Monday, June 21, 2010

It's 50 Miles !!!!

...and down goes a handful of Ju Jubes as my Speed Cross move in unison without thought after close to five hours on the feet. Coo and I are getting closer to home and I start shutting down in anticipation of a bag of munchies and an americano. Yummy. Every meal I can think of is rolling through my head.

6:15 am I picked up commander Coo and made the drive to Squamish after a brief coffee stop at Bean on Westview.

7:35 am We start running with the CFA group and aim to run the first 40km of the Stormy course. We head out from Brennan Park Community Center with the knowledge that we better be off the course by 11:00 am, the start of the Test of Metal. The course takes us out across the highway and along the road before we head up to Lumberjack's, a loamy, technical climb. From there we climb Perth Drive and push toward Alice Lake on Jack's Trail. (picture above: Squamish at Dawn)

9:00ish By this time our group of seven has split in two and Coo and I run with Jason Eads and Tim Weins. It was nice to run with Tim because he knew all the spots I wasn't sure of. From Alice Lake we ran down to the highway and back up, over to Dead End Loop, up Rock n' Roll passed a steamer of very fresh bear scat, down Rob's and Cliff's corners, Tracks from Hell, Mike's Loop to Entrails and then down to Mashiter and the always fun Roller Coaster.

11:00 am Roller Coaster dumps us out onto Perth Drive, where we hustle down to catch the first few Test of Metal racers heading up Thunderbird. Off on foot again across the University and down Mamquam road, and behind the golf course

11:25 and ...YEAH! THE CARS. Back at Brennan we packed up, stuffed our faces and went to soak in the cold creeks beneath the Chief, near the base of 9 Mile Hill. And where we could cheer on our buddy Mike Tunnah, who was rolling the Test.

2:30 pm On my ass and napping. A 38 km training run was a beating and I was hypersensitive to the fact that I was getting up early Sunday to run the first half of the Knee Knacker with another group.

7:15 am Coffee in hand . New Zealand leads Italy and I await my running mates.

7:30 am Kevin, Linda, Coo, and B-Rad arrive to shuttle some cars. One to Cypress, in case of injury and as a mobile aid station, and one to the start line.

8:30 am Shuttling took some time, but we were finally off and climbing Black Mountain, which we all agreed was a smack in the face, before you crest out and start into the snow and mud left up top. I felt terrific through this section and I am convinced it's because of my cold water soak and a great night's sleep.

10:30 am Through the fog I spy the silver Outback full of food and a fill up mixture of water, Nuun, and Chia seeds. Kevin pops the Vitamin "I" and we leave the car there all by it's lonely self to begin the crossing of Hollyburn and roll it down the Chute and into Cleveland Dam.
This section is a blast as the loamy ground under foot is so forgiving and we were all feeling great. B-Rad and I absolutely nuked the bottom part of this trail near Brother's Creek.

12:30 Everyone was at the Dam by this time and Coo and I decided to duck out down Capilano Pacific Trail and back to my place. The tougher runners, Brad, Kev, and Linda, kept running to Lynn Headwaters. Our run back to my place was good for about 10 minutes and then I begged Coo for some food. I was out and I was crashing . . . and down goes a handful of Ju Jubes as my Speed Cross move in unison and without thought after close to five hours on the feet.

Lately I've been thinking a lot about Stormy and the mess that I have gotten myself into by registering for this thing. I'm scared. It's 50 miles! I think I needed this 70km weekend to begin to realize I might be capable of getting through Stormy. I've received plenty of strong advice and so many words of reassurance, but this is 30 kilometers more than the longest race I have ever finished. I can't imagine adding 30 more kilometers onto the end of any of my past 50 k's.

Seeking advice. I'm scared. It's 50 miles!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

To Run or Not to Run

I was faced with a dilemma yesterday morning as I woke up to a stuffed head, runny nose, and terrible headache. I'd been fighting it for a couple days and I thought perhaps it would be taken care of before the SFU race. No such luck though.

By all google related accounts it is said that if your symptoms are above your neck go ahead and run, but below your neck, in your chest and/or bowels, do not run. For me it was above my neck, but my head felt huge and racing seemed wrong. And besides, do I really want to race and log a crappy result? This was the real dilemma.

Knowing I felt so terrible I was certain my result was going to be crap. Did I want a crap result? I tried to tell myself I'm running for me and not to externalize my results, but no can do. Once those results are posted everyone knows you logged some junk.

Thinking back to another Endurance planet podcast on Flow for the athlete I was reminded how important it is to ones performance to only race for ones self. It is when we externalize our successes and failures that our performance actually decreases. And that was it, I pinned on my bib number and zip-strapped my timing chip to my Salomon Speed Cross. It was time to race... and race for me only. It would be what it would be. If it was to go badly I would chalk it up to training under adverse conditions. As my Dad used to say, it'll put a little hair on my chest.

Hoping for the best I jumped in the start chute with the fasties. When the announcer said it was for the folks looking to get medals I thought I was in over my head, but I stayed and crossed my fingers.

5-4-3-2-1 GO! The pack flew off the mark and down the road. Consciously I had to back off. It was too much for me at first even though I'd warmed up. Cranking a hard left into Gear Jammer the descent began and was way too fast. Who are these guys?, I thought, but my head was clearing and I started looking for room to pass. having pre-run the course I knew all the passing spots and just when the climbs were coming. I saw Mr. Coo ahead of me on the first small climb and let him stay there. We still had another short loop to do. Across Dead Moped, along North Road I was rippin'. And into the climb up Mel's I caught two more runners. This is where I'd stay until the base of the Cardiac climb. Tucked in behind a runner from Australia we worked our way by the sport course racers with encouraging words and loads of silly banter. When we cleared the technical trail and came out to the big climb I got by Crocodile Dundee and began to roll. This was where I saw the Lazy Trail Runner ahead. There was a chance I could catch him and I went for it. Gaining on him with every step my heart pounded and I completely forget how sick I had been just 50 minutes prior. (Me, Oliver Utting, and Crocodile Dundee who led me through the 2nd half)

The legs ticked over nicely up Cardiac and Mr. Coo got me yet again. This time by only half a minute or so. We finished 5th and 6th and each won some hardware in our respective age groupings.

My time was slightly slower than last years, but I was very thrilled with my ability to perform under such crappy health conditions. I crashed hard when I came home and this morning I'm feeling a lot better.

XA 5's a big hit with road racer : Phil Green.
It's taken me a few years to convince coach Phil to get into the trail running scene and he's slowly getting there. He's had some outstanding races including the Hallow's Eve 10k and 5 Peaks at Golden Ears. Each of these he has done with his long standing partner shoe, Nike. Pegasus. Yesterday we got him into a pair of Salomon XA 5's and he couldn't believe the difference. This XA/XT hybrid gives you the cushioning of a road shoe, but the guaranteed grip and performance of Salomon's trail shoes. Along with his natural speed, the XA 5's got Phil a win in his age group yesterday.

Monday, June 7, 2010

My Trail Rant

A recent podcast on Endurance Planet , called "The Rule",(listen to it here) got me to thinking about the trail greeting. You know the trail greeting right? Or maybe you don't. Let's start with a question, Are you a runner that says hello, or good morning to other runners as you pass by them? Yes or No?

For years I have been a yes man. I greet everyone I see on the trails. EVERYONE! I've commented in the past about how good this makes me feel. Not just because I'm a good friendly citizen role modeling the right thing to do, but because it really makes me feel good. A smile and a greeting seems to always take away the pain of a long and sustained effort...for a little while at least. I don't know that there's science behind it, but smiling must release some sort of happy enhancer into your blood stream.

This past weekend I ran a good four hours from home, up Capilano Canyon and to Deep Cove with a couple of incredible guys. We laughed and chatted the entire way. On the trail that same day was a bunch training for North Vancouver's Knee Knacker. They had started ahead of us so they were passing us on their way back. I would guess that most of them intended to say nothing to us at all, until we spoke first. "Good morning", we'd say. And their eyes would shoot up with shock and awe as they scrambled for a response. Others didn't bother with a response at all. They didn't have music on, they weren't deaf, and they weren't going too fast. I'm confused about this. I always have been. You're out in the forest, far from any cars or amenities, or people, and you pass by a fellow runner without even a nod of trail runner's camaraderie? That's weird.
Are these people in their happy, zen running place? Are they too cool for others? Do they think they're training run will be spoiled if they speak to someone? Are they scared to make eye contact with a stranger? By the look on her face, and based on previous encounters with her, I can tell you one such runner past by us without a word because she was definitely too cool for us. She even accelerated to let us know just how good she is. Without a doubt she's fast, but that doesn't dismiss friendliness.

WHAT IS GOING ON HERE? People can't afford to treat each other this way. A quick hand up wave, a nod, a smile, or even a grunt will suffice if you can't muster the courage for a hello or good morning. But for god sake, acknowledge your trail comrades. We're all out their together and nobody is too cool - I don't care who you are. Stay humble and say hello.

Check out this February 2009 article from Runners World on the same thing. I love the definition of waving he gives.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

iRon kNee - two days later

Spun it out from home on the road bike this morning, but the quads and calves are still a touch tender - a pain I secretly enjoy.

As some of you may know, I was nursing some weirdness in my running world over the past three weeks. I was feeling low and like I wasn't running to my potential and maybe even getting slower with all my little "iggle-de piggly de" leg issues. I sort of felt that I was letting down my Trans Rockies team mate, Duncan, who has been training and running hard. I needed Iron Knee to go well and it certainly did.

I started out nice and slow. Slower than I was comfortable with actually, but I told myself it was the right thing to do. The start of Iron Knee is a bit of a balancing act for me. The first couple kilometers are under power lines on a service road and then the trail dives into Baden Powell's tight single-track. The runner wants to run easy to start, but not so easy that you enter the single-track behind a slower group of racers. Ceding yourself properly is tough to do, but I think this was my best effort to date. I reached St. Georges bench in 13th place, according to trail running guru Rob Doyle, who was marshaling there. It was just after that point that I'd planned to crank things up a notch. And that I did, immediately noticing the tension in my right hamstring. No problem though, so I ran on. Down the long steps into Lynn Headwaters aside another racer, I guess Mr. 12th Place. We ran across the Rice Lake connector and that's where the wheels starting coming off the bus and I saw trail running buddy Brad De Abreu. He was filming and I wasn't looking good. I shoved in a Vanilla Bean Guu and crossed my fingers. Magic was made. I picked up the pace and again I was rolling. With burned out legs and core, my body was tired before heading up the infamous power lines. Really tired. I typically run the powerlines, but I was certain I wouldn't run all the way this day. There was no way...or was there? I dropped my head, dropped a gear, and put a smile on my face to actively defer the evils of mental anguish. I ran past two runners into 11th place and hit the top of the climb. Rounding the last switch back I'd run the whole thing and hit the top in about 17 minutes from the Riverside turn off.
(These two pictures were taken seconds apart. It's interesting how my body position changes after I noticed the camera and smile. Shoulders low and hips forward.)

The decent down to Indian River Road was quick as usual, but a nice change of pace after my long climb. I just had to hold off the runners I'd gotten by on the Power Lines. Coming into Quarry Rock I checked my watch and saw 1:38. I knew I had 12 minutes to finish if I was to beat my own 1:50 personal best. This was it and I knew I could suffer through and make it. 1:49:18 was my final time and I felt terrific finishing. My hamstrings worked themselves out, but I still headed for the ocean to soak. There really is nothing like finishing in the Cove, standing in the water and cheering for the rest of the field. It's cool watching people react to their finish time and those around them.
Thanks so much to North Shore Athletics for another well run event and to everyone who volunteered there time to be out there. Particular Kudos to the champ who hauled the Black Forest Cake up to the top of the power line climb.