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!