Sunday, December 28

Although it’s been said many times, many ways...

... Merry Christmas!

This last week was to be easy, which it was, but far easier than intended.

One can usually count on Victoria getting a dusting of snow once or twice a year, usually. This year was far from usual. Having received over two feet of snow at our place, and closer to four at me ma’s, getting out for a run was more difficult than expected, but, perhaps for the best.

Christmas morning saw my sister, her boyfriend and me out for our annual Christmas Day jaunt. Last year when Matt and I ran up Maple Mountain, we discovered fresh cougar tracks. This year, the weather, not the animals kept it interesting. After running, jogging and eventually jumping through 3’-4’ drifts we were exhausted, making it about a third of the way up. Still, with the sun shining and a hearty dinner on the way it was all good.

I wasn’t able to get out with the crew on Saturday morning so instead ran the Shadywood Mile that afternoon. The loop, not quite a mile but not quite shady either, was relatively dry, snow free and lacking cars. Perfect. What wasn’t so perfect was my perceived pedestrian pace.

Sunday. Black-ice. Not fun. Regardless, the time on my feet was well spent.

It was while talking with the missus yesterday that I confessed to feeling out of shape. Notwithstanding normal post-Christmas sensations, I feel tired and that I’m slowly slipping behind the eight ball. On the plus side, I’m more determined than I have been in weeks to focus my resolve and begin, however slowly, to wind things up toward April.

Training:
Monday: day off (scheduled)
Tuesday: day off (unscheduled)
Wednesday: day off (unscheduled)
Christmas: snowy 54:07
Boxing Day: day off (unscheduled)
Saturday: 1:03:03 with 5x5’ 10kE (1.5’)
Sunday: slippery 1:53:09

Weekly mileage: 3h50’19”, +/- 54-k or 34 miles (missed too much)

Sunday, December 21

Unconventional training... ouch

My lower back aches, my biceps are still pumped, I’m tired and my calves and quadriceps feel like I’m recovering from a late season marathon. Oh the joy of a white Christmas.

The snow has been welcomed, for the most part. Yeah, it has hindered my training (I missed about an hour this week), but rather now than March. As for the training that I have managed to squeak in, well, most of it has been left wanting.

Friday was bitterly cold, made all the more pleasurable with an accompanying icy wind.
Ian stopped by on Saturday afternoon and after ensuring we were sufficiently bundled, we slid down the back path and onto the Lochside Trail. We trudged are away into the heart of Broadmead and were able to run our workout on a partially clear, undulating but not so busy Emily Carr Dr. I hung with Ian on the first one, at least I was able to see him when we finished the interval, but was dropped like a bag of salt on the second. My last repeat was simple, unadulterated survival.

I had hoped to get out for a jaunt early yesterday morning. It didn’t happen. After shovelling nearly two feet of snow, chopping some wood and going for a walk with the family (read carrying a bundled child strapped to my chest), I was done. Perfect time to go for a run. Jon had suggested I get out for an easy two hours. That was last Monday, prior to our wintery conditions. I looped around Mount Doug, climbing over countless fallen trees, before slogging down Thistlewood, Faithwood and my favourite Maltwood. From here it was straight home and none too soon.

Training:
Friday: chilly 45:17
Saturday: hard fought 1:08:38 with 3x10’tempo (2.5’)
Sunday: strenuous 1:18:53

Weekly mileage: 7h14’45”, +/- 101-k or 63 miles (missed 1h15)

Thursday, December 18

All-in

Yesterday I left work resolute in running 80’. Actually, that’s not quite true, I was drained and heading home on a route that would normally take me +/- 60’. Yet somehow I was hoping, praying, to pick up an additional 20’ along the way. It didn’t happen.

I’ve been tired of late and yesterday was no different. Ally said it was snowing massive flakes at the house, yet as I left the office, you’d have thought she was spinning a yarn. I did. I didn’t want to run, least of all try and squeeze in a workout. Did I mention I was tired? I made my way through Fairfield, along Fernwood and up toward the Cedar Hill Golf Course. It was here, on the southern tip of the 16th hole that I was almost tripped up by a snow bank. How often do you get to say that in Victoria? I can’t remember first noticing the flakes but with nobody around I left what might have been the trail and ran straight down the middle of the fairway. Later, at the northern tip of the course while standing in the middle 8th green, I listened to nothing but the flakes falling. I still treasure the moment.

This morning I left the house a little before 6:30 and ran into town along a combination of quite city streets and the Galloping Goose. I don’t remember seeing another soul until almost in the heart of the city. There is an innocence and tranquility that 15cm of snow brings to a west coast city.

This evening I was ready to hang up the shoes before I’d even left the office. For whatever reason, I feel like I’ve been running, every day, twice a day, for months. And I’m tired of the loose footing, those almost imperceptible little slips that leave your quadriceps feeling you’ve covered twice the distance. Over the Johnson Street Bridge, along the Gorge and over the trestle, tunnel, overpass, tunnel, bridge, bridge. I hated them all this evening. I wanted to stop. Stop running. Stop everything. Why was I so tired? Why on earth was I doing this?

I walked in the house and within seconds, I could hear the slapping of tiny hands making their way down the hall. Moments later a beaming head poked around the corner and Isla was upon me, standing at my leg wanting to be picked up. A minute later still, my jaunt home was a distant memory and had you asked me I would’ve told you it had been fine. Perfect.

Training:
Wednesday: snowy 1:02:15
Thursday: A.M. soft 44:25, P.M. easy 44:15

Tuesday, December 16

"I'm dreaming of a white Christmas..."

“Snowflakes are one of nature's most fragile things, but just look at what they can do when they stick together”

The above quote is supposed to speak to the power of determination, but, given the condition of the trail surfaces this morning is also speaks to the coefficient of friction for ice, particularly rubber on ice.

[for those wondering it is apparently 0.15]

Yesterday evening I was determined to run to work this morning, that determination slipped somewhat when I realized I didn’t have any cold-weather running gear. At least not to accommodate the current conditions we are experiencing. Vest. Think long-sleeved shirt. Running jacket. Tights. Fleece warm-up trousers. Ski gloves. Scarf. Running toque.

I took my first tentative step out onto the ice covered road, it wasn’t near as bad as I expected. And the wind wasn’t near as strong as it had been the previous two days which probably saved me from getting frostbite.

With the moon still hanging bright in the sky, I headed into town along the tree-lined Galloping Goose Trail with nothing but the bitter air to keep me company. I adjusted my stride to compensate for the ice and snow, and although I probably didn’t get the workout I would’ve if I had been on a treadmill, I enjoyed myself. And with the temperature forecasted not to get above zero for over a week (and another 5-15 cm of snow expected tonight) I’d best get comfortable with the environment.

“… just like the ones I used to know”

Carter, if you’re reading this I hope you have a sunburn.

Training:
Monday: day off (scheduled)
Tuesday: A.M. snowy 48:48, P.M. easy 42:14

Sunday, December 14

Snow Day

I’ve been feeling weary for days and regardless of the reason (work, running, the baby or a touch of a cold) the snow that arrived last night couldn’t have come soon enough.

Up until this week, Isla hasn’t been sleeping longer than 2-3 hours (and in the early morning typically not more than 1) before standing up in the crib and crying. At a recent check-up, the doctor had even told us that Isla was one of those children that just needed a lot of food and subsequently the missus would have to endure with the countless late night feedings. Understandably, though, after 7+ months of this Ally, Isla and I were becoming tired with the practice. So, after speed-reading through three books on Monday night, Ally & I put our plan into action. Said plan appears to have worked as the babe has cut her wakenings from 5-6 down to 1-2. Alas, for me this has meant an extremely long week, as I’ve been the one getting up with her. Still, I’d gladly trade one week of heavy eyelids for months of sleeping through the night… and a happy wife.

Thursday and Friday were filled with trouble-free commutes to and from work, just steady easy miles.

Saturday morning saw me back on the grass of Beacon Hill Park, and Jon having returned to coach the gang through the workout (afterwards sharing a few tales from Japan). I’d give myself a B+ on the day, I built through the 10-k segments but faded on my ME recovery.

Last night, conditions that the weatherman had been threatening all week arrived with vengeance (20 cm of snow accompanied with 90 km/h gusting winds). Typically, I’d be overjoyed and head out into the snow setting as many fresh tracks as I can. This morning though, I was drained before I even left the house, and after making a loop through Bow Park I knew I was going to end early, either that or pay in the days/weeks to follow.

I found myself fatigued and devoid of enjoyment. Trying to make the most out of the morning, I turned off my music, put away the earphones and then stood under the tall trees in Mount Doug. For a good minute, I listened to the wind howl, watching small birds fluttering busily from tree to tree and then traced a snowflake as it fell, catching it on my tongue. The last 20’ were a real struggle but I returned home with a smile on my face.

Training:
Thursday: easy 39:35
Friday: A.M. steady 37:02, P.M. easy 41:45
Saturday: 1:18:37 with 10x3’ (continuous) alternating between ME & 10-kE
Sunday: desperate 1:15:25

Weekly mileage: 7h09’37”, +/- 100-k or 63 miles

Wednesday, December 10

The Return

Feeling fast, running slow; that statement pretty much summed up how I felt yesterday.

With my backpack in place, I set off for work along Quadra. After tracing this darkened route at least three times a week, it has almost become part of my morning routine. Almost.

The rolling hills no longer bother me, and as the run nears its end, me weaving through the downtown core, I typically feel good. And yesterday was no exception. I felt fine, what with a smooth stride and a relaxed arm carriage. What I couldn’t help but notice though, and this was confirmed on return home, was my rather pedestrian pace. But then again I suppose it’s better than feeling like crap and running slowly. Frightening.

When I read Wednesday’s workout on Monday afternoon, I received an instant reminder of what was down the road. Yup, I suppose, and at this point I can only guess, but this is probably the start (however slowly) of some marathon preparation. Nothing marathon specific as I’d need to be in much better shape for that too occur. Still, there was no escaping the feeling this evening as I was 30’ into a 40’ ME piece. I was ‘running’ again, and feeling good.

Training:
Tuesday: A.M. easy 39:31, P.M. easy 38:50
Wednesday: 1:18 52 with 40’ marathon effort (ME)

Monday, December 8

Marilyn

Meant to post before now (my bad). Last weekend was the AGSI Canadian National Cross Country Championships, held in Guelph, Ontario. Marilyn ran in the Senior Women's event, a 7-k race.

The weather: 0C and snow covered.

The result: Marilyn placed 6th overall with a time of 25:59. Well done my friend! As for me, today was about commuting/racing to and from work... I won.

Training: day off (scheduled)

Sunday, December 7

Holiday Cheer

Yesterday I met Ian, Jim and The Toddler down at Beacon Hill for a workout on the grass. I’ve been enjoying the group training the last few weeks and this weekend was no different. With Jim and Todd out for only an easy run, they sat on my shoulder for most of the session, typically passing me in the last minute or two and quickly disappearing over a never-ending series of hills. Although I’m only running one speed w/o a week, I feel I’m slowly coming around. Slowly.

Last night was all about holiday cheer, and in my case perhaps too much. After coercing my mum to baby-sit, Ally and I skipped out of the house and after visiting my sister we attended a party that wouldn’t have looked out of place on the “Rich and Famous”. After driving downtown, we smartly caught a taxi home, which meant I had a chore to do in the morning. I cursed that last glass almost every step of the run. Retrieving the car was made much more difficult on the heels of excessive wine and an unsympathetic child.

Congratulations to Jon and Dave who ran 2:12:27 and 2:27:28 respectively at the Fukuoka Marathon in Japan. Jon made the Canadian A+ standard so will be pleased but given he split the half in 1:04:04, he clearly wanted more. Dave sadly won’t be quite so happy with his performance but you’re not going to reach your goals unless you try. Hard fought Dave.

Training:
Saturday: 1:10:44 with 5’ (2’), 10’ (2’), 5’
Sunday: tough 1:39:36

Weekly mileage: 7h26’08”, +/- 104-k or 65 miles

Friday, December 5

The same but different

Much like Wednesday evening, Thursday morning was frigid only this time I was appropriately dressed. A light jog along Cook St. to work, followed by another easy double today. At least that is the plan, with one down and one still pending (the day isn’t turning out to be quite what I had hoped). My only solace can be found in an improving back.

All the best to Jon and Dave racing in the 62nd Fukuoka International Open Marathon Championship on Sunday.

Training:
Thursday: easy 45:20
Friday: A.M. hilly 40:45, P.M. easy 36:16

Wednesday, December 3

Nippy

Tonight was the first evening in weeks, perhaps months where I felt I could have used my running gloves, any gloves for that matter. Sadly, said gloves were at home resting nicely in front of the fireplace and my not quite long enough shirtsleeves just didn’t cut it. On a much more positive note, my back is getting incrementally better as is my achilles/heel.

As for the running, yesterday I enjoyed what is fast becoming my typical mid-week double. In this case, an easy jaunt to and from work. Incredibly, although I took slightly different routes I was surprised that my morning running, when still half asleep, was the quicker of the two.

This evening called for an easy but hilly jaunt, unfortunately with it now dark when I leave work in the evenings my options are limited. Tonight then, I ran more than my share of the seven sisters, up and over Mount Tolmie and home. I didn’t feel like I was pushing the pace at all, in fact if anything I made sure my effort was on the pedestrian side of the street. Still, as I was cresting the far side of the mountain (read hill), I was surprised to find that despite an elongated start, I was left with 10’ to make up.

And yes, our tree is up; more photos to follow.

Training:
Monday: day off (scheduled)
Tuesday: A.M. easy 36:40, P.M. easier 39:46
Wednesday: 1:17:01 hilly

Sunday, November 30

Fog

Despite an uncooperative and sore back, I was able to round out the week with a couple of solid runs.

The weekend was met with a dank foggy shroud whose remnants still linger in corners of the city. I drove down to Beacon Hill Park where our new group typically meets on Saturday mornings, but with so many of the crew either out of town or racing I was surprised to find I was running solo. Still, what could have been a very lonely affair allowed me to an opportunity to run the session at my pace and not feel pressured. I loved every minute of the mud-covered affair.

The workout called for 5x5’ at 10kP but rather than start too fast, I decided to begin at half-marathon effort (probably something closer to 10kP) and wind things up. I got this idea after watching this video (sorry for the link, I was having difficulty posting it however this is a must watch):

http://www.flotrack.org/videos/coverage/view_video/234127/78340-episode-7-ok-state-cowboys

Sunday, was a long easy trudge under once again damp conditions; I guess winter has finally settled in. Thomas can relate. Sadly, I seem to have aggravated my left achilles/heel which accompanied with my aching back leaves me a sorry sight. So much for a recovery week.

Training:
Saturday: 1:09:00 with 5x5’ (1.5’) at 10kP
Sunday: easy 1:42:05

Weekly mileage: 6h23’51”, +/- 89-k or 56 miles

Friday, November 28

Procrastination

With Monday a scheduled day off followed by not one but three easy days, I feel like I’ve been cheating myself… procrastinating. I guess it wasn’t until being forced to enjoy four easy days in a row that I began to understand the concept of a recovery week. I’ve always been keen of my one day off a week but then I typically begin back into various combinations of volume and intensity. I like this approach, less is more.

Sadly, in amongst all the rest and recovery I seem to have tweaked by back. I was running into work yesterday morning when my foot lost traction on a slick manhole cover. I must’ve slipped less than an inch but it was enough to trigger a spasm in my back, the kind that takes your breath away. I walked for a few steps and then continued on my way, trying to relax my back and hoping the movement would do it good. Twenty-four hours later, it’s still sore.

Jon and Dave left for Japan on Thursday, in preparation for their marathon next weekend. And Marilyn is back east, racing Nationals this weekend… all the best to everyone!

Training:
Monday: day off (scheduled)
Tuesday: easy 41:45
Wednesday: easy 42:24
Thursday: easy 40:14
Friday: A.M. steady 43:55, P.M. steady 44:28

Monday, November 24

Nowhere but up

The photo is for Mike... you asked.

Today was nothing but rest and recovery, at least as far as the running was concerned. Jon suggested I do a little core work and sent me a few exercises, not only did I quickly called an audible switching from 30” to 15” sessions, but I confirmed what I’d known all along, I have a weak core.

A sucker for punishment I also performed a max push-up assessment, 32. Pathetic.

Training: day off (scheduled)

Sunday, November 23

Where does the time go?

My head hurts. In spite of an extremely busy week at work, and most certainly not because of it, I managed to squeeze in all of my scheduled runs and logged +/- 95% of the volume. I can’t, and won’t complain.

Saturday saw the group back out at Beacon Hill on another seasonably warm and sunny autumn morning. The grass was heavy with dew, and after a gentle warm-up, I opted for my spikes having only worn them once before. Sadly, I believe I may have missed some key pre-workout instructions at this point.

With a new and loud whistle, Jon sounded the start and like a pack of yowling foxhounds, we churned across the all-weather pitch and drove into the first grassy rise. The first interval was supposed to be at 5-k pace and I believe I achieved this and if anything was a tad conservative. I love the sensation of sprinting across a grassy field with spikes.

After a brief rest, we began the second piece which was supposed to be run at 10-k pace (while still recovering from the first effort). It was here I dug myself a shallow grave as I probably ran too hard and as a result faded on the second 7.5’ effort. Ever the generous man, Jon suggested I finish the w/o after the third 5-k part.

With a sore achilles, damn spikes, Hicham and I went enjoyed a relaxing yet undulating jaunt out at Thetis this morning capping off three consistent weeks of running. Here’s to a good week ahead, whatever that may bring.

Training:
Thursday: A.M. easy 40:01, P.M. easier 41:11
Friday: 39:43
Saturday: 1:13:55 with 3x (2.5’ (2’), 7.5’) (2’)
Sunday: easy 1:28:19

Weekly mileage: 7h48’18”, +/- 109-k or 68 miles

Wednesday, November 19

Boston Advice

I know that there are at least four of you out there who are registered to run Boston next April. This, perhaps, is for you. A friend of mine, Brad, ran Boston last year and I sent him an email a few days ago asking whether the hills were as bad as I hear and if he had any advice on training. This is his response:

“My advice would be to make sure you go to the bathroom BEFORE heading toward the start line. I saw a guy get DQ'd on his way to the corrals for going pee in a bush. They are ruthless. As a result of the fear of being caught I jumped into a port-a-potty about 6 miles in, which I think hurt me as I cramped up later. The immediate stop and go into a hot booth and then run again couldn't have helped things.


And don't stop at Wellesley to kiss girls. Even is they say "I'm Canadian!” I do not think that helped either.

The hills weren't bad because I was cramping and going slowly by the time I got there, but really, they aren't anything to be worried about. Get some good downhill run training in for the first 6 miles of the race and don't go out too fast. Oh yeah, get more than one hour sleep the night before as well.

Seriously, next time I would include more race pace training in my long runs, I would do the downhill running again in my training, I would stay in a hotel and pay the money for it, I wouldn't do the expo twice and I wouldn't walk around watching the Olympic trials and then go around looking for places to eat, and I would fly in a day earlier (I arrived at 12:30am Sunday morning). The bus ride out and all that stuff, I don't think that had much of an effect, not as much as the rest of the stuff… it was fun!

It was my first big marathon, so you experienced this in London, but it is amazing to have so many people cheering all the way!”

Training: hilly, steady 1:10:43

Tuesday, November 18

Crossroads

[Crossroads; {used with a singular or plural verb} - (a) the place where roads intersect, (b) a point at which a vital decision must be made and (c) a main center of activity]

I set my alarm for 5:20, and went to bed dreading the inevitable. The first time I woke up was 2:30, convinced that I was I only had 20’ more to sleep but aware that the math wasn’t correct. I replayed this scenario a half a dozen more times before finally hopping out of bed at 5:15.

Apart from a much earlier than usual start to the day, a trip to Vancouver and late homecoming, my day was productive and enjoyable. As for the running, I enjoyed two undulating jaunts, one to work, and one returning home. However, it was on the return trip that I felt fluid, not fast mind you. But despite taking it easy I sensed my running improved and almost imperceptibly disengaged from all too worn plateau and cautiously started to rise.

Training:
Monday: day off (scheduled)
Tuesday: A.M. early 39:18, P.M. hilly 37:26

Sunday, November 16

How Soon Is Now

I like the Smiths, but that is an entirely different story. I was late getting out for my jaunt today but it wasn’t all that bad. It allowed me to enjoy a cool, and more important quiet, autumn evening; I love night running at this time of year. I hadn’t been out for more than a mile when I spotted my first set of Christmas lights. And I ask, “how soon is too soon”?

I don’t think I could’ve run a more consistent week had I tried. This feat is more remarkable as I was supposed to run twice on Friday but decided to bag it as it would’ve cost me my marriage, certainly my short-term health.

On Saturday, I was back at Beacon Hill Park with the group and despite only having had four hours sleep I knocked off a great session. The workout called for 8x3’ at half marathon to 10k pace. With the primary goal to finish the workout (feeling strong), I decided to run the first four at HM effort, build five & six and then nail the last two. As we were running on the same cursed mile+ hilly grass loop it was difficult to get an accurate sense of pacing, but whether I managed to actually descend the workout was moot as I felt comfortable at the end (a far cry from last week). I got a real chuckle when after passing someone on the sixth interval, I was asked, “if my breakfast had just reached my legs”?

The week ahead looks to be more of the same, allowing the body some consistent training. I managed tweak my right knee yesterday. I can quite remember what triggered it, picking Isla up or putting her down? On the other hand, it could’ve been lifting the damn ExerSaucer thingy, regardless the knee was twisted and I’m going to have to keep tabs on it.

Here’s to a good week ahead.

Training:
Saturday: 1:25:29 with 8x3’ (1.5’) HMP-10kP
Sunday: easy 1:25:26

Weekly mileage: 6h43’28”, 94-k or 59 miles

Friday, November 14

But all the colours mix together, to grey

Of or relating to an achromatic colour of any lightness between the extremes of black and white.

I’m (still) weary. Yesterday I ended up leaving the office 90’ later than planned. It was dark, cool, verging on crisp, and the streets lit with what was almost a full moon. Weaving my way through Fairfield, I felt light on my feet and energetic. Yet as I approached the university before turning west towards home, I was exhausted. The fatigue was equal parts physical and mental.

How much longer do I run? A week, month, just until Boston? My left shin hurts. What next? It’s officially cold out. Will this be my last marathon? I’m chilled. Why are these thoughts running through my head, do I acknowledge them or pretend I can’t hear? I should’ve left earlier, I’m starving. I’m thirsty, I need a pint.

Today was only marginally better. With only having to pop into the office for a few hours this morning, I stayed in bed an extra 30’ longer pretending to sleep. I need to work on my imagination. My run into the office was a drab mix of greys.


[photo taken along the Galloping Goose Trail heading into Victoria, having run for 10’]

Training:
Thursday: steady 1:04:09
Friday: A.M. easy 34:57, P.M. TbD

Wednesday, November 12

Dilapidated Beauty

It was part of his standard morning routine, Michael stumbling weary-eyed down a darkened hallway so that the cat could be let outside. Afterward, it was water in the old red kettle, bread in the toaster and then typically a return to doorway so that the cat could be let back inside. This morning was no different than most. Avoiding a minefield of shoes and the cat, now underfoot, the door swung open with an accompanying sound not unlike a train thundering through the London Underground. Two sets of eyes strained to look beyond the front steps, out past the shrubs and into the stormy morning. Neither would be overly eager to head out there today.

Yesterday was a homecoming of sorts. A day that saw the return of a multitude of familiar faces to a location that is hallowed for most runners in Victoria. A day that brought out the best in everyone, under conditions that could not have been much worse. And yet were so welcome. Allyson and Isla were there, wrapped up in Gore-tex and wool and under skies that continued to ensure an appropriate level of saturation.

There were 170 teams of 4, and their accompanying support crew milling around the lake front. Everyone trying to stay dry underneath insufficient shelter. For a rare few it was a damp muddy hell, but for everyone else competing in the 12th annual Harriers Thetis Lake 20-k Relay the day was just the thing, wonderful.

Training:
Monday: day off (scheduled)
Tuesday: 50:54 with 5-k Thetis Lake Relay in 18:36
Wednesday: A.M. easy 39:51, P.M. 37:42

Tuesday, November 11

Remembrance Day


Sunday, November 9

And the Beat Goes On

I wish I had kept the article, by 6:00 p.m. Thursday evening it had poured in excess 35mm and it wasn’t letting up. Needless to say, as I peered out onto the darkened street on Friday morning the relentless hammering of the rain did little to bolster my waning desire. It was going to be one of those days. I gently closed the door behind me and after fastening my backpack, took a tentative first step out into the shadows only to repeat the process eight hours later. Day two of my new program and I was already being tested.

Saturday morning saw almost dozen of us arrive at Beacon Hill for our inaugural group session. We traced out a mile loop using most of the old CIS XC circuit and after a few strides began the workout. The idea was to build within each repeat as well as throughout the practice. As my immediate goal was to finish the workout I had to leave my ego at the door and for the most part run on my own. Oh to be able to run strong again. I managed to keep a reasonable rhythm but suffered on even the slight inclines.

Sunday was full of leaf strewn rural roads, soft west coast trails under towering canopies and hills, many hills. The route, a new favourite, will do well to prepare me for Boston but I’m going to have to be careful not to dig myself a hole in November. I was out with three stronger runners and although they looped back on several occasions there is a difference between pushing the pace and too much.

Training:
Friday: A.M. easy 34:09, P.M. easy 28:52
Saturday: 1:18:26 with 3x10’ tempo (2’)
Sunday: undulating 1:40:04


Weekly mileage: 6h43’44”, 94-k or 59 miles

Thursday, November 6

Night Swimming

“Night swimming deserves a quiet night
The photograph on the dashboard, taken years ago,
Turned around backwards so the windshield shows
Every streetlight reveals the picture in reverse
Still, it's so much clearer
I forgot my shirt at the water's edge
The moon is low tonight”

This week has found me particularly busy at work. Notwithstanding the clocks moving backwards, I’ve been leaving the office with the sun having set and the streetlamps already on.

Tuesday evening was warm and humid, and as I ran home along Richmond toward Mount Tolmie, I couldn’t help but notice my shadow growing longer as I passed underneath the lights. I always feel so much faster running when it’s dark out. It was then that it dawned on me that it has been months since I’ve been out running under the stars, mornings aside, and I was loving it.

Nights Swimming, one of my favourite R.E.M. songs, came to mind and I ran home playing with the lyrics concocting my own version of “Night Running”. I had the song set. And if it weren’t for today you’d be reading it now. But with 35mm-45mm being forecast, I think I’m safe in saying I ran home under 44mm of the predicted downpour.

Night swimming it is.

“You, I thought I knew you
You, I cannot judge
You, I thought you knew me,
This one laughing quietly underneath my breath
Night swimming”

Training:
Monday: day off
Tuesday: 48:32 with 4x3’ tempo (1’)
Wednesday: 50:44 easy
Thursday: 1:02:57 steady

Sunday, November 2

Next Steps

And to think I was so proud of myself for posting two days in a row at the beginning of last week, pathetic. My week didn’t wrap up quite as I had planned but given I left like crap on Thursday and had two days off (one unplanned), I shouldn’t be too disappointed. But still.

That said, Saturday was glorious and Sunday was better. At first it was a return to CHGC for some shorter intervals on the trails, followed the next day by one of the more relaxing and enjoyable jaunts in a good month or more. I suppose at times it might be easy to become too focused on moving forward and forget to look around, thanks Carter.

Later that day I met Jon Brown for coffee, double shot Americano, and listened to what he had to say about training. We chatted about life, children and traded stories about racing; he had much more interesting tales than me. It looks as if I’m going to be working with him as I prepare for Boston in April. I couldn’t be more excited as it’s not that often I get to benefit from someone of his knowledge and skill. The clincher for me, was both of us sharing a similar approach to training.

Here’s to a more productive week, fun times ahead!

Training:
Thursday: 1:00:01 with 15’ + 10’ + 5’ tempo (5’)
Friday: day off (unscheduled)
Saturday: 1:00:57 with 4x2’ (1’) + 6x1’ (30”) + 10x30” (30”)
Sunday: easy 1:30:58

Weekly mileage: 5h19’15”, 75-k or 47 miles (and to think I said I needed to run more)

Wednesday, October 29

Feeling Better

It wasn’t half as cold as I expected it to be when I left the house this morning, I’ll take 9C over 2C any day. Not only that, but it wasn’t raining. Brilliant! It didn’t take more than a few strides for me to realize my right calf was still to-ight, more so the right side of the leg, and so I opted to postpone yesterday’s workout for yet another day. This of course means today’s workout will have to wait until the weekend.

But rather than a mundane sleepy stroll, this morning was different. I hadn’t been out for more than five minutes when I came across an accident. Apparently, the intersection wasn’t big enough for both vehicles at that hour of the day (everyone seemed fine). And then it was the Italian Bakery, God knows what hour they set up but the smell, wow, it almost had me running around in circles Sadly, they weren’t open.

All the best of luck to Mike who leaves for NYC, run well!

Training: easy but undulating 37:19

Tuesday, October 28

The Aftermath

My calves hurt.

They are forecasting rain in Victoria over the next four days. Whenever the weather office gives that sort of prediction from now through March, four days could easily turn into forty. No really. With that in mind, I left the office determined to enjoy what might be our last sunny day for a while.

It didn’t take me more than a few steps, one actually, to realize that my aforementioned calves were still sore and incredibly to-ight from the XC race. As a result, I opted to postpone (perhaps permanently) today’s workout and rather enjoy the evening for what it was… absolutely gorgeous.

My journey home took me up and over Beacon Hill, and along the waterfront soaking up a breathtaking setting sun. From there I weaved my way up Lotbiniere, before making a beeline for Mount Tolmie and finally a saunter down the Blenkinsop Valley.

[the photo is from the XC race and despite how I felt, I apparently did have enough energy to get both feet of the ground at once]

Training:
Monday: day off (scheduled and much needed)
Tuesday: easy undulating 1:10:09

Sunday, October 26

BC Cross-Country Championships (2008)

As Thomas not only ran a marathon today (congratulations mate) but also posted a race report, I can’t help but feel a tad remiss as my event was three days ago.

Saturday morning I was up early and after some obligatory coffee, Ally dropped me off at local legend Bob Reid’s house where the rest of the Prairie Inn Harrier Team had arranged to meet. From there, the twelve of us squeezed into a rented van and like a tin of briny sardines made our way down to the ferry terminal and later Vancouver. The morning was everything I dreamed it might be, sunny, cool and reminiscent of a school day-trip with friends. Having never run a XC race before, let alone on a team, I felt I was being treated a special occasion.

Not seconds after arriving at the venue, we were treated to one of the school events and I had goosebumps watching 200+ juniors dash along the opening stretch, everyone vying for pole position leading into the first corner. After grabbing our race numbers at the rugby club, Hicham and I jogged the course. It, the route, was ambitious and larger-than-life.

Having not run a XC race before I’m very bias, but the course reminded me of the attached picture. After a short flat section along the grass, the path constantly climbed looping through the edge of Stanley Park before ascending still as it made its way around the rugby pitch and track oval. It was like walking to and from school in the snow, uphill, both ways.

While stretching on the grass, we watched a few of the races the most pleasing seeing Marilyn win the Senior Women’s title (well done). Before I knew it though, I was toeing the line with 100+ athletes and… bang, we were off.

It felt like mayhem as everyone surged away from the start, before converging on the first corner and fighting for the coveted inside track. Mud flew, elbows raised, feet slipped, and I loved every minute of it. I repeatedly reminded myself to relax on the first lap and despite trying to get my gasping under control, I don’t recall breathing comfortably until after the race was finished.

With the Senior Men and Masters being run at the same time, it was difficult to tell who I was racing against but as three men passed me at the beginning of the next lap I knew it was now or never. Sadly, after dropping almost 20” between the first and second loop I knew it was going to be one of “those” days. Despite leaving everything on the course and clawing one of the men back on the third lap, I never managed to run the other two down but if nothing else they kept me honest. My splits were as follows: 7:11, 7:29, 7:41 & 8:08.

Congratulations goes out to Hicham as came third in the race! Oh, and as for my key goal, lady luck was on my side as I had time to spare crossing the line 33” before the Senior Men’s Champion Jon Brown, who ran 10-k in 31:06 (he was a bloody machine, but after going to the Olympics twice I suppose it’s par for the course).

Training:
Saturday: 1:10:17 with BC XC 8-k 30:33, 10th OA (Master)
Sunday: undulating 1:28:45

Weekly mileage: 6h49’21”, 95-k or 60 miles (I need to run more)

Friday, October 24

The Storm before the Calm

Coasting home this evening the world was quiet and undisturbed. I don’t recall seeing another soul on the trail but I do remember it being awash with golden leaves under and patchwork achromatic sky. IT would have been a perfect day to race, it was also a perfect Friday.

My run to work this morning felt fantastic, not that I my stride was light, but due in part to a late night with Isla and my desire to not over extend myself, my run was a much welcomed relief. It was almost on par with yesterday’s first sip of coffee while sitting outside Habit and watching the early morning traffic stumble by. Almost, but not quite.

I don’t remember feeling a) this excited while b) incredibly under prepared for a race in quite some time, perhaps ever. My running gear is out and nicely folded on the dresser and my new shoes are nestled inside my kit bag. Here’s to option #6 and whatever it requires.

[due to Isla’s new found love of watches I’m exactly sure of the duration of today’s jaunt, oh and we now have two teeth]

Training: easy 37:XX

Thursday, October 23

BC Cross Country - the plan

My last few days of running has been good and quite enjoyable, not great mind you, but at the very least consistent enough to move me in a familiar direction. Tuesday evening saw me returning to CHGC where I ran a series of short(er) intervals. During each segment I gave myself something specific to focus on, e.g., a quick turnover, running strong out of the corners... breathing. The session went by without any hiccoughs although I couldn’t help but notice that my lungs were a limiting factor. Oh to be fit again.

Running home from work today, I detoured once again over to CHGC and ran a 2-k race pace time trial. More fun and games.

With the race only two days away I’ve been giving some thought to strategy and have come up with a few options:

1. Run as hard as I can for as long as I can – unfortunately I only see this tactic working for the elites and those insufficiently fit where the race becomes pure survival... a distinct possibility.

2. Start in the middle of the pack and move up - my thinking is that mentally it’s better to gradually move up during a race then to repeatedly be passed (as happened two weeks ago).

3. Surge on the down hills – I’d like to think this option favours me but I’d be kidding myself, that and without seeing the course the hills may not be significant enough.

4. Surge on the up hills - I think this requires more guts and fitness than technique and as I lack the latter (fitness) I would probably end up digging myself an early grave.

5. The final sprint – now we’re talking... sandbag most of the race and then surge 500 meters from the finish, still accelerating over the line.

Although the jury is still out, I’m leaning toward a combination of options #1 and #2… aim to build throughout the race, but I can guarantee I’ll feel like hell the way. Isn’t that what XC is all about? My real objective though, and I recognize it’s slightly out of my hands, it to finish before the first competitor in the Senior Men’s race (they run the Masters at the same time, we do four laps, 8-k, and the Senior Men do five, 10-k). This may not sound all that ambitious, but with the likes of Jon Brown competing with his 27:18 10-k PB, and my 8-k PB of 27:28 I could be thoroughly humiliated. Still, it’s bound to be fun.

Training:
Tuesday: 1:06:57 with 4x [2’ (1’) + 1’ (30”) + 30” (30”)]
Wednesday: easy 53:00
Thursday: 58:24 with 2-k TT

Monday, October 20

Cruel and Unusual

Random thoughts…

While sipping a cup of day-old coffee, I checked the weather forecast, “a chance of rain”. Bugger. I then proceeded to get ready for my jog into work in between spending a few precious moments with the baby, and letting the cat out... wasn’t raining yet. Ten minutes later I was out the door and cursing under my breath as a light rain had started to fall. Damn it. To make matters worse, once reaching work and making my way over to the gym where I shower, I noticed a piece of paper tacked to the change room door, “no hot water”. Feck. Though I suppose the real kicker was hearing from a colleague that water issue was fixed not 30’ after I left. Still, my legs felt good and I can guarantee being the most alert individual in the office this morning.

I signed up for the Provincial Cross Country Championships this weekend in Vancouver. This will be my first sanctioned XC event and although my fitness isn’t there, I’m really looking forward to the experience. I was so excited on the way home that I swung by the running shop and picked up my first pair of XC flats… the Saucony Kilkenny (spikes and all).

Fun and games.

Oh yeah, if you have either:

a) run the Ottawa Marathon;
b) run the Dublin Marathon;
c) are about to run a marathon;
d) own a pair of running shoes; or
simply need a good laugh, check out the following link as columnist Andrew Braithwaite prepares for Dublin.

Lastly, I’d be remiss if I didn’t also congratulate Cliff who ran a Marathon in Toronto last weekend and in so doing smashed his PB and a few mental barriers along the way.

Training: easy 34:28 2xstrides

Sunday, October 19

Good to be Back

Congratulations go out to Mike for his solid performance at the PEI Marathon where he finished with a stellar time of 3:21:06 and to Grellan who despite having difficulties with his calf persevered for a 3:45:07 in Amsterdam. I want stories.

After forcing myself to endure an easy week in an attempt to kick this dastardly cold, I decided to wind things back up this weekend. With Carter lacing his shoes with far more frequency, it wasn’t too difficult to convince him to join me for a workout. We jogged our way over to CHGC and after warming up under a hot autumn sun began what unfolded into an enjoyable session: 4x2’ (1’) + 6x1’ (30”) + 10x30” (30”). It was great having someone to keep me honest whether in my attempt to chase him down or having him shouting encouragement. Notwithstanding my laboured breathing, my legs felt smooth and I started to feel like my old self again.

Fast forward a few hours, and I woke up Sunday morning with a stiff back and an equilibrium that was cockeyed. Like the Irish Rovers say, “it might have been the whiskey”, but this time I assure you it wasn’t. I walked around the house for a good hour feeling remarkably like you would after a beer mile. Easing into the morning with some Neocitran and coffee, I later decided to give my long run a go, picked up Sam, and made our way over to Beaver Lake. From there we looped around what has now become old faithful, but not before me breaking out into an unnatural sweat after running for only a few minutes. I know I’m not in top shape but it was ridiculous. The run was good but Sam unfortunately rolled his ankle half way through and had to make his own way home, flagging down a good samaritan on the back roads of Thetis. I continued (he told me to, honest) and felt surprisingly strong if it wasn’t for the last hill on our route… it’s a bastard.

Training:
Thursday: easy 41:18 with 4xstrides
Friday: easy 36:34
Saturday: 1:09:33 with 4x2’ (1’) + 6x1’ (30”) + 10x30” (30”)
Sunday: easy 1:39:05

Wednesday, October 15

Brass Monkey

… okay it wasn’t that cold, but riding into work this morning I lost most of the feel in my fingers. I checked the temperature once I’d arrived, 2C. It must’ve been colder than that.

Given I’m still recovering from a cold I opted for a light run home rather than repeat the past and say, run a bunch of intervals burying myself into the ground in the process. Surprisingly, my legs felt light and my stride was comfortable. The only drawback was the bucketing icy rain during the last five minutes that once again left me chilled.

Oh yeah, I received my official acceptance from Boston today. What I’m looking forward to now is finding out whether I’ll be in the first or second corral. For those who have done it before, where would a 2h53 qualifying time land me?

Training: easy 35:44 with 4xstrides

Tuesday, October 14

Like a Creature of Habit

"I can’t believe the country elected another Conservative government… ‘nough said."

Although I no longer have a sore throat, the cold has moved up and entrenched itself in my head resulting in plugged sinuses and tired eyes. I can’t begin to tell you how much I enjoyed being in an all-day council meeting with no room to escape. To make matters worse, it was my first time attending in my new role… and there was absolutely nowhere to hide.

Returning home this evening I walked in the door with my head pounding and wanting nothing more than to fall asleep. Unfortunately, the girls were snoozing on the bed and being a creature of habit I laced up my shoes and was out the door before I knew what happened. In the end, it all turned out for the best as I was treated to a gorgeous sunset and returned home with a clear head.

I had originally planned to do a double workout (today and tomorrow), but I think I’ll keep things light for at least another day. I’ll see how I feel on Thursday.

Training:
Monday: day off (unscheduled… sick)
Tuesday: easy 29:42

Sunday, October 12

Royal Victoria 8-k

Perhaps I should’ve done what Thomas suggested, “It's probably too late now, but only run the race if you're feeling ok”, if nothing else I would’ve saved my ego a beating. I crossed the finish line nearly two full minutes slower than I did in the spring, and had I run an equivalent 10-k, 37:17, it would’ve been my slowest in nearly twelve years.

Ouch.

The race started okay, running only a few steps off Brad’s shoulder for the first kilometer and splitting in 3:23. From that point onward, my pace started to go askew and unlike most races where I find the positioning settles during the first third, Sunday was nothing but a slow bleed.

I tried a few times to hook onto the heels of passing runners but found I lacked strength. I’m willing to attribute some of my sub-par performance to my cold, maybe 20%, but most is due to a lack of conditioning. Truth be told, I only finished 22” off what I feared might happen.

All is not bad though. The race was an honest assessment of where I’m at and although a rude awakening will only help keep the fire stoked as the winter rains settle in.

Race results here.

I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving.

Training: 1:02:08 with Royal Victoria 8-k in 29:22, 3:41 km/pace, 4th AG

Saturday, October 11

Unwanted Guests

Busy. The last few days of work have seen me hanging about later than planned, and that’s after an early morning start. I don’t expect this to continue much into next week. Here’s hoping.

My running since Tuesday has improved, but that’s all relative. Wednesday morning was cold and crisp and having left my only gloves at work, I was able to experience more of the frigid air than intended. The plan was for 2x10’ tempo and although more fluid than the previous day, there is still much room for improvement. I think I’m trying too hard and my focus over the next few weeks is to run fast but with greater emphasis on control.

With the 8-k race on Sunday, the last couple of days have been easy (and learning from Tuesday, I ran to work yesterday with socks on my hands). That said, my throat started getting sore yesterday afternoon and despite pounding vitamin-c I think I’m going to be carrying an unwanted guest along for the ride during the run tomorrow.

The big news on the home front has been Isla’s crawling (and a bottom tooth). What began as sheer excitement on our part has faded as our world has suddenly crashed down around us as Isla’s continues to grow exponentially.

Training:
Wednesday: 49:14 with 2x10’ tempo (2’)
Thursday: easy 34:49
Friday: easy 37:18 with 4xstrides
Saturday: out the door after I post this…

Tuesday, October 7

Malay Style Fried Rice

I was supposed to take yesterday off, but after leaving my bike at work last Friday (and not wanting to take the bus), I laced up my shoes and enjoyed a relaxing jog into work it what was my fastest time yet.

Today couldn’t have been more different. At best, it was fecking tragic. Worst, I needn’t go there.

I believe it started with the Malay Style Fried Rice I had for lunch. Jasmine rice, wok fried prawns, chicken and egg with (not so) mild curry spices, Asian greens, sprouts and herbs; you might think it to be a perfect combination? I certainly did.

I wasn’t out the door more than 30” and my stomach was already grumbling, it hasn’t stopped.

Unlike last week where I mentioned, “turning a figurative page in my training”, today the wind blew, my placing was lost and after bumbling the book in my hands I found myself back at the beginning of chapter one.

The hard pieces today felt more like marathon pace, and I felt like a chump. With the wind gusting and me underdressed, I struggled to find form, each minute passing excruciatingly slow. Still, one fortunate thing about running is tomorrow will bring another day and hopefully and much improved experience.

Training:
Monday: easy 34:40
Tuesday: 1:18:29 with 6x3’ hard (3’)

Sunday, October 5

Boston 2009

“This is to notify you that your entry into the 113th Boston Marathon on Monday, April 20, 2009 has been accepted, provided that the information you submitted is accurate.”

I’m in!

I enjoyed a solid weekend of running, nothing groundbreaking but consistent enough to build a foundation. Saturday saw Rumon, Hicham and I retrace the route that Ian showed me last Sunday. This course still stands as my local favourite. I was surprised at my pathfinding ability as we only strayed off course twice and given the perverse nature of the route, I consider it quite remarkable.

I’m contemplating running the BC Cross Country Championships in a few weeks (as a Master). My fitness level isn’t even close to what I had hoped it might be (I always seem to run faster when I’m alone) but it would be a good experience and provide some entertainment (for others). With this in mind, I’ve signed up for an 8-k road race this weekend which is going to be a very rude awakening.

Onward and upward, right?

Training:
Saturday: undulating 1:41:31
Sunday: easy 1:01:44 with 4x gentle strides

Friday, October 3

Cross Country Preparation

It always amazes me the tricks my body can play. Typically, but not always, prior to a workout I feel like crap.

This morning was no different.

Once awake, the upcoming session was playing in the background of my mind like a frighteningly sinister orchestral tune. The jog over to CHGC was no different what with my legs feeling heavy and once again unresponsive. Still, with the literal line in the dirt drawn and my watch started, my legs kicked into drive and I was away under truly West Coast fall conditions. Running around the upper loop, I could hear a foghorn in the distance as a steady drizzle poured down. I felt strong, rabid and wet.

I hope everyone has a great weekend. For those racing, Mike and Thomas, all the best. As for me, it’ll be back out onto the trails to try and retrace last weeks epic route.

Training:

Thursday: easy 51:10
Friday: 1:10:32 with 2x4’ hard (4’) + 8’ tempo + 2x4’ hard (4’)

Wednesday, October 1

Turning the Page

My jaunt on Monday was relaxed, at best. After raising the bar during my long-run on Sunday, my legs were heavy and unresponsive as I meandered down the Lochside Trail. There is a fork that I usually reach after running between 9’ to 10’; I set a new benchmark crossing a good minute behind.

Pure bliss.

As I described to a friend this morning, during yesterday’s run I turned a figurative page in my training and started a new chapter. Nothing profound, but I felt better than I had during the previous few months. It could have been the weather, my new shoes or even the route but regardless, I felt good about my stride and my minute repeats might well have been kilometers.

This morning I didn’t expect much from my legs, and during the first few minutes they lived down to my expectation. But after a few unavoidable hills, the pins loosened up and I surprised even myself.

Still, I decided to forego the strides this time around.

Training:

Monday: EZ 28:33 with 6x gentle strides
Tuesday: 1:08:22 with 12x1’ (1’)
Wednesday: easy 36:47

Sunday, September 28

It Feels Like the First Time

Do you remember your first long-run? Not one of those lengthy slogs (accidental or otherwise) that returned you back to the house questioning why you went out in the first place. But your first planned proper long-run, once you knew what a long-run was. I don’t remember mine but I do recall the feeling in my legs afterwards; my jaunt this weekend brought that memory screaming back.

After a week of light drizzle and dull skies, we met Sunday morning under cloudless conditions and a beaming (20C) sun. With Ian returning from injury and Hicham enduring the tail end of Ramadan, I assumed the company was akin to my fitness level. I was mistaken.

Regardless, Ian played tour guide on what is officially my new favourite run in the Victoria area. The hills were relentless as the route was beautiful and there wasn’t a level meter (3 ft.) out there. We traversed trails that only deer might use, jogged along roads that reminded me of England and hills, hills that would make Boston seem flat. And the best/unfortunate piece, depending on your condition… everything was runable. My legs ache.

Training:

Saturday: 55:25 with 4x5’ tempo (2’)
Sunday: undulating 1:39:23

Saturday, September 27

And yet a few more

Learning from Tuesday’s mistake, i.e., not being prepared for a longer warm-up, I left work on Thursday and proceeded to take a much more direct route to Cedar Hill than I had a couple days prior.

I decided to change the workout slightly, opting for more variety than what was scheduled. The plan was 3x 60”, 45” 30” and 15” with the walk/jog back down as recovery and an additional 1’ between sets. Working these shorter hill sessions is such a stark contrast to previous marathon preparation and although lung searingly painful, surprisingly enjoyable. With no varsity teams out that day, it was just the hill and me and unlike last week, I was able to jog home on legs that didn’t feel completely wrecked.

Yesterday, I was up early and after a glass of water and a couple pieces of toast I was out the door and jogging to work, and following the previous days lead, opting for a more direct route.

I hope everyone has a great weekend and all the best to those racing in Toronto.

Training:
Thursday: 1:14:25 with 3x(60”, 45”, 30”, 15”) hills (1’)
Friday: easy 35:04

Wednesday, September 24

More Hills

Had you asked me on Monday how my weekend runs had gone I would have replied fine, the company was enjoyable and the pace comfortable. Easy. I believe the problem rests though in my thinking of the runs in isolation. Alas, as I was out for my easy jaunt on Monday afternoon it felt like the second game of a double-header, one where I went hard early on and was now paying the price.

Yesterday was better.

Slipping into my new job was been relatively easy thus far, so much so I decided to run home from work yesterday. Not thinking, I opted to run through the old neighborhood, randomly making my way through Beacon Hill Park and then tracing my way down the streets of Fairfield before taking a more direct line for Cedar Hill Golf Course. My prolonged 40’ warm-up left me good and limber (and slightly fatigued) before I even started the workout. I ran a series of 1’ repeats on a long gradual hill on the east side of the course before switching over to a brutally sharp beast on the west side for my 30” kickers. The session was made all the more challenging as both the men’s and women’s Varsity Cross Country teams were there running their own workouts which unfortunately assisted in keeping me honest. The buggers.

This morning then, on the heels of yesterday workout/long run (the furthest in probably two months), I limped my way to work all the time asking myself what I was doing. I think I like early morning runs when it’s dark out, somehow the miles seem to pass more easily. Perhaps the darkness lulls the brain into thinking it’s all still a dream.

Enjoy the roads.

Training:
Monday: easy 31:34
Tuesday: 1:23:45 with 5x1’ hills + 8x30” hills
Wednesday: was 38:57 with 6xstrides

Sunday, September 21

Coffee, Peat and Running

After returning from three weeks in the UK, it has taken almost an entire week for me to adjust to what was once my regular routine. This was of course complicated with me started a new job on Monday.

This weekend helped rest the clock.

Friday I stayed out good and late which put the end to me waking at 5:00 a.m. feeling alert and rested (mind you I’m in desperate need of some sleep now).

On Saturday, we met up with some good friends at what might be my new favourite coffee house. Jim was distracted and unsettled which was probably a result of his ridiculous idea to abstain from mochas prior to his race in Toronto next weekend. The self-denial ended the moment the cup touched his bottom lip. A few hours later Carter and I were out tracing the local trails in what established itself as my long run for the week. A frequent training partner and good friend, it was great to be able to set the tone for the season ahead. With the arrival of fall and the X-C season, I’m looking forward to rebuilding my fitness in preparation for my marathon build later this winter.

And today, Sunday, it was out onto my favourite trails around Thetis Lake unfortunately feeling not nearly as comfortable as I’d like. And so the weekend all too quickly wraps up with me sitting here nursing a wee dram of scotch and dreaming of the days and weeks to follow.

I hope you all had a good one.

Training:
Thursday: easy 31:23 with 7xstrides
Friday: day off (unscheduled)
Saturday: easy 1:18:16
Sunday: hilly 1:07:47

Wednesday, September 17

Home

I could blame it on a multitude of things, two of which would include recovering from jetlag and too much of a good thing in the UK. Regardless, getting out of the house today required the energy of Hercules and the concentration of a gymnast while performing on the beam. I managed, barely. I struggled through the first ten minutes but slowly came around, felling almost normal on the home stretch. That was prior to the strides (still shaking out the fish & chips).

Yesterday was much better mind you. I should backtrack though (and Seamus, you’ll get a laugh out of this). On the heels of some reduced training, I decided to alter my fall training schedule and reintroduce some hills to the program (hills that I missed while in England). As such, yesterday I jogged into Mt. Doug, ran a series of long and short hills, and felt better than expected. Brilliant.

Still waiting to hear on Boston. Speaking of which, anyone else out there thinking of racing this year?

[the photo was taken while on holiday; it’s of a small fishing village in Cornwall called Mevagissey… I lived there over twenty years ago, ouch]

Training:
Monday: easy 34:13
Tuesday: 1:04:12 with 4x1’ hills (3’) + 6x30” hills (90”)
Wednesday: 44:15 with 8xstrides

Sunday, September 14

Our Last Week in England

We returned home late Saturday afternoon after what was almost three weeks of an extremely enjoyable vacation. Upon reflecting not only am I markedly more relaxed but I’ve also gained two overstuffed Cornish Pasties where my pectorals were once housed and my torso more closely resembles an inverted pint glass than ever before. I have my work cut out before me.

The last few mornings I’ve been trying to educate a five month old infant on the effects of jetlag and not necessarily having to rouse at 3:00 a.m. just because your internal clock suggests it’s morning. This is a losing battle. Still, coupled with me starting a new job, the week ahead looks like a perfect opportunity to ease back into running without too much structure.

I’ll leave you with some photos from my last run in England along one of my favourite routes.

Training:
Monday: day off (scheduled)
Tuesday: day off (unscheduled)
Wednesday: day off (unscheduled)
Thursday: 41:08 with 10x30” hills (2’)
Friday: easy 1:07:35
Saturday: day off (unscheduled)
Sunday: sluggish 1:08:54

Saturday, September 13

England in Macro






Sunday, September 7

Ickenham

Ally was looking through some emails this morning as I was sitting quietly in the kitchen enjoying a nice cup of coffee. It was drizzling lightly outside and Isla was still asleep; the day was peaceful.

The silence was broken though as Ally ran into the room yelling at me that I'd missed my opportunity to register for Boston. Admittedly I had forgotten that registration had opened but I wasn't that worried about getting in. It wasn't as if I was registering months later. Regardless, after 5' of forms and web searches I was registered and apparently all they have to do is confirm my qualifying time and the rest is history. As for now, I wait. Now all I have to do is convince Carter to join Hicham and I.

After taking it easy for the last few days I managed to get in a few good runs. Yesterday I headed out through the farmlands towards Denham and feeling good on the way home I decided to run an impromptu workout. I should've stopped while I was ahead.

As for today, I relaxed in the house this morning until the rain eased up and then managed to squeeze in a long(er) run without getting that wet. The fact that I didn't get was a small miracle as England has been inundated with rain all summer and apparently it isn't letting up.

Training:
Saturday: 54:34 with 4x3' (1')
Sunday: leisurely 1:23:22

Friday, September 5

Cornwall

I haven't got near as much running in as I would've liked but then I didn't come here to run. That said, the times I have got out have been absolutely spectacular (photos when I get home, sorry).

Monday was my first test here as we borrowed a friends car and proceeded to drive to Cornwall. You might think that the fact that the car was overheating would be the tale of the day but it wasn't. Rather it was me driving from Wales over the new Severn (sp) Bridge, this this is massive and very high up. I was frightened shitless and I'm not even scared of heights. Imagine, driving a standard, on the left, hundreds of feet above the sea on a six lane bridge with a blond women talking on her mobile only feet behind you in her little sports car... I was white knuckled the entire way! Feck me!

After finally reaching Cornwall it wasn't long that Ally and I agreed that the roads there were worse than Ireland. Thomas consider yourself lucky, really. Hedges hundreds of years old made of rock and vegetation, 12 ft. tall, and only wide enough for one small car let alone two vehicles screaming along at 60 miles/hours! Crikey.

Still, we met up with an old mate of mine that I went to school with here and followed him down to Gorran Haven where he owns some gorgeous cottages. It was from there that I was lucky enough to enjoy two runs along the famous Cornish Coastal Path (again, photos later). For those back home, imagine Mt. Tolmie, Doug and Finlayson one after another in quick secession for hundreds of miles. Now remove all the trees and imagine a sharp sea cliff to your left. Lastly, place a twisting runnable path that traces the coastline. Breathtaking. Thanks for everything Chris!

On Thursday, after enjoying far too many pasties and clotted cream (not together) it was time to attempt the drive to London. The car had another episode in Dartmoor but after allowing it to cool down and using some Bar Seal (sp) we were on our way. It was from there onto the M5, to the M4 and finally the dreaded M25. Again, feck me! We were only on it for two exits but it was then, after being an angel the entire trip, that Isla decided she'd had enough and wanted out. All Ally and I could do was laugh as 1,000's of HGVs zoomed passed us as we desperately searched out the M40 and finally Ickenham. I should get an award for that drive.

Yesterday was into London and showing the girls around. Carter, we retraced our footsteps... the Coal Hole and the Lamb & Flag. Jim, we passed Campers and thought of you. And from there it was off to see the Rosetta (sp) Stone.

Training:
Monday: day off (scheduled, driving)
Tuesday: hilly 1:02:27
Wednesday: 1:10:55
Thursday: day off (driving to London)
Friday: day off (London, I love this place)

Sunday, August 31

Herefordshire

Our vacation in Great Britain continues to be enjoyable, sadly, and should I look at the big picture perhaps for the best, my running has taken a back seat. Still, I've managed to sneak out for a couple more runs.

Yesterday I went for what has been my most enjoyable run yet in the UK. I started in Shobdon and headed north through field after field of wheat or black currants (Ribena) before passing an ancient curch known as the Court and north still up through a set of arches built in 1158 +/- a year or two. From there it was along a short roadway to Easthampton after which it was back onto the fields before turning up a redicoulously steep trail that peaked in Shobdon Hill Wood and finally conecting with the Mortimer Trail. From here it was valley after valley of what looked liked the Shire which left me breathless. Only two things would've made this run better, good company (Rumon) or a pint at the finish.

As enjoyable as yesterday was, today was desperate and almost dreadful. After a large Ploughman's lunch that included a block of Stilton that would've cost > $10 back home, I decided to go out for a jaunt. Stupid. Needless to say my stomach was far from settled. My workout degraded into a long run which quickly tuned into survival and lastly just fresh air. The highlight though was catching sight of two gorgeous foxes playing in the corner of a field.

Tomorrow, Cornwall, as long as the car holds together... and I figure out the driving.

Training:
Saturday: hilly 58:45
Sunday: easy 29:26

Friday, August 29

Running in the UK

We arrived safe and sound after an uneventful flight where Isla was a star. After taking the red-eye and arriving bleary eyed and bushed, our friend met us at the airport and drove us to their place only four miles from the Welsh boarder. The last time I drove on the left was in rural Ireland two years ago and I think driving over here is going to take a bit of adjustment. Everyone seems to be in a rush and the number of lorries on the road is ridiculous, I've never seen anything like it.

I've managed to squeeze in a few runs which has been great fun! Yesterday I discovered some ancient arches at the top of an epic climb. Today I'm going to see if i can find the Mortimer Trail, a 30-mile regional trail that takes in all ridges and forests in the area. It's not that I haven't been able to find any trails, the nearest only 5 ft from the house, but making sense of them while avoiding fields of bullocks has been difficult. Our time here has been very enjoyable and the scenery absolutely breathtaking. We're here for a few more days and then we're off down to the Cornish coastal.

Yesterday we managed to enjoy a few sneaky pints and discovered a great local brew called Butty (?); Carter, Seamus, I was thinking of you two. More later, typing on this laptop is killing me.

Training:
Wednesday: day off (unscheduled)
Thursday: easy 45:11
Friday: 39:34 with 10' tempo

Tuesday, August 26

Mount Doug (hills)

Please excuse the brevity but the taxi is coming in less than 40’ and I still have to hop in the shower having just returned from a pre-plane run. Oh, and I hear the baby.

Yesterday I had what was probably one of my best workouts in months, perhaps even a year or more. I felt as if I broke free from a restrictive cocoon and now have only possibility in front of me. Granted I was nervous at the start of the session given last week’s slugfest, but the Gods were on my side, eith er that or it was the homemade sausages from Rumon.

For those of you who know Mount Doug, I made my way over to Whitaker and ran the dastardly steep sand hill for my 30” intervals. The forth one left me with my balls in my mouth while gasping for much needed air. And then the lactic acid. Feck!

I then jogged down toward the bottom of Whitaker and started the 1’ pieces. I timed, and then marked the first three after which I aimed for the literal line in the dirt. I almost stopped at six, and perhaps I should have. Nevertheless, after allowing an additional 10” recovery I launched into a seventh repeat, knees rising and arms pumping amazed to hit the top marker with 5” to spare. Epic.

After such a great w/o yesterday, I fully expected the pins to be throbbing today but it was not to be. The sun was shining, the birds busily preparing for fall and every step better than the last. I’ll try posting a bit from the UK, got to run, ciao!

Training:
Monday: 1:07:42 with 4x30” (2’) hills + 7x1’ (2’) hills
Tuesday: undulating 32:24

Sunday, August 24

London Calling (again)

No. I’m not doing the London Marathon again. What was it that Frank Shorter said, “You have to forget your last marathon before you try another. Your mind can't know what's coming.” Forgetting my 2007 London experience, will take longer than a year.

No. Ally, Isla and I are travelling to the UK for a family vacation. We’ve both been eagerly anticipating the trip for a variety of reasons. The missus wants to visit the Tower of London after reading every book possible on the Boleyn sisters. Me, I’m looking forward to running in the Brecon Beacons, along Cornwall’s coastal pathway and perhaps the odd trail on the outskirts on London (this time sans Rumon and hopefully bulls). And, perhaps I’ll have to see if I can’t find myself a quiet pub where I can enjoy a pint or two. Unfortunately, any structured training will be taking a back seat, just as it was getting started, but with some luck I hope to squeeze in a few jaunts.

For the adventurous out there, or anyone who wants to live vicariously through some crazed individuals, check out the husband and wife team of Rumon & Aviva Carter, competing in the upcoming TransRockies Run (TRR), a 6-day, 112-mile trail running stage race through the Colorado Rockies.

And Brad, yes, I, we, hope to come over for the BC Championships although I aim to run as a Master… you young ones are too quick.

Training:
Saturday: rolling 42:54 progression run
Sunday: day off (unscheduled)

Friday, August 22

Cedar Hill Golf Course

Although the pain wasn’t instantaneous, thank God for small miracles, the indifference and unresponsiveness in my legs was immediate.

I haven’t run any workouts at Cedar Hill Golf Course (CHGC) in years, and reacquainting myself with a session of tempo miles might not have been the best of ideas. The plan was simple, 4x mile with 1’ recovery. Having not raced in months I’m unsure of my current fitness but aimed (perhaps ambitiously) to hit somewhere between 6:00 – 6:05 mile/pace. Even if you take into account the rolling terrain and the bark mulch footing, I was hopelessly disappointed.

I met Hicham at the start of the upper loop and after a light warm-up we “eased” into the first mile. It was about the 1200m mark that I started to second-guess myself on competing in my first cross country season later this fall. What have I gotten myself into?

6:27, 6:16, 6:29 & 6:23

Hicham was a trooper and completed a fifth mile whereas I, after licking my wounds, decided to limp back home in anticipation of a cold beer.

Training:
Wednesday: easy 38:15
Thursday: 1:19:35 w/ 4x mile tempo (1’)
Friday: day off (unscheduled)

Tuesday, August 19

Managerial Experience

The large picture window to my left is open allowing a damp breeze to enter. I sit at the keyboard, write, and hear nothing but the incessant beating of the rain outside. It’s strangely comforting.

Getting out the door this evening required a disproportionate amount of energy that left me questioning my decision to head out. Whether the summer doldrums or otherwise, I turned down the street with the same determination I had when heading for detention. To make matters worse, rather than rolling through an easy jaunt I’d scheduled hills for this evening (my first session in months).

Oh joy.

I trudged along toward my spring stomping grounds, reacquainted myself with Maltwood and eased into the first interval. I was surprised at how long and painful an uphill minute can be on a concave hill.

Run. Gasp. Recover. Repeat.

After number six, I used the recovery to jog over to a terrific little hill circuit that I’d scoped out earlier. The shorter intervals took me almost to the peak of a very steep convex hill, after which a long curved gentle descent brought me back to the beginning. My fitness and or natural talent much more suited to the shorter repeats. Still, I ended the session earlier than planned, stopping while ahead and leaving the remaining two intervals for another day.

My current supervisor recently returned from Harvard where he was taking a course on governance, problem solving and negotiations. With me beginning a new job at the end of the month, he came into my office today and mumbled something about him passing on knowledge and books on managerial experience. Given his recent studies, his comment piqued my interest. I shook my head and laughed as he handed me two soft cover books and wished me well… 26 Miles to Boston and The Perfect Mile.

Training:
Monday: day off (scheduled)
Tuesday: 57:41 with 6x1’ (3’) + 6x30” (2’)

Sunday, August 17

Beginnings

He paced slowly. His hands already perched on his hips as he tried to bring his laboured breathing under control. Sweat poured down his face, tracing toward this chin before falling away into an abyss. In a city where winters are damp but mild, and summers are pleasantly warm at best, today brought the arrival weatherman trying to fry an egg on the pavement.

After a short reprieve he cautiously approached the kilometer marker prepared to tackle his final interval. He stood motionless, and then gradually, unapparent at first, he leaned forward, his legs compressing before driving ahead.


Although his turnover was quick, his gait looked uneven, rough, like a child hopping on a bike for the first ride of summer. He powered down the tree lined trail, branches from opposite sides joining overhead, his private passageway of pain. The next marker passes and then he slows, before circling back and coming to rest. He is bent over, his chest heaving as sweat continues to pour down as a smile, barely visible between gasps, begins to creep over his face.


[Without having performed a recent time trial or race I had little idea of my fitness. I hoped, perhaps unrealistically, that I could knock off a 36’ 10k and therefore aimed to split my repeats in 3:40-3:43.]


My times were as follows: 3:37, 3:40, 3:37, 3:40, 3:39, 3:41, 3:44 & 3:39


Training:

Thursday: 1:04:29 with 8x1k tempo (1’)
Friday: day off (unscheduled, took the long way home on the bike; Marc would be proud knowing I didn't wear red shorts)
Saturday: easy 2:46:27 with the clinic
Sunday: 1:01:08 with 8x(2' (1'), 1' (30"), 30") (30")