Sunday, February 19, 2012

What do you do to run?

In the past year and half the demands of my time have increased significantly. Just the usual demands, work, family, and a new dog, which still is not high up on the list of smartest things I've ever done. Regardless, I love each of them dearly and wouldn't giv'em up for even a split second. I also refuse to give up running for even a split second. Pardon the cliche, but you could say I want my cake and I want to eat it too.

The result of these contrasting worlds is interesting to me and I certainly don't think I'm alone. As running relates to work I still must have a job. Extremely proud, I run for Salomon's Flight Crew and they very generously kit me out each year, but that doesn't pay my mortgage, feed my daughter and dog, or allow me the odd night out. I'm a decent athlete, but no place near any national teams that might bring in some cash. Besides, even if I were, I'm Canadian and we all know how our government funds athletics. Like most everyone else I have a job and I try to maintain my running habit. Being a grade 5 teacher is what brings home my bacon and I typically work from about 7:30 until 3:30 unless it's cross country or track season, in which case I might work until 5:30ish and the odd weekend; of course this is from Monday to Friday.

In the winter months this makes for an interesting and tight running/training schedule. I'll either sneak out of the house to the gym before my daughter hears me and calls my name, run for 45 minutes at lunch, or squeeze in a quicky before nightfall and dinner time. I've gotten pretty creative. I had to. My students think I'm a freak. About 5 minutes before the lunch bell rings and screaming children pour into the halls, I disappear into the bathroom and come back to class in a filthy pair of Speed Cross 3's and compression socks. The bell rings, I dart out the door, and reappear 45 minutes later as a stinky, sweaty, and happy teacher. I'm sure they have Craik jokes about how I smell like crap after lunch time and it ain't what I ate. They probably think it's puberty. If I run in the morning I end up showering at school and they always comment on my wet towel hanging behind my desk. They must think I'm homeless.

As running relates to home/family is whole other game. The reason I'm writing this post is because I recently lied or bent the truth about running and have a secret agenda in encouraging my girl (we're not married in the sense of a piece paper so I can't say "wife") to register for races. Life is busy with a kid (I can't imagine two) and a dog. I love it to death and please hear this for what it is, I love running too. Since Saje, our daughter, has been in our lives I have become a lot more scheduled with my running. It's still about the freedom of running when I go, but I have to be incredibly efficient with my time. My lies are not directly lies. On occasion I just leave out that I have a scheduled run to do and then manipulate the days plans so a spare moment becomes available. Last weekend was the worst one yet. I hadn't mentioned that I had longish run to do and when Lara mentioned being tired I told her she should have a nap when Saje does, thus freeing up about two hours for myself. Thinking that was a good idea, she put her head down for a bit and I came around the corner all geared up. "Well, if you guys are going to nap, maybe I'll get in a little run". Not only did I down play it, I acted as though it was never planned.

She's (Lara) a runner too, but I don't think she gets the same satisfaction out of it that I do. She's one of those people that loves running when she's out there, but doesn't prioritize getting out. When she registers for something like Vancouver Marathon or Knee Knacker she'll train and is always very successful at doing so. With this in mind I have been very encouraging lately to the point of leaving the Knee Knacker page open on the computer. The power of suggestion I'm hoping will lure her into registering as she did for the Vancouver Marathon. A good husband/man friend should be encouraging, right? And I am, but the truth is that I feel she'll understand me better if she too is training to race. It'll be easier to explain that I'm doing my long run Saturday and not feel like I'm pushing it with running.

Perhaps these things make me sound a bit like a drug addict or just a jerk. I'm lying and manipulating just so I can run. I don't expect any sort of intervention in the near future, but I certainly do recognize my obsession and maybe that's the first step, admitting I am obsessed.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012


(Cascade Falls before the 11 mile aid station. Very fresh - Photo: Glenn Tachiyama)

Since Saturday I've been looking for some inspiration to write something creative, exciting and interesting to read, but it's not coming to me.

Of course the race was incredible. It always is. Did you look outside on Saturday? It was sunny and hot. Definitely not February-esque. The trails were outstanding as always. 99% snow free, rolling, steep, and nice and mulchy. The trees were an amazing contrast of green to the orange peet below. The company was even better.
(Just below Constitution Summit and on the heels of Nicola - Photo: Glenn Tachiyama)

How did I race? 5 hours and 25 minutes. It was no record but was good enough for 14th overall. I tracked Nicola Gildersleeve for a good forty minutes and then we cruised together for about an hour. The whole time I feared that she would hand me the boots on each of the upcoming downhills and she did. We chatted. Had some laughs. Gossiped. I stole some of the energy from the cheers her friends were giving her. As we entered our final climb before the quad searing decent into Cascade Lake we drifted apart and, with 6 km to go, I powered back a whole bottle of
Nuun and 2 gels. There was no way I'd bonk or cramp now. Almost at the lake I squeezed by Nicola's carpool buddy and competition. We spoke little as she was all wrapped up in the ruckus of her ear buds, but I when I left her she knew another female wasn't far back.

The end came quickly for me from there. I ran through a slighter adductor cramp and into the finish. The fleeting moment of disappointment with my time was quickly absorbed by chips, guacamole, and some fine ginger ale, as I realized how well I'd run the last 8 miles from the top of Mount Constitution. I just kept getting faster and faster. Had no troubles moving up hill and was still relatively agile on any remaining technical spots.

After trying my hand at a more focused workout regime in the gym and a heart rate based run schedule, I'm thrilled to say it worked. I'm still not sure how well it worked, but I definitely know I didn't have to be so conservative in the earlier stages of Saturday's Orcas Island 50k. Maybe a bit more pedal to metal on March 10th, Dirty Duo.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Pre-Orcas Thoughts

This time tomorrow a gaggle of trail junkies will be 1 hour and 28 minutes into the beautiful Orcas Island 50k course. Smiles will still be abound as many climb Mount Pickett and head toward the first aid station at Camp Moran (10 miles). With loamy, wet trail under foot and pine forests backed with vistas of Mounts Baker and Rainier, why wouldn't this be an enjoyable day?

For me personally, I've worked hard at this one. At first my goal was to better my previous 5:18, but as I get closer to the race and have no clue of what I'm capable of, I'm just glad to feel so great. Thanks to Monika Marx I'm far more well rounded physically than I've ever been before. Fingers are crossed that the weight work pays off on the climbs and toward the end of the race, the spinning helps me buffer those lactic moments, and my long tempos pay off on anything flat, like that last hellish mile around Cascade Lake.

Out to enjoy and lay down no pressure on myself. I vow not to look at my HR monitor, but to only look at the data later. I really have to stay focused on Running Now as it will be easy to get wrapped up in my own expectations after all the work I've done. A little healthy motivation for me is my continued rivalry with the Lazy Trail Runner. Should be a fun day under meteoroligist's promised sunshine.