining, but think I’ll see what I can make of the next few weeks and then make my decision.

Training:
Saturday: hilly 1h10’30”
Sunday: easy 2h00’05”
[photo: Beaver Lake]

Friday, November 2

No such luck

I didn't get the job.

I'm frustrated and disappointed, apparently I don't have enough experience which makes me wonder why I was screened in? Once again, they see so much potential. It’s a bitter pill to swallow, much like asking a girl out and being told, "you're a really nice guy...”

Once home I decided to go for a run in an attempt to release some of the dissatisfaction and/or give me something to really whine about; up Mount Doug I went in an attempt to gain a new perspective on life.

On my ascent I fell, and truly hated myself for realizing the irony as I picked myself back up.

My head hurts again.

Training: an irritated 54:51

Thursday, November 1

New beginnings

The fatigue is so ingrained that a night’s sleep doesn’t manage to wash away the previous day’s filth, leaving me with a deficit that is growing perilously close to complete exhaustion.

My head hurts.

I like change, but, given my tendency for orderly fashion, I like predictable change, change that I have some semblance of control over (whether real or otherwise). But with the moving, renovations, now having to bike to work, preparing a Treasury Board presentation, all the while waiting to hear on a new job (ask me tomorrow)… I’m tired, no excuses, just tired.

And to rub salt further into the wound, given looming deadlines and my limited capacity, last week I decided to put my running on hold and have inadvertently jeopardized my plan to run Phoenix in January.

The pain in my head has intensified now sitting directly above my right eye socket.

But I now see that long looked for light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel. For the first time ever we have high-speed internet, the painting is finished (almost), the renovation (significantly) complete and I have begun to explore my new surrounding. And the kicker, Carter just called and we’re considering the idea of running to work (in the future)… the possibilities are endless.

Training:
Thursday: day off
Friday: day off
Saturday: day off
Sunday: day off
Monday: day off
Tuesday: day off
Wednesday: 49:53 easy
Thursday: 39:50 easy

Wednesday, October 24

Shadows of a runner

I’m off to the house again this evening as soon as the girl gets home, so with an abbreviated running window today’s scheduled 6x1k wasn’t an option. Rather, with the BC Cross Country Championships being held at Beacon Hill Park this weekend, I decided to run my 15x1’ workout on the unrelenting course. My favourite portion by far was running east along the southern edge, the wind at my back and the sun casting long shadows over the grass of a tall, swift runner. The course is still there, so is a piece of me.

Training: 48:40 with 15x1’ (1’)

Tuesday, October 23

The thought of twins

No Ally is not having twins, or at least we don’t know that yet.

Even now as I type, my chest hurts, and it was meant to be an easy run. Having bumbled through a mediocre summer, only to experience a cold and wet fall, today’s balmy temperature (16C) and deep blue skies intensified my desire to run. I yearned to kick my way through the fallen leaves enjoying an effortless stride; unfortunately, this was not to be. I hadn’t been out for more than two minutes, all of it downhill, and I knew today’s run was going to be a struggle. With this realization I decided to focus on the gorgeous day and relish the fresh air and the fact that I was out running, I let my mind wander. The house, Ally being pregnant, the new job I just applied for, Ally being pregnant with twins… suddenly my gait changed, my chest constricted and my vision blurred. Why was the thought of Ally having twins, a thought that only a few weeks ago we both romanticized about, suddenly causing me to have a panic attack? Have I been working too hard? It was as if someone was sitting on my chest. I focused on relaxed, the grass, and the colour that autumn brings and slowly, little by little, that person eased their weight.

Are these thoughts normal? Perhaps the seed was planted last night when Ally asked whether or not two babies could fit in the new crib we just purchased?

What if it was triplets - that aforementioned person sitting on my chest was suddenly a sumo wrestler.

Training: exhausting 29:10

Monday, October 22

Renovation needed

With my recent lack of running, I resorted to an old faithful workout of mine, 5 by 5 with a minute recovery. I remember feeling great that morning, a slight drizzle, empty roads and cool air, but for most of the workout I found myself having aspirations of returning to the track next summer and having a go at 2s and 4s. This daydreaming might help explain why the first 30” of each internal felt fantastic? It was just a thought, but one I enjoyed.

Unfortunately, since Saturday’s jaunt I haven’t been running, rather, I’ve been waist deep in home renovations which climaxed last night at 11:50 p.m. as I started to paint the bathroom. I recall feeling very overwhelmed and frustrated at my lack of progress. It was then that I decided to put down the brush, and given that I’d been up at 5:00 that morning, assumed my despair was connected to my physical and mental fatigue and decided to call it a night. There is only less then a week left after which I/we will have to live with the disaster.

Prior to sitting down and beginning this brain dump, I noticed that I’ve scheduled myself an easy week as I’m supposed to be racing this weekend. The easy week couldn’t come at more fortuitous time given my weariness and limited time, but the race, the race is a different story and one that may come and go without me ever treading a foot on the course.

Training:
Friday: day off
Saturday: 59:40 with 5x 5’ tempo (1’)
Sunday: day off (unscheduled)
Monday: day off (scheduled)

Thursday, October 18

A blustery start to the morning

With the weariness of yesterday’s efforts still evident in my bloodshot eyes, I laced up my shoes this morning satisfied in knowing that I was going for a run. This was made easier after listening to the radio report that warned that the remnants of tropical storm Ling Ling were about to hit the coast… consequently, it was windy, exceedingly windy, and the rain (all 20mm) hadn’t arrived (yet).

Despite my shuffling gait, I felt good.

I may attempt, depending on my energy level, workload and weather conditions to squeeze another jaunt in this afternoon.

Training: 48:00 easy

Wednesday, October 17

When you’re your own worst enemy

Over the next two weeks, I’m going to have to make like Eric and keep it short and sweet as much of my time will be spent at the new house painting, installing a set of French doors and a small amount of dry walling… such was the case this evening. I returned from a longer than usual day at work which consequently reduced my self-imposed run timeframe to zero. I’m thinking about running tomorrow morning to ensure this won’t happen again, but as I’m tired (which I doubt will change much in a few short hours), coupled with the fact that Greater Victoria is supposed to receive its first winter storm this evening (wind and rainfall warning in effect), I wouldn’t place a lot of money on my running shoes moving from where they rest now, quietly perched at the back door taunting me.

Training:
Tuesday: day off (scheduled)
Wednesday: day off (unscheduled)

Monday, October 15

Our house, in the middle of our street (almost)

Yesterday I returned to one of my favourite areas to run, Thetis Lake Park. The variety of trails and terrain is almost limitless, and with the possibility of running 3+ hours and not retracing a footstep, time passes in an instant. I’ve had some of my best (and most challenging) runs at Thetis, where adventure is a given, and the company I’ve kept unmatched. The park is also going to host three of my next four races as I prepare for Phoenix and with my trail running ability needing drastic improvement the more time I can spend there the better. As it was, Hicham dragged me around for a steady 70’ and after dropping him off (and licking my wounds), I headed back out and although the pace eased up almost immediately the effort didn’t… more time needed.

Tomorrow evening we get possession of our very own house, and with having to deliver a bank draft to the lawyers this afternoon I decided to forego my usual Monday recovery routine and run the cheque in. I was hoping to do several strides but after four weak attempts, I stopped for the day.

Training:
Sunday: 1:38:49 easy
Monday: 44:38 with 4x strides (1’)

Saturday, October 13

Where excuses don’t amount to much

Jogging (slowly) home from the track this morning I felt a fraction of the man I once was, dead tired, but yet with a waning grin on my face. With the sun shining, clear, crisp blue skies and nothing but scarce faded leaves to keep me company, the workout today felt like the calm before the storm, day #1 on my road south.

The schedule called for 3x 2-miles and based on last week’s half marathon I decided on a pace time ranging from 11:58 to 12:08. Jogging the once familiar 4-km to the field didn’t do anything to quell my anxiety; I was a young child standing under the classroom doorway on his first day of school. Perhaps it’s the cold evaluating nature of the track; there’s nowhere to hide, and where excuses don’t amount to much. This was my first real test since April, and I was scared shitless.

The first mile was uneventful but with 1200m to go, I felt abandoned, running in no-man’s-land, lacking in both cardiovascular fitness and leg speed I was reliant solely on guts and determination. That said, with the first interval behind me the subsequent two fell into place, each lap a reminder though of the daunting goal I’ve set for myself and the vast amount of work ahead. The times speak for themselves (AHR, MAX).

12:03 (161, 168)
11:59 (160, 167)
12:04 (161, 165)

Despite being content with my accomplishment, my ego took a drubbing when I compared today’s session to the one I completed on March 7 (about 5 weeks out of London), my only consolation being I’m 13 weeks from Phoenix.

11:08 (160, 164)
11:13 (158, 163)
11:05 (161, 166)

11:01 (163, 167)

Training:
Friday: 45:23 with 5x strides (1’)
Saturday: 1:21:32 with 3x 2-miles (2’), AHR 145, MAX 168

Thursday, October 11

Where dreams are made

With my next marathon (only) 14 weeks away, it is time to begin training in earnest. The moment has arrived where I start increasing the volume, cranking up the distance of the long runs and transition (slowly) into marathon specific workouts. With this in mind, today was all about time on my feet, and a goal of 1h20. That said, and given my (complete) lack of longer mid-week runs, and in an effort to ensure I accomplished my goal, I devised a route that would distract me (should it be needed) from any fatigue and bring me home with a smile on my face. Or, at the very least home. The route, the Governor General’s Gardens, Moss Rock, Ross Bay Cemetery, the Chinese Cemetery, Trafalgar Park, Anderson Hill, and (my favourite) Walbran Park via “the” stairs.

It was during the last 10’ that I realized I would be home with minutes/seconds to spare. My mind quickly transported me to a place where I found only Gebrselassie, Tergat and me slowly squeezing the noose in the final mile. The pace, once comfortable, now in a zone where dreams are made… and then, it happens, I sprint across the line, punching the air and stopping the clock in 1:19:46. In my mind, this time corresponds to a 2:39:46 marathon and in so doing I’ve achieved my sub 2:40 dream.

Post-run, I met my run group at a local brewpub to relive last weekend’s events, sharing stories, supporting any fabrication where needed, and congratulating each other on success. I believe I even managed to convince a significant portion of the group to partake in the upcoming Thetis Lake Triple Crown. The last 3+ months has been fantastic experience and I’m definitely going to miss their enthusiasm, determination and perseverance, but with some luck, a few of us will be doing it all over again in the new year.

Training: 1:19:46 easy

Wednesday, October 10

New Shoes

Even after stretching last night, the first time in a couple weeks, and taking into account Sunday’s race, I was still left with legs that were fiercely aching and me wondering why? I couldn’t remember the last time feeling this uncomfortable.

It wasn’t until this morning when I was leaving the house, seeing my worn shoes outside the back entrance, that answer to my problem presented itself. I needed new shoes. And so, like a moth drawn to light, I spent the first 5’ of this evenings jaunt making my way to Frontrunners where waiting for me on the counter was new pair of the old faithful. After a quick switch, I thoroughly enjoyed the subsequent 35’ around the park, Terry and all. I always seem to forget the simple things.

Training: 39:52 easy

Tuesday, October 9

It’s evaluating and humbling at the same time

Not too much to report this evening as my run was uneventful, an easy 46’+ around the neighborhood. No, much of today’s running pleasure was found in a) the pint of Guinness I consumed post-run while b) reading a variety of race reports from friends who competed in an assortment of marathons this weekend.

Don’t think I’ve gone soft on you, but as I read the wide-ranging tales from Thomas, Chris, Mike, Dallen and Brad it dawned on me that even though the times were vastly different (and repeatedly not what they wanted), the stories were the same, one of passion, dreams and commitment in the face of uncertainty.

The joys of racing a marathon and achieving your goal is wonderful, a wave that I was riding until London this April. However, the slow, painful, often car-wreck-like carnage that comes when things don’t go your way, that’s where it’s evaluating and humbling at the same time.

I’ll leave you with this, “The marathon is like a bullfight. There are two ways to kill a bull, for instance. There is the easy way, for one. But all the great matadors end up either dead or mauled because for them killing the bull is not nearly as important as how they kill the bull. They always approach the bull at the greatest risk to themselves, and I admire that. In the marathon, likewise, there are two ways to win. There's the easy way if all you care about is winning. You hang back and risk nothing. Then kick and try to nip the leaders at the end. Or, you can push, challenge the others, make it an exciting race, risking everything. Maybe you lose, but as for me, I'd rather run a gutsy race, pushing all the way and lose, then run a conservative, easy race only for a win." - Alberto Salazar, 1981

Training: 46:03 easy, toight legs
Photo: provided by Jim Finlayson, I believe it was taken with about 500m to go, although he'd have to verify that

Monday, October 8

My Run across Canada (continued)

With today a national holiday (happy Thanksgiving everyone), me recovering from yesterday’s race and Ally at work, I took the opportunity to do some long awaited housekeeping and catch-up on my running log (last updated May 6). Had I been more diligent my recent race results might not have been as startling and correspondingly and my ego might not have suffered as it did. Now understandably my summer was busy what with breaking my arm, getting married, buying a house and squeezing in a two-week honeymoon but I hadn’t realized just how busy. Ignoring some last minute training for Ottawa, since July 1, I have averaged only 4h02’ or running… a week (ouch).

Despite my lack of fitness, some good has come from this as I’m undoubtedly rested and through my recent races I’ve been aware that my competitive fire still exists… I want to race and more importantly I want to race well!

As for my virtual run across the country, which began on January 1, well, since last updating on May 6 I have covered approximately 1,394km for a total on the year roughly 3,320km. For those visually/spatially inclined (me included) where does that leave us?

Last time my trip ended in Sintaluta… pretty much the middle of nowhere. And so, from the middle of nowhere, I traveled east into Manitoba, through Brandon, Charter, Carberry and Austin; Winnipeg, Richer, Reynolds and… East Braintree? And further east still, on into Ontario or as some folk from the west call it, Onterrible (I can say that as I spent a year in Toronto). It’s not until I was looking at it on the map just now that I realized just “how” big Ontario is. Regardless, my journey continued through Kenora and Thunder Bay finally stopping (for now) just on the far side of Terrace Bay (across Lake Superior from Michigan) and as coincidence would have it about 50km outside of… Marathon, who knew?

Training: day off, tomorrow, I run

Sunday, October 7

Victoria Half Marathon 2007

On a day when so many people were running for PB’s I found myself toeing the line wishing only for survival. Having recently received a clear but unwelcome assessment of my fitness I was only wanting to improve on Maui’s performance and had set a goal of 1h19-1h21 (3:37-3:50 pace/km). Perhaps a tad bold given Victoria is a more difficult course and my training has been distracted of late but a goal nonetheless.

As 7:30 a.m. came and went and we raced away from the starting crowds we were treated to a pleasant surprise as the 10mm-20mm of rain held off, replaced with mild temperatures (10C) and high clouds… perfect racing conditions. The first 5k (3:37, 3:47, 3:48, 3:45 & 3:51) went relatively smooth; the only difficult portion was watching people I usually race against slowly fade off into the distance.

The middle 10k (4:00, 3:53, 3:47, 3:54, 3:48, 3:55, 3:53, 3:53, 3:53 & 3:52) was again uneventful as I was running on my own but fortunately allowed to concentrate on not running outside of my comfort level.

The last 6k (3:50, 3:55, 3:51, 3:40 & 7:48) is where the fun started. I was beginning to fade and if it were not for catching one person and then being caught be three others I think my race wouldn’t have gone as well as it did. With more than enough company, I slipped into the back of our little pack focusing on a) relaxing my shoulders, b) quick feet and c) not letting the invisible elastic break… it didn’t.

Congratulations goes out to Brad, Mike and Thomas who all ran separate marathons today and although none of them achieved their goals, Thomas did set a whopping 16’ PB and you can be sure they’ll all have great stories to tell in the next few days.

Training: 1h40 with the Victoria Half Marathon 1h20’40”, 28th OA and 6th in AG

Saturday, October 6

Where it all started

After having dropped Ally off at her aunts early this morning, I continued up the road to the university and set out for a leisurely loop on the chip trails. For me, these trails are where my running career started, where I went for my first “run” with friends, and where I returned for days afterwards in hope of gaining some fitness so that I could keep up with said friends on our next outing (the bastards).

I really can’t emphasize enough the drastic shift from a unimpressive summer to an unwelcome early winter; the last few weeks have been cruel. That said, with a thick fog/light rain blanketing the grounds, the pungent smell from freshly laid bark mulch and a cornucopia of colours the resulting mood was comforting. I loved my run this morning. Although today’s jaunt was a far cry from yesterday’s slugfest, I felt anything but spry and with tomorrow’s race in less than 24 hours I’ve run out of time for anything save some strategic planning.

With Maui’s half marathon result 4’ slower than last year’s race, and a difference of almost 1’ between last year’s Maui and Victoria half marathons, if I was smart, I should try for nothing less than a 1h21 performance tomorrow (3:50 pace/km). That said, and because I have a fragile ego to protect, I’ve decided to throw caution into the recycling bin (along with an abundance of race leaflets) and aim for a sub 1h20 showing… 3:47 km would give me a 1:19:50.

Tune in tomorrow when you’ll hear me say, “I should’ve listened to reason”.

Training:
Friday: a sluggish and heavy legged 33:32 with 5x strides (1’)
Saturday: easy 34:28 with 5x strides (1’)

Thursday, October 4

Lotbiniere (redux)

I would’ve loved to have seen the look on my face this evening as, when not more than three minutes after I left the house to go for a run, one of my best friends (who moved to England not less than three weeks ago) pulled up beside me in a car? Yeah, that’s what I thought. What the fuck?

He and his wife had applied for Canadian citizenship more than eighteen months ago and as luck would have it, they received their letter in the mail the day after they boarded a flight back to the UK. So, as a result we enjoyed many a pint and laugh this evening but not until “after” my workout, and what a workout it was.

Lotbiniere, or a part there of, times sixteen. If I was tapering for a race I wouldn’t normally do this workout but given that I’m training through this weekends half marathon I launched myself into today’s exercise with an amazing amount of pent up energy… and felt fantastic, tired mind you , but fantastic!

Training: 52:22 with 16x 35” hills (35”)

P.s. Redux quotes,” The worst problem of the 21st century is that many people want positions of leadership, but they don't want to make difficult decisions”.


P.p.s. Thanks for all the encouragement and support concerning being a father, I appreciate it more than you know.

Wednesday, October 3

Heartbeat

Today couldn’t have been mush busier but finishing the evening with a light run, joined by the clinic participants, managed to take all my anxiety and stress away. I was up dreadfully early for one last set of x-rays on the arm (everything is as good as it gets), after which Ally and I were off to see her doctor where, for the first time, I heard the baby’s heartbeat. It was an entirely surreal experience and brought a massive grin to my face and the reality of this pregnancy to the forefront… I was speechless.

Training: 45:17 with 4x strides

Tuesday, October 2

Annie Lennox said it best

I’m registered, actually, it just dawned on me that I’m not registered (but supposed to be) for the Royal Victoria Half Marathon this coming weekend. It is probably “the” local running event on the calendar, and what my running group has been working towards for several months now.

Early evening, as I jogged around the neighborhood dodging the raindrops, I couldn’t have felt more uninspired to race. It’s not that I didn’t want to, the rain and wet grass quickly took me back to the multitude of miles that I put in this spring while training for London and a level of fitness that seems almost unattainable now. No, it has more to do with my complete lack of conditioning and the realization that this weekend, rain or shine, it is going to hurt.

With that knowledge, a damp head, and a filmstrip of faded memories I decided to pick up the pace (ever so slightly) on the way home… a small grin etched into my face.

Training:
Monday: day off
Tuesday: 31:15 easy

Sunday, September 30

Change and everything it brings along

After growing accustomed to the balmy 29C temperatures in Maui, heading out the door this afternoon was a rude awakening. An 11C blanket of wind quickly encircled me, billowing my shirt and forcing every hair on my body to stand rigid and subsequently left me scampering back into the house for a second layer. And so it begins, having missed any gradual transition, it appears that autumn (along with the wind and rain) have arrived.

Perhaps because of the darkening skies, I found my mood sullen. With the changes that the next months will bring, concrete plans that once stood out as a beacon are slowly becoming translucent and difficult to grasp. Always the realist, I’m questioning whether it is smart to commit to a spring race as I don’t want to a) look forward to something that won’t come to fruition or b) participate if I’m not at my best. Although I think there is possibly a third option that I have left out… that ego thing.

Along with the growing family, come month end (October), I will be trading in my 15’ walk to work for a 25’ + bike (& subsequent change); I’ll be officially joining the ranks of the commuting mad racing down the Galloping Goose Trail hoping to win that imaginary prize. I’ve already told myself that on the good days I’ll indulgence and treat myself to the longer, but more scenic, waterfront, perhaps reliving a past life. Is this where my future exercise will lie hidden?

When I shared these thoughts with Ally, proud and happy that I had come to terms with what fatherhood would bring, she resolutely told me not to give up on my running hopes and dreams.

Where does this leave me? Perhaps these are just the thoughts and fears of a budding father struggling to comprehend with his idea of what parenthood will inevitably bring? Or, is it just fear of the unknown and my frail attempt at compromise, desperately trying to prepare for change before it arrives? Both of the above reasons seem a little pathetic, and although the fear maybe real, appear as a cop out. No, the plan is still tacked to the fridge and will be ceremoniously packed, unpacked, and hung with pride on our new fridge.

Training: 1:07:26 sluggish and slow

Friday, September 28

Maui

After spending a fitful night sleeping in the Sea-Tac airport, Ally and I returned home today from two wonderful weeks in Maui! Our honeymoon was everything I wished for, romantic and leisurely, but also included a few surprises the least of which left me atop a 10,023 ft volcano gasping for air while trying to remember where the fun lay.

Our days usually revolved around one of three beaches where we’d passed the time away snorkeling, swimming or (my favourite) napping, ensuring that we soaked up as much of the atmosphere and sunshine that the island had to offer.

Two days after arriving I toed the line, participating in the 5th annual Maui Half Marathon and ran proceeded to run a 8-year personal worst. I started conservatively running the first two miles in 5:53 and 6:00 respectively and strangely enough found myself leading the race. This continued for two more miles until a tight pack of seven runners pulled alongside and after exchanging pleasantries left me to wallow in misery with many a 6:4X mile to follow (ouch)!

Always a glutton for adventure and subsequent punishment, and perhaps wanting to push the memories from my recent race further into the recesses of my mind, the following Sunday I rented a road bike, fastened on my peddles and proceeded to try and cycle to the top of what has been described as the worlds longest/steeped continuous paved accent from sea-level… the road to Haleakala.

I hadn’t been on a bike since last year when I did the same ride (approx. 4h20), regardless, this year I was determined to try and break 4h. This was a lofty/stubborn goal particularly since last year I found the final 500 vertical ft. very difficult, being dizzy for most of it. The entire ride is epic, but my favorite section is by far the top half where the view changes into switchbacks carved into open green pastures. The sky is usually clear enough to see the road stair-stepping up until it disappears out of view.

Upon entering the Haleakala National Park at 7000 feet, the climb is a tad less steep; the landscape changes to volcanic rock, with low-lying bushes. Rather than re-experience last years dizzy spells, this year as I watched the final seconds slowly pass, my left quadriceps felt as if they were in a vice that was gradually being tightened with each peddle stroke. Given years of racing, I have never experienced anything like the pain I did during he last 2’ of this ride and bugger if I couldn’t find a way to eak out a bloody 50”.

On a final note, a spring marathon may not be in the cards for me this year (the next two months will be crucial). Not only will Ally and I be moving into our own house, complete with renovation designs, but also as luck would have it Ally is due to have a baby in early April… Boston 2009?

Please pardon the specifics, they’re for my benefit.

Training:
Friday: day off
Saturday: 39:49 easy w/ 5x strides (1’); swim 5’
Sunday: Maui Half Marathon 1:22:24, 8th OA, 1st in AG (8-year personal worst)
Monday: day off; swim 15’
Tuesday: 40:22 easy w/ 5x strides (1’); swim 20’
Wednesday: 50:02 easy; swim 25’
Thursday: 1:09:01 w/ hills 6x 1’ (1’) + 8x 30” (30”)
Friday: 34:40 easy w/ 5x strides
Saturday: 1:24:11 leisurely along the North Shore
Sunday: bike 4:00:50 up the 10,023 ft. Haleakala
Monday: 53:31 w/ 5x 5’ tempo (1’)
Tuesday: 39:49 easy; swim 5’
Wednesday: 34:27 easy w/ 5x strides (1’); swim 10’
Thursday: day off
Friday: 55:22 w/ hills 6x 30” (30”) + 6x 1’ (1’)

Thursday, September 13

Catch

With a thick fog rolling in off the ocean, I headed out the door to squeeze in a quick workout before work. I hadn’t run hills in months (Jan/Feb) and welcomed the change of pace. I realize I’m racing this weekend rather than following the prescribed w/o but didn’t want to forgo today’s w/o in favour of an spontaneous and ill-prepared for event.

After dropping some mail off, I made my way to Lotbiniere to find that the city has recently closed off the bottom end of the street to traffic, which has turned a previously great hill into something epic.

I eased into the first set and was surprised at how comfortable I felt. My breathing was never laboured during the set, my legs being the only noticeable limitation. I have no illusions of grandeur that this will translate into something more than it is, but I did take comfort.

Training: 41:51 with 4x hills [2x 30” (30”) + 60” (60”)]

Wednesday, September 12

Surfacing

I’m sitting here (with Ally fast asleep) savoring a wee dram of Jura having just packed, hoping I’ve just packed everything I need for Maui. Given the recent world wind of days and weeks, I’m not entirely convinced I have everything but with scarce will to try and rectify the situation. That said, I can rest assured that I have at least a) one Jack Johnson CD, b) my racing flats, and c) the peddles off my road bike (no I hadn’t put them back on from last years ride). I can almost feel the sun on my back as I laze on the sand watching the waves roll ashore.

[insert slow reflective sip]

The clinic, particularly my half marathon group, really excelled during today’s w/o. With only four weeks until race day, they’re really coming into their own. The w/o was the same as three weeks ago, 7x 760m (2’) rest, only this time they dropped the average by 4’-5’… impressive.

Prior to joining the group I had to drop by the Realtors office and sign the final paper work lifting the conditions on our purchase and handing over the deposit. As of this evening, we are the proud owners of our first house!

[insert gulp]

Until later, and I can’t promise I’ll write much while I’m away, cheers, and all the best on the roads and trails… gone surfing.

Training: 1:00:04 easy

Tuesday, September 11

Postcard from Purgatory

Not that yesterday was much of a workout, but nonetheless I was still surprised how good my legs felt this afternoon. As I ambled through Oak Bay and along the waterfront, I was silently amazed with the evenness of my “steady” pace. I felt upright and my hamstrings seemed overly engaged (or I was acutely aware) during every stride… I was a horse trotting.

Unfortunately, any remote resemblance to the aforementioned four-legged animal ended as the timer on the watch face indicated 41:XX. Ah well, I enjoyed the saunter home all the same, unfortunately my planned 75’ ended a tad premature. I seem to remember having a similar difficulty the last time I was ramping up the mileage… desperately trying to crack the 70’ barrier but always washing up short.

So where does this leave me? Well, as a few people (thanks Thomas and Chris) pointed out, I should stick with the base miles and not get distracted with this weekends race. That said, given I was going to do a workout [4x1k (1’) + 1h easy + 3x1k (1’)], and that I’d like to race, what do I do come the day? I’ve been trying to convince myself to do the w/o mid- race but I would invariably become “that guy” the one who annoys everyone in the vicinity so have pretty much nixed that idea. So, how about race pace, given a general lack of fitness (relatively speaking) how about 10 miles at marathon pace? Oh to be fit again.

On the home front, it looks like it’s a done deal, financing, title, inspection, insurance, they’re all in the bag. All that is left to do is lift the conditions and sign away the deposit… which we’re saving for tomorrow.

Training: 1:05:05 steady

Monday, September 10

Fast action absorption needed!

No this isn't a call for some Kleenex, but rather a direct message to the body informing it that we are in desperate need of training, ASAP. Of course, everyone knows that with the race this weekend there isn't the time for my body to benefit from any key workouts, and, I know I'd probably be better off doing less rather than more, but... it never helps to try.

And so I found myself today, on a very hot September afternoon (perhaps the hottest since late June, and certainly the hottest prior to race morning), standing at "Mile 0" and launching myself repetitively into a series of mile tempo runs (fingers crossed).

I’d checked the schedule before leaving the house, heading out the door with my sights on 5:59s. That said, I wasn’t all that surprised when I split the first mile in 5:46 (I’ll never learn), 5:59 for the second, 5:47 for the third and I closed it out with a well rehearsed 5:56. Had I tried to alternate marathon and half marathon pace I couldn’t have done better.

As far as the house is concerned, well, we’ve been busy; to the lawyers regarding the title (all okay), insurance (check, new oil tank within the year though), house inspection (check, built like a tank so we were told)… financing tomorrow and we’re all done.

I tell you though, Maui couldn’t come soon enough!

Saturday: 1:26:07 easy
Sunday: 59:56 easy with Carter, couldn’t have been better
Monday: 46:41 with 4x mile (1’)

Friday, September 7

Desperate Times

Courage, it couldn't come at a worse time… as a result of my lack of fitness, and running deficit, this morning I decided to step up to the plate (with complete disregard to the program mind you) and throw in a workout for old times sake.

So, while most of the city was either crawling to work or school, I was out running circles around Beacon Hill Park desperately trying to increase my VO2 Max. I’m certain the workout wasn’t the best use of my time but at least it gave me the satisfaction that I was putting in a few miles, sweating, and with a few tempo pieces this weekend perhaps next weeks half marathon won’t be the complete calamity I fear.

There is no question in my mind that it/I will hurt, and I’m utterly confident I won’t run anywhere near the time I did in March (let alone last year), but at I’m hoping to hold my head high and perhaps finish with a grin on my face.

As expected I did fade during the session but I could see, if only briefly, glimpses of brilliance. With the sun on my face, and the salty fresh Pacific breeze on my face, I was brought back to a place to so long ago…

On the house front, we have a home inspection in 40’… have to run.

Training: 53:05 with 12x 1’ hard (1’)

Thursday, September 6

Back to school

While sitting here at the computer, I’m watching an icy fog roll off the waters and gradually creep across the neighborhood, the deep solitary sound of a foghorn in the distance. There is no doubt in my mind that the dog days of summer have left and it’s time to head back to school, or at least, back to the basics.

Since having registered for the Maui Half Marathon, this last week couldn’t have been filled with more distractions. We spent the weekend on Galiano helping Ally’s mother clean up her property. This week, in-between a hectic work schedule, we’ve put an offer on a house while also juggling doctor appointments, having additionally opened up our house to some good friends before they bugger off and move back to the UK next Tuesday.

Alas, my running, and desire to head out, has taken a back seat at a time that could not have been worse (well perhaps slightly).

More later, I just got off the phone with the realtor… they accepted our offer, got to go! This is bloody lovely!

Tomorrow then, I’ll run, I promise.

Training:
Friday: 1:09:06 with 5x strides (1’)
Saturday: 1:59:35 leisurely
Sunday: day off
Monday: 30:06 easy (late night)
Tuesday: day off
Wednesday: 57:21 with 2x 90” (90”), 4x 60” (60”), 4x 30 (30”) & 4x 15” (15”)

Thursday, August 30

Days remembered, a beginning

I wasn’t going to run today, not that I didn’t want to or that it wasn’t on the schedule, but with work busier than it has been in months and the days quickly booking up with meetings, well, I left the office closer to 5:00 rather than my standard 3:00 and as such I’d lost my running window. That said, after watching a rented episode of Rome (thanks Lawrence), and the missus fast asleep, it appears an alternate “late night” window has presented itself.

Running when it’s dark reminds me of a) running in the late afternoon during the wet coast winters we all so dearly love and b) days remembered, days when my life as a runner was forged.

It was during the second of year of my university career, and although I ran, I wouldn’t have called myself a runner. Runners were fast, or if nothing else, defined by qualities and attitudes that I didn’t then posses. As fortune would have it I befriended a graduate student who was living in our dorm and who was (or at least used to be) a runner. The informal nods in the hall turned to casual conversations (I can only guess disguised as opportunities to assess one another’s ability). Regardless, with defenses down, we began weekly jaunts, which then progressed to a weekend night long run. First 15k, which felt much longer back then, but not near as long as the first time Eric dragged me around his favourite 21k loop… tonight I remember it like it was yesterday, the first time in my life that I ran half-a-marathon. If I only knew then were that road would take me.

As so, as soon as I finish posting this, I’ll be lacing up my shoes for a late night stroll, nothing epic, but enjoyable all the same.

Thanks Eric.

Training: I’m just leaving, I’ll complete this in the morning


P.s. 23:47 easy, I didn't say it wasn going to be long (felt good)!