Saturday, June 30

Short and Sweet

Short – yesterday after work I felt more exhausted than I had in quite some time, but given the week that’d just ended I was desperately in need of a run. Moss Rock, Ross Bay Cemetery, the lower trails of the Government House (still don’t know the proper name) and then back to my street, not where I live, but a street that I own… where I proceeded to complete 6x 20+”, these strides feeling as good as they get. It looks like the legs are slowly coming around!

Sweet – today, I met an abbreviated clinic group out at Thetis (with an additional guest runner, thanks Carter) and took them on some of my favourite trails in the park; what I call Seymour Hill, the log crossing to McKenzie Creek Trail and my shoe tree, Upper & Lower Thetis and home via the stairs… an epic run and a fantastic way to start the l-o-n-g weekend!

Friday: 31:01 with 6x strides (20”)
Saturday: easy 1:26:43

Thursday, June 28

Are we just getting older?

After returning to the video store with previous night’s rental in hand (I’d mistakenly taken the wrong season), and exchanging it for one I hadn’t seen, I looped through Fairfield on my way to the shop. The clinic was a slight variation of last week, 15’ wup/wdn with a 10’ tempo but this time with 8x hills (not 6). And so, after brief instructions and separating the horde in two, I headed out with one mass, up Rockland (a few fleet footed souls taking a longer route) and down Gonzales to where we were starting the tempo. I was thoroughly impressed to see almost all the runners having learnt from last week’s session and rather then race, decide to pace themselves accordingly. After a brief respite, I had them running up Gonzales, alternating between a) the full hill at. 60”, and b) turning off a side road partway up, approx. 45” and then finding their race stride with the remaining 15”. The night was underscored when a young member had the mettle to remind me of my speech on the fist night, “if you ever see me not yell walker up, point it out and I’ll do push-ups”, I’ll have to pay closer attention next time around (and remember to do the push-ups).

Unfortunately, as a result of running 6 of the hills at a up-tempo clip, my nemesis returned later that evening… and I returned to the floor so that I could resume my stretching routine last exercised at least a month earlier. Do we ever learn, or, rather then getting wiser with experience are we just get older?

Apparently, one clinic member was getting wiser as rather then aggravate an already irritated calf, he returned after the warm-up, I guess there is hope for all of us.

Tonight, a friend and I went in search of summer. Sadly, after tracing Fernwood to the Cedar Hill Golf Course, ducking down a few ivy lined lanes and returning via the Goose, we arrived empty handed and with said friend having reacquainted himself with a sore hamstring. Bugger it all. Given that summer has officially started, at what point can we begin to gripe about the lack of warm weather, or, alternatively should I be content with the fact that as we finished our run it was 16C and raining rather then a frigid 6C?

Wednesday: 1:11:50 with 6x hills (steady)
Thursday: easy 1:14:59

Tuesday, June 26

Humidity and humility

The preceding few Tuesdays have gradually unfolded into a group run of sorts, and today was following in similar footsteps. After a bout of emails, and Brad acting as chauffer, four of us had planned on meeting at my old campus for a stroll through the grounds and surrounding quarter. I can’t stress how much I’ve been enjoying the company of late. While perusing my trial(s) of miles earlier this year I’d unknowingly removed myself from the running community, or at least my circle of friends, while nailing a specific workout or pace. No, today was going to be all about friendship and camaraderie and after receiving the promise of a late minute edition, the group was neighboring on grand.

We looped through Henderson a couple times (while waiting for a wayward companion); weaving through the tighter S-curves, raising the odd elbow, something reminiscent of Paul Tracy during last weekends Grand Prix win in Cleveland.

You’d think, or at least I did, that given two of the group had raced on the weekend the pace might be on the pedestrian side. It wasn’t. No, unfortunately for this caboose the run unfolded into something more in keeping to a group of roadies out on a weekend ride. Brad slowly turning up the screws wondering who would cry uncle first (me), Hicham falling for the old, “your shoelace is undone” only to be gapped when looking down. And, wily Trevor, playing possum at the back only to leave me in the dirt, but thankfully showing enough charity to suggest the others slow down and wait… only so they could proceed to drop me again on the subsequent stairs.

No, tonight was good (despite my gripes) and I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.

Training: 1:01:18 steady

Monday, June 25

1-2-3, 1-2-3...

Yesterday's trot was one of the better runs in a while and I'm starting to notice a pattern (Thetis). Jim, Trevor and I went out to the lake for a thoroughly enjoyable, hilly... and muddy jaunt out on the trails. I think I mentioned it last week, but after logging so many miles on the roads this spring, it has been a welcome change to tread the soft earth. I love trail running, I'd forgotten what I missed, the constantly changing your rhythm, the fact that on occasion your heart is in your throat and your still running easy. And, the hills, I usually curse them for the first few weeks but begrudgingly know that I'll be better for it in a months time. The mud, the sweat and the wilderness; it always amazes me how 20' on the trails seems like 40' on the road.

After looking back at my week, I'm happy with the consistency and with my constant desire to get back out there (where ever that is). I'm planning on another easy week with moderate base miles and then next week, if all goes well, I'm going to reintroduce some intensity back into the program.

With our wedding a little over a month away (Ally could tell you the exact number of days) we started taking dance lessons... the Venetian Waltz. Being an accountant, and possessing a love of numbers, last weeks introduction was a joke. I left feeling like Patrick Swayze or Fred Astaire, wondering what all the fuss was about? But no, tonight we had Tess, and lin ess time then it takes me to cover 3000m my head was swarming with patterns, 1-2-3, 1-2-3, finish the box, side, back step, I'm even embarrassed to admit I learnt a move called... the twinkles? I'm going to stop here.

Monday: easy 41:55 with 6x 20” strides
Tuesday: steady 1:16:47
Wednesday: 59:46 with 6x hills strong
Thursday: easy 41:12
Friday: easy 29:56 with 6x strides
Saturday: easy 1:32:17
Sunday: 1:28:05

Today, Monday: 1h10 waltz lessons

Saturday, June 23

Stretching it

After not getting half as much sleep as I would've liked last night, I was sceptical about my ability to be even remotely engaging at this mornings clinic. To make matters worse, I would be leading the marathon group in addition to my regular half-marathon group (luckily they run at the same pace, with only a 10' variation in volume). As it turned out, the run was fine and even the weather cooperated (to my surprise) as we looped over the Bay St. Bridge and into Esquimalt, around McCauley Point and back via the Songhees walkway and the Johnson St. Bridge.

With the World U-20 Football (soccer) Championships kicking off in Canada (and some of the first round games being held in Victoria) we were treated to one of the teams going through some of their morning drills and stretches. Actually, it was a day for stretching as after our run, Chris Lamb (a local physiotherapist and ex-cyclist) met the group in the park and walked us through a routine for runners.

It was a good day, hope everyone enjoys the weekend!

Training: easy 1h32'17"


Bagged, absolutely bagged... that's how I've felt the last couple of days. Thursday was marginally better then Friday, but neither was swell in the grand scheme of things. After two consecutive days of feeling beat it's time to start paying more attention to the signs written on the wall, they're there, and I believe I should begin with ensuring I get to bed earlier. The problem (my problem) is that with it being so light out in the evenings now, I feel compelled, almost obligated, to stay up and make the most of the summer months regardless of my energy level. This reminds me of a time, years ago, when my level of energy a) seemed to last longer, and b) recharged itself quicker.

My only saving grace, is that (Rule #1) once out the door I'm happy to be running, and (Rule #2) once home, I feel more energetic... two key tests in my, is-it-okay-to-run-or-should-I-rest book. Thankfully, I'm not doing any serious training.

Thursday: easy 41:12
Friday: an easy 29:56 with 6x strides

Wednesday, June 20

Lotbiniere Ave.

As it was Wednesday, just after 5:00 p.m., I left the house and headed down toward Frontrunners to meet the clinic. After not knowing what to expect the first few weeks ,I've come to really enjoy running with the group and can really understand why Brad did it for so long. After training for several marathons by myself and logging far too many miles (alone) I definitely enjoy the social aspect, but also their enthusiasm (of which, I put to the test tonight).

After a leisurely two mile warm-up (and showing them where I do my strides), we started into the days festivities. The plan was simple, a 10' out-and-back tempo along Richardson followed by 6x 1' hills (with full recovery).

I ran toward the front of the group during the tempo session and was surprised at the speed the front runners were keeping, everyone looking smooth and steady. I'd conveniently arranged for our tempo to end at the infamous Lotbiniere, where after some brief instructions (and a 2' rest) the group had me flabbergasted as they launched themselves into the hill like they were being pursued by a Walmart greater... very impressive!

My legs felt fine day, but I think the hill caused my left achilles to flare up as I noticed it was sore while stretching my calf this evening, I'm going to have to pay attention to that (and perhaps adjust my workouts accordingly in the future).

Training: easy 59:46 with 6x hills strong

On your left

Yesterday, Trevor and I decided to leave the waterfront alone and follow the Goose inland. It always amazes me the temperature difference less then a kilometer from the water, it was heavenly. Running through town and over the bridge was a bit of a nightmare, but having never been wittiness to the constant stream/tidal surge of commuter traffic (bikes) on the Goose more then made up for it. The best part was how polite a majority of them where, ringing their little bells, "on your left". Being so amused, Trevor and I tossed the idea around having our own bells the next time we run out at the Elk/Beaver.

The run felt comfortable, but whether because of the heat (20C), of cumulative fatigue from the weekend, I was definitely lacking toward the end (which was thankfully all down hill). Come on summer...

Training: easy but steady 1:16:47

Monday, June 18

The missing ingredients

I came home this evening and found myself in a predicament. With Ally in Calgary for two days, and the car at the airport, I had no means of transportation (save for my pins) and yet needed to pick up a few missing ingredients for tonight’s masterpiece… tagliatelle with ragu. And so it was that I left the house with my bank card (which I just retrieved from my shorts before sending it into the wash) and a shopping list tucked neatly into the pocket in the rear of my shorts.

My runs have been feeling really good of late. I can’t quite describe it, and I realize this sounds cheap, but I think it has more to do with my state of mind then my physical circumstances… I’m really enjoying running. Today for instance, the temperature warm enough to run with your shirt off but not so hot that sweat ran down into your eyes, the streets seemed empty save for the odd runner and the birds were busy searching out food. All the while, I clipped along feeling smooth if not just a tad sore from yesterdays run.

I proceeded to take a very roundabout way to the shop and after dashing in to purchase six rashes of bacon, parsley, some beef consume and one stick of celery I was back out the door, hardly missing a beat. I headed home but not without leaving my assorted purchases street side and throwing in a few strides.

Training: easy 41:55 with 6x 20” strides

Sunday, June 17

Hot Rod Lincoln

Following three weeks of little to no intensity, my legs (and soul) were energized and seeking liberation. Armed with an over flowing fuel cell, and coupled with more then a handful of frustration, I headed out to Thetis and unleash a torrent of blood sweat and tears onto the trails. I don’t remember the last time I was in the zone like this, coming within feet of deer and raccoons only to pass them like a haunted demon.

I think it was a blessing in disguise, my friends not being home this morning as I called looking for companionship, as in the end I would not have been good company. Slower runners would’ve been tossed aside without a second glance, and had I run with someone faster, I would have perused them with stupidity and vigor that would have only ended in disaster for this boy. No, today was all about me, no company, no watch, just my shoes and every hill I could find in the park.

Up Seymour Hill, and toward Francis/King via Panhandle. I surged along the Powerline with the energy normal reserved only for racing and found solace in the lyrics of Commander Cody’s , Hot Rod Lincoln, “Now the fellas thought I'd lost all sense, the telephone poles looked like a picket fence. They said, slow down, I see spots, the lines on the road just looked like dots.”

I think it is a chicken and the egg phenomena, but I was relieved to find my level of frustration subsiding in direct proportion to my energy. In a world of counselors, self-help books and quick fixes, all I needed was some time alone on the trails.

As I sit here typing (licking my wounds between thought) I can’t help but notice my right calf making like Elvis and performing it’s own funky chicken. I hope everyone had a great weekend.

Training: a strong 1h30’17”

Saturday, June 16

The therapeutic nature of running

Following a fortnight of relatively little running this was my first week back in the saddle. I wasn’t surprised then when after three days of successive running I stepped out of bed Thursday morning with the agility of a very aged individual; my hamstrings were taut and the left heel was tender to the touch. What I was surprised with was my decision to spend five minutes stretching that morning? I was pleased then when later that day Hicham called to tell me his back was sore and rather then head out for an steady hour he suggested we relive the past. Despite growing up on opposite coastlines, we lived remarkably parallel lives and with that, he suggested head out along the waterfront on our bikes. It felt like years since I’d been out on a ride and this one didn’t disappoint what with some rare warm sunshine, beautiful vistas and an out-of-the-way coffee shop on the way home.

After a whirlwind day at work and with Ally’s mom flying in from Saudi that evening, I headed out yesterday evening determined to absorb as much of the late afternoon sun as possible. I wandered through the neighborhood without paying much attention to where I was going, moving instead like a roadside leaf getting brush along with each passing car. I bumped into an old friend, now expecting, and continued through a local park and back to a favourite street where I decided to run a few strides. It’s amazing what a lack of stimulus and trying too hard can achieve. That afternoon, I cruised down a 150m stretch of asphalt with the coordination one might experience running a five-legged race (a person attached to either side of you). I warmed into the first three, felt good on the fourth and decided five was enough for the day, the strides having achieved their purpose.

This morning was the second medium long run with the clinic and after leading my group through some of my favourite local haunts last week, today I’d decided to head out of town on the Goose. The seven of us crossed the blue bridge, turned right over the old trestle, right again at the switch bridge and headed north. I was amazed at the ease with which conversation flowed, seven people who having not known each other for more then a few weeks talked with the comfort of years. Perhaps it’s the sharing of a passion, or the therapeutic nature of being able to carry a conversation without having to look the person in the eye, but I enjoyed it.

Thursday: aprrox. 1h30’ easy ride
Friday: enjoyable 28’26” with 5x 20” strides
Saturday: easy 1h33’02”

Wednesday, June 13

Situation no win

I was so pleased with Monday's run, that yesterday I coaxed Hicham and Trevor into joining me for part of the same, Moss Rock and Government House, with "the" steps near King George Terrace thrown in for good measure. It was great seeing Trevor back out running as he has been plagued with injuries for the better part of a few years. Here is to more of the same (running not the injuries).

Today was clinic day. As it was their first easy week, today's workout was short (8x 100m strides) which meant the warm-up and cool-down were longer... that was the part I forgot to tell them "prior" to starting the run. After taking 25' to run to Oak Bay Track I couldn't help but notice a few sideways glances, no, what was I doing? I was surprised at how many of them had never been on a track before, and as such I reinforced track etiquette (which direction to run, the lanes and the word "track), explained the w/o and then jogged around as they pushed themselves, enjoying the sun for a brief moment as it peaked out between the clouds.

Wanting to have the group back to the store ASAP, I decided to have them run down Fort St., a really long a straight road that went within a block of the shop, perfect I thought. Unfortunately, the road was long, straight, uphill and the wind was blowing in our face. I felt tonight was a no-win situation. My legs felt great both days and I'm enjoying the routine of regular runs again and with company to boot.

Tuesday: easy 1:00:11, AHR 134
Wednesday #1: 12' easy, #2 58:45 easy

Monday, June 11

Something a little different

One night last week while grocery shopping, I proposed to Ally that we buy goods out-of-our-ordinary, shopping for either brands or functional substitutes (skim milk vs. rice milk) that we haven't bought in the past. The catch was we still had to eat healthy (fun and games I know, but humour me). We resulted in coming home with an entire smorgasbord of food that we wouldn't normally buy resulting in a change in menu for the week (today we had mushroom and parsnip soup, I love it).

Despite what I said yesterday about starting my run training tomorrow, today I ran . Returning from work I looked at my new program posted on the side of the fridge and was surprised to see that I'd scheduled myself an easy run for today, Monday. Who knew, clearly I didn't? So with last weeks shopping shake-up still fresh in my head, I started my jaunt determined not to trace one of my typical routes. Self-induced change twice within the week not your idea of fun, what can I say, I'm an accountant.

After dropping Ally's video off, I proceeded down Moss and then turned up a hidden set of stairs, climbing a Narnia like tunnel thick with vegetation that lead me atop Moss Rock. Allowing myself a quick view I spied the Governor Generals House and a plan quickly formulated. Rumour had it that a few weeks back "they" opened up the lower trails that had previous been closed for years. I jogged up Lotbiniere Ave. and turned the sharp corner into the grounds and without too much difficulty found the elusive lower loop, a secluded grass and mulch trail that took me just under 2'50" to complete cruising at a comfortable pace. Who said change is bad?

Training: an easy 34:35, AHR 134, MAX 154 (Lotbiniere)

Sunday, June 10

Wedding plans

This week, and unfortunately weekend, has flown by with the speed at which Martin Lel ca cover 26.2 miles. Having spent a disproportionate amount of the last five months preparing for two marathons my/our wedding date has been steadily drawing near with only a cursory attention from me. I've been comforting myself, repeatedly talking to the voice within and reminding him that I don't like drawing out the preparation for an event, i.e., I don't buy Christmas presents in July. That said, somewhere between booking the venue last October and recently sending out our invitations I now find myself looking over my shoulder... luckily for me, my post-marathon recovery couldn't have been better timed.

On Thursday I manged to drag Hicham out for an easy run, and much to his chagrin, took him along the coastal (goat) path and down onto the rocky beach. I have always loved this route as it forced me to run slowly on easy days. With Hicham preparing for the Scotia Bank (?) Half Marathon I think he could have done without the sand and pebbles (sorry my friend).

Saturday I had the pleasure of leading my thoroughly impressive half marathon group (along one of my favourite routes) while on our first outing together. I was a bit nervous heading out, unsure of everyones fitness level (given the discrepancy in age and experience) but it couldn't have worked out better, the group clicking along like a pro cycling team practicing for the team time trial (minus the EPO and other performance enhancing drugs). Through BHP and down toward the water, along Dallas to the Chinese Cemetery, up King George Terrace, up the stairs, through Oak Bay and back along Brighton.

After two weeks of rest and recovery, Monday (Tuesday actually) I will begin a slow and closely monitored build toward my next key race (a half marathon in mid-September). The plan is to take advantage of my recent training and quality while pulling back the volume for a while. After the half, it's more R&R for 3-4 weeks (late Sept. early Oct.) and then some solid base work in the fall, leading toward a spring "thon".

I'm tired, it's late...

Thursday: an easy 46:05
Friday: day off
Saturday: an easy 1h17'58
Sunday: day off

Wednesday, June 6

Like showing up for a blind date 20' late

Today was my first Wednesday night with the clinic. I was anxious and excited and not wanting to disappoint my adidas sponsors even grabbed a pair of shorts out of the laundry basket (the dirty one). After dropping off last nights movie I eagerly made my way to the shop, walking into what I thought was Frontrunners but was more reminiscent of a disturbed hornets nest; there were people absolutely everywhere and to make matters worse I wasn't wearing my glasses (I don't run in them). Luckily, one of the first people I saw, bumped into, was Ann (my co-leader) and she asked me to register latecomers. After all was said and done, and one free entry to the RVM was handed out, the shopped was packed with what looked close to 140 eager runners... what was I doing?

We divided the group into two, and I took what looked like my disproportionately large half (thanks Ann) outside and after reinforcing a few last minute details, i.e., no running yellow lights, please try to be kind to others using the sidewalk, we were off, like a herd of startled wildebeest we headed south toward the waterfront and BHP.

Once at our prearranged meeting place I introduced them to a few easy drills, high knees (A) and butt kicks... I wasn't sure they bought into either but they humored me, I like the group more already. The workout tonight was short, sweet and simple 10x 1' (1') at 5-3 km pace. It was during our third or fourth repetition that I realized, simple for a sub 40' 10k runner and someone who runs 60' are two completely different ballgames. I believe/hope the evening went well, but I couldn't shake the feeling the I was playing catch-up. Like showing up for a blind date 20' late, only to discover she is gorgeous and that now you're gong to have to either charm or grin your way out of a predicament. That actually reminds me of a story but I'll save that for another day...

I couldn't resist another shot of Jocelyn Hill, the place really is spectacular!

Tuesday: day off
Wednesday: 50' easy

Monday, June 4

Feeding my vices

I was sitting at work today when I became engrossed by a numbing sensation in my legs, it felt like a dull electric current was coursing through my veins causing the muscles to ache. I'd only run 20' in over a week and not only mentally did I want to head out but physically I was having withdrawal symptoms. It felt fantastic then, when shortly after 4:30 I was running through the soft trails in BHP. And not to be outdone, with 29’ on the clock as I was making my way up the street for home, my legs reminded me that they still need more recovery.

Training: 31:48

Sunday, June 3

Jocelyn Hill

It's amazing how tiring rest and recovery can be. Perhaps it was the lack of stimulus to my body, coupled with last week's marathon but I found myself absolutely exhausted this week.

Good friends of mine are returning to the UK and unfortunately are unable to take their dog (Griffin) with them. They were lucky enough to find a great home for it and as part of a grand farewell we decided to take Grif camping with us one last time. We were fixed for time yesterday and as such spent the night atop a ridge overlooking a great local estuary. The ridge, leading to Jocelyn Hill, is one of my favourite running trails and hiking there yesterday renewed my desire to get back out there soon.

I had hoped to get out for a run today but as Ally and I were away camping and with the clinic on Wednesday, I thought it was the perfect excuse to mix things up. Besides, I wouldn't want my body to become too accustom to a set routine... running on Monday, that'll be a first in a while.

Training: day off, perhaps tomorrow

Friday, June 1


This week Victoria has been caught in the grasp of a mini heat wave, highs of 20-25C every day. I know this isn't much for some areas of the country/continent but it has been solely responsible for bringing an early start to summer (and smiles to many faces). With the unseasonably warm weather and the guarantee of no rain, I set out at first light for my first run since Ottawa. It didn’t take long before the aches and pains surfaced reminding my of the importance of proper rest and recovery. My plan over the next week is to alternate days, increasing the distance I run by 10’, i.e, 20’, off, 30’, off, 40’…

Regarding the future, well it was Frank Shorter who said, “You have to forget your last marathon before you try another. Your mind can't know what's coming”. Having recently raced two marathons, and not wanting to compromise next spring, I’ve decided to skip a fall marathon this year and instead work on my speed. Unfortunately, with my current coach having recently left Victoria, I’m uncertain how I will approach my next build. I’ve learnt a lot working with Bruce, but it has also left me with questions.

Tomorrow is the first day of training for the fall marathon/half-marathon clinic here in Victoria, and my first day as clinic co-leader. I’m really looking forward to this, both giving back and allowing myself to absorb the excitement and enthusiasm of novice runners.

I hope everyone has a great weekend.

Training: a very easy 20:20