Wednesday, January 31

Are you going to be a wimp?

Running is a big question mark that's there each and every day. It asks you, “Are you going to be a wimp or are you going to be strong today?”
- Peter Maher, Irish-Canadian Olympian and sub-2:12 marathoner

…I’m weary, my stomach aches and I’d like to get to bed early; today, I think I was a bit of both.

While jogging to Oak Bay my legs felt constricted and lifeless. Doubtless, it had more to do with the power lycra shorts & long tights I was wearing, but when my legs are unresponsive before a track workout it usually means I’m in for a good one. Don’t ask.

As it was +1C (and falling), after taking off my tights and a quick hello to Chris (my cohort for part of the evening), I jumped right into the workout. This could’ve been a mistake on many counts but perhaps most noticeably when I went into the second corner only to discover the entire back stretch covered in a very thin and dastardly layer of ice. A smarter runner would’ve run elsewhere (or worn spikes) but I carried on, destined to decelerate for 150m of every lap.

As expected the legs felt good and if it wasn’t for my stomach the workout would have been first-rate. Instead, I enjoyed a dull ache by about 1000m of the mile, only to have it reoccur passing through 200m of the 800 and unfortunately intensify. Tonight though, unlike similar situations, I don’t think it slowed me, rather fueling some frustrated anger. Bugger. I really have to sort out my nutrition. The times and HR (AHR, MAX) are as follows:

5:39.3, (155, 163), 2:38.8, (158, 165)
5:39.2, (156, 163), 2:40.7, (157, 165)
5:39.5, (157, 162), 2:41.4, (155, 164)
5:39.3, (155, 164), 2:39.1, (156, 164)

The jog home was cruel. With a damp toque and gloves, and a drained body I felt like Luke stumbling out of the snow cave on Hoth… only I didn’t have Obi-Wan Kenobi to guide me on my journey.

Training: 1:30:58, AHR 136, MAX 165, 4x(1600, 90”, 800, 3')

Tuesday, January 30

Ian MacMillan Remembered

When I stepped in the house from this evenings run the first words from Ally’s lips weren’t, “How was your run”, but rather, “You look tired babe”.

Frank Shorter said, “You have to forget your last marathon before you try another. Your mind can't know what's coming”, the CIM seems only days ago and Sunday’s 10-k even closer.

I’m not sure I can accurately describe the lethargy I felt during the first 30’ of my run. My legs felt heavy and hopping the curb left me short of breath. My shoes sounded like clogs adding an unwanted punch to Moby’s base that snapped up the enjoyment & distraction I needed, I wanted. Today was my first official day of training along my road to London, and if the steps in front of me were going to fall like these… God help me.

Running a marathon has been described as “cutting yourself unexpectedly”. You dip into the pain so gradually that the damage is done before you are aware of it. Unfortunately, when awareness comes, it is excruciating. My awareness was finely tuned.

I felt like an overtired child fighting sleep, I was restless, cranky and exhausted at the same time. I was looking for excuses. During the last month, I’d tried the half dozen water fountains scattered along Dallas & Beach Drive only to find them turned off. Tonight, I stopped by one nestled alongside some bare trees just north of the Oak Bay Marina. It worked! I don’t know what I appreciated more, the eight seconds that my legs stood still or the few ounces of water that trickled down my throat.

As I left the fountain I remembered something I read once, “if you’re tired and want to slow down, try speeding up first”, the next 40’ were enjoyable, tiring but tolerable.

I still remember the small plaque on the fountain; it was built in the loving memory of Ian MacMillan (sp). I doubt I ever met him, but I’ll remember him tonight.

Training: 1:10:55, AHR 136, MAX 150, approx. 16.5 km, 6:55 mi/pace. My achilles is feeling markedly better, perhaps 89%.

Monday, January 29

Progressing Nicely

I’ve just completed updating my training log & noticed that I’ve been putting in some steady miles since the CIM, not a lot, but enough to keep the legs turning over and the blood flowing. I think this is going to pay dividends leading into the next 12-week cycle as a) I’m not burnt-out, but eagerly anticipating the training and b) not starting from scratch, like I did heading into the CIM.

I met my coach yesterday to discuss the high-level plan for London. I’m really looking forward to this build as I’ve progressed nicely from Ottawa in May (2:45:29) to Sacramento in December (2:40:19). We’re going to build on my previous two marathon cycles, adding a couple more weeks of higher mileage and upping my mid-week long run.

Total time on the feet this week amounts to 6ho2’45”, approximately 85 km. Here is how the week unfolded:

Monday: day off
Tuesday: 1:09:47, AHR 137 with 2x 2-miles at HME

Wednesday: an easy 1:10:17, AHR 130
Thursday: 42:53, with 8x(100 fast, 100 easy), AHR 134
Friday: a comfortable 48:23, AHR 140
Saturday: a comfortable 30:56, AHR 135, with 500m at race effort & 6x 50m
Sunday: Mill Bay 10-k, 35:46

Sunday, January 28


Our drive to Mill Bay this morning was more thrilling and eventful then the race itself. Leaving town I noticed the gas gauge was nearing E (dependant on the angle of the road), but not wanting to fritter away any time before the race, I ignored Ally’s suggestion and proceeded up the Malahat.

With few clouds in the sky, we were treated to a beautiful sunrise and pulled over just after the summit (1,156 ft), to snap a few pictures. After a quick photo shoot, I hopped back in the car only to have my heart rate soar from resting to threshold in the turn of a key, as the bloody car wouldn’t start (with my eyes bulging out, apparently the look on my face was quite amusing).

Luckily, as I’d parked facing downhill and with Ally’s car a standard, I put it in gear, popped the clutch and drove straight to the nearest gas station.

The race started just after 7:00 under clear but cold (2C) conditions. I’m happy with the effort I put in, and more importantly that I managed to negative split (18:06, 17:40), but disappointed with my time, 35:46. I thought I had played my cards well and would’ve liked to have seen a faster (35:15) time given the level of exertion.

There was a group of 10 guys who split the first km about 5” ahead of me, but as I went through in 3:18 and was unsure of my fitness, I played it conservatively. With hindsight, I would have taken it out the group but as I managed to pull a handful of them back in the last 4-km I’m not too disappointed.

1-k 3:18
2-k 3:31
3-k 3:20
4-k 3:46
5-k 4:11
6 to 8-k 10:44
9-k 3:31
10-k 3:25

The turnaround is at the top of a significant hill and I told myself to wait until the 6-k point before going above threshold. Although not smooth, I felt controlled over the last 4-k and… had the race been another km longer think I would’ve managed to pass a few more from the early pack. Perhaps I played it too conservatively? I finished 21st overall and 5th in my age group (35-39).

Race Morning

The average, healthy, well-adjusted adult gets up at seven-thirty in the morning feeling just plain terrible. ~Jean Kerr

My alarm went off at 5:30 but it was unnecessary, as I’d been staring at the ceiling for the last 10’ pretending to sleep. I dressed and followed the cat outside receiving a curious look, before setting off for an easy mile jog around the neighborhood (it’s slick out there as the roads are covered in black ice).

Once home, I had a quick shower while waiting for the bread to brown and the water to boil. Two pieces of peanut butter on toast & at least one cup of coffee prepared to Turkish standards, “black as hell, strong as death and as sweet as love”, my typical pre-race meal.

Training: an extremely pedestrian 6:37

Saturday, January 27

(It's) Warming Up

Jim and Todd swung by shortly after noon and we headed out for a light jog in preparation for tomorrows Mill Bay 10-k. A large high has established itself over the south coast and without a cloud in the sky, and the warmth (8C) of the sun on our faces we trotted around Beacon Hill Park discussing race tactics.

I’m eagerly looking forward to receiving an assessment of my fitness, using that information over the next 12 weeks… but I can’t tell you how much I’d appreciate just a few weeks of speed work in the legs.

I’m trying to think of some realistic pre-race goals. With a PB of 34:18 set in 1997, and having run 34:36 a few weeks before Ottawa last year I think my A goal should be 34:50 – 34:59, B 35:00 – 35:30, and C beating last years time of 36:08.

Training: a comfortable 30:56, AHR 135, MAX 160, 500m at race effort (1:34.7, too fast), 6x 50m strides. My achilles felt good this morning, “almost” unnoticeable.

Friday, January 26

Asics 2120, They Feel… Different

The title of this entry could easily have been “misperception”, everything was off this evening. My run felt great, almost too good, I traced part of the old 1994 Commonwealth Games route imagining I was in the lead. I felt like I was flying, my shoulders relaxed, feet easily turning over and a crisp cool breeze in my face. It was a gorgeous evening, the moon bright in a cloudless sky, the temperature cool enough to prevent you from overheating and warm enough so that… so that you don’t need a face mask (poor bugger), perhaps an enjoyable 0C? I occasionally had to check myself, easing back so that I had something left for the race on Sunday.

Once home I loaded up my Streets & Trips, curious to see how far I’d gone, I felt like I was clicking over effortlessly at 6:20 mi/pace. This is where I catch up to you; needless to say, I was surprised to map out an 11.1 km route (7:01 mi/pace), not only that the website indicated it was 6C out… go figure?

So. I was mistaken a few days back when I indicated that I’d bought new Asics 2110. Mistaken as I had assumed the company had repackaged the old with a slight variation in colour, who knew? Unbeknownst to me I had bought the new 2120s. What led me to check was that my feet seemed, undersized; they clunked around in oversized shoes. I’ve been a size 10 for years, but these shoes feel different. My right achilles (the good one) has been rubbing on the heel cup and there is a pressure point on the outside of the same foot, down near the 3rd eyelet.

Has anyone else noticed anything?

Training: a comfortable 48:23, AHR 140, MAX 153, 7:01 mi/pace. My achilles didn’t hurt but it was noticeable throughout ½ the run, not painful, just there.

Thursday, January 25

Three Roads to London

The original plan for this evening was 6x (100 uphill fast, 100 float down, 100 bounding, 100 float down) with 1’ easy recovery. Unfortunately, as my achilles has been less then stellar I opted to leave the hills alone. Rather, I decided to head to the track, run the straights, and float the curves (not entirely that much more brilliant, I know).

Jim agreed to join me after work, and we jogged down to Oak Bay together (I have to say he’s looking good). As he’d already run today, he got chatting with a few old friends while I went to work. I kept things under control but thoroughly enjoyed listening to the “t-tack, t-tack” my shoes made cruising down the back straight. Unfortunately, the home stretch posed a problem. I sprinted (almost blindly) into the blackness only to come face-to-face with a young track team doing cross-overs with arms outstretched on lanes 1 through 7 (they kindly gave me room on my last 100).

If you haven’t already noticed, I’ve posed a link to our “Three Roads to London” site over there (->). It’s a work in progress so bear with us, i.e., once you’ve had a gawk, I’d give us another week before checking back.

Training: 42:53, with 8x(100 fast, 100 easy), AHR 134, MAX 167 and the legs feeling fresh and snappy. The achilles was alright this evening, and with two easy days on the cards I’m hoping for the best.

Wednesday, January 24

Mr. Boombastic

Mr. Lover lover, Mr. Lover lover, girl, Mr. Lover lover
She call me Mr. Boombastic say me fantastic, touch me in me back
she say I'm Mr. Ro...mantic

My apologies, but I was looking for a segue into my first topic, “songs you enjoy while running”. It was sunny today, given our recent weather I’d say almost balmy at 10C (50F), and as I was returning home from work I eagerly anticipated the run.

Once outside, I pressed play on the shuffle and turned right down the street. Ach, it always amazes me how fickle my enjoyment for certain tunes can be. What was going through my head when loading my recent batch for Sunday’s long run? And, why was Shaggy playing? What was I listening to, careful, some of this is embarrassing:

There Goes the Fear – The Doves
Day by Day – Doug and the Slugs
Hair of the Dog – Nazareth
Night Swimming – REM
Lose Yourself – Eminem
Atari Baby – Sigue Sihue Sputnik
Born to Run – Bruce Springsteen
Old Time Rock and Roll – Bob Seger
Times like These – Jack Johnson
I’m Walking on Sunshine – Katrina & the Waves
Lola – The Kinks
Such Great Heights – The Postal Service
Damn I Wish I was Your Lover – Sophie B Hawkins
Mr. Boombastic – Shaggy
We Didn’t Start the Fire – Billy Joel
Sugarcane – Wide Mouth Mason

My question then, what is your favourite running tune? Onto more significant things, running. The jaunt was good and I had to keep reminding myself I was instructed to go EASY, 75’ EASY to be exact. Unfortunately, and I blame it on the Chinese food I had for dinner last night (and again for lunch) I had to cut the run short… upset stomach with an expiry date 5’ earlier then expected.

Training: an easy 1:10:17, AHR 130, MAX156. I got in to see Janet on Monday and she worked wonders on my legs. As my achilles has been acting up, I was aware of it, but it felt okay.

Tuesday, January 23

Steely Determination

Following a few decent weeks and with my London program beginning next Monday, this week has been scheduled for recovery. With me racing the Mill Bay 10-k this Sunday (to aid with an assessment of my fitness), the plan today was for 2x 2 mile on 11:45, half-marathon pace (ish).

After struggling a tad to get out the door I wasn’t optimistic about the run, but after taking the long (25’) route to the track the grey clouds only hardened my steely determination.

I’m notorious for having a speedy first 10 steps and was pleased to see my opening 200 in 0:42 not 0:36 (my plan was to run 1:28 400s). The first mile passed effortlessly (even though 5” fast). Although quicker then intended, I found it difficult to ease up, my body more content to run 1:27s then 1:28s. With 1,200 to go, I was in a rhythm that carried me smoothly through to the finish.

The second 2-mile piece started more comfortably then the first. Although I found it easier to slip into a rhythm this time around, I was more strained/tense over the last 800 then I would’ve liked (particularly as it was supposed to be HMP).

11:36.2, AHR 161, MAX 165
11:38.6, AHR 159, MAX 165

Training: 2x 2 miles on 11:45 (11:36.2, 11:38.6), 1:09:47, AHR 137, MAX 165

Monday, January 22

My Cross Canada Journey

I’ve been lucky enough to live in several provinces (Quebec, Ontario and BC) and one territory (NWT). I’ve spent a winter in Chiboubamau and was indirectly the cause of my older sister breaking her leg in Toronto. I raced dogsleds and learnt to play hockey in Yellowknife, and enjoyed salmon fishing, in all its West Coast finest, in Rivers Inlet.

While enjoying these experiences, they’ve only hardened my desire to drive across Canada. However, with two dreams (London in April, our marriage in July) materializing this year, I’m going to have to put this one on hold. Instead, I’ve elected to opt for another alternative, I’m going to run across Canada… virtually.

I’ve estimated the journey at around 6,800 km, and should I want to complete it this calendar year, will involve averaging slightly over 18 km/day. Unfortunately, 18 km/day isn’t realistic, and I’ll probably be finishing this time next year. Who knows, with Ally’s blessing, perhaps she’ll accompany me to Saint John’s and we can finish the journey down Fort Amherst Road together.

Over the last three weeks I’ve run approximately 297 kilometers which, starting in Victoria (and including the damn ferry crossing) would have me arriving soon arriving in Princeton.

The last seven days have been very exciting, what with discovering that I will be racing in the Flora London Marathon this year (and with friends to boot). Unfortunately, I’ll have to postpone my dream of racing Boston until next year.

I had a respectable week of running, coming off an unplanned down week. My left achilles has been sore but stretching and post-run ice seems to help. I also received a very painful but incredibly therapeutic massage from Janet this afternoon, which always works wonders. Total mileage for the week was around 71.6 (114.5 km) or 8ho1’17”. Here is how the week unfolded:

Monday: easy 26:30, AHR 130
Tuesday: 5xmile at Beacon Hill Park, 1:13:43, AHR 144
Wednesday: easy 56:48, legs felt heavy during the last 17’, AHR 132
Thursday: easy 1:10:39, AHR 130, achilles/heel still tender but not worsening
Friday: 10x hill circuit, 1:30:34, AHR 136
Saturday: easy 44:09 on the UVic trails
Sunday: steady 1:58:54, approx. 28.3 km, AHR 143, 6:46 pace/mi

Training for the marathon officially starts today, with a schedule day off… I love it! Until later then…

Sunday, January 21

Flora London Marathon 2007

I’m not entirely sure where to begin, so bear with me. I think it started, or at least began to take a life unto itself, one fall evening when we were sitting around sharing laughs & nursing pints of wholesome Guinness at the Penny Farthing.

With glassy eyes, we reminisced about the past and shared dreams of the future. It could easily have been
Rumon or Jim who alleged, “wouldn’t it be entertaining if we, the b’hoys, went and raced a marathon together”, not so much a question, but a statement.

Within the last two years, we’ve all trod varying paths, Jim diagnosed with Guillen Barre syndrome and being told he might never run again, Rumon having had heart surgery and me, well I’m the odd one out. I’m just an accountant and mediocre mid-30's runner, trying to see how fast I can stop the clock over 26.2 miles before time catches up.

Earlier this week an opportunity presented itself to us, one we’d be thick to pass up. The details will unfold as the week’s progress, but like the Clash said, “London calling to the faraway towns” … we’re going to London baby, we’re going to London!

On a bittersweet note, I’m going to have to postpone a dream of racing Boston. I’ll be living vicariously through the experienced footsteps of
Mike, Mark and oldLobo (guys, all the best and I’ll be following your progress).


With 2 hours scheduled for today, I decided to head back to familiar ground, routes I’d run when training for the CIM. Out of town on the Galloping Goose and Lochside, through the lower trail system on Mount Doug, up Feltham and down to UVic, Cadboro Bay Road and home on Brighton. After about 15’ I took advantage of some kilometer markings on the Goose and decided to clock some splits, to get a better sense of my pace :

4:09.3, AHR 145
4:11.4, AHR 146
3:56.8, AHR 148
4:05.6, AHR 149
4:02.0, AHR 145

The run felt solid, a consistent and steady effort. I started out with a handheld water bottle filled with Gatorade (finished it after about 90’). I had one GU while waiting for some lights to change at about 28’ and a second after 72’ while heading down Shelbourne.

Training: a steady 1:58:54, approx. 28.3 km, AHR 143, MAX 158, 4:12 pace/km (6:46 pace/mi). As my achilles has been sore, I was aware of it during the run but it didn’t flare up, I iced it once I got home.

Saturday, January 20

Revisiting the Past (University of Victoria)

I lay in bed this morning, my brain struggling to turn over, under pressure to discover which synapses led to the eyelids opening. With the world visible, I continued to lie there, now trying to choose which leg would hit the floor first. Although I meant to have my right fire, the left responded and subsequently set the pattern for the next few hours.

I had initially planned on going to Mount Doug to run the trails, but something
Thomas said swayed my decision, causing me to opt for the flatter route up at UVic. Once there, I trudged slowly around the chip trails with two right feet.

UVic is where my running began. I can remember clearly my first outing with two friends; I was dressed in navy blue jogging pants and a faded varsity T-shirt. Unfortunately, the experience wasn’t enjoyable as I had to stop eight times, wanting to curse but deciding the effort better spent on breathing. My running career could have ended there, stopping before it ever started. Instead, I snuck back onto the trails without telling my friends, destined to improve my fitness in secret.

There is a loop up there that I would race/struggle around 2-3/week, on a good day punching the air with the watched stopped at 22’. This morning, I ran the same circuit in 20:02 (nature break included). If my friends could see me now.

Training: an easy 44:09 on the UVic trails, my left achilles didn’t hurt but it was noticeably tight. I iced it when I got home.

Friday, January 19

The Hills of Friday

The stretching I did last night most likely didn’t hinder the healing, but after two consecutive days of easy running I woke up this morning glad to find my achilles had settled down. Thanks to Mark for reminding me of the benefits received from icing. Why is it we always forget the little things?

With the weather cooperating it almost felt like winter, a Victorian winter, what with the sun breaking through but threat of rain ever present. I headed back into Beacon Hill Park this afternoon to run this weeks version of my hill circuit (keeping the jogs at a decent pace):

  • 100m fast (uphill), jog back;
  • 50m bounding (uphill), jog back;
  • 100m fast (uphill), jog back;
  • 50m A skip (uphill), jog back; and
  • 100m fast (uphill).

The first 6 sets passed effortlessly but 7 through 9 required thought/effort and number 10 had me (for the second day in a row) on autopilot. My legs were tired at the end of the run but not sore, I enjoyed it.

Training: calisthenics, 1:30:34, AHR 136 (74%), AHR 158 (85%) with 10x hill circuit. My left achilles was tender when I got home, iced it.

Thursday, January 18

Remembering Spring

Although the ice and snow has all but disappeared, the cherry blossoms and yellow warmth of the spring sun feel distant. I reached into the cupboard this evening, to the far back right-hand corner and proceeded to pour myself a glass of Highland Park, then settling down in front of the computer. Oh, that was good; I don’t remember it tasting that delicious, the self described “smokiness with heather honey and a hint of peat”.

I had a good run. That is a tad misleading; I thoroughly enjoyed the run but took greater pleasure in the company. Rumon swung by again and we headed out left, down Linden toward the waterfront. I can recall the route when I think about it, but tonight I was on autopilot, engrossed in conversation. Discussing lessons learnt and those still to discover, setting plans for the future and trying to remember paths once trodden.

We nattered through the Chinese Cemetery, up and over King George Terrace and then back up the stairs to Walbran Park, down toward Anderson Hill Park and then home up Brighton. We bumped into an old friend, someone these days I see once a month when out running. His wife had just given birth to their first child three weeks previously, congratulations Cam.

I was supposed to get in an easy 75’, but never one to run in circles, called it quits as we rounded the corner of Linden and Richardson. In checking Rumon's site, notice the discrepancy in run time, although I am a slower runner.

Training: as easy 1:10:39, AHR 130, MAX (undoubtedly while running up the stairs on the backside of Walbran Park) 156. My right achilles/heel was still tender but not worsening, I’m seeing Janet on Monday.

Wednesday, January 17

Asics 2110

I don’t know what prompted me to inquire, perhaps it was my irksome left achilles, but before heading out I asked Ally if she could remember when I bought my most recent pair of shoes.

Nope, we were both a loss.

I picked up the phone and gave my sister a call at Frontrunners. She kindly entertained my question, “October 11th” she replied, “and they should be good for between 500 and 800km”. That was only three months ago, how far could I possibly run in three months? I hurriedly grabbed my training log, fumbling through the pages and roughly calculated my mileage at something just over 1300 km. You can see where this is heading. “I’ll see you in five minutes”, I laughed, hanging up the phone.

Off with the old and on with the new. I jogged down to Frontrunners to find my new shoes waiting for me on the counter. I placed my old shoes in the recycle bin (used shoes donated to the less fortunate) and was off out the door with a quick, “Hello, thanks you, and I’ll see you later”.

On the heals of last night’s effortless performance I shouldn’t have been too shocked with this evenings jaunt. The first 40’ passed by nonchalantly but during the last 17’, my legs grew exponentially heavier every step. There was a thick mist out and I might be able to attribute some of the weight to my tights getting soaked, but unless I was running through mercury, there was only last night’s tempo session to truly blame.

Training: an easy 56:48 on a dark, misty evening with my legs feeling heavy during the last 17’, AHR 132, MAX 148

[Perhaps it’s the lingering snow on the road, but I couldn’t help but notice three sets of Christmas lights]

Tuesday, January 16

Trials of Miles

… and so it begins. Okay, training for the marathon doesn’t formally start for a week or two but I was laying some solid groundwork today. The forecast was for more snow so my coach had given me a treadmill workout, 4 x 7 ½’ with 75” rest at 5:50 mile pace. That said, given it didn’t snow as much as forecasted and that we enjoyed a relatively warm (5C) afternoon I decided to take to the roads.

Although I thought he was on a mileage week,
Rumon volunteered to keep me company and we headed off for Beacon Hill Park (an old, relatively flat, mile horse track in the middle of a park, now converted to a scenic roadway called Circle Drive).

I was supposed to run at half marathon pace but without the constant feedback from a track, I was skeptical of my ability as I always start too quickly (time, AHR, MAX, resting HR at the end of my recovery):

5:31.8 162 167 111
5:44.2 159 166 110
5:42.0 158 164 108
5:43.3 159 166 111
5:43.5 158 165 -

I was surprised at the ease of the first mile but not that I had begun too quickly.
Jim had joined Rumon & me just before I took off on the first repeat and I could hear them heckling. Perhaps I should stick to running 200s?

I kept urging myself to slow down but sure enough, as I approached the start/finish line I’d inevitably run too quickly. My only comfort was the effortlessness with which the workout passed. I felt very comfortable and in control, never once straining. I tried to remind myself to relax the shoulders and drop my elbows… light feet.

I was supposed to meet my coach this afternoon to discuss planning but we had to postpone it until tomorrow. I think there is going to be a small change in direction coming down the pike… I’m curious.

Training: 1:13:43 on semi-slick roads, 5xmile at Beacon Hill Park on 7’, AHR 144

Monday, January 15


Although a scheduled day off, after spending over 12 hours traveling yesterday, today, after work, I felt compelled to stretch the legs and breath in some of that West Coast air… even if it was chilly (0C).

I had to run a good deal of my jaunt on the roads given the patchwork quilt of ice and snow on the sidewalks. Now, I don’t mean to pick up what
Carter put down, but isn’t it U2 who says, some days are better then others? Perhaps it was the relatively easy week I had or spending far too much of yesterday resting, yeah, that’s what I’ll call it, but today’s run felt easy, too easy. My HR was unusually low and when I picked it up for a few meters to where my HR should be I felt... fast.

Days like today are a special treasure, much like trying to look at a faint star, they’re better seen when observed out the corner of your eye for when you stare right at it, realizing it is upon you, it’s gone.

I enjoyed stretching the legs today.

Training: calisthenics, 26:30, AHR 130 (what is with that), MAX 141, 6.5 km, 6:34/mile pace

Sunday, January 14

Week 2 in Review

I had a decent week of running allowing for having to travel almost clear across the country and the surprising weather (winter arrived in Ottawa at the same time we did, it is supposed to be -27C there this week).

I had to alter a few runs due to logistics and an upset stomach, and unfortunately scrap today’s altogether. Total running for the week was 5h18’48”, approximately 74 km. Although I had hoped to run closer to 7h, I am not too disappointed. Here is how the week unfolded:

Tuesday: 1h25’18” with hills and drills
Wednesday: a chilly, but sunny 57’34” in Ottawa
Thursday: 30'08” easy on the treadmill
Friday: 41' progressive run on the treadmill
Saturday: a leisurely 1h44' in Toronto (which is a lot more then I thought I would manage)
Sunday: day off as we left my sisters house shortly after 10:00 a.m. (their time) and didn’t get home until just before 8:00 p.m. (our time)… it was a long day with stops in Winnipeg and Calgary.

Later this week I’ll have a much better idea of my training as I’ll be meeting with my coach to lay out the plans for the upcoming 12 plus weeks, including preparatory tests and a goal marathon.

More later, now, I’m off to catch up on some sleep.

[We took the picture during our last visit to Toronto while atop the CN Tower. It was so cold that day that a water pipe froze, and then subsequently burst. We never did see the glass floor as we’d gone up to the very top and once down to the main viewing level, were evacuated from the tower.]

Saturday, January 13

I Feel Like I Don't Belong

Standing on the corner of Bay and Young (downtown Toronto) in my running kit while waiting for a bloody light to change, I felt like I didn't belong. Everyone was dressed up, like they'd just walked out of Holt Renfrew or Chanel, I've never felt so... naked. I don't know what it is about West Coast attire, perhaps it is because Victoria is substantially smaller, but the standard dress code is more more relaxed. Next time I'll be sure to sport some designer Adidas wear, right.

After having a few poor running experiences the last two days I was skeptical as I headed out this morning. I was supposed to do an easy 40', but as it is unlikely I'll be able to run tomorrow I opted for Sunday's run (an easy 90' to 120'). Unlike Jim, Saturday was my new Sunday.

It's cold here now. My sister said that today was one of the colder mornings this year, at -3C (with a windchill that registered -10C). I found this amusing as two years ago Ally & I were out at the same time and it was a bone chilling -30C.

I was out here this summer and managed to get out for a run so I was somewhat familiar with my surroundings. I went down Bay until I hit Mount Pleasant Road, turned left and then down onto a trail system that went for miles. My achillies was sore so I took it easy for the first 20'. I have no idea where I went but I did spend a portion of my time running through a massive cemetery.

Perhaps it was the slow start, the change of scenery or the fact that the sun was out but I felt good, relaxed. Once 50' had passed I decided to turn around, allowing time for me not being able to find the most direct route home.

In the end my path finding ability didn't let me down and I had just enough time to spin around a small trail network near a brick work factory. The run was great, just what I needed!

Training: a leisurely 1h44'32", AHR 139, MAX 152

Friday, January 12


I feel like I've been hit by a car, knocked sideways and rolled down a rocky bank. It could be the time change, i.e., a lack of much needed sleep, or the fact that I was out at a great Irish pub last night, no, definitely not the pub. Either way I've felt out-of-sorts all day. Maybe it's the moon?

Yesterday was busy but I managed to get in an easy 30', I was supposed to do 45', but considering the day I was happy with the result. Perhaps the best part was jumping in a pool (post-run) in what felt like a Victorian bathhouse. Staying at the Chateau Laurier , circa 1912, feels like a trip back in time.

Today wasn't much different, what with being busy, but yesterday I didn't feel half as bad. As it was pissing (and cold) here this morning I decided to jump on the treadmill. Again, I cut the workout short (was supposed to go out for an hour) but given a seriously upset stomach, double vision and the fact I was running indoors, it had to suffice.

Ally & I flew to Toronto this afternoon to visit my sister before heading home Sunday. She lives close to a very large wooded park with miles of trails which I'm hoping to explore at some point tomorrow.

I'm very very tired.

Thursday: 30:08 easy
Friday: 41' progressive run, started at 8:00 pace and worked the last mile down to 5:20.

Wednesday, January 10

I Miss the Warmth, but Love the Sunshine

We had an early start to the day (early by B.C. time, particularly considering we checked in at 11:30 p.m.) but I was able to get out for a run shortly after 10:30. The last time here (for the ING Marathon in May) it was +25C, while running at home yesterday it was +10C, and this morning (here, in Ottawa) it was -15C.

While spending seven formative years of my life in Yellowknife, I came to appreciate the finer points of living in the North, I’m desperately trying to remember them, and, if nothing else, the bear necessities:

  • When first walking outside, allow time for your teeth to adjust to the temperature before smiling;
  • Running with the wind at your back and the sun on your face is worth millions;
  • Running with the wind in your face and the sun nowhere to be seen is frightening;
  • Don’t lick the flag pole.

Despite the cold weather, or perhaps because of it, I was determined to get outside. Thankful for the Adidas jacket Carter had given me months earlier, I bundled up in all the cold weather gear I had, one layer at a time. After a quick chat with the concierge I was out the door, through the park, and out onto a frozen bike path that led me down to the river. I can’t pinpoint any particular highlight of the jaunt, however I loved every frozen moment from the invigoration I received while being out in bitterly cold weather with the faint warmth of the sun on my face to the historic route I traversed through the city and over into Quebec.

My hamstrings were tight from yesterdays run but that could also be attributed to the cold weather. My left achilles did act up at the end but on a good note I was happy to see that my toe has calmed down (occasionally ignorance is bliss).

Training: an easy chilly but sunny jaunt, 57:34

Tuesday, January 9

The B’hoys Are Back in Town

Two of my favourite running partners, Seamus (a.k.a. Jim, 2 x Canadian Marathon Champion) and Carter, joined me this morning for a run. With the sun shining in what seemed like the first time in months and the temperature a comfortable 10C, the setting couldn’t have been better. After dropping off last night’s movie at Pic-a-Flic, we headed over toward Beacon Hill Park to warm-up. I initially opted for the trails but after unrelenting chirping from the cheap seats Carter lead us for drier ground.

The plan today was to run a series of strides, drills and hill repeats. I think everyone, including myself, was skeptical but as the workout continued and our legs became progressively tired we/I turned into a convert.

The gist of the exercise was repetitions of: 100m flat stride, 50m drill, 100m hill, 50m drill, 100m hill, 50m drill and squat jumps. Okay, I have to go pack as I’m catching a flight to Ottawa in a little over two hours. Where else can you fly over 3500km and still not reach the end of the country?

All the best with your running.

Training: 1:25:18 with hills and drills

Monday, January 8

A Week in Review

I had a solid week of training even though I had to switch a couple of workouts due to the inclement weather. This has to be a record rainfall? My body “feels” recovered from Sacramento and my legs (& head) responded well to Saturday’s workout. I walked, ran, away with a positive experience.

Total running for the week amounted to 7h29’25”, approximately 105 km. I’m looking at holding it here for a few weeks, with perhaps an easy week before marathon specific training begins. That said, I’m going to Ottawa this week which could (& will) seriously impact this weeks running. I'll see what I can fit in but the weather there is supposed to be cold, -15, and I was whining about the rain. Here is how the week unfolded:

Monday – Day off

Tuesday – A.M. calisthenics, easy 26:59, 6.5 km. P.M. 1:18:18, 18.2 km with 2 miles at half-marathon effort (11:29), followed by 4x hilly circuit.
Wednesday – 2x calisthenics, easy 38:43, 9.1 km
Thursday – 56:40, 13.3 km
Friday – A.M. 2x calisthenics, easy 26:29, 6.1 km. P.M. a wet 40:15, 9.3 km
Saturday – 1:12:44 17.0 km, with 2x (15x 30” hard, 30” easy)
Sunday – an easy 1:49:17, 25.4 km

A toe on my right foot is still acting up but the same thing happened about a week before Sacramento. I'm not sure what the problem was/is, perhaps the 30" bursts on Saturday? I'm hoping it will go away, consider me cautiously optimistic... or perhaps naive?

The pictures were taken in May while Ally & I were in Ottawa for the ING Ottawa Marathon. Speaking of which, rumour has it, I might be considering a spring double. I realize this may not be the wisest thing but time will tell. Has anyone done two marathons in a relatively short period?

Training: Day off, HR not sure, it's ticking though

Sunday, January 7


wet (wět)
adj. wet·ter, wet·test

  1. Covered or soaked with a liquid, such as water.
  2. Not yet dry or firm: wet paint.
  3. Stored or preserved in liquid.
  4. Used or prepared with water or other liquids.

  5. a. Rainy, humid, or foggy: wet weather.
    b. Characterized by frequent or heavy precipitation: a wet climate.
  6. Informal Allowing the sale of alcoholic beverages: a wet county.
  7. Characterized by the use or presence of water or liquid reagents: wet chemistry.

In almost every sense, the word lived up to its name. With hindsight, perhaps I should’ve taken Jim up on his offer to run this morning, if only so I could’ve seen his face when he hit the water. Nevertheless, as it was pissing down when he called, I opted to wait as the conditions were supposed to improve (if you want a great laugh check out Jim’s entry, it had Ally & I in tears).

After two cups of coffee, I called Rumon who was more then happy to keep me company. The night before I had drafted up a route that takes in several of the city’s trail systems; Cedar Hill Golf Course, Mount Tolmie, UVic, Arbutus, Mystic Vale (see picture) and the Uplands Park. Unfortunately, I hadn’t taken into account the recent, and continued, rainfall but we persevered… with soaked shoes.

The run was relaxed and enjoyable, exactly what I was looking for in my effort to build up the mileage prior to training for Boston beginning. My hamstrings are tight now but that probably has more to do with my posture at the computer and a lack of stretching. I did notice yesterday that my 4th proximal phalange (the one beside your baby toe) on my right foot was sore, felt strained or broken… don’t know what that was about? It didn’t feel any better today but doesn’t a) hurt while running and b) seem to have gotten worse.

On I continue.

Training: a variety of wet muddy trails, road and hills, 1:49:17, AHR 137, MAX 155, 7:01 pace

Saturday, January 6

Oak Bay Track

I have to be brief as Ally’s grandfather is hosting a party for her aunt’s 50th birthday.

This workout was supposed to be done yesterday, but I decided to postpone it due to the downpour. As it was, when I stepped out of the house this afternoon it started to drizzle, thankfully that’s all it did.

As the wind was starting to pick up I avoided the waterfront and Beacon Hill and headed over to Oak Bay track, an easy 20’ jog. My body felt awful and the legs heavy on the jog over which strangely enough, usually is a sign of good things to come. My stomach was unsettled on the first three intervals but calmed down toward the end of the first set. A few courageous souls from a local track club were there and they helped keep me honest throughout.

The entire workout slipped by quite easily and I was happy with how my legs felt. While running I concentrated on a few things
Mike suggested a few days previously:

  • Work on form-hips forward, run tall, good smooth pull-back with straight leg extension (not sitting in a bucket); and
  • Work on relaxation at speed.

I decided to run the last one as a timed 200 to get an idea of my speed, 0:35.4, AHR 152, MAX 159. Hope everyone had a good day, until later...

Training: 2x (15x 30” hard, 30” easy), 2’ easy between sets, hard was to be around 3-k pace, 1:12:44, AHR 138, MAX 163

Friday, January 5


Enough… please.

Yup, we’re in the midst of yet another Pacific storm with wind and rain warnings posted, again.

Early this morning I headed out to take advantage of the dry conditions as the storm was supposed to hit this afternoon. My legs felt fine but my ankles seemed jammed/tight. The outside of my left heel has been acting up but I’ve been in for a massage and have been doing a few exercise which seem to be helping.

This evening I was supposed to get in a workout, 2x (15x 30” hard, 30’ easy) but as it had been raining solidly since 10:00 a.m., I opted to switch the workout with tomorrow’s 50’ run. Unless you live on a coast and have experienced relentless winter rains, any description I craft won’t do it justice. The weather channel mentioned, “gusts up to 90km/h and rainfall associated with the front to be significant through the evening, with amounts of 20 to 40mm over the South Coast and 40 to 60mm over parts of the Western Island”… we live on the southwest tip.

As Ally arrived home early from work, we decided to try a local recreation center only to discover everyone else had the same idea. So much for running on the treadmill, serves me right. I was determined to get a run in and planned to take the extended way home along the waterfront. I handed Ally my change of clothes and had one last swig of Gatorade only to have half the bottle spill down my front, an omen perhaps?

I headed out into the wind & rain, running alongside swollen streams (banks long since burst). It only took 10’ for the slurpee headache to set in, what was I doing? Usually when I run in adverse conditions or over difficult terrain, I tell myself it’s making me stronger, tonight I kept telling myself I was stupid.

A.M. 2x calisthenics, easy run through Beacon Hill Park & along the waterfront, it was not raining, 26:29, AHR, 135, MAX 147
P.M. a struggle through torrential wind and rain, 40:15, AHR 138 (76%), MAX 151 (82%)

Thursday, January 4

Fight Club

“I ran. I ran until my muscles burned and my veins pumped battery acid, and then I ran some more.” – Edward Norton

The energy in the above quote couldn’t have been further from my corpse like body as I headed out the door this evening. With my stomach churning and my enthusiasm level as low as my HR (45 while tying the shoes), it took every ounce of willpower & stubbornness to get going.

When days like this roll around I usually head out for my cool down loop, an easy 20’, and then reassess the situation. Unfortunately, the task appeared so daunting tonight I couldn’t even think about getting to the curb. I had to remove myself from the situation, focusing on the street side would’ve given me a turnaround point. It was non-negotiable, I just went out.

Just before leaving I dumped Jack Johnson and threw in some old favorites, Iggy Pop’s Lust For Life and Sigue Sigue Sputnik’s Atari Baby ensured I made it to the Ross Bay Cemetery… fitting place to run given my state. The first 15’ was slow, pedestrian like, my HR not getting above 120 but at least I was out there. Passed the Chinese Cemetery, up and over King George Terrace and then by
Doris Gravlin’s Ghost to the Oak Bay Beach Hotel.

I didn’t deserve to be feeling as good as I did at this point. I was running now, my shoulders relaxed and I felt… good. Where did this come from? As I cornered Margate to head home, the irony wasn’t lost on me as Bret Michaels’ (Poison, Something to Believe In) crooned, “road you gotta take me home”.

I laughed.

Training: no calisthenics (I was lucky just to have my shoes on), 56:40, AHR 134, MAX 154

Wednesday, January 3

London Marathon, Strike 2

After talking with Bruce the other day, it looks as if my chances of running London in April are slipping away. Although I was not one of the lucky few who managed to get in through the lottery (damn), Bruce was optimistic that after talking with Bud (?) he might be able to get me in. No such luck.

A good friend of mine though, has gotten the nod from a prestigious running magazine to write an article concerning the London Marathon, which… we “might” be able to use as leverage (but I’m not about to reserve a hotel room yet).

This afternoon, shortly after 2:00, I headed out to join Jim on his warm-up, he was looking to do 6x mile at tempo (he
posts late, you’d best check tomorrow for his results). We discussed running plans for this spring with London, Boston and Ottawa thrown around. What is the shortest amount of time needed to recover from one marathon before doing another? If I did Boston in April, do you think I could recover and have a decent race in Ottawa 5 weeks later? Perhaps a more important question, given that I’m getting married in July, should I even be entertaining the idea?

Training: calisthenics x2, easy run with Jim before his workout, legs felt heavy, 38:43, AHR 136, MAX 154

Decent: [Latin decēns, decent-, present participle of decēre, to be fitting; see dek- in Indo-European roots.]

  • respectable; worthy: a decent runner.
  • adequate; fair; passable: a decent race, say +/-5% from your PB.
  • kind; obliging; generous: It was very decent of him to lend me his watch.
  • suitable; appropriate: He did not have a decent flat to race in.

Tuesday, January 2

Chartered Accountant Looking For Woodwork Apprenticeship

Maybe I should reconsider my life as an accountant and take up woodwork, perhaps build an arc leaving the running to those heading for higher ground… yes, yet another (and I hate the term) pineapple express has hit the coast!

Just before popping to bed last night I decided to check my email, whoa, apparently tomorrow (today) was S-day, the day I was back on schedule. As the rain was pelting hard against the windows and gurgling down the gutters like a fuel deprived Chevrolet Tahoe I was surprised, in that not so good way, to discover that I was to do two runs (today). Why hadn’t I gone to bed an hour earlier, was Risk II that exciting?

Morning rolled around far too early, but like a faithful dog that doesn’t know any better I was out the door, dodging raindrops. One down, one to go.

This afternoon as I tied the house key onto my shoe I’m sure it wasn’t raining out, I even thought I saw some blue sky? As I was supposed to do 10’ at tempo run, I decided to head to Beacon Hill Park and run the ring. My legs felt great during the warm-up. As it was blowing squalls, I decided to run the route counterclockwise, running into the wind on the hill where I thought they’d do the least damage. I split the first mile feeling very comfortable and in control (but fast) and eased up perfectly for the second. After the tempo I started the hill circuit, something that was new to me… imagine A’s and B’s interspersed with 100m-200m hill sprints and the odd stride on the flat to mix it up. Unfortunately, after 4 of 6, I was dripping, chilled and exceedingly miserable and called it a night. Bugger, I hate this weather!

A.M. calisthenics, Hollywood Graveyard Loop easy 26:59, AHR 129, approx. 6.5 km
P.M. 2 miles at half-marathon effort 5:38 (AHR 158, MAX 163), 5:51 (AHR 159, MAX 163), followed by 4x hilly circuit (was supposed to do 6 but after 4 I was dripping, chilled and exceedingly miserable), 1:18:18, AHR 138, MAX 163

Monday, January 1

New Years Eve

Last night Ally and I went up to my old alma mater as the Runners of Compassion was hosting the 18th Annual Run Through Time up at UVic (5-k run, 3-k Walk and 1-k kids run). I’d participated once years earlier and was pleasantly surprised by the turnout given it’s a no frills event (no race numbers, nobody recording your time, just you and the road).

It was great seeing so many familiar faces before the race. My coach, Bruce, was even up there with his family, his first race after coming back from a year long injury. I picked Rob Reid out of the crowd and we agreed to run together as he’d also put in a 90’ effort that morning, but after leading the countdown and putting the bullhorn down once we’d reached “go” it was clear to see his idea of an easy jaunt and mine were vastly different. After a couple of minutes, I noticed my left achilles/ankle was sore so made sure to keep the pace comfortable.

It was fun being out there with a new crowd of runners, listening to shoes hit the pavement and the sound of their breathing. I was able to watch people jostling for position, throwing down that last minute surge at the finish line. After crossing the finish “area” I was surprised to see Ally with a smile beaming across her face as she’d evidently crossed the finish line about 50” before me.

My running for the week totaled 5:49:52 (approx. 82-k), a tad more then the 325’ I’d been instructed to do, but okay (as long as the achilles behaves).

Training: Run Through Time 5-k, no warm-up, 20:26.9, AHR 150.