Monday, August 15

Self Transcendence Triathlon

I hesitated for a few precious seconds before slipping beneath the cool blanket of water. Despite being overcast, the visibility was surprisingly clear and I fixated on the frantic thrashing of some feet in front. But, just like a salmon vigorously making its way upstream, in a flash the feet were gone and I was left staring at a few random bubbles. As so I scanned my field of vision for some more feet. After swimming for a couple minutes I looked up to ensure I was going in the correct direction, and to check out the pack I was with. Turns out I was in a very small pack of two. As for my direction... tracking a red buoy amid a mass of red swim caps is easier said than done. All that came to mind was the 80’s song, ‘99 Red Balloons’.

The last time I raced a triathlon was August 1999. Since that time a lot has changed: marriage, a house, two children, an enjoyable career, a few grey hairs, and not least glasses. It’s the subtleties of life that can easily be taken for granted. Turns out, trying to locate a buoy 500m away when you’re near-sighted and not wearing glasses, is difficult at best. All I could do was smile.

With only seven swims in the last dozen years, the last few hundred meters were a tad desperate. The joy I felt grew exponentially as I a) was able to see bottom, b) could stand, and c) slowly began exiting the lake.

The next 1’46” was a blur as I struggled to take off my wetsuit and put on my helmet and bike shoes. That said, a benefit from a slow swim is that the transition was remarkably empty and I was able to clip into the peddles without having to worry about anxious competitors.

Maybe it’s due to some marathon wisdom I picked up over the last five years, but once I settled into a comfortable rhythm on the bike, I took my time moving through the field. With a limited cycling base, I tried to avoid crossing the anaerobic threshold and consequently was conservative on the hills while tapping out a metronomic tempo on the flats. I’d been targeting my return to the sport for three years, and on that early summer morning I continued to grin and count my blessing, fully appreciative of every moment.

With about 500m left on the bike, I used a slight downhill to slip my feet out of the shoes and soft peddled into transition. Despite not having elastic laces I was pretty happy with my second transition (1’03”), and glided out onto the run course feeling smooth. Perhaps it has more to do with expectations than reality, but fearing the worst, i.e. tired heavy legs, I started conservatively and felt nothing but a silky effortless stride. Feeling comfortable so early in the run, I told myself to run controlled and relaxed until 5k, re-evaluating afterwards. Once exiting the water, only one person passed me the entire race, at about 5k into the run. I remember debating picking up the pace, but instead opted for a controlled/enjoyable second half.

Cruising toward the finish line, I could hear Ally cheering, and saw Isla jumping up and down while clanging an old cow bell. Twelve years was far too long in-between races, and yet with no pressure and racing for nothing other than sheer enjoyment, I executed one of my best performances. I crossed the line thoroughly happy, with no excuses, having just relived my youth. It was everything I’d anticipated and more. Results here.

Training: 2:19:08, 14/199 OA, 4 AG, 1,500 swim 27:01 44th, 40k bike 1:10:46 20th, 10k run 38:33 8th

Monday, July 4

Vive Le Tour

Given how flat my legs were feeling a week earlier, I managed to pack some solid training into the last seven days. While meandering along the Colquitz River, Monday saw a reintroduction of speed into my running regime. There’s no substitute for the track, but the relatively flat trail makes for a beautiful commute. By the time I’d wrapped up two more rides, Wednesday’s jaunt into work was somewhat sluggish, but a change of venue along Cadboro Bay more than made up for the lacking quality.

The highlight of the week, apart from the start of the 2011 Tour (and ensuing three weeks of French cuisine) was my second club ride in twelve years. After meeting up with my brother-in-law we joined the Island Racing Club (IRC) for their weekly Thursday evening session. With a strong tailwind, the group stayed together as we looped around the peninsula along quiet farm roads toward Sidney. Once there, the games began. I had been warned. Apparently the message is in the detail.

Much like Alberto Contador, my positioning wasn’t ideal, and as we turned into the wind I watched the elastic snap and had to put in a massive effort to regain contact with the peloton (the C-group had been spit out the back). The subsequent 5k can only be described as desperate. I knew where I needed to be, but despite every effort could only watch the A-group surge up a long gradual hill and off into the distance. At this point, Chris (my unlucky companion) and I were stuck in no-man’s land, i.e. running scared from the hoard behind (B-group) but unable to regain contact with the front runners.

With the once favourable wind, pushing steadily on our helmets like an ogre’s hand we switched into time trial mode and suffered our way home. I couldn’t have asked for anything more. Despite my aching legs, all I could do was smile and slowly sip a cold beer while listening to tales of grandeur after the ride was finished.

Jun 27: A.M. run 29:59, P.M. run 1:04:48 w/ 6x3’ (3’)
Jun 28: A.M. bike 75’ w/ 5xhills, P.M. bike 60’
Jun 29: A.M. run 1:25:06 w/ 6xstrides, P.M. run 25:13
Jun 30: bike 2h+ w/ 60’ TT
Jul 01: day off (scheduled)
Jul 02: run 1:00:35 w/ 5x1’ (1’), 15’ T, 10’ T, 5’ T
Jul 03: bike 2h30 w/ 60’ FBG

Monday, June 27

You Have a Big Belly

After a solid two week training block including one race, I was eagerly looking forward to some rest. Back in ‘the day’ when I was running with Wynn Gmitroski, he’d prescribe two days off during his recovery weeks. At the time I didn’t think much of it, but after reflecting on my performances the results speak for themselves. I came across a similar approach to adaptation when working with Jon Ackland in the late 90’s, again, with good results. And so borrowing from the best, I’d scheduled myself more of the same.

What I didn’t take into account was the lingering effect of last Sunday’s ride, and my recovery not occurring until the back end of the week. Needless to say, I was listless until Saturday.

Monday’s run was rough; I was tired, late in leaving work, and my legs ached. Thankfully I was running through some of my favourite urban trails and I was able to slip into a comfortable rhythm. The rest of the week rolled along nicely until I jumped into the pool on Thursday evening. After a short warm-up, I threw on some paddles and pull-buoy, and glided through 3x400m. I remember feeling quite chuffed (I typically sink) up until the point a fish slipped into the lane beside me. As I splashed throughout the next set, 4x(1x100, 4x25) the ease with which my webbed neighbour swam left me wanting. I keep reminding myself, it’s all relative.

On Sunday I bolted on some borrowed aerobars, and with nothing but empty roads and sunshine chased my dreams through some rolling farmlands. As I powered my way along a newly paved section of road, I vividly remember looking down and seeing a shadow of my former self... this was pure, untainted fun!

Later that morning while helping Isla with a bird house, she turned to me and innocently announced, “Daddy, you have a big belly”. That afternoon, for the first time in a dozen years, I inched my way into my wetsuit. It still fit. Barely. What belly?

Jun 20: run 57’ w/ 3x10’ (2’)
Jun 21: A.M. easy run 24’, P.M. rolling bike 65’
Jun 22: steady run 65’
Jun 23: A.M. easy run 25’, P.M. swim 2100m
Jun 24: easy bike 20’
Jun 25: day off (scheduled)
Jun 26: Brick w/o: bike 70’ w/ 30’ TT, run 5k T

Monday, June 20

Twilight Shuffle 5k

On a muggy nondescript Tuesday afternoon, I stood outside work patiently waiting for my friend to show. We were about to embark on our pilgrimage to Chemainus, a sleepy town 80k north of Victoria which holds an annual race celebrating the arrival of summer. What started out as a flat, fast 4-miler, has turned into a twisting, lumpy (the course passes through a lumber yard) 5k. Regardless, my highlight is always the post-race thirst quenching pints at a local pub. Classic.

Larry arrived on time, and after a quick pit stop for bananas and Gatorade we were off. Three hours later we were standing in the middle of the picturesque little town, toeing the line with 328 other competitors. The field was relatively weak, but with Kevin and Lucy (both my nemesis) on either side I wasn’t going to be lacking any competition.

Apart from a local 8-year old kid confusing 5k with 200m, the start was uneventful... bordering on relaxing. I knew my fitness was lacking, and had decided to follow Lucy and Kevin for as long as I could. What I didn’t anticipate was Kevin also being off form, and as we split the few kilometres everything slowly started to make sense. Lucy gapped us at the turn-around, and Kevin and I continued to play cat-and-mouse until the final 400m climb where I managed to sneak in front with what will go down in history as my slowest 5k ever, so far.

Heading into the event, my expectations weren’t high but neither was I anticipating running that slow. If I can take something positive away, apart from the sheer enjoyment or racing and a few good pints with friends, it would be an increasing desire to perform well. Apathy hasn’t set in yet. Results here.

As for the dark side of my training, i.e., the swim and bike, everything was going... swimmingly, until Sunday morning. I was at the end of a 60’ big gear tempo piece and feeling really chuffed. It was at this exact moment, that I happened to come across (in the opposite direction) competitors from a Half Ironman event. As everyone flew passed me dressed in aero helmets and slick skin-suits, my confidence started to melt. My last triathlon was 12-years ago, and apparently a lot has changed. I just hope none of this underlines my enjoyment on race day.

Jun 13: bike 75’ w/ 6xhills
Jun 14: A.M. easy run 22:54, P.M. Chemainus Twilight Shuffle 5K, 17:59 (PW), 3:36 km/pace, 6/328 OA, 2 AG
Jun 15: bike 80’ w/ 4x (5' 80%, 5' 85%)
Jun 16: A.M. run 1:25:10 w/ 10xstrides, AFT. easy run 23:24, P.M. swim 1,800m
Jun 17: A.M. bike 75’ w/ 10’ big gear
Jun 18: day off (scheduled)
Jun 19: bike 2h25 w/ 60’ big gear

Monday, June 13

Tilting Upward

With gray clouds threatening overhead, I sat under the awning of Fol Epi Bakery and gazed out over the waterway. I’d just finished my twelfth ride in as many years, and as I gently blew at the steam snaking across my cup I basked in the joy that accompanies numb legs.

It has been well over a decade since I’ve trained for a triathlon, and I haven’t been able to discern if my joy is based in the moment, or if I’m caught up reliving the past (I turn 40 in a little over two months). The answer to that question can be addressed partly with the fact that it has taken me three years to register for this race. This morning as I rolled out onto the side street with tired legs, there was little doubt as to where my enthusiasm lay.

My self-inflicted scheduled called for half a dozen hills. Back in ‘the day’ I’d have ventured to the Observatory, but short on time and leg power, I found myself weaving through the deserted avenues of Gordon Head in search of variety and a road that tilted up. I wasn’t disappointed and settled on doubles of: Sinclair 450m (10%), Cadboro 800m (6%), and Mt. Tolmie 650m (8%).

The reintroduction of the cycling coupled with the odd dip in the pool has resulted in my running being pushed the side. Or at least that’s how it feels. To accommodate the bike, I’ve had to move my long runs to Wednesday. And if last week’s jaunt, a strenuous post-work 1h15 is anything to judge by, the shorter duration is more than compensated by the persistent fatigue and heavy legs. This is only going to be made worse by tomorrow’s 5k race, aptly named the Twilight Shuffle.

Until later...

Jun 06: A.M. easy run 24:12, P.M. run 53:26 w/ 10x80” (2’)
Jun 07: bike 80’ w/ 5xhills
Jun 08: A.M. easy run 23:56, P.M. steady run 1:15:50
Jun 09: A.M. bike 75’ w/ 3x (5' 80%, 5' 85%), P.M. swim 1,800m
Jun 10: A.M. easy run 22:28, P.M. run 47:45 5x6’ (1')
Jun 11: day off (scheduled)
Jun 12: steady bike 2h40

Friday, June 3

VTS #2 - Open 3,000m

Triathlon 101

With a lacklustre Giro wrapped up for another year, and the Canucks in the Stanley Cup Finals I’m now living vicariously through an entirely different breed of athletes. That is not to suggest that I haven’t been able to whet my own appetite in the athletic arena.

A few weeks ago I had the distinct pleasure of swimming my way through the Oak Bay Half Marathon. Now, as I live on the edge of the Pacific I’ve become accustomed to precipitation in all its forms. But despite this experience, I can’t recall ever being that drenched in a race. Ever.

I knew heading into the event that my fitness was building and consequently didn’t have high expectations. Based on my recent 10k, and with minimal tempo/long runs I envisioned a drawn-out 1h21. Considering I had to walk at 14k, I’m quite pleased with my 1h22, albeit my slowest half since 1999.

3:44, 3:50, 3:50, 3:57, 3:44 (19:05)
4:00, 3:57. 3:43, 3:58, 4:04 (19:42)
3:57, 3:59, 4:03, 4:29, 4:00 (20:28)
3:58, 4:00, 3:57, 3:56, 3:55 (19:46)

With Oak Bay wrapped up and my flats dry, my focus for the next two months has significantly shifted as I attempt my first triathlon in 12 years. I’ve been batting the idea around for a couple years but with Ally pregnant in ‘09, and the birth of child #2 in ‘10 the timing wasn’t ideal. It wasn’t until nattering with Rumon a few months back that I realized waiting on the sideline isn’t nearly as fun as participation, regardless of one’s conditioning. A few weeks later, with a program taped to the fridge and my commuting mule tuned-up ($500), all that was left was to jump back into the pool.

And so it was, last Thursday I tentatively slipped into the shallow end, ducked under the surface and pushed off the wall taking that opening stroke with nothing but possibility and 25m of water in front of me. I managed to dogpaddle through my first w/o in over a decade, and as my 50s gradually ebbed from 40” toward 50”, I exited the pool, twilight overhead and a smile on my face. Everything hurt.

May 15: Oak Bay Half 1:22:38, 12OA, 1 AG.

May 16: day off
May 17: bike 75’ w/ 1xhill
May 18: run 54:41
May 19: bike 60’ w/ 2x(5' 80%, 5' 85%)
May 20: 56:22 w/ 2x8x30” (30”/3’)
May 21: day off
May 22: bike 1h30 steady

May 23: run 47:18 w/ 6x1’ hills
May 24: A.M. bike 75’ w/ 4xhills, P.M. bike 60’
May 25: A.M. run 26:27, P.M. run 1:22:54 w/ 8x30”
May 26: A.M. bike 75’ w/ 3x(5' 80%, 5' 85%), P.M. swim 1,600m
May 27: run 55:48 w/ 3x3x30” hills (10”/2’)
May 28: run VTS 3,000m 10:12, 6 OA, 2 AG
May 29: bike 2h20 mountainous

Wednesday, May 11

Giro d ‘Italia

My enthusiasm of cycling and passion for racing began over 15 years ago while living the life of a triathlete. What began as supplemental training quickly morphed into a developing obsession. Although I never committed to the sport, my ability on the bike quickly surpassed that of my running and I was fortunate to win a few races. Those events taught me more about suffering and commitment than I experienced in the subsequent 10 years. All this ended however when my focus shifted and I embarked on a career as an accountant.

Despite my bikes being relegated to commuting mules, I still continued to follow the sport. A decade or more later, I found myself beginning to prepare dinner on a warm summer evening in July. I was starring out at our garden, absorbed in the light as it played on the leaves, all the while listening to the highlights from the day’s stage of the Tour. At that exact moment I opted to combine my love of cooking with my continued passion for cycling.

My compulsive personality only added fuel to the fire, and several years ago I began a tradition of only cooking: Italian food during the Giro, French throughout the Tour de France, and Spanish cuisine while the cyclists raced the Vuelta. Only a few stages into this year’s first grand tour and I haven’t missed a beat.

As for my running, the legs took a surprisingly long time to recovery from the TC10k. I’m not sure if it was the aggressive downhill running or some well-worn flats, perhaps both. Regardless, I didn’t attempt any speed work until the following Friday and even then I pulled up short, only completing 2.5 of the scheduled 3 reps. Yesterday felt much better, borderline fast!

Following through on an earlier commitment, I’ve registered to run the Oak Bay Half Marathon this weekend. My main objective is to mix up my training this summer, i.e., race unfamiliar events, in an effort to run myself into shape. Now, if only the sun would come out:)

May 2: day off (unscheduled)
May 3: easy 45:38
May 4: A.M. easy 32: 11; P.M. easy 26:14
May 5: steady 1:02:02
May 6: 1:06:20 w/ 3x(5’ 10kE (2.5’), 2.5’ 5kE) (2.5’)
May 7: day off (scheduled)
May 8 steady 1:38:11

May 9: easy 40:37
May 10: 1:04:47 w/ 12x1’ 5kE (1’)

Tuesday, May 3

TC10k Report

A few nights ago I watched an old Billy Bob Thornton flic, ‘Friday Night Lights’. The film is based on H.G. Bissinger's book, which profiles an economically depressed town and their heroic high school football team. As I lay in bed that evening, I couldn’t escape the stark contrast between football and running. The following morning as I toed the line for the 22nd Times Colonist 10k, I would have nobody running interference or blocking competitors from my path. There would be no time-outs. And, as this wasn’t a relay event any midrace substitution would be frowned upon. Luckily I find the loneliness of a runner quite intoxicating.

After taking some extremely harsh drugs two weeks earlier, I finally kicked the bronchitis and accompanying ailments from my system (over the course of four months, and three doctors, it has been a long time coming). And so, as I stood on the far right of the second row, ahead of an estimated 13,000+ participants I couldn’t be happier to be racing in the event despite a truncated training program (that's me in the green singlet, 800m in).

Starting at the pointy end of the race typically means being surrounded with athletes lacking a sense of humour, and Sunday was no different. That said, I remember Brad asking Shawn (?) what he wanted to run that morning. His response, “10k”… a dozen or so runners instantly cracked up, and Brad was left red in the face (thanks B).

The start was quick; apparently the beautiful Inner Harbour added more than a touch of inspiration to the morning. We were running a new course which rolled for the first few kilometres. Knowing this, I ignored my marathon ‘steady-as-you-go’ mantra, and instead attacked the downhill sections as I tried to maintain rhythm and pace. Despite the aggressive start, I was surprised at how comfortable I felt but apparently I wasn’t the only one with the same game plan. At this point there was a small group of four dangling 100m in front and notwithstanding my best efforts they continued to stay there.

With the Sooke 10k (38:35) as a recent guide, I didn’t know what to expect from my body. Sooke is a harder route and I was unsure how much my ill health had played a role. This would be the first time in years where I had no expectation and instead ran unabated.

Typically between 5k and 7k the race starts to ‘feel’ hard, this is made doubly difficult at the TC as the only major hill of the race appears right after the 5 km mark. I was prepared for this, and although the elastic stretched I hung on for dear life as I desperately tried to maintain contact with the group.

As the race entered the final stages I slowly began to reap the rewards of my desperation and passed over a dozen people. With 3k remaining I let gravity take over and pushed hard on the long gradual downhill passed the Coast Guard station and toward the finish. As I crossed the finish it was the first time in ages that I was truly happy. Running can be such a fickle sport, and your happiness can easily be measured in seconds or someone else’s result. For me, Sunday was all about enjoying the freedom to run… nothing else.

3:22, 3:47, 3:42, 3:34, 3:46 (18:11)
3:48, 3:45, 3:32, 3:30, 3:38 (18:22)

Training: TC10k 36:33, 12/401 AG, 55/10,214, 3:40 pace/km

Monday, May 2

Times Colonist 10k

I ran the TC 10k this weekend under fantastic conditions. I'll report more later, but in the interim have a look at this video that Chris put together.

Tuesday, April 19

Sooke River 10k

This luckless race has single-handedly crushed any latent desire for a marathon this year. The only thing racing this weekend were delusions of grandeur running through my head.

Just before leaving the house I checked the progress of a friend who was racing in Vienna. He’s run more than a handful of ‘thons over the last few years, his inaugural performance in Dublin ’04, 4:06:22. After following his training for a couple years we managed to connect in Boston two years ago where we bother suffered through a cold, windy day. I’ve continued to follow his training over the last few years and was ecstatic to see he’d finally managed to achieve his dream of a sub 3-hour performance, 2:59:35. He may not be the most talented athlete out there, but what he lacks in skill he more than makes up with determination, grit and tenacity. On more than one occasion he’s been a true inspiration.

And so, with the car packed we drive out to Sooke, Isla wondering whether or not there’d be a park to play in, Ally trying to calm Corbin and me daydream of a fall marathon. Fast forward a couple hours and my fantasy world had come crashing down to reveal a bitter cruel reality.

With a cold sweat clinging to my forehead, I knew immediately after the warm-up that I was in trouble but didn’t expect the worst. At about the 3k marker, I remember a Justin Bieber look-a-like passing me and asking if I was okay, he thought my shoulders looked tight? Who asks that sort of question mid-race, particularly when you’re less than five feet tall? The same rug rat, congratulated me on my performance after the race, “good job out there” I remember him saying… all I could do was smile: 3:33, 3:45, 3:44, 3:43, 3:58, 3:58, 3:59, 4:12 (hill), 3:52, 3:35

In all seriousness, I’m not too worried about the race. Sure it was my second slowest 10k ever, having only run slower in my debut as a runner back in ’93 (46:03 at the UVic 10k). But as I’m struggling through the lingering effects of my recent cold, I’m not too surprised with my performance. What hasn’t escape me thought, is my clear desire to run two minutes faster at the upcoming TC 10k.

Sooke River 10k, 38:35, 3:52km/pace, 27 OA, 4 AG,

Friday, April 15

Down but Not Out

It first raised its ugly head almost three weeks ago. What started out as an inconsequential cough and a slight ache, quickly turned violent. Ally was out in the first round, didn’t really stand a chance given how rundown she’s been.

Next up was Isla; the little rascal had no idea what hit her. Still, it takes more than a four day fever to knock her down. Instead what ensued was an irritable, often peculiar, and surprisingly active little girl.

Alas, last weekend it was my turn. The first symptoms arose on Saturday evening but I decided to drown them in alcohol. It almost worked. I woke the next morning not quite right, but hoped for the best. I was also slated to run a fast 5k that morning. I was dressed and heading out the door when I realized I’d left my watch at work. This was a sign. Either a) I was an idiot for even considering to run and should stop before things got worse, or b) I was an idiot for trying to run hard, and instead should forgo the time trial and enjoy the beauty in a hard (untimed) effort. Either way I was an idiot.

Fast-forward a few hours and the fever had a firm grasp, not to release me from its hold for a further 96 hours. Thursday afternoon my health improved and with the Sooke 10k still on the backburner, I decided to stretch my legs on the way home. Surprisingly, my pins were okay, perhaps a tad awkward but as I looped around Swan Lake the pickups felt comfortable, 12x20” (40”). What wasn’t comfortable was the cold sweat upon returning home. Beggars can’t be choosers.

Although not 100%, I’m looking forward to racing this weekend as it has been six weeks since the Bazan Bay 5k, and the TC 10k is only a fortnight away. The race will also give me some idea of my current fitness level, and hopefully will blow away a few cobwebs.

[photos: Swan Lake Nature Sanctuary]

Friday, April 8

Canine Fuelled Rage

For the first 18-years of my life, I lived in a house with at least one dog. That experience began in Australia with a gentle giant, a Great Dane named Duncan. Fast forward a few years and the contrast couldn’t have been more exaggerated as I found myself in a completely different world, enjoying dogsled racing in Canada’s barren north.

Since those early years I’ve slowly came to the conclusion that I’m not a dog person. It’s not that I don’t like them, but the urge to have a canine in the house has constantly been outweighed by the necessary upkeep.

Last Sunday, 2k kilometres into a planned 10k tempo session at Elk Lake, I was shocked to find a German Sheppard/Golden Lab gnashing at my right leg. Okay, he was barking loudly but the teeth were mere inches away. While this was going on, the owner was shouting at ‘me’, trying to reassure me that the damn dog wouldn’t bite. Not the comfort I was looking for.

What came next was far from thoughtful, as all I could muster were two loud, often linked words, “f’k you”. Again I was told that the dog wouldn’t bite, and again my vocabulary was left wanting. In the end the dog didn’t bite, the owner got an earful, and I ran the following kilometre at 5k pace rather that a controlled 10k tempo.

The (interrupted) session was to build on the previous weeks 5k where I ran a controlled 18:35. My goal was to hit around 37:50 (approx. 3:47s). As the markers around the lake are a tad off, I wasn’t too worried about the splits but instead concentrated on a smooth steady effort (37:22), splits as follows: 3:37, 3:23, 3:54, 3:34, 4:00 (18:31) 3:46, 3:50, 3:56, 3:55, 3:22 (18:51)

Yesterday, under some much welcomed but rare sunshine I returned to the Lochside Trail to run another timed 1,500m (duplicating a session I did two weeks ago). This time around I split the 1,000m in 3:22 and finished 4:59, 10” faster than before. All signs pointing in the right direction.

Enjoy the weekend, and watch out for those dastardly dogs!

Monday, March 28

Lochside Trail/Track

I’ve completely abandoned getting in any track workouts this spring. The only way I could make it happen would be to head out after the kids are in bed, and although possible the idea of running intervals at 8:00 p.m., alone, is less than exhilarating.

And so with the tracked no longer a (viable) option, I had to improvise twice this week to accommodate some interval training. Wednesday called for a 1,500m TT, nothing terribly fast but a little something to introduce some speed. After jogging home from work I passed our house and trotted down the path to the beginning of the Lochside Trail. There is a post just down the corridor from where I live, but unfortunately the subsequent post was removed last year. After a quick search though, I found the slight depression that now bodes as a kilometre mark.

I jogged on the spot for a bit, waiting for a cyclist to pass before launching down the trail. My goal was a 5:09 1,500m. The words ‘slightly desperate’ best describe the following 1,000m, which quickly turned to ‘frantic’ I split the first 1,000m in 3:25. Although on pace, my perceived effort had me running 10” faster. I’m an idiot. At that moment I struggled to tune out he negative self-talk, and instead focused on the following 105” until my watched beeped 5:09. I don’t remember 1,500m ever feel so uncomfortable. What I do recall quite vividly is running 10x800 on 2:34, seemingly backwards and having it feel far more enjoyable. The mind is a cruel mistress.

Fast-forward a few days, and I was back down on the trail this time running a 5k TT. Again, nothing terribly fast (approx. 18:56) but a foundation to build some speed upon over the next month. With the wind howling and no feedback for 1,000m I misjudged the opening segment but quickly settled into something… reasonable. The challenge with the trail is that the markers aren’t entirely accurate, but do average out over a longer distance. Although the middle piece was slower than expected I suspect the previous kilometre was short: 3:29, 3:41, 3:53, 3:48 & 3:44 totalling 18:35.

Perhaps more important than both these sessions was the fact that this week marks the first time in almost three months where I didn’t feel under the weather. With the TC 5-weeks away, I’m cautiously optimistic. The photos are random shots along the Lochside Trail, the blue sky snapshot taken under much warmer conditions.

Tuesday, March 22


When I used to play field hockey, the team quickly gave me the nickname, “tenacious”. For full effect, pronounce it in the same masculine manner as you would Aquilinus, Maximus or Tiberius.

Although I had great hand-eye coordination and stamina, my play making ability was left rather lacking. To make up for this shortfall, I would doggedly hound the other players, ultimately forcing them to make mistakes. I miss the game.

As I sit here though, struggling to overcome my third cold of the year the idea of possessing sufficient energy to be anything but anaemic is a distant memory. I think a large part of my fatigue is due to the “black hole of exhaustion” that accompanies parenthood about 6-8 months after the birth of a child.

I experienced a similar sensation about 10 months after Isla was born, and unfortunately for me about 4-weeks before the Boston Marathon. And before I go too far, I don’t mean to suggest my weariness could ever compare to that of my wife’s… men just don’t have the necessary stamina. However, after 240+ interrupted sleeps, coupled with a cold wet winter and a low immune system… I’m tired. Perhaps I should stop here.

As for my running, after taking a couple days off last week, I managed to squeeze in a few workouts. Wednesday’s session was supposed to be on the track (5x1200m) but once again the Colquitz Trail was my chosen battlefield. If they ever decide to hold a race there, I’m going to have a clear advantage. And I unequivocally blame work for shortening Friday’s tempo session, but perhaps it was for the best. Sunday though, that was one for the ages… a thoroughly enjoyable, sunny trail run along the Jocelyn Hill Ridge Trail (thanks RC).

And something completely unrelated, a new song c/o RC (thanks again):

Mar 14: Day off (sick)
Mar 15: Day off (sick)
Mar 16: 1:04:02 w/ 5x4’ hard (4’)
Mar 17: ridiculously slow & painful 1:13:24
Mar 18: 35:55 w/ 30’ tempo
Mar 19: Day off (scheduled)
Mar 20: 1:48:51 undulating

Tuesday, March 8

Bazan Bay 5k

On a cool, blustery Sunday morning, I ran my inaugural race as a master… the Bazan Bay 5k. Given the talent that crept out of the woodwork, you wouldn’t be remised thinking this was a championship event. I don’t recall ever finishing 60th in a 5k before. Regardless, despite an all-time PW (personal worst) I found myself pleasantly happy with the race. Apparently expectation management is everything.

I have only recently introduced some speed work into my routine, but unfortunately due to the recent snowfall my workouts have been interrupted at best. On Tuesday I ran what were supposed to be 800s on a darkened soggy section of the Lochside Trail, followed by modified 200s along the Colquitz River on Thursday. Although my peak race is still 8 weeks away, I had hopes that my fitness would allow a performance reminiscent of last season (+/- 17:20)… allowing room for improvement of course (16:51).

With the race capped at 800 I knew the start would be fast and wasn’t too surprised to split the first kilometre in 3:23, but was shocked at how comfortable it felt. Waiting for the inevitable smack of lactic acid, I eased up slightly and was more secure with a second split of 3:28.

At this point I explicitly remember a coach/spectator yelling at someone to a) relax on the downhill… what downhill the race is pancake flat, and b) to make use of the tailwind. It was the latter comment that caused me some consternation; perhaps even more so as I passed 3k with a 3:44. Ouch! And yet the best was still to come.

After panting heavily alongside the oceanfront for 2 kilometres I rounded a cone that mark the beginning of the homeward stretch and ran headlong into a rather sturdy headwind… which might explain part of the subsequent 4:08. But as I ran scared for finish line (a nemesis on my heels) I can almost guarantee I didn’t run a 3:05 closing split that my watching showed.

Having run 13 5k’s in the last 16 years, and now with a new PW but also an accompanying PB as a master I look forward excitedly to the future. I don’t remember being this motivated in quite some time. Results here.

Monday: easy 42:38
Tuesday: A.M. easy 24:14, P.M. 1:03:01 w/ 7x(2’40”)(3’)
Wednesday: aerobic 1:10:17
Thursday: 1:08:39 w/ 20x35” (1’)
Friday: easy 25:52
Saturday: day off
Sunday: 1:02:18 with Bazan Bay 5k 17:48, 3:34k/pace, 60 OA, 8 AG

Friday, March 4

Urban Downhill Mountain Bike Footage

VCA 2010 RACE RUN from changoman on Vimeo.


Wednesday, February 23

Snow Day

Yesterday morning, under a blanket of fading stars I ran to work along the Colqutiz Trail. With the air cool and crisp, the early signs of spring were inescapable as daffodil shoots littered the path edge and the sweet aroma of cherry blossoms hung delicately in the trees.

You can imagine my surprise then as I woke this morning and peered out the window to see a world blanketed in snow. I fully expect this evening’s run home to me heavy on adventure and light on aerobic capacity. And tomorrow’s track workout, 15x400 will almost certainly be postponed (Ally sent me the attached photos this morning).

On the weekend, amid milder conditions I participated in my first Island Race Series event in almost two years. Billed as the Island’s premier road racing series, Sunday’s course was more reminiscent of a cross county route and I’ve certainly run GutBuster trail races that are flatter. That being said, I thoroughly enjoyed myself even if I my ego suffered a few bruises: Hatley Castle 8k results, 31:06, 3:53 pace/km, 25 OA, 4 AG

With the Times Colonist two months away, my recent competition has lit a fire in my belly and planted seeds for the future.

Monday: A.M. 44:45, P.M. 42:31
Tuesday: 1:08:51 w/ 3x10 tempo (2’)

Friday, February 18

Training Camp: Victoria, BC (base)

After putting a stubborn bout of bronchitis behind me, I began preparation for 2011 season the last week of December. Initially I’d hoped to use some of the early Island Race Series events to facilitate my fitness/motivation, but an attack of the flu and a recent cold put my inaugural race as a Master on hold. Undoubtedly, but not for certain my string of bad health is in part due to the weather, and... new for me, having two (very social) young children.

Fast forward a few weeks, and not only have I managed to achieve some consistency in my running, but this weekend I hope to toe the line at the Hatley Castle 8k (otherwise known as the home of the X-men). With my main goal in May, I’ve yet to do any speed work instead following a prescribed Lydiard approach and trying to keep my running at an aerobic level… easier said than done when you’re out of shape. And so, throughout January and most of this month I’ve been following this schedule:

Monday: 45’-60‘ easy fartlek
Tuesday: 60’-75’ aerobic
Wednesday: 45’ w/ 10xstrides
Thursday: 60’-75’ aerobic
Friday: 75’ w/ 50’ light tempo
Saturday: Day off
Sunday: 90’-120’ aerobic

Last, but certainly not least, I came across this earlier today (it brought a smile to my face), “think positive: I fell down the stairs what did I say, damn I got down those stairs fast”.

Christopher McDougall: Are we born to run?

Christopher McDougall: Are we born to run? | Video on

Tuesday, February 8

The Road

"You will find that it is all very familiar... the strange and faraway places where you've never been. The wild unknown leads you to a place just around the corner. Take a picture when you get there... the road is you"

J. Bebe - R. Hammond

Tuesday, January 4

A Year in Review

After enjoying a few moments of solitude that accompany a quiet house at 6:20 a.m., I stepped cautiously over the threshold and out into the frigid air. The world around me was silent; most people still curled up under heavy blankets, and as I jogged toward the trailhead the thick frost added a hushed crunch to my stride.

I ambled quietly along the Blenkinsopp Valley with naught for company but a few lingering stars. With the holidays behind me, and two solid weeks of running under my (expanded) belt I couldn’t help but reflect on the previous twelve months, once again amidst a whirlwind of emotions.

Reviewing my journal, I can only assume I was particularly busy in early 2010 what with only 6 entries in 3 month the last of which indicated I was going to stop writing. Obviously that didn’t happen. But given home renovations, a pregnant wife and continued rehabilitation running certainly took a back seat. With a foundation light on both quality and quantity I opted to forego early season race plans and instead took solace in a few, arguably laboured strides.

On the heels of a torn hamstring and with only two workouts in seven months, I set aside a fragile ego and gained pleasure adding my solitary footsteps to the pounding of the masses in the TC 10k. Although far from race ready, I a managed to sneak by 10,511 runners finishing just outside the top 100 with a time of 38:04. Participating in this event reignited my desire to race, and before the arrival of the dog days of summer I had completed my inaugural mile. The experience truly painful (5:04). Paul O’Neil once said, “a man who sets out to become an artist at the mile is something like a man who sets out to discover the most graceful method of being hanged. No matter how logical his plans, he cannot carry them out without physical suffering”. I concur wholeheartedly.

With the coming of warmer weather July also saw the arrival of our second child, Corbin Thomas Lord.

Needless to say running once again was pushed to the back-burner, but despite the reprioritization (or perhaps because of it) I still found myself on the track… suffering, and narrowly missing my mile goal of 4:5X, finishing in an agonizing 5:00.5.

Orange and red leaves brought the return of the Victoria’s premier running event and my participation in the half-marathon. Somewhat slightly more enjoyable, fall also saw me revisit Maui to participate in my first Xterra Trail race… and so on a hot humid morning, an ocean breeze ruffling a ragged lock of hair, I smiled knowing I was amidst a moment of serene calm, just seconds before the arrival of an unholy storm.

All the best to everyone as they head out onto the roads and trails, enjoy 2011!