Thursday, January 31


Yesterday, on the heels of a busy morning meeting, I returned home later than usual missing my opportunity to run with the clinic. Rather, I left the house and jogged down a diminutive neighborhood path and onto the Lochside Trail. After completing three 95-mile weeks prior to Christmas, I’ve definitely become aware of my change in conditioning since the drastic cut in mileage. At first, I felt fresh and buoyant but lately I feel like a fraud. I’m afraid that I’m at risk of foregoing an all-important base and with the added intensity could be in danger of unwanted consequences. And so it was, that I decided to make a change and in the immortal words of MARRS “Pump Up the Volume”… slowly.

Training: easy 1:22:16

Tuesday, January 29

Blowing goats

Before I even began running, I knew it was going to be one of those nights. Those nights I imagine my grandfather would tell me about, where the wind howled and the rain spat in your face. He would tell me that back in his day they made the track an extra 10 meters longer to keep you honest and that there were slight hills on both straights to, well keep you honest.

And so it was tonight, after stepping out of the car and locking the door, that before I even took my first step I knew I was in for a character building session. The workout called for 3xmile at 5k pace; with my recent 8k race as a guide, predicting a 5k equivalent of 16:37, I decided to run 5:21/miles.

So after a few last minute heel kicks, some high knees and a half-hearted stride or two, I eased into the first interval with the controlled enthusiasm. The first 200 was fine, the wind at my back, but as I came around the last corner I collided with a bitter and unrelenting southwest wind that stood me up like schoolboy caught with his hand in the teachers desk drawer. There was no light at the start/finish and so I continued to run be feel, keeping relaxed and feeling light and was pleasantly surprised to finish stop the clock at 5:18.

I’m not really sure what happened next.

I decided to start at the opposite corner (it’s lit) and perhaps because I could see my splits, focusing too much on time rather than remaining relaxed, I could hardly believe it when I finished with a whooping 5:27. I’m not sure if my focus had completely disengaged but I considered throwing in the towel right there and calling it a night.

I’m uncertain what made me continue, I think I wanted to prove to myself that I hadn’t blown and my previous interval was due to even more intense winds, regardless I split the 1200 of my last mile at 4:00 but struggled during the remaining 400 finishing in 5:24.

Lessons learned then from tonights w/o: 1) focus, in a 5k race a mental lapse can cost you the everything, 2) forget the time and concentrate on running relaxed, controlled and with a light step and lastly 3) I need to work on my strength, dropping 4” on the last lap was despicable.

Training: 1:10:32 with 3xmile at 5k pace (2’) [5:18, 5:27, 5:24]

Monday, January 28

An all-expenses-paid vacation

Late yesterday afternoon I found myself transfixed, staring out a third floor hospital window watching the world as it was slowly covered in a frozen blanket of hail and snow. Ally and babe are currently safe at home but both were treated to an all expenses paid weekend at the accommodating Victoria General Hospital.

Saturday’s run was good; I’d met the clinic early that morning and after listening to an thoroughly engaging talk on layering we left the store and proceeded to wind our way through Fairfield, visiting Beacon Hill, Moss Rock and the Governor General’s house. I went out of my way to make the run as interesting as possible given the surrounding terrain but after overhearing mumbling about joining “Club Mud”, I’m uncertain whether everyone shares my enjoyment for the road less traveled.

After a trip to the barber, I returned home looking smart and feeling fit and rested, anticipation growing for Sunday’s Cobble Hill 10k but even the best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men often go awry (Brad, that was for you). Late that afternoon, coats thrown over the back seat, Ally and I found ourselves heading toward the hospital.

Although only our second visit, the intensity of our first stay made this return trip almost feel like coming home. The doctors and nurses were supportive and Ally was delighted in the small comforts (pre-warmed blanket, really). Her stay was made that much more comfortable as our nurse was one of the new clinic members (thanks Lisa).

Alas, no race on Sunday and the girl returns to strict bed rest.

Congratulations to Brad, Mike and Chris on solid performances this weekend, well done… I live vicariously through you.


Saturday: 1:16:44 with 5xstrides
Sunday: day off (unscheduled)

Friday, January 25

To A Mouse

Wee sleekit, cow'rin, tim'rous beastie,
O, what a panic's in thy breastie!
Thou need na start awa sae hasty,
Wi bickering brattle!
I wad be laith to rin an chase thee,
Wi murdering pattle!

Aye, as a good friend reminded me this morning, it’s Robbie Burn’s Day; if you’ve never heard of him he’s widly regarded as the national poet of Scotland and the man who wrote Auld Land Syne.

I digress.

The run this evening was brief, that and I was in a good mood (and for no particular reason).

With it staying lighter in the evenings I was able to enjoy a jaunt with nothing but the setting sun to keep me company (that and George Thoroughgood telling me about the house-man blues).

Hope everyone has a great weekend and to those racing (Chris and Mike), all the best. And, to those brave enough, happy haggis!

Training: easy undulating 41:44

Thursday, January 24

Asics GT 2130

I picked up a pair of the new Asics GT 2130 after the clinic last night and was eager to take them for a spin tonight. I wasn’t that impressed with the changes the company made with the 2120s (they felt clunky and too spacious in the forefoot) but the 2130s felt good. They were comfortable from the get go and the transition at the mid-foot was much more smooth than I expected. I did find toe-box (is that a word) more roomy than necessary but… I could’ve purchased a size smaller had I listened to Seamus. Overall I’d give the shoe a 90% based on performance and comfort.

With the inaugural Cobble Hill 10k this weekend (race #2 in the Island Race Series), tonight’s workout was short and simple, 6x400 slightly faster than 5k pace. Not wanting to overcook my legs I decided to aim for 78s… that was the plan at least.

After a gentle warm-up in bitterly cold conditions (I decided to keep my tights, both shirts and jacket on for the w/o) and a few drills I eased into the first interval, opening the first 200 in a relaxed 35”. As someone with an abundance of front-end speed, I find running a consistent pace in workouts like this difficult. It has probably been years since I’ve run 400s and it showed as it wasn’t until the fifth repeat that I ran an even split.


I’m excited with my decision to run a quick 5k by mid-March but also curious how this will translate and affect my marathon build (Ottawa is 11 weeks after Bazan Bay). Including the 8k two weeks ago, I’ve scheduled 6 races between now and Ottawa and as a result I also plan on keeping the volume down until much later than usual… just a thought.

Training: 52:42 with 6x400 (90”)

Wednesday, January 23


The exuberance I felt yesterday had all but vanished as I met the clinic this evening. I typically find excitement and energy running with the group, trading stories and encouraging others, but not today.

I was flat. And without their company I can only imagine a very weary self plodding unforgiving streets.

The weather forecast is improving. Damn.

Training: easy 50:01 with drills + 8x100m strides (weights this morning, 2 sets)

Tuesday, January 22


“Let us be of good cheer, remembering that the misfortunes hardest to bear are those that never happen” - James Russel Lowell

The last time Ally received an ultrasound was in the hospital on Christmas Eve, the result of which spelled two weeks of strict bed rest. So it was with some trepidation that we walked into the clinic this afternoon wondering what today’s scan would reveal. Thirty minutes later, and picture in hand, we left the office with anxiety and unease removed from our weary shoulders. The baby is fine, its tiny heart beating a strong 150 bpm, and mum no longer showing threatening signs of premature delivery.

Today is a good day.

I left the house and stepped out into a chilly (-2C) evening, the moon peering over Mount Doug and casting long shadows down quiet city streets. I traced what has know become a familiar path; the orange glow of infrequent streetlamps lighting a corridor, the sides of which are dwarfed by towering conifers. I’ve actually come to prefer running at night in this area, the glow of the lamps creating a tunnel that draws you forward and with all frame of reference lost in the shadows, it’s hard not to feel quick.

I felt strong, relaxed and light on my feet.

They’re forecasting wet snow on three of the next six days. Given the fickle weather here, I wouldn’t normally be bothered but with a race this weekend, a race that has been postponed in recent years due to untimely snowfall I’ll be watching the weather reports.

Training: undulating steady cruise 1:05:27

Monday, January 21

Passion: boundless enthusiasm

“Without passion man is a mere latent force and possibility, like the flint which awaits the shock of the iron before it can give forth its spark” ~ Amiel, Journal, 17 December 1856

With my friends from the UK still visiting, yesterday morning I snuck out of the house far too early to accommodate my long run. During recent months, there has been many a morning where I have crossed our front doorstep entering a world filled with shadows and silent streets, yesterday was different. Although the sun hadn’t risen, the darkness was slowly being replaced with a picture full of subtle blues, grays and mauve.

I suppose it was a combination of temperature, colour and smell that awoke memories long forgotten, reawakening a passion for running akin to something I felt while training for my first marathon. I’ve been pleasantly surprised with my motivation and desire to run of late, something that is comforting and which can easily be disregarded.

Although I had my Shuffle playing, I can’t remember a specific song and I doubt I could easily retrace my undulating route. What I do recall is a feeling of exploration and enjoyment during the first 1h15. Although chilly (1C), I weaved my way along new trails and roads feeling light footed and buoyant (a far contrast from today’s rigidity and taut hamstrings). Toward the end of the run I decided to slowly wind up the pace running a few miles at 6:10 mi/pace, afterwards feeling more tired than I would've liked. I suppose I’m not too surprised given my recent loss of sleep and most of my recent runs being comparatively shorter, still, with a marathon planned for May I’m going to have to ensure my volume and strength isn’t compromised.

The week ahead will be relatively light, some quicker 400s on Thursday and then the second race in the Island Series on Sunday. I'm looking forward to the run as a) it's a new route, this year held in Cobble Hill and b) if I can hold the same pace (3:26km) as I did in last week's race, it will take me within 2" of a PB… interesting.

Sunday: 1:45:38 (3-miles 6:10mi/pace)
Monday: scheduled day off (must stretch)

Saturday, January 19

Bridging the gap

I have to be quick as I’m leaving in 15’ (now 2’) to meet the clinic for their first Saturday run. I’ve mapped out an adventurous route along the waterfront that incorporates Beacon Hill, Ross Bay, the Chinese Cemetery and King George Terrace. I really enjoy exposing runners to paths and terrain that are new and exciting, most enjoy it; it’ll all be good fun (I hope).

I didn’t have to work yesterday and used the opportunity to have a little sleep-in and as such run in the light of day (loved it). With my legs still tight from Tuesday’s hills, I stretched before heading out toward what has become my new favourite route (a series of twisting rolling tree-lined roads).

The idea is for this session is to add some strength into the program, bridge the gap, for the 5k race. The first interval felt surprisingly comfortable and smooth, a tad fast perhaps but good. The second was the recipient of much of the steeper hills and as such kept me honest. My concentration was faded during the last one and I had to remind myself to hold my form and pace.

Just returned from the clinic, wet but great fun. This time around, I have a co-run leader, which I’m very excited about. It’ll be nice to share the responsibility of planning routes and if nothing else save the group from having to listen to my uninteresting lies. I hope everyone has a great and if you’re lucky dry weekend ~ cheers!

Thursday: easy undulating 1:03:36
Friday: 1:08:41 with 3x10’ tempo (2’)
Saturday: easy 56:12 with clinic

Wednesday, January 16

Lactic acid hangovers

I woke up in the middle of the night drenched in a cold sweat, this happens sporadically and I haven’t given that much consideration as to why.

Displaying a modest amount of wisdom and giving the gym a pass on Monday, I ventured back into unfamiliar territory and reacquainted myself with a few exercises this morning. I warmed up with a few Bulgarian lunges (saving the hops for a few weeks from now), eased into some core work, but it was during my pull-ups, nothing complicated, when what can only be vast stores of unflushed lactic acid exploded in my head. I’ve experienced lactic acid headaches before, but never the day after, this was new.

Therefore, given a) an unexpected good race on Sunday, b) a great workout yesterday, c) cold sweats, the jury is debating this, and d) lactic acid hangovers, I’ve decided to postpone tomorrow’s tempo run and pay particular attention to my recovery.

This evening was the first Wednesday night session for the Vancouver Half/Marathon clinic and I was happy to see many familiar faces. My highlight of the evening was having a woman approach me toward the end of the session and share that although she had been extremely anxious and concerned about attending her first clinic, she had a wonderful time and was very looking forward to the weekend. It’s the small pleasures in life…

Training: easy 54:50 with drills + 7x 30” strides

Tuesday, January 15

Like a bag of smashed assholes

Arriving home late from work and worn-out I was not in the mood to head out for a run, still, with my goal in sight, I left the house hoping my habitual behavior would see me through.

I wasn’t for a second dissatisfied.

This evening’s workout was conceivably the best session I’ve completed in months. The task was simple, 6x3’ uphill at 5k pace, the hill wasn’t. My new rival is called Maltwood Terrace and begins abruptly the first 150m spiking the heart rate before reaching a subtle shift in curvature from convex to concave. Only this respite is fleeting as the hill shows its true character shifting rudely back to a lung searing convex climb. The final card isn’t played until after you’ve made the last turn onto Maltwood Lane, the concluding 100m a pitch leaving my legs feeling as if they were on a broken stair climber. Welcome to my world.

I eased into the first session allowing my legs a chance to warm up; repeats two and three comfortably numb. I relived the weekend on four and five, running away from a dastardly fool who displayed his infamous nature during Sunday’s race (I prevailed). Jogging down the hill in preparation for my final interval I couldn’t shake the feeling I was about to complete an “old school” workout, something I would’ve done in preparation for my first marathon, and something I can’t recall doing in years. Passing the lamppost that denoted the start I made an extra wide turn allowing me a good view of the hill. I shifted my hand inside my jacket and paused my iShuffle, commencing the last repeat with nothing to accompany me but the sound of my footsteps…

Training: 1:12:18 with 6x3’ hills at 5k pace

Monday, January 14

Great Expectations

I woke up this today tired with my back still sore (it hurts when I breathe deeply) but this time accompanied by some abdominals that feel like they’ve been through a few rounds of a prize fight. Needless to say, after having raced yesterday I decided on not going to the gym and rather enjoyed an unhurried cup of coffee, while willing my body to recover.

Looking back, I’m content with the recent week although lighter on volume than recent weeks. I managed to get in three weight sessions (something I haven’t done in years) and six runs, three of which quality sessions; total volume 5h46, approximately 82km.

The approaching week is structured around volume with only two workouts (a tempo run and long hills) but with a good friend out from the UK expectations raised on today may not be delivered come Sunday.

Yesterday I forgot to congratulate a good friend who after having a rough season last year, got off to a solid start yesterday finishing second in the 8k with a time of 24:40, his fastest time on that course. Congratulations!

Race results here

Training: scheduled day off

Sunday, January 13

Prairie Inn Pioneer 8k

I quietly sit at my desk nursing my third much-needed cup of French Roast. I woke this morning, leisurely rolling over and immediately feeling a sharp pain in my upper back… no, not today. After a breakfast of oatmeal and, toast & marmalade I proceeded to spend the next 45’ listening to August & Everything After while trying to work out my new nemesis and at the same time loosen familiar aches (yesterday my left hamstring was giving me some unnecessary and unwanted grief).

Fast-forward eight hours…

Without a recent gauge in fitness I didn’t know what to expect and although I didn’t wanted to hang myself out to dry I did hope for a PB. I compromised on 3:30s but after reaching the 4k point running a controlled 3:25 I decided to go with the flow and let the cards fall where they may.

3:24 (first 2k down hill)
3:25 (next 2k rolling up hill)
3:26 (16:58)
3:29 (uphill)
3:34 (uphill finish)

I’m very happy with the performance on three accounts, (1) I set a 58” PB on the course and distance, (2) I’ve never been this fit at this point in the year an enjoyed “racing”, and (3) I split 5k in 16:58, 6” faster than my 5k PB , which bodes well for Bazan Bay in March.

Congratulations goes out to Mike who ran in Phoenix today and although he didn’t reach his goal (a couple minutes shy), he had the courage to try.

I hope everyone had a great weekend!

Training: 1h20 with Prairie Inn Pioneer 8k 27:28 (avg. 3:26/km), 16 OA, 3 AG

Saturday, January 12


Over dark cool pints, I met with a friend of mine earlier this week and listened to his counsel on structuring a 5k program that with some luck, will deliver me at the Bazan Bay 5k with enough speed and strength to set a new PB. After spending the last few years focused on longer races, I’m surprisingly excited about my new endeavor but respectful of the task. Although it has been several years since running 5k, I can vividly recall the excruciating pain that courses throughout your body in the shorter races.

With renewed passion and afresh program, I headed out Thursday night into less than ideal training conditions that would’ve made Thomas or Brad proud. Despite the torrential downpour, or conceivably because of it, I launched myself into the hill amazed to find that it was my lungs and not my legs that were suffering. I loved every minute. Apart from incorporating some bounding into the marathon build for London, it has been years since I’ve run hills and I’m interested in the gains to be made.

This morning had me back at Frontrunners (this time as a Run Leader) helping to coach a new clinic. With the multitude of races available in the spring and two local Half Marathons in May (Vancouver and Victoria), the clinic members were oozing enthusiasium and excitement. Tomorrow is the first race (Central Saanich Pioneer 8k) in the 2008 Island Race Series, and my first race of the season. I’m not expecting much which is made all the easier with not knowing what to expect, semantics perhaps? Regardless, I’ve run this race twice before, once in 1996 (29:19) and then again in 2006 (28:26). I’d like to think I can better my time but would be happy with even splits and a controlled race.

Thursday: 40:50 with 6x1’ hills
Friday: undulating 1:01:29 (weights in the morning)
Saturday: 41:10 with 5x strides

Wednesday, January 9

Herculean tasks made easy

As much as you have those days where every step feels like a Herculean task, today was much the opposite. Leaving the house with twilight once again closing her tired eyes, I floated down the street feeling both physically and mentally at ease. I’d mapped out a rather rolling route (nice alliteration) and proceeded to pick my way through the maze of wide, barren, partially lit streets feeling smooth and comfortable. Toward the end of the jaunt, young Adam Campbell spotted me and held back, keeping me company on the homeward stretch. He has volunteered (brave boy) to work with local coaching legend Wynn Gmitroski who wants to try some “new ideas” after conversations with famed author Jack Daniels. I would've paid to have heard what those two were scheming, regardless, best of luck Adam on your build toward Boston.

Later this evening I’m meeting Murphy and Seamus who’ve offered to provide me with some feedback on a training program that I’ve crafted (taking me through the end of May). I’m quite wound up as I’ve wanted to try and better my 5k PB for several years but my spring schedule (or lack of fitness) has always been an issue. Then watching Mike trying to better his own record thing summer reignited my desire (fortunately, unlike Mike, my past performance isn’t quite so illustrious).

Training: undulating 1:01:52 (weights in the morning… my abdominals hurt)

Tuesday, January 8

A return to the track

Twilight was fading fast as I made my way to the track, but turning left onto Goldsmith St. brought back encouraging memories; the sight of the large silhouetted tree within the infield comforting, like a familiar friend. Additionally, although dark, windy and distressingly cold the rain was holding off.

Hicham arrived shortly after I got there and we proceeded to warm-up discussing the day’s events. Ally and I had a scheduled trip to the doctor where I was informed, and I quote, “the sooner you realize that everything you do during the next three months will be wrong, the easier your life will be”. I love the frankness of our doctor. We also discussed something I brought up on Sunday, that of the approaching Island Race Series and how to go about fostering a sense of competition amongst the local clubs. Now I realize I risk coming across as a hypocrite given that I have been a member of the incredibly supportive club that I was previously analyzing, that said, where is the contest when the margin for the winning club is almost threefold of its nearest rival? Hearing stories from friends who have lived in England and report tales of club rivalry akin to the fiercest political contests perhaps, I just yearn to be part of something where my contribution makes a difference.

With Phoenix a nonstarter I’ve decided to focus the next couple months on trying to set a new 5k PB (17:04), something that I haven’t addressed in over a decade (March 23/07). The workout this evening, 5x800m at 5k pace, was a reintroduction to the track and an opportunity to bring some snap back into the pins. We cooked the opening interval, easing back on the next, but when running by feel on the third brought us to within a second of the first 800 we decided to go with the feeling (2:36, 2:43, 2:37, 2:37 & 2:33). Driving home I was particularly happy with the workout but after reviewing some past performances (here and here), I realize I have my work cut out for me.

Monday: scheduled day off (weights in the morning)
Tuesday: 1:01:32 with 5x800 (2’)

Sunday, January 6

Trail running - Sunday

I can’t recall the last time I ran at Thetis Lake which I suppose could be due to a) my aging memory or b) having not run there for far too long. Regardless, this morning Hicham, Matt and I snuck back out onto the trails for a truly epic west coast trail adventure complete with streams, mud and hills… many hills. Running with these two is always amusing but due to my poor ability to pick my way through rocks and roots, coupled with downhill running skills that are left wanting makes for a jaunt where I’m constantly playing catch-up.

After the run, we stopped for coffee at Habit running into Marilyn, husband and Donald. After a few gripes about the padded membership list for a local running club which then prides itself on its ability to win the local Island Race Series (starting next weekend) we hopped next door for brunch at Mole leaving the latter far from wanting.

This week I plan on drafting and redrafting a spring training schedule knowing that ultimately everything could and will be put on hold when the baby arrives and therefore won’t be planning anything too audacious.

Saturday: easy 59:17
Sunday: hilly 1:33:33

Friday, January 4


“Happiness is not achieved by the conscious pursuit of happiness; it is generally the by-product of other activities” ~ Aldous Huxley

Today, for what felt like the first occasion in countless weeks, I felt the sun on my face. This is not to say that the sun hasn’t been shining, but today felt like the first day of spring, akin to the feeling you get when you find $20 in your pocket. Perhaps it was the fact that I rode my bike to work, or crossed the street to get a soul-satisfying cup of coffee, regardless; I devoured the brightness and warmth like a parched desert nomad.

The combination of starting a new job two days ago and deciding (?) no race in Phoenix has provided me with an opportunity to dial back the running and let a couple nagging injuries (sore left hamstring and twisted/tight right ankle) sort themselves out.

Additionally, not running a marathon this month has opened up a lot of training/racing possibilities for the spring, unfortunately with Ally pregnant and uncertainty around a due date I’m hesitant to a) invest too much effort and b) commit to traveling any distance. That said, I’d still like to run a spring marathon and I’m leaning (again) toward Ottawa at the end of May. I’ve also decided to focus on setting a new PB for 5k, nothing huge, but my current one is a little old and in need of revamping. Unfortunately, there aren’t that many local 5k races and the Island Series race is sooner than I’d like… still, it gives me something to aim for.

Monday: day off
Tuesday: mountainous 1:18:07
Wednesday: day off
Thursday: day off
Friday: hilly 55:56

Tuesday, January 1

A Year in Review

“Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each new year find you a better man” ~ Benjamin Franklin

The last 12 months has unquestionably been bursting with performance, excitement and anticipation not the least of which has recently kept me on my toes and Ally on strict bed rest. We were off to the hospital again on Friday for a visit with the doctor followed by more tests and examinations. Happily, since that visit both girls seem to be adjusting to the new routine full of relaxation and rest. That said, I wouldn’t want to trade positions with the missus as I’d go stir-crazy. Thanks for all the kind words and encouragement, they’re much appreciated!

Running, wow, where has the year gone? January started with me having just set a marathon PB in Sacramento (2:40:19). Registered to race Boston I was very excited to get the opportunity to participate in an historic event, only to have plans change during week one of the build with the news that I’d managed (with luck) to enter the Flora London Marathon. Although London didn’t go according to plan (3:14:11), I was fortunate to enjoy some experiences along the way: becoming friends with Ben Saunders, setting a half-marathon PB in Comox (1:15:29) and Running the Bulls with Rumon.

Not wanting to let me training go to waste, but more importantly needing to vindicate myself, I decided to race Ottawa five weeks later and ran a successful 2:45:09. Since Ottawa my days have never been dull:

  • I broke my arm (radial head) while downhill mountain biking on my stag, three weeks before the wedding (thanks RC);
  • I enjoyed a fantastic wedding with family and friends, the doctors gift, me being able to remove the cast and sling;
  • A week after the wedding, Ally and I were surprised and happy to find she was pregnant; and
  • A day prior to leaving for our honeymoon (what I’d give to be back on the beach in Maui), we purchased our first house.

    Amidst all these activities I managed to a) run a total of 4,434 kilometers for the year (approximately 2,772 miles), and b) be fortunate enough to be supported by a great wife. Thanks for reading and I wish everyone a happy and successful 2008!

    Friday: 44:06 with 10’ tempo
    Saturday: hilly 1:11:10
    Sunday: day off