30 Mar 2014
This spring I am excited to partner with Studeo55, Vancouver’s premier health club, to bring you a unique endurance coaching program targeted for the Whistler Tough Mudder. Please direct all enquirers to email@example.com
tales of training, racing and eating
30 Mar 2014
This spring I am excited to partner with Studeo55, Vancouver’s premier health club, to bring you a unique endurance coaching program targeted for the Whistler Tough Mudder. Please direct all enquirers to firstname.lastname@example.org
1 Apr 2013
About a month ago in BC, something really cool happened. A new race series, named the “Coast Mountain Trail Series” popped up from out of nowhere and promised;
“A new collection of quality, challenging, professionally run trail events in world class destinations around Vancouver’s North Shore and Sea to Sky Corridor.”
To sweeten the pot even more, the series is locally owned and operated by the dynamic duo of Geoff Langford and Gary Robbins; who very successfully launched the Squamish 50 franchise last year.
I could not, not be involved with this event.
First up was the Cap Crusher - Canada’s toughest 8k with 1600 feet of climbing and descent – this is no ordinary 8k. At the time of signing up, 8k was the only distance available, how ever the boys got creative and quickly added a 13k race to this event as well and I was in two minds about what distance to run. In the end after much flip flopping I stuck with the 8k and was pretty glad that i did.
The 13k got underway at 9am and we followed shortly after at 9:15am. I was pretty excited to see the course as I have only ever run the Cap Pacific and TCT trails out at the canyon. Geoff counted us down and a small group of us at the front surged ahead. It was all fun and games until we crested the first climb on the course, the terrain facing me downhill required careful navigation and if I wanted to say on my feet I needed to show it some respect. A few years ago I would have bombed it with disregard, these days however, I let the guys go and carefully navigated my way down.
As the terrain leveled out the running became easier with a series of flowing trail, quick navigation, flowing trail, quick turn, stride it out, hairpin, climb a little, bomb a little downhill, duck into a trail and pop out on another. Just when you start to think about your next move, you are greeted by a smiling marshal quick to provide direction and if you are lucky you get a high five along the way!
As the course is a series of loops, once you double back in reverse you get to see all the other racers of both the 8k and the 15k. This was a welcome relief as I ran most of the first half alone and everyone loves some company on the trails. In the second loop, along with all the oncoming traffic, I ran for a bit with Graham Perkins and we were back at the final grunt before we knew it. Graham pulled ahead and I chugged up this crazy steep trail that honestly didn’t even look like it was a trail, rather just the steepest bit of terrain in the area with a few pink flags on it. Love it.
Like all good things, it was over quickly after it began and I managed to snag 4th overall with Karl Woll showing a super strong performance for the win. Mike Murphy won the 13k with Adam Campbell just behind him. The atmosphere after the race was super relaxed, with lots of encouragement for finishing runners and lots more high fives. There was a good crowd at the awards, which were an event on their own. Gary does a great job on the mic and there were a ton of prizes, and a few off the cuff challenges to keep things interesting.
For me this series is just what the community needed. The local community was out in force to show support and experience the inaugural race. It was a place for runners experienced and new to come out and challenge themselves on a well designed course in a beautiful world class setting. The event was professional, well organised, and supported with great sponsors like Kintec, Moveo and NSA. This series is a non intimidating environment for the new runner and great test for the more seasoned.
Roll on race 2 in Squamish Survival of the Fittest. Post race beer garden and live music – see you there!
20 Nov 2012
A tardy race report to round out my 2012 running season, and goal of 2 50 mile trail races in the space of 3 weeks. Like the Squamish 50, run a few weeks earlier the Meet Your Maker was an inaugural race that I simply had to be part of. A 50 mile trail race and relay that took in the Comfortably Numb trail as well as a full climb up Blackcomb Mountain, a peak to peak gondola ride to Whistler Mountain and then a screaming descent into Creekside village. Too much fun to pass up.
It was a bit of a late start, but the plan here was to just ease into it, warm up a little bit and roll into the Wedgemont carpark in around 60 minute. I picked up some good company in Mike (Aussie) and Julien (South African) and then a bit later Kurtis (Canmore?). We pretty much just shot the shit through the 10km keeping a super easy pace, walking some early hills. I rolled into the first aid station happy to see Stacey, grab a new bottle and something to eat.
Leg 2 – Comfortably Numb
This leg stands on its own as a separate race and having not run it before, I was pretty excited to try it out. I had a pretty generous budget of close to 3 hours, again, the plan was to keep the pace really easy and just enjoy the trails. Pretty easy to do on this leg as the trails are rolling, flowing and constantly changing. The first half was a gradual climb that just never really felt like it. Some stunning views along the way and some engaging conversation with Julien that kept the cougars away saw us through this section a bit ahead of time and feeling good. I rolled into base 2 and picked up my Salomon pack for the hike up Blackcomb.
Leg 3 – base 2 to Blackcomb gondola
After the initial grunt of the hike up to the FSR was over, I found myself in a mix of wanting to run but felling like I needed to walk. I was still in a conservative mind frame but feeling strong on the climb. I kept pace with Julien again for 15 minutes or so before I decided to pull back a bit and hike. I mixed run walk for a while before switching back to an easy run. I was pretty happy to see Donald Peterson just up ahead so pushed a bit to catch up so I’d have some company on our way to the peak, it was worth the push as we kept pace and worked our way up to the gondola. Once we cleared the tree line we were rewarded with some stunning rocky single track as we worked our way over to the Peak to Peak Gondola.
Leg 4 – Blackcomb – to Whistler Creekside
This was the fun part and the most anticipated leg of the race for me. Riding the Peak to Peak – such a novel idea, I loved it. We rode with a fun group of runners and supporters form the “Drink Maker” relay team and it was great to be able to chat and share some stories on the way across. As we neared Whistler I could feel some cramping coming on so knew that I needed to get off and get moving again. The descent from Whistler Peak to Creekside was a short sharp one. I took a couple of tumbles in my effort to occasionally break so save the quads. Pretty quickly I realized this strategy wasn’t going to work for me, so I let gravity take over and had some fun ripping into Dusty’s for a bottle exchange. There was a small out and back section here so I got to see Julien about 10 minutes ahead and a couple of other runners about 5 minutes ahead. I wanted to catch them.
Leg 5 – Whistler Creekside to function Junction
My strategy here was “race time” and this leg was going to be a good place to start. A few km of incline followed by a long stretch of downhill to Function Junction. With a steady pace and feeling strong it wasn’t long before I passed a couple of runners before hitting the pavement in Kadenwood. I was able to get in some great turnover in the next 6km section of mostly gradual downhill and ran tall feeling strong. Finishing this leg parallel the the Cheakamus river was a bit of a tease as fresh, cold, running water all around me was calling my name, inviting me in for a swim. Running into the aid station, I was met with a cheer from the “Drink Makers” and after a quick chat with Stacey and Coo, and I was on my way, feeling strong and eager to make up some time.
Leg 6 – Function Junction to Rainbow Trail
The last bit of climbing was ahead and after hiking the initial switchbacks, it was head down and turnover for the nice forested grind. Along the way I was rewarded with Stella views of Black Tusk, Whistler and Blackcomb and was left in awe of my own accomplishment having just recently been over and up there by my own foot. As the terrain allowed, my pace quickened and I was quick to catch Kurtis and then Julien on this leg. Feeling strong, I exchanged pleasantries but was quick to keep moving, unsure how long the legs would last and what felt like a sub 4 minute pace. I was feeling strong and flying.
Leg 7 Rainbow Trail – Olympic Village
I rolled into this aid station in a bit of a panic, I was feeling so good, and passing people quickly, I didn’t want to break pace, so I quickly grabbed a cup of fruit an kept going out into the woods to explore some nice winding technical mountain biking trails before finding the hard flat Valley trail for the race to the finish line. Stacey had informed me that the live tracking results had me in 9th place or so when I checked into Dusty’s and having consistently passed runners in the latter stages of the race I had figured that I was pretty close to the front of the pack and still feeling pretty good considering. I was almost in cruise control as I navigated the wide shared bike path around green lake and then through the golf course. There were lots of people out and lots of things to look at and distract my mind from the real suffering going on deep inside. I had pretty much switched off until I found myself at an odd point on the path pretty close to the Highway 99. Realizing that I hadn’t seen any flagging (on a very well flagged course) I went into a bit of a panic. Flustered and unsure of where I was, I made the call to push on, follow the signs to whistler and stay on the Valley path. I questioned myself; Perhaps they went easy on the flagging on this path seeing it’s so close to the finish? Was I sure I read the Valley trail in the course description?
As I approached the Olympic path from the North, I knew I had screwed up and missed a turn. I ran in and over the line in a bit over 10 hours, I felt first relieved to be done, but then so disappointed that my entire day could be taken away over one little mistake. I reported by mistake in to Chris Colpitts (the RD) and he was super cool about it, at first questioning the flagging which while I had clearly missed one turn, had been spot on all day.
Despite the disappointment in the last leg, I really felt like I was part of something special on the day. The course was nothing short of stunning, the trails challenging and rewarding. Each leg was designed perfectly in technicality and length. The aid stations were spot on. Relay runners and volunteers all super supportive, it really was a class event. The field, while small was first class with the Solomon boys representing strongly in the 50 mile and the relay divisions. The post-race event again was all class and with Solomon so generously supplying what seemed like a door prize for everyone. I walked away with a sweet pair of socks and Solomon tech shirt just for showing up. I would be very surprised if we don’t see this event attract an international crowd of elite runners in the coming years.
20 Aug 2012
That awkward moment when you realize you only have 3 weeks between 50 milers.
I have just got back from a great little twilight rip through the woods. It was my first time out in the trails since the Squamish50 a little over a week ago. I hit up the BCMC and felt exceptionally strong at the top. I then got some good turnover in heading down Mountain Highway before ducking down Executioner and chasing the remaining daylight down to the Baden Powell and across to power line, back down to my car.
For most of the 2 hours out, only one thought really occupied my mind. Meet you Maker 50 on September the 2nd and what exactly to do between now and then?
With a solid week of recovery in the bag, its a bit soon to hit up a taper, but just how long do I need to be going the weekend before the race? How hard should I be running mid week runs? Recover, build and then taper again? A week of each? What about some extra recovery? more taper?
In the end, I think ill be alright. My body has fooled my mind into thinking that it will enjoy running 50 miles again and I know that as MYM gets closer the excitement will build. In the meantime I’m just going to get out there, enjoy the rest of summer and just go with what feels right.
Brandywine Mountain and Haynes Valley both sound pretty nice this time of year.
15 Aug 2012
It’s hard to know where to start with this one. With a complete revamp of the old ‘Stormy’ event that promised to impress in every aspect, I went into this weekends event with high expectations, after all it was my goal race for 2012. Now 3 days later, after it has all sunk in (and I can walk again), I can easily say that it lived up to all those promises, and then some.
The fun began early Friday evening when I picked up Tom and we made the 60 minute drive north along the stunning Sea to Sky highway. I think we were both feeling the same, excited, nervous and really unsure how the following day was going to unfold. We traded stories of our game plans then scoped out the start and finishing areas before getting settled in to the Sandman, home base for the evening.
The Sandman was buzzing, lots of runners milling about, and lots more nervous excitement. The free beer at package pickup was a nice touch that I haven’t seen since the Momar in Cumberland a few years ago. McGregor joined us shortly after and we spent the rest of the evening catching up on the days Olympic events, organizing and reorganizing race gear, cracking jokes and daring each other to do stupid shit like we were kids again. We hit lights out around 11pm.
4am wake up call and the morning was all about coffee and food. With a race start of 6:15am we wanted to get away from the hotel by 5am and make sure we were down by the beach nice and early. True to plan we had plenty of time to visit facilities, eat some more, and just mill around and soak up the stunning sunrise over the mountains. Gary did a great job of the pre race debrief and before I knew it we were lined up and off and the days adventure had begun.
Stage one – fast and flat. The goal here was to warm up, take it nice and easy and run around 50 minutes into the aid station. I wanted to make sure I had drunk a whole bottle of nuun and eaten something solid. In fact my whole plan for the first 42k was to run nice and easy, eat and drink as much as possible and be mindful of keeping a pace much slower that I knew I wanted to run. I spent pretty much all of the first 10km running with Tom and Josh, yapping the k’s away.
Stage two – up, up and away. The first climb and in my mind one that I wanted to hike this early on in the race. The beginning of this leg started of with a bit of rural, into the trail head and into some sweet new (to me) single track. Still in the early stages of the race there was a small pack weaving the way through the forest and I joined in, eventually settling on pace with Tom and Bryan, an out of town runner from New York. Together we ran/hiked DeBecks hill, passed a couple of blokes up top, smiled for Glen and then enjoyed the technical descent back down to the junction. This is where we stumbled across a confused looking Dave Papineau, having missed the junction arrows first time around, we directed him to the right and he lead the 4 of us across and through to Alice Lake.
Stage three – wet and wild. After taking whatever time was needed at Alice lake aid station the 4 of us met up again for the first bit of undulation at the start of this leg, but it wasn’t long before we started to get strung out and as Tom edged away on some of the downhill, I simply did not want to make the effort to keep up. Gotta save my legs. I passed some relay runners in the bit leading up to the double round to Alice Lake aid station again and I made an effort to try and get in some solid food. I had organised for my support (McGregor) to move to the next aid station at this point, so perused the aid station for some fuel. A handful of peanut butter sandwich and a few potatoes later and I was off, passing through the Alice Lake campground (how good would it have been to just be waking up at that campsite about now …) and into the trails leading to the Bob Mac Aid station. The trails here were simply stunning, easily the most beautiful part of the day for me, technical and flowing, nicely forested and lit by the early morning sun peeking through the trees. Magic – the moments we all run for.
Stage four – Trail running 101. I took a lot more time at the Bob Mac aid station. I pretty much grabbed one of everything from McGregor, knowing that this leg was a long one (14km) and that it was my last “easy” leg before I put the pressure on myself to pick up my game. I wanted to eat as much as I could stomach so I could push harder in the next legs. Little did I know that this leg could probably stand up anywhere as a challenging race all on its own. It had everything and my body responded accordingly. I was reminding myself that I had to take it easy when I first felt my calves cramping … shit … already? I tried to breathe it out (my new technique developed at the chuckant 30k), and wouldn’t you know it my calves stopped cramping and instead my abductors started up … really? Come on? Just over 30km into an 80km race … this is bad. More breathing, and some walking and it was under control, but the damage in my mind was done, I wasn’t even half way and I was in damage control, tentatively navigating the trails, trying in whatever way to move more efficiently to keep the cramps at bay.
Apparently I wasn’t the only one in suffer town early. Still on stage four, moving slowly and still a good few k’s away form the Aid station at the university, I caught a glimpse of the orange Kinetic race team shirt of Dave and slowly worked to catch up. Paps was in a similar state of struggle as me, not even half way and in a world of doubt. We ran together and shot the shit for the rest of the stage to the university, grateful for the company.
Stage five – what goes up must go down. This leg should be renamed to “what goes up, keeps going up, and then up and then up and 10k of climbing is a really stupid idea because by the time you get to the top you are still miles away from the aid station and the technical single track back down is just so ridiculously flowing and fun you for sure are going to bust up your quads if you ever make it back to the university”. Seriously long, relentless soul crushing climb, followed by some seriously fun, fast and flowing single track, with a splash of exposed meadows, and side of panoramic views (Squamish 50 runners, can you see where you started today?). Add a dash of holy shit, where the hell did that come from and how the hell am I supposed to even finish this race, yet alone come in under 9 hours.
Stage six – the plunger. Sounds fun, especially if you know Squamish and are familiar with the Powerhouse plunge, a super fun fast technical mountain bike trail that on fresh legs is just asking to be bombed at full pace. But its a lie … before you plunge, you must climb and descend and then climb again. This is when the sheer magnitude of 10,000 ft of elevation gain was starting to kick in.
This course is a bear.
Now to be fair, as much as the climbing was a grind, I was able to make some good progress in this leg of the race. I almost welcomed some sections to just tune out on and work away at without the full time focus and concentration that the technicalities in other areas of the course demand. One of the highlights of this leg would have to be Mike, Ran and Gordon’s water only aid station that we passed three times on the day. Both top blokes and accomplished runners, it was nice to have the support of people out there who know exactly how you are feeling. I’m sure it was a unique vantage point to watch runners slowly breaking down as they looped round and round. After my third pass Mike happily informed me there was some downhill in the lead up to the plunge and I was given the all clear to “pass go and collect my $200″ and promptly got the hell off Garibaldi Park Rd and over to take the plunge.
Stage seven – no guts, no glory. Well up to this point I had managed to keep my guts, but there was certainly no glory. I rolled into the Powerhouse aid station defeated, beat up and absolutely starving. I found shade at the aid station and proceeded to eat 1 or maybe 2 whole watermelons (my “go to” food all race). I drank some coke and had McGregor fill both my bottles with some more. This was how I planned to make it back to Squamish and to the finish, fueled by syrup. Ed helpfully reminded me that there was 9km remaining a few of which we climbing, followed by some downhill and flat. All I really heard thought was 9km remaining and set off … slowly. At this stage walking was hurting as much as running so I was running pretty much everything in the effort not to prolong the pain. The pavement that was promised in the course description was indeed pure evil and the only saving grace was the nice family who had moved their sprinkler onto the street. I numbed my mind and simply followed the traffic cones all the way back onto town, across the train tracks (secretly willing a train for a quick rest) and then before I knew it , it was all over.
10:18 – a good hour and a half slower than my anticipated time – what a beast.
Stage eight – the aftermath. Still now, 4 days later (yes, it has taken me 2 days to write this) I am still buzzing about this event. Gary and Geoff simply put on one hell of an awesome race, and tuned it into an amazing weekend filled with top competition and amazing volunteers. Pretty much everyone in the tight BC trail community was out to support in some way or another. The post race beers and BBQ we great, as were the prizes given out for any number of random reasons and silly competitions. I even scored an annual subscription for Trail Runner mag for picking up trash out on course. Round it off with immaculate trail marking, quality garments and a race medal that I am proud to display, I am confident that this event will be here for the long run and is sure to be a local favorite for years to come.
3 Aug 2012
Last weekend saw a quick little mission down across the border to tackle the new Chuckanut 30k course. I say new as its the inaugural series finale for the Bellingham Trail Running series, but really its simply the “middle 18″ of the Chuckanut 50k course.
I was pretty relaxed heading onto this race and was unsure of how the day would play out. Being 2 weeks out from Squamish 50, I was in two minds as to run hard or run relaxed and after a quick race debrief I decided to start easy, but that I would be running everything. With only 50 odd racers in the 30k race, it was pretty easy to find a spot up the front and the field very quickly spread out. I just put my head down and worked away.
The race was fairly uneventful as I worked a good pace over to Cleator road. I managed to catch Kevin Douglas at the bottom of the road, but he gradually pulled away up Cleator, which was a grind, but fairly manageable. As always, the ridge was a ton of fun. I even slowed down to enjoy some of the amazing views that were on offer on such a warm clear day. I worked Dans Traverse over to Lost lake and chugged up and over to the bottom of Chinscraper. All the time moving easily, I couldn’t help but think that I was feeling pertty dialed for this distance.
I took off up Chinscraper, ran/hiked for a bit, managed to catch up to and pass Darrell Sofield, then took off after Kevin again who was not too far ahead. Chinscraper was not nearly the beast I remember and I ran a fair chunk of it. I guess hitting up black mountain 3 times in 4 days the week previous dwarfed it in comparison.
It was not all glory from here though as both calves cramped badly once the descent began. When they finally eased off my abductors decided they too would cramp and I was in all sort of trouble, walking/stopping/cramping. Defeated by cramps, I turned my focus inward, cycled my breathing, stood up tall and willed my body to relax. Surprisingly, it worked and I was on my way charging down hill, a high 5 to Hoz and Jeremy and then into the park and finished.
Somewhere along the way I set myself the 3 hour goal so I was pretty happy to finish just in 3:00:45 which was good for 7th place. The post race party was typical James and Candice with local beer, hearty sandwiches, chocolate milk and local live blue grass. We hung around for a good few hours soaking up some sun, tunes, eats and enjoying all the good vibes you find at the finish of a well run trail race. A good benchmark and fun to run this old favorite on dry trails.
28 Jul 2012
On the weekend of the 14th of July 2012, close to 3000 of Flight Centre Ltd’s highest achievers from around the globe gathered at the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore for a conference and awards night like nothing you have ever experienced.
I was one of the lucky few.
Wet your lips with this;
Marina Bay Sands – Singapore – 57 story high roof top infinity pool
Friday night private beach party at Tanjong Beach, Sentosa Island – first headline of the weekend – Fatboy Slim
Saturday conference guest speaker – Professor Muhammuad Yunus
Saturday night Awards Gala – hosted by Rove McManus
Saturday night Headline Entertainment – Taio Cruz and Scissor Sisters
Best. Weekend. Ever
24 Jul 2012
A common catch phrase for any athlete looking to try shave of seconds, minutes or hours in their given sport.
Me? Well I probably carry a bit more mass on my frame than the average runner and coming in around 185lbs, I was keen to try and shave off some excess in advance of the summer racing season. Luckily, the boys (Ed and Ben) over at Versus Training Center were in line with this and the timing was spot on for their 30 day challenge.
The rules were simple, for the month of June it was clean eating, no sugars, no booze, no wheat and no dairy for 30 days. Results we to be measured by body fat, lean muscle mass and visuals with photos before and after.
The first few days were a bit tough because as clean as I thought I was in my diet, I had allowed a few bad habits slowly in, and weeding them out was initially difficult. A few days in though I had hit my stride and it was fairly simple to stay compliant, even on a heavy training schedule.
The results speak for themselves;
Weight 184.6lbs down to 174.6lbs
Body Fat 14.28% down to 9.78%
Fat Mass 26.36lbs down to 17.07lbs
Lean Mass 158.24lbs only down to 157.53lbs
For me, its all part of the training process, training to get leaner, stronger and ultimately faster.
Less weight more speed.
2 Jul 2012
A few weekends ago, I had the pleasure of running the Beacon Rock 50k. Located in the Beacon Rock State Park in Southern Washington, we opted to drive down and crash in Hood River Oregon the night before the race. A classic Rainshadow Running event, there was free camping and a smattering of fun group activities offered. As fun as it sounded we decided to use our limited time to explore Hood River and Portland instead – tax free shopping and some pool side rays.
The race its self was a double loop of a 25k course. With one major aid station you passed 4 times in a figure 8 style trail loop, and another aid station at the finish/25k turnaround. The support out on course was class and the course itself challenging, yet entirely runnable, with 2 major climbs, some fun technical downhill and a bit of fire road thrown in to link it all up. I was using the race as a training run and met some great characters along the way. Big congrats to Katie who placed 3rd placed female and who had the pleasure of my company for the day. Congrats to MCB as well who came out and ran 6:39 on limited training and put up with Katie and I for the 12+ hours of car travel.
11 May 2012
The BMO half was my first real goal race of the year and I almost never made it to the starting line. The weekend before saw me take a nasty turn on my problematic left ankle, and after 2 hours of easy running, I was forced to hobble out of Lynn Valley and rather disappointingly put all hopes of running the BMO on hold.
From the car park, around midday on Sunday, I put in the call to Duane over at City Sports Physio and booked myself in at the first available time on Monday. The initial diagnosis was pretty much what I expected. Some IMS, and some ultra sound and the advice that, yeah, I probably shouldn’t be running a half marathon on the weekend, and any hopes of a PB should be put to the side. Surprisingly, through out the treatment, while tender, the strength of my ankle still seemed to be there.
I rested all day Tuesday and when walking was feeling good on Wednesday, I snuck in a conditioning class at Versus and decided that I could, maybe, just run on the weekend. First was my appointment for Lactate testing which I had booked for Thursday night at the marathon expo. Surprisingly again, I felt strong on the tread mill and put in a solid effort with a max speed of 17.2 kph. I saw Duane again on Friday, got a few needles and decided that I was going to not only just run the half, but I was going to have a crack at racing it and go with my original plan of attempting to run a PB.
The event on Sunday was first class and I couldn’t have been happier with my race. The pace was quick off the start, being downhill, but I felt comfortable so went with it. I continued to run the first half of the race hard and hit out the first 10k around 38 minutes. Feeling strong and with grand visions of perhaps a time in the ‘teens’, I pushed on and at around 15km decided to put in an effort and finish strong. However the rolling hills in and around Stanley park made this course a very difficult one to negative split and I was suffering pretty hard around 18km and in survival mode. I managed a push for the last K or so and was so happy to see the clock in the 1:21′s as I hauled it in over the finish line.
Luckily, the full marathon started a full hour after the half, so I was able to get my bag, a post race massage (thanks Joey), some food and then hit up the spectator circuit to watch the marathoners out on the course. Big congrats to everyone that ran out there on the day. Both courses really showcased this magic city that I live in and it was fun to see so many smiling faces out there on the day.
25 Apr 2012
Way back in 1998, Guinness recognized Yonge St in Toronto as the longest street in the world. At 1896km it runs from the waterfront in downtown Toronto all the way out to Lake Simcoe in Ontario. It is arguably the ‘Main’ street in Toronto and has a long and rich history. It also made up over 60% of a neat little 10km race that I took part in on Sunday.
I’m not sure if I was in town on business and decided to do a race or weather I was in town for a race and decided to do some business but either way I was in town and going to run a 10km race on this long and famous street. 10km has never been a favorite distance of mine, but its the distance that got me started running, a great test of overall leg speed and a solid benchmark for future tempo training sessions.
Come race day and I wasn’t feeling the usual excitement for the race, my body was tired (I really do struggle with the east coast time zone) and even thought I have a home away from home there at my good friend Nunos place in Toronto’s Liberty Village, I really was just feeling out of place. In any case, the run being a point to point we got over to the start nice and early and I was able to get in a quick pit stop and nice warm up before getting settled in the back of the first corral.
A 10km race really does go by quickly and I really can only recall a few things aside from the suffering;
I literally ran as fast as I could for the whole 10k and was rewarded with a new PB and a smoking fast time on 36:39. To say I’m stoked is an understatement and I have to attribute this result to the friendliness of the course and perhaps a lower mileage week leading up to the race. Whatever the reason, the stars aligned and ill take it.
10 Apr 2012
It was no April fools this year when I smashed out a half marathon PB of 1:24:41 over on the Sunshine Coast in BC just a few days ago. It wasn’t my intention either. I was actually hoping to PB in the half marathon next month at the BMO and have it as a goal race, but hey, ill take what I can get these days and obviously am super stoked at the results of the fools run.
Logistically there are a couple of options with the race. You can arrive on Saturday and spend the night or take the early ferry over on race morning. We opted for the former and hooked up a room in a cabin through a mutual friend and Luluemon run ambassador Julie Bertrand. There was around 10 of us in the group and Saturday evening was sharing some laughs, playing cards and chatting over some awesome chicken curry.
Going into the race on Saturday, I was thinking id like to run around 1:30. With BMO the short term goal and a few 50 milers this summer, I wanted to get in a nice long hard tempo and was using the fools run for this. However the funny thing about a race is that it exactly that, a race, and if you have a competitive mindset, once you get going, its pretty hard to slow down. As usual, I started off a bit too fast, positioned myself with some of the stronger runners and went at it. My first 3 k’s we around 3:50 pace and I couldn’t seem to slow myself down. It felt comfortable running at that pace, so I just kept at it, hoping I wouldn’t burn out before the major climb around 14k.
The fun part of the race came early when I realize I was running with Josh, one of our cabin buddies the night previous. He was running the relay leg with Troy, and they were planning on exchanging every 5k’s. I managed to pull ahead of Josh around the 4km mark, and was promptly passed by Troy after their exchange somewhere around 6 or 7km. I made some good time in the next 7km and passed a bunch of people before settling into the long 3km climb. I was still feeling strong and started reeling people in on the climb. Josh was one of them. After passing Josh I tried to put in as much of a gap as possible as I knew that Troy would be able to catch me easily. It helped that I was running stride for stride with a fellow called Volker, who simply would not let me pass him. After cresting on the Highway, Troy joined us for the final 4km push home.
Troy set the pace on the downhill urging me to go with him and for a while I didn’t think I could hold on, but somehow managed to stay with boys as we hit the flats and last k or so. Surprisingly, I still felt strong and decided to push the pace, using it as my last ditch chance to get away, however that action led to all 3 of us pushing harder and harder just waiting for someone to break. Troy was the first to let up, probably just so he could watch Volker and I battle it out, and a solid battle it was as we had been stride for stride for the last 6k. Words of encouragement were flying around and I managed to get the first foot on the bridge just before edging Volker out crossing over the line. Troy was immediately over just after us and we were all pretty stoked about the last little push, good times had by all.
Stacey also ran a PB and came in very soon after in 1:43 and looking to be in great shape for the BMO marathon early May that she has been tirelessly training for. The sun came out at the finish and from chatting to the many smiling racers there were PB’s galore – a great early start to the season.
29 Mar 2012
Whats this? Another race report? Well, sort of, lets call this one part race report and part training update.
My plans to race often this year are mostly centered around the notion that if I want to run fast, I have to train hard and I usually don’t work any harder unless I’m racing.
Enter the training race.
For me a training race is great opportunity to experiment with pacing, nutrition, gear etc. I will turn up tired and would have done a hard session the day before and days leading up to the race.
Harry’s Spring Run Off is a great example of a good training race for me as I generally would never hammer out 8k’s in 30 odd minutes if not in a race environment. My plan for this one was to go out hard, stay under 4 min k’s and see how it all hung together. My first k was ran and 3:30 and I added a few seconds in each subsequent to pull out an average pace of 3:49 min/km which I was pretty happy with.
I really had no expectations for this one, just wanted to hammer out a good hard run and having a few speedsters to chase around the sea wall certainly helped. So did the weather. Stacey, Katie, Craig and Nicky all had solid runs and a great morning was had by all as we soaked up some post race rays and basked in our first little taste of the glorious miles to come this summer.
Coming up this weekend is another training race, the April Fools Half.
18 Mar 2012
What a day, and I’m not just talking about all the awesome racing out on the north shore trails. My post race activities saw me up in Whistler for a good friends stag party, including hot tub, beers, good friends and an evening packed with good natured shenanigans. All this excitement saw the days action spiral into a fully packed 24 hours. Not to bore you with all the details, I’ll only chronicle the mornings activities here.
2012 would mark my third Dirty Duo and my third year racing on a relay team with my good mate and self proclaimed ‘bike whisperer’ Chris McGregor. McG has a close personal affiliation with Different Bikes bike shops and was fortunate enough to be asked to ride the BC Bike race on their team last year, so this year we entered our team under the name of Different Bikes.
Our last 2 showings at this race were a mixed bag. A strong run year and a weak bike, followed by a weak run and a strong bike, we really weren’t sure what would happen this year. I was feeling strong and McG, well, who knows what he was feeling, the only training he would report in on was performing the Duane Brousmiche prescribed ‘clam’ exercises to ‘try and get his glutes firing’.
Personally, I was feeling strong and had been careful not to over train coming into this race. Lots of focus on the short hard stuff, a slow build and smart taper saw me line up feeling strong and excited to rip up the challenging course ahead. I got a bit caught up in the initial rush at the start and probably went out a bit too quick but was able to settle down into a comfortable early racing pace after 20 mins or so. My plan was to get over to Bridle path relaxed and try to increase the tempo and race from there.
By the time I got over to Bridle, I was alone and left with the thought that I’ll probably stay like that for the rest of the race. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Every now and again I would glimpse the bright yellow toque up ahead as worn by my buddy Tom Craik, and that was enough to ensure there was no slacking off. I kept working hard and before I knew it I could hear conversation behind me. The voices got closer and by the time they joined me we had form a train of 4 or so, working a hard pace across Bridle path over towards Old Buck. Working the pace with some company we were able to make up some ground on Tom and arrived at Old Buck as a group of 5. Myself and Tom running the 25k relay, Colin Miller (50k), Dario Herrera (50k) and a solo racer, all chugging up old buck.
I smartly stuck with Tom for the rest of this climb right up to Ned’s. The pace was comfortable, as was the company and we just stuck into the grind. There were a few changes of position, but by the time we got over to Ned’s, Tom and I we ahead and when Tom stopped at the aid station for a gel, I shot off down Ned’s and tried to put on as much of a gap as I could. I love running down hill, the more technical the better and coming in close to 180lbs I tend to try and use it to my advantage, so I was pretty surprised when I felt someone right on my heels mid way down. I was more surprised when I realized it was Tom and I complimented him on his style as I let him fly past.
When the downhill ran out, I worked the flat to try and catch up and we ran Bottletop (favorite), Fishermans (chatty), and Hmestead (strong) together before acknowledging somewhere around the Gazebo that the race was on. I felt good, and still quite strong. I was enjoying the race, enjoying the company and as Tom was a favorite in this race I was enjoying my overall performance. As the pace intensified the conversation stopped, briefly, Tom pulled ahead, but I refused to let him get away, and we ran hard together until Tom’s superior technical skills allowed him to pull away. I was left to slop my way thought the swamp (Diamond Trail) and navigate through the cemetery alone.
McG met me up the road, offered some encouragement before shooting back to the transition and as I rounded the corner I tagged him in and set him off with the weight of trying to hold onto 3rd place for the 30km bike leg.
My run time was 2:26:15, and put us in a great place starting the Bike. McG had a personal best ride as well (2:13:35) and pulled us thought to a 4:39:50 combined finish which was good enough for 4th place in the men’s division.
As always the Dirty Duo proved to be an outstanding day, good people and good racing across a number of disciplines, good food and good times.
5 Mar 2012
This wasn’t exactly your everyday 10k road race. Well, at least that’s what I was thinking as I was hauling my ass up the trail running parallel to Mosquito creek after blitzing a quad crushing 3:20km down some quiet residential streets in North Vancouver.
The appeal of this low key, no frills event, was mostly the cost. $10 for 10km seemed like a pretty good deal to me, the course looked challenging and I wanted to support Mountain Equipment Co-op and their vision of hosting several cheap and fun races per year.
Around 150 people signed up for the 10k and as we gathered for the race briefing, I positioned myself near the front of the pack, happy to go out hard, try to hold on and see where that left me. I noticed a pack of blokes from the Greater Vancouver Orienteering Club, waited for the signal and took off after them. Right away the pace was fast, it didn’t feel too uncomfortable being downhill, but I also knew pretty quickly that I couldn’t keep up with these guys and broke off the front pack of 4.
The first K went by quick, 3:30 quick and I wondered if I had bitten off more than I could chew. My heart rate was maxed, I was flying downhill, on the road, and my quads were already feeling the heat. But having briefly studied the elevation, I knew that if I could get down and over quickly, and then start the Mosquito creek climb I would be in a good place for a strong finish.
And that’s what happened over the next 7k’s, I blasted the downhills, then chugged back up along the creek, and was rewarded with some steep fast pavement to condition my quads on. I ran strong in 4th place, the leaders slowing increasing the gap on me while I slowly increased the gap behind me.
I was pretty much on auto pilot, already thinking about the last lap around the high school track and how good I was running when I ended up on Capilano Rd with absolutely no idea of where I was or where I needed to go.
I stopped, looked right to Cleveland dam, then left down to Henry’s Grocery and back up to the Dam. Lost, and slightly deflated I looked back up the way I had come and saw no one getting closer. Defeated, I started to run back, asked a couple of dog walkers for help and was kindly pointed back on track.
Fired up, I was off again and full pace, and even managed to pass a few guys as I wound the streets for the final 800 meters or so. I managed to come in 6th overall in somewhere around 45 minutes which I was stoked with. It was a well organised event and a great change to some of the other local races which can get quite bloated and overpriced. I really enjoyed the challenging route with its nice mix of road and trails, and the whole grass roots feel of the day. Congrats to Sean and crew who put on a great event.