Wednesday, May 30

Ottawa Marathon

Race morning was nearly ideal, overcast, cool but with an unwelcome steady wind. What was it Meatloaf said, “two out of three ain’t bad”. Standing on the starting line, I felt confident and relaxed, quite the contrast to London. More important, although I was uncertain of my fitness, a) I wanted to race/perform and b) I was psychologically set, I was prepared to hurt.

Km 1-5 (3:38, 3:40, 3:44, 3:48, 4:16) the start was uneventful, perfect, and within seconds of the gun sounding I’d found a pack of seven pack and slipped in unnoticed, staying at the back and running my race, my pace (I gave myself a range to work with, 3:45 – 3:48). For comic relief, I got a good laugh as we split the 5th km in 4:16; three runners at the front of our group were instantly panicky; they started talking, comparing splits and then surged. I told myself to relax and to be confident in my pace and then smiled as we split the next km in 3:13, the three other runners 20” ahead (silly people).

Km 5-10 (3:13, 3:46, 3:50, 3:46, 3:57) these next 5-k were pretty nasty with several hills from 5-7 & 8-9, yet we split 10-k in 37:45 (3:47 pace). I decided to carry a handheld water bottle again and it proved valuable, allowing me to run without difficulty through the aid stations avoiding the chaos and the super concentrated Gatorade that they served. Has anyone ever received a race drink mixed it too weak, it would make for a pleasant surprise?

Km 11-15 (3:45, 3:55, 3:54, 3:45, 3:46) I had my first Gu on a down hill shortly after 10k and then took the lead in our group as we wiggled our way up toward Sandridge Road, covering km’s 11-13 on a surface that would make Paris-Roubaix look smooth. I was feeling slightly off at the bottom of the hill, running at the back of the pack, but as the others eased up and I was forced out front, I found my ego and then energy level responded leaving me feeling good. It was an observation that I confirmed throughout the day, I seemed to run better when I was out front.

Km 16-20 (3:55, 3:46, 3:43, 3:45, 3:48) these 5-k were relatively flat and our group worked relatively well alternating leads, although at one point I had to cross over the road and run right along the barrier, feigning to drinking from my water bottle before one of the others would pull through (reminded me of my cycling days).

Km 21-25 (3:51, 3:52, 3:53, 3:54, 3:52) I had my second Gu shortly after 20k and ditched my bottle (never to be seen again) at around 25-k. I split the half in 1:19:43 (3:47 pace) and was still feeling relaxed and comfortable. Part of me would’ve loved to have split 2’ quicker but that wasn’t the plan and I was worried that I’d be digging myself a hole that I wouldn’t be able to climb out from. I knew that my margin for error was slim if I wanted to achieve my goal of finishing sub 2h40 but given my lead up, I knew playing it conservative in the marathon was the smart option.

Km 26-30 (4:00, 3:52, 3:50, 3:53, 3:54) it was during km 25 that I made a poor tactical move. After sliding off the front, having led for a couple km’s I made the mistake of tucking in behind the weaker individual in our group and then proceeded to watch the leader gap us by about 10”… having worked so hard, I found this mentally frustrating and discouraging. That said, rather then throw down a surge and attempt to make up the distance, I slipped around the slower person and then gradually pulled myself back over the next 5k, passing the leader of our pack going up Hog’s Back the first of two high points in the race. It was during this portion of the run that I was aware of my rapidly depleting reserves. I kept telling myself to hold steady and conserve energy for the last 8-10k. Mentally I was fooling myself and this may have worked, but physically I was draining the tank sooner then I would’ve liked. I split 30k in 1:54:46 (3:50 pace, the first time I realized achieve my goal might not happen).

Km 31-35 (3:55, 3:56, 4:13, 4:01, 4:03) despite telling myself I was going to relax and run controlled and within myself until the 32k (hoping then to pick it up… the effort at least) it seems, the 32k mark was the beginning of the end of me, where all but one of the subsequent ten km’s was over 4:00 pace. The fact that the second the two high points (Prince of Whales) was strategically placed at the 35k didn’t help the matter.

Km 36-40 (4:03, 3:58, 4:11, 4:16, 4:17) despite my pace slipping like the Titanic into the icy waters, I don’t ever remember having to come to terms with that dark nemesis; the moment where, in a hopeless state of mental obscurity, you’re forced to decided your fate (which in the past has, at worst, has meant walking). Don’t get me wrong, I knew I wasn’t gong to reach my goal time, and the race wasn’t easy, but, and I attribute it to experience, both good (Sacramento) and bad (London), I believe my mental preparation was pretty bang on with this race and I have Hicham to thank. At the very least, this is something I can take away with me for future races, something I am happy with.

The Finish (4:23, 5:04) the finish, what can I say, the photo I’ve included my trick you into think I was running fast. Seriously, I was very happy to cross that line have run a race.

Thanks for all the kind words and congratulations, they don’t go unnoticed.

Training: 2h45’09”, 40th OA, 5th AG (but what’s David Cheruiyot doing in my age group)

Monday, May 28

Ottawa Race Weekend 2007

Narrative later, for now, a photo documentary of our 2007 Ottawa Race weekend (from left to right): a good friend from home, Jim did you know about this?; Ottawa; Ally pre-race; the 5-k race (west); the 5-k (east); Cheruiyot pre-race (eventual marathon winner); and me with some of "the" boys.

Sunday, May 27

Ottawa Marathon 2007

I'll write more later, probably tomorrow, but suffice to say I finished and although I didn't achieve my sub 2h40 (my time was 2h45) I am very pleased with this race.

The organizers changed the course from last year which made it enjoyable ( not running the same route) but I think I like the old course better as this one was definitely hillier. That said, unlike last year where it was hot, today was perfect, windy, but the temperature couldn't have been better (with a light drizzle during the last 5k).

Right from the gun, I found a good group of four to run with and we traded off, holding a pretty good pace line alternating leads every 1k to hide from the wind. I split the half around 1h19 and felt great. I made a bad tactical move around 25k (losing about 15") which took me until about 32k to recover from. The last 14 were tough, as I was definitely running on fumes (this is where I started to feel London) but I was very, very impressed with my mental game. I was in a fair amount of pain (right hamstring and calves) but kept calm and steady and finished with a smile on my face despite (according to Ally) wobbling the last 500 like a drunken sailor (I was in a bit of a bad state the last mile, losing feeling in my finger tips and in my face, everything was fine 5' after I stopped).

Okay, I'm going up to bed before going out this evening (great Irish pub). Thanks for all the good wishes, they meant a lot!

Saturday, May 26

Ottawa Marathon (tomorrow)

Just got back from a short jog where I went through my typical pre-race marathon routine. I wasn't going to go out running today but after sitting on the bed for 30' I thought otherwise. My legs felt rested and smooth and my stomach settled. Speaking of which, I had a half cup of the most fantastically enjoyable coffee this morning in Byward Market. Ally and I sat in the shade outside, she enjoying her bubble tea (something I've never heard of) while we both people watched. It was great.

Ally is a bit nervous about her run today, but this hasn't stopped her from going shopping while I enjoy a lazy afternoon here. The weather is a very comfortable 23C today and they're still forecasting 19C for a high tomorrow with a 40% chance of rain in the morning (looking good).

Hope everyone enjoys the weekend, long or otherwise!

Training: 10:05 with 4x strides

Friday, May 25

Ottawa Marathon (1 day)

It is FREAK'N STINKING HOT here, wow! We stepped off the plane into a 30C wall of heat and humidity, quite the contrast from the 2C and dry air in Calgary. We took a cab to the marathon expo to pick up our race packages (Ally is doing the 5k on Saturday, I really like events that have smaller races prior to the marathon). My race number is #224. After wandering around for 10' and buying a couple pairs of race socks, we decided to take a free shuttle bus back to the race hotel (we're not staying there but somewhere reasonably close). While waiting for the bus it started to sprinkle and then BOOM, the heavens opened with thunder, lighting and a lot of rain... you just don't get anything like his back home (I love it). The best part was the bus driver, he felt sorry for us and went out of his way, and off the route, and dropped us off right at our hotel; it was fantastic (he's retiring soon he said)!

Just came back from a run and I'm still dripping, cooling off here is going to take a while. I went out along the canal and loved every minute of it. I think it must be a combination of the rain and humidity but the odour was fantastic, you could smell the essence of everything, trees, every blade of grass, the pavement, the slow moving water. Again, you just don't have anything like this back west.

My run was good. Instead of strides I opted for a 1/2 mile at marathon effort with a few drills along the way. I had to keep telling myself to slow down, ease into things and save the rest for Sunday. The best part is that my stomach seems to have settled down. I'm feeling much more optimistic about my race now. We're off to find a bite to eat soon, until later then, cheers!

Training: easy 29' with 1/2 miles at marathon effort

Thursday, May 24

Ottawa Marathon (2 days)

I went out for a run this morning, my last before getting on the plane this evening for Calgary . I couldn't believe how gorgeous it was out, I could already feel the suns warmth as I jogged up the quiet city streets. I almost miss all those early morning runs I was doing in February & March, almost. I took the long way around to a small park not far from where I live and started into the workout. I took it relatively easy on the first 5, tempo'd the next 5 and then opened it up just a little for the remainder... the legs felt great.

My stomach showed an improvement over yesterday (75%) but is still a concern. It seems to get agitated when the pace comes up? With a few days left before the race I'm hoping that whatever virus/bug I have manages to work itself out of my system, come on body! Either that or I'm going to really have to ease into things on Sunday.

I just checked the weather and they're forecasting 30C tomorrow, 22C and mainly sunny on Saturday and 19C with a 90% chance of rain on Sunday. Given the rainfall we suffered through this winter/spring this could be a blessing in disguise.

After discussing race strategy with a friend of mine, I've decided not to get too caught up on pace this time around, and rather run by feel. This hasn't stopped me from jotting down pace times from 3:43/km - 3:48/km, but my plan is to run conservatively for the first half and assess things later. I'd still like to PB, and would be ecstatic with a 2:39:59, but will have to see how my body responds on the day.

Training: 41:53 with 15x diagonals

Wednesday, May 23

Ottawa Marathon (3 days)

I'm off to meet a friend for dinner & I still have some packing to do, so I must be quick, random thoughts that are bouncing around inside my head then:

  • tomorrow in Ottawa they are forecasting the temperature to be 30C, 29C on Friday. I can only hope that it cools down significantly on race day (at the moment "they" are forecasting 22C with a 60% chance of rain). As I did in Sacramento I'm planning on running the first 40' of the race with a hand-held water bottle.
  • I went to the doctor today to see about my stomach. He thinks it is a bacteria or virus but is reluctant to give me medication as it'll be performance enhancing, who knew? Only kidding, he said that there is a good chance it'll make it worse before it gets better... why is that always the case? Instead he gave me the heads up on some stuff that will help rehydrate me in the days leading up to the race, but he did warn me that it tastes awful. Should I expect anything different I asked?
  • my run this evening was a huge improvement on yesterday, perhaps 72%, but I still had some bloating. I wanted to test my stomach and legs so I ran a bit of a progression run, slowly picking it up, ending with about a mile at race pace, it felt good (bloating considered).
Until later then, hope everyone has a good evening.

Training: 40:37, AHR 132, MAX 154

Tuesday, May 22


Because of the stomach troubles I was having last week, Saturday I decided to remove coffee from my diet. Thinking back, I don’t know whatever possessed me to do such a cruel and extraordinary thing. The first three days were easy. Today was not. As I sat in my chair at work, I felt as though I'd taken a last minute red-eye flight from Europe, only now to suffer profusely from jet lag. That, combined with the uncontrollable sugar educed energy of a six-year old child the day after Halloween. Although I was tired, I had pent up energy that needed to be released; an entirely confusing and contradictory combination of feelings.

I miss my French roast, first thing in the morning and then later when I arrive at work, the oils that give a roasted flavor to the cup, interesting satisfying fullness. These two unassuming cups certainly can’t be the cause of my distress and discomfort?

I was hoping to share with you that because of this abstinence from coffee, my running had continued uninterrupted, in fact improved. That my sacrifice had meaning. I had wanted to tell you that during my strides on the cricket pitch this evening, I was able to run fleet footed and untroubled. Unfortunately, if I were to divulge any of this to you I’d be bending the truth. A lot. Tomorrow, it’s to the clinic.

For those of you not well versed in the game of cricket, I’ve attached humorous description of the game (I hope I haven’t offended anyone).

"You have two sides, one out in the field and one in. Each man that's in the side that's in goes out, and when he's out he comes in and the next man goes in until he's out. When they are all out, the side that's out comes in and the side that's been in goes out and tries to get those coming in, out. Sometimes you get men still in and not out. When a man goes out to go in, the men who are out try to get him out, and when he is out he goes in and the next man in goes out and goes in. There are two men called umpires who stay all out the time and they decide when the men who are in are out. When both sides have been in and all the men have been given out, and both sides have been out twice after all the men have been in, including those who are not out, that is the end of the game!"

Training: 37:11 with 12x strides

Monday, May 21

Victoria Day

I met with Ann and Jim this morning to discuss the upcoming Royal Victoria Marathon Clinic that Frontrunners will host (starts June 2). With the previous co-leader moving to Vancouver in pursuit of love, I had been asked whether I was interested in taking over. With no fall marathon on tap this year, I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to give back to the running community (I’ll be leading the fast half marathon group). Jim walked us through the provisional 18-week build that he has put together (very exciting), after which we discussed coaching. I’m quite excited about this prospect as I’ve never done anything like this before.

Monday: day off
Tuesday: easy 1:02:31, sore right calf
Wednesday: 1:31:21, with 2x 5k at MP (2’), plus 8x 1’ at 5k pace (30”)
Thursday: undemanding 34:24
Friday: easy 33:07
Saturday: 1:14:34, with 6x1k on 3:20 (2’), MAX 172
Sunday: easy 1:11:21

With the meeting finished, & today in BC a statutory holiday (Victoria Day), I took the opportunity to wander through Beacon Hill Park. Given the frequency with which I train there, I thoroughly enjoyed meandering along the trails at a more leisurely pace and used the occasion to snap a few photos:

Sunday, May 20

Running to the Limit (disappointing)

This afternoon, either before or after my nap (I can’t seem to recall) I finished reading Paul Tergat: Running to the Limit by Jurg Wirz. Apart from the training program that he apparently followed prior to London, I was disappointed in the book, not in Paul’s story, but in the writing. With a name like Jurg Wirz I don’t think I’m going too far out on a limb guessing that english isn’t his native language. If so, you’d think the editor/publisher might have paid closer attention. Don’t get me wrong, the book is full of glossy pictures and does paint a picture of Tergat’s life, but it’s the same picture you might find hanging on the wall of a primary school classroom.

With Ally off to watch a local race, I grabbed my keys and drove out to the lakes to enjoy my last long run prior to Ottawa. It was a perfect spring morning, overcast with a heavy fog/light rain, perfect for running in the trails. As much as I enjoyed the experience, up and over Bear Hill, and twisting through the back paths of Beaver Lake, my legs felt heavy and lethargic; my right hamstring was particularly tight. I managed to set aside some time to stretch and with a massage scheduled for Tuesday I suspect they’ll come around.

When I arrived home, Ally filled me in on the local half marathon she’d gone off to watch. Apparently, I missed a great race. With the lead changing several times during the course of the race our good friend, Jim Finlayson, struggled back from a 25” deficit to win in a time of
1:06:45, setting a new course record. Congratulations Jimmy, lets hope you get that cheque signed.

Training: 1:11:21, AHR 132, MAX 157

Saturday, May 19

A blustery day

I’m about to go into more detail than some of you probably care to know about me, so if you fit that profile tune back in tomorrow. The last four days I’ve been having stomach issues, it seems I can keep much in me for very long. What concerns me the most is the amount of liquid/water that I’m losing. Marathon training is difficult enough without having additional hydration troubles. I’m going to call my sister (she’s a nurse) and see what advice she can offer. If that fails, then it’ll be off to the clinic on Tuesday, if not sooner.

I received an email from Dave yesterday informing me that some of the boys were going to be at the track, and asking me if I wanted to join (Bruce also coaches Dave). After jogging there, followed by an emergency pit stop, I was somewhat surprised (and slightly intimidated) by the number of people warming up. Thankfully a few of them were spiked up and running 500s, and so it was that Simon, Dave, Adam, Craig, Ian and I toed the line to rip through kilometer repeats. Unfortunately, for all of us, it was the windiest day of the year, which made running along the home stretch very unwelcoming. Additionally, for the caboose on this train (me) it was a lonely effort with the front runners finishing 30” sooner. That said, I loved the camaraderie and support that I received; it was a great non-competitive, encouraging environment… and the sun was shining.

Given the sensitivity of my stomach, I was uncertain how the workout would unfold, but apart from the relentless blustery weather, I couldn’t have been happier. I wore my new flats and didn’t notice them once, perfect.

3:17 (164, 171)
3:17 (163, 172)
3:19 (162, 171)
3:18 (162, 170)
3:18 (163, 170)
3:17 (162, 171)

Tomorrow I’m off into the trails for one last pre-race frolic. I don’t get to run out there often enough, and I’m eagerly looking forward to rediscovering some of my old haunts later this summer.

Training: 1:14:34, with 6x1k on 3:20 (2’), AHR 139, MAX 172

Friday, May 18

Saucony Fastwitch

On my way to work this morning I was trying to think of a good reason, any reason, why my calves might be causing me grief. Last nights abuse with the stick had helped, but they weren't 100%. After a few minutes I started to get that nagging feeling, like seeing a face in a crowd but not being able to place the person. Thankfully, it wasn't long afterwards that it hit me, "when was the last time I bought new shoes?"

Later that morning I phoned my sister and she confirmed what I had suspected, January 17th, the Asics 2120. That was before I started my 12 week build for London! Now granted I did receive some new Adidas on March 9th, but I've used those primarily for shorter/easier runs (not wanting to switch to new shoes when I was having grief with my achilles). Regardless, that is four solid months of marathon training and all my long runs!

I popped down to Frontrunners after my run this evening and grabbed a new pair of 2120, and I'm hoping they'll be the catalyst I need. I also picked up a new pair of racing flats, the Saucony Fastwitch Endurance... the old school version, special ordered (thanks Wuz). Tre was putting me through the gears this evening, but I couldn't help but overhear him tell Jim that I was being "one of those customers". The thing was, I couldn't decide on getting the new Fastwitch 2 in a 9 1/2, (I raced London in the 10) or the older, original version in a 10... that was my choice, that's all they had. In the end I went old school, they felt more like my 2120, the heel cup no where near as squishy in the newer version. Anyhow, I'm going to try them out tomorrow and if everything goes well, I'll be bringing them to Ottawa with me.

Hope everyone has a great long weekend, and all the best goes out to Eric who is racing the Fargo Marathon. He has put in some serious training, and should post an impressive time.

Training: easy 33:07

Thursday, May 17

Say hello to my little friend!

This evening I made the “best” tagliatelle with ragu, if I could bring some to Ottawa I would: butter, 1 onion, 1 celery stick, 1 carrot, pancetta, beef, 2 springs fresh oregano, nutmeg, red wine, milk, tomatoes, tagliatelle and parmesan. What more could one want? If I ever run out of things to count, perhaps I’ll open my own restaurant.

After yesterday’s workout, I was curious how my legs would respond. Bruce had suggested an easy 30’-45’ and with nothing left to gain and everything to lose, I compromised on this side of easy.

The legs did me proud.

That said I didn’t push the pace, but like the creature of habit I am, traced my well worn path around BHP enjoying the scenery. While shopping for dinner, I realized my calves were tight and so while relaxing this evening pulled out “the stick” (for the first time in months) and gave them a gentle workout.

Training: undemanding 34:24

Wednesday, May 16

Survival of the fittest

I had a troubled stomach today at work, either someone is poisoning my cup or I’ve narrowed it down to the tamari covered almonds. Within moments of heading out, hell, before heading out I knew it was going to be one of those runs and as such I decided to stay closer to home then I otherwise might.

I ensured that my warm-up was on the slow side of the scale, after which I started into the workout with the enthusiasm and energy saved for the first day of summer school. I split the first mile a bit hot (5:49) and then eased into a comfortable rhythm. I was actually quite amazed that when it was game time, the body responded. I’m quietly optimistic, although if you could promise those same splits at about 9:00 a.m. next Sunday I’d be ecstatic (the race starts at 7:00).

#1 5k 18:33 (154, 163)
#2 5k 18:43 (153, 161)

My 5’ jog before the 8x1’ took me passed the heron rookery where a couple ladies were standing looking up.

“There’s a bald eagle up there by one of the nests” she said, “You can see it from here”.

I jogged over and sure enough, there was a mature eagle perched beside a heron nest. What she didn’t notice was that its partner was in the nest eating.

With a straight face I said, “There’s actually two”.

“The bastards, that is awful… how cruel”, one of the women shrieked. Her friend looked at me mournfully, with a look that said, what can we do?

As I jogged away, I felt sadness for the other herons as they circled waiting for the eagles to leave, calling out futile warnings. I also couldn’t help but think of the eagles, and the young that they were inevitably hunting to feed. Wasn’t it Hobbes who said, life is nasty, brutish, and short?

I also managed to find time to see Janet, turns out my calf problem is caused by my BIG toe, who knew? Followed that with an epsom salt bath and a light stretch. Oh yeah, as it was 20C when I was running, I decided against the 2x10’ sitting in the sauna, didn’t seem right.

Hope everyone had a good day!

Training: 1:31:21, AHR 140, MAX 163 with 2x 5k at MP (2’), plus 8x 1’ at 5k pace (30”)

Tuesday, May 15

Competition and camaraderie

Hicham had arranged with me to head out for a run this afternoon, so I was a surprised when I saw Jim and Carter (spikes in hand) standing outside as well, brilliant. I guess I shouldn't have been that surprised as the other two had mentioned they were heading to the track but I excepted them to be long gone. We jogged along as four adolescent lads might, faster then we should have, but after passing by the track we parted ways, them to run some 200s and Hicham and I to cruise the waterfront (something that is fast becoming a post-work ritual).

The/my topic of conversation revolved around the distinct lack of club competition and camaraderie in town. After visiting the UK and reading about the Club Championships, I was jealous. I would love to have a Club Championship on this side of the Atlantic, I'd even settle for a Provincial or City Championship. You could argue that we have an unofficial one that revolves around the Island Series, but with the Prairie Inn Harriers giving free lifetime membership to a lot of the faster runners I think the results are skewed. Okay, maybe that is unfair as the PIH also just have a huge membership (a membership that I have been proud to be apart). I think what it boils down to is competition, where is the competition when the club with the largest membership wins? I'd love to be part of a team, A, B or C squad where going into a race you knew that your result mattered. Participating in a race where it didn't feel like a time trial, where I was in a pack, throwing in surges either hoping to drop my competitors or deviously out sprint them at the finish... and sadly no, I was never a high school or varsity runner.

I received this weeks schedule from Bruce last night and was happy, mildly surprised, to see that it was very similar to the one I'd drawn up for myself. The pins felt fine today, particularly good during the first 20'. It always amazes me how much better you feel when you're moving that fraction quicker. The left achilles issue/opportunity for improvement (which I think was primarily caused by not stretching after my track session) has settled down, this is comforting. Unfortunately, my right calf was still sore. The pain isn't intense, it just feels swollen, whether good or bad I could only notice it during the first half of the run (booked a massage for tomorrow, come on Janet).

Training: easy 1:02:31, AHR 135, MAX 159, right calf still sore (feels swollen), stretched both pre & post run

Monday, May 14

Preparing for war

I was out later then intended on Saturday and when I awoke the next morning, I had aged a disproportionate amount of hours, perhaps years. No longer feeling like the 24-year old who had enjoyed fine scotch with friends only the night before, I felt I was receiving a glimpse of things yet to come. I dragged all 35 years around the house going through a convoluted pre-run ritual based largely on the comfort level of my stomach. Sunday was supposed to be my first long run since London, also, the last long run prior to Ottawa, and as such significant on more then one front. I was torn between ensuring proper recovery (not digging myself a hole to wallow in) and conversely, wanting to gain as much benefit as I could. When I started through town carrying a weary body over the Johnson Street Bridge and onto the Goose, in only a few short miles it appeared it was going to be one of “those” days, and any fear that I might go too fast was tenuous at best.

Despite being sunny, living on the ocean presents some unique geographical conditions. This morning I was blessed with the cold ocean breeze. I ran the first 35’ hovering around 6:58 mi/pace content to shuffle along. After leaving the Goose and jumping on the Lochside Trail (see photo) northbound, it seemed I’d been given a second chance, my stride had quickened and I felt I’d been fortunate enough to received one-of-those-beers that Floyd had taken prior to his miraculous comeback. The next 60’ was great, but as I clipped along, I continually reminded myself to slow down and relax. Should I feel this good toward the end of the run, I might consider treating myself to a quick 3-mile MP tempo on the homeward stretch.

Unfortunately, exactly 1h30 into the run, my left calf starting acting up. I’d noticed it was sore on Saturday, and can only guess Friday’s session must have been the culprit. With my calf aching I quickly became aware of how my sense of wellness had changed. With my head-bone connected to my leg-bone, it wasn’t long before I was second guessing myself. Why did I go out for drinks last night (ya bastards)? What was I doing considering racing after so little recovery? Can my body cope? With the intense interrogation raging in my mind I was only just comforted by the fact that my legs were content to continue along, regardless… it was a mental victory of sorts. If I’m to race well in Ottawa I know I need to ensure a) I don’t spend the days leading up to the race marching around the city sightseeing and b) my mental game is on and equipped for battle, because ready or not, and war will be raged.

Monday: day off
Tuesday: 1:01:43, AHR 139
Wednesday: 1:00:11 with 8x 20” strides, AHR 135, MAX 162
Thursday: 1:01:51, AHR 131, MAX 158
Friday: 1:19:24 with 8x800m on 2:40 (90"), AHR 138, MAX 172
Saturday: 39:25, sore achilles
Sunday: 2:04:42, 6:48 mi/pace, achilles fine, sore right calf

Saturday, May 12

Oak Bay Track

I dropped Ally off at aerobics and drove around to Oak Bay where later that morning, Jim, Rumon and Kirk (?) were hoping to light up the track. I sauntered along the trails making my way toward the water and onto Willows Beach. With the tide out, I jogged easy on the sand and then headed into Uplands Park before turning around. My left achilles was quite sore and tight after yesterday's w/o so I made sure to keep the pace gentle, even talked myself into stretching "before" the run. I wore some new flats yesterday (left my old ones in London out of spite) and I'm having second thoughts as to whether I'll race in them as my calves always seem wrecked the day afterwards (not sure if they'd hold up for the entire 26 miles).

Once back at the track (see photo), the boys were just about to start their w/o, 1600, 1200, 800, 400 fast (descending from 5k pace, through 3k, mile and all out). But that's only half the story, between the track sessions they headed out across the fields to squeeze in 2k of tempo, .ie., 2k, 1600, 2k, 1200, 2k, 800, 2k, 400. Having already run, I thoroughly enjoyed being able to watch while soaking up some sunshine. They all performed well but the Stones Award must go to Kirk, who after running track at university is just getting back out training again.

Training: a leisurely 39:25, sore achilles

Friday, May 11

Extreme frustration

During the last 30' of work I was unfortunate to be involved in what was probably THE MOST FRUSTRATING CIRCUMSTANCE I've had to deal with in over two years. It's Friday, and instead of walking home with a spring in my step I was scowling, tense, and ready to explode. Just give me a reason, I dare you! I wanted to say something, many things, but instead I walked away hoping to cool down and deal with it on Monday. To make matters worse my stomach was upset, stupid salad! I've always been fortunate enough to leave any work related stress at work (where it belongs), but as I starting jogging toward Oak Bay track I couldn't help but second guess myself, thinking that the workout would be better off run tomorrow.

As I weaved my way through the gate and onto the track a huge weight lifted from my shoulders. Perhaps as paths in Asian gardens have corners to ward off evil spirits, the tight corners of the gate also confused and scared away my frustration. Whatever the reason I was thankful.

Kevin is racing Ottawa as well, and he drove down from up Island to run the workout with me. We warmed up for about 10', catching up with our training and REALLY ENJOYING the warmth and sunshine. My evening was already getting better.

I was surprised at how fluid my legs were, particularly as the felt like lead on the way over. We agreed to alternate 400s and then we were off. I laughed as I took him through the first 200 in 36", and couldn't help but think Carter would be laughing had he been there as well. We "tried"easing up but came through the 800 a little hot. The next five passed with the same amount of effort as you might expend spreading warm butter on bread (I've got NO idea where this came from). Number seven was a bit of a stretch as my stomach was uncomfortable but sorted itself before started the last one. Number eight was as fluid and easy as the seven before it and as I watched Kevin pull away during the last 200m I really wanted to go with him but told myself to leave it for race day. The splits, time AHR & MAX:

2:33 (161, 172)
2:35 (160, 172)
2:37 (160, 170)
2:38 (159, 170)
2:37 (159, 170)
2:37 (160, 170)
2:36 (161, 171)
2:38 (159, 170)

I am really pleased with the workout and how my legs felt but a tad concerned with my elevated HR. I would've expected MAX it to be a good 5-6 bpm lower. How much does heat and stress effect your HR? I was going to do an easy 40' tomorrow but as I'll gain nothing from running myself into the ground I may take the day off; we'll see.

Training: 1:19:24 with 8x800m on 2:40 (90"), AHR 138, MAX 172

Thursday, May 10

Time to blow the rust off

Hicham was supposed to swing by my place for a run after work, but when he turned up in his work clothes it wasn't difficult to decipher that his afternoon hadn't gone as planned (work emergency). He dashed off home to get changed, and I left my place, up Rockland and then weaved my way along Brighton toward the track. For those who live in the area and are up for a slight detour, apparently the lower trail at the Governor Generals House is open once again. On my easy days, I often jog through the grounds when I need a change of scenery. Meant to check out the new trail today but I remembered 10' too late.

Hicham showed up 25' into my run and surprisingly enough at the same time as the energy in my legs fell out the the bottom; oh it was going to be a long one. With all my talk of recovery, whenever I feel sour the sensation is heightened and I question every step. Fortunately for me, my stomach started acting up 10' later and I wrote the entire thing off as just one-of-those-days. We jogged along the waterfront, sans chemise (day #2) discussing past and future races, our ladies, plans for the weekend... all the normal stuff. Before I knew it, I was minutes away from home and feeling that much better.

Tomorrow is T-day for me, test or track, take your pick? I've opted for 8x800m and I'm very curious how the legs will respond, particularly after noticing all the rust during yesterday's strides. In an effort to counteract said rust, I manged to have an Epsom salt bath this evening followed by a solid 20' of stretching. I keep asking Ally to remind me to stretch, but I know it's me that is going to have to take some ownership over the next two weeks.

Training: leisurely 1:01:51, AHR 131, MAX 158

Wednesday, May 9

Spring has arrived

For weeks now, almost going on two months, I’ve been patiently waiting for spring to arrive; today I believe it has. I’ve just come inside from what was my first sans chemise jaunt, I loved it. I’m typing now, and Ally’s cat is reveling in the sunshine, rolling around on her back, carefully keeping within the bounds of the sun square lit on the carpet. It was a warming 14C today, with a light 7 km/h breeze out of the southeast. Tomorrow it’s supposed to be 17C.

As much as I enjoyed the run, heading out was a different story. Perhaps it was because I’d been unable to shed the monotony of today’s tasks on the walk home? Regardless, I was second-guessing myself, should I really run? Am I experiencing mental fatigue from London? Wouldn’t it be better to curl up on the couch and bask in the sunshine?

It took a few minutes, but once outside I was fine. Up Rockland and along Brighton to Windsor Park, where the flawless grass of the cricket pitch was my canvas. The first two strides felt horrible, the muscles in my legs were tight and my proprioceptors were fighting to gain awareness of the position of my body. I then recalled something Mike (or MC) had suggested weeks back, and I ran by feel on the third stride rather then racing my unforgiving opponent (he left dejected after that one). After the strides, I traced the coastline back home along Beach & Dallas, enjoying a sorely missed spring afternoon!

Training: 1:00:11 with 8x 20” strides, AHR 135, MAX 162

Tuesday, May 8

Heat training (in the sauna)

I ran with Hicham again today, setting off toward the waterfront only to quickly revised our route as the winds were kicking up something fierce. The weather this year has truly been something else, I don't ever remember a wind warning in May! We looped through BHP, popping out on Circle Drive and making our way through James Bay, sneaking down side streets in an effort to evade the gusts. Once at the southern/eastern end of the peninsula we turned, and with the wind at our backs jogged along the grass toward Fairfield and Oak Bay.

The legs felt good, comfortable, but our pace was pretty relaxed as Hicham is "supposed" to be on another down week, and me, well I'm still recovering from London while trying to train for Ottawa.

Ally & I are off to the pool in a minute, her to swim and me to start some heat training. With Ottawa much more humid then Victoria, and definitely warmer, Bruce recommended logging some sauna time, today, 2x7' with 5' recovery, weird, the way I've just described that makes it sound like a workout. I'm sceptical as to the benefits but not to the point that I won't give it a try, besides, some sauna time should aid with the recovery.

Training: 1:01:43, AHR 139

Monday, May 7

Flora London Marathon Week #11, #12 (and beyond)

Typically, Monday’s are a day off training and I have been using them as an excuse to review the week’s events. Walking home this afternoon then, I realized that I’d been negligent in recapping my training for the last month (and in so doing tracking my virtual Across Canada journey).

That said, with the addition of six weeks of training (albeit including a taper) I’ve logged an further 528km for a total (since January 1st) of 1,926km! Last time my trip ended outside of Medicine Hat, but with the added kilometers I’ve traveled well into Saskatchewan (north of North Dakota), through Regina, arriving at Sintaluta… pretty much the middle of no where!

Week #11
Monday: day off
Tuesday: progressive 1:04:16
Wednesday: 56:18 1,2,3,4,4,3,2,1 at 10k effort, (75”)
Thursday: leisurely 1:05:21
Friday: enjoyable 29:36 in Mt. Doug (travel)
Saturday: 29:15, to-ight back
Sunday: progressive 53′

Week #12
Monday: casual 40:05 plus drills
Tuesday: 40:16 with 6x strides
Wednesday: 1:00:40 with 10′ at MP, plus 3x (2.5′ at 10k pace, 1′ E, 1′ at 3k pace, 2′ E)
Thursday: day off, right knee is still bothered
Friday: easy 20:16 with 5x strides, right knee still misbehaving
Saturday: easy 16′ with 4x strides
Sunday: Flora London Marathon 3:14:11

Week # -1
Monday: day off
Tuesday: 50’ very easy (2x 25’ to a rural village for lunch and back)
Wednesday: day off
Thursday: 30’ easy (travel)
Friday: easy 35:50
Saturday: easy 51:16, 6' too long
Sunday: 1:04:35 with the TC 10k at 37:20

Week # -2
Monday: day off
Tuesday: easy 45:42, AHR 134
Wednesday: easy 42:28, AHR 133
Thursday: easy 48:33, AHR 126
Friday: easy 48:37 with 12x diagonals, AHR 135, MAX 166
Saturday: easy 51:39, AHR 132, 6:40 mi/pace
Sunday: social 1:33:28

Sunday, May 6

Americas Next Greatest Marathoner

It seems summer/spring is long in coming this year. As I commented this morning, it was 9C when I left the house, I’m sure it was warmer during the winter storms.

The fact that it is now May hadn’t dawned on me until pulling into the Theits Lake parking lot and seeing the bright yellow pay meter. Luckily for me, a couple was just finishing their dog walk and was kind enough to pass on their ticket. Tim showed up shortly after I arrived, and after grabbing yet another pair of shoes to retire in the/my tree, we set off into the trails. The run was relatively uneventful, and as Tim is just starting to return to form, he ensured the pace was leisurely. About half way through the run we came across a deer carcass that looked like it had been ravaged by a cougar but as the kill looked weeks old and we continued on our way. Toward the end of the run I managed to toe punt a root with my left foot, and returned home with yet another souvenir.

Someone left a comment to my earlier post, suggesting that it would be a mistake for me to run Ottawa… thoughts? For what it’s worth I think their concern is valid. I think my chance for success in Ottawa is a fraction of what it was in London, but regardless I’m willing to roll the dice. If I was planning to run a fall marathon, or had a late summer race that I wanted to peak for I would reconsider, but as my next big focus will be spring ’08 I’m not too fussed. I’ve yet to read the article they’re referring to “Americas Next greatest marathoner”, but it has me curious. Has anyone read it?

Training: a social 1:33:28

Saturday, May 5

Elk/Beaver 50k Ultra

With the wedding inside the three-month window and me being out of town the last two weeks, I spent a significant portion of yesterday completing some errands that I’d neglected. With my responsibilities finished, I couldn’t have been more excited to head out and stretch my legs in the evening (the weather even cooperated throwing down a few sprinkles). On an aside, with Victoria experiencing continued cool spring weather (it’s 9C now & yesterday’s high was a whopping 12C), Ottawa could be interesting as last year it was 17C at 7:00 a.m. race morning.

My run yesterday was a mixed bag. My legs felt smooth as I high-stepped through the grass and wildflowers in BHP. I made sure to keep the pace relaxed but couldn’t resist timing a marked kilometer (4:06, AHR 137). During the last third of the run, my stomach began feeling unsettled, the bugger I’d had for lunch rumbling around. This was only made worse as I could still smell the greasy trapping on my right hand. But it was so good, with bacon and brie cheese!

Kudos goes out to Carter, who yesterday decided to run in the 20th edition of the
Elk/Beaver 50k Ultra (and Official ACU Canadian Championship). I’d done the race in 2005 in preparation for the Knee Knacker and I’d be hard pressed to ever consider doing the feat again. Not only that, it ruined my enjoyment of the lakes for over a year (not worth it). Unfortunately, I didn’t have the pleasure of trying to talk RC out of his moment of insanity and he completed the race in a time of 4:02:31. The race was won by Nik Southwell 3:15:44, with Sean Chester (only 23) finishing 2nd in 3:25:17. Sean is also preparing for Ottawa and had decided to use this race as his last workout; apparently, he’s not frightened of any over-distance preparation.

With Ottawa, three weeks out and London only a fortnight ago, I’ve been questioning how to approach my remaining training (particularly the long run). Normally I would do my last long run today but with recovery from my 3h14 paramount, I haven’t been able to decide a) when to do my last long run and b) how far it should be. After taking into account this weeks work schedule, chatting with a friend and receiving feedback from
Mike and Eric (Eric is two weeks out from the Fargo marathon and his training has been gong exceptionally well) I’ve decided to continue to focus on recovery this week and make next Sunday’s jaunt my last long one.

Training: easy 51:39, AHR 132, 6:40 mi/pace

Friday, May 4

1994 Commonwealth Stadium

Hicham popped by again after work and was kind enough to drive us up to UVic so that I could take advantage of the softer surfaces, prior to hitting the roads again next week. I’m trying to encourage the recovery and spend as much time on grass and bark mulch as possible. Once up there. like the routine-based, creature of habit I am, we traced our way through Henderson, looping through the Vale and out toward the stadium. As we jogged along the path behind the student residences we passed by an old innocuous looking bench, held fast in cement at the base of a giant maple. Fourteen years earlier, I remember some friends and me marking our initials in the cement as the bench was being set. I’m smiling still, as I recall the memories of my varsity years.

We made our way to the stadium, which hosted the 1994 Commonwealth Games. The picture doesn’t do it justice as the 30,000+ temporary stands have been removed. That said, I have far fonder memories just the way it is. Hicham was up for anything, and didn’t hesitate for a second when I described the workout (12x diagonals, jogging the end line as recovery). I laugh now after talking with his coach who was just a little surprised given Hicham was supposed to be in the midst of a recovery week (again, I’m still smiling). After floating through the first few Hicham looked over, “woah, these aren’t strides”. We continued on, Hicham kicking off his shoes for the last four… another prefect spring evening.

Training: easy 48:37 with 12x diagonals, AHR 135, MAX 166

Thursday, May 3


I met with Bruce for coffee today, opting for a London Fog, hoping to leave both the drink and the race behind once we’d finished. What I thought might be a race postmortem evolved into something much more casual, relaxing. We laid out some loose plans for Ottawa but spent more time laughing, trading stories about London, both the good and the bad.

For him, it was 2004, his last crack at Olympic standard. He’d represented Canada at the previous two games and wanted to make Athens his swansong. I remember hearing stories about him training with Jon Brown, the two of them spending weeks in Whistler putting in epic workouts. Unfortunately for Bruce, after suffering some early gastrointestinal distress, he struggled to a 2:18:30. His dreams ending prematurely, he decided to race Ottawa hoping to collect a pay-cheque, finishing with a respectable 2:20:14. After learning this story, it left me with optimism, perhaps an extra touch of buoyancy in my step, particularly as I only have 20k of pounding in my legs.

After work, Hicham swung by and we decided to drive up to UVic and take advantage of the soft trails. After scurrying through Henderson, looking out for flying golf balls, we looped around the Alumni Trail, down Arbutus and then up through Mystic Vale (twice). As he is in the midst of a recovery week, we clipped along at a leisurely pace thoroughly enjoying the prolonged stint of sunshine… a perfect spring evening!

The photo is one that Ally took last May while we were in Ottawa (she was up in the Peace Tower playing a tourist while I was reading underneath a tree on Parliament Hill). If I remember correctly, the marathon route crosses the bridge in the foreground just prior to 10k.

Training: easy 48:33, AHR 126

Wednesday, May 2

I have a confession…

When you hit the zone you’ve got flow and rhythm, and you just tick-tack all the way up”, well, two weeks ago my rhythm was interrupted but I’m still caught up in a torrent of momentum and I want to take advantage of this energy, my fitness, and see where it takes me. Yes, I alluded to it, although rather cryptically, a few days ago, but yesterday I signed up for the Ottawa Marathon.

I realize my decision is dangerous, I wouldn’t normally recommend toeing the line to compete in a marathon with your last race only five weeks prior. And to reaffirm conventional wisdom, only yesterday, I could still feel the fatigue in my legs from London’s ill-fated attempt at 2h36. Not only that, I do not want to go to Ottawa to pass through halfway feeling as I did in London; if that were the case I’d be hard pressed to carry on. I realize the next few weeks are going to be a significant uphill battle, fighting to urge to train, but knowing that rest and recovery are paramount, the training complete. This time around, I’ll have two things in my favour, and they’re both significant. One, I’ll have my number one fan in my corner as Ally is coming out. Two, my desire to race is fiery… I want to compete. Where in London I remember feeling numb, looking forward to the race being complete for a few wrong reasons, now, sitting here with a glass of Highland Park, I feel resolute in my decision, scared yes, but I’m willing to risk more then perhaps others think safe.

This afternoon then, I headed out into the park; the amount of flowers there now bordering on ridiculous. I looped through my favourite route, happy to have left behind yesterday’s fatigue. Up for an adventure, and not wanting to push the pace too much, I decided to head down onto the coast path. I should have headed the warning, the “no entry” sign, and “steps under construction”, there were no steps. Regardless, I scurried down and onto the rocks only to stumble at the bottom falling flat onto my face… you’d think I’d lost my mojo, I’ve run here countless times? Up, I continued along the path, perhaps this was a test… I’m still doing Ottawa.

Training: easy 42:28, AHR 133

Rest & recovery

Yesterday, for the first time since jogging down the Mall, grateful that my journey was ending, my legs felt like heavy brittle glass. After not running Monday, I was eager to head out, and for a disproportionate amount of the day I imagined myself running loops around BHP, enjoying the wildflowers and soft terrain… reality didn’t disappoint. Leaving the house I was shocked at the sense of freedom in my achilles, heel and plantar, everything felt oiled, moving with the efficiency of a master crafted Swiss timepiece. I effortlessly glided along the trails, my stride length and frequency feeling fine-tuned.

It was after about 30’ that I noticed my legs growing weighty; I’ll just finish this loop I told myself. It was then, perhaps every tenth step that I become aware of how brittle my quads appeared. Despite running on supple fresh grass, my legs were anything but, rather my footfalls landing with the gracefulness of a startled wildebeest. I thinks it’s time for that post race massage, and tonight, at the very least an epsom salt bath.

Training: easy 45:42, AHR 134