Thursday, January 29

Still Holding

On Sunday afternoon, I received an email from Jon asking how the race went. After a brief dialogue, we agreed it was decent enough start to the season. But with my first race now behind me, and Boston inside the 12-week window I was certain it was game time. I was surprised then when Jon told me to run easy on Monday, a day I typically take off, but even more surprised when I found out that I would be doing a 10k/5k pace workout this weekend. What do I know? I guess I still have some time before the real fun and games begin.

As for today, I stopped by the store on the way home from work and exchanged my old worn-out 2130 for some new (red) 2140. I’d been feeling sore and achy the last few weeks but assumed it was either old age or my body adapting to the training. I was wrong. What a difference a new pair of shoes can make!

Okay, the missus is calling and I have to run. I hope everyone has a great weekend of training and happy birthday to Cater and Thomas!

Monday: easy 40:55
Tuesday: steady 1:23:22
Wednesday: day off (scheduled)
Thursday: steady 1:00:09

Sunday, January 25

Boston Marathon (12-weeks out)

Cobble Hill 10k: my race this weekend was much better than I feared; in fact, the first thing that comes to mind is the tale The Boy Who Cried Wolf. And now, now I’m just greedy.

With the prior weekend’s w/o swirling about in my mind, I toed the line worried I was on the verge of a complete disaster. I started conservatively, or so I thought, but with most of the first 2k downhill, I wasn’t surprised to see the splits indicating a time beyond what I thought capable. I watched my usual companions quickly pull away and if it wasn’t for force of habit I would’ve let the next group do the same.

After about three kilometers, I clawed my way onto the heels of Kevin and Walter and ran steady for the next few clicks. I continued to check my energy level and constantly reminded myself to save something for the end (wanting to finish strong as Jon always advocates in his workouts). Regrettably, it was with about two miles remaining that I was able to enjoy the complete and piercing pleasure of a stitch. With Walter shouting encouragement, I couldn’t help but think I looked like a fledgling learning to fly what with me running down the road one arm held aloft, only to lower it for a few seconds and then repeat the inane act. Race results here, splits as follows:

3:25, 3:27, 3:39, 3:43, 3:42
3:41, 3:37, 3:34, 3:37, 3:32

In the end I’m happy with the performance, elated actually as after reflecting on previous performances I stand in good stead (for this time of year). Still, I can’t help think back to 2007 while when preparing for London I ran 35:46 at the same time of year. I also recall running 3:14:11 in London, not an experience I’m in a rush to repeat. Pace yourself young grasshopper, pace yourself.

But enough about me, the real star this weekend was young Isla. Not only did not one, but both of her front teeth come through but the brave little soul also took her first tentative step(s). We’re at four and counting.

Congratulations goes out to Todd for winning, Hicham for a stellar performance and Walter for his encouragement.

Saturday: easy 20:05
Sunday: 1:24:33 with Cobble Hill 10k in 36:01 AHR 167 approx. 90% MHR

Weekly mileage: 4h11’05”, +/- 59k or 37 miles

Saturday, January 24

The Road

Blowing snow. Stiff overdressed figures. Dirt. Rideau Canal. Confidence, dignity and style. Gray. The Response. Inspiration (Terry Fox). The Peace Tower. Frigid.

Without going into too much detail, I’ve attempted to capture my recent experience in Ottawa with a few words and phrases. I do believe though the highlight of the trip was benefiting from a few hours of uninterrupted silence where I was able to read Cormac McCarthy’s ‘The Road’ from cover to cover.

The last few days haven’t gone according to schedule what with last minute travel changes but with this a planned easy week, me racing in Cobble Hill on Sunday, it isn’t all that bad. I managed to run on the dread-mill on Tuesday and have complete respect for those who have to train on them out of necessity. For you others, those cracked individuals who use them from choice, I’m speechless. What I learnt most from the experience was my apparent lack of fitness (running a 7:3X/mile has never felt so difficult).

On Thursday, I ran a pre-race w/o and felt horrible. I’m not sure whether I was trying too hard or recovering from the travel but I was awful. My stiff legs were over-striding as I laboured along Donwood, my heart rate far in excess of my perceived effort. Sunday is going to be dreadful.

Mike posted the following comment on my last post regarding the w/o I did last Saturday.

If I punch up say a 2:45 marathon on McMillan, the delta in pace between marathon and 10k is about 24-seconds/km. In your workout you had an average difference of about 8-seconds/km. Had you slowed your ME recoveries down say 8-10 seconds, do you think you'd have been able to hit your target pace on the 10kE portion?”

Why does it always take others to point out the obvious? What I attempted to do last w/e was run my 10k segments at 3:30/pace and my marathon effort at 3:45/pace. First, and unfortunately, when I look back at my results from the Mill Bay/Cobble Hill 10k over the last few years I’ve run 35:46, 36:08, 36:39 and 36:11. Never have I been in 3:30/pace shape at this time of year. Second, trying to run 3:45 ME (2:38:14) is faster than I’ve ever run a marathon to date. In short, I wasn’t thinking straight.

If anything positive is to come from this it has been to remind myself of proper pacing, and, that my perceived effort is pretty much bang on where I would expect it to be at this time of year. My averaged ME times were 3:58 (2:47:22) and my 10k splits, 3:49 for a 38:10… ouch!

I hope everyone has a solid weekend and I’ll update you on my performance at the 2009 Cobble Hill 10k late on Sunday.

Monday: day off (scheduled)
Tuesday: easy 1:00:56
Wednesday: day off (unscheduled)
Thursday: 46:56 with 3x2’ (1’) + 3x1’ (1’)
Friday: easy/steady 39:35

Sunday, January 18

A Slow & Cruel Reality

After sitting back this evening and having a cursory scan of the last seven days, I’m much happier with my performance than expected. Given I’ve been feeling rundown, AND had a bike accident, I had feared/expected much worse. I should have stopped here.

Unfortunately, as the devil is always in the detail, I delved into the splits from yesterday’s workout and my feeling of content quickly sagged.

The group met at Beaver Lake yesterday morning, our new location of choice and after a gentle warm-up Jon gave the instructions. “You, you and you will be running 12k; the rest will be doing 15k.”

Wait a minute”, I thought to myself, “I’m sure he said I was doing a 45’ tempo run, surely he must be mistaken”.

He wasn’t.

And so after a couple months of enjoyable cross-country workouts in Beacon Hill, I launched into Saturday’s session with equal parts fear and excitement. The w/o was supposed to be done as 1k at marathon effort followed by 2k at 10k effort, repeated five times. It wasn’t until half way through the session that it dawned on me that I hadn’t run 15k at effort since my last marathon. What was I doing? The splits are as follows (1k ME, 2k 10kE):

3:50, 7:32
3:48, 7:43
4:11, 7:44
4:12, 7:41
3:47, 7:34

Sadly the times are a little deceiving/disappointing. They don’t taken into account long/short kilometers or all the people, dogs and corners that running in tight trails can bring. I had hoped to hit 3:45 for my ME and closer to 3:30 for my 10kE; I didn’t run one kilometer even close to my hoped-for 10k pace. Bugger it all. If I was ever looking forward to this weekends upcoming first race of the season, that feeling has now left the building. Based on that w/o, I should be able to run a 37’ 10k, I REALLY hope I can run faster than that.

I’m off to Ottawa tomorrow morning, early, and will not be running outside. I hope everyone has a great week of running, and until later ~ ciao!

Thursday: easy 41:25
Friday: easy 1:10:40
Saturday: 1:37:50 with 5x (1k ME, 2k 10kE) continuous
Sunday: easy/steady 1:31:38

Weekly mileage: 7h21’33”, +/- 104k or 65 miles

Wednesday, January 14

A day later (the aftermath)

The perfect four-point landing, nothing could be better.

I’m not sure what hit first as it happened all too fast. If I were to guess I’d say it was my right ankle followed in quick succession by my lower leg and knee. And then the hip, and finally the forearm. All this before even getting to work. All this before enjoying even one sacred cup of black coffee. All this because of a damn dog!

Because… because I’m stubborn and needed to get some fresh air. Who am I kidding, because I wanted to run, I snuck out this evening and even managed to squeeze the prescribed workout. It certainly wasn’t pretty but much better than I imagined. It took a little while longer to warm-up and even then, I never quite gained my full stride. For those of you who know the bugger, I felt like Phil Nicholls (minus the Spiderman outfit).

It took a while to get going, and as I was running the bend on Donwood Dr., every odd interval was ever so slightly uphill and into the wind, but the even ones, those are the repeats I remember.

I wish I could sleep in my left side.

Training: 1:02:04 with 10x1.5’ 5kE (1’)

Tuesday, January 13


"The next time it begins to rain... lie down on your belly, nestle your chin into the grass, and get a frog's-eye view of how raindrops fall... The sight of hundreds of blades of grass bowing down and popping back up like piano keys strikes me as one of the merriest sights in the world." - Malcolm Margolin

Thank God for small wonders. I’ve been feeling under the weather the last two days which hasn’t been helped by my sweet little daughters inability to sleep through the night. What I’d give for 7 hours of uninterrupted deep sleep. So when I dragged my weary body from the office this evening, feeling like utter crap, I was completed surprised by the quality of my run.

Perhaps it had something to do with it being incrementally lighter in the evenings now, or, that I ran the entire way home without having a raindrop hit me. Perhaps. Still, despite a sore throat and feeling rundown I enjoyed a completely underserved smooth and peaceful run home.

[changing the topic]

I’ve been feeling well behind the 8-ball when it comes to training for Boston. Not the approach, but more so my body’s inability to absorb any training, to be able to string a week’s worth of solid running together and feel fit. This perception was based in part on the volume that others are doing (Thomas, Mike – keep it up you buggers) and me feeling tired and slow. I reviewed my logs when training for Ottawa ’06 and Sacramento ’06 and was surprised to see that I’m bang on schedule, conceivably, slightly ahead. Comforting. Maybe this west coast weather is getting to me. And to think I have the pleasure of traveling to Ottawa next week where it is currently -24C, -34C with the wind. Oh, joy. I need some sunshine.

Monday: day off (scheduled)
Tuesday: steady (!) 1:17:56

Sunday, January 11

Pioneer 8k

After what began with a slow start, due in no small part to me forgetting my shoes, I wrapped up the week in fine form and even managed to squeeze in a race (spectating).

Friday was truly special, and rare. I fired off an email to Carter in the early afternoon tempting him with a double-barreled proposal: run and/or beer. To my complete surprise, my over-worked friend was good to go and shortly after 4:00, we started our way home, looping around Beacon Hill Park and through the old neighborhood (we later made good on both counts).

With most everyone in our group racing this weekend, I was on my own on Saturday. The workout called for 6x5’ but rather than go down to Beacon Hill I opted for a new loop near home (Donwwod/Emily Carr). With the emphasis on finishing strong, I told myself that if I didn’t descend an interval the w/o was over. Starting conservatively, but steady, I thought I’d dug myself a hole after the forth repeat but hung on: 5:27, 5:15, 5:11, 5:00, 4:56 & 4:53.

As for today, with an early start I was able to log a slow (and rather agonizing) two hours before heading out to watch the first race in the Island Series (the Pioneer 8k). The race was very competitive for our parts, with the eventual winner finishing in 23:35. I talked with Jon (coach) after the race and asked him how he felt, “I haven’t run that fast for quite some time” he replied. Congratulation to everyone racing including Hicham, Todd and Marilyn (in Scotland). Results here. Watching was fun but I’m looking forward to my first race of the season in two weeks time.

[photos: after about 500m, Todd and Hicham]

Thursday: easy 47:25
Friday: easy 1:18:17
Saturday: 1:16:04 with 6x5’ 10kE (75”)
Sunday: easy 2:00:04

Weekly mileage: 6h42’26”, +/- 94k or 59 miles

Wednesday, January 7


If I were to follow along with yesterday’s paddlewheeler analogy. Had I actually been that riverboat captain, and had I decided to leap into the water while fully clothed. Well, this evening while out on my run I couldn’t have been any more wet.

With little to no remnants of our recent snowfall remaining, the weather has returned to something resembling typical west coast conditions. Light drizzle. Rain. Heavy downpour. Torrential showers. Driving, hammering, bouncing back up off the road precipitation.

The workout called for 40’ at marathon effort, and along with the session, Jon suggested a route that he has used when training for a hilly marathon. Sure, I thought, why not. On a night where the roads were rivers, and my clothes completely waterlogged, I should be happy with my performance. And I am, marginally. Still, this didn’t prevent me from cursing the weather during my cool down.

As for my achilles, and I say this with hushed words, I think I’ve made progress as it didn’t bother me tonight, or at least very little. I suppose there is something to be (begrudgingly) said for stretching.

[note to self, I think it’s time to reinvest in a HRM]

Training: 1:20:36 with 40’ ME

Tuesday, January 6


I cycled home this evening for the first time in probably more than three weeks, at least since the snow arrived. Had I been able to turn my spokes 90 degrees I’d be telling you about my experience as a riverboat captain steering a mighty paddlewheeler. As it was, I arrived home much akin to the traditional drowned rat.

Why wasn’t I running home you might ask? Ach, well despite bringing the appropriate clothing with me, this morning it appeared I neglected to pack my shoes. Perhaps it’s for the best though. Given that I’ve stretched three of the last four nights, four times in the previous five months, my achilles is feeling a lot better.

So, with no running news I thought I’d update you on this
guy, his words work best, “Just wanted to let you know that Sonja and I got engaged in Barbados over Christmas. It was up at the northernmost point of the island, which is stark in contrast to the white sand beaches of the south.”

Congratulations Brad!

Monday: day off/stretched (scheduled)
Tuesday: day off/stretched (unscheduled)

Sunday, January 4

A Drab Day

Yesterday was to be our last workout at Beacon Hill Park, at least for a bit. It was while cooling down and looking out across the windswept Straits that I told myself I was due for a good weekend of training. I’d just completed a solid workout, perhaps my best this training cycle, and with the snow melting and me feeling chuffed I was on top of the world.

Fast-forward 24 hours and I was standing at the top of Mount Tolmie, looking out across the same Straits as yesterday but rather than feeling good about my performance, I was feeling desperate. Thin came to mind. The clouds were unusually dark, so much so that when I left the house at 9:00 a.m. I would’ve sworn it was closer to 5:00 p.m. Still, 90’ later with all the colour for the day was muted, I was panting and feeling sorry for myself. My left achilles has been sore for the last few weeks and today was no different. I imagine a lot of it has to do with me not stretching but the snow and ice certainly hasn’t helped. As I looked out across Victoria on a dreary colourless day I swore to myself that I Would stretch more, that and eat more iron.

As for the week, it wasn’t all that bad. Jon and I had a chat after the w/o on Saturday and with me feeling far from race ready I won’t be participating in first Island Series race next weekend (likely Cobble Hill in the three weeks).

Before she buggers off, I need to wish Marilyn all the best of luck as she’s racing in Edinburgh and then Seville in the next ten days. Have fun and enjoy the experience (I want to hear all about it when you return)!

Friday: easy 44:24
Saturday: 1:32:50 with 9x3’ 10kE (1.5’)
Sunday: more difficult than it should have been 1:52:11

Weekly mileage: 7h47’41”, +/- 109-k or 68 miles

[photo taken from the top of Mount Tolmie looking south toward the Olympic Mountains]

Thursday, January 1

A Year in Review

“We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year's Day.” ~ Edith Lovejoy Pierce

Reflecting on the preceding twelve months has stirred a whirlwind of emotions but left me with a smile on my face, content.

With the missus on bed-rest, my plans of running the Phoenix Marathon were put on hold until a later date when Ally could accompany me. Still, with nine weeks of marathon training in my legs I decided to run the Pioneer in mid-January and shouldn’t have been too surprised when I set an 8k PB in a time of 27:28. Sticking close to home, I decided to focus on breaking an eleven-year 5k PB, and after running what was probably the most gulling w/o to date 4x(6x200), I managed to squeak out a 14” PB, 16:51!

Along with daffodils and cherry blossoms, came the arrival of our first child in mid-April. Thinking back on the birth of Isla still causes me to pause, what an incredible event. Almost more amazing then the birth though, was the fact that Ally allowed me to leave for Ottawa only four weeks later, where on a wing and a prayer (and much determination) I finished the marathon in a time of 2:53:05, 4:07km/pace, and more importantly qualified for Boston 2009! June saw me run my first, and so far, only TLNW on what was a very hilly 1:50:56.

The heat of July and August was welcomed as were the lazy days of summer. In September, the three of us escaped to England where in the midst of visiting friends and family, and the odd pub, I was able to enjoy some of the more breathtaking and rewarding jaunts of the year (the Cornish coastline is truly spectacular).

Along with orange and red leaves, fall brought the return of rain and mud which made for enviable trail running conditions. Coincidently, I ran my inaugural cross-country race (spikes and all) at our provincial championships in Vancouver. I don’t recall ever running a more painful 8k. The year rounded out with me deciding to work with Jon Brown as I prepare to join Hicham, Thomas, Mike and others in Boston this April.

All the best to everyone as they head out onto the roads and trails, thanks for reading and happy New Year!

Monday: day off (scheduled)
Tuesday: steady 1:10:04
Wednesday: 1:16:46 with 40’ ME
Thursday: easy 1:11:26