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.

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.


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