Friday, December 6, 2013

A blog post about nothing or something like that

You would think I would have lots to say as I have not posted in forever but even so this is pretty much my  blog equivalent to a Seinfeld episode. I figured that it was time to get back at it anyway. Its not like there is not much to write in fact the current state of this blog reminds me of our return flight from NYC. Just like the hour we spent at LaGuardia waiting in the airplane conga line to take off  I have about 10 posts in various stages of completion. Hopefully I will be able to shove them out the door and into the world in quick and short order.

In the meantime this is week 8 of marathon training and so far so good. No injuries and lots of good strong workouts. Whats that? Didn't I mention I am training for a February marathon? Guess that infos in one of those not yet released blog posts. More to come on that later for now here is Novembers training numbers. Mileage was a bit low after running 500km in October but I ended up losing a week to a bad cold which cost me a few hard workouts as well.

Runs - 21
Quality runs - 6
Long runs -4
Total time - 35:14:22
Distance - 226.57 miles or 364.9km

The one other big deal this week is that its that time of year again. Its time for the Western States lottery. That means what I run next year as far as big races go will get decided fairly quickly once the lottery verdict is in. This is the fourth year in a row for me and I am not holding my breath even with 4 tickets in the lottery. Looks like that gives me about a 25% chance of getting my name pulled but given my  0 for 14 lottery losing streak I am pessimistic. Okay I am always pessimistic but even more than usual. I will stay glued to my computer WS live feed tomorrow like a little kid waiting for his Daddy to come home after he went out for a pack of smokes. Hope springs eternal .... Yadda Yadda

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Leadville 100 Race Report 2013

If you know me you know that I am usually very rarely at a lost for words but after everything that went on at the Leadville 100 this year I find it hard to know what to say. I feel amazingly conflicted over the event but positive about my actual run even though I DNFed. Confused? Yeah me too.

If you have read my blog in the past you know I am also rarely critical except about my own running but this time there is just no way around it. I promised when I started writing this blog I would be honest about what goes on out there in my running world and so I will be. I have decided that I will do this in two posts in an attempt to keep some separation between my own run and the actual race / event. Here is part 1 which is my actual race report on my run. Part 2 about the overall event will follow shortly.

Leadville 100 race report
I can honestly say I don't think I have ever been more prepared for a race in my life. Its been a year of training, plotting and planning my revenge after DNFing at Leadville last year. The good news is I know the course, am healthy, well trained and have a great crew. The bad news is that there is still no oxygen on Hopes Pass and no mountains in Toronto to train on. I also dont have any pacers but heck from past experience all they do is eat all your food and make fun of your snail like death shuffle pace anyway.

I arrive in Leadville in a long black hearse also know as the rental car on Friday morning for medical with Kim and JD. I blame JD for me being here as it was his plan to return after last year that convinced me to sign up. He takes no ownership over my registration and at one point a few months ago even tries to tell me that we are both adults. Now thats hilarious!

At medical/weigh-in I find out that I am fatter than I expected and then head into the Leadville store to buy some running crap. No danger in that because I feel great and am definitely going to finish this year. I mean I feel really good for a fat guy that cant seem to breath and already has a headache from the altitude. We settle on Pizza and beer for dinner. Its the perfect fat guy food and I really need a drink but when the beer shows up its 3.2%. Yummy thats some really tasty beer flavoured water. Apparently the low alcohol content of beer bought in Leadville restaurants have something to do with tourists and altitude. You can get the real deal at building with the big sign that says Liquor but we figure our water beer is good enough.

We head back to the hotel to get a couple of hours of sleep then its back downtown for the 4AM race start. Is it just me or is this race corral really crowded this year?

Start line to Mayqueen (13.5 miles)
Last year I started out too slow and ended up getting caught up in traffic so this year the plan was to make sure that didn't happen. JD and I ran the first 5 miles of road / dirt road at a good pace but still made sure to not be too fast. I have to say I was feeling really good. Okay I know I had 95 miles to go but I felt great. We kept the pace solid as we hit the early part of the trail and I chatted with a couple of guys from Chicago for the next hour or so. Just before we came into the Boat Ramp at 7.5 miles I looked back along the lake. There was a line of headlamps extending back around the lake for a very long way. Man there was a lot of people on the trail.

A short distance past the Boat Ramp you are into single track trail. Last year I really got hung up here as the number of runners created a slow moving conga line. At first it looked like it might be the same thing again as things slowed down but after passing a couple of slower runners the trail opened up some with everyone right in front of me running a good pace. As it got light out I glanced behind me but no JD. I figured he would catch up soon enough.

I cruised into Mayqueen in 2:24 which was 4 minutes faster then planned. It was going great and I was stoked as I crossed the timing mat and stepped into unbelievable chaos. The aid station area was a zoo. It was nuts last year but this was bedlam. Both sides of the paved roadway crammed with people that were pressing in on the runners. I kept going along the gauntlet looking for Kim until finally getting to the end and the main road. No Kim, good grief. I turned and headed back towards the aid station watching for her but realizing that I was probably going to have to just hit my drop bag instead. Finally I saw her (she still didnt see me).

Kim felt so bad when she saw me coming from the wrong direction and that she had missed me. I made sure she knew that I didn't blame her. It was nuts there. She said other crew kept pushing their way in front of her and then standing there making it hard to see anything. I swapped hydration vests and headed back onto the course. My 1 minute stop ended up being 5 but I was still 10 minutes ahead of last year.

Mayqueen to Outward Bound (Fish Hatchery) 23.5 miles
A very short run on the road and we are back on the trail. This is one of my favourite parts of the course. I cruise along the single track trail still in great spirits and am quickly out of the wood and onto the road along Hagermans Pass. Its a pretty big climb but the terrain is not difficult and the views are spectacular. We cross under the powerlines and I know that its almost all down hill from here. The couple of miles of running down the powerlines is great fun but I know enough to keep it reigned in. There is a great oppurtunity to damage the quads here so running downhill stupid is not a good plan. Just before the bottom I catch up to the guys from Chicago and chat a little more.

The course at the bottom of powerlines where we hit the road seems different to me from last year. There was no announced course change here, maybe I am just remembering it wrong which sometimes happens. I ponder this for the next mile of road as we make our way to Fish Hatchery.

This is a big change for the race. The aid station is no longer at the Hatchery which you now run past and go further up the road for about a quarter mile. I check my split as I pass it to compared to last year. I am 3 minutes slower than last year for the section but still 5 minutes ahead of my planned pace. I arrive at Outward Bound soon enough.

Outward Bound to Treeline
The aid station is a joke. It is complete and total disaster. Anything I write here will totally fail to convey just how amazing awful, disorganized and dangerous it was. Kim sees me just before the turn off the road and into the aid station. I might not have even know where to turn without her pointing it out to me. There are cars parked all along the road and people everywhere but even worse there are cars leaving the aid station "parking" right next to the timing mats. To leave these cars then have to pass right through the line of departing runners coming out of the aid station. Honestly I think that its a miracle that nobody was injured or killed here.

I drop my hydration pack and pick up my bottle for the short run to Treeline. Kim asks me if I want to take my other handheld but I say no. Its only 4 miles to treeline where I will meet her and switch back to the pack. This turns out to be a very big mistake on my part.

I leave the aid station having to dodge cars just to get out onto the road and then its a couple of miles pavement until you hit jeep road. The first mile is scary as the traffic coming and going from the aid station is heavy and we are running with traffic so you cant really see the cars coming up on you. I run this section really well and glide into the crew area at treeline.

Treeline is not an aid station but is a crew access point and that means there is no race aid here. Something very strange is going on. There is very little crew here. Last year the field was packed with cars and people but not this year. Have I missed the Rapture? Has the zombie Apocalypse started without me? I hope not I have big plans for that one and I left my machete at home. I arrive at the spot I am suppose to meet Kim. We actually picked an exact spot because it was so crowded last year. Is that a tumble weed rolling by? Kim is not here and its not hard to tell because the place we are suppose to meet is nearly empty.

I dont need to consult with Stephen Hawking to know that the aid station mess at Outward has caused her to miss me. Now I have got a big problem of my own making. I am running with a single bottle instead of my pack and that is just not going to cut it. I should have enough water to get to Halfpipe but just barely. Oh did I forget to mention that its around 10 AM and is starting to get hot. Looks like my timing is perfect.

I run this section to Halfpipe really well but I am forced to carefully ration my water instead of just drinking which worries me. I arrive at the aid station and take a couple of minutes to rehydrate a bit before heading back out.

Halfpipe to Twin Lakes
This section is 8.5 miles of mostly awesome running. I am good as far as gels go but water will be an issue. Luckily there is a water only station at 5.5 miles so I might be okay. Why the heck didnt I take that extra handheld with me? For the next 5 miles this thought gnaws at my brain like the larva from a Ceti eel (hows that for an obscure reference kids).

I somehow manage to run out of water just before the water station but refill there. Still I am off my nutrition and hydration slightly which is not good for me (see pasts posts involving all my mid race exorcist impressions). The next 3 miles are beautiful single track and then lots of downhill which carry me into Twin Lakes.

Twin Lakes to Winfield
I arrive at Twin Lakes 12 minutes ahead of schedule wondering just how that happened. The aid station is crowded but somewhat normal and organized. Kim sees me right away and guides me to our crew area. She tells me it took her over an hour to get out of Fish Hatchery and drive the 3 miles to treeline. She also tells me that JD was about an hour behind me at that point. I feel good and still strong but am a little worried. I take some extra time to try and hydrate plus I lose some time "using the facilities". Still I am out of the aid station and headed towards the Pass well ahead of last years time.

I promised myself while relaxing on the couch in my living room that I would run the entire field swamp section to the bottom of the pass. Man that seemed so easy a thing to do while I was surfing the sofa but not so easy in real life. The field is hot and EVERYONE is walking it. I run, walk, run, walk. My lack of discipline here is disturbing but the oxygen deprivation makes it all seem just fine.

I soon start the long climb up Hopes Pass. I get passed by the guys from Chicago again but keep a decent rhythm and keep moving. I have never used poles before but find they help me a fair bit. Everyone is struggling here, well everyone expect the elite guys that are passing us going back down towards Twin Lakes. Just before we hit the switchbacks Scott Jurek flies by. I begin to think about taking up bowling or maybe lawn darts. There are no 3.5 mile hills in bowling and your table has a little cup holder for your beer. That sounds just about perfect.

It takes forever to get to Hopeless aid station. I seem to remember the course all wrong as there is a great deal more running above the switchbacks and not one but 3 fields. Guess the no O2 at 12,000ft really does affect you. I grab a coke at Hopeless and have them add some water to my pack. I would rather not stop but worry I might run out of water on the back side of the Pass like I did last year. I also hear some of the aid station people talking about having to recycle cups as they are running out. Given less than 20 runners have passed me going inbound this is not a good thing.

Out of the aid station I make the last half mile climb and am soon on top of the pass. I pause briefly to soak in the scenery. Okay maybe I was just trying to catch my breath but it was still awesome. The back side is steep but a good 2 miles of downhill which I run pretty fast. The poles worked great allowing me to open it up without busting up my quads or falling. Unfortunately there are many runners coming back up the Pass and the trail is narrow. That means a lot of stopping and starting trying to let people pass.

Once out of the downhill its 3 miles across the Colorado trail and then down into Winfield. I am slow along this section and it seems to have a lot of climbing. I also begin to feel the first signs of stomach trouble which is a very bad sign for me.

Getting into Winfield is an absolute joke. Cars block the way and there is hardly enough room to get by them just to get into the aid station. I see Kim and give her my pack and poles. She tells me I have to turn around and go back in through the chute to weigh in. I totally didn't see the chute due to the F@$#ing cars. I weigh in 7 pds light while last year I was only 2 lbs down. This only confirms what I already suspected, I am dehydrated and my nutrition is messed up.

I know I cant stay here long but try to rebuild a little as I am an hour ahead of the cutoff. I go to grab some Cokes at the aid station but all they have is Diet Coke. I find this stunningly ridiculous. Why the heck would you have something with zero sugar and calories at an Ultra Aid station. I mean its not like anyone needs to get calories in them after running 13 hours.

I head back out and by the time I am on the Colorado Trail again my stomach is freaking out. I run this next 3 miles at a quick pace mainly because I have to if I want to have any chance of making over the pass in a decent time. I see JD sitting on a rock along this section and he looks tired. By the time I hit the bottom of the climb back up the pass I am in big trouble.

I find a rock and sit for a few minutes contemplating what to do as I stare at tiny chunks of chewed up roma noodles that are now adorning my shoe tops. I do the math and know there is no way for me to rebuild while making the climb. It will be a long puke filled trek up the mountain. I have done the vomit dance many times and kept going but I am really worried about the dehydration and also that I will be so slow that I am going to have a cut off issue. I have gotten sick at exactly the wrong spot in the race. After some  contemplation I decide I dont want to risk getting stuck on the pass. My race is done.

This ended up being a really tough day for me and really I don't think I will run this race again. Kim says she will NEVER crew here again unless she has at least 2 other people with her. JD dropped at Winfield and said he is never coming back. My DNF is on me, everything has to go right for me to have a chance to finish this race due to how the altitude messes with me. It didn't but thats how it goes sometimes. That said Lifetime Fitness has really messed this thing up. Stay tuned for part 2.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Looking for Leadville Pacers and sweet new gadget

So much for keeping up with my regular postings. Looks like I have become about as reliable as the Postal Service. Checks in the mail, honest. I have unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately depending on your view point) fallen way behind on my race reports. Will try to play catch up in the next few weeks to give you even more internet content that you can and should ignore.

Hey before you actually start that ignoring thing its that time again. Its time to crank up the final 8 weeks of training in an attempt to get ready to run 100 miles at Leadville. You would think that I might have learned my lesson last year. Man you couldn't be more wrong. Have you not read this blog before? I almost never learn my lesson and if I do I soon forget. Thats one character trait you really need to run Ultras, the ability to totally forget just how horrible it sometimes gets. You call it horrible, we call it "having fun". Also someone told me that there will be way more oxygen at the top of Hopes Pass this year and I am choosing to believe them.

After a two week break to let my injured foot recover from Sulphur Springs I have built the mileage back up to an acceptable 125km a week level so time to start more race specific training. Not much I can do about altitude here in Toronto so the next 6 weeks will see lots of stair climbing, hill repeats and back to back long runs including 50k runs at Creemore and Limberlost. I will also be picking up trekking poles next week in time to get a bit of practice before Leadville. I plan on using them on the Pass and maybe inbound on the Powerline. They should really help because last year when I couldn't breath I had to lean forward hands on my knees. This year I can just use the poles to hold me up and its easier than caring a chair.

Okay so in all seriousness I am looking for a couple of pacers this year. There is little doubt that I will be running just ahead of the cutoffs again this year. Thats just a sucky high altitude fact of life for someone like me. Having someone to mule and help pull me / push me along might be the difference between finishing or curling up in a ball at the side of the trail.

If you happen to live in CO or are going to be in CO on Aug 18-19th and are interested in pacing leave me a message.

B-Day Gift
Last weekend was my birthday and I got a huge surprise from my wife. She bought me a Suunto Abit to replace my ancient Garmin which was just about dead. Holy crap a GPS that will actually last as long as a 100 mile race. Will be taking it out for a test run this week once I figure out how to set the thing up.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Hyner View Challenge 50k - race report

elevation chart of 25k, 50k about 7000ft of climb

A little over a week ago Kim and I headed down to Pennsylvania to run the Hyner View Challenge. I decided to run 50k while Kim stuck to the 25k option. I was really looking forward to being able to hit the trails for 6 or 7 hours of tough long climbs and descents on challenging technical trail. All I can say is "Wow" this race did not disappoint at all. I would call it a little hidden gem but with 1200 people in the 25k I guess only I was in the dark. Still the 50k race was very small with about 130 runners.

We drove down on Friday and hooked up with a couple of other Ontario runners at the hotel before picking up our race kits. The kits were great, awesome shirt (no advertising), socks and all kinds of editable goodies. We also got a good look at a few of the hills. I pointed out to Kim the little viewing area way up at the top of the hill that we would be climbing. Holy crap it looked like a hard climb but luckily that doesn't come until you are at least 2 miles into the race.

Saturday morning all of us headed to the start line where we got ready and met up with Carlos see his report here. Weather was okay but cold so it was gloves and tights for this one. The 50k started before the 25k so I said goodbye to Kim and we were soon off and running.

The first mile was on road and then it was into nice single track for a mile or two. I felt good and clipped along at an okay pace. I could have gone faster but one side of the trail dropped off almost straight down into the river 100 feet below so some caution was in order. I figured its cold out and I didn't bring my swimsuit so no need to go down there.

Everything was moving along well when we hit the first major climb. I cant complain as I knew this would be the first of 4 big climbs on the 25k route and that didn't include what  I would find on the other 25k loop that I was running. The hills were actually the reason I picked this race. They all have names and everyone knows that when hills have names they need to be respected, or hated, or something like that. The first climb was up "Humble Hill" and it was tough. My calves were on fire by the time I made it up the 2 mile climb. I would say the view was worth it but I was too busy sucking wind or too scared to look over the edge to enjoy it. I am still not sure which one it was.

Soon after it was about a mile of steep downhill. Okay so I had a plan for this race. I would power up the climbs and take it easy on the downhills so that I didn't destroy my quads. Sounds great when you put that plan together sitting on your couch but in reality standing at the top of steep technical downhills  not really doable.  Who was the moron that put that plan together? It was clear going slow (breaking) or going fast were both going to pound the quads so I went fast, at least while I could.

By mile 5 we were into the "flat". Oh good a new brand new wrinkle as the trail made its way along a creek bed and by along I mean in a creek bed. It was technical and crossed the stream many, many times. Sometimes you could rock jump but mostly you just got wet but hey I needed to clean the mud off my shoes anyway.

Right around 8 miles we left the 25k route and headed onto the other section for the bonus 25k. Some nice flat running and then we were climbing again up "Sledgehammer" for a 1000 ft. climb over just 1 mile. Some more flat running, the weather warmed up and I was feeling good. There was another big downhill and then something happened. Not sure what it was but it was something.

First the sun disappeared as I made my way up the second long creek bed of the day. Is it snowing? What the heck! Then it was into the creek, out of the creek, run 50 meters and back into the creek. Repeat for the next few miles. Don't they know that I already cleaned off my shoes in the last  creek? Good thing this was the exact moment that my legs abandoned me. Way to go legs, thanks for coming out. Next stop was dark and brooding land. The only good thing about this is that I have been here many times. I think I must have purchased a time share in miseryville since I just keep on coming back there every spring. I also know that if you push through you can come out of it pretty quickly so I cling to this idea. Even when I fall while going uphill and bash both my knees into a giant rock I cling to the hope.

I am soon at the aid station at 18 miles and starting to feel decent again. I am slowing down but have started to  actually enjoy the trail again.  At mile 21 we are back headed down the "Sledgehammer" which is totally runnable unless of course your quads are toast which mine are so I take a controlled descent here until I am right back onto the 25k course where we left it.

More creek running but in an added twist its all going up hill. Just when you think you have seen it all the RD throws another sinister twist at you. I am really starting to like this guy, is that sad or what? Another big downhill, its long its technical, its single track and its got a fair number of back of the pack 25k runners making their way to the finish. At first I am thinking crap this is going to make it harder but I could not be more wrong. The 25k people were amazing, they watched for the 50kers and quickly moved out of the way as soon as they saw you. Man people at this race are really nice.

Finally it's onto the last big climb which is actually 2 climbs. First you make your way up a number of switchbacks  for a good mile or so and just when you think you are almost done you hit SOB hill. It's name is very well deserved although it's only about 400 meters long it goes almost straight up, hands were required at a number of points in time.

climbing up SOB

Looking back at SOB

I was gased after this but you get rewarded with some nice runnable fire roads before being plunged into your last downhill. It was so long and technical with a nice drop off down to the creek below that I must have been running it slower then the flats I had just come off of. I was just not going to trust my trashed legs at this point. Finally after well over a mile we were back onto the road and headed for the finish line. The flat road was quite welcome at that point but a tease as just before we hit the finish it was back into the trail for one more steep hill climb to the end. I heard lots of swearing here and it wasn't even coming from me. Nice of the RD to throw in one more gottcha just for fun.

Finished in 7:17:22 a little slower then I had hoped for (7 hours) but given the workout I was happy with it. Kim ran a good race as well considering she has never run on a course this technical before so it was a good tune up for Bear Mountain. Finish line food was some of the best I have had at any race. BBQ chicken, hotdogs, potato salad, baked beans, pizza and lots of local micro brewery beer.

I can't say enough about how great this race was. Every aspect was 5 stars. No doubt we will be returning to run this one again in the years to come.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Boston sorrow, Hyner View Trail 50k this weekend

Boston Marathon
Not a lot I can say here. Its often hard to understand or believe that there are people out there in the world that are this sick and twisted. Like most distance runners I had a lot of friends running Boston. They all were lucky enough to escape being physically injured although some saw things that they will surely never forget. Our hearts go out to those that were injured and their families. I can't image just how awful this is for them.

On the same note what is the main stream medias problem? How about you guys try to report actual facts instead of speculating and then calling those musings factual information. From constantly reporting on more bombs found right after the event to today saying an arrest had been made when it hadn't. Really guys? Really? How hard is it to actually get facts before reporting something as reality. We used to have a word for that. It was called journalism.

Hyner View Trail 50k
We are headed down to  Pennsylvania this weekend to run Hyner View. Kim is running the 25k and I am doing 50. Not really racing it as much as using it as a nice hard long run. Trails look really great with the 50k having 6600 ft of climb. The 25k also has a whopping 4226 ft of climb. Seems like a perfect way to open up the spring season.

This is a race almost didn't happen for me. The registration closed a month before the race and I totally missed this fact while I was considering running the race. I knew I really wanted to do it but was waiting for my injury issue to clear up before registering.

I actually left a message on the site expressing my disappointment at not noticing this and then I got a huge surprise. The RD, Craig Fleming, reopened the 50k registration for an extra week. That allowed both myself and Carlos Vicens to sign up. So a big thank you to the Race Director on this one.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Krissy Moehl talk monday night talk at the Patagonia store

On monday Kim and I headed downtown to take in the talk being given by Ultra Marathoner Krissy Moehl. Great event all around. We got some free endurance swag on top of getting to hear an amazing runner talk about her experiences in the sport. It was also really great to talk with lots of people that we haven't seen since the trail season ended last fall.

On Tuesday morning Chris Henderson and I headed back down to the Patagonia store to join in the fun run. It was a small but fun group and great weather.

Krissy Moehl speaking in Toronto

fun run tuesday morning

running with April & Melanie Boultbee and Krissy Moehl

Monday, April 1, 2013

Breaking up is hard to do, March stats, Injury update

Dear Elliptical,
I am breaking up with you.
A few months ago we started hanging out together and at first things when great. I was relieved to be able to spend time with you having been abandoned by my ability to run. Truth is running had kept me really busy and on the days I had gone to the gym I hadn't even noticed you there sitting along the back wall. I came, I did weights, I headed home, not even noticing you were there.

After being hurt by running I was sad, lonely and desperate. Yes I said it, desperate! Thats when I saw you at the back of the room. Often you were alone, occasionally someone would engage you but they never stayed long. Once we got together I spent hours a day on you, pounding away with reckless abandon. At first it was fun. You were new and different and I got what I needed out of you. I was temporarily satisfied. Unfortunately that did not last. 

I have been plotting to move on. It can't be helped elliptical. You are just boring, really uninspiring and boring. It's the same thing every day, you sit in the corner and never want to go anywhere else or do anything different. In the last few weeks our every day get togethers began to become every 2 days and then 3 days. Even when we did see each other I began to stay for as little time as possible. I got to be honest here. I began to loath you. I dreaded the thought of having to drag my ass out to the gym to see you. I couldn't wait to be rid of you. Frankly you suck, BIG TIME.

Well its official, we are done. I have gone back to my first love and have no intention of ever having anything to do with you again. I am going back to just ignoring you when I see you at the gym. Yes its true I was just using you until I could get back to my first love. Hasta La Vista baby.

Injury Update
No problems so far. I got a strong week of running in last week with no hip pain. Currently I am ramping the mileage back up. Maybe this thing is finally behind me. Not planning another injury update in my future posts (I hope).

March Training
Here are my March training totals. Finally it includes some running.

Running - 12 workouts - 15hrs 51 min    103.7 miles or 166.9km
Weight Training - 24 workouts -  28hrs 20 mins
Elliptical - 24 workouts - 28hrs 20 min
Cycle - 3 workouts - 1hrs 50 min

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Around the Bay "race" report, injury update

Before ATB
Injury Update part 1
So eight days ago I headed out with the running room clinic I am coaching to test the hip. The plan was to do 6-8k easy and pray. Things went better then expected and my 6k turned into 12, sweet. There was a little discomfort but nothing I felt I should be worried about. I was fine the next day so followed it up with another 10k.

The following day I was ready to go again but I got a couple of emails from friends reminding me that I had been on the shelf for 6 weeks and should come back slowly. Sage advice really but so hard to follow as  all I wanted to do is run again. I like running, I don't like the elliptical, every minute running means less time staring out the window of the gym. Even so I decided to make an attempt to behave at least somewhat.

I kept my runs shorter then 10k and took a day off between each run which meant more cross training. The elliptical is such a pain in the ass but somehow I managed to stick with the plan. What torture, every minute seemed like an hour as my brain had begun to feed me a steady diet of a new mantra. "You could be running, You could be running". Yes brain I know that now please shut up will yeah, I am trying to be responsible here.

Before I knew it Saturday had arrived and I had a decision to make. Sunday was Around the Bay and what was I going to do? Racing it was a non starter. Should I run it at easy run pace as a 30k long run, probably not as I haven't run longer then 12k in 7 weeks. I decided I would pace my wife Kim which would mean a speed that is a little slower then recover pace for me and see what happened. I could always drop at any point if I felt like it was to much. As I pounded out my 2 hour elliptical session on Saturday I really hoped this would be the last time I had to spend half my day on that infernal contraption.

Around the Bay 30k
I was really looking forward to racing this. Last year I treated it as part of back to back long runs as I hit the trails at Sulphur Springs for 5 hours the day before. This year as I ramped up my training I was feeling great and felt that I would be able to put up a solid time until the injury. Oh well at least I got to do the next best thing and run with my wife.

running clinic runners

Kim hiding behind Christian

 Kim has been training hard for her upcoming trail marathon at Bear Mountain and had already PBed at 5k and 8k this year. I hoped I could help her get a PB in this race as well. I also need to find out if I was going to be able to get the long runs I need in before the start of Ultra season which is fast approaching.

We lined up well back from the start line but a little ahead of  the 3:20 pace bunny hoping to seed ourselves properly. I was pacing Kim but also 2 other runners, Sharon and Paul, from the clinic who were also running around Kim's pace. The plan was to run right around 6:20 per km and stay as close to an even split as possible. I hoped to get Kim in around 3:12 - 3:16 for a decent PB.

The race started and we where off and by off I mean slowly walking towards the start line. It took us about 6 minutes to make it to the start but once we did it was crowded but moving at around the pace we had planned for.

Things went well right from the start as we stayed together as a group and stayed on pace. I knew I would have to be careful and keep it in check as my legs automatically wanted to go faster which would spell disaster for our little group. They would need all their leg power for the second half.

Paul, Sharon and Kim

It was fun running along with Kim which is something I almost never get to do and before you knew it we had passed the 10k mark. Everyone seemed to be doing well, working hard and our pace was consistant. We hit 10k on pace for a 3:14 finish. No pain in my hip.

The next 10k which mostly follows along the lakeshore is the section which I find the most difficult. That might seem strange to some of you that have run Around the Bay. Everyone always talks about the hills in the last section but they don't bother me at all in fact usually its a nice change of pace. Kim feels the same and we had to be careful not to drop any time along here. This is also the place where if you are racing hard you start to feel some initial fatigue. There was a KM or 2 along here where I began to worry a little as Kim struggled just a bit to keep the pace and had a little tightness in her leg but some gels and a little advil seemed to straighten everything back out.

A picture of me taking a picture

We hit the 20k marker still in great shape keeping a consistent pace and still looking at a 3:15 finish. Everyone in the group continued to run well. Still no hip pain so no need to drop.

Finally we were into the meat of the race, the rolling hills. For our little group this should be no problem at all. Those that train with me know that one thing that is different about my coaching than a lot of others is we run a lot of hills. We run hilly easy runs, we run extremely hilly long runs and of course we run hill repeats. If I could find a 400 meter track with hills on it I would make my runners run it.

Sharon and Kim

Everyone did great along this section and as we got deeper into the rollers we began to pass a lot of people. I began to push Kim here to try and speed up just a little which kept her working hard and before you knew it we were down the big hill and climbing up the last "killer" hill. No walking for our little group however Paul got a calf cramp and was forced to slow down a little after we crested the hill. He told us to leave him so we did. Our pace had been really consistent up to now but at 27k I decided to really crack the whip and push Kim and Sharon to run it out as fast as possible. Both of them ran awesome putting up their fastest KM splits in the final 2k.

Kim passing the reaper at 28k

We finished in 3:14:14 which was an 8 minute PB for Kim. Paul ended up coming in just a couple of minutes behind. I was really happy for Kim but also very encouraged by her awareness and keeping her pacing super consistent. That will bode well for her in future marathons although not so much at Bear Mountain with its 4000ft of climbing and tough single track trails.

Well done Kim, Sharon and Paul, congrats.

Kim and I at the finish

Injury Update part 2
No hip issue during ATB and no problem the day after. I had a little quad soreness but that was to be expected having not run any real distance in so long. Now its time to start slowly ramping up the training again. Should be able to build up the mileage but I don't expect to attempt to do any quality runs for a few more weeks as I want to make sure I don't have any setbacks.

Next blog - 2013 racing plans

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

I Broke My Ass, February Training, Race Plan Changes

It's official, I have broken my ass. What at first appeared to be a slight hip strain has become a full on case of bum breakitis. I should have been more careful but it seems that I inadvertently poked the running gods. When my friend and co running clinic instructor Chris Henderson pulled up lame in January with a glute problem I joked about his broken ass. I know better but I just couldn't help myself.

Did you know that bum breakitis was contagious? Neither did I but it is. It has to be because my butt was totally fine until I ran together with Chris at Robbie Burns. All was great until 6k and then blammo I was hurting. I guess 6k is the gestation period for this kind of thing.

That was a month ago and still no running. I did a test run on Monday and there is still significant pain. Not as bad as it was but its still there. At PT they advised me to hold off running for a little while longer. I am left wondering what will happen first. Will I be able to run or will I end up going completely insane instead of holding onto the partially insane label that I usually wear.

Actually its not all bad. I have read many a runners blog where their struggles with injury are much worse than my little hip problem. I can at least sort of, kind of see the light at the end of the tunnel. So in the hope of staying positive here is a few good things that have come out of my down time.

I have because of the nature of the injury been able to cross train like a maniac. Biking (indoors) is fine, pounding away on the elliptical no problem, doing weights sure thing. One good thing about my test run the other day was that I realized that my aerobic fitness level is excellent. Since I need to go to the gym to do cardio my 4 days a week of weights has become 6. I am as strong or stronger now then at any point last year already.

I have also managed to drop 14 pounds of off season weight since the start of January and  gotten my body fat back down to around 10%. For me that means I am in mid season form (except for the actual running). I expect to be a little slow once I can run again but at least I will not be lugging around extra pounds as well.

Here are my February training totals.

Weight Training - 24 workouts -  28hrs
Elliptical - 25 workouts - 23hrs 55 min
Cycle - 25 workouts - 22hrs 13 min
Run - 3 workouts - 2hrs 13 min
Arc Trainer - 20 min

Race Plan Changes
Of course the injury has caused me to have to change a great deal of my spring racing plans. The half marathon I planned to run last weekend was a no go. This saturday I was suppose to run a 5k and that is not happening. Around The Bay (30k) is a couple of weeks away and I see it slowly circling the toilet bowl. I will not be racing it but still hold out some hope of using it as a long run.

The biggest casualty is my plan to try and run a BQ marathon in mid April. No way that is going to happen and once my ultra season starts in May there will be no room to fit in a hard marathon effort.

One thing I have come to realize is that if there is a hell and I end up there I figure it will involve me looking out the window at runners happily prancing along as I grind it out minute by minute on the elliptical machine for all eternity.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Then and Now, how to recap 5 months in a single post

I have been MIA from the blog for quite some time. Amazing how a few weeks can turn into months in no time. Even Pierre Marcoux's attempt to poke me with a sharp stick all the way from Creemore a few weeks ago only managed to awaken me from my slumber briefly before I managed to hit the snooze button again. Anyway for the 5 or so people still checking this blog once and a while here is what has been happening.

THEN or how my season ended with a painful whimper
After Leadville with my legs still fresh and in great shape to run long distances I headed up north to run the 100 at Haliburton. I know, maybe I should have just waited for Oil Creek 5 weeks later but I just couldn't resist it as I love the course.

Things started out great. I went to the race with a bunch of friends and their giant camper, we had food, beer and I had pacers, sweet. Sure the rain started at 8 PM the night before and continued for the next 20hrs but come on kids its just a little water. Okay maybe a lot of water and mud but come on thats half the fun.

I lined up at the start line and things just went down hill from there. You see apparently I had forgotten how to run. I took a spill  before I had hit the 3k mark, on a very technical flat road, cutting up my hands and slightly twisting my ankle. Man how embarrassing but not race ending. I slowed down a little and with it still being dark knew I would have to be careful with the ankle as it would now be really easy to roll it again. As I made my way around the Normac Loop (which is actually technical) I stepped on root hidden in the mud, slid sideways and turned my ankle over bad. When I say bad I mean really bad and I am only 7k into the race.

Now someone with brains would at this point call it a day and head back to the trailer for some morning beer but no not me. I can be kind of stubborn that way so I grab a tensor bandage out of my drop bag at the next aid station and carry on. I can not run, heck I can't even really walk but on I go at a snails pace, it could get better right?

I struggle along this way for another 20 hours or so.  By the time I hit the 75 mile mark I am borderline hypothermic from the cold and at my slow crawl most likely will not make the finish line cutoff so I pack it in. The next morning I take a good look at my ankle and it is not pretty.

Oil Creek 100
Five weeks after Haliburton I am at the start line of the Oil Creek 100. I have not been able to run at all due to the ankle. Its deja vu all over again. The year before I got injured in the fall and couldn't train for Oil Creek and here we are again. I have no illusions about a finish and would have cancelled but my wife was running her first 50k so I figured go and run what I can.

I end up running with my buddy Steve for the first 20 miles or so. I am slow for my effort level, its amazing how quick the fitness goes. I know at 18 miles in that a running miracle will not be happening so I just try and enjoy the trail. I end up doing 2 loops for 100k and then pack it in. Kim finishes her 50k much faster then expected, way to go Kim.

My season ends with a whimper or maybe the sounds of squealing tires, broken glass and crunching metal. The running gods can be so fickle sometimes. I had a great 8 months of training and was in the best trail running shape of my life and all I got to show for it was a couple of shirts that I can't wear because I didn't finish the races. Sheeesh. Maybe next year I will just train my elbow on restaurant patio all summer instead. I could save a bundle on shoes.

 Oil Creek

NOW or at least the last little while
I had a good mileage rebuild in November and December with lots of strength training thrown in. In January I ramped it back up getting in some solid 120-130 km weeks with a good helping of quality running and was feeling good.

January Stats
runs 27 - 400km or 249 miles
weight workouts - 16
cardio x training - 12 hours

Robbie Burns 8k

Hip deep in it
On January 28th I ran the Robbie Burns 8k with the plan to use it as a speed workout. I ended up not having a proper warm up due to a very unexpected bathroom emergency. That lack of warm up came back to bite me in the ass literally as I pulled something in my hip right at the 6k mark but still finished the race. It didn't seem too serious.

I dealt with this the same way I always do with injuries. First I ran a couple of days on it seeing if it was a "run through it " problem. As soon as it felt worse I took 2 days off (thats a really long time in my running world). It felt better so I tried to run on it again but the pain returned so I completely shut things down for 8 days. Yesterday I tested it on the treadmill where I ran pain free for 10 minutes and then started to have a problem so its still not healed enough to run. I am hoping maybe another week to get healthy.

The only good thing about this injury is that I can still cross train on the bike, elliptical, weights etc.. Its the force of impact up through the leg that causes the issue.

The bad thing about this injury is that I can cross train. Do you know just how boring 2 hours a day on cardio machines becomes. I do, and it is mind numbing. Hopefully its only for another week or so.

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