Wednesday, October 24

Shadows of a runner

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

Training: 48:40 with 15x1’ (1’)

Tuesday, October 23

The thought of twins

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

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

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

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

Training: exhausting 29:10

Monday, October 22

Renovation needed

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

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

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

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

Thursday, October 18

A blustery start to the morning

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

Despite my shuffling gait, I felt good.

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

Training: 48:00 easy

Wednesday, October 17

When you’re your own worst enemy

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

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

Monday, October 15

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

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

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

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

Saturday, October 13

Where excuses don’t amount to much

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

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

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

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

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

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

11:01 (163, 167)

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

Thursday, October 11

Where dreams are made

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

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

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

Training: 1:19:46 easy

Wednesday, October 10

New Shoes

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

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

Training: 39:52 easy

Tuesday, October 9

It’s evaluating and humbling at the same time

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, October 8

My Run across Canada (continued)

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

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

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

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

Training: day off, tomorrow, I run

Sunday, October 7

Victoria Half Marathon 2007

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, October 6

Where it all started

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, October 4

Lotbiniere (redux)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 3


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

Training: 45:17 with 4x strides

Tuesday, October 2

Annie Lennox said it best

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

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

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

Monday: day off
Tuesday: 31:15 easy