Thursday, February 28

The Great Escape

I’m tired. The passed week has preserved a theme reminiscent of the previous two months, and which continues to leave me mentally exhausted. Moreover, my mental handicap has manifested itself in a weary, aching body. I’m tired.

I contemplate sharing the unexpected tribulation but I doubt you would believe the events. Poor Ally. I think we’re now sufficiently satiated with apprehension and worry that unknowingly we now focus on life’s simpler affairs: water, shelter, food and a plan for escape.

Me, I run.

On Tuesday, I slipped out of a calm and quiet house and jogged down to the trail with little desire to carry out the day’s session, 6xmile tempo. My body was raw, and my mind expecting little… the key to happiness, low expectations. I told myself to focus on finding a relaxed rhythm, my head balanced naturally in position, shoulders low and loose, running tall with a quick turnover.

I thoroughly surprised myself (5:45, 5:42, 5:46, 5:50, 5:46 & 5:43) and felt in complete control as I moved through the workout.

Another question, and this one might be better answered by those with children. I’ve noticed people (Mike, Thomas, Marc) with kids tend to run in the morning, I’m curious why? I have the luxury of finishing work at a reasonable time (4:00) which has allowed me to run in the early evening without too much disruption to family routine. But, projecting a few weeks down the road I can’t help but speculate whether this practice might change?

Saturday: easy 1:37:04 with clinic
Sunday: easy 1:52:09
Monday: day off (scheduled)
Tuesday: 1:11:38 with 6xmile (1’)
Wednesday: easy 42:40

Sunday, February 24

The hardest workout ever!

Okay, conceivably Friday’s workout wasn’t the hardest ever, I certainly remember being gradually stretched to an inch of my life/capability during a 4x2-mile session this time last year. And, you could argue that whenever you miss your goal times, in that very moment, any workout has immediately been transformed into a Herculean task. Still, two nights ago on a quiet track and under a setting sun, I suffered.

The workout was simple, 24x200 broken down as 4x(6x200) with decreasing recovery (75”/60”/45”/30”/15”) and 90” between sets. The effort, well that is where the difficulty started. I was supposed to run at mile pace but having not run a mile all out in along time, I wasn’t sure where to start. Still, I suppose if I was to complete a 1600m TT I’d finish between 4:00 and 5:10, probably closer to 5:09.

In the end, I decided to run the session “by feel” allowing myself the prerogative to make changes on the fly. I opened the first interval in what felt like a relaxed float, 30”, I didn’t run anything faster (avg., quickest, slowest):

Set 1: 32.5, 30.0, 35.0
Set 2: 35.2, 34.0, 36.0
Set 3: 34.7, 33.0, 37.0
Set 4: 34.4, 33.0, 36.0

It was during the clearly inadequate recovery between the 5th & 6th intervals that the understanding of starting too fast slowly sunk in, my breathing coming in insufficient gaps while the lactic acid pooled. Strangely though, during my moment of realization and pain and wry smirk formed in the corner of my face. This was fun, this was living.

A question then, what in your experience, is the most difficult running workout that you’ve had the pleasure to complete/attempt?

Wednesday: easy 1:06:01
Thursday: easy 45:01
Friday: 1:09:56 with 4x(6x200)

Tuesday, February 19


The primary reason to have a coach is to have somebody who can look at you and say, "Man you're looking good today." - Jack Daniels
I was looking good today.

I’m sitting here now, finishing the remnants of a favourite staple, sardine picante, my stomach slowly beginning to bloat after eating too much. I’m content. The last two days have left me emotionally spent and I wasn’t sure what to expect when I hopped in the car and on a last minute suggestion decided to drive up to UVic and run at the stadium.

I met O’Cal’s group as they were finishing their drills and although we were doing different workouts, and me believing that misery loves company, I jumped in and started with them. I can’t really explain what happened next. My legs had felt heavy and sluggish during the warm-up, which left me shaking my head as I split the first 400 in 1:12. What was I thinking? Okay, clearly I wasn’t thinking but when others are splitting laps between 60”-65” I thought I was going slow.

I was supposed to run the 800s on 2:40 but with the setting sun casting a warm orange glow over the track, and the cool night air tasting like a refreshing draught, I decided to let the cards fall where they might and proceeded to run smooth and in control. More importantly, I was having fun.

[2:32, 2:35, 2:34, 2:37, 2:35, 2:35, 2:36 & 2:34]

Sunday: mountainous 1:54:46
Monday: day off (scheduled)
Tuesday: 1:21:46 with 8x800 (2’)

Sunday, February 17


“Our death is not an end if we can live on in our children and the younger generation. For they are us, our bodies are only wilted leaves on the tree of life.” ~ Albert Einstein

On Friday, I enjoyed the luxury of not having to work and seized the opportunity with eager hands. I managed to squeeze in a few additional glorious minutes of sleep, benefited, and that is a relative term, from a light stretch and then drove down to Oak Bay track well before the heavens opened. It was a perfect morning.

The workout was simple, 4xmile at 5k pace, but given my inability to conquer its close relative two weeks back, 3xmile (5:18, 5:27, and 5:24) I was anxious. With my two recent race performances as a guide, I set myself a range of 5:21 to 5:24 to work with. And so after a completely unnecessary second trip to relieve myself, I could delay the inevitable no longer and launched into the workout with nothing but apprehension on my shoulders and the sound of my feet lifting off a damp track to keep me company.

I felt comfortable for the first lap, it passing in what was a brief moment and me gaining a 4” cushion. The middle 800 was uncomfortably comfortable but my strength and speed waned on the last lap leaving me sans cushion and overdrawn with the tailor.

With the first mile behind me, the second and third were better but not as comfortable as I would’ve liked, my form struggling and my effort-level elevated. When during the last mile I split the 800 in 2:43, having mentally gapped on the second lap, I thought I was finished. But then something entirely unexpected happened. Mentally I imagined caving, looking for the easy out, but physically, from a depth not taxed in almost a year my body responded and although I was running faster I felt easier, I had purpose. It’s a tad cliché, but the fire within was lit.

5:23, 5:20, 5:20, 5:20

On a sad note, on Friday evening Ally’s parents dropped by with some heartbreaking news. Her mom, who hasn’t been feeling well of late, unfortunately has drawn the short end of the stick, the days being counted on two hands.

Thursday: easy undulating 54:43
Friday: 1:13:16 with 4xmile at 5k pace (2’)
Saturday: easy 1:31:43

Wednesday, February 13

There is an itch in runners

With the girl’s birthday tomorrow, and resulting family commitments this evening, I wasn’t able to make it out for the clinic. Still, I was able to skip out of the house earlier than usual though and enjoy a rare jaunt under some beautiful twilight conditions. I really enjoy this time of year, being able to squeeze that more into the day.

My calves are still quite tight but I suppose weights this morning might not have aided the situation. I plan to take tomorrow easy as well and then hit the track on Friday for a solid workout (building on something I did a few weeks back). With just over three weeks remaining until the 5k (and coincidently five key workouts), the next fortnight is crucial.
Training: easy 43:15

Tuesday, February 12

Sour, sweet, bitter, pungent, all must be tasted

Today was one of those days. It started innocently enough, me rolling over in a groggy hazy and arising out of bed on the left-hand side. I can almost guarantee my right foot touched the floor first, the hardwood more reminiscent of a hockey rink until I light the fire.

Reflecting back on a day not yet finished I can’t recall an event or circumstance that set my mood, but know that it was easier to bear a scowl and wear my bitter crown, albeit slight askew, than any alternative.

My run this evening was no different and I suppose I shouldn’t have expected anything less. Again the wind howled but the music, rather than comfort me was a constant irritation, that unseen mosquito buzzing incessantly in the middle of the night.

I took what was once a source of pleasure for granted, no longer finding enjoyment or even comfort among darkened city streets. And not surprisingly given the day, my calves hurt, both of them feeling the effects of the race. No, today was a day that would’ve been better spent sitting silently in front of the fire reading.

Training: easy hilly 1:07:51

Monday, February 11


"The purpose of training is to stress the body, so when you rest it will grow stronger and more tolerant of the demands of distant running." - David Costill

Today I rest.

Thanks for all the comments on my recent race and special recognition goes to Eric for clarifying the difference between nemesis and archenemy.

Training: scheduled day off

Sunday, February 10

Cedar 12k

“I decided to go for a little run” - Forrest Gump

I’m disappointed, I think.

Last year I ran 42:32; the race calculator suggests 42:22 based on my recent 8k, neither were to be.

I warmed up with Stefan under blustery but warm spring conditions and after returning the gym to change into my racing kit, I was feeling optimistic about the event; I was quietly confident. I ran well here last year on what is a tough and very hilly route and decided last night to aim for 42:00, 3:30/kms.

I started out smooth and after cresting the first sharp hill not more than 400m after the start, I found myself in amongst an experienced group of ten guys. I heard Mark, the owner of a local running store, telling his brother that they were well placed and to follow me (this brought a smile to my face given that both of them can, and have, run the pants off me).

We split the first two kilometers a tad fast but I wasn’t too concerned given the start is predominantly downhill. At 4k I was feeling great but unhappy with the recent splits and decided to throw in a 100m surge, bridging up to the solo individual in front (with the intent of working with him). I was devastated then when reaching said individual, he gasped that he was finished and wished me all the best. Bastard! At this point, I was running alone under dark heavy skies, in the rain, and leaning into a fearsome headwind… I eased up and waited for the group.

At 7k, Mark and his brother went to the front and steadily turned the screws shattering our group into pieces and leaving me with nothing but some dental floss to hang on with. I found this ironic as two kilometers earlier I had asked whether anyone wanted to bridge up to the next group, what was I thinking? The rest of the race was completed on fumes.

3:26 – race anxiety, not too concerned
3:28 – predominantly downhill, still not concerned
3:36 – steep long uphill
3:36 – although the hill is finished, still climbing
3:23 – downhill coupled with a 100m surge
3:40 – hold back for group
3:39 – gradual uphill rise
3:25 – Mark and Shawn drop the hammer
3:33 – the group is shattered, I’m redlining
3:46 – large long hill, not having fun
3:33 – regain rhythm on false (uphill) flat
3:39 – grass finish, longer than last year

Although I didn’t achieve my goal, I had fun “racing”. It’s not that often I experience running in a tight group during a race and I thoroughly enjoyed the mental and physical aspect of racing, the gamesmanship and occasional camaraderie. Still, my nemesis beat me and this is unacceptable.

I still feel a lack of strength with my running and I’m tempted to up the mileage. Still, with a spring marathon over four month away, and my propensity not to handle well prolonged periods of high mileage… I wait.

Friday: day off (unscheduled, pints with the boys)
Saturday: easy 1:02:54 with clinic, 5xstrides
Sunday: 1:25:00, Cedar 12k 42:49, 3:34/pace, 14th OA, 4th AG

Friday, February 8

Allow yourself a good run

I was at a Privacy & Security conference yesterday and heard some great speakers. That said, Hugo Teufel III (Chief Privacy Officer, US Department of Homeland Security) spoke for about 30' and said absolutely nothing... that is a real gift.

I had difficulty getting my head into the w/o yesterday and ended up overcooking the first interval; the second only marginally better. The last interval I focused on feeling light, comfortable and something Lawrence mentioned a few days ago, I allowed myself a good run.

Training: 1:05:57 with 3x10' tempo (2')

Wednesday, February 6


- noun
(1) a brimless and close-fitting hat, in any of several shapes.
(2) a velvet hat with a narrow, sometimes turned-up brim, a full crown, and usually a plume, worn by men and women esp. in 16th-century France.

If not a toque… what do you call it, a winter hat?

Tonight’s run was an easy jaunt with the clinic. I took it upon myself to give as much feedback as possible, without being annoying, as they tackled the workout (15’ wup/wdn with 10’ tempo + 8x1’ hills)… I think they loved it.

Training: easy 1:00:45

Tuesday, February 5

My inaugural marathon remembered

In a strange set of circumstances, yesterday I received emails from two of my dearest friends, one living in Vancouver and the other in Bristol (to protect their self-image I’ll call them Lance and Malcolm). When I look back over the last 15 years, I can portion it into distinct eras based entirely on who I ran with. Lance and Malcolm were running partners #2 and #3 respectively, and boy did we learn a lot (the hard way). I signed up for my first marathon, the Royal Victoria Marathon based on Lance’s encouragement and if for no other reason because he had signed up the week earlier. Neither of us knew anything about running and built our training around the programs and advice found in Runners World. Last night I rummaged through my old diaries and training logs finding these two entries:

“Today is now two days after my first ever marathon. Lance and I ran the Royal Victoria Marathon and it was fantastic. 0k-21k was a slow paced 1:38:00, 21k-32k an incredibly fast 10k in 41’ and then 32k-42k painfully slow… as I hit a tremendous wall. To quote, I felt like a four-legged bug with my two right legs torn off. But, I finished with a time of 3:38:00. It was the most incredible feeling to cross the finish line. I loved it. Tomorrow I’m sending in my application for the Vancouver International Marathon.” - October 12, 1994

“It’s a fantastic day out. Overcast with thick fog. I love it. My legs have recovered completely from the marathon now. People are still asking me about it. I love it!” - October 13, 1994

Tonight it was dark, wet and stormy and my experience on the track was far from enjoyable and nothing but character building. It has been raining hard throughout the day, flooding most of the infield; when I arrived I found waterfowl in lanes one through three.

The workout was simple, 6x800 at 5k pace -15” (2’), unfortunately despite my body being present my motivation and fortitude was elsewhere. Not only that, some bugger, and there was only two of us out there, tried to steal my toque that I’d left at the side to help mark the finish. When I confronted him he said I’d run right passed it and assumed it wasn’t mine, (bastard didn’t stop to ask). Anyhow, the wind soared and I struggled. The last interval was a real effort and a little misleading; I rounded the last corner and was literally knocked two lanes over as a massive gust left me standing still.

2:36, 2:36, 2:37, 2:39, 2:38, 2:41

Training: 1:03:31 with 6x800 (2’)

Sunday, February 3

Like a child on Christmas morning

I turned off both alarm options (6:00 and 7:00) as I went to bed last night, determined to catch up on some much needed sleep. And I succeeded, waking a glorious 10 ½ hours later.

Two gorgeous pieces of blackcurrant toast and 32 ounces of French Roast later I was ready to entertain the idea of a jaunt. A good… great friend of mine had mentioned he might be able to join me for the run, which given his current timetable I found amusing. Still, I gave him a quick shout and was happily surprised that a) the phone was answered and b) he was eager to go, this last point I found curious but an hour later understood full well.

Two kilometers north on the Lochside Trail, the sun making a welcomed appearance, we hooked up. From there is was more trails up onto Donwood and then we proceeded to weave our way through Broadmead and Rithet’s Bog before heading further north still and climbing up onto the ridge of Grant Park. It was amidst today’s gauntlet that like a child opening a present on Christmas day my friend casually slipped into conversation that he’d registered for TransRockies… and finally the pieces come together.
Now that is a race.

Oh, and the front yard has a delicate scattering of snowdrops. I love Victoria during the spring.

Training: easy yet hilly 1:48:01

Saturday, February 2

Do not try this at home

My legs feel… I’m not entirely sure how they feel. And I’m unsure whether my uncertainty is due to mental fatigue or physical. Numb, if I could feel them, yes my legs would feel numb.

I met my group this morning, their enthusiasm always unexpected and refreshing. After a few pleasantries, introductions for two new members, we began to loop our way through Oak Bay and Fairfield, traversing along Brighton and up the 100-stairs to King George Terrace. The entire morning I’d been feeling off and attempted to run at the rear in the hope of suffering alone, it didn’t work. I dropped them off at the store 1h20 later and then headed down to Beacon Hill Park entertaining the idea of beginning my own workout. What was I thinking?

I was to run 6xmile tempo, but as I made my way down I was desperately trying to convince myself why I should even attempt one… this was not going to be fun. I kept the warm-up short and sweet, a combination of heel-kicks and high-knees and then I was off. The first interval felt like utter crap, running with forced strides and no rhythm. I meant to hit 5:50s and was very surprised as I passed the crosswalk in 5:48. Every subsequent interval I told myself this was it, the last one… I clearly don’t take what “I” have to say seriously. This session was all about putting one foot in front of the other and “not” thinking: 5:48, 5:47, 5:49, 5:54, 5:50, 5:51.

Hope everyone has a great weekend!

Training: 2:07:04 with 6xmile tempo (1’)

Friday, February 1

The Hills of Maltwood Terrace

As I shuffled along the hardwood floor, I couldn’t help but notice that my left calf was on the verge of cramping; both were sore. Last night after returning home late (again), I slipped out the front door into welcoming west coast drizzle trying to convince myself that I a) really wanted to do 8 and not 10 repeats* and b) that everything could be completed within 45’… ah it’s a good thing I’m stubborn.

I don’t recall having quite the same snap as I did a few weeks ago but the hills definitely succeeded in getting the heart pumping and the legs working.

Today, I recover.

Thursday: 1:09:35 with 10x1’ hills at 5k pace
Friday: easy 46:31

*The workout called for 8-10x1’ hills