Thursday, December 27


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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, December 22

Merry Christmas

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 20

A turn for the good

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 18

2008 Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Marathon

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

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

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

Monday, December 17

Ultra-marathon Training Programs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, December 16


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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, December 14

McDonald’s Christmas tree

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Photo courtesy of Jim Finlayson]

Wednesday, December 12


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

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

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

I think I need some new shoes.

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

Tuesday, December 11


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

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 10


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

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

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

My week in review:

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

Training: steady 53:03

Sunday, December 9

Snow… again

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, December 8


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

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 5

Less than 100%

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

Training: easy/steady 44:10

Tuesday, December 4

On the backside of a long day

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

Training: easy 46:28

Monday, December 3

Rest and recovery

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

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

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

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

Training: scheduled day off

Sunday, December 2


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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, December 1


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

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

Training: relaxed 1:20:54