Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Boy Who Can't Stop Running - The Passionate Eye | CBC News Network

In light of my last blog regarding running like a kid, a friend of mine thought I would be interested in this story; the story of a four year-old marathoner from India. From the slums, he was "saved" and adopted by his coach. Is it a better life than begging in the slums? Most of us would say he wasn't "saved" at all. But is he better off running massive distances or being beaten by the peddler his mother sold him to. It's interesting that the Indian government cares so much about this type of abuse when daily domestic abuse continues without attracting anywhere near the same attention and concern. It certainly speaks to the power of the international media.

I still think it's important that we run like kids, but, as the Lazy Trail Runner brilliantly stated this morning, on a long run, "this is more like a kid running like an adult". Click below to read the story or watch the video. To watch the video click on "Obama's War". I'm not sure why, but that's where it is.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Run Like a Kid

As I came up the stairs onto Hyannis Drive I saw a table covered in food, a bucket filled with sponges and water, and whack of smiling, happy people, including one of my colleagues. I was nearing the finish of the 2007 Knee Knacker and I was feeling amazing. I had some food, hugged my colleague, had a chat with some of the best volunteers on the North Shore, and carried on to tackle the Seymour Grind. That year I finished the Knacker in my best time ever and I felt better than ever. Sure the training helped, but there was something else. I was happy.

Really, really, happy.

This past summer, I blogged about Chris McDougall's book, Born to Run, and I mentioned the idea of barefoot running. That's not what stands out from that book anymore. What does stand out however, is that so many successful (loaded word) runners are happy when they run and they are truly, and deeply, engaged with the people around them. They clearly love running and wouldn't give that experience up for anything. It is a way of life. I believe McDougall's example was of the Tarahumara of Copper Canyon, Mexico. While racing Leadville in 1993, they were described running up a hill late in the race upon which most other runners were brought to a slow walk. These guys were allegedly laughing and talking as they bounded to the top. I haven't run Leadville, but I can try to imagine what some of the runners went through to survive that one hill.

Why do we runners run? Everytime I visit my mom in Kelowna I take the opportunity to get out and run a little in the Okanagan. She always asks me why I run and will inevitably tell me about some suffering sap she had seen the week prior, going down the road looking like hell. She tells me how miserable this guy looked and she cannot figure out why he, and so many others, are out there. I never have an answer for her, but I suppose it's because they want to. Maybe they have a health goal, or their doctor told them to. Or maybe it's because they can and they really enjoy running.

Remember running as a kid? You'd rip across the grass in bare feet, leap through a sprinkler, and turn around and come back. Or sprinting into the waves at the beach. You weren't going anywhere but in circles, and it was fun. Just fun. Everyone knew who was the fastest kid in the class, but it didn't matter, we all still ran. This way, that way, up, down, wherever. I vividly remember going to the water slides and running up those hills to the top for 5 or 6 hours straight. It was fun for every kid, and everyone could do it. That is until we were graded on running. Remember the 12 minute run? Of course I loved it. It was easy marks, but I know heaps of kids who hated it, including my sister. Running became a job for them. They were being forced to run for a grade and most of them only ran as far as was necessary to get a C+ or a pass.

After a long run yesterday I sat on my couch feeling great. I'd run for just less than four hours and all in all, it felt pretty good. Sure, I was tight in a few spots, but I really had a good time and I kept my mind on smiling throughout the run. You can imagine how stupid it looked, me smiling away in the woods, but the parts where I was super mindful of being happy with that moment, were the spots where I really flew. (Now you know why I took off up Old Buck and Good Samaritan, Mr. Coo.) In that same light, not a person goes by on the trail that I don't say hello to. It makes me feel good and off I go down the trail.

Try it sometime, I dare ya. Put a huge smile on your face and let it fly down the trail, like when you were a kid running through a sprinkler. I saw a sign today, in Starbucks of all places, that said, "I wish grown ups could remember what it was like to be a kid". Be a kid!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Cinnamon Bunner Shaw 10k

He's back. The "not-so -Lazy Trail runner" has redeemed his title as a runner rather than a wine and tequila connoisseur.

It was an ideal Vancouver winter day. The skies were clear, the earth was frozen, and hundreds of eager runners dawned their spikes, road shoes, clogs, or whatever it was they had, and came down to the 26th annual Gunner Shaw 10k, at Jericho Beach. With Tran media services out on the course, I knew I
must look my best. Sporting Salomon's Exo II compression tights, I wanted to be fast, but not so fast that the wheels came off this running bus in the first of two 5k loops.
Traffic was heavy out of the start and I found myself dodging tree branches, people's high kicks, and the odd lump of frozen dog log. I couldn't see Coo or Letchford anywhere, but I ran my pace and felt great. About 2k in I spotted the Lazy Trail runner. He was cruising at my two o'clock and I aimed to reel him in. We both slowed for the beach section and only I knew we were running together. It's amazing how close we are in gait and pace, but I figured if he saw me he'd spook and bolt. I ran just off his left shoulder until he heard me. He looked to his right as he cornered downhill toward the beaver pond and with an overextended, giraffe-like neck, he saw me. He called me a name of some sort and took off down the hill. I followed suit and managed to ride about 20 meters back throughout the entire first lap, through a 19 minute 5k split , and half way through the second lap. With about 2k to go, I rolled past Tran Media Services, made the short loop up hill to 4th, and forced out a high five for the very comfortable Kev. Still about 200 meters out in front of me, and laying down the law, was Coo. My pursuit wasn't enough. Before the end I caught him slightly, but was still 20 or so seconds back. With the taste of iron in my mouth, I doubled back to the start of the finish chute and saw Kev rolling it in with some serious juice left in the legs.

It was a perfect cross country day. Blue sky, cold air, and fairly dry terrain, other than the mandatory stink hole they made us leap through. The best part of it all was sitting in Grounds for Coffee after the race, with achy legs, a fat cinnamon bun topped with cream cheese icing, and a large dark roast. It didn't seem to matter that our stink covered shoes were rotting in the back of my Subaru.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Puke Skywalker: Aldergrove Jedi

A short time ago, in a not so far away municipality, a 7.7 K cross country race was held. It took place in the Aldergrove Lake System and the North Shore feud continued between the Lazy Trail Runner and myself.
He and a handful of other speedsters had beaten me into the ground back on Remembrance day and today was my chance at redemption. I wasn't certain the chances were great until he called me this morning and told me about his poor decision making the night before. Rolling home at 2:30 a.m. after mixing reds, whites, and te-kill-ya is never a good idea, especially as a pre-race meal. And just when I was feeling more and more certain I would take back my title, I became positive. I was positive because the young and fast, Mr. Coo was hanging out of my car puking all over the shoulder at the Gilmore on ramp. As I laughed my ass off and gave a few arm pumps we continued on toward Aldergrove to race. I've got to hand it to Puke Skywalker, he registered and really showed up. He carried his vampire-pale skin around the course four times and was only 2 minutes behind me. An incredible effort with no more puke.

The course was cool. About 75 runners looped a soaking wet and rolling course four times. It began going across the grass, which was under about 3cm of water, across a muddy side hill, up a steep climb, and around the old lake bed. The second half cruised downhill passed the lake and into the forest for another climb. The decent from that climb contoured back across to the start line where the next lap began.

All in all I ran a fairly steady pace, which was the idea, as we were running this as a tempo type run. The first lap may have been slightly quick, but the remaining three were excellent splits. I'm not sure how I stacked up against the other speedsters out there, but my finish was 31:20, two minutes in front of the Lazy Trail Runner.

(Aldergrove Lake Park)
The invite is open for the next run at Jericho. It's the Gunner Shaw Memorial on December 5th, coach Green's birthday. Please join us. Maybe you'll even catch a glimpse of the Aldergrove Jedi, Puke Skywalker.


(Me and the Lazy Trail Runner after the Aldergrove Ramble)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Quest for Another Gear

As some of you may know, I have been working at getting a bit faster. Unfortunately, it takes more than just great Salomon gear to make that happen. I wish I could say it was all in the Speed Cross 2 and the 3/4 length Exo compression tights, but it's not. I'm working toward bettering my Orcas 50K time in February so along the way I thought I'd run some 8k to 10k cross country. The last one, on Remembrance Day, was hell. This coming Sunday I hope for things to go better at the Aldergrove Ramble, in Aldergrove Lake Park. Following that, I'll try out the Gunner Shaw 10k at Jericho. I heard you run through sand at that one. Sounds like fun, the beach in winter I mean.

The way I see it, these races are just long tempo runs of about 30 to 45 minutes. I can only hope they make me a bit faster. If nothing else they provide me with a couple more opportunties to take down fellow Flight Crew member, Duncan Coo.

Wish me luck finding that next gear this Sunday, or perhaps consider joining us. The entry is only $10 and the start time is at a totally reasonable 11:00am.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

I'll Remember Today For Sure

I never knew 8 k could be so difficult. Following a trumpeting of the Last Post and a few blasts of the Nine O'clock Gun we were off. A pack of about a hundred runners set off across the grass at Brockton Oval, in Stanley Park. I made light of the situation with a few jokes and quickly learned there was no time for that kind of banter. Hey, the best runs I've ever had were full of smiles and jokes, so why not this one? This one was serious. I think I was among some real road running talent. Heads down and go. So I joined in and the lungs began to burn. I had that blood in the mouth taste by the time we hit Lumberman's Arch and I knew this was going to be trouble. I kept my sights on the runners in front of me, got missile lock, and couldn't do anything about it. I held my position to only be passed by one runner and was finally pummeled by the Lazy Trail Runner. I ran 30:20 and finished 11th. Not bad for my first XC. We'll see what happens in a couple weeks.
(This is me finishing in a world of hurt)
Photo: Courtesy of Linda Tran Media Services
Although I was in lung searing survival mode for almost six of the 8k, I am looking forward to the Aldergrove Ramble on November 22nd. I want redemption over Coo and the workout is amazing.

As well, I've come to realize Stanley Park as an incredible place to run and walk and explore.

Friday, October 30, 2009

The Monster Mash

Forgive me bloggers, for I have sinned. It's been five days since my last blogging. Since Hallow's Eve Half, I've had several runs and the legs are coming back quickly. Much more quickly than I had expected they might. I was even out doing some speed stuff with Duncan last night under direction of the headlamp. It's night run season again and I'm okay with that.

Anyway, I was quite happy with last Sunday's race. After a week of easy and light running, proper nutrition, and one of Lesley White's remarkably revitalizing massages , I was prepared to race. And race I did. As you know from my previous short blog, I ran almost 5 minutes faster than last year and felt incredible.

At 9:00am, a hundred or so of us toed the line at Jaycee House and took off to the rhythms of Monster Mash. It was a real Halloween experience. The scariest part was how Coo took off and was a solid 400 meters ahead of me going into Diamond Trail. I was shocked to see him go out so quickly and I knew I couldn't let him get too far ahead. I also couldn't run right on his tail or he'd be spooked and bolt. Not that I've ever been hunting, but I guess that's what it might be like. As my new Speed Cross 2 made the decent into Lynn Creek down a steep technical section I knew he would look back to see where I was so I got right up behind him and ran on his left. He had no idea I was there. Four of us bounded down the trail: Myself, Simon P., one super tall dude, and Coo. It was faster than I cared to be going, but I couldn't let Coo go. I rode his ass until the first climb and then made some wise-ass comment while I went by. We ran together for about 10 minutes and into Varley trail, but it wasn't long before we were too far apart to chat. We'd have been yelling and that would just be weird. At the Headwaters parking lot I nabbed a bottle and a well deserved Vanilla Bean Power Gel from my best girl. In need of some liquid, I hoovered back some Nuun mixed with Chia seeds and made a move up the steep climb to Mountain Highway. Again, I was moving quite quickly, but Simon ran with me step for step. Just before turning up Mountain Highway I squeezed off my gel and entered into some turn over up to Griffin Trail, where the fun began. I ripped it down the switchbacks of Griffin and Snakes and Ladders to come out at the headwaters and find Coo behind me again. He really must have hammered it. As I had finished my bottle and gel, I tossed it to Lara and took another gel with me. I figured that would get me through the race.
I knew that I had been tailing the top woman, Katrina Driver, since the start, but I hadn't seen her until this point. Two years ago I'd seen her fly by me on this section like I was sitting in a lawn chair and that's when I knew I needed to work on speed. I wasn't going to let her go this time and she made me work for it all the way to the uphill climb on the half Lynn Loop. I needed more power to get by her and my legs were doing all they could do so I bit the top off my final gel and slurped it back. That down the hatch and all I had to do was finish this thing. It was all downhill from here and just my style, rooty and technical downhill. Coming through the Gazebo my Lara told me I was in 3rd place and I was shocked. I had no previous clue where I stood at that point. I ran straight through the Mountain Madness aid station and followed Simon, Katrina, and Orange shirt guy, who I'd never seen before, down the canyon to what we call girl hill (the ascent out of Lynn Canyon to Diamond Trail). I slipped past Katrina on the uphill and I knew that wasn't the last of her. Simon and I weaved our way through the freshly cut trail and I looked back to see where Katrina was. I couldn't see her, but Simon must've read my mind because he said, "she's still back there". I knew he was right and stayed the course. Out onto Lilloet Road and the pitter patter of fast feet came up behind about mid-way through the cemetery. She was 250 meters ahead of me in no time at all, and Simon had pulled away too. I gave chase and reeled them in, but couldn't get to them before the end.

I had a great run with Simon, but I think I owe some of it to Katrina. Every time I saw her I was reminded to keep light and quick. If you've seen her run you know what I mean.

As well as running with great people I'm sure I was prepared in terms of nutrition and training. I've worked hard at getting quicker this year and thanks to Phil Green, who was first place for 40-49's in the 10k, I've begun to get there. In fact, since I got back from China I've had some incredible training partners. The Lazy Trail Runner, who is single, loves coffee dates, and has huge quads, and Kev and Linda, who have come so far since last year. They both beat last years times and Kev even rolled under two hours. So cool guys! And thanks.

That's all for now. I'm off to run the middle 30 k of the Chuckanut 50 this weekend. I'm happy to leave out the hell that it is the first and last 10k.

Monday, October 26, 2009

12 Seconds Shy

It almost happened. I bettered my own time by four and a half minutes, and was so happy about it, but still missed Doyle's Challenge by 12 seconds. Regardless, the race was amazing. Ate well, ran well, felt amazing. The rain stayed away and I ate bacon afterward. I'll tell the full story in a couple days but for now, thanks to Pete Watson (Race Director) and all the volunteers out there. It was so cool seeing all the costumes and being encouraged. Thank you for taking the time.

Also, Kev and Linda, it paid off you two. You both improved and even managed one sub-two hour finish. Next stop, Orcas 5oK on February 6th. Think about it.

P.S. The Speed Cross 2 really came through. Thanks, JP.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Will Run for Beer

Since last year's Hallow's Half Marathon I have been seeking vengeance and redemption for my shotty performance. I felt slow and heavy and watched everyone I know walk away from me. It was pretty much survival from the start line. You know those runs you do that you just wish you hadn't started? One of these happened to me on race day.

I still ran an acceptable 1:5o, but the Lazy Trail Runner ran 1:48, "Lungs" Welbourne ran 1:46ish and Doyle ran 1:45.

These past few weeks I've been working hard on things and I hoped to serve up some whoop-ass this Sunday morning. Lungs has decided to focus on Cyclocross, in which he's incredible, and Doyle is off saying Hola to the Southern side of the equator. It's Coo against Craik I figured, but in his place, Mr. Doyle has offered up six cold and frosty bottles of fun for the runner that takes down his blistering 1:45:55.

I've been running with the Lazy Trail Runner a fair bit and he's poised to take down Doyle's time. For him that's only three minutes to work off. I'll have to shave off nearly 6 minutes and in racing a half marathon that feels like a fair bit of time.

All the best to the Lazy Trail Runner and my two neighbours (across the alley) that have kept solid with the workouts. Go kill it!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Falling Down for Hallow's Eve Half Marathon

No, I haven't fallen down! Not recently anyhow. I'm just in awe of the fall colours and beautiful runs. Blue sky, crisp mornings, crackling, orange and yellow leaves, and frost on bridges. There's nothing better than sleeping under warm sheets when the air is cool around you. When you step out of bed it's only for a coffee and a run.

Nine of us grouped up this morning for the first of two Hallow's Eve Half Marathon orientation runs. We met at Jaycee House for 8:30 am to be ditched by Pete Watson. Apparently it was too cold for Mr. Watson and he was n't willing to strip off his puffy blue jacket and entertain us over the next 15 kilometers. Heart-ache aside, the nine of us got over it and set off up through the cemetery and into the forest. After bounding through the rooty and windy forest start, we linked up with Baden Powell and dropped into Lynn Canyon to begin the long climb up to the first switch back of Mountain Highway. This course, although gorgeous with coloured leaves and fun technical trail, is basically a long climb up, and then a long, fast run down. The best parts being off Mountain Highway on Griffin and Snakes and Ladders. People really get flying down there and a shoe with solid grip, and lugs, like Salomon's Speed Cross 2, is a must.

Our group, quasi-led by Duncan and me, cruised easy up the many staircases, had some riveting conversation on topics such as Obama's recent Nobel Peace Prize, and enjoyed the morning. We ran most of the race course ,aside from short Lynn Loop, a six kilometer section of turn over, a steep climb, and more sketchy, fast downhill.

It was a perfect fall running morning on the Shore and thanks to everyone who came out. I hope you're all planning on running the race on October 25th. That goes to anyone who might be reading this. If you're looking for an end of season race with a bunch of costumed freaks, come on out. It's 21k and quite a competitive field. Check out Hallow's Eve Half Marathon and hopefully we'll see you out there.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

C.P.R.

Two years ago a good friend came to me and said, "I have a great idea! We get a bunch of guys together, no woman, and ride Comfortably Numb, Party at my condo in Whistler and wake up the next day to run Rubble Creek". And thus, C-P-R was born. It sounded easy enough and it sounded fun. The first year we accomplished the ride and the run, but fell asleep long before any sort of party broke out. This past weekend was the second annual CPR and we changed things up by running Rubble Creek Saturday and then riding the Gear Jammer course on Sunday. It was a perfectly gorgeous weekend with some of the best guys in the world.

Saturday morning the Lazy Trail Runner and I met Rob, Bob "the lung", and Dr. Darin, at Bean Around the World on Westview. In two cars, we caravaned to Whistler Creekside, where we would drop our bikes and begin running from Cheakamus Lake. The ascent through loamy pine forest was gorgeous and pictures were a must, until I realized of course, I was way behind. A few pics and the boys had dropped me. Bob "the lung" was setting a break -neck pace and the others followed suit. This wasn't what I had expected, but I put the pedal to the metal and caught up... to Duncan and the Doc that is. Bob and Rob were gone and I didn't see them again until Helm Meadows, where the alpine really begins. I had conceded to taking pictures and ran alone a fair bit. The Lazy Trail Runner slowed up too and we cruised the run through Taylor Meadows and down Rubble Creek switchbacks to the parking lot. The alpine part of this run is second to none. With Black Tusk in the backdrop and blue sky above you can't ask for a lot more. If you run the switchbacks fast your quads pay the next day and I knew how long our ride was meant to be on Sunday. My left ankle was acting up a bit again anyway, so slow was fine with me. When we arrived at the lot we were greeted by Mike Tunnah, who brought cold beers, and had cleaned all the baby stuff out of his van to shuttle us back to our start point.

That night we returned to Rob's condo for some beers, chips and salsa, and great conversation. In the village , we later ate pasta and calamari. What a crew? With sleepy eyes, we downed our food and made our way home to watch a romantic comedy (The Breakup) and fall asleep. Sounds like a date doesn't it? It wasn't. Nobody spooned and everyone went to their own beds...even The Lazy Trail Runner.

The next morning, after a huge omelette at the Wildwood, in Function Junction, we drove to Squamish and hit the trails. Parking at the top of Perth is the best spot ever because you drop into Lumberjack's and everything feels flowy and perfect. There's no other way to start a ride. From there we rolled up Jack's, through Alice Lake, we did Ed's Bypass, flew down Rock n' Roll, Rob's and Cliff's, over to Skookum and Powersmart, and then flanked across to Recycler (Mike coming out of Recycler on right) and Pseudotsuga , and over George's crossing. The gang that hammered the day before were starting to get tired and decided to skip The Plunge, but the best part of the day was yet to come. Mike, who has spent heaps of time riding in Squamish, told us about another trail that none of us had been on..."Word of Mouth". He knew the way for once and we followed like puppies. This trail was incredible. It was super soft, rolly, steep in parts, and slightly technical. After going over the handle bars twice it spit us out above Quest University and we rode back to our cars to head home. All I could think about was a cold Coke. Since China, I'm totally into cold Coke after exercise. Weird, huh?
Anyway, it was an amazing weekend of exercise and friends even though we failed to "party" again. I suppose I'd rather party on the trails than at night over beers. Thanks again to the CPR gang. I can't wait until next year. Maybe Manning or the Sunshine Coast?

Sunday, September 20, 2009

5 Peaks at Buntzen~Diez Vistas

I woke up about 4:00 am to the sound of rain drops dripping off the trees outside my apartment, and my cat hacking up a hair ball on the window ledge, but that's not the point. The sound of rain drops is never a sound you want to hear on race day, unless of course you look forward to puddles, slippery roots, and slick rock, which I did. I quietly cheered and rolled over for a few more hours of shut eye.
This morning would be the final race in the 5 Peaks series at Buntzen Lake. This is a course I have run in the past, but with poor experience. In fact, this location was my first ever trail race and I managed to fall on some nasty roots and bash my right knee in. The scar is still there to remind me. Anyway, I was totally uncertain how this race was going to go. Since Whistler I've put in some decent training runs, but nothing that would tell the tale of race day. All I knew was that this course had the potential to chew me up and spit me out especially under the days conditions.
Coffee down the hatch with a bottle of water, a gel, and some oatmeal, there we stood at the south end of Buntzen Lake, under looming clouds and the Salomon start line. Shoulder to shoulder with Flight Crew teammate Duncan Coo and the count down began. On "go!" I was certain I saw Coo, author of the Lazy Trail Runner , do his impression of Usain Bolt off the line. He was gone and I knew I had to let him go. There was no way I was going to keep that pace, not for 15.5 km.
I started slowly, knowing of the climb to come. I had to let several folks run by, but reminded myself to run my own race. Red lining it too early never works out in running. You never get it back. As racers around me found their places on the 3 km climb to the top of Diez Vistas, I started to feel my legs settling into a very comfortable pace. The top of the climb came quickly and I seemed to have that light, bouncy feeling we all covet while running. It's not often a runner gets that feeling on race day and it helped me to drop the heavy breathing of the racers behind me, just as the sun came out from behind the clouds. I was all by myself the entire distance across the bluffs above Indian Arm. At about kilometer 10 the trail descends steeply and is extremely technical. It was at that point that I rolled over on my left ankle, which I've been nursing for the past few weeks, and my pace slowed significantly. It's interesting what the human body will do in those situations. I managed to continue running by staying on my toe and making certain not to fully load the ankle. What was interesting to me was how I had slowed my pace yet my heart rate and breathing went through the roof. Within a few minutes my body had delivered the appropriate repairs to my ankle and I was ticking over like it had never happened at all. I knew it would hurt later, but the race was on.
As I had planned, I had saved enough energy to really start turning over for the last 5k of the course. This section has fewer long, steep hills than the rest of the course and is primarily pea gravel and non-technical. This was my chance to reel in the Lazy Trail Runner. Hoping he was slowing down because of his fast start this race was on. Over the last couple kilometers the announcer's voice was loud and clear and I was listening for Coo's name at the finish, but nothing. At 1:29 I crossed the finish line and Coo was nowhere. Maybe he went straight to the food, which would be very Coo, or to the bathroom? Just then his name was called and he was ripping across the finish line. Somehow I was disillusioned at the race start and the Lazy Trail Runner told me he had followed me. I was the one who led from the start. He said I lost him on the climb while his legs felt like they were full of sand.
Standing in the sun, while nursing our muscles in Buntzen Lake, we cheered as others finished the enduro, sport and half marathon courses, including good friends Kevin Letchford and Linda (Trinh) Tran, who both had excellent races. It was a great day and both the Lazy Trail Runner and I left with some hardware. We managed third place in the 30-39 and 40-49 age groups respectively, while Coo walked away with second place for the season in his age group. Way to go, man.

I'd like to say a huge thank you to Katherine and Mark and all the volunteers at 5 Peaks for an amazing race season. You all put together a brilliant show. Thank you.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A Walk in the Park

As the kiddies ready themselves for school and the long weekend signifies the end of play time, a few of us headed out for a last blast at some fun. Four of us piled into Kev's four wheel sleigh, the Outback, and made our way to Kelowna, my home town.
Saturday was an amazing day of road riding as we meandered through orchards, back roads, and golf courses. This time of year Kelowna is a dream. It's cool in the mornings, the smell of fall burning is in the air, fresh Macs are dangling off the trees tempting you to pluck one and run, and the occasional thunder storm rips through. At about 50k, that's exactly what was about to happen. We saw the storm clouds brewing and headed for home...dry clothes, tuna sandwiches, tea, and Kev's mom's cookies. A perfect end to a ride and a totally reasonable rationale for shortening the ride.

Sunday morning looked perfect. It was to be run day and what better place to go than Okanagan Mountain Park on the eastern shore of Okanagan Lake. It's just down the road. Although the morning was sunny, it was clear that a storm was mixing. On our way out we met up with a big black bear who was fixin' to relieve a local farmer of some fresh fruit. That wasn't too far from the trail head so we were left a bit unnerved. I think Linda said it best when she said, "okay, so nobody gets dropped today, okay?"
The trail up the grassy, yellow hillside was beautiful as dark clouds mounted on the west side of the lake. Our decent into Wild Horse Canyon was not steep, but sure long. We noticed the length on the way back as our little legs sucked up what little they could of the dry, Okanagan air. We did end up running through a short thunder storm, but nothing we couldn't handle. A brief stop under a log to keep dry was quickly remedied by the realization that we were getting wet anyway, and a "what the hell?, it's summer in the Okanagan". Duncan coaxed us out into the grass and we continued on through the burned out landscape of the 2003 fire.I wore the S Labs again, easily my favorite shoes these days, and they really performed well. Even in the soaking wet grasslands of Okanagan Mountain Park, the contagrip sole stuck like glue. I'm McLovin'em. I think the picture below really says it all...S Labs are a stand out shoe...and there's a hint of XA Pro 3D back there too.I tried to spare you the entire written story of the weekends run and created a little video. Hope you enjoy the video and that you're all out there playing hard, even though summer is officially over.

video
And a reminder, if you're interested in great Salomon gear for excellent prices, make sure you find time to get down to the showroom this weekend. Check out my previous blog for details.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Salomon Gear...Come and Get It!

11km around Buntzen Lake. "Oh, it's just an orientation jaunt", everyone was saying. "Not to worry, nobody will be running too quickly." Yeah right! 30 or so folks showed up. About 20 went up over Diez Vistas (the Enduro course), and the rest ran the lower loop (the sport course). I helped lead the lower loop and these people were clipping along pretty wicked fast. For an orientation run I'd say it was fast. It was more like people were trying to orient themselves to their competition on the 19th. Whatever it was, it was a highly successful day and I hope we'll try to make these things happen again next year too.

It made sense for people to try out the best of Salomon's trail shoes in a non-race environment and really get a feel for several products. It was so good to see some first time trail runners test out a proper trail shoe and compare it to their road shoe. I'd like to think Salomon helped turn some long time road runners into newbie trail runners.

Newbies or not, runners or not, Salomon will be selling off a heap of their 2009 and 2010 product this coming weekend. I visited the crew in the store last week and there's a pile of great pieces at crazy prices. I've attached the invite and directions below. Hope you get a chance to come out. If not, I hope it's because your running Loop the Lakes in Squamish. Hey, maybe shop Saturday and race Sunday?

2009/10 SALOMON FACTORY SAMPLE SALE

Ski Outerwear * Nordic Apparel * Athletic Apparel

Footwear * Packs * Gloves * Accessories * & More…

Limited Selection of Ski & Nordic Hardgoods

Winter & Summer Product

50% OFF EVERYTHING (TAX INCLUDED)

Saturday September 12th 10:00AM – 4:00PM

Sunday September 13th 10:00AM – 4:00PM

Location: 320 Harbour Ave, North Vancouver, B.C.

(Just off Main St. on Harbour Ave. beside Canadian Tire. See map below)

** Cash Only **All Sales Final **

Friday, August 28, 2009

Buntzen Lake Demo Day and 5 Peaks- Be there!

A week or so has gone by since my return from Asia and I am still in awe of this place. How great it has been to run the North Shore again. Trails I know, people I love to chat with, and can chat with (they don't speak Chinese that is). It's just a great feeling to be home. I think I've been out everyday. Love it.

The 5 peaks at Whistler went really well considering the low expectations I'd set for myself. I left the start line at the back of the second wave and spent an hour and 11 minutes picking people off. Mentally I think that strategy really works for me. It's far better than taking off quickly and getting passed for the rest of the race. That just hurts. I suffered as expected, and couldn't find the turn over, but again, I was happy with the finish considering my lack of training. Maybe it was my pre and post-race foot wear, the Salomon Relax shoes. They're quirky looking, like a clog and water sock hybrid, and they sure turn heads. Everybody asked about them and I kept telling them how comfy they are. Any race, short or long, it's nice to put on light, well-ventilated shoes once the pain is over. Check these things out at the next 5 Peaks event, we'll have them at the demo tent for sure.
Speaking of the next 5 Peaks event, the fifth and final race of the year will be happening at Buntzen Lake on September 19th. Of course Salomon will be there with the demo fleet, but why wait? This Sunday at 9 am we will be hosting an orientation run with 5 Peaks and Club Fat Ass. We will certainly have the demo fleet with us. I know many of you haven't wanted to try out our shoes on race day, probably a smart idea, so why not come out and try the pair you've been eyeing all season. We'll have the XT Wings, XT Hawks, Speed Cross 2, XA Pro 3D's, and the incredible, XT Wing S-Labs. Check out the link to Salomon Shoes. Duncan and I should be on site, at the south end of Buntzen Lake, by 8:30 and we'd love to see you out there.
Happy Trails to all.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Rice Run

Back in Canada and completely wasted. I feel like I just ran a two month ultra after China. It's hard work, traveling. We didn't spend more than two nights in any one place and therefore never really settled into a place enough to know it and run in it well. I've come to realize how much I appreciate my home trails of the North Shore. I know them so well and I take that for granted. Anyone who has traveled in a foreign place surely understands what I mean. When you're in a new place it's difficult to know where to run, where the trails are, what areas are safe, how far a trail goes, and so on. Never mind all that, how long your lungs will last in a place like Beijing. The pollution was so bad I felt hypoxic climbing up the stairs out of the subway station, so to convince myself to run was out of the question.
This is not to say I didn't run at all, but my regular routine was interrupted enough to make me nervous about tomorrow's 5 Peaks race in Whistler. Certainly it won't take me long to get back once I've recovered from the sinus infection I've been toting around for the last two weeks.

In my previous post I went on about the brilliance of Mongolia as it relates to trail running and I still stand by that. Unlike China, the terrain was wide open and predictable enough to run. I mean you could look across an open plain, below the bluest of skies, pick a route, and run for several hours without ever looking back. In China there are very few spaces that are open and uninterrupted enough to safely know where you're going. When I did find a place that was suitable however, off I went and wow, what an adventure. One such place was the beautiful rice paddies of Pin Yang, Guangxi province, in Southern China. For hundreds of years the local people of Pin Yang have lived in the mountains growing rice and corn reaching 800 meters up the hillsides.
We rose at 5:00 am to an obnoxious alarm and tip toed through a pitch black village of sleeping locals , glow bugs, and screeching roosters, under the light of a headlamp. Followed by a couple local dogs, probably somebodies dinner, we climbed the stone staircases for sun rise. As we crested the hill top it was obvious the sun would be crowded out by pollution and cloud cover. Nothing lost however, at least 15 kilometers of single track lay ahead before the next village. The trail was unmarked so we ran quite mindfully, leaving trail markers with pieces of garbage lying at the trails edge. An empty can of beer in the middle of a trail easily lit our way back. The trail was wet, and so were our shoes as we ran through rice paddies, up steep winding hills, and by old tomb sites, likely rice farmers of the past. After an hour or so of running we crested another valley top and looked down on an old and sleepy village. This was the real thing. No tourists, no Chinese sales people, no guest houses, nothing. It was the only genuine piece of old China we really saw. On that 3 hour adventure we saw only three people, farmers. We really felt alone up there and it was quite nice. Not many people can say they spent time alone in China, even for five minutes. In a country of 1.6 billion you're never alone.
From Pin Yang we spent some time biking around the Yulong River, near Yangshuo. It was again very busy, but nonetheless relaxing in comparison to Beijing and Shanghai. The Yulong area was picture perfect China and the ideal way to finish our trip to Asia.
I'm back at home now and I'm very grateful for the place I live. As I exited the airport two days ago I could smell the ocean. I could smell fresh air. I have never smelled the air like that. We're very lucky to live in Vancouver, on the ocean, near the mountains, under fresh air, among great people. I'm home and off to Whistler tomorrow morning. At least I'll suffer in a beautiful place before I kick the Beijing Lung.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Running for Mutton

It's been awhile since my last confession folks, but that's not my fault. For some reason the Chinese government feels that blogger.com, among others, such as Facebook, are a threat to national security and therefore I haven't been able to share my adventure with you. I'm in the very liberal, and cosmopolitan, capital of Mongolia, Ulaan Bataar, where blogging is allowed. Mind you, so is urinating in public and eating blow-torched marmot (it was pretty good, actually).
We arrived in Mongolia about 10 days ago and immediately headed out for some back country-yert adventure. The landscape here is phenomenal. There are very few trails of any kind, but for miles and miles you can run through open fields, over grassy mountains, and into larch-filled forests. It really is the trail runners dream. On the first day of the journey I became quite sick and couldn't really run too long, but as any addicted runner would do, I ran anyway...short though. With lungs full of goo and a nose full of snot I pushed through a run\walk above a 400 year old monastery in the middle of nowhere. The views were outstanding and the meal of mutton and potatoes that followed was fantastic.
It was a couple a days of driving and rest before arriving at Lake Khovsgol, just south of the Russian border, where I got my next run. The rest of my group had gone horesback riding and I did what I love most. RAN.
From there we had our longest driving day, but to the most perfect running location I've ever seen. We dropped a tent in the middle of a wide open field without a soul in sight. As the sun set I plotted a route up a steep ridge line and across the top of three peaks, and then back down the next gully. At 7 o'clock I woke up and set off through the grass and up a rocky ridgeline. The field was so big I had no idea it would take me 15 minutes just to reach the base of the gulley. I pushed up the hill slowly and when I hit the peak the view into the next valley was spectacular. I sat for a bit and waited for Lara to catch up and we ran across the three peaks. It was exactly what I had pictured running in Mongolia to be. If you look closely in the picture to the right you can see my tiny black Salomon jersey cruising down from the crest of the hill top.

We've just arrived back in Ulaan Bataar and I can guarantee you I won't be doing any running here. It's not really a runners city. There's no Seawall if you're wondering. It's mostly garbage, dirt, and pollution. Surrounded by mountains so maybe I'll do a day trip before leaving on Saturday.
I should be a touch out fo shape for my return, but I'm definitely planning to run the Whistler 5 peaks. Anyone else interested? Check it out: 5 peaks.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Among the Bamboo

Since my last post I have come a long way overland and made every effort possible to fly through the bamboo. Unfortunately, the bamboo was for running beneath, around, under, and through, but not for flying in. My dreams of being the Crouching Tiger may have to wait for China.
In my search since Fukuoka, I have run through busy city streets, along water ways, through old growth forests, and best of all, up mountains covered with temples. Literally covered in temples. The pathways meandered up steep rock staircases, in some cases between thousands of Torii. These are the orange arch ways, and they have something to do with safe passage. The entire country must be covered in a huge Torii, because I have felt nothing but safety, even on my 530 am runs through the streets and into the mountains.

Kyoto was the best for running, as I suspected. I ran about a 5 k run up over a mountain top, or big hill really, to a tiny village. After trying to rip the tail off of a newt, I turned around and ran 5 k back. My arrival back in Kurama meant a visit to the local onsen. It was my first visit to a public bath house, so I was nervous about ripping off my clothes and exposing my manhood to the Japanese community. Turns out they did not care and I could not have enjoyed a fresh hot spring bath anymore. What a terrific way to end a run.

This morning I awoke to a run in the blasting heat of Tokyo as I did a bit of a work out along the Sumida river. There were not many other runners, but the homeless folk were certainly entertained by my sweaty legs and forehead.

We are off to Beijing tomorrow and then Mongolia for early next week. The train is about a 30 hour ride so I guess there will be some time without a run. I think I can handle it.



Thursday, July 9, 2009

Rubber, Rubber, and...Rubber

Interesting title, I know, but it kinda` fits with the journey I am on. No, it`s not a spiritual journey! Don`t be scared off. As some of you know, I am traveling in Japan, China, and Mongolia. Some of the concerns I had before departing were, where can I run? Will it be sufficient? and what if rabid, stray dogs and cats chase me? Put your mind at ease my friends. I am fine and the running has been better than I might have hoped for.

Japan has been an incredible place to enjoy a run even though it was 37 C upon arrival. A short flight to Okinawa and a ferry ride to Kume Jima brought me to my first run. It began at 7:30 am on the road and ended up in sugar cane fields. It`s amazing when you run in a new place, how you tend to forget about the time and any aches or pains. You just run.




Lara ran with me and we ended up on a gorgeous beach covered in hexagonal rock structures. It was so early, there wasn`t another soul to be seen.

Some dolphins followed our ferry back to Naha, the main island of Okinawa, where Mr. Miyagi is from, and where I had my next bout of running. It was 6:30 in the morning and I trotted through the streets, stopping at various vending machines to suck back enough water. After a 15 minute warm up I found myself running along a rubberized canal track...and it was marked in meters for people doing interval stuff. The pathway was packed. I had to dodge people at 6:45 in the morning. Who knew? Miles and miles of rubberized, marked track. It was perfect. Then in Fukuoka, on Kyushu, I found an entire lake surrounded with the stuff, so I definitely had to go out again for a morning run. It was a little slippery this time, but what a forgiving surface to try out barefoot running.

Put your hand up if you`ve ever heard of Vibram Five Fingers. Until I started my most recent book I hadn`t either. It`s essentially a sock with toes and rubberized soles. It was invented for sailors who spent a lot of time on deck. A long story short, I am recommending that every runner, or potential runner, read this book: Born to Run, by Christopher McDougall. I mean it....this thing is a MUST read. It totally clarifies so many things, that so many people have instinctively felt for so long. Why we hate roads, why so many of us run with injuries and some of us don`t, and why little kids are such awesome runners (especially in barefeet - I mean seriously, what`s faster than barefeet?). This book was recommended to me by recent sub-24 hour Western States belt buckle recipient, Gary Robbins. He said he couldn`t put it down and I wondered if I could read it. Of course I was able to read it, but without pictures I wasn`t sure I could do it. By the way, incredible job at Western, Gary. Hope you`ll go back for more next year. Also, we`re still waiting for a race report. Dad Shmad...get on it.

This trip has brought us to the main island of Honshu, through Fukuoka, Hiroshima, and now Osaka. Tomorrow afternoon we`ll be in Kyoto, where I am told I`ll be able to trail run again. Although the health conscious Japanese love there rubberized urban trails, I`m itching to get onto some dirt and let the XT Wings do their job in the bamboo forest. I`m picturing something from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Maybe the wings are all I need to fly high in the bamboo.