Sunday, June 28

A Taste of France

To place what I’m about to tell you into context, know that I’m an avid fan of cycling. It’s been almost ten years since my last race, but that hasn’t stopped me dreaming (particularly as I was a better cyclist than runner).

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Even though the majority of my saddle time is now logged traveling to and from work on a decommission rail line, I still occasionally dash for imagined sprint bonuses.


So it was earlier this year while following the Giro d’Italia, that I declared May to be… Italian Food Month, and then spent the subsequent weeks filling our table with venetian rice pudding, tagliatelle with walnut sauce, and sausage and lentil stew. But with the Tour de France starting in a few short days, I decided to get a leg up on July (French Food Month) and have perfected a brilliant boeuf bourguignon… I’m really looking forward to the month ahead.


As for the running, my achilles continues to slowly heal. I was happy with how it held up after the pseudo 100s on Tuesday, but even so decided to sneak in an extra day of recovery before running some (pseudo) 200s on Friday.


I’m very pleased with how my running has come around, if not physically then mentally. On Wednesday, I’ll race the last of the Summer 5k Series after which I’m going to dial things back for a few weeks before launching into a solid 12-week marathon build. Whereas last time around, I felt I was struggling to find some/any energy, I’m really looking forward to the months down the road. October couldn’t come soon enough.


Training:

Thursday: easy/steady 1:08:39

Friday: easy 49:08 with 12x37” 3kP (1’)

Saturday: easy 53:49

Sunday: 46:22 with 8xstrides


Weekly mileage: 6h17’42”, +/- 88k or 55 miles

Wednesday, June 24

Old Sneakers

I’m happy, and perhaps a bit proud to say that I managed to heed my own advice and did not run yesterday’s workout on the track. With my achilles on the mend, and the last of the 5k summer series next Wednesday I decided to run the session on a grass field not too far from our home.


The route to the park was undulating and served as a good warm-up. After arriving at the field, I did a few light stretches but then quickly jumped into the session. I’d originally scheduled 15x100m 3kP (20”) but opted for the much more civilized 15xdiagonals on an empty soccer pitch.


The workout unfolded without incident and with a few minutes to spare, I decided to take a marginally longer way home. I was glad to see that my achilles wasn’t aggravated but I iced it all the same. But as they say, “the proof is in the mudding” and it wasn’t until this morning, half way through my run to work, that I knew I was well and truly on the mend. One more session this Friday and then race time.


Oh, I almost forgot to mention that on Sunday I went by my favourite running shop and picked up a new pair of shoes. My calves had been sore, along with most of the other muscles, joints and ligaments in my legs, and it wasn’t until I tallied up my mileage that I understood why… 1600+ kilometres. Stupid, just stupid!


Training:

Monday: easy 41:26

Tuesday: 1:15:04 with 15xdiagonals

Wednesday: easy 43:14

Sunday, June 21

Coming Around

Asleep for less than an hour, I woke late Friday evening to the news that my mother had been taken to the hospital (she’s fine). After a journey up island to Emergency, a trip to my mom’s house, a return visit to the hospital and a subsequent jaunt back to my mother’s, I returned home around 5:45 a.m. just as Isla was waking. Needless to say, I opted to forgo the accountability of the track and instead ran Saturday’s w/o on the Lochside Trail. As it turned out, I was surprised at how good I felt. Running home the previous day, was the first occasion in weeks where my achilles wasn’t aggravated and as I ran my pseudo 1200s I caught glimpses of a former self.


The first two intervals really surprised me as my running felt more controlled than it has in months. My gait was smooth and quick, and my arm carriage relaxed (a rarity). What I was really aware of though, was my hips; they were rotated forward every so slightly which in turned caused me to feel… fast.


After a lovely Sunday morning with the girls, there was no sneaking needed as I strolled out the front door thoroughly intent on enjoying a “long steady run”. As it happened, it was the first morning in months where I was caught out in the rain, but as I looped around Mount Doug under the towering canopy, the precipitation did nothing but add to the atmosphere. My achilles started acting up toward the end of the run, but for the most part stayed under control.


I’m nervous about the week ahead. I have two workouts scheduled, one running 100s and the other 200s. Given that my last session at Vic High (12x200) really aggravated my achilles, I’m thinking of running the sessions on the grass; either that, or opting for a light Moneghetti w/o. Regardless, with my next 5k race the following Wednesday, my fingers are crossed and I’m hoping for the best. Here’s to a good week!


[photo: start of the Chemainus Twilight Shuffle, I’m #1516; shot taken by this guy]


Training:

Thursday: easy 45:20

Friday: easy 47:25 with 6xstrides

Saturday: 1:09:19 with 4x4’ (3’) 5kE

Sunday: steady 1:44:24


Weekly mileage: 6h06’21”, +/- 86k or 54 miles

Wednesday, June 17

25th Chemainus Legion Twilight Shuffle 5K

(BC 5K Road Race Championship)


With an achilles that has been nothing short of maddening, I decided to book an appointment with my witchdoctor of choice. Janet is a lovely lady, with a warm smile who’s quick to laugh. However, underneath that fa├žade is an individual who I’m convinced takes great pleasure in causing others, if only me, immense pain. There was a moment I remember clearly when I should’ve been face down on the massage table, but instead my back was arched like a cobra and I found myself quietly murmuring uncle. She had found my threshold.


Tuesday morning my achilles felt markedly better.


That afternoon, a colleague and I booked off work a tad early and drove the 90’ up island to the sleepy little town of Chemainus (locally known as the “Little Town That Did”). Not allowing for the early evening traffic, we arrived much later than expected. After a quick warm-up and an even quicker trip to the loo, I found myself toeing the start line with an unusual amount of butterflies in my stomach… it was the thought of going from “zero to pain”, that had me questioning why.


The elevation profile of the first kilometre is analogous to a large ladle, what with an ever decreasing downhill only to be followed by a bitch of a hill. Given that, I split the K in 3:15, five seconds faster than intended. After passing through the start/finish line we ran back down Main Street and up another hill into a large gravel log sort. At this point, the race started to break open and I found myself amongst a pack of eight. Unfortunately rather than concentrating on relaxing and finding some rhythm, we found ourselves hot-footing it through potholes and rocks. I knew I was slowing down but didn’t expect a 3:35.


The next two kilometres were relatively uneventful. Although there was minor reorganization in the group, we had pretty much succumbed to our positions. It was at about the 4k marker that Gord Christie (a former 2:11 marathoner) passed me, and it was at that very moment I feared I was going backwards. I remembering urging the others in the group to stay with the living legend, but despite a willing mind my legs weren’t ready. The last kilometre was akin to adding insult to injury, as we once again traced back down the panhandle only to struggle up the hollow.


I finished with a time of 17:23 (3:15, 3:35, 3:29, 3:30, 3:32), which was 4” faster than the Black Press 5,000m I ran May 15th. What I take solace in, is that fact that this was a significantly harder course. I know there are pitfalls when comparing, but the winner of both races was 20” slower in Chemainus, and Paul O’Callaghan & Gord Christie were respectively 51” and 19” slower. Regardless, yesterday was a step in the right direction (sore achilles and all), and I’m looking forward to my final 5k test on July 1st.


Results


Training:

Monday: day off (scheduled)

Tuesday: 1:02:15 with Twilight Shuffle 5k, 17:23, 21/553 OA, 6th AG, 3:29km/pace

Wednesday: easy 37:38

Sunday, June 14

Ego

e-go Pronunciation [ee-goh, eg-oh]: the part of the psychic apparatus that experiences and reacts to the outside world and thus mediates between the primitive drives of the id and the demands of the social and physical environment.

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My recent recovery week couldn’t have arrived at a more opportune time. With my left achilles still causing me grief, the last seven days allowed me some guilt free recuperation. With hindsight, perhaps I should’ve opted for 3-4 days off but instead enjoyed Monday for what it was, and kept Tuesday through Friday nothing but effortless jaunts.


Saturday’s session called for a return to Oak Bay Track (5x800m), but with family plans stacking up (see photo) I decided to run 4x1k on the Lochside Trail. The bane of my existence hadn’t completely settled down but I was hoping the softer/slower terrain would be more accommodating than a fast polyurethane oval.


After a gentle warm-up under some balmy spring sunshine, I started into the first interval. Without the constant feedback of the track I miss judged my effort, subsequently stopping the watch much sooner than expected. I gauged my pacing perfectly over the second kilometre, but was disappointed with the accompanying discomfort; at that pace I was hoping for something a little more effortless. I blame my overaggressive third piece on the fact that after approximately 600m I passed Simon Whitfield and Jon Brown coming the other way. With their encouragement and my ego, I need little else to shave a few unintended seconds off the clock. I believe I paid for my indiscretion on my last repeat: 3:09, 3:20, 3:14, 3:22


On Tuesday, I’m scheduled to run the second of three summertime 5k races. Whereas the last race was well organized and held on the track, this event is run on a mixture of asphalt and gravel road and if history serves correct will be far from organized. The race has suffered through constant course changes (once even mid-race), 1” countdowns and disastrous staffing (last year they had two unfortunate volunteers handling 1,000+ entrants). All that said, now boasting the designation of Provincial 5k Championships, I’m holding out for some improvement (however small).


Training:

Wednesday: easy 43:50

Thursday: easy 37:55

Friday: easy 23:23

Saturday: 1:11:24 with 4x1k (3’) 5kP

Sunday: easy 1:19:50


Weekly mileage: 5h03’22”, +/- 71k or 44 miles

Tuesday, June 9

Selkirk Trestle

I cross this trestle almost daily on my journey either to or from work. In the fall, the traffic is light and commuters pass unhurried, rested after the summer’s adventures.


The winter routinely brings a level of precipitation that can only be experienced living in the Pacific Northwest. If not slick with rain, the wooden boards are usually covered with a thin layer of frost. For the early morning commuters this means hugging the right-hand railing, clinging to the precious few inches that the sun might have warmed.

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Leaving at my usual time, the spring affords me a few cherished weeks where I can catch the suns first rays breaking over the downtown core. This sight is saved only for a lucky few.


During the summer, the crossing is typically covered with fair-weather commuters, and I only say this as my means of transportation is limited. The weekday warriors weave through one another with the same intensity that Luke Skywalker navigated the Death Star trench. Meanwhile, rowers practicing for summer corporate challenges pass underneath, oblivious to the rat race just meters above their heads.


Today I passed over the Gorge waterway not once, but twice, both times accompanied by Cater. In the morning, we rode bikes once reserved solely for racing, only to traverse the weather beaten beams later that afternoon on foot. And once again I enjoyed every footstep.


Training:

Monday: day off (scheduled)

Tuesday: easy 47:00

Sunday, June 7

Old Friends

Given the concern I had after Tuesday’s workout, I rounded out the week in fine form. Moreover, with the upcoming week scheduled for rest and recovery, the timing couldn’t be better. The achilles is far from better (70%), but I’m able to train and barring anything stupid… let’s just say I’m hopeful and leave it at that.


Yesterday morning I took advantage of having to go to the office and opted to run my workout at an old stamping ground, Beacon Hill Park. Not only was the terrain familiar, but the event was a repeat of my inaugural session with Jon, 3x10’ tempo. Only this time around I was on my own (sans Jon & Co).


I didn’t know what to make to the morning, but with a the temperature markedly cooler than it has been and gentle sea breeze blowing up off the water the day couldn’t have been better. The intervals were going to be the longest I’ve put in since Boston, and so I approached them with caution; not only was the plan to descend the set but I made sure the build into each piece with only the last 2’-3’ a test. My achilles was sore during the warm-up but otherwise I was happy with how it held up. Despite running alone, I was pleased with the effort and I truly loved being out there. The enjoyment I’m finding in my running at the moment hasn’t gone unnoticed.


Hicham put the bug in our ear last night, and this morning Carter and I joined him out at Thetis Lake (my first time back out in months). Those two are going to have to stop letting me lead, as not wanting to break tradition I opted for my usual start, and one that had our heart rates spiked in minutes. With both of them packing excuses that would have left most runners at home, the only words that escaped their mouths were ones of enjoyment. I owe them for today.


As it was, I capped the week off with two solid runs and even better friends. Here’s to the week ahead.


[photo: Thetis Lake]


Training:

Saturday: 1:00:15 with 3x10’ (2’) 10kE

Sunday: easy 1:27:50


Weekly mileage: 6h00’42”, +/- 84k or 53 miles

Friday, June 5

Heat breaks third day of records

Victoria scored a hat trick yesterday as the temperature broke a record for the third day in a row. The previous high for the region was 28C, which was surpassed at about 4 p.m. yesterday afternoon, when the thermometer hit 30C (the normal temperature for early June is a cool 18C).

I definitely don’t perform well in this sort of heat, but running home yesterday was enjoyable and if nothing else made for a change of condition. I think the highlight for me, was having a co-worker see me 30’ into the run; judging from the look on her face I can only imagine I wasn’t pretty.


My achilles has settled down enough to allow me to run, but it’s far from fighting fit. On the run in this morning it never completely loosened up and despite my best efforts I fear my stride is changing to compensate for the injury (my right knee and hamstring was sore). I’ve been icing, stretching and have also included twice daily heal drops into my routine. I’m remaining cautiously optimistic but I’m not expecting a quick turnaround.


With my next marathon months away, at least I have the time to incorporate some rest and recovery. Still, I’m going to try and work around that option.


Training:
Thursday: easy 48:49
Friday: easy 36:14

Wednesday, June 3

Hurry Up and Wait

After not running on the weekend, I decided to take advantage of the gorgeous weather we’ve been experiencing and revelled in an early morning up-tempo run on the way into work. Unlike Bob Geldof left the Boomtown Rats, I do like Monday’s. It was one of those rare moments where you’re at one with your body. My stride felt effortless and smooth, and as the sweat dripped down my face, it was with disappointment that I stopped wishing the run could’ve continued.

Yesterday afternoon, under record setting temperatures (30C), I slowly made my way back to the Vic High Track for my second session of 200s. Once again, the oval was deserted and despite best efforts from Carter and Hicham, I was to run this workout alone.

I ran a similar session in mid-May and therefore wasn’t too surprised to see my splits slower than expected. With the variance set to rest, it afforded me the time and concentration to focus on the workout. Unlike May 12, I completed the full 12 repeats and was proud of myself as I slowly jogged home feeling completely dehydrated but content.

34.1, 34.0, 35.7, 35.6, 35.2, 35.9
36.9, 36.6, 36.4, 37.0, 37.4, 36.4

Unfortunately, it seems that I may have worked a little too hard yesterday. I knew I was in trouble last night as I lay in bed, my left achilles throbbing to the beat of an unheard tune. Any doubt was put to rest and with my bike at work, I coerced my lovely wife into dropping me off at the office… there was no way I was running today. And so, I wait.

Training:
Monday: steady 49:47
Tuesday: 1:17:47 with 12x200m (200m)
Wednesday: day off (unscheduled, left achilles)