Sunday, December 25, 2011

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Perfect Medicine

So my question is, Can you do too much and inadvertently reverse some of these effects through stressing the body with exercise? I imagine the answer is the same as with food, moderation.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Santa's Got a Brand New ...piece of Wind Stopper?

The last few weeks have been unseasonably gorgeous in Vancouver, but quite cold and frequently windy. Weather like this has required some thoughtful dressing in the past, but I'm done with the two t-shirts method and onto Salomon's XA WS Softshell. This thing is Windstopper, so cuts wind but also eases the impact of heavy rain, let's out the sweat and keeps in the heat. The hood is particularly nice as it articulates with the movement of your head if you need to have it up while running - I had mine up the other morning when the temperature dipped below 0 and the fog was sticking to me like honey.

If you're looking for a running jacket for yourself or a Christmas gift for a runner, this is the one.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Phantom Limbs

As some of you know I never start at the front, or near the front, of any race pack. Even if I end up there in the first kilometer, I prefer to start toward the back. It let's me see how fast others are feeling and what tricks they have up their sleeves. It was no different this past Saturday at Mountain Madness's Phantom Run.

As usual I a few jokes were slid in between my increasing gasps of air and before I knew it I was stride for stride with the Lazy Trail runner. Just up ahead was our leader and the two of us sat in 2nd/3rd position for the entire 19k. We'd slightly catch up with him on the technical downs, but he had amazing turnover on the flats and was an outstanding climber. This phantom runner out front had a brilliant race and put about a two minute gap on us before we finished in 1:46.
Striding alongside the Lazy Trail Slug

If you've noticed my Suunto Moves lately, you'd have noticed a hell of a lot of zone 1 running and for me it was very apparent on Saturday. I really only had the one gear and was extremely lucky to hang on to Coo. He's always fast so I was thrilled to share 2nd with him.

This is my last race, other than Gunner Shaw, before Orcas Island 50k in February so I hope to pick up another gear before then. I have to keep the plan in mind. We can't always be peaking and we should expect that sometimes our legs just don't show up. For this race, my phantom limbs left me hurting and struggling to keep up.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Learning to Run Slow

"Learn to run slowly" my trainer/coach said to me in an email earlier this week. I knew what she meant as we'd talked about HR training a little, but reading those words made me laugh. I want to run faster and science is telling me to back off. Either way, I pay her to think and in Green's words, my job is to "be a horse and just run."

Of course running zone 1 is just part of an overall plan, but it's the part I'm struggling with at the moment. Not because I don't want to do it, but because I really am struggling with keeping my HR in zone 1. I'm just barely not walking in zone 1 and I'm sure the old man in the walker passing me thinks I should just give up on running. It surprises me how little it takes to change my HR. The tiniest of hills sends me up 10 bpm. Hardly a slope at all. It's no wonder I've been running zone 2 "junk" for all these years. Living in North Vancouver presents some serious challenges in terms of hills. There really is no way to keep your HR consistent. It's either up or down. I did notice today that my HR came down significantly after about 25 minutes. Obviously it's up early on in exercise to meet the increase in bodily demands, but I didn't know it would take that long to get back below 141 bpm. Hmmm?

Of course there's value in learning to run slow, but I can't wait for the Aldergrove Provincial XC championships this Saturday. I won't win or even place, but I might run in zone 3 or even 4 for a bit, and then back to a long zone 1 for Sunday.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

XC Season is here!

Last weekend's Buntzen lake 5 Peaks marked then end of trail season and today's Crescent Park XC marks the start of something new...and fun.

The leaves are becoming yellow, orange, and brown and they make that wicked crunchy sound under foot. No runner would say they don't enjoy a run this time of year.

This mornings 4 loops of Crescent Park was so fun, but in the same breath a real wheezer. Out front of the Lazy Trail Runner, I knew he was just behind. It was way too quiet back there and his sneak-attack style race plan always gets me. Not today though. After 26 minutes of being ahead of him, and 500 or so meters to go, he pulled into the lead and put about 40 strides on me. I knew that if I was going to beat him he couldn't get any further ahead...and he didn't. Fighting back in the final 100 meters, I crept back quietly. Really quietly. Like a cat on grass. The LTR had no idea I was there and with 10 meters to go I showed him what the finish line looks like under my Speed Cross 3's.

The next XC installment isn't until October 29th in Aldergrove Regional Park. Come on out and burn up some lungs with the other Provincial Championship racers. You might even catch a glimpse of my new Salomon Fell Cross. Very svelt and could be the ideal XC shoe.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Salomon Sample Sale - This Weekend!

Opportunity of a lifetime. Just before Salomon opens a retail location in Park Royal, you're being invited to another amazing sample sale. Great deals on incredible gear. Check out the details below.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Where's Butch? A West Coast Trail Tale

About 10 years ago, my dad, my uncle, and second cousin, or some iteration of cousin, set off to conquer the 75k West Coast Trail. With my 50 liter Khamsin loaded with food, sleeping gear, cooking gear, and clothes enough to last six long, wet days, we took the Lady Rose up Alberni Inlet to Bamfield, where we set off from Pacheena Bay toward Gordon River (Port Renfrew). Six days later we emerged from the dark, mucky forest smiling and proud, battered and bruised, and smelling like seven years on the street. That final boat ride was like Shangri-la as it meant pub food, hot showers, and our own beds.

At 9:2o pm, this past Saturday and 10 years later, I arrived back at the Gordon River again dreaming of pub food, that elusive shower, and my own bed. The day had been a long and incredible journey as the six of us had started from Pacheena Bay only that morning at 4:42 am. Dave, Ken, Rob, Adrian, Jackie, and myself woke to the beep! beep! beep! of a 3:45 a.m. alarm clock, went through our morning routines, and began running under headlamp light with only enough gear and grub for the day.
Spirits were high as a couple of us finished our business at the trailhead outhouse and we set off across the beach. The tide was out at that point so we gladly skipped the ladders that were part of those first few kilometers. From there the run to Pacheena Light house was dark and invigorating. Like any night run, your senses seem to come alive as you see less and hear and smell a lot more. Most of what I could smell unfortunately was that of one of my running mates. Evidently someone hadn't finished in the out house at the trail head. Our arrival at the light house coincided with daylight and our headlamps found their way to the bottom of our bags. After a quick look around and a snack we trotted on to Michigan, the first of many campsites. It was early and a few weary campers had poked their heads from their tents to see the six of us running through camp. I'm sure they thought we'd stolen something. Why else would people be running across a desolate West Coast beach at 6:00am. A few waves and smiles and we floated off down the beach, back into the trail, and back out again...kinda' the routine for the day. Although the beach was open and appeared to be an easy way to cover a lot of miles it was often very tough travel. If you've ever run along the beach you know exactly what I mean. Occasionally you find a hard patch that gives you excellent traction and purchase that propels you onward. For every step you take on that surface however, is an opposing piece of ground made of sand and gravel that fills your shoes and seemingly sucks you backward, like a dream in which you're being chased by some evil ghoul. After a few kilometers of this pesky terrain you start to crave the muck and roots of the forest again. And so the cycle begins, on the beach, off the beach, on the beach, off the beach...the forest's technical roots and mud become a pain too eventually.

As Adrian and I discussed on route, getting through something this massive and daunting takes some mental segmenting in which you break off manageable pieces to finish in your mind. Being quite fresh in the morning, I broke off my largest chunk of the day, from the start to Nitinat Narrows, our first boat crossing at kilometer 33. This too was our first short break at which we topped up our water, sucked back some Cokes and had a giggle with a few northbound hikers. The section immediately leaving the narrows is primarily boardwalk and makes for a few kilometers of nice running. With that in mind I ran off confidently thinking of Chez Moniques, my next mental segment, at Kilometer 44. Head held high and proud of the bit we'd completed, I made my way toward that boardwalk only to be attacked by a fallen tree branch. In my efforts to dance lightly over it, it caught my toe and quickly wrapped up the other leg like a boa constrictor. I went down like a sack of toys and fell in dog shit. Ironically, dogs aren't even allowed on the trail so perhaps wolf or some other. Thankfully it was that petrified kind that didn't stick and only made for a good chuckle.

Minus "eau de feces" and without injury, I trotted on toward Monique's dreaming of a burger and another Coke. It was on this stretch that I had my first low. It was early on, but I wanted to be alone, I was paying too much attention to my aches and pains, questioning whether I could make it, and getting a bit clumsy. I needed that 11km's to Monique's to hurry up and end. A bit of fighting and I arrived alongside Adrian, who was also feeling low and wanting skip the Carmanah Lighthouse. Down the ladder we went and flushed out on to the beach. Ahhh...Monique's - Chez Lean-to.Monique's is a strange little place that has become somewhat of a West Coast Trail icon. I don't know her story, but if I had to guess I might say she was hiding from the world. She's planted on reserve land with her First Nations husband in the heart of Pacific Rim National Park. Inside her plastic and tarp covered shelter the cans of pop are lined up neatly across from the cooking area, fresh baking, and potato chips. The floor, where the cat and two dogs roam freely, is sandy. A burger and bun is $15 and the fixin's are a bit more. Monique herself, who doesn't make eye contact, is quirky as hell and has plenty of stories, some of which are inaccurate and embellished. She was positive that the running record was 10 hrs 30 minutes and held by a triathlete who timed all the tides. Those of us who know Gary Robbins know he could never do a triathlon. I can't recall how it came up, but I believe this was about the point 10 years ago that my father and I discussed the 17 hour record that had been achieved back then. Believing that to be quite impossible, I never would have guessed I might be gunning for it myself one day.

I'm a cheap bugger (teacher on holidays) so passed on the burger and kept to carrot cake and Dr. Pepper. With a belly full of cream cheese icing off we went down the beach realizing that our 9:00pm boat ride across the Gordon River was becoming less realistic. With 31 of the hardest kilometers to go we needed to crank it up a notch or two. The "group doddle", as Ken so eloquently phrased it, was enjoyable as hell, but killing our chances of meeting Butch, who told us the night prior that he'd stay until 9:00pm for $250. No later.

With a lot of very focused work, a couple cable cars, an increasing number of ladders and bridges, the trail just seemed to pass by for us. There seemed to be less talk and more "get there" mentality. This is not to say we weren't enjoying ourselves. In fact, quite the opposite. It just seemed there was an awareness in everyone that arriving at Gordon River by 9:00 pm was slightly urgent or we'd be swimming. I spent a fair bit of time running this section alone between Rob and Adrian out front, and Ken, Dave, and Jackie behind. My feet were starting to get messy about kilometer 58 and cursing and frustration set in. A few lonely, but out loud "f" bombs became part of my rhythm. I wanted to move faster, but the terrain in some places didn't allow it. Besides, some of our team was currently behind me so why bother anyway?, I thought. The tide was at its lowest by now and our plan was to drop through the 62km beach access out onto the shelf that would carry us quickly around Owen Point, where we'd hop through wet caves and watch the seals bask in the evening light on the rocks. The relief of running across the the shelf was immense. We were actually able to run with a normal gait again while hopping over tidal surges and volcanic stone work. Rounding Owen Point was like heaven and hell. The caves were spectacular but ahead I could see the next few kilometers of travel would be rough.It was 7:00pm as we embarked on a two kilometer bouldering expedition through to Thrasher Cove and the 70 km marker. With little chat, we climbed up and down the rocks and drift wood toward the campers at Thrasher who were a sight for sore eyes. They gave us an abundance of positive energy, exactly what we needed to get it done. It was like running through an aid station with all you can eat cheering. Their "oohs and aahs" brought to mind the breadth of what we had done already and just how close we were to actually achieving the goal. Sometimes that outside perspective is all it takes.

Laughing and smiling our way up the climb from Thrasher Cove back to the main trail, it was rapidly becoming headlamp time again-especially in the forest. Dave and Adrian had dropped us by now and were laying down serious efforts to reach Gordon River by 9:00pm and stall Butch until the rest of us arrived. It was about 8:00pm at the 70Km post and we figured 5 km per hour was reasonable. Perpetual motion in mind, heads were down, lights were on, and the trail began to undulate more and get more technical than it had been all day. Needless to say, we slowed up. My body was tired and feeling amazing, but mentally I was beat up. Night running just added to that. The kilometers ticked away incredibly slowly through here and the sounds of children playing by the water began to creep through the dark. The chatter of people around fires and the purr of vehicles was all I needed to finish this thing off. At 9:20 pm I was late, but certain Butch wouldn't have left us there.


There was no boat, no Butch, and absolutely no compassion from those on the civilization side of Gordon River. Butch's monopoly on the ferry service had the locals scared to even talk to us. To be quite honest they were rude, inconsiderate and I'm ashamed to call them fellow human beings. This could be a letter to the editor so I'll let go here and finish the tale.

There we stood, the six of us, looking across the darkness to the other side where there would be pub food, showers, and a clean bed. How fast was the current? How far was the swim? How deep was the water? What would we do if 16 hours of fatigue dragged somebody under? If we made it to the other side we'd be wet and how long before we found our way to Port Renfrew, 5 kilometers away? I strongly advocated for a fire and a bivvy night as I felt the risks were too high. It just seemed like one of those situations that could end a brilliant day really badly. Some humming and hawing and a lot of shivering led to just that - a warm, sparking fire and six tired little bodies wrapped in silver space blankets. It was quite hysterical in the end and just added to the journey.

This lasted until low tide and sun up the next morning when we filled our hydration bag bladders with air, sealed the important stuff up and made the swim in daylight. It was a fabulous way to wake up and start the day with fresh legs before we jumped on our boat back to Bamfield, which we had to meet at 8:00am. Ken, Rob, Adrian, and myself swam the river and the other two, not naming any names, got a last second pick up by some incredibly generous soul who cared less about Butch's little boat mafia.

Four pairs of wet shoes, and two dry, ran the long road to showers and coffee before an unforgettable trip up the coast to Bamfield. The almost four hour trip took us to two species of Orcas, Gray Whales, Humpbacks, and Sea Lions. The Serengeti of the sea I tell you. Our captain just happened to have some research privileges that brought us extremely close to these creatures. What a way to bring the trip to a close before the dirt road back to Port Alberni.Although I remembered the West Coast Trail like I'd been there yesterday, it was a very different experience. Most of the folks we met out there were encouraging and genuinely interested, but I'm certain after our departure they must've commented on us not really having the time to enjoy the trail. To that I say yes and no. Running is a very different way to enjoy a trail. You may experience less in terms of time, but the runner takes it all in fast and overwhelms his senses. It's very draining as you haven't got time to reflect on things. Instead you run through it and experience it later. Almost a week later I'm still in the high of it all and continue to recall the bits and pieces.

Monday, August 15, 2011

16 hours & 43 Minutes

You can do a lot with 16 hours and 43 minutes. On Saturday, August 13th, I chose to run the 75km West Coast Trail. Story to come...

Saturday, August 6, 2011

No Aid Stations

Most of us are used to a life of luxury in which we can open our cupboards or fridges and hoover down our choice of sweet or savoury, right? Right! Every once in awhile however, we branch out on adventures that put us through exercise hell and, bang for buck or weight for energy, really limit our food choices. Multi-day adventurers and racers alike know precisely what I mean. Variety of food is so nice and sometimes undervalued in our day-to-day routines. Imagine being restricted to only sweets forever. Or only salty. Even after a five hour run and seven gels or other over-packaged caloric treats, one's stomach starts to rot and your teeth start to hurt. No other quote brings home the value of food and variety better than theoatmeal's White River 50 race report in saying "at mile 21 I drank a cup of flat Mountain Dew and I swear it tasted like unicorn tears (I laughed aloud here). At mile 43 I ate a PB&J sandwich and it was like eating the entrails of a fallen angel." But how can adventurers possibly carry the smorgasbord of delights they would like to sustain them for more than eight hours?
The reason this comes to mind is that in the next month I am taking part in several long-ish events that will require me to be self-sustained for periods of up to eight hours. The events:
August 12th and 13th, a running of the West Coast Trail, in more than 10:08 (Gary Robbins style), and on September 10th and 11th, a 24 hour Rogaine event near Merrit's Lundbom Lake.

Those of you that know the West Coast Trail know that I will be entitled to one luxurious stop at Chez "Sticks holding up a few tarpaulins" (Monique's) around half way into this very technical 75km's of snakes and Ladders...and bears, and river crossings, and mud, and sand, and ziplines. Sounds fun, right? Definitely. Perhaps I'll enjoy the burger and beer at Moniques, but outside of that, what should I be carrying in my bag?

Lundbom Lake, Near Merritt, BC

West Coast Trail is clear, but what the heck is a rogaine , some of you are asking? Some of you may know it as a hair growth product, but NO, unlike the Lazy Trail Runner, I have lots of that. As defined by the Kamloops area's Sage Orienteering Club,


Teams of 2 to 5 people choose how long and how far they will venture to find as many of the

Controls marked on the map as they can. The controls may be found in any order and teams

may return to the central Hash House at any time to eat and/or sleep.

The terrain of the Lundbom lake area promises to be gorgeous, but don't be fooled. It'll be hot as hell in the day, near zero during the day and spear grass heaven. In the center of this 110km's squared area id a Hash House. It is well stocked (usually) but many teams don't return for many, many hours, if at all. So again you are required to be self-sufficient for eight or more hours, so what should be carried?

So a call out to all you adventurers, racers, hikers, and cooks or chefs. With no aid stations, what should I carry in my 25 liter bag. Of course I have my own ideas from previous adventurers like R2R2R Grand Canyon, but what are your dreamiest concoctions. Lighter is better by the way. Help me create my portable aid station.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Knee Knacker I Bluffed

This picture, by Gary Robbins, at Cleveland Dam, about sums up my day. I felt light and yo yo'ed with Sean "the Run Bum" Blanton from Atlanta, Georgia for a little more than 5 and a half hours.

I'm not sure how, but I feel like I just bluffed my way through 50k of the gnarliest trail running in Canada. But there's no way. I must have done something right, or a whole collection of things right. Either way, I could not have felt smoother, lighter, or more relaxed than I did yesterday, and I ran a PB by eight minutes for a 5:40:07 finish. The first half to Cleveland Dam was run in 2:51 and the second half in 2:49, a negative split by 2 minutes. A nice even pace throughout truly paid off in the last quarter, where I had the 4th fastest time of the day. In particular, beyond Hyannis, up the Seymour Grind.

When I take a bit of stock of all things, it's clear that all that rest I took was a huge bonus. To have trained more would have done me damage considering my soleus issue, which had been remedied by race day. I was able to start Knee Knacker injury free, but with little mileage under my belt; like I said in previous blogs, nothing over two hours on foot. I believe taking some impact off the legs and riding my bike as much as I could kept my cardio where it needed to be and allowed my soleus to continue relaxing. On top of this my trainer, Curb Ivanic, had me stronger than I'd ever been before. Certainly I was more efficient as a result.

Race day itself came together perfectly too. As some of you know, I was up at 3 am walking with a coffee and watching the sun come up. I knew it was going to be a good day. I had my smoothie, coffee, and the best race crew possible picked me up at 5 am for the 6am start near Horsehoe Bay at Nelson Creek Park.

After some banter with Pricey and his crew (Katie Dreschel and Brad DeAbreu) away from the crowds we launched into the first climb where I immediately started into the jokes. A few people giggled, but not for long as breathing took precedence. I climbed up Black Mountain and across the bluffs alongside Pricey and Sean until the snow started. Up top the huge, melting snowpack had me slipping and sliding like a chicken on ice. It was really well marked, but runners still needed to stay tuned for post-holing opportunities, which I took a couple; one up to my knee in water as we ran over some small tarns.

I came into Cypress at 1:38 and enjoyed the smiles of my crew, some coconut water, and grabbed a couple fresh bottles for the run across Holyburn to the chute. This was perhaps the toughest part of the day. The route/root across Holyburn is very technical and mixed up with mud and snow and uncertainty. Every step could land you on your ass before you come out onto the cross country track, which I also hated running on. Running on snow is not my favorite. I didn't get the same feeling Aaron and Adam had. They said they loved that part because they could go so fast, but then they go fast everywhere. Morale improved around the lodge after a handful of fruit gummies and I flew into the chute for a race down the best descending ever. The slope down over Brothers Creek to the half way point at Cleveland is a mixture of rocks, roots, and super loamy earth. You can really fly on this section but I refused to pound out my quads as we hadn't even started the hardest half of the race.

At 2:51 I crossed the dam to see Sean napping on the cement and made my move to pass as I flew over him toward my crew, the jolliest bunch of running elves anywhere. They'd cooked up bacon sandwiches on the Lazy Trail Runners Coleman stove. How could they not be happy? Plus Saje and Lara were there flying a "Run Daddy Run" flag. A few jokes and I was off again. I ran/walked Nancy Green Way to Grouse knowing of the challenging steps I had coming after that to get to Mountain Highway. I'm not exactly sure how long it took to get from half to Mountain Highway, but this was where I realized how great I was feeling and that I was actually going to finish. The thought of a PB didn't even enter my mind however. That positive thought seemed to drive me even harder and I floated down the steep steps to see my crew yet again. This is where I sucked back a couple "just-in-case" advils and some watermelon. Several years ago North Van speedstress Nicola Gildersleeve passed me at this very point so I was quite concerned she'd be upon me anytime. While I was sipping coconut water I said, " I better get going, Nicola's coming, I know it". Then, three momentarily relaxing words, "She dropped out" followed by..."but here comes Lisa". And off I went being pushed by Lisa and still towed by Sean in his yellow La Sportiva singlet.
Through the 3/4 marker I was feeling phenomenal and the time was telling me I might be in the market for a PB. As I'd seen my crew already I carried on down the canyon without stopping. All the while eating and drinking like crazy; to the point where I stopped to pee and it was clear. Eating early was going to be key here with all the climbing I had ahead of me. Not only did I have to climb out of Lynn Canyon but then out of Seymour Canyon, through Hyannis and up the Seymour Grind, where many people have had there self esteem handed to them. Between LSCR Gazebo and Hyannis aid station I hoovered three gels and a bag of Pink Lemonade Stingers (new flavor is excellent). Ran all the way out of Seymour Canyon, to Hyannis, and to the base of the Grind where I mixed up the power hiking and easy jogging. From here I knew I had a PB coming to me. I felt too good not finish fast and keep relaxed. That section from Quarry rock to the end is always a strong spot for me as well and I knew it. Light and fast down Baden Powell to Old Buck, across Seymour Road, where Brad and Katie were egging me on yet again, and onto Indian River Road. Up ahead, I could see a red tank top style jersey. It could only be one of two Knee Knacker legends, Peter Findley or Keith Wakelin, who I'd seen sporting this garb off the start line. Whoever it was, they became my goal. Later on, Keith told me he saw me coming as he re-entered Baden Powell, but he was cramping too badly to give anymore than he already had. I gave him a verbal push on the way by and he did the same before I started hearing the announcer in Panorama Park. Not having looked at my watch since the grind, I had no idea what I was in for and I vowed not to look until I saw the finish line clock. Down the stairs and onto Panorama Road I could see a clock that read 5:39... so i dialed it up a notch to break that 5:40 barrier. Too little, too late though and, still relaxed and calm, I came under the Knee Knacker banner in 5:40:07.

If you took the time to read this entire entry I commend you. It's long. Really long. And all about someone else. However, you've gotten the gist of the day I had on Saturday. It was absolutely incredible. I've run a good number of 50k's, a 50 miler, and heaps of 10 to 25'ers, but none have gone this well. Sure I've had good races, but this was Knee Knacker and it felt easy. It's not supposed to be easy and nor am I supposed to be feeling recovered two days following the race. So why?

Things I think learned on Saturday, July 9th, 2011:

  • Never underestimate rest. Sleep well and make sure to take days off. I know we often feel like we should be out there because others are, but if running starts to feel like a job ... it is.

  • Wake up Early. Even better than a cup of coffee, take a walk three hours before your race. They say you should eat three hours before a race anyway. Plenty of time for the illusive race day B.M. too.

  • Be mindful of your heart rate. Know when you'll go lactic. In a race this long, going lactic is BAD. Full recovery is unlikely. Having been injured before this race, I knew I couldn't tax my body to that point or I'd risk re-injury.

  • Race your race. The shirt in front of you may take off because s/he's faster than you, but he also may be the fool who blows up later and you saunter right by with that all-knowing smile on your face.

  • Eat and Hydrate well. It's often tough to eat or drink, but you must. And you have to do it before your body asks for it. Just keep drinking and eating. Even if you have to stop and pee, the time you lose is made up by drinking well and not slowing down due to cramping or fatigue. Of course this starts before race day too.

  • Having meaningful conversations. Perhaps the most important part of my day was seeing my crew, family, friends, smiling volunteers, and trail strangers. My crew was happy and always ready to chat, my family had a "Run Daddy Run" flag, and I got two hugs from people I haven't seen in awhile. Like I've seen Peter Findley do for the past few years, I stopped at aid stations for a few moments without rushing and had conversations that lifted my spirits. You have to smile a lot and say good morning to perfect strangers. The more you give, the more you get back. Thank you to my great crew, Duncan and DarbyKai, to Lara and Saje with the flag, to Kevin, Linda, Rob D., Gary, Kevin H., Phil, Ward, Brooke, Brad, and Katie. To the Japanese hiking group near Mountain Highway, to every volunteer, to Glenn P. for telling I was making it look easy (what a booster coming from you), and to Sean "The Run Bum" Blanton for hollering in the woods. To Pricey for keeping me relaxed with conversation on Black Mountain. Also to Lisa P. for pushing me harder without knowing it.

  • Be light, loose, and relaxed. Part of racing long is being light, loose, and relaxed. You may have noticed that when you fatigue during exercise your shoulders end up around your ears and your neck disappears. Then you get tight. This is using muscles and energy you don't need to waste. Mentally focusing on keep a nice light glide (float) really pays off. If you feel light and relaxed, you probably are and the onset of fatigue is delayed or avoided.

  • Climb smart. Over the years I've gotten better at this but Gary Robbins put it best, "climb with your glutes". You really have to keep upright so to not fatigue the low back and make sure your heels are touching the ground to avoid unnecessary strain on your calves. As well, take short, thoughtful steps. Long, high strides may seem to cover more ground, but they're dangerous in a long race.
I don't want to sound like a big shot or that I'm preaching the science of running, but I think it's important for me to notice what works for me and perhaps you'll think about it and use it yourself.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

1 day to go came and went

Busy day yesterday and I literally found no time to write my day before blog.

At 4:03 am, I have been up for an hour, sucked back a coffee, had a great walk, and now the rest. When I say rest of course I mean bathroom stuff. Racers, fast or slow, first or last, know all about the pre-race BM necessity.

Sushi was a great night-before meal and I was in bed before 10.

The body feels good. A little tightness in the anterior compartment of my left leg, but my mind is at ease. As Jude says, in so many words, run with heart and the rest will take care of itself. Good advice, Jude, I plan to take that advice as seriously as possible.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

2 days to go...

There's been a lot of talk these past few weeks about the amount of snow in them "thar" North Shore mountains. There's been snow before, but apparently not like this. Glenn Pace's "Snow Report" tells tales of snow starting within 100 meters of the Black Mountain bluff and continuing through to Cypress where it has melted away for transition. Immediately following the exit from transition and delving back into the woods the snow continues pretty much until Holly burn chute. Yikes and Yeah!

Trying to catch a glimpse of Saturday's route, I went down to Stanley Park's waterfront for a soak in the ocean and found the mountains shrouded in rain clouds. A crab walked over my foot scaring the crap out of me as I smiled inside thinking about the mud that would now accompany the snow. It really is going to be a trail runners dream.

With two days to go I'm really starting to feel the excitement around the whole event. It occupies my mind with every step I take, every bite I take of anything and everything, and every sip of water/electrolyte I suck. It really grabs a hold of you. Having done it before I can honestly say it's an excitement and not nerves - especially because I have few expectations for myself this year. Adam Campbell spoke my reminding mantra for this year best in his recent article/blog post "Knee Knacker-Snake Bite", "The race rewards athleticism, strength and endurance, as opposed to speed". And speedy I will not be - finish I will though.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

3 days to go...

The running work is done and now I just have to show up Saturday morning at 5:00am. The Lazy Trail Runner and his speedstress, DarbyKai, and I rolled off a loop of Buntzen Lake this afternoon. We started off incredibly gently and slowly built it up to a very solid tempo.

I felt fabulous, particularly climbing. I'm as ready as can be. I know I haven't had the hours so likely don't have the staying power, but I'll ease into like todays run only on a much larger scale.

The next few days will be very restful.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

4 days to go...

It's looking more and more like I'm going to toe that start line Saturday.

Had the pleasure of running into Dave "the entire Broadway Run Club" Papineau this morning and congratulate him on his brilliant finish at Western States last week. When I asked him if it was as hard as he may have previously thought he didn't right out say no, but he said his nutrition/hydration were spot on (check out his fueling plan here)...and of course he credited Hozumi for his brilliant pacing.

This started me thinking about my nutrition/hydration for the upcoming weekend. Although the forecast is not currently for beating sun and heat it will still be warm and humid and could result in some serious cramping and fatigue. I don't have a lot of secrets, but I did pick up some coconut water and a $5 power cookie from Whole Paycheque. If I can get my crew, the Lazy Trailer Runner, out of bed on time I'll have him keep me hydrated and fed throughout. Hopefully he doesn't eat my power cookies.

The Knee Knacker aid stations look great though, and I'm lucky enough not to have stomach issues. If I need extra food I can always enjoy a little more than just flat coke.

Reminder amazing Knacker Crew: Please take the lid off the Coke before I arrive. The Orcas people forgot.

Monday, July 4, 2011

5 days to go...

A beautiful day in the Vancouver hood. I presume the snow is melting away quickly and maybe even dangerously, but just in time to smooth out my glide over Cypress. I'm not actually super concerned with Cypress for snow. It's that nasty side hill section from Cypress to the XC area, across Hollyburn. Step by step I guess.

Anyway, today was a breeze.
  • Another lazy coffee morning
  • Short hike in the forest
  • A 25 minute nap
  • A Massage with Kristie Elliot @ Moveo
  • A soak in the ocean
  • And a great burger and beer with friends
I'm off to a bath and some foam rolling and then bed. I'm really living the West Point Grey house-wife dream aren't I?

Sunday, July 3, 2011

6 days to go...

A week from now I should be recovering from whatever race I have on Saturday - maybe nursing a re-injury or hopefully, just some tender, tired muscles.

Like Luke with Yoda on his back, I just had a nice long hike in Lynn Valley with my daughter on my back. While she looked around pointing at every dog along the way I started to think about my pre-race routines. A massage on Monday is the first step for me. After that I have a few race week runs I usually do, some key meals, some restful nights, especially the two nights pre-race, and I try to make sure I'm up and about for race time each morning.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on race week. What do you do?

Saturday, July 2, 2011

7 Days to go...

Another day has gone by and another successful run on the shore. Had a great run with a terrific posse today, one of which was Chris Price, fellow Knee Knacker lotto winner. Pricey is running extra strong right now and should have a brilliant first go at the Knacker. He's been able to get in all his long runs and speed work and stay injury free - lucky bugger. Having had only the past two weeks to get back at it, I explained to him how I got in as much mileage as was reasonable. Banging out 5 hour runs wasn't going to work if I wanted to steer clear of re-injury.

It's surely been too little too late, but the brick system has helped me roll off some good distances and times while providing ample rest. I was running just over an hour on day 1, day 2 up and down BCMC, day 3 two hours, and day 4 two hours. Then rest. The rest time has been a focus.

I ran into John Foy at Lonsdale Quay yesterday and he said he had a similar experience last year. He explained, "You'll feel great until half and then you'll be in hell". The Lazy Trail Runner told me Foy really laid down the law out of the mid point last year though so maybe if I take it easy I'll be able to delay the onset of "hell" until 3/4's.

I'm starting to thinking more about pre race and race day nutrition now and my last week of workouts. Fitness won't be improving, but I need to keep mobile and loose.

Massage is booked for Monday at 3:30 at Moveo.

Friday, July 1, 2011

8 Days to go...

This morning my eyes opened to a real life Folgers advertisement. The beep beep beep of the coffee maker and the accompanying smell - oh man! And coffee made it good.

The Lazy Trail Runner arrived about 5:50am, we sipped some java and off we went up Capilano Canyon. We kept the pace consistent and smooth on the way up and across Mont Royal and then had a nice floaty and playful cruise down Mosquito Creek back to my place for yet another cup of coffee.

After some good food and roller session I'm off to enjoy Canada's 144th at Lonsdale Quay.

Check - another Care free run.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

9 Days to go...

Finished teaching for the summer today and made a B-Line for Grouse's BCMC. Felt terrific going up and most of the way down. It took me 43 smooth minutes to go up and 26 quad-pounding minutes to come down. My Suunto t6d tells me the ascent was 792m and the descent was 789m. Not sure how that's possible unless the mountain moved, but it happened. Total time was 1:09. The technical descent can be pretty sketchy, but it sure keeps you focused.

Got tomorrows alarm set for another 6am run up Capilano Canyon and thinking about booking a massage. Anything to make me feel I am prepared for this thing. I keep on with the rolling and the feet up in relax mode.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Test of Metal to Now

On a 5:30 run through the streets and trails of North Vancouver this morning I started taking stock of what is...not what will be. With Knee Knacker 11 days away there isn't much I can do to change the training that I have missed or will miss. As I said in my previous post, I've been on a 7-week taper. All I can do now is...
  • Be grateful for the runs and rides I've had
  • Eat well
  • Rest well
  • Keep running care-free and for enjoyment
  • Keep loose and limber
  • Start an early morning running routine
  • Look forward to a fun, snow-filled run in the mountains with good people.

I must say, I am grateful that my injury has forced me back onto the bike. I'm loving the mountain bike.
The Plunge - Test of Metal 2011

I'll try to keep people posted on the days leading up to Knee Knacker. If nothing else it may be interesting for me to look over the days leading up to race day in the future - especially if it goes particularly badly or well.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Painfree or Carefree?

The typical running injury doesn't involve blood or band aids. If it were we'd be a lot happier in light of the fact that we're still able to run. The sight of blood doesn't usually elicit that "Oh crap, how will this effect my running plans?" response, like you may have seen in Gary Robbins Hawaii video. The pain in that guys voice is not based on actual pain as much as it is on an instantaneous awareness that a summer filled with running and racing was gone.

Like that flashing red light on the dashboard of our cars injuries tell us our running machines have had enough. Perhaps the machine is out of gas or oil, too tired, too old, or maybe even unmotivated.

Recently I've had a small red light flashing in my calf. Specifically my soleus. When it first flared up during Iron Knee I was able to run through it, but still had that moment of panic regarding Knee Knacker, the race I 've scheduled to peak for. At first I was mad, sad, upset, confused, and I tried to rationalize the pain away.

As the time went on I came to terms with it and started doing more and more cycling. I'm even doing my interval workouts on the bike. It's fun and feels less like work.

There it felt less like work. Getting out for a run was feeling like work.

Is this burn out?

I was injured. Running felt like work. All I thought about was my training schedule, I was wasted tired and never recovering well.

The past 6 weeks have been wonderful - once I accepted my situation, that is. Not being able to run has allowed me to let go of the pressure I placed upon myself for Knee Knacker and enjoy other things. Riding the Test of Metal last weekend was a hoot even in the mud and wet. And I rolled off a 3:36. Not bad for a "runner".

This all really hit me yesterday when I was able to run for a solid hour without pain in my soleus. The birds were singing, the wind was blowing branches down around me, I jumped over a garter snake, and I was smiling in a large way even after I gashed my knee. Since having A.R.T. runs had been about achieving a pain free sensation in my soleus and I had gotten there a few weeks back in doing a few 40 minute sessions. But something still wasn't right. I was apprehensive to do certain moves, my body was tight and I wasn't enjoying myself. It felt like work. Yesterday I wasn't just pain free - I was care free too.

After injury forced me into a 7 week Ultra taper, I've naturally let go of my 5:30 Knee Knacker goal. I really am running for fun again now and if I am unable to start Knee Knacker I won't be looking for a rope to hang myself with. It is what it is.

Pain free running is one thing, but care free running is essential. All my regimented training had me focused on the future and not on Running Now. I should have known better.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Go Ahead to Ride

In the past three days I've seen Moveo's Jenn Turner and my coach/trainer, Curb Ivanic. They've both given me brilliant advice. Some I didn't want to hear, but some I was glad to hear. In particular "go ahead and ride". If it doesn't elicit a pain response, get out there. Perhaps I'm not on my feet like I need to be for Knee Knacker and I haven't run in 12 days, but I'm certainly getting in the aerobic workout I need...and crave.

The bad news is that I have to skip this weekends 5 Peaks, but it means I can try my running legs out on Monday again. Can't wait.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

A Test of Two

After a late night phone call from my brother-in-law saying he was puking and wasn't going to make our morning ride of the Test of Metal course, it would've been easy to pack it in and do nothing. I couldn't do it though, so I packed the car and drove up to Squamish to ride the Test course and test out my soleus. After Moveo's Jenn Turner worked on it yesterday it felt much better and certainly held through todays ride. It feels a bit tight now, but all in all much improved. A bit of ice and rolling time tonight and another A.R.T. appointment tomorrow and hopefully a short run Tuesday.

Check out my workout below.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Wanted: Soleus in Good Condition

(About midway and 27 minutes from the soleus strain - Photo courtesy of Mat Curry)
Since last Sundays Iron Knee I have felt calf pain like never before. After cresting the top of the Power Line climb I began my descent with some minor cramping, or at least I thought so. Adrenaline kicked in with the inflammatory process and I finished the race with some minor pain in 1:57. I was happy but hurting so I hit the ocean for a soak and had a quick massage from Leah @ Moveo, who happened to be in the tent at Panorma Park.

Since then I've had another massage at Moveo, with Christie this time, and the tension in my calf persists. I'm pretty sure I'm dealing with a grade 1 or 2 strain of soleus, but another few appointments with massage and maybe physio should get me a diagnosis that I didn't make up from the web. We're all web doctors afterall.

With Test of Metal in two weeks and Knee Knacker in five, I am VERY concerned. My anxiety levels are at an all time high and I'm hanging onto anything in hopes of a miracle.

Lots of rolling and Ice, no running...and I'm not sure about biking. Grrrr! I might be reduced to pool running.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Iron Knee - All Bets are Off

Traditionally the Iron Knee has been quite the bench mark for the season to come. It tends to act as a bit of a check up for many of us North Shore runners as we approach our summer racing season. Most of us have a general idea what our time should be and it helps us gauge our fitness for the summer.

I had a look back though Race Headquarters archives and realized I'll be racing this race for the seventh time this year. I first raced it back in 2005 when it was called the Half Knacker (which it truly isn't). Since then all my times have been within a ten minute range from 1:59:40 in 2005, down 1:49: 18 last year. It's taken me seven years to improve by 10 minutes and now that I feel like I understand this course they've decided to change it.Course and Profile without new section up Nancy Green Way

The course is generally the same as it goes Grouse Mountain across the powerlines to Baden Powell which carries runners through to Lynn Headwaters. At that point runners head over the bridge to the North, right along Rice Lake connector, past LSCR gazebo and down Twin Bridge Hill. The new-ish bridge has runners moments from the start of the famous Power Line climb. Personally I start my chrono at the bottom of the Mystery Creek climb off Fisherman's, but the Power Line climb doesn't really start until you cross Mystery Creek bridge. This is where you have to decide if running this will benefit you. Walking might be the right choice because once you've reached the top, you still have six or so kilometers down the Baden Powell Trail before the finish in Deep Cove...and we all know how long that section from Quarry Rock to the finish can be when we're wrecked.

You're right if you're thinking this sounds the same as every other year, but I forgot to mention that you have to run to Grouse parking lot before starting. The official start this year is about a mile down Nancy Green Way at Cleveland Dam Park. It'll do wonders for the single track sections that used to bottleneck, but it's a second tough climb in one race and will definitely add some time to overall results.

Ultimately, it's a brand new course, and more like a true Half Knacker, with all new expectations so all bets are off. I'll still be working my ass off and it'll be interesting to see if I can still come in under two hours. I hate setting public goals, but there it is - sub two hours.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

What is the Flight Crew?

For a couple years now I've proudly been part of a very unique group of Salomon athletes who are considered brand ambassadors. As runners, racers, and all round adventurers, the Salomon Flight Crew is a grass roots team of amazing people that believe in Salomon and want to share a passion for it's products.

I've always been a Salomon guy even before I started running. I remember having a blue corduroy Salomon hat when I was in grade 9 and skiing a lot. It seemed like a brand of adventure and fun. I was proud of that hat. My first trail shoe was an earlier version of the XA Pro. My feet have always loved the fit of Salomon shoes so when I was asked to be a part of the Flight Crew that fit was natural too.

As a Flight Crew athlete of course we are proud users of the products, but among other things we test gear at a low level and collect valuable feedback from others using the products. This is one way Salomon can be sure to continue making the cutting edge products they've always made. You don't think Salomon just makes good stuff. They listen.

Being the title sponsor of 5 Peaks, Salomon is also able to share shoe demos with racers at each event. This past weekend, at BC's first event, Golden Ears, The Lazy Trail Runner and I were able to introduce the wonderful world of the Speed Cross 2, the XT Wing, and the new XR Cross Max to some of the days racers. They loved what they tried.

The Lazy Trail Runner (Duncan Coo) & I at 5 Peaks Racers Expo

Recently we also took part in the Door2Trail Cross Max tour. It's happening all across the country, but we helped kick it off in Vancouver and now it's headed across the prairies. Check out some of the videos of the tour on Munny's Blog.

The bottom line is that I am very, very proud to be part of such an incredible team and representing a company of such quality and innovation. Of course it is also a delight to receive several boxes full of gear each year. It's Christmas for big kids who like to play in the mud and mountains. Most recently I recieved a full EXO kit, advanced skin SLAB Hydration pack, the always gorgeous SLAB's, a Fast III jacket, a beautiful embroidered hoody, and of course the NEW XR Cross Max.

I'm looking forward to another great racing season and putting all this stuff to the test. The advanced skin SLAB pack will get it's first test this weekend. I'll let you know how it goes.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A Dream

I've been thinking about this shoe since last year. It's light with a great fit throughout and it's taken the lugs off the my favorite shoe ever. If Killian likes it, it must be fast too. A close second only to the mix that Reese found in peanut butter and chocolate, Salomon has combined the SLab and my personal favorite, the Speedcross 2.

Check it out.

Might have to wait 'til next year though. Sorry.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Door 2 Trail XR Crossmax 2011 Demo Tour

Over the next few weeks Salomon trucks full of gear and great people will be jaunting all over the country getting folks in Salomon's latest work of genius, the XR Cross Max.

This high mileage training shoe is meant for that trail runner that hits the pavement every so often, particularly on the way to a trail head. I posted a great promo video a few days back, check it out here.

If you want to get these light weight speedsters on your feet you can try North Shore Athletics, Forerunners, Kintec, or Mountain Equipment Coop.

I'm looking forward to a fabulous run in my new XR Crossmax this Thursday at Vancouver's Door 2 Trail Demo night; 6:30 pm at Forerunner's on 4th Ave. Maybe you'll be there? Think about it.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Spring Weekends are here!

Hit the road Saturday morning with coffees in hand and headed up to Squamish for a nice soft, loamy one might expect from Squamish. Parked the Red 'ru at Brennan Park Community Center and followed the first 30 k chunk of the Stormy course. The usual suspects were involved, Jack's Trail, Alice lake, around Stump Lake to Bob MacIntosh, Dead End Loop, Rock n' Roll, and down Rob's corners. At this point we, Duncan and I, went west toward Edith lake. We really wanted to get over to Mike's Loop and ultimately run Entrails down to Roller Coaster. From there we pounded pavement back to the car. A necessary evil that I can't wait to overcome in my new Salomon Cross Max. Should be here soon. Maybe even this week.
It was brilliant Saturday topped of with a visit to the Bistro for a turkey, bacon club. No animal sightings but the forest is starting to get Springy. The buds are out and things are greening again. Only a few short months and I'll be racing the Test of Metal up there. Which reminds me, I should probably get on my bike sometime.This morning was a first in about eight years. I ran a 10k road "race" with Saje. Saje didn't do much of the running. She mostly slept in the stroller, while I cruised the Delta course. The run was in memory of slain teen Laura Szendrei, whose cousin I taught last year. If she only knew the sacrifice I made by running on the road to show my support. Anyway, it wasn't that bad and the turn out for Laura was amazing. I finished in 42 minutes and dazzled a few folks along the way with my stroller pushing speed. What a workout! One guy even shouted as I went by, "JESUS!". I said, "No, man. Tom Craik".

Looking forward to another spring weekend next weekend.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Guts, Man!

Check out the Ethiopian in Green off the start. Within two seconds of the gun he loses a bright green shoe and the announcers don't even notice until the 2:40 marker. Heart, man. Live your life like this guy races.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Salomon XR Cross Max

Salomon is getting ready to reveal the 2011 secret - XR Cross Max. The perfect "door to trail" shoe. I have a funny feeling there's a box of these sitting somewhere, maybe even at Purolator, with my name on it. Can't wait to giv'em run.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Steed Defends Dirty Duo Title...WITH ME!

Maybe some pressure is just what I needed because I/we had a phenomenal day yesterday at Run the North Shore's first trail race of the season, Dirty Duo.

I woke up feeling all tight and visited the bathroom about 5 times. It wasn't pretty, but I just kept telling myself it was pre-race jitters. At least I was hoping that was it. After a quick coffee, pulling up my Zoot calves, and cranking up the Salomon Speed Cross 2's I started to feel like a racer again. I had no clue what the day would hold, but I knew my partner, Kim Steed, really did want to win this one. I would have to race hard, but also smart because the Dirty Duo course is not one where you can recover later.

The incredible race director, Heather briefed us on the course and we were off and heading up Lynn Canyon. I started with serious fasties Dario Herrera and Mel Bos, and thought maybe I should ease up a bit. I chose not to and heading into our first hill set I felt great and hooked up with a few others. One being Geoff Watts who carried our pace almost the entire race, particularly on the downhills. The two of us ran nice and easy up Lynn Canyon, Geoff took off down Twin Bridge hill to fisherman's, and then I caught him going up Bridle path and across to Old Buck. Going through one of many amazing aid stations at Old Buck, I looked at my watch and I knew I had been going too slow - it said 1:06 and I figured if I wanted to come close to my goal of 2:20 I'd have to get moving. For me the race really began here because I started realizing how strong Geoff was and that my hope of wearing him down wasn't happening. I tried to push him to red line on Old Buck and up to Mushroom Parking lot at the entrance to Ned's, but no dice. I needed to beat him to get Kim out first. Geoff was strong and we started downhill together...and stayed together. I don't think I've ever gone down Ned's so fast and I was able to hang on until the Bottle Top descent where Geoff stopped to tie a shoe lace. I reeled in another guy and kept a great flow until the bottom of Homestead when Geoff ran by and passed another racer. Knowing what was coming up I geared down and wondered if these two guys had any clue what was up ahead. About half way up the steepest section I left them walking and hoped that was the last time I'd see them again...until the finish that is. The race back through the canyon was fast, I felt light, and I had an eye open over my shoulder for Geoff. I'm not stupid. I knew enough not to count this guy out. The climb out of the creek was hell and what was to come was even worse. Diamond trail to the cemetery was so messy it was difficult to get any sort of rhythm happening. I couldn't tell if I had the stupids or if the trail was just in bad shape. Emerging from the trail on to Lilloet Road was the second time I looked at my watch and I saw 2:18 and some seconds. Since half way up Homestead I'd been using all the energy I should have used earlier so mustering anymore wasn't going to be easy. Through the cemetery, passed the equestrian center and I could see Lara and Saje. At 2:21 I crossed the line and handed my timing chip to Kimbo who took off to have an incredible ride. The ride we needed.

I had the fastest relay run time of the day which brought me over the line second. to Mike Murphy. It didn't matter though because Kimbo's time of 1:52, and our total of 4:14, was fast enough to bring us a couple of 1st place gold medals. Full Results here.
Although I viewed this race as a whole lotta' pressure to begin with I can now look back and determine where I need some attention for the upcoming season. Thanks to Curb Ivanic from Core Running, who had an awesome race, I climbed better than ever before and felt super strong across the core, even at the end of the race. The most important thing to focus on before the season continues is some turn over. It would be great to be quicker on the flat sections.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Steed to Defend Dirty Duo Title

Usually this time of year I'm thinking about "am scraying" off to Mexico or Hawaii and I never have the opportunity to race the Dirty Duo. This year's a bit different in that I'm heading off to Mexico the week after the Duo. Back in December I realized this and I just needed a partner.

I was ready to run, but who do I know that's willing to rock out on the bike at any moment? Welbourn, Bob Welbourn! Not only would this guy want to ride, he'd kick ass. This guys a lung with legs and he keeps a pretty strong cyclocross rivalry going with Kim Steed. In fact, these two duked it out for top spot this year right until the last race of the year.

This was terrific. Bob was interested and again he wanted to beat Steed, last years winner. I figured he'd have a brilliant chance, but I'd have to beat Chris Downie. Yeah, I know...Chris Downie. No such chance in that one, I thought, so I told Bob he'd have to do some serious catching up after I came in off the run.

Two weeks ago I get an email from Bob saying he lost a fight with a car door and a broken hand has him off his bike for six weeks. Guess what? I felt bad for Bob, but the burden was lifted. I had no pressure to try and run with Mr. Downie anymore and things were feeling good.

I still wanted to race however, so I contacted a few people to see about getting another cyclist for my team. I explored a couple options and nothing was too promising until I got an email from Kim Steed. Downie is injured and Kimbo needs a runner for his team. Seemed like a perfect set up to me until Steed laid down the pressure - Being last years relay winner, "I got a title to defend", he says. So either way, if I race with Kim I get pressure or against Kim I get pressure.

Anyway, I'm pumped and proud with my new Steed jersey in hand regardless of the pressure. Although not fast, I'm feeling fairly good for a March race and I'm sure things will go well. I've never raced this course before so I have no idea what I'm capable of out there. Having run most of the courses trails I can say it is easily the hardest 25km course in North Vancouver so suffering is inevitable. The Lazy Trail Runner is running the solo run course so I don't have to worry about racing him too much - other than his overall time of course. I can't have that off-the-couch, potato chip eatin', Lazy ass beat me too badly.

Race report to follow after this weekend's race.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Secretly Getting the Edge

Raise your hand if you've ever kept a secret about your training or racing.

Yeah that's what I figured. I knew you'd lie. Just because you "forget" to tell others about your new training regimen it doesn't make you honest. You're a liar like the rest of us. We all keep running secrets from each other. Some are bigger than others of course, but they're still lies. It helps us get a leg up or at least feel like we got a leg up.

As most of you know I have a pretty solid rivalry going with the Lazy Trail Runner. It's always been fun and it keeps us both working hard. A few years ago I started into some speed training for the first time...behind his back. We'd always run together, but I started "seeing" someone else. Someone with a heap of "getting faster" knowledge and a very special 9-week running schedule just for me. I would sneak away after work and not answer the Lazy Trail runners calls and head out to Burnaby Lake to lay down some tracks in hopes that I could clean his clock at our next head to head. When race day came I did just that by eight minutes. Upon his crossing the finish line I disclosed the entire plan and threw my head back with a devilish cackle. It was fun. It worked and it was dishonest for fun.
I think we commonly call this "SECRET TRAINING". We all do it to some extent for whatever reason. Perhaps it's intervals or hill repeats. Or maybe it's recovery tricks like compression clothes, ice baths or protein powders. Maybe it's strength training in a gym, where runners really feel out of place, or some special massage treatment. Whatever it is we all do it and it's absolutely healthy. It means we're alive and ready to work hard to beat our rivals. Rivalry is healthy as long as it doesn't lead to actual cheating like performance enhancement or cutting courses to get ahead.

I would be willing to bet that most of you have done something today that you do because you believe it makes you a stronger runner...and you've chosen to keep it to yourself. You've done so because the next time you race you'll have the edge of knowing you did it. Maybe you ran on that cold, rainy day when everyone else stayed home or maybe you started a new training schedule. Whatever it is, you won't disclose it to your rivals, at least not right away, because right now, you have the edge.

But remember we all do it. While you're getting that pre-race massage and sipping that special protein, energy, Cal-Mag, chia seed, Udos oil smoothie, your rivals are doing the same thing and they too think they have the edge.

Just think, in the time you took to sit on your fattening keester at the computer and read this blog somebody got the edge on you. Maybe a couple people.

Rivalry is fun. It keeps us honest even when we're lying.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Ironman vs. Ultrarunner

This was bouncing around twitter this afternoon and maybe for days before, but I couldn't pass up the opportunity to share it. Thanks Linda and Katie.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

2011~ Playing, Training, and Racing

The new year has officially begun with my commute back to work this morning and some scheduled living. The holiday was filled with some incredible tele turns at Sun Peaks, a rippin' ski day at Revelstoke, trying my hand at skate and classic cross country skiing, a few days in the gym and a few too many calories. That "one more cookie/just another beer" mentality took hold of me this year and I'm getting okay with that. The upside is that I'm stuffed liked Turkey Tom before Thanksgiving and packed with energy and reserves for starting the upcoming year of training and racing.

My major goal for last year was to do my first 50 miler and try a new course and I managed to get it done. My performance at Stormy wasn't completely satisfying to me, but just completing something so daunting leaves me feeling great about checking off my goals for this season.

Two things will change for 2011, my running mileage won't be aimed at 50 miles again and I plan to add back some variety/cross training. I'm certainly not done with the 50 mile distance, but training for a 50 miler with an infant at home takes away the team approach to parenting. Too many long runs lays the work load in Lara's lap and she too is training for Big Sur in May and perhaps another ultra this summer. As well, I found that putting in the long runs kept me away from a variety of other sports, like mountain biking and kayaking. To me, having largely dumped those activities in 2010 is certainly a contributing factor to some of my injuries in late summer. Part of achieving this goal began back in November when I met with Curb Ivanic, Core Running, to begin some strength training. 2011 will see me continue to work with Curb and hopefully periodize my racing and training a bit more purposefully.

The year to September...before cross country season begins once again...

Dirty Duo 25k (March 12th): My first race of the year will be a tough 25km's. It's shaping up to be a team race with one of North Vancouver's fastest mountain bikers. No names yet, sorry.

Golden Ears 5 Peaks 14k (April 23rd) -

Iron Knee 25k (May 29th) - This is a classic from Grouse to Deep Cove and always gives me an idea of where I am at in terms of my strengths and weaknesses.

West Coast Trail Run 75k-ish (June 4/5th) - This one is another great adventure run. An incredible group of about 10 guys has this one marked on the calendar tentatively based on weather and conditions. We certainly won't be running at Gary Robbins record pace, but we'll take a lot of photos and enjoy a challenging and unique experience of a life time.

SFU 5 Peaks 9.8k (June11th)

Test of Metal 67k (June 18th) -It's been a few years since I raced this one on a mountain bike, but I'm really looking forward to the training for variety. In the past I have come close to the elusive 3:30 marker, but never have I beat it. This year, it's on.

Knee Knacker (July 9th) - In 2010 I was incredibly disappointed not to make it through the lottery, but ultimately happy to mark the course with some amazing lads and support the Lazy Trailer Runner as he rocked the course. I'm keeping my goal time a secret on this one.

Mount Seymour 5 Peaks (11.7k) (July 23rd)

Stormy Relay (TBA) - Of course I ran the 50 miler last year, but this year I hope to join or create a team. A solid group of runners beat the course relay record in 2010 and I'd like to be part of a team that does so again.

Whistler 5 Peaks (10.6k) (August 20th)

Gran Fondo Whistler (120k) (September 10th) - Another addition to my efforts at diversifying my training and playing activities. This gorgeous ride will take me to Whistler for the annual CPR weekend with another terrific group of guys. Training will keep me off my feet for some low impact exercise. I hope it's as beautiful a day as last year.

Buntzen Lake 5 Peaks (15.5k) (September 24th)

That's it. It's a busy schedule, but it will certainly keep me focused and directed. As I've said before, I am a very goal-oriented guy so these athletic goals should keep me healthy and motivated. It feels good to have these goals and to start ramping things up again. For now...


This ought to summarize it all:

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