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…

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)

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?

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