Sunday, November 30


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):

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.

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


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!

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.

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; {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.

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.

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’]

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.

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.

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”

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!

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)