Sunday, May 31

Where was I?

I think I was talking about progress, and if so then conceivably I spoke just a tad too soon.

It could possibly be a “chicken & egg” thing, the fact that I’m thoroughly enjoying every step I take when I’m out running, and yet those moment, those precious steps couldn’t come soon enough. Maybe it has nothing to do with farm animals, and everything to do with perspective… I digress.

We were off to the airport early Friday afternoon as Ally’s brother was getting married in Edmonton. As we were planning to be in Wild Rose Country less than 48 hours, I didn’t even bother packing my running shoes. This fact shocked Ally, and her relatives, as unbeknownst to me they had already mapped out a few routes. I don’t know what to make of this. Regardless, I took advantage of not working on Friday, drove down to the ocean, and set out for my second workout of the week.

The original session was to be run on the track, 3x1.5 miles, but I was pressed time and didn’t fancy running circles on what could’ve been a very busy oval. I found my breathing laboured on the first interval, it appears the remnants of a cold I caught in March are still struggling to leave my lungs (that, and I started too fast). I made a mental note to hold back for the first 2’ of the remaining pieces and subsequently felt much more in control.

With my next 5k race a little over 2-weeks away, I’m sceptical of the inroads my training has made (I’m not expecting much), but these faster paced sessions, and shorter races will bode well in the months that follow.

[photo: Isla and her first fountain]

Friday: 1:08:01 with 3x8.5’ (4’) 10kE
Saturday: day off (unscheduled)
Sunday: day off (unscheduled)

Weekly mileage: 3h15’52”, +/- 46k or 29 miles

Thursday, May 28

Getting Started

“Progress is a matter of learning, maturing and knowing yourself” ~ Jeff Galloway

This evening, I found myself flipping through Galloway’s Book on Running and came across chapter two: The Five Stages of a Runner.

The Beginner – making the break
The Jogger – entering the new world
The Competitor – when competition is the main driving force
The Athlete – being the best you can be
The Runner – the best of all stages

In short time I was laughing aloud as I sped through the pages; following a path that was far too similar to my own progression. Everything from “just visiting” that special world when you go out for a run, to basing your first marathon on the hallowed words on a dog-eared page of a running magazine.

Reading through the pages was timely, as earlier this week I was fortunate enough to catch-up with an old friend of mine. It was in Lance’s footsteps that I followed as we both signed up for our first ‘thon, the 1994 Royal Victoria Marathon. I could never have realized the value in the lessons that I was fortunate to learn that cool autumn morning. I crossed the finish line, with a smile on my face, and a newly discover level of determination and conviction that I will never forget.

My training has been light this week, and I’ve be fortunate enough to have enjoyed company for most of it. The highlight so far was keeping step with Carter as we sprinted along the Songhees Walkway on Wednesday morning, never has a minute seemed to last so long.

Monday: day off (scheduled)
Tuesday: easy 38:02
Wednesday: 51:22 with 15x1’ (1’)
Thursday: easy 38:27

Sunday, May 24


This weekend, the waters of the coast of Victoria played host to the 66th annual Switftsure Yacht Race, or as was the case for much of the morning, “Driftsure”, although thankfully not accompanied by fog or drizzle. For all the spectators standing on Clover Point watching the mass of 200+ boats the weather couldn’t have been better.

Fearing my date with the track would evolve into my own hellish Driftsure, I managed to coerce Carter to join me. As it was, after a gentle warm-up we toed the start line (sans shirts) on a gorgeous spring morning.

The plan was simple, run 5x800m at 3”-5” faster than 5k pace; based on my recent 5,000m this would have me aiming for 2:43-2:45 intervals. I’d like to blame it on an overeager appetite, but as is par for the course with my track w/o’s I stopped the clock after the first 800m slightly faster than I would have liked (but not entirely unexpected).

I made sure to hit my pace times for the next two pieces, but couldn’t help but notice how uncomfortable they felt. It never escapes me that whenever I focus on hitting my splits, my running feels laboured… distracted. With this in mind, I focused on relaxing on my fourth interval, making sure not to overextend myself. The result was pleasing.

2:35, 2:41, 2:40, 2:36, 2:26

For my last one, I decided to concentrate on “not concentrating” but rather ran by feel. I made sure not to go crazy, but let my legs stride out and with Rumon’s assistance, made sure my shoulders were relaxed. The result was entirely surprising particularly as I closed in a 36”, a mark I was struggling to hit while running 10x200m last week.

For those interesting in reading the phenomenal tale of Reid Coolsaet’s inaugural marathon, check out his site here… 2:17:08, congratulations!

I hope everyone enjoyed the weekend and until tomorrow…

Thursday: easy 37:39
Friday: day off (scheduled)
Saturday: 1:10:17 with 5x800 (3’)
Sunday: hilly 1:00:08

Weekly mileage: 5h23’52”, +/- 75k or 47 miles

Wednesday, May 20

I blame the monarchy

I’m in the midst of an easy week, a design that I picked up from Jon: Monday off, Tuesday – Thursday 40’ easy, the rest isn’t quite as effortless. That said, with Monday a statutory holiday, I decided to take advantage of the time given and thoroughly enjoyed a solid run on the trails with Carter. And because of this, well, I blame the monarchy.

“Victoria Day, colloquially known as May Two-four, May Long, or May Run, is a federal Canadian statutory holiday celebrated on the last Monday before or on 24 May, in honour of both Queen Victoria's birthday, and is also considered an informal mark of the beginning of the summer season”.

I don’t know about the summer piece, definitely isn’t here yet.

Monday: hilly 1:19:12
Tuesday: easy 38:12
Wednesday: easy 38:24

Sunday, May 17

Black Press 5,000m

“A lot of people run a race to see who is fastest. I run to see who has the most guts, who can punish himself with an exhausting pace, and then at the end, punish himself even more. Nobody is going to win a 5,000-meter race after running an easy 2 miles. Not with me. If I loose forcing the pace all the way, well, at least I can live with myself.” ~ Steve Prefontaine

I’m such a greenhorn.

In an effort to raise money for the Easter Seals 24-hour Relay, a friend of mine organized an impromptu track meet, the idea was simple, three 5,000m races: the first was an All Comers event, the second High Performance Men and lastly High Performance Women.

And so despite this being my first full week back since Boston, or perhaps because of it, I found myself warming up on the home stretch of the Jack Wallace Memorial Track on a warm Friday evening.

I was nervous, frightened actually, this was to be my inaugural 5,000m track event and I had no idea what to expect other than pain. Excruciating, lung searing pain. Ally and Isla were playing on the infield, and after a quick good luck kiss from each, I completed my remaining strides. With only a few moments until the start I couldn’t help but wonder why all the other athletes were gathering on the back stretch. I thought for sure a few of the more 'exacting' individuals would have made their way over to the start. It was then that Chris made his introductory announcement, “Welcome to the Black Press 5,000m High Performance Men’s event. The race will begin on the back stretch, at the 200m mark, in about three minutes”.

I should’ve known that, did I mention I was nervous? I quickly jogged across the grass infield to the start line, and with after a few quick handshakes, a cursory nod of the head, I found myself on the inside lane, third back and smiling.

Based on my March half marathon, a comparable 5k equivalent would be around 17:05. However, given some needed rest and having only run on the track twice in the last 12 months, I was expecting something slower. Still, I was going for broke and my plan was to run 3:25/km (17:05) and hope for the best.

I split the first kilometre in 3:20 and the second in 3:24. It was after that point though that I found it mentally straining to count laps and instead focused on the large lap cards. This stopped working when shortly afterwards I was passed for the first time by the leader. It was the second time he went by that really did me in. When all's said and done, I thoroughly enjoyed the event and I’m pleased with my performance. Chris and his team did a fine job organizing and my result will serve as a great base and guide in the weeks to follow.

P.s. This was the first time I've ever finished last... humbling isn't it.

Wednesday: easy 37:54
Thursday: easy 39:03
Friday: 1:01:17 w/ 5,000m 17:27.7
Saturday: day off (unscheduled)
Sunday: easy 1:08:24

Weekly mileage: 4h33’09”, +/- 64k or 40 miles


5,000 Metres - High Performance Men

Ryan McKenzie 14:02.8
Scott Simpson 14:21.73
Kyle Jones 14:37.34
Trevor O’Brien 15:22.85
Ian Hallam 15:48.86
Paul O’Callaghan 16:16.47
Walter Cantwell 16:39.68
Simon Dejongh 16:52.99
Gord Christie 16:58.010
Mike Lord 17:27.7

BC Athletics Officials: David Hopkins (Referee), Keith Newell (Starter), Doreen Newell, Ann Juteau, Evan Fagan (Lap Scorers), Lin Hopkins, Anne Lansdell, Bob Reid (Timers)

Race Director: Christopher Kelsall

Results produced by: Bob Reid, 2009-05-15

Tuesday, May 12

Vengeance Is a Very Useful Tool

Now that my running doubles as a mode of transportation, my choice of venue has narrowed during the week. So it was, with naught but the glare of the late afternoon sun and a blustery wind as company, I stepped back into the arena where there is no escaping the cruel truth. It was my inaugural visit to the hard packed dirt oval at Victoria High, and my second time since March, 2008, that I stood on a track. I wish this realization had hit home prior to the session.

I was unable to find where the start/finish or 200m mark was, and so decided to place stones at the apex of each corner. After an easy loop to remove some fallen braches, I touched my ears to their respective shoulder, gently jumped up and down a few times and then toed the line I had drawn in the dirt.

The plan was for 12x200m at 3kP but after looking at the McMillan Calculator, a tool I’ve never used before, I decided to aim for between 32.5 & 35.8. I thought the back end was generous as there was once a time when I could hit 35s in my sleep, and fully expected to pass the opening stone between 28.X and 32.5. I was in for a surprise.

What was once my bread and butter, a disproportionately fast 200m, all but appear to have been run out of my system. The times tell the story, and after recording 4 successive 37s, I decided to pull the pin at 10.

34.9, 35.0, 35.2, 35.7, 36.4
36.2, 37.2, 37.2, 37.6, 37.1

What I find amusing, is how strangely comforting I find the result. Yes I was running on a dirt track, and it was windy, hell, there’s no telling I wasn’t covering more than 200m. All that aside, what this has drawn to my attention is that a) it has been over 14 months since I’ve run regularly on the track, and b) efficiency at speed, once my bread and butter, is missing. I plan to change both these facts.

Monday: day off (scheduled)
Tuesday: 1:06:31 with 10x200m (200m)

Sunday, May 10


"The marathon's about being in contention over the last 10K. That's when it's about what you have in your core. You have run all the strength, all the superficial fitness out of yourself, and it really comes down to what's left inside you. To be able to draw deep and pull something out of yourself is one of the most tremendous things about the marathon." ~Rob de Castella

The last seven days were to be a transition of sorts. Having not laced up the shoes last week, I managed to log three easy jaunts, and capped things off with an unhurried meander through Mount Doug and Broadmead earlier this morning. It was a near perfect ending towards a gentle reintroduction to running.

Earlier this week, I met with a close friend and over a pint shared my training approach to the RVM this fall. The next 6-8 weeks are set, more or less, but he’s given me a few points to ponder before starting any crucial training. Not one to procrastinate, I expect ‘the plan’ to be finalized later this week. The approach is uncomplicated and has a solid blend of what I believe necessary to achieve my goal. I’m also excited to introduce some a new dimension to my training… very excited.

Friday: day off (scheduled)
Saturday: day off (scheduled)
Sunday: steady 57:47

Weekly mileage: 2h29’47”, +/- 35k or 22 miles

Wednesday, May 6

The Future

“Give me back my broken night, my mirrored room, my secret life, it's lonely here,there's no one left to torture” ~ Leonard Cohen

After my previous post, my plan was to spend some time talking about my future running goals, or at least my immediate goals (say, the next six months). As it was, I found myself standing in the bathroom this morning brushing my teeth, while listening to a small rap at the door.

Despite only being one, her birthday only a few brief weeks ago, it appears my lovely daughter is set on set on establishing a new routine… one that doesn’t allow me much time to myself. I smiled, some toothpaste slipping out the corner of my mouth, and started to contemplate a new future, one filled with a very intelligent and determined little girl.

As for my running, I’ve decided to focus on running the Royal Victoria Marathon this fall with a goal of finishing under 2h40. It will be seven years since I've run the race and it will be the first time I race it. I'm very excited!

Monday: day off (scheduled)
Tuesday: easy 20:05
Wednesday: easy 36:17

Sunday, May 3

Looking Back

“The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there” ~ Lesley P. Hartley

I’ve spent the last week or so slowly mulling over my preparation for Boston as well as reflecting on the race itself. On the recommendation of a friend, I’ve also spent some time analyzing three of my more recent marathon builds: Ottawa ’06, Sacramento ’06 and London ’07.

Why all the analysis?

As Rick pointed out last week, “it amazes me how erratic your marathon times are”. With me looking toward a fall marathon, I hope to learn from my experience and build upon past success.

Some raw data then from each respective 12-week build (total volume, LR volume, # of LR 2h+, # of workouts/races, total intensity and ME/P specific work):
Ottawa – 5,050’, 1,390’, 6, 23, 775’ and 166’
Sacramento – 4,935, 1,360, 5, 20, 721’ and 155’
London – 5,735, 1,385, 8, 21, 743 and 285’
Boston – 4,675, 1,320, 6, 20, 647’ and 210’

Quick Hits: (1) my average weekly volume has fluctuated between 6h30 & 8h00, and (2) the number of workouts/races is steady as is the volume of ME/P training, excluding London. All in all, I knowingly busted my ass training for London but otherwise the numbers didn’t reveal anything terribly telling.

[Note: while preparing for London, I had specifically asked my coach at the time to set up a schedule that would allow me a glimpse of what it would be like to train as elite]

After ruling out the easier quantitative analysis, I was left with three criteria: (1) nutrition, (2) recovery/energy level, and (3) the previous 12-weeks, i.e. 12-24 weeks out.

I can only assume my nutrition has been good, but my recovery, well that’s a different story. I think a factor that I hugely misjudged while training for Boston was the toll a sleepless night can play on recovery, let alone 10-months of interrupted sleep. I’m so thankful our little angel is now sleeping through the night.

Lastly, when I looked back at the 12-24 weeks prior to each race I found the following:
Ottawa – nothing, not much more than solid base work;
Sacramento – more of the same, moderate volume with minimal but consistent intensity;
London – Sacramento, i.e. a marathon followed with little recovery before squeezing in more volume than ever before; and
Boston – consistent running, but little recovery (not for want of trying).

What am I taking from all this then? (1) Proper recovery is paramount, and (2) I respond well to volume, but not necessarily copious amounts of it. These two areas, as well as race day nutrition will be my focus as the next six months unfold.

Tuesday: day off (scheduled)
Wednesday: day off (scheduled)
Thursday: day off (scheduled)
Friday: day off (scheduled)
Saturday: day off (scheduled)
Sunday: day off (scheduled)

Weekly mileage: 0h00’00”, +/- 0k or 0 miles