Wednesday, December 15

Do the Rest

While sitting here enjoying what has been described to me as ‘viral bronchitis’, I came across an interesting article written by an old idol of mine… back when I was a self-described triathlete. More than a decade ago with a wife, two children and a career in hand the principals of rest and recovery are perhaps even more important.

In short the piece goes on to describe how, “All work and no rest makes for an injury-prone and weakened weekend warrior.”


The gist he’s trying to get across is that “instead of just waiting for recovery to occur, as many athletes tend to do, you're to grab the bull by the horns and actually do something to assist your cause.”

Incidentally, he advises that “grabbing a bull by the horns will not assist your cause or for that matter grabbing a bull anywhere, particularly anything that dangles.”

For the full article click here.

As for me, I’m trying to get in what I can, when I can, which at the moment isn’t much.

Training:
Dec 13: A.M. 47:34, P.M. 23:26
Dec 14: A.M. 23:17, P.M. 45:04
Dec 15: 44:15

Monday, December 6

Thursday, December 2

Something Resembling Normalcy

The quality or condition of being normal”, that is the environment I’ve been seeking to find. It’s funny, I can remember moments throughout my life when I’ve strived to be anything but. And yet for the last fortnight I’ve longed for anything remotely approaching ordinary.

Last week Victoria endured a very unseasonal snowstorm, along with the coldest November temperatures on record. Taking the snow in stride, I opted for less volume but more frequency and ran to and from work, daily. A favourite memory, running along the snow filled Colquitz Trail amidst complete silence. Heaven.

Unfortunately, and perhaps because of the weather, my bronchitis has returned (conceivably it never left) and I’ve once again I returned to the sidelines. On the outside looking in. This has been coupled with a son who is cutting his first tooth, a daughter who is two, and an ever changing work environment; ‘nough said.

Luckily, yesterday I managed to get out for a few steps along the trestle and I hope to hit the Colquitz Trail later this evening. My appreciation for these rare moments of solitude is growing.

Friday, November 19

A New Beginning, the Same But Different

On a crisp, unblemished sheet of paper, titled Spring 2011, I’ve just finished penciling in my mileage for the last five days. I had intended to cover 3h30; I actually ran 3h26. Ten years ago I would have found this result demoralizing, crushing. Today, it’s reality (and nothing less).

What hasn’t changed though is the giddiness that overwhelms me as I plan the journey.

Inspired by a line from Leonard Cohen’s The Future, ‘give me absolute control’… I’ve made a plan, and it’s a good one. Learning from mistakes made while training for Boston in ’08, i.e. when combining marathon preparation with a newborn baby, it’s the parent that will come out losing (sleep), I’ve decided to a) live vicariously through Thomas as he prepares for his next marathon under the quiet tutelage of MC, and b) instead focus on the local TC 10k on May 1st.

As a guide I’m using Daniels’ Running Formula, Second Edition, specifically the 26-week 5k to 15k program. I’m quite excited about this approach as I’ll be able to use the Island Race Series as preparation. Not only will I be able to run most of the events, but I will also be competing in a new age group… this will be my first year as a Master’s Runner, 40-44!

Since returning from Maui, I’ve followed through with my commitment lie low… two long weeks without running. Although this was made easier as I struggled through a lingering bout of bronchitis, each day as I entered out mudroom passing my lifeless shoes, I couldn’t escape a certain longing. Sadness.

It’s funny what a proper storm and a fortnight of abstinence can do. Yesterday evening as I lay in bed listening to the wind howl off the Pacific, that same aforementioned desire was all but absent.

Training:
Nov 15: steady 55:52
Nov 16: easy/tight 38:55
Nov 17: easy 1:02:29
Nov 18: steady 23:12
Nov 19: steady 25:25

Monday, November 1

Xterra Makena Beach Trail Run

After being gone for the better part of five days, it has taken me almost a week to recover some semblance of normalcy and it will undoubtedly be a few more days before I fully regain my composure. My recovery has been in part delayed due to an annoying bout of bronchitis and a rather large corporate realignment at work. Life certainly isn’t dull.

As for the race itself, apart from seeming like a lifetime ago, it was desperate, brutal and unforgiving. Essentially everything you could and would wish for in a trail race.

I was very fortunate to be staying at the race hotel, and with the event starting almost directly below my fourth floor balcony my usual pre-race routine was quite truncated. That said, with almost 600 nervous competitors milling about the grounds being caught up in the excitement was inevitable. And so after a light warm-up (not difficult when it’s 28C) I toed the grassy start line with naught but a smile and a dry cough for company.

BOOM!

Never in my life have I experienced such a loud starting noise. I should have taken more caution when I noticed the previous year’s winner with his fingers in his ears. I literally jumped with fright and was quickly swallowed by 50+ people at the start.

But with relatively open and rolling terrain over the first mile it wasn’t long before I was near the front. This worried me. But as we made a sharp right and struggled up the steep lower slopes of Haleakala gaps quickly formed and ‘racing’ quickly turned to ‘survival’, as the next two miles turned to a lung burning, quad bruising fight for survival.

After reaching the race high point and quickly sneaking a peak at Molokini off in the distance, the course turned right again before plunging down the notorious Cactus Alley. After spending a lot of time running under a canopy of rocks and roots in BC’s rain forest, I was hoping to use the downhill to gain a few positions. Unfortunately, either a) so were my competitors or b) my quads were spent. Probably both.

After coming off the volcano the route pops out onto the very southerly tip of Big Beach. Never has running been so difficult or my throat so parched, as I shuffled along the next mile of open shoreline. We’ve all experienced those dreams where you’re violently running and going nowhere, this was the harsh reality for each competitor.



Our hopes and speed were only raised slightly as we exited the coast, only to once again trundle through a very sandy ‘spooky forest’. At this point I was desperate. With my nearest rival a distant memory I scrambled over the last mile of black sand and sharp lava before crossing the finish line, a wilted version of myself.

Training: 47:43 10th OA, 2nd AG, 06:54 pace/mile

Friday, October 22

Xterra (Maui)

After a smooth 5h30 flight we arrived in Maui late last night. The air was thick with an acrid smell from what I imagine is burning sugar cane but the humidity and warmth that accompanies this tropical paradise more than compensatsd. After checking into the hotel it wasn't long before my head was on the pillow enjoying a restless sleep. Apparently some things never change, even without the kids.

Staying a the race hotel has its benefits, but finding a breakfast for under $20 clearly isn't one of them. Coffee, bagel and some sliced pineapple later and we were off to the beach. This was to be my first open water swim in years, actually it was to be my third 'swim' since Ironman Canada 1999. And so after licking the inside of my goggles I walked cautiously, giddily into the water.

Fast-forward 20' and I had nothing to show but sore lats and a huge grin on my face. Swimming in the warm (highly salty) Pacific Ocean has its benefits, namely floating. The water was crystal clear and extremely calm apart from a slight rolling swell. I could quickly get used to this.

And so now, with RC out for a pre-race ride, I'm going to head out for a leisurely jaunt in preparation for tomorrows run. I haven't been filled with this much race excitement in years. I think it's the innocence of it all. Until later... mahalo.

Wednesday, October 20

Next Steps

Before I begin espousing my future plans, I need to share a rather less than inspiring but slightly humiliating moment. About this time last year I started going to the gym. Nothing all that serious, but as I wasn’t running due to a hamstring injury I needed something to keep me sane. I was also completely unimpressed with my utter lack of physical strength, i.e. cutting our lawn was far more challenging than necessary. Typically, I would bastardize a CroffFit workout to support me fleeing the weight room in less than 20’.

Fast-forward 12 months and I’m still routinely going to the gym. I’ve learned a lot, sometimes the hard way (doing bench press without a spotter can lead to mortification when you need to crawl out from under the bar). Still, no one will confuse me with Arnold Schwarzenegger but I have gained almost 10 lbs. and my lawnmower quivers in fear whenever I walk passed our shed. As so it was, late last week I found myself perusing a CroffFit site looking for an interesting exercise when I saw the name “Karen”, the session consisted entirely of wall ball shots. How hard could squatting a weighted ball and then throwing it against a wall be, really? Three days and 150 repetitions later my hamstrings still ache. Idiot.

As for my immediate future, the initial plan was to allow a few weeks recovery after the half marathon before tackling BC XC Championships on October 30th. This was to be my last race of the season prior to a couple weeks off, followed by 6 weeks of base building. Nonetheless, with a memorial scheduled for Ally’s grandmother that day I won’t be racing. All the same, as I read recently. “always take advantage of an advantage”.

In late August a good friend of mine was about to compete in a local Xterra event (off road triathlon). I don’t think anyone including Carter expected to qualify for the World Championships. And so based on that understanding my lovely wife kindly put forward that should accompany him, should the stars align and he be awarded a spot.

And that’s why much to Ally’s chagrin, I’ll be leaving tomorrow for Maui to participate in the Xterra trail run on October 23… and also starting my rest and recovery phase one week earlier than scheduled, in paradise. Now, if only I could rid myself of this cold inherited from my loving daughter…

Training:
Oct 18: easy 24:15
Oct 19: 1:00:03 w/ 5x6’ tempo (2’)
Oct 20: easy 28:44

Tuesday, October 12

GoodLife Fitness Half Marathon

Game on. Those were the words that echoed in my head as I passed over the 10k timing mat. With dark clouds hanging precariously low and a blustery wind at my back, I knew the ensuing 11k was going to be tough. I wasn’t disappointed.

Up until that point, I had been running in the company of a friend. Jen had hoped to hold 3:47s, me 3:45s which would’ve seen both of us sneak under 1h20. However, having completed 4 of the last 5 (albeit rolling) kilometres in the neighbourhood of 3:50, I knew we were in for a challenge. And so, with washed out Olympic Mountains to my right and an eerie Ross Bay Cemetery on my left my perceived effort slowly edged beyond comfortable, and settled well into the red.

The subsequent kilometres passed with the same eagerness as do telephone poles on a dreary autumn morning.

After eventually reaching the turn-around, I noticed a small group of runners dangling 200m in front of me. But try as I might, as we weaved our respective paths through Fairfield’s twisted streets, each corner presented an image a tad lonelier and disconnected than the last. My splits as follows:

3:35, 3:41, 3:47, 3:42, 3:45 (18:30)
3:50, 3:51, 3:40, 3:51, 3:50 (19:02)
3:49, 3:53, 3:51, 3:51, 3:52 (19:16)
3:56, 4:04, 4:09, 3:57, 3:59 (20:05)
4:02

Two days later, I founded myself sitting outside Habit enjoying much appreciated coffee as Carter and I traded tales from the weekend. His stories were much more exciting. However, I remember recounting how I’d hoped to run faster. How, despite being marginally older, enjoying marginally more responsibility, and wanting to run within the confines of a healthy, well-balanced family life... I still hoped for more. I think I’ve been deluding myself.

His response brought a smile to my face, “train with me”, he said. Much like throwing down a gauntlet, he penned a 10k time we’d both be happy with. Achieving it before well before spring arrives, arguably a bit challenging. Game on.

Training: 38/5717 OA, 2/242 AG, 1:21:04, 3:51km/pace

Thursday, October 7

Final Preparations

At the end of last week, we took an unplanned trip Alberta, Two Hills to be precise to visit with Ally’s ailing Grandmother (Winifred). I’ve only been to the prairies a few times and with each visit I’m filled with further awe at the sheer beauty, expanse and remoteness of the place. This time was no different. The visit was bittersweet as it allowed family an opportunity to share their feelings. Winnie passed away two days ago.

Given last minute travel plans, different time zones and travelling with multiple children two and under my preparation for this weekend’s half marathon is pretty much... bang on schedule. With an incredibly understanding wife, I was able to squeeze in Sunday’s jaunt running home from the airport. I think I need to do that more often; it’s a fantastic way to stretch the legs post-flight.

Speaking of which, as I cruised home along the Lochside Trail I “thought” I was clipping along at a healthy pace. So much so, that I actually increased the pace slightly, confident that I would close the next kilometre at race pace. And needless to say, I was horribly wrong. Despite rearranging the numbers 3:49 ≠ 3:45. When did a sub 1:20:00 half become so fast?

Training:
Oct 4: easy 54:12
Oct 5: easy 52:17
Oct 6: 1:09:50 with 4x4’ (2’) + 4x30” (1’)
Oct 7: easy 45:04

Thursday, September 30

Out Front

Yesterday, in what was probably the first time in over two years, I participated in a group track workout. What was more surprising was that I showed up early. In the past I might have wondered where everyone was, stretched or even started an early warm-up. Okay, it’s doubtful I would’ve warmed up early, but you get the picture. Yesterday was different. Without a second thought, I lay down beside the track, propped up my head with my flats and soaked up the warmth from the sun. The following 10’ were priceless.

Fast-forward 30’ and I found myself half way through the first interval with the sound of multiple footsteps behind me. It was in that moment, I realized that a) I’ve been running by myself for too long, and b) I like running out front, away from the crowds.

Jimmy had prescribed 8x1k at 10k pace. The only wrinkle was that I didn’t know what my 10k pace was... the disappointing 37’ run recently at Landsend, the missed by targeted 36’, or the longed for 35’. I was feeling nostalgic and enjoyed (I use the word loosely) the speed.

The first repetition felt too easy, loose. I picked it up slightly on over the next two eventually settling on uncomfortable yet relaxing 3:30’s: 3:37, 3:32, 3:32, 3:30, 3:30, 3:27, 3:30, and 3:22.

The evening was capped with the 3Ps, pizza, a pint and the Penny Farthing. Priceless!

Training:
Sep 27: easy 44:12
Sep 28: steady 51:41
Sep 29: 1:11:40 with 8x1k 10kP (1’)

Monday, September 27

Inspiration

With the 2008 Beijing Games fast approaching, Athletics Canada lowered the qualifying standards for the marathon to 2:11:31. Given that the national marathon record was set almost 35 years ago (2:10:09), this new target seemed rather... steep at best. Two days ago, under near perfect conditions a young Canadian athlete took a big step toward achieving a lifelong dream... participation in the 2010 London Olympic Games.

After suffering through nearly two years of injury, Reid Coolsaet crossed the line to finish the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon in a time of two hours, 11 minutes, 23 seconds — six seconds under the qualifying standard, and fastest time ever recorded on Canadian soil by a Canadian. In his own words, “When we hit 200m I looked at my watch and knew that I was going to break 2:11:29. With a few steps to go I saw the clock and started to celebrate, I had my time. It’s hard to explain all the emotions that were going through me because of my injuries back in 2008 so I’ll let this picture do the talking”.

As for me, I’m slowly working toward my next goal (the GoodLife Fitness Half Marathon) and the hope of regaining some of my former speed. With the race less than two weeks away, I’m quite curious at my level of excitement and anticipation. My preparation continues.

And so, on cold dark Tuesday morning I left the house in near darkness, turned left at the trailhead and slowly made my way north (away from town). There’s something about having to run a workout before the sun comes up that seems almost unfair. Still, beggars can’t be choosers and in this case the alternative was not running at all. Following a few months of track 3,000m preparation and with minimal time available, I’ve scheduled more than my fair share of tempo sessions in training for the half. This morning was no different. That’s why, after looping my way around Rithet’s Bog, and over to the Colquitz River it was game time. My time (thoroughly enjoyed). I can’t guarantee the 1’ intervals were any quicker than my tempo pace, but the effort was there. Two weeks and counting.

Training:
Sep 20: A.M. easy 23:22, P.M. easy, 42:27
Sep 21: 1:15:00 w/ 20’ tempo + 4x1’ (2’) + 2x6’ tempo (1’)
Sep 22: 56:16
Sep 23: A.M. easy 32:16, steady 1:10:51
Sep 24: 1:09:41 w/ 6x30” (1’) + 3x3’ (2’) + 3x80” (2’)
Sep 25: day off (scheduled)
Sep 26: 1:36:05 medium-long run

Tuesday, September 21

Almost There

Red Ten: "You'd better let her loose. They're right behind me."
Red Leader: "Almost there."
Red Ten: "I can't hold them!"
Red Leader: "It's away!"

Finding that quote brought me back to a time when life was uncomplicated. Daily decisions involved choosing between Han or Luke, and Cheerios or Shreddies. Life was good.

With the Landsend 10k a distant memory my main autumn goal/gaol is quickly approaching, the GoodLife Fitness Half Marathon. I’ve got a little over 2 ½ weeks of training left, most days I wish I had more.

My recovery from the 10k went well, so much so that five days later I dipped into my bag of “training secrets” and plucked out a killer session I once ran under Jon Brown. At the time I was preparing for the Boston Marathon and struggled through a painful 5x (1k MP, 2k 10kP). Last Friday I opted to complete the circuit 4x, I made it through 3 2/3 before reaching the trailhead and pulling the pin. A success of sorts.

I capped the week off with what was arguably one of the wettest runs I’ve ever experienced. In two hours I experienced more weather systems than I had in the previous two months. I wasn’t five minutes from home, ambling quietly along the Lochside Trail when I could see the trees shaking up ahead. Within seconds I was standing in the midst of a torrential downpour, and less than ten paces later it was over... but the damage was done. I was sopping. Still, I’ll take an invigorating 16C run on quiet trails any day.

Training:
Sep 13: 47:36
Sep 14: 1:09:02 w/ 2x8x30” (30”) (3’)
Sep 15: A.M. 1:05:20, P.M. 27:03
Sep 16: 1:08:50
Sep 17: 1:03:40 4x (1k MP, 2k 10kP) continuous
Sep 18: day off (scheduled)
Sep 19: 1:46:36

Monday, September 13

Landsend 10k

When I began my four-week vacation the sun was always up before me, the daytime temperatures hovered around 27C and I enjoyed a voracious thirst for Speckled Hen. Last night after lighting the fire for the first time in months, I sipped on red wine while cooking coq au vin; this morning running to work amidst darkness and with naught for company but a light drizzle and my own wandering thoughts. Autumn has clearly arrived.

Yesterday morning Ally and I bundled up the kids and drove out to Sandown Park for the annual Landsend 10k. Although the rainfall didn’t stop until later that afternoon, there was no wind and it wasn’t that cold. Some consolation perhaps.

After the usual warm-up (10’ easy, 3’ tempo, 7’ easy) I ditched my rain gear and slowly made my way to the start. The announcer proceeded to inform us that a) the kilometre marks were not accurate, and b) the course had been amended. Stretched. I didn’t pay much attention to either of these details until after the race.

The gun cracked and I quickly fell into step behind the race leaders only to watch them rapidly fade away into the mist, my nearest competitor finishing nearly full two minutes before me. I checked with MC (McMillan Calculator) the night before and based on my recent 5k performance, settled on a 10k time of 35:54 (3:35 pace/k). I split the first marker faster than expected but quickly settled into a comfortable stride, perhaps a little too comfortable as I dropped some precious seconds over around 3km.

The course is relatively flat out-and-back along very rural roads with a sharp steep hill shortly after 4km. Previous routes were measured to be approximately 150m short and we were assured this year’s route was accurate. That said I was quite surprised to hit the turnaround in 18:22 after completing a 4:03 kilometre.

3:25, 3:35, 3:42, 3:35, 4:03 (18:22)
3:55, 3:39, 3:44, 3:46, 3:23 (18:29)

At about 7k I was struggling to maintain a relaxed rhythm and was surprised to find myself remembering my previous 10k PB, perhaps taking some console in the familiarity of discomfort. I snapped back to reality to hear quickly closing feet only to recognize it was the raindrops falling off the trees. I ran the last few miles like a frightened rabbit closing in a time over a minute slower than anticipated.

I’m not too concerned about this race or the result as I had planned to use it in preparation for the GoodLife Fitness Half Marathon next month. But it has left me pondering my fitness and questioning a goal time for the next race, 1:19:53 vs. 1:22:00.


Back to reality, ouch!

Training: 36:51, 3:41/km, 5/91 OA, 4/14 AG

Tuesday, August 24

VTS Race #8: 5,000m (Fugly)

I’ve participated in enough races to fully appreciate and understand a few of the finer points concerning: pacing, attitude, fitness and desire. My summary, “you can’t run fast unless you run fast”. This all too obvious statement usually requires a certain amount of attitude (belief in oneself), fitness and race smarts. Apparently I still have a lot to learn.

After returning from our first camping trip (with children) and only moments prior to toeing the line I had enough wherewithal to draft out a rough race plan. Based on my recent mile, the McMillan Calculator predicted a 5,000m time of 17:17. I was hoping to run something faster, ideally closer to 17:00 but settled on sub 17:10... for no reason other than an unfounded belief that I was entitled to run faster. My pace/km was 3:26.

I chatted with the eventual winner (and perpetual superstar) Lucy Smith just before the start and knew that she was aiming to hold 3:25s with the thought being able to slip under 17:00 if the conditions were right. Sure, why not I thought. I was completely surprised then when instead of a moderate 81”-82” opening 400m, we cruised through in 78”. At that moment I knew I had to either, a) run with it and accept the result that fate would deliver or b) slow down. I choose poorly.

We spilt the opening kilometre in 3:23 the whole time alternating 400s as there was a wickedly strong wind on the backstretch. We continued this pattern through 2,400m, after which all I could do was squeak out a weak apology between gasps and wait for the inevitable.

The train wreck was excruciating. Despite trying to hold my form (the usual smooth stride and relaxed shoulders) it felt as if I was running uphill, into the wind with wet sneakers. In the end I crossed the line in the predicted 17:17 but couldn’t help but think of the possibility that existed had I run a smart race. Still, the result was far better than my first 5,000m in May (17:40) and a further improvement over the 17:24 run in June.

The carnage: 3:23, 3:24, 3:28, 3:35 & 3:27

Enough of this, back to vacation for a couple more weeks...

Training: VTS #8: 5,000m, 17:17.0, 3:27/km, 5:34/mi, 2nd OA

Thursday, August 12

The Dog Days of Summer

Following the birth of our second child, together with a busy work schedule and preparing for (and hosting) my mom’s 65th birthday celebration it seems that my running has been negligently pushed to the back-burner. That said, given a 3,000m race on Saturday followed by the final race of the Victoria track Series the following week (5,000m)... perhaps a little downtime isn’t a bad idea.

I’ve still been able to maintain some consistency (if nothing but the 20’+ run to work) but the first three days of this week have been rather underwhelming with respect to the volume. Preparation for an autumn half-marathon should change that in short order.

Yesterday I was scheduled to run a series of 800s and 200s but was once again forced to improvise as stepping on a track seems more difficult than in prior years. After warming up for 20’ I opted for an additional 20’ of easy running, as the sleepless nights appear to be taking their toll. Corbin has been, and continues to be a calm and quiet child (in stark contrast to his sister), but the cumulative fatigue that accompanies all new parents continues to build.

However, once in the midst of the workout I was surprised at just how comfortable I felt. Sadly, running a 30” effort along the tranquil trail behind my house is a tad less subjective than the track.

Training:
Aug 09: easy 23:02
Aug 10: day off (unscheduled)
Aug 11: 1:10:57 w/ 3x(2.5’ (30”), 1’ (30”) 1’)(2.5’)
Aug 12: easy 24:21

Tuesday, August 3

VTS Race #6: the Mile (again)

There are certain events in life where familiarity or experience can help bread a sense of calm. Competing in the mile isn’t one of them. And so it was that on a warm Saturday evening in late July, I found myself again pacing nervously, almost painfully as I waited to be called to the line.

CRACK!

Unlike last time there was no hesitation upon hearing the sound of the gun, rather the sharp noise brought almost instantaneous relief. Bolting clear from the line I immediately found myself out front and for the duration of the event was unaware of the other competitors. As I rounded the first corner and despite strangely heavy legs, I repeatedly told myself to slow down knowing that the initial rush that accompanies the burning off of the excitement and fear would soon be over.

Much like last time, the first 200m went by dizzily fast. I glanced at my watch, 37.5... and again much like last time, I had difficulty finding meaning in the split. The additional 9m at the beginning made the opening leg meaningless.

I heard the crowd as I passed the start, alone, the announcer educating the spectators that if I were to continue this pace I ‘may’ sneak under 5:00. I also heard for the first and last time a single high-pitched voice, “go daddy, go”.

“… 1:15 …”

I rounded the corner again and began my journey down the backstretch for the second time. It was about after 500m that it started... the all too familiar acid strain, my systems beginning to panic, organs shutting down for the duration. My legs started to get the first wave of lactic numbness. I don’t recall much else but a numbed sense of hurting.

“… 2:30 …”

Starting the third lap, I was really feeling it now, a sense of fear and dread knowing that I still had a long way to go. Just before the 1,000m mark I started my kick. Probably nothing noticeable but I didn’t want to slip off the pace. My shoulders now ached.

As I sped down the homestraight, the lactic acid was boiling. I remember the announcer, Paul telling the crowd that I was still on pace for a sub-5:00 mile, an important and hard fought barrier for the mile. Then the bell rang out.

“… 3:45 ...”

I rounded the corner and ran onto the backstretch for the last time. With about 200m remaining I was finally tying up. I was fighting fiercely to maintain form, trying valiantly to lift my ears off my shoulders. I recalled something Ron had yelled during the final lap of my last race and with great effort and determination pumped my arms fiercely. I pumped harder still, trying to concentrate as my headed rocked.

I could see the clock in the distance. Paul had the crowd cheering, as I tried to make sense of the number. I knew it would be close. I was completely numb, a world of pain. I would find out later that I crossed the line with a time of 5:00.5, half a second off my goal. It looks like I’m going to have to wait for until next season to have a crack at this again. Bugger. That said, I didn’t walk away empty handed as I won an adidas watch. Oh, and next time, I’m running in the elite race... although I would’ve come last I can only hope I that by chasing someone’s coattail I might have found the time I needed.

Training: VTS #6: mile, 5:00.5, 3:06/km, 5:00/mi, 1st OA

Friday, July 30

The Little Man

Since the arrival of our “little man”, life continues... as it always does:
· Our dearest daughter still get’s up at 6:00 a.m. (5:40 this morning) regardless of the time I go to bed, apparently my schedule is of little concern;
· Ally continues to surprise me with her adaptability and calm demeanour; and
· When I stumble down to the shed in a tired stupor only to remember that my bike is at work, i.e. I ran home the day before, crying is okay but I still need to run to work.

In all seriousness, the routine in our household has changed little since Corbin’s birth. I’m not minimizing the arrival of a new child, but I still tend to make dinner, Isla continues to thoroughly enjoy either 8, 10 or 2 books before bed and my lovely wife picks up all the slack.

As for the running, well, although the volume has dropped off I’m thankful for being able to maintain some frequency particularly when it means throwing in a double to help a friend lesson the load on his shoulders.

Earlier this week I booked off work in order to spend a day (our wedding anniversary) with the family. Whilst everyone was sleeping I snuck out the back door and jogged down to the Lochside Track for an impromptu workout. I wanted to squeeze in some faster intervals after warming up with a couple miles of tempo:
· 2xmile: 5:57, 5:55
· 2x400: 1:19, 1:15
· 4x200: 0:35, 0:34, 0:33, 0:33

Although I’d hoped to run the 200’s faster, the difference may lie in the subjective distance (which I need to measure out). Still, not all that bad and with some luck I hope to use this to break the 5’ barrier at the Victoria track Series Race #6 this weekend.

Wish me luck!

Training:
Jul 26: A.M. 1:01:30 with 2x(3’ (1’) + 30”(1’) + 30”) (3’), P.M. hilly 47:02
Jul 27: sluggish 24:09
Jul 28: 57:32 w/ 2xmile (1') + 2x400 (2’) + 4x200 (1’)
Jul 29: day off (scheduled)
Jul 30: easy 25:54 w/ 4xstrides

Monday, July 19

New Arrival

Friday was all about family, and more importantly Ally. She was the star of the day in a very short (I don't know that I'd ever describe childbirth as sweet) performance. Shortly after 2 p.m. Corbin Thomas arrived weighing in a 8 lbs 1 oz... and is loved by his parents and ever so affectionate big sister.

Thursday, July 15

Groundhog Day

The last ten days have become a bit of a blur, certainly not made any easier with my increased training. The mileage bump wasn’t in the plan but with imminent arrival of our newest family member, I can only surmise it is due to my own quirky coping mechanism. That or stupidity.

Always a glutton for punishment coupled with much need/appreciated distraction, last week I decided to squeeze in three workouts. I thought I was playing it safe by descending the intensity, but with the larger volume I may have been treading an awfully thin line. Either that or confused with marathon training.

Still I survived, barely. Although that’s possibly a little untrue because as I sit here I’m aware of nothing but heavy legs and unwanted overall fatigue. Even my lucky mauve shirt does little to lift my mood. Did I mention my sore neck? apparently sleeping on a single bed with my daughter, while resting my weary head on Dora the Explorer isn’t as romantic as once believed... at least not nearly as comfortable.

Ally’s due date ‘was’ supposed to be July 7th, but that came and went without much excitement. We did experience a false alarm on the 5th but after several hours at the hospital we were sent packing.

Since then, we’ve gone to bed every evening with the expectation that this would be it, only to repeat the cycle again. And again. As I explained it to a co-worker, it’s like coming home from work on a sunny Friday afternoon with nothing but a relaxing weekend ahead of you. Then, instead of waking to a glorious Saturday morning, I’m instead greeted with the cold harsh reality that only Monday can bring. Did I mention I’m impatient?

Training:
Jul 05: A.M. easy 26:49, P.M. 1:07:39 6x4’ hard (4’)
Jul 06: A.M. easy 48:15, P.M. easy 30:47
Jul 07: A.M. easy 24:00, P.M. 1:07:12 3x6’ T (1’) + 4x1’ (1’) + 6’ T
Jul 08: easy 50:42
Jul 09: 1:16:08 5x5’ T
Jul 10: day off (scheduled)
Jul 12: undulating 1:24:11

Weekly mileage: 7h55’43”, +/- 112km or 70 miles

Thursday, July 8

Heat Wave

The temperature in Victoria peaked at 31.6 degrees Wednesday, breaking the previous record for July 7, which was 28.9 in 1952. It’s also the highest since July 29 of last year, when the mercury reached a sweaty 35 degrees.”

I don’t know that I’d call two balmy days a heat wave, but given the average temperature over the last 10 months has fluctuated around 12C, I’ll take what I can get. Hello sunshine.

Following my recent 5,000m race, I found myself inspired but also left... wanting. And so, always the sucker for punishment, I decided to leave the qualitative measurement of “feel” behind and instead stepped up to the plate prepared for a more quantitative approach to training.

Despite not having access to track, or at least not having one conveniently located on my route home, I took advantage of two local footpaths that have been measured out by (I assume) the National Triathlon Center.

On Wednesday I ran 12x400 along the Blenkinsopp Connector, a paved route that runs across the valley, and only seconds from my doorstep. Notwithstanding the shorter intervals I’ve run on my various routes home, having a measured route to keep me honest was humbling: 1:14, 1:15, 1:16, 1:14, 1:16, 1:16, 1:17, 1:13, 1:16, 1:16, 1:15, 1:12.

Two days later, I found myself on the other side of the valley running 800s along the Lochside Trail. Last year I would’ve cruised through this workout with time to spare, but with my fitness building coupled with an undulating route I was again pleased with the results: 2:42, 2:41, 2:43, 2:41, 2:45, 2:42, 2:44, 2:46.

Happy trails.

Training:

Jun 28: comfortable 58:59
Jun 29: easy 43:31
Jun 30: 1:09:56 with 12x400 (2’)
Jul 01: easy 49:38
Jul 02: 1:03:59 with 8x800 (2’)
Jul 03: easy 32:28
Jul 04: rolling 1:21:58

Weekly mileage: 6h49’29”, +/- 94km or 59 miles

Tuesday, July 6

Bend It Like Beckham

At two years old, I think she has more skill than most of the English squad... certainly not any less. Hup Holland!

My training continues to roll along but with the wife expecting on Wednesday, coupled with last night’s false alarm, finding time to sit in front of the computer is difficult.

That said, I’m thoroughly enjoying what has quickly become a culinary tradition. For the third year running, for the duration of the Giro d'Italia (Tour of Italy), Tour de France, and Vuelta a EspaƱa (Tour of Spain) I cook Italian, French and Spanish food respectively. Last night was no different as we sat down to a massive Salad Nicoise courtesy of Ally.


More later.

Monday, June 28

VTS Race #4: 5,000m (Track is Back)

It had been eight laps since I’d run comfortably in the slipstream of the runner in front. Now, almost in jest I felt nothing but the imaginary slap as their wake dangled painfully out of reach.

The bell rang loud in my ear as I began my last lap. I round the corner and ran hard onto backstretch for the last time. I remembered the advice painfully gained from my last race, and tried in vain to hold my form. I had started my kick 500m out, and now with 300m remaining I had made minimal progress. Rather than gaining on my nearest competitor I enjoyed the lukewarm comfort of a dead heat. Once again there was nothing left in the tank. And much like last time I was left gasping, hands on knees after crossing the finish line.

A colleague and I were swapping weekend war stories this morning. He asked me what it felt like during one of those races, and my answer, “a long drawn-out paper cut”.

On the weekend I participated in Victoria Track Series Race #4, the 5,000m. It would be my second 5,000m of the summer, my first eight week earlier a disappointing (personal worst) 17:40. Despite having lost two weeks to an injured ligament, I was looking forward to making gains in my quest for a new PB.

Unlike last time where they held separate heats, on Saturday the organizers combined the elite and open races and I toed the line with 20 other nervous athletes eventually finishing in 17:24, 16” faster than my previous race. More importantly (and despite a fast opening lap) I was pleased with my pacing.

May 01: 3:35, 3:25, 3:36, 3:37, 3:25

Jun 26: 3:23, 3:30, 3:31, 3:30, 3:30

Obtaining a new PB (16:51) in the next two months will be a push, but I’m looking forward to the challenge. Last summer I ran three 5k races over the similar 8-week period and lowered my time from 17:27 to 17:07 (a 20” improvement). So far, I’ve managed to knock 16” off, in a little over 6-weeks. And with 8-weeks remaining until the August 21 final race, I have the road clearly laid out in front of me. With wildcard this summer will be the arrival of our newest family member.

Training:
Jun 21: day off

Jun 22: A.M. 1:15:07 with 4x2' (1') + 6x1' (30") + 8x30" (30"), P.M. easy 1:02:26
Jun 23: easy 54:16
Jun 24: easy 43:14

Jun 25: day off
Jun 26: 1:00:17 with 5,000m 17:24, 7th OA, 4th AG
Jun 27: rolling 1:22:21


Weekly mileage: 6h17’41”, +/- 89km or 56 miles

Wednesday, June 16

Training, Tales, Lies and Legends

Before twitter, before the internet, and even before cheap running magazines, there was the story, the tale of life’s lessons. Morals and information of all sorts were passed down from generation to generation – not through the electronic media, but by spoken word. And when told with conviction and enthusiasm, the themes became real, the legends believable. People pondering worldly decisions (what race shoe to wear) could refer for guidance to the memory of a particular tale told over a treasured pint.

I love a good story. Reading it, hearing it, and butchering it afterwards when I pass it forward. It doesn’t always have to be true, although often the good ones are, regardless I file them away in my scrapbook of memories. Legends and heroes are gifts.

Sadly though, I believe it’s too easy to miss an opportunity to learn from the experience of others. Luckily, running is simply one more vehicle for experience. And last night, a good friend and I traversed around a favourite part of Victoria all the while creating stories, embellishing... and at the appropriate time speaking the truth. Last night we were heroes, if only our own.

My training has been going well, nothing spectacular, but I’ve managed to string together several consistent weeks of +/- 70 miles. More importantly I’ve managed to stay injury free. It seems the “Mile” I raced a few weeks back, really sparked a desire to run. My next test will be a week Saturday when I run the second 5,000m of the Victoria Track Series and hope to build upon my sluggish 17:40.

Enjoy whichever road you’re travelling!

Training:
Jun 07: easy 1:08:12
Jun 08: A.M. easy 47:44, P.M. hilly 56:17
Jun 09: 1:09:46 8x3’ hard (3’)
Jun 10: easy 48:37
Jun 11: 1:10:27 with 30’ tempo
Jun 12: day off (scheduled)
Jun 13: undulating 1:38:24

Weekly mileage: 7h39’27”, +/- 108km or 68 miles

Sunday, June 6

VTS Race #3: the Mile (my first)

CRACK!

.

There was a small moment of hesitation when I thought my legs were going to fail me completely, and then I was away. Bolting clear from the line, burning off the rush of excitement and fear that had been weighing me down. Almost immediately, I found myself on the outside in about fifth position and not where I wanted to be. I ran strong around the first bend and tucked nicely into second, about two yards off the pace.


The first 200 went by as always, dizzily fast and I risked glancing at my watch, 38.0. Opening in that time was par for the course for me but as I tried to adjust the split for the additional 9m at the start, I quickly realized my brain was lacking the necessary concentration and gave up the calculation. What should I have been running?


I heard the crowd as we passed the start in a relatively tight bunch, the announcer reading off names like role call on the first day of school. But did I hear that, probably not. I swore I heard one single voice, “go daddy, go”.


“… 1:15, 1:16, 1:17…”


I rounded the corner again and began my journey down the backstretch for the second time, then it hit me. It started in my gut, a slow acid kind of strain, my systems beginning to panic, intestines, other organs shutting down for the duration. And my legs started to get the first wave of lactic numbness. Shoulders and arms starting now. However, what I remember most was the sheer dehydration in my throat, I was completely parched.


I could hear the panting and heavy strides of the runners behind me. Someone was trying to move up on the outside. Who was it? I hung in there coming into the home straight for the second time, although this time a little more laboured. As the crowd yelled, this time I knew I heard it, there was no mistake, “go daddy, go”.


“… 2:35, 2:36, 2:37…”


Starting the third lap, I was really feeling it now, the old intestine-sliding-down-the-leg extremis that comes when it dawns on you that there is a long way to go. Paul, the first place runner had put 15m on me, but as I stared down the far straighaway I knew I was gaining, slowly.


My shoulders ached now with the heavy strain of the lactic acid, so I pumped harder, trying to concentrate on form as my headed rocked back. I had been warned that this is where I needed to focus, maintain the pain, then push through it. Strangely enough, I vividly remember taking stock and was surprised at my inability to recognize any pain. I was completely numb.


As I sped down the homestraight, I really felt it, the lactic acid was boiling, but I was also getting excited knowing that this time it would not be long, that it wasn’t going to go on forever. Then the bell rang out.


“… 3:47, 3:38, 3:49


As I rounded the corner and ran onto backstretch for the last time, I was tying up, “feck me, what was I doing”. My ears were now firmly resting on my shoulders and my arms were heavy. I opened my kick only to find I was already in top gear, there was nothing left. I couldn’t breathe fast enough, my chest was pounding. I remember someone telling me to relax my chin, and Ron yelling at me to pump my arms as I soared onto the home stretch, running in fear of the footsteps behind.

.

"So this is what it feels like, this is what happens..."


Earlier that morning, I plugged my recent 17:40 5k into McMillan’s Calculator and was unceremoniously awarded a time of 5:06.0. I crossed the line in 5:04.2. I have eight weeks to find another four seconds. I loved every painful moment.


Training: VTS #3: mile, 5:04.2, 3:09/km, 5:04/mi, 2nd OA

Thursday, June 3

The Journey

I can’t remember all the details of my first marathon on that cold autumn morning, but there are certain elements I’ll never forget. Like passing my good friend Lance at the halfway point and deciding, I must have been running too slowly. And then there is that truly enjoyable sensation saved only for the uninitiated where you, and I, subsequently run headlong into that infamous wall. And, of course consequently being asked by the paramedics, "are you okay?" To this day, I wonder just how shattered I must have looked.

.

But what I’ll never forget is the feeling that existed once I crossed the finish line. Not the immediate jubilation and relief, but what stayed with me was the hunger to do it all again. I needed to try something greater. I wanted to fill up my memory banks with a new exotic experience. Later on that month, I signed up for what would be my inaugural Ironman race. The humour, or stupidity depending on your point of view, is that I’d yet to complete in any triathlon.


Almost fifteen years, a few hundred races and a million miles of training later and I regret very little of what I’ve done. But it wasn’t until recently, and I’ve yet to decided the exact catalyst for being able to see more clearly, that I’ve been able to reflect upon my athletic endeavours with new light.


Arguably, if you strive to reach your goal, what you achieve is not the golden fleece. What I discovered was that reaching my goal was great, but then what? Another Ironman? More recently, another marathon? Perhaps another goal, something bigger. And then another. And it isn’t until now that it has become clear that what I love is the process, the journey, the search is what counts.


And what a long, strange trip it has been.


Just like that old advertisement, “there is no finish line”, in my case, only a series of mile markers. And so having said that, I admit freely to having mapped out a plan for the rest of this year… and I might have continued through to May 2011.

Friday, May 28

Panama Flats

In what seems like a rare moment these days, earlier this week I found myself sitting down to a quiet house. Isla was asleep in bed still wearing her new “I love NY” t-shirt, Ally was puttering on the computer and I was basking in the joy of recently finished renovations. It wasn’t until then that I realized my legs were aching. Not in a shocking or sore manner, but rather the pins were vibrating with that comfortably numb feeling you get after a solid workout. The session today will no doubt add to that numbness.

Despite the incessant clouds and accompanying rain that has been blanketing the southern tip of the island; I wasn’t at all deterred when I left the house this morning. After a gentle warm-up along the Lochside Trail and through Boradmead, I found myself clipping across the Panama Flats feeling... what was it?

Comfortable.

A sensation that two weeks ago would have been entirely foreign, if not unworkable. And if the rest of the week continues to unfold as planned, I could round out the week with mileage not seen since last September (109 km or close to 68 miles).

I still have a lot of work to do if I want to try and PB over 5k later this summer. But given that I took time off this autumn to deal with a tear in my hamstring, followed more recently with an ankle injury, I’m quite pleased with how my body has adapted to my recent increase in running.

Upward and onward... happy trails.



[photo: Panama Flats]

Tuesday, May 25

Evolution

The transition out the door is relatively uncomplicated; leaving work isn’t difficult but always takes more time than expected, particularly when juggling the bike/run commute.

After an injury related absence from running I’m keen to again feel the exhilaration and exhaustion that accompanies training. I was diagnosed with a partial 2nd degree tear, but after carefully monitored recovery, coupled with a few easy jaunts my ankle is surprisingly sturdy.

I use the busy stretch of corridor between the office and the Tillicum Rd to relax into the session. The sun is shining bright overhead and the afternoon air was unexpectedly warm and still. I test my legs with some relaxed strides before entering the cooler, shaded creekside trail along the Colquitz River to begin the workout.

Fast-forward ten minutes and I’m nearing the end of my first tempo piece, now cruising the mostly gravel path across the Panama Flats. “Mw-tweet”, my focus is broken by the piercing call of a red-wing black bird. I use the stirring to pass through a mental checklist; stand tall, hips forward, light on my feet. I power up a moderate hill, my breathing laboured as I crest the top.

Sweat now tricks down the side of my face. I concentrate on the pat-pat-pat of my cadence as I travel across the small stones. My reintroduction to running has been brilliant, if not a rude awakening. I’ve missed the second race in the VTS but with the next event (the mile) only three weeks away my preparation will be desperate.

I’m glad to be back.


[photo: Colquitz River, Victoria, BC]

Wednesday, May 5

Then that happened

It amazes me the capacity of one particular sense to completely capture a moment. The sight of a leaf lazily floating in front of your face on a cool autumn morning. The pungent smell of urine and nerves as you stand impatiently waiting for the start of a race. And then there was yesterday.


Work has been particularly busy of late and yesterday was no exception. When not in meetings with executive, I was left to deal with the pesky auditors, finalize our 2010/11 budget and prepare for estimates (now delayed). Surprisingly, or as luck would have it I managed to accomplish much of what I had intended. Rare at best.


With the day’s work complete and an accompanying sense of satisfaction spread across my face, I left the office turning left and running over the Gorge trestle. Over the last few weeks, I’ve been unsuccessful in finding a particular video, Sweet Home Alabama (you needn’t ask). With my options dwindling, I put my faith in a truly unique shop in the heart of Cook Street Village… and was rewarded.


I didn’t stop here. After a jaunt on Sunday, I noticed that a pair of shorts were worn through and so decided to swing by Frontrunners on the way home to pick up a couple new pairs. Again I was triumphant, and as I ran steadily down Quadra for home I couldn’t help but reflect on how truly productive the day had been.

Nearing home, I spotted an extended stretch of grass alongside the road and opted for the forgiving grassland. This is not out of routine figuring that when you run as much as we, a few precious steps on the soft ground can be a difference maker. What I remember next is the sound of uncooked linguine snapping, the sharp cracks in quick succession still echo in my head. Why me, not now, please.


And so, after limping home and participating in the usual dinner/bedtime routines and watching previously mentioned movie, my allotted time for denial had passed. I grabbed the car keys, my Blackberry and a book off the shelf, and then proceeded to carefully drive myself to the hospital only to confirm I have a torn anterior talo-fibular ligament (4-6 weeks). Bugger.


Training: steady 58:52

Monday, May 3

VTS Race #1: 5,000m

“... go, go, go, daddy... wait”

With daylight waning, those were the words I heard twelve times as I fought my way around the track in what was my first race in the Victoria Track Series (VTS).

Saturday was to be my first true test of conditioning since running the RVM in October and injuring my hamstring. With less than a handful of workouts in the last seven months I wasn’t expecting much. Based on my recent (soft) 10k performance, the McMillan Calculator suggested a 5k equivalent of 18:19. I sincerely hoped I was capable of running quicker, but with a frigid wind lashing my back I approached the start line with more than a handful of doubt.

Shortly after the gun sounding, and a moment’s hesitation, I fell quickly into step behind the towering figure of the second placed runner (not too shabby). With the wind continuing to howl positioning was paramount, but after having my heels clipped I lost one position (covering the opening kilometre in 3:35).

After a ‘relatively’ comfortable start and the race leader running solo about 10 meters off the front I decided to shift gears and found myself out front at the mile marker. Unknowingly, I had also dragged along a few fearless souls and we closed the second km in 3:25.

It was at this point that the eventual winner made his move, and despite my best efforts I found myself gradually losing contact. Having previously raced only once on the track, 5,000m last summer, I don’t have much to draw upon but based on my limited experience I found kilometres three and four (3:36, 3:37 respectively)... desperate. I wasn’t in pain, but neither could I escape the feeling I was running up a sand dune, i.e., I struggled. But with the antics of my daughter to keep me focused I managed to close out the race with a solid 3:25.

Entering the event I didn’t expect more than an honest effort... I achieved my goal and also took home a t-shirt and a silver (second place) VTS bottle opener. Clearly a resounding success. My aim for the series is to improve my 5k PB, to do so I need to find 50 seconds by August. I have my work cut out for me. Next up though, my first attempt at 3,000m on May 15th which if McMillan holds true will see me around 10:08.

Training: VTS Race #1: 5,000m 17:40, 3:32/km, 5:42/mi, 2nd OA

Wednesday, April 28

Times Colonist 10k

What I remember most is the God awful stench as I stood waiting, impatiently for the sound of the horn. One could presuppose that runners are a superstitious lot, perhaps choosing (with complete and utter disregard to their fellow competitors) not to wash their ‘lucky’ race kits. Or, with nervous excitement bubbling over, conceivably someone (however accidently) pissed them self. Regardless, the nauseous stench at the start line was dreadful.

As for the race, I truly appreciated every moment; I hadn’t quite realized just how much I missed racing. The idea of standing on the sidelines and consequently protecting a fragile ego doesn’t begin to compare to the pleasure gained through adding my solitary footsteps to the pounding of the masses.

On the heels of a torn hamstring and with only two workouts in the last seven months (both last week), my race plan was simple... run comfortably fast for six kilometres, and uncomfortably fast afterwards. What I didn’t expect was registering a 3:57 opening kilometre *argh*. That was the sound of my ego absorbing the opening blow.

I’m happy with how the race unfolded given that I’d told Ally I expected to finish between 38’ and 40’. That said, the next time I run in a 10k event I hope to be carrying a significantly higher level of fitness. Splits as follows:

3:57, 3:49, 3:47, 3:53, 3:51 (19:17)
3:59, 3:45, 3:39, 3:41, 3:39 (18:43)

As luck would have it, there is no rest for the wicked. This weekend, Saturday, marks the first race in the inaugural Victoria Track Series. I’ve registered for eight events between now and the end of August, first up, 5,000m.

Training: Times Colonist 10k, 38:04, 101 OA, 13 AG

Friday, April 23

But then his heart would nearly explode when the pistol cracked

“And he stood tall there in the dark, while a cool breeze ruffled the ragged lock of hair on his forehead, knowing that for one instant there would be a kind of calm in the midst of all that pounding, roaring furor, a moment of serene calm before an unholy storm”.

A crooked smile slowly crept over my face; I then found myself laughing aloud after realizing that I missed that moment of calm, and truth. Perhaps more surprisingly, I missed the chaos.

Since I last wrote, a new rhythm has (almost unknowingly) worked its way into the tread work of my life and consequently my running. These days, the details seem to take care of themselves as I, left alone focus on the horizon. A consequence of this new outlook has been an uncomplicated enjoyment in my running.

This summer will be busy, marked most notably with the arrival of our son ‘expected’ at beginning of July. Between now and then I hope to scatter in a few track races. My expectations are low.

I suppose though, everything kicks off this weekend as I hope to participate in small local race. Early Sunday morning, I will undoubtedly find myself on the edge of Beacon Hill Park, ridiculously early, accompanied by 13,000+ of my closest friends. Let the fun begin.

Until then...


Training: 1:05:14 w/ 20' tempo, Sunday is going to hurt *ouch*

Thursday, March 4

Enjoy the road you’re travelling...

If I could offer only one tip for the future, this would be it, “enjoy the road you’re travelling”. And if I were to continue unsolicited, I’d suggest possessing a passion for life, playing and laughing with enthusiasm, and living with purpose... but I’ll stop here.

"So you're going to go through with it, then."

"I am, I've been planning this for a long time. It'll give me something to talk about for the next nine days - or ninety-nine, more likely. Anyway, at least I'll have my race."

That was the first entry on this blog. It lasted much more than ninety-nine days, and I’ve been lucky enough to have more than one race. Beginning on a cold Friday in November, 2006, the printed tales of this runner have been at times harsh, quite often enjoyable, but always provided me with growth and opportunity.

Scanning the last five years, I’m amazed at the running I’ve accomplished (let alone the life I’ve managed to squeeze in):

2006
As I trained with my first coach for what would stand today as my fastest marathon (CIM ’06 2:40:19), I was fortunate to share many an experience with equally lasting friends (Carter – 22nd Annual Harriers Gunner Shaw). Running the CIM, was also where I would meet fellow blogger Mike, a.k.a. “Running with Lydiard”.

2007
During a year where I broke my arm while downhill-mountain biking on my stag, was married, found out we were pregnant, and bought our first house, I’m surprised I did any running at all. On the contrary, Seamus, Carter and I set out to travel “Three Roads to London”. My race (3:14:11) was disappointing but the experience something I still talk about today. From the redemption of another marathon only weeks later, to the running of the bulls, or a half marathon PB (1:15:29) the year was something to remember.

2008
If for a second I thought ’07 was busy, the fiddle tune only quickened in ’08. That spring I was running well and although I cancelled an early-season marathon (Ally was on bed rest), I was able to benefit from my fitness and posted a 5k and 8k PB, 16:51 and 27:28 respectively. Sadly, later that spring saw the passing on Ally’s mum but with the angels looking over us, our daughter was brought into the world less than 24h-hours later. I don’t know how I did it, but mere weeks later I ran the Ottawa Marathon (2:53:05) setting myself up for my inaugural run at Boston. That fall also saw me run my first ever x-country race; on a cold day my achilles still hurts.

2009
What more can I say, Boston hurt... a lot! But, all the pain and suffering is a distant memory and the race afforded me the opportunity to meet some of the blogospheres epic writers/runners: Thomas, Mike and Mark, a.k.a. Diary of a Rubbish Marathon Runner, Love 2 Run, and Run Faster Master. Thanks guys!

2010
And so I find myself sitting here today, reflecting on paths travelled and the adventures that lay in front of me. With Isla growing, and Ally expected to give birth in a few short months I couldn’t be more excited. This is also a year, where I hope to take down my 5k PB and if the Gods align perhaps toe the line for a triathlon (my first in 11 years). But on a sad note, it will also see the end of this blog (at least in this format). Thanks for the endless comments, support, encouragement and friendship.

Borrowing some words, “Sometimes you're ahead, sometimes you're behind. The race is long, and in the end, it's only with yourself. Stretch. Understand that friends come and go, but for the precious few you should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle because the older you get, the more you need the people you knew when you were young”.

Wednesday, February 24

White on White

After not running for more than a week, I am pleased with how the last seven days unfolded. Not only did I squeeze in a couple solid sessions, but I capped everything off with an “undulating” long run through some of my favourite urban trail systems (CHGC, Mt. Tolmie, UVic and Mt. Doug).

Tuesday’s workout was solid and just what I needed to get my head (and body) back in the game. I eased into the first few intervals and continued to build right through the set, feeling pretty chuffed with my effort. Admittedly, I was surprised at just how long 80” can last and was not looking forward to my next workout, with much longer intervals.

And so, after an easy run on Wednesday, Thursday was my first real test since a) the marathon and b) injuring my hamstring, 5x5’ tempo. Despite not having run a sustained effort in four months I was surprised at how comfortable I felt. My pace resembled something closer to MP rather than 10kP, but the effort was there.

[note to self: remember to stretch, good God my hammies were tight]

As mentioned earlier, Sunday was fun, and long. I mistakenly agreed to accompany a colleague of mine (who is training for Boston) for a portion of his long run. Now either my memory is fading or Larry has been secret training, but I don’t ever remember having to “try” and keep up before. We live and learn. Larry you’re a bastard.

Outside of running, most of my spare time (what’s that) has been spent finishing the basement. With the dry wall up, and the mudding and taping complete, my hands are now overed in small droplets of Crisp Linen. I’ve also discovered that painting shades of white over a washed-out primer is far from rewarding, and snow blindness is a very real concern. Next up, the trim.

Training:

Feb 18: 46:56 w/ 5x5’ tempo (1’)
Feb 19: easy 39:14
Feb 20: day off (scheduled)
Feb 21: undulating long run 1:52:05


Weekly mileage: 5h01’01”, +/- 70k or 44 miles

Thursday, February 18

Blos·som·ing

As I ran home late yesterday afternoon, I couldn’t help but notice the ubiquitous aroma from the flowering cherry blossoms. I started my jaunt along the waterfront, both the (rare) sunshine and Olympic Mountains to my right. As I reached Moss Street turning away from the Strait of Georgia, I traded the sun’s warmth for the welcomed refreshing fragrance that accompanies spring.

With my surgery healing well and a ticket to “lace up the shoes” only when ready, I proclaimed myself set. And so, like the slowly unfolding buds it was time to begin – (n) a period or condition of maximum development; (v) to develop; flourish.

After more than a week off I wasn’t sure what to make of my fitness, particularly having done only one workout since October. But being more eager than a thoroughbred in the gates, and with a few local races fast approaching I decided to fearlessly jump back in.

Ideally, I’d have run 400s on the track or marked intervals on the Lochside Trail but neither of those “preferences” were available. And so after a short warm-up, I ran the session on a very undulating route between Moss St. hill and the Cedar Hill Golf Course, loving every minute and with only one interrupted interval due to a traffic light.

I’m back, all I have to do now is sort out my season. Whether force of habit or genuine desire, I’d still like to squeeze in a marathon. But with baby #2 fast approaching, I think my enjoyment will be found through an inaugural summer track series and perhaps even a return to triathlon *whispered*.

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Training:
Feb 08: day off (recovery)
Feb 09: day off (recovery)
Feb 10: day off (recovery)
Feb 11: day off (recovery)
Feb 12: day off (recovery)
Feb 13: day off (recovery)
Feb 14: day off (recovery)
Weekly mileage: 0h00’00”, +/- 0k or 0 miles
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Feb 15: day off (recovery)
Feb 16: 1:01:35 w/ 12x80” (2’)
Feb 17: sluggish 41:11