Sunday, August 30

Royal Victoria Marathon (7-weeks out)

My last week of running rounded out nicely, what with two decent workouts, one of which had me running close to 25k at marathon pace. Still, tonight as I sit at my desk and type, I’m happy that the week ahead has been reserved for recovery (rest, it out of my control).

Yesterday’s workout was the second of three real tests in this marathon build. The plan was to run 5x5k starting at 90% MP and descend down to the real deal (20:00, 19:45, 19:30, 19:15 & 19:00). Unfortunately, I need work on my execution.

As mentioned previously I decided to run the session on the Lochside Trail, between markers 14 and 19. Starting at 14, gives you two kilometres to nail the pace (the markers exist) but then you’re running blind until the finish at 19. I began what I thought was conservatively, but opened in a 3:45. I nailed the second kilometre but obviously, wound things back up finishing in 19:14.

The way back is ever so slightly uphill, or at least that’s how it felt, and I thought this would take the edge off my hot feet. I really wanted to run a controlled second interval, as I knew going too fast would open the doors to an ugly last 10k-15k. Sadly, despite feeling very comfortable and relaxed my legs had a pace of their own and my fate was sealed… it was after passing through 12k and remarking how easy things felt that I decided to roll with the punches (19:09, 18:58).

I overcooked the forth interval, ‘nough said (18:45), and with the legs feeling heavy and my turnover forced I purposefully reigned in the effort on the last one (18:53). I’m really happy with how the workout unfolded. I think this build has the least number of workouts compared with prior programs so the emphasis needs to be on quality.

If I did one thing right this weekend it was making sure today’s run was easy, very easy; my legs felt great.

As for our night away at the Sooke Harbour House, it might go down as one of my more relaxing birthday gifts ever… thoroughly enjoyable!


Sunday: easy 56:50

Weekly mileage: 8h57’55”, +/- 127k or 79 miles

Saturday, August 29

Game On

I have to be brief as we're about to take off for the evening, our first night away (together) since Isla was born. Mum doesn't know what she's in for.

I had what was probably the best workout in months today. The session called for 5x5k descending to MP. I headed out to a rather straight and somewhat flat section of the Lochside Trail, jogged out to the 14k marker and was off.

The idea was to start at around 20:00, and work my way down to 19:00-18:45. I didn't mean to, but by going too fast on the first one I set myself a lofty goal... it all worked out: 19:14, 19:09, 18:58, 18:45 & 18:53.

More later...

Thursday: 59:14 easy
Friday: A.M. steady 56:04, P.M. easy 40:19
Saturday: 2:25:56 with 5x5-k (1-k easy)

Wednesday, August 26

More of the Same

I’m knackered, the only problem is that I’m not convinced I deserve to be. Regardless, there’s no escaping the reality of a situation… whatever it is.

After running for almost two weeks without a day off (a rarity for me), I welcomed the scheduled rest on Monday. The big old ‘naught’ on the fridge never looked so pleasing. No, it was nothing but my bike and me on a surprisingly cool morning. If I were a betting man, I’d say autumn is just around the corner.


As I rolled out the door on Tuesday I didn’t quite know what to expect, but my legs quickly resumed there efficient shuffle and I clipped along the Goose on my way into work. Unless I leave at 6:00 a.m. the corridor is usually lined with people either commuting to work or out for a morning stroll with Rover. That morning though the passageway was void of all traffic but me, it was borderline eerie. I had to convince myself that it was a weekday and that Ally hadn’t played a cruel joke on me.


The jaunt home mind you couldn’t have been more different. As I cut across Beacon Hill Park, and

sauntered along Dallas Rd the streets were filled with tourists on scooters, cars, busses and the occasional bike. I was back to reality.


Work has been busy the last few days/weeks, and if yesterday’s throne speech is anything to go by, the year ahead isn’t going to slow down for me and my colleagues. So, with the phone ringing off the hook and that beloved envelope icon forever in the right-hand corner of my screen, I closed my office door and set off home, already late to meet the girls.


The scheduled had called for 8x800 but running to the track and getting home on time wasn’t in the cards. Instead, I set off through Oak Bay under an overcast sky and after hitting the quiet streets, I started into my new workout, 12x2’. I didn’t think much of the session, until I found myself gasping after the third repeat. *pant* I pushed the fatigue out of my head and before I knew it I was rolling along Mt. Doug Cross Rd. with only seconds remaining. All things considered a good evening.


Until later, ciao!



Monday: day off (scheduled)

Tuesday: A.M. 44:43, P.M. 1:00:17

Wednesday: 1:14:32 with 12x2' (1')

Sunday, August 23

Royal Victoria Marathon (8-weeks out)

Last week, I made a remark to a friend of mine that I believed there to be “a certain level of efficiency that is brought on by a similar level of fatigue”. Today, I found this principle held true.


Isla did not sleep well last night. In fact, she was up four times. And not those short awakenings where a small pat on the back, or a few minutes in a rocking chair can sooth a troubled child back to sleep. No. Theses were full-on crying bouts that left the entire household rattled. After the forth “event” I knew I wasn’t getting anymore sleep, and so I decided to sneak out of the house particularly early for today’s long jaunt.

My original plan had been to run with a friend (I hope he understands), but I took advantage of what little energy remained in my weary body and slowly plodded towards Mount Doug under a twilight sky.

Despite only running one workout this week, I’d upped my mileage considerably and decided to focus on running a consistent/steady long run rather than break any speed records. I also used the opportunity to experiment one again with my nutrition, this time opting for Cliff Blocks (lemon-lime). The blocks can be a bit of a mouthful and force a few seconds of uncomfortable nasal breathing but I love the taste and I find them easier to stomach than Gu. Still, I’ll experiment one last time in three weeks. As for the run itself, it went off without a hitch. I glided along with an efficient shuffle, nothing profound, but entirely comfortable.

This past week’s mileage will most likely be the highest I’ll run during this marathon build. With that said, I’m happy how the week unfolded. I managed to run a very solid 12k tempo session, and was very pleased to today’s run. I also logged my first double in months, probably since February/March, and my legs seemed to handle the added mileage well. The week ahead will be a good test though; Wednesday will be short and sweet, with a workout on Saturday that’s bound to knock my socks off.

I hope everyone had an enjoyable weekend, until later ~ cheers


Saturday: easy 1:22:09

Sunday: hilly 2:45:05

Weekly mileage: 10h01’30”, +/- 141k or 88 miles

Friday, August 21

Thanks for the birthday wishes, they were much appreciated. The missus outdid herself this time, booking a night for us at the prestigious Sooke Harbour House. The clincher was getting my mum to baby-sit Isla, overnight, a first for everyone involved. After a week of the wee one waking up at 5:00 a.m., next Saturday can’t roll around fast enough.


My big week of running continues to trundle along. With work on the verge of flying off the rails, I was up before twilight yesterday and out of the house not two moments later. It didn’t take long for me to decide that I don’t think I like running that early. Perhaps I was still fatigued from Tuesday’s effort, perhaps. Still, there’s something to be said for running down the middle of the road on a quiet weekday morning with only you and the odd bird for company.


Later that evening I packed up in a hurry, closing the office door behind me and leaving my running shoes resting quietly on the lower shelf of a dark office. It wasn’t until early Friday morning that I realized I’d left my said shoes on that lower shelf.


The problem: I’d hoped to work in a double. I went down to the basement and pulled out my old shoes, now reserved exclusively for cutting the grass. My very tattered size 9½. Sadly, I believe those shoes were partly to blame for my achilles problem. And it didn’t take long for me to confirm that belief. The Asics 2140s now rest at the bottom of a garbage can in my office, and I have a red piece of yarn tied around my finger. We live and learn.


I hope everyone has a great weekend, until later ~ cheers



Thursday: steady 1:20:03

Friday: A.M. steady 45:54, P.M. 59:56

Wednesday, August 19


It was hot during the warm-up, a bright sun with no shade. Prior to leaving the house, Tom Allen, host of CBC Radio had given a brief weather update. It was 25C and with the humidity over 60% it felt closer to 30C.

He jogged leisurely down the trail, allowing his legs ample time to warm-up for what lay ahead. The canopy above providing little cover, it wasn’t long before beads of perspiration followed the contours of his face and eventually hung precariously from his chin.

The session was simple, 12k at marathon pace and the only real workout of the week. He stopped under the shadow of a giant maple, traced a line in the dirt, paused for a moment and then set off down the tunnel of possibility.

The loop was perfect, 3-kilomters of flat, fast trail before turning back on itself following the road along the Blenkinsop Valley. The backside was interrupted by a gradual mile long climb, before descending steadily and looping back to the trailhead; in total 7-kilometres of compassion. By the time he crossed the 2k marker he had already shed his singlet, the opening section passing in 3:46 and 3:44.

Out onto the road he ran, the heat causing a mirage in the distance. The sky burned. He leant into the hill driving hard with each foot strike, the effort too much, but the pace sustainable, just.

Sweat poured. His achilles a dull ache, but nothing out of the usual. He used the downhill to conserve energy, keeping the pace consistent. Passing through kilometres eight and nine in 3:46 and 3:47 respectively, he was comfortable, and yet in a parade of pain. Sustained tempo does that, like Australian John Farrington said, “Marathoning is like cutting yourself unexpectedly. You dip into the pain so gradually that the damage is done before you are aware of it. Unfortunately, when awareness comes, it is excruciating."

Only on this day it was welcomed, it was his birthday and each stride an awareness of being alive.


Monday: easy 21:05

Tuesday: 1:26:34 with 12k at MP (45:16, average 3:46km/pace)

Wednesday: easy/undulating 1:00:44

Sunday, August 16

Royal Victoria Marathon (9-weeks out)

The calm before the storm; I think that phrase best describes my recent week of training. After a reasonably solid two weeks, I used the last seven days to recoup. Truth be told, I don’t feel like I needed the break. Apart from a tight back (which I’m taking care of – thanks Jaymie), my stride feels comfortable and relaxed, and I’ve been managing to log some decent sleep. I suppose it’s better now than to have it forced upon me.

I have a tendency to take each day as it comes, never looking too far down the road. I believe this to be a good quality, particularly when I’m my own coach. That said, it wasn’t until late in the week then that I noticed what lay out in front of me. Four of the next five weeks are monstrous, the bread and butter of my marathon preparation and they’ve snuck up on my like the damn rabbits to my vegetable garden. Perhaps there was some reasoning behind that scheduled rest?

As for the last few days, well, the week rounded out as it started… with some relaxed easy running. I had considered swapping Saturday’s w/o for a 5k track race on Friday evening, but when my sister volunteered to baby-sit, Ally and I took the opportunity to get out of the house (together) for what felt like the first time in months, perhaps longer.

Saturday morning rolled around then, and it was with some trepidation that I drove down to the Oak Bay Track and started a light warm-up. Three weeks earlier I had run a similar session, only this time around I was to add another repeat, 5x1200m at 5k pace.

I don’t know why, but I was nervous about starting the workout. I jogged on the spot for a moment, shook my shoulders out, toed the line and the rest was history. In the end, the session turned out to be quite boring or at least to dull to write much about. I felt like I had a metronome beating inside me, and very uncharacteristically for me chose not to check my splits. Rather I concentrated on a controlled comfortable effort and when I finished I felt I could’ve run at least one more: 3:59, 4:00, 3:57, 4:00, 3:59.

The highlight of the week though was yesterday morning. Carter picked me up and we drove out to Thetis for a great trail run. I can’t remember the last time I was out there, obviously too long.

Here’s to the week ahead and a some solid running, happy trails!


Wednesday: easy 42:02

Thursday: easy 43:48

Friday: steady 57:02

Saturday: 1:07:55 with 5x1200m (400m) 5kP

Sunday: easy 1:19:40

Weekly mileage: 5h36’43”, +/- 78k or 49 miles

Tuesday, August 11

Road to Recovery

Sunday rounded out the first training block in my 12-week build toward the RVM. I was happy with how I felt after monster session on the weekend but also thankful to wake up and see that my bike was at home come Monday morning, i.e., I didn’t have to run to work.


I begin my second phase of training with an easy/recovery week. I’ve scheduled nothing but light/steady running Tuesday – Friday, followed by a small track session on Saturday and a moderate cruise on Sunday. I could get very accustomed to this.

Truth be told, my back hasn’t completely settled down after jarring it two weeks ago and so I scheduled an appointed to see Janet this afternoon. She worked on my legs for a bit but spent most of the 45’ trying to get the right side of my back to loosen-up. My legs feel great, my back not so much.

As for the running, I was fortunate enough to be able to accompany Carter on his stroll home today. I don’t know whether it was due to the pedestrian pace, the massage, or the fact that I was coming off a recovery day, but my legs felt fantastic… it didn’t go unappreciated.

Happy trails.


Monday: day off (scheduled)

Tuesday: easy 46:16

Sunday, August 9

Royal Victoria Marathon (10-weeks out)

It has been months since I’ve managed to string together back-to-back solid weeks, but the last fortnight has more than made up for it. Today alone, spoke volumes.


After a hard track session Wednesday afternoon with Brad, I made sure to keep the effort light for the remainder of the week. Friday was a bit of a struggle but I attribute that to mental fatigue after a killer day. Saturday on the other hand couldn’t have been more different; I was able to coax Carter out of the house for an early morning jaunt through the Broadmead trails. Thoroughly enjoyable.

Today though, ha, that’s where the rubber hit the pavement.


I’ve scheduled three key marathon pace sessions before the race in October, and today was where it all began. First off, I must apologise to a few friends who enquired about getting out for a Sunday run. Given the (sadistic) nature of the workout, or at least my chosen venue, I opted to run this one solo.


The plan was simple, 6k (6’), 5k (5’), 4k (4’), 3k (3’) & 2k… near or at MP; the location, Oak Bay Track.


I wanted to ease into the effort and so planned to run the first interval at 3:55 pace/km (2:45:46), dial it up slightly for the second 3:50 pace/km (2:41:45), and then hold on for dear life for the remaining three, 3:48 pace/km (2:40:20). Nothing ever goes according to plan.


When I arrived at the track, the air was thick after a light rain. I warmed up along the beach and then made my way back to the field. For all but the last two kilometres, patchy clouds of fog kept me company along the homestretch only to stand me upright on the other side of the oval.


It didn’t more than 2km for me to remember just how uncomfortable MP effort can be. Knowing I was in for the long haul, I shut my mind out and instead focused on the rhythm of my breathing and the sound of my shoes hitting the wet track. The second interval felt markedly easier and the third was ridiculous, easy that is, or at least it felt. Sadly I somehow thought I’d feel more comfortable toward the end, what with the shorter intervals… this was not to be. The last 5k was a test of character and reminder me of the last few km’s of a marathon. I think I passed, just.


3:53, 3:49, 3:53, 3:52, 3:48, 3:49 (3:50.7)

3:49, 3:51, 3:54, 3:46, 3:49 (3:49.8)

3:45, 3:46, 3:46, 3:52 (3:47.2)

3:47, 3:47, 3:49 (3:47.7)

3:44, 3:46 (3:45.0)


Everything considered, I couldn’t be happier with the workout. It also provided me with an opportunity to practice my in-race nutrition only unlike last week, this time it was at speed. I experienced a slight stomach cramp toward the end but I think that had more to do with the stop/start nature of the session.


Until next time, happy trails!



Thursday: easy 49:01

Friday: steady 1:10:50

Saturday: easy 58:01

Sunday: 2:10:12 with 6k, 5k, 4k, 3k & 2k at MP


Weekly mileage: 7h28’32”, +/- 105k or 66 miles

Wednesday, August 5

Old Friends

The missus will certainly have my neck if she reads this next bit. Nevertheless, after a solid two months of great (summer) weather, I’ve noticed a subtle change in the conditions the last few days. Nothing drastic, but as I ran to work yesterday morning the air was certainly cooler and the air smelled fresh, alive. Perhaps it’s the measured change in the sunrise, now rising at 5:55… which might also explain why Isla has been ‘not’ getting up at 5:30 the last few days.

On the weekend, an old friend moved back to town and it didn’t take me long before I coerced him out for a run. Truth be told, I believe he was chomping at the bit, anything to get him away from his newfound household chores. Regardless, I welcomed the idea of company and as I loped my way toward the Vic High Track earlier this evening, the thought of running partner was the only thing holding me true.

Brad was already at the track when I arrived and after drawing a literal line in the sand, we began the session. If memory serves correct, I led the first lap, or at least the first corner, before running smack into a relentless headwind on the backstretch. Not only did we have the benefit of the added challenge, but the far side of the track is also home to a small mound. I hate dirt tracks.

Earlier that morning, I’d mentioned running 6-8x800 and after the first interval I focused solely on ‘6’. But as each successive repeat finished, the effort seemed to lesson. Partly as I road shotgun while running into the wind, but also because the body seemed to relax into the workout. This changed after #5. This was also the point that Brad said, ‘last one’… to which I replied, ‘one more’. These words came back to haunt me only minutes later.

2:40, 2:40, 2:39, 2:40,

2:40, 2:41, 2:39, 2:40

The session over, I was really happy with the workout and thankful for the company. I always seem to forget the effort required to finish this sort of training… it always seem so much easier once you’re done.


Monday: day off (scheduled)

Tuesday: easy 50:48

Wednesday: 1:29:40 with 8x800 5kP (2’)

Sunday, August 2

Royal Victoria Marathon (11-weeks out)

When I compare the preparation of my recent marathons, to that of Ottawa and Sacramento in 2006, one difference I noted was that in the latter my Sunday runs were much longer than those of late. I’ve made a couple alterations to the way I’m approaching RVM this fall, and one has been push out the distance/duration of my long runs.


So it was, that bright and early on Sunday morning I headed out the door and onto the Galloping Goose Trail turning south toward town. It was 7:30 a.m. and I had just enough time to squeeze in my planned 2h30 scuttle before packing up and driving up island to watch some friends get married.


I hadn’t been out the door more than 20’ when I heard footsteps quickly coming up behind me. Granted I wasn’t going that fast, but I can’t tell you the last time I’ve been passed while out on a run. Thinking it was a weekend warrior desperate to push passed for the unseen victory line, I didn’t bother to turnaround. It was a few seconds later when I felt the cold hardened stare of Mr. Finlayson, that a smile began to creep over my face. Jim nodded, and then smiled with a looked that quickly left me feeling out of the loop.


It appears that I missed the email calling out the troops, but as luck would have it I’d started my run on a route that also served as a gathering point for the boys. Ten minutes later, there were five of us traipsing around the waterfront on what would be Todd’s last run as a single man.


I peeled off after an 1h40, turning back onto more familiar trails which lead me through Cedar Hill and the Blenkinsop Valley before reaching home. I was pleased with how the run unfolded; particularly given my longest run in this build has been just over two hours. I also used the jaunt to experiment with some fuelling. In the past my in-race nutrition has consisted of water (very little), Gatorade (a lot), and 2-4xGu. On Sunday, I went with 3xGu, opting to eat ½ a packet every twenty minutes, washing it down with water. The result was very good, great actually, but this plan leaves no room for an electrolyte drink… something I’ll need to remedy. Ideas?


After the run, the girls and I hopped in the car and drove up Island. Two close friends of ours were due to get married that afternoon, and after leaving Isla with grandma, we were treated to a very unique and special ceremony involving two beautiful individuals. Congratulations Brea and Todd.



Thursday: steady 1:08:37

Friday: 40:04 with 6xstrides

Saturday: steady 1:09:22

Sunday: easy 2:32:26


Weekly mileage: 7h26’55”, +/- 104k or 65 miles