If the miles behind me could be put into words before you, you would feel my efforts, my struggles, my desires. Most of all you would see my joy. Watch me from afar run the trails and hills and miles upon miles and you will see ...

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Proof of my lack of training

So as you can see from the photos, and, no, I haven't changed the blog to a "do-it-yourself" site, I have actually been busy on the house. From the glory of 1970's decor enroute to a more modern look. More to follow.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

up to lately

I'll post some pictures in a bit but essentially I've been tackling a project the way I would training for a race - all-encompassing.  I've been doing the dreaded bathroom renovation.  Of course I pick the worst time of year what with Christmas almost here.  I had dreams of being done before the holidays so as they could be enjoyed thoroughly.  Now I have visions of paint brushes dancing in my head because that's what I'll be doing while everyone's home over Christmas.  My thoughts were to be done before or soon after December 25th and then hit the training hard but it's going to be back to square one as I haven't done much of anything the last few weeks.  I've ridden to work and back a bunch but not much running.  I still have lingering pain on the top of my right foot and the arch is tender after short runs.  Due to the project I haven't been for an x-ray or really delved into thinking of what it could be.  Suffice to say I didn't run for three weeks after Italy and when I went for 30 minutes it was pretty sore afterwards.  Seems to be when I land on the heel it hurts the arch.  Must be a sign to stick with the work in the bathroom.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Swimming?!?! WTF?!? + a video

Hey I did something yesterday I haven't done in over a year - I swam (swum?) Other than my 50m or so in the Mediterranean when I was in Italy:

Before that it was in the pool about two months after Ironman in August of '07. I went there thinking I could do 20 x 100m. I did them on 2 minutes with each 100 being around 1:40. After 10 I thought my arms were going to fall off so I threw out the 20 and compromised at 15 instead of stopping at 10. My arms today are sore and my shoulders ain't happy with me either. Seeing as I signed up for the triathlon at the World Police Fire Games next August I have to get in the water eventually. I thought about doing it straight off the couch but as it's an open water swim I figure I should practice a bit. Another reason I'm doing that event is because it's two minutes down the hill from us at Crescent Beach. How cool is that? I'll put the course map on here once they have it on the WPFG site.

Now for the video part:

Ferg Hawke let it be known that he has the video of his Badwater race available. You can buy it and/or view the trailer at

The Distance of Truth

I have yet to watch it but am looking forward to an evening of beer and popcorn to laugh at the craziness of it all.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Ultramaratona degli Etruschi 100km

Well, if the length of the race should be an indicator of the length of the report, I'm about to dispell that rule. My 100km in Italy, in a nutshell, was the worst race result I've ever had when doing a race of a distance that I've done before. Translation: I sh*t the bed like never before.

Now, that's not to say that I was devastated and distraught and swore off of running when I finished. It wasn't totally a surprise to me how it all unfolded, even though one tends to surpress those feelings of imminent doom a couple minutes before the start, it's just that it never happened to me before. There was definitely a lot of good that came from this race and the trip over there.

I'm assuming (and hoping) I wasn't recovered fully from Spartathlon. Having never run 246km at one time, and still thinking that I'm impervious to any lasting effects of long races, I didn't know (and still don't) how long this would take. I've heard Ferg Hawk say that he needs four months off after Badwater to recover. Spartathlon didn't have the heat of Badwater, but it had the distance and the road surface. I should have heeded that four month period but being who I am I thought I could muscle my way through 100km. I wanted to run together with some other Canadian team members which we've never done at Worlds before so Rick, Darren, and I started out at around 7:15 min/mile pace. Why wasn't someone yelling in my face, "ARE YOU KIDDING?!?!?". The route was 37km of a hilly stretch of road, followed by four 14km loops, finishing up whith a 7km trip to Tuscania, the last 1km all uphill.
I felt pretty good and was cruising until the 30km mark when my quads got a bit tight and I figured I should slow down to see if that helped. It did for 8km then I started running out of gas and motivation. It was somewhere on this first loop that Aussie Dave Eadie ran up beside me and we chatted for a bit about how bad a run he was having. My face must not have betrayed me at that time but I'm sure my speed did in letting him know that I was almost done. Anyways, he gave me some encouragement but soon was off ahead of me. When I pulled up to the 40km aid station I told Darren's wife, Kandise, that I was done and would be pulling out at the 50km station where my warm clothes awaited me. It was ironic that she pointed out to me on the bottle of CarboPro that she was using to refill my smaller bottle I had written, "Don't let me stop!!", on it the night before.
Until I got to the 50km mark, I was waffling whether to drop like never before. I haven't ever done a race where I actually contemplated stopping like this. I've had races where I wanted to stop, but always knew I'd go on. The narrative in my head had started to play out how I would tell people that I wasn't recovered from Greece, it was a hot day today, my ankles were killing me, blah, blah, blah. What kept me going was the kids - they had made for me in '07 a wrist bracelet that had written "Go Dad Go" in little beads along with a small bell that jingles when it shakes. I could hear it on and off throughout the race but it was never louder than when I thought about how I would have to tell them that I didn't finish the race. I'm sure they'd understand but in the state I was in I thought it would be a nightmare to have to face them with that news. Every time I heard that bell it would shame me and guilt me into not making a final descision. At the 50km aid station I saw Aussie Dave in the massage tent and I also found Martin from the Irish team. If you remember he was the one in Texas last year that collapsed at the 49.5 mile mark of the 50 mile race and didn't get an official finish because he was in the ambulance when it drove across the line. He was having stomach issues and said, "C'mon, you don't want to be a quitter like me, do ya?". That settled it, I was going onto my second loop.
Halfway through this one Dave ran up beside me again and from this point until the finish we were stuck at the hip. He basically brought me back from the brink of DNF and made me keep going. He was doing okay but for the next six hours we each had our moments of doubt and had to encourage each other to keep moving forward. I'm so thankful for him because I don't think I could have done 50km on my own with the way I was feeling. I had given up the hope for an 8:30 finish, then 9:00, then 9:30, and all we wanted to do was finish before 10 hours to get an official finish and the medal. Through the dark we went until, unbelievably, we were on the final couple of kms to the finsh, up the hill and through the gates of town to be done. Without the crews at each of the three aid stations along the 14km loops it would have been near impossible to finish as well. Their encouragement and enthusiasm was so helpful they'll never know how much.
I'll never forget that run as it's shocked me back to reality and makes me see how lucky I've been in the past when I haven't been the most prepared. Usually I can fake it and still have a decent result. Not this time, there was nowhere to hide. I don't think I've ever trained properly for a 100km race. I've done a fair amount of events where I suffered just to finish so I'll save any further cliches. What I learned most was that too much racing is a bad thing, not enough recovery is a bad thing, but finishing a race when you're in the shit only makes you stronger.
My goals for next year have kind of evolved from this race. I was going to do more trail races, possible a 100 miler or two, but I now feel I have unfinished business with this 100km thing. I'm going to actually train specifically for the World's in Belgium next June to try for a personal record, maybe around the 7:15 mark. This is of course my emotions talking and it could change between now and next week, but I think I'm leaning towards more road-type events. Not to say I won't be on the trails every week, it's just that I need to race smart but train even smarter. At the beginning of the year I had over 1200kms of racing ahead of me. I managed 881kms. Still a lot of racing.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Well

Race Day: 30km in

Hello, Darin, this is the Well calling. You've tried going to me once too many times this year and there ain't a lot left. Sure you felt great for 30km, around 1 hour 50 minutes, on pace for a 7:20 finish, but you should have known that it couldn't last. When was the last speed session you did? June? You're quads are feeling tight and everything hurts already. Are you going to drop? I know you want to. Try to hold on for another seven hours and see how much fun that will be.

Present Day:

It wasn't that fun, I can tell you that. The legs feel better today finally, and I'm over the fact that I finally had the crappiest race of my life. I knew it would come one day, you just never want to admit it. Almost 2 hours off my PB for 100km but I'm proud of the fact I stuck it out - seven hours almost of constantly wanting to stop. It was very, very hard to keep moving but I did have help from Dave the Aussie who was hurting as much as me. It made the time go by a little faster. The best news of the day and what made the pain subside for a time was that Rick Webb had the race of his life and set the new Canadian record for his age, 50, in 7:39!! As that is my PB for the 100, I have some work to do for Belgium next June.

The recovery has been tough as well - walking miles and miles through Rome for the past couple days in beautiful sunshine is terrible. I'll have a more detailed summary of the trip and pictures up Friday or Saturday.


Saturday, November 8, 2008

Finished ...

Not sure of any details as of yet but Darin has finished in 9 h 35 min. Perhaps there were too many bakeries along the way!

Congratulations to Rick Webb who posted a PR with a finish of 7 h 39 min and was the first Canadian across the finish line. Way to go Rick!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Timing and Results

Try this website for times during the race and hopefully results after the race:

Timing Data Service

Otherwise, I will try to update as best I can.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

On to Italy

Thirteen hours to go and I'm flying out of here for the last long run of '08. I'm not sure what to expect this time around other than:

  • I will finish
  • I will not be first or last
  • I will be super sore for three days after
  • I will be glad to take some time off after

I'll be pondering next year on the plane ride home. One thing is for sure - I won't be doing a race every two or three weeks (sigh of relief from Carrie) like this year or burn-out will become a reality. 

If anyone is awake on Nov. 8th at 1 am, you might be able to catch the start at International Association of Ultrarunners. If not, the results will still be there around 9 am hopefully if the wheels don't totally fall off. If they do, it will probably be because I passed a bakery and was lured in by the sweet smells of chocolate croissants. If there are any web cafes close by, I'll try and drop another post before race day.

Friday, October 31, 2008

My First Time

No, no, not THAT first time!!  

Last night I was honoured and privileged to do a little talk on Spartathlon at Track and Trail Runners in Richmond thanks to Colin McKay of Precision Health.  Colin is a member of the running group and thought they would enjoy hearing about some of the things I experienced while in Greece. Having never really spoken to a group about my running endeavors, I didn't know what to expect but I don't think anyone was sleeping through it.  I have to say that forty-five minutes of talking mixed with some videos and pictures did not do the trip justice but I think they got the gist of it.  Everyone seemed to enjoy it with lots of good questions coming from the runners, not just the usual, person on the street's, "That's f*ckin' crazy, man!!",  so that was nice.  Another good one was, "What have you done to recover from the race?".   Well it was a little embarrassing to say that I haven't been doing much and that my Italy run might be a total disaster, so I just said that I "still wasn't recovered".  

On that note, my longest run since Greece has been 2 and a half hours, 20 miles, and it didn't feel so good.  For some reason the middle toe on my right foot feels like it's the longest one of the bunch and has that "squished against the front of the shoe" feeling when I run.  I've tried to tape it but still haven't found the right combination of socks and taping.  That being said, my IT band sometimes hurts and sometimes doesn't so with some rigid stretching hopefully I'll survive.  I do feel like a slug having no real training plan in place but for the time of year it shouldn't be a big deal.  

It's crazy that I need to start thinking about next year already.  The sign-up for the Zane Grey Highline Trail 50 Mile Run is tomorrow so I may sign up just to secure one of the 150 spots.  Bruce Grant got me interested in that race when I read his race report from last year.  It ain't for the faint of heart.  I like the quote on the FAQ link:

"4. I've never run an ultra before.  Would this be a good first ultramarathon to attempt?  
NO.  Even the most experienced ultramarathon runners have difficulty completing this event. Combining the elements of a difficult terrain, heat, elevation, challenging navigation makes this not a good choice for a first-timer."

There you go - that's why I want to do it.  

As a last note:  Why do I always sign-up for a race right around Halloween??  Those little candies and chocolates are calling me day and night.  I guess it would help if we didn't buy them two weeks before the 31st. 

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Video Finish

Finally, after much searching on Google and some brotherly advice from our brother-in-law Rob, I figured out how to post a video! Sorry, it's shaky ... stay with it ... I manage to hug Darin, acknowledge the spectators telling me they live in Toronto, step around the dog laying in the middle of the stairs AND get Darin kissing Leonidis' foot.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Back at it

So sixteen days have gone by since the run and I decided to give the legs a test. A whopping two hour run. I've run exactly four times since Spartathlon - twice as rabbits for the runners at the kids' school cross country meets (three short bursts of about three minutes each, but, hey, some of those kids are fast!), once with the cross country team in the morning for about twenty-five minutes, and a thirty minute jaunt on the treadmill. Each of these times running resulted in no real discomfort in the legs, only fatigue.
Today I headed out for my two hours. I was thinking I need to do some faster work in order to at least go under eight hours in Italy (twenty-six days to go). I decided to go out for 30 minutes easy, 20 min fast, 10 min easy, 20 min fast, 10 min easy, 10 min fast, and finish off with a 20 min easy cool down. I don't know where I come up with these workouts. It's why I don't think I could ever become a coach - not a lot of rhyme or reason to my workouts. It was to be quite a hilly trip first down to White Rock then through the rollers after the beach and back again so it would be challenging.
Ten minutes in I found a Blackberry phone in a nice little pouch by the side of the road. I tried calling the home number in the address book but it was busy. I hooked it on my waist and kept going, trying to call every five minutes or so. I got pretty good at running while dialing but didn't want to be seen by anyone or else I might be mistaken for one of THOSE people I can't stand who talk while working out. It actually rang a little while later which I barely heard with my earphones in. I told the lady where I was running and what I was wearing but I guess they never found me. It rang an hour later with a report that her husband would meet me at the pier in White Rock. We finally hooked up and the exchange was made. I'm 2 for 2 in finding and returning phones I've found on the side of the road while running. My all-time dream fantasy while running is to find a backpack in a ditch and it turns out to be full of cash. Still looking.

Here is the run broken down:

0 - :30 3.99mi 7:42 avg. pace
:30 - :50 2.93mi 6:42 avg. pace
:50 - 1:00 1.14mi 8:26 avg. pace
1:00 - 1:20 3.02mi 6:37 avg. pace
1:20 - 1:30 1.24mi 8:02 avg. pace
1:30 - 1:40 1.46mi 6:51 avg. pace
1:40 - 1:59 2.32mi 8:11 avg pace

avg pace for whole run was 7:23

Pace needed to go 7:30 in Italy - 7:14/mile (yikes!!)
Pace for a new PR (7:38) - 7:22/mile (yikes!!)
Pace for 7:59 - 7:42/mile (okay!!)

Okay so I only did 1:59 and not 2 but the bump on the back of my right heel was bugging me and getting a bit of a blister on it. This bump appeared a few weeks before Spartathlon and would get inflamed after a run. The whole achilles area felt really tight when trying to stretch my calf muscle.

Have you EVER seen an uglier ankle than that?!?! Anyways, it didn't bug me at all over 246km so I think with some drugs and stubbornness I can make it through 100km.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


I guess it only makes sense that the longer the race, the longer the race report, right? Suffice to say that no amount of words will ever be able to convey all that we went through before, during, and after the race. How do I describe every detail of emotion that someone and their crew goes through over almost 28 hours? I'll try and not make it too epic. I have to first of all say one more big thanks to someone I neglected to mention in an email I wrote before we left. That someone is Colin McKay, my Active Release Therapist from Precision Health in White Rock. He was instrumental in getting my IT band back to a somewhat normal state which enabled me to make it to the start line with more confidence than I would have had.

Let me say that I never really knew what was going to happen in this race - there are so many factors that can come into play like weather, distance, stomach issues, foot problems, shin splints, IT band tightness, and just simply would I have what it takes to continue when it got tough. Before and after the race I had so many emails from people saying that they knew I could do it and that I'd do well, but deep down I wasn't sure if things would fall into place or if I'd crash and burn. Luckily it worked out but with the amount of training in the three weeks before the race, I was skeptical.

We arrived at the Athens airport Wednesday and picked up our rental car. Armed with no map, only instructions to "follow this road" (pointing away from the airport) from the rental guy to get to our hotel, overtired and overconfident, we set out. We made a bunch of wrong turns on the highways which led to four unnecessary trips through toll-booths (3 euros each), sometimes twice, until we finally grabbed a map and realized we were going north instead of south. Once that was settled we got closer to the hotel and asked one last person at a store for directions but by that time we needed to turn around to pick up Ian at the airport. We drove around for two hours trying to get to the hotel and in the end once we figured things out it was only a twenty-five minute drive. All this done while navigating the roads with no signs and the crazy Greek drivers flying up behind us, horns honking, scooters and motorcycles whipping in between cars through traffic. You didn't want to be doing 90 in a 50 zone in the left lane because there were still cars wanting to go faster than that and they let you know it!!

At the London Hotel in the area of Glyfada we picked up the race package and checked in only to find that there weren't any more rooms at this one and we were to try one down the road. Off we went to the Emmartina across the street but they only had a triple room with one spot in it so that's where Ian stayed. I believe he got the better deal as we were sent next door to the Lost in the Sixties Hotel Mirada. I haven't mentioned the fact that nearly every Greek citizen smokes and being twenty years behind our regulations, they can smoke pretty much anywhere. "No Smoking Rooms"? Never heard of 'em. You could smell the stale cigarettes in this place - in the lobby, halls, room, sheets. It was everywhere. As a side note I'm down to only one pack a day now from the two a day habit I picked up there. Anyways, it was only for two nights at this place as we were off to Sparta on Friday. We only had Thursday to sleep in and then after a pre-race meeting it was up early on Friday.

There were buses to take the athlete's to the start and even though we had the car I thought it a safe bet to be on the bus in case everything went south and we couldn't find the start. The Acropolis is a big place and a fair ways away so it wouldn't do to not be able to get to the starting line on time. Carrie and Ian and a bunch of other support cars started following the buses but I knew after thirty seconds they could be in trouble. We were doing 70km/h after one block and speeding up. The bus was running yellow lights and I could only imagine the chaos going on behind us. As it turned out, a bunch of the cars ended up running a few red lights to stay with us. When I finally met up with Ian and Carrie, Ian described the trip as something out of The French Connection. Well done, Carrie!!

What a sight at the start line with the Acropolis lit up in the background. You could really feel the history coming from everywhere, not just the race. With very little fanfare we started at 7am. It was mostly downhill for a mile or so and we started spreading out along the course. I chatted with Stacey Bunton, from Oregon, the eventual second woman to finish. I have to say that the first two hours of this race were unlike anything you'd ever see in North America. Most of our races, road or trail, are done on a Sunday morning where if roads need to be closed down it's for a short time and doesn't interfere with the all-important daily commute. Here we were running in and amongst traffic on Friday morning with not all the drivers being very fond of it at all. There were plenty of police but at times cars were pulling out in front of us, almost brushing us with their mirrors, and generally making it a little scary at times. There was plenty of horn-honking going on that's for sure. We ran in the same direction as traffic for this time which I don't like because too many cars never gave us any room. The Greeks don't like pedestrians to begin with so this must drive them crazy.

After a while we veered off the main highway and onto a less busy but still quite well-used road. Every one of the 73 checkpoints had a sign that listed the distance travelled, distance to the next point, distance to Sparta, the closing time of this and the next checkpoint. I loved this because you could really keep track of your fluids and what you would need until the next one. It also was a mental help when the race wore on because I could figure out how long it would be until I saw the crew again. I can't imagine doing this race unsupported. So many times I changed my needs and shoes and clothes. If you miscalculated something or needed to eat differently you had no choice if you dropped things off at certain aid stations. I can't remember at which point it actually was but I saw the cutoff for it and I don't think I was seeing things but it said that it closed in twenty minutes!! I thought, holy crap I'm cutting this pretty close!! How are all the other people behind me going to make this point in time?!?! I actually sped up at this point because I wanted a bit of a buffer once I got to the first crewed checkpoint. Running fast through the next little town was just nuts. Like I said, it would never happen over here. Try and imagine a narrow roadway with cars parked on each side. Then imagine a semi-truck trying to maneuver through them, all this while trying to run between it and the parked cars. I was bouncing off mirrors and barely avoiding going under vehicles. And amidst all this, townspeople were clapping and cheering for the runners too. Only in Greece.

I had planted my one and only drop bag at the 40km mark and had planned to change shoes and refill my CarboPro 1200 container. My socks felt pretty good so I figured I'd go until 81km when I saw the crew and do it there. What to do with my socks then? I stuffed them into my waistband and didn't give them much thought until I got to where Ian and Carrie were waiting at checkpoint 22, Hellas Can. Just before this point we crossed a bridge and I looked left and right and saw the canal which had been carved out of the land to allow ships to pass through. I stutter-stepped as I slowed to have a look at this marvelous creation. At the station I changed socks, did a bit more taping to the toes, re-fueled and was off. I had passed the marathon point in about 3:30 and the double at around 7:15.

From here the weather was heating up. I saw on one electronic sign for a bank that it was 32 degrees. Did the sauna training help me? I hope it did after all those weeks of going there plus wearing extra clothes during training runs. This whole time I was drinking only a bottle with CarboPro powder in it and getting a big drink of water at every aid station, around 3-4km. I was sipping the 1200 every twenty minutes but for some reason my stomach wasn't liking it. I think I wasn't getting enough water. I had to take a whole cup at the aid station which I'm not used to doing and it took a while to digest. Usually I carry two bottles, one being water, and take turns sipping both. Anyways, long story short, I switched to a solution of just CarboPro powder, still drinking water at the aid stations and having a Thermolyte electrolyte tablet every thirty minutes. All this must have been effective because I never had any leg cramping issues the whole race, not even a hint that they would seize up on me. Could have been the excessively slow speed in which I was moving. The only thing was that I was CRAVING a huge gulp of something cold. There was never any ice at the stations until around 100km when I just happened to ask at this one and low and behold they had some. Oh it felt good. I arrived at aid station, 26, Ancient Corinth where I interrupted the crew's lunch at a small restaurant. They hustled over, offered fries (which I declined) and filled the bottles. They asked if there was ice anywhere and someone from the aid station ran over to a store and came back with a bag of ice for us. This was a cool spot that we stopped back at on the way home from Sparta because there was lots of souvenir places. The ruins were okay too :)

I changed into my newer shoes around the twelve hour mark, hoping they would offer a bit more cushion until the finish. The small blisters I had been feeling were getting worse so at station number 35 (124km) I was looking for medical staff but there weren't any there and would have to wait until number 40 (140km). They didn't feel too bad, just getting big. I met with the doctor and sat down on a mat. The guy, along with probably twenty onlookers, promptly drained them and covered them with some gauze. I wasn't thinking straight or I would have put some second skin on them because all that the gauze does is make more friction. Anyways, after a fifteen minute hiatus I changed shoes and continued painfully on. It got bearable a few kms down the road. This was around 9:30pm.

The next stop I'd see the crew, Ian said, was at the base of the mountain we were to climb - a rustic, narrow goat path that climbs to around 3000 ft. Funny enough, as I was running along I could see these lights way up this mountain and cars going along switchbacks. I wasn't sure we would be going up these but then I started climbing. These things went on and on and although I was running them, they took forever. When I finally met up with Carrie and Ian, I said, "I thought I'd see you at the BASE of the mountain?!?!" This was like a halfway point with the most rugged part to come. On with my long sleeved shirt and a change back into my older slightly larger shoes and up I went. It was pretty cool with all the glow sticks and flashing lights leading the way up. I was surprised when the walk to the top was over because I was expecting a much more difficult and longer endeavor. Coming down the other side was fun with my blisters and knees crying out in protest. At the bottom was a tiny little village with no one around because of course it was after midnight now and cold out. It didn't feel that cold but the crew said it was only 4 degrees at the top of the mountain. I think this was where I put on my jacket at a tiny little aid station in the tiny little village. I was so messed up that I initially put it on over my tank top (which had my numbers on it) and so had to remove the jacket, take off the tank top, then put the jacket on with the tank over top. Whew. It was tough fumbling with the zipper and cold hands. Soup was a blessing and I had some at every station that offered it. Running at this point was a bit eerie. There was no one around and at every intersection I would stop and look for arrows painted on the ground to make sure I wasn't going the wrong way. The markings weren't abundant, but they were there when you needed them.

The next time I saw the crew was at CP 52 (172km) and I needed to get rid of my orthotics I'd been using. I had run in them for up to four hours in training and had no problems. For whatever reason the arch of my right foot was getting aggravated by it big time. I felt like I was running on a golf ball. Anyways I ditched them but the damage was done. Even as I write this it's still pretty tender and after the race it was literally swollen like there WAS a golf ball inside my foot.

Carrie wrote some notes about when I arrived at certain stations and they show me going from 172 km to 186 km in about 1.5 hours. Must have been a lot of hills. From 186 to 195 was an hour and a quarter and the notes from 195 km read, "arch of foot very sore". That was the truth. It's funny how fast the night went. I guess I was focussing only on the next aid station by
calculating doing six minute kilometers. It helped because I could figure out if I needed to refill my bottle or if I'd make it to the crew before I ran out. I remember during the day around 1pm thinking that there were only four or five more hours of heat then it would cool down when the sun went down. Then at 10pm I was thinking that I had nine hours to run in the dark but that didn't phase me for some reason. Even at 2am it didn't seem like the end of world. When I did the Bighorn back in June I couldn't wait for the sun to come up. Here though the hallucinations weren't so bad when the sun finally came up. Was it because I was better fueled or just not that much to look at other than the road? In the dark I kept thinking I was hearing something rustling behind me in the bushes and it took hours to figure out that it was the brim of my hat that I was wearing backwards rubbing on the back of my nylon jacket.

At CP 65 (211km) I knew I would make it. The 200km mark was a big mental breakthrough. My longest run was 160km but I didn't seem to notice breaking that mark. At 200 it seemed so manageable - only slightly more than a marathon to go, wha-hoo!!! I also started calculating how long it would take me to walk the rest of the way. I don't know why I was thinking this because in the back of my head I had no intention of doing that. It worked out that I'd still be under thirty hours doing fifteen minutes per mile but I wanted to be done sooner than that. Not just finishing in a certain time but just to be DONE!! Carrie wrote at CP 65 that I had said, upon seeing more hills coming, "What else could they possibly do to us?" This was at the 24 hour point and she observed that my hands and lips looked swollen. Maybe SHE was hallucinating because all I felt was cold.

When the sun started coming up I got a burst of energy. I don't even remember turning off my headlamp because sunrise came on so fast with no clouds in the sky. I neglected to mention how brilliant the sky was at night and how many stars could be seen. I'm glad there was no moon or we would have missed out on an amazing show. We just don't see that around here with all the city lights. My energy burst must have been short-lived because Carrie wrote at 222km that I was feeling, "exhausted and defeated". Around 230km the road took a big turn for the better in terms of elevation. There was so much downhill I forgot about the pain from the ups. They felt good and the quads weren't protesting like I thought they would have. I remember thinking that I could easily break twenty-eight hours and started increasing my pace. When I saw Ian again I told him I was trying to go under 28 but then said why am I bothering? I really don't care, it's all about finishing now.

With a few kms to go I picked up a police escort on the downhills. I felt obligated to go fast as a fair amount of traffic was being held up seeing as I was on the right side of the road. After about fifteen minutes, though, I looked back and he was gone! Over to the left side I went. When the ground leveled out just outside of Sparta, I was paced by another car and then by a police motorcycle and several kids on bicycles. The last checkpoint read 1.2 km to Sparta but the way I saw our crew car head off in the distance I didn't think this could be right. It went as far as I could see through town and turned right. I asked the officer beside me how far it was and he said two kilometres. I love when things don't add up. We turned right and again I just barely saw the crew car off in the distance turning right again. I was getting a bit defeated here. It must have taken me thirty minutes to run the final two klicks. One final turn and the trip down to the end of the street and the statue of King Leonidis was in the distance. There were a ton of people lining the street and a bunch of kids still following me on their bikes. I took my Canada hat Carrie had given me and wore it for the last few blocks. Then it was up the steps to kiss the foot of the King and I was done. 27:51 for 246km, an average of 11 minute miles. See, anyone could run that!

They led me to the med tent which I didn't think was all that necessary, I actually felt pretty good. They took my shoes off and tended (painfully) to my blisters. I took my IT band strap off and saw a few blisters under there also. Never even thought to put anything under there to prevent them. Once my big toes were bandaged up we were off to the Sparta Inn in a free taxi courtesy of the Greek medical system. I had a shower and laid down on the bed around 1pm and woke up at 7:30 when Ian announced it was dinner time. We (I) hobbled down to eat something then made our way over to the awards. With my knee so swollen it was tough to walk and curbs seemed like mountains. The awards were well done. The names of every finisher were read out and the top three men and women received flowers and plaques.

The following day was back to Athens where we dropped Ian off at the airport and returned to get a WAY better hotel room at the Emmartina. On Monday we walked for miles around the Acropolis and several other historical sites. I actually had tears in my eyes when I looked up at the Acropolis for the first time just thinking about how magnificent it looked from down there. We continued with our morning tradition by getting chocolate croissants for breakfast and loading up on local cookies to last throughout the day.

At the main awards night on Monday in Athens we were treated to a great dinner and received our medals and finisher's certificates. Then it was all done. We checked out Tuesday morning and Carrie and I spent the next three days touring around the coast, getting lost countless times, checking out some great ruins and sampling the local cuisine. All in all it was a great experience, definitely going into the books as one of the best of all times. I know there is are so many details I left out but after almost twenty-eight hours things got a little blurry to say the least.

Now to get ready for Italy in four weeks.....

Some pictures of the race are posted here:

Spartathlon Photos

Ian took most of the still pictures while Carrie did the video. We're waiting for a disc from Ian, then ours will be put on as well. When we figure out how to put video on we'll do that too.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Home again

I have to say I am again totally overwhelmed and overjoyed by the support and encouragement I've received over the past week. Thanks to everyone.

We're home now and will start getting the pictures and video together. Ian took most of the stills and Carrie the video. Ian hopefully sent off a disc of pictures to our house before he left London for Brazil on a little adventure of his own: a six-day stage race through the Amazon!! Here are a couple pictures he fired off, and a report will be coming in a day or so:

The Acropolis lit up at around 6:50am race day, my profile to the left

Adjusting shoes at the first major check point, 81km, where I saw the crew for the first time since the start

Running through one of the many small towns along the way

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Finished at last

I am overwhelmed with what everyone had to say and the fact that many of you watched as I trodded along. I will have to wait to respond or see personally all those who wtote amazing words of wishes and support. I can't say enough. First and foremost goes my thanks and appreciation to the crew: Carrie and Ian made it possible to get all the way through this. I've said it before but without awesome support, this type of thing wouldn't be possible, at least for me.
The journey was a long, long, long, LONG, one. My knees will not be forgiving me any time soon. My left one is very swollen I believe from compensating from some plantar issues on my right. Strangely, my IT band never really flared up too bad (advil is wonderful, ain't it?) and my old shin splint worries never materialized. Suffice to say our trip to the Acropolis will be a lengthy and slow moving one tomorrow. We're off to see the coast in the other direction from the race for the remaining days. It's cloudy and cool here now but hoping to get some beach weather soon.
Can't wait to reconnect with all those back home, I just wish I wasn't so tired through the last half and could remember more!! I now understand why most people called me "crazy" these last few months. Of course, I met several folks here who had done this several times. What does that make them??

"This is madness"


Thursday, September 25, 2008

In Greece

Hey everyone! First of all I have to say a million thanks to all those who sent their good wishes to us. We're here now and after a bit of a rough time getting to the hotel, due to crazy drivers and no street signs, we made it. With twelve hours to go we all are in a bit of a state of anticipation but also dread. The directions for the race route are vague at best so Carrie and Ian are going to have fun with that. Apparently it is well-marked so that should help. I am anticipating the run but also am worried about the distance. I've said it all before so I'll spare you that train of thought. What's going to happen will happen. The weather looks favourable for running and they're even expecting rain later in the day Saturday. Great being from B.C.! More updates hopefully will come your way, if not I won't be writing anything more until at least Saturday night (Greece time) or Sunday some time. Til then.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Spartathlon info

There have been many people who have helped me get to where I am today, not just in this race or other races but life in general. If you're reading this then you most likely are one of them and I thank and appreciate you.
Carrie has been a rock for so long I take it for granted that she's always going to do what she can for me without even me asking. I mean, she volunteered to come to Greece to help crew, for goodness sake!!! What a trooper. The whole family has been very supportive and understanding for so many years, including both sets of parents who will be here looking after the kids while we're away.

Other major contributors that can't not be mentioned are:
Jim Stewart from Cactus Club Cafe who helped out huge with airfare this year.
Ferg Hawk from Carbo Pro who without his help I would have bonked many times over.
Darren Mealing of Adidas and the gang at Peninsula Runners who have kept me clothed and shod in comfort for years now.
Ian Mayhew from Gears and Tears who coached me throughout all my injuries and whining and complaining and put up with all my stupid questions

The event begins this Friday, the 26th, at 7am in Greece. That's Thursday the 25th at 9pm Vancouver time. Apparently there will be athlete tracking along the way, so feel free to check in throughout Friday.

Not sure about internet connections during race time but Ian will have his laptop so maybe they will be able to post updates along the way. Stay tuned to this website for those. You can also track athletes on the Spartathlon website (under the home page menu find Live).

Here's to finishing!!!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Public Speaking

The week that school started the principal of the kids' school asked, because she read the article about me in the paper, if I would do a little talk at the first assembly about Spartathlon and show the kids on a map where I'd be running. She asked if Thursday work for me at 10:30 but I had a dentist appointment at 10. Too bad. Then she says would 11:30 work? I guess that would be good, I said. Okay, we'll move the assembly to that time. Great, I thought, not being the most comfortable person in front of large crowds even though I've done my share of teaching smaller groups throughout the years.
Anyways, last Thursday I stood in front of them and told them the history of the race, and comparing it to running to the Abbotsford Airshow and back three times or from the school to Merritt. That kind of hit home as to the distance I'd be running (to me also!!). I finished by saying that this race was not one to be done by oneself, that every runner needed support not only from crew at the race but from friends and family at home. Also if on the 26th they could think of me running and send me good thoughts I would love it.
What blew me away was at the end two kids from each of the thirteen divisions came up to the front with the little creations that they had made for me to take to Greece. They had taken and cut out a drawing of a runner and coloured it with some having little messages in them for me. I'm supposed to take these and have them with me as support while I'm running. Not sure where I'll put them but they're coming for sure.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Rune Larsson quote

Rune Larsson is a ten time finisher of Spartathlon with the 23rd fastest time ever in 24:41. I read an article he wrote with his advice on how to approach the race. It seemed very informative and my favourite quote was:

"Set a clear goal. The goal should be related to Sparta. I used to have the Sparta Hospital as my goal. If I ran hard enough, I would be taken by ambulance to the hospital, where the doctor and nurses would give me the best care a collapsed runner could ask for. When I got exhausted towards the end of the race, I enjoyed the sensation, because it was a clear sign that I was on my way to being worthy an ambulance ride after touching the statue of King Leonidas."

That's giving it all you've got!!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Video of '06 Spartathlon

Here is a video and report from Scott Jurek's website. I believe he is entered in this year's race as well, wanting to beat the record time of 20:29 owned by the legendary Yiannis Kouros

Monday, September 8, 2008

Sheldon Boreen's Ultraman '08 report

Sheldon Boreen - Ultraman 2008 Race Report

I have endured a few obstacles in life. However this past September long weekend will not be easily forgotten as I was one of the solo participants in one of the world’s most demanding ultra-endurance challenges.
One of my goals turning 43 years old was to be one of the 12 individual ( along with 10 relay competitors) in the field for the three day 512.6 Km ( 318.6 miles) Ultraman Canada Triathlon held in the Penticton/ Okanogan region of British Columbia, also home of Ironman Canada that is held one week prior.
The eighth edition of Ultraman Canada, a Canadian event, was established in 1993, follows the format of the original Ultraman established in Kona, Hawaii in 1983.
Stage 1 starts with a 10km swim in Skaha Lake and a 145 km bike ride the first day, which ends in Okanogan Falls.
Stage 2 consists of a 275 km bike ride starting in Penticton and ending in Princeton.
Stage 3 is an 84 km run from Princeton to Summerland on the old Princeton/Summerland Highway
The race was definitely the most difficult athletic challenge I have faced. I have been racing in long and ultra distance events for the past 10 years, in various categories including four Ironman’s in the last four years. For this race I completed Ironman Switzerland in early July as a training race and also was required to complete some epic training session, swimming up to 8.5 km at times and even using the famous bike race “Ramrod” a 170 mile / three mountain passes /10,000.00 of climbing around Mount Rainier, Washington as a warm up for this three day event.
I was a bit nervous when it started due to the fact an athlete walks a fine line when competing at this level for those distances. A key component is having the body replenished with proper nutrition during the event and avoiding injury. It takes years to get to this level of fitness and months to plan a race like this with your support team. The support team travels the entire course in a vehicle basically acting as a traveling Aid Station. With out the support team it would be extremely difficult if not impossible to complete the event.
Day 1, The 10 km swim in it self has to be as straight as possible to avoid extra distance and time, spotting from your escort kayaker is crucial. The 420 km bike ride is where the majority of time is spent during this event. This year’s event provided the most brutal conditions ever seen in its history. High winds early morning produced heavy chop in the lake that hit during the tail end of the swim and unfortunately slowed my swim and bike times and caused severe stomach upset on the remaining 90 miles of cycling that day.
Day 2, of the 170 mile bike course saw the unrelenting winds continue and provide more challenge with almost 150 miles of that 11 hour ride into head wind, rain and some sleet. It was the toughest cycling day I had personally – that day also saw two veteran Ultraman drop out. Everyone remaining after day 2 knew that the final two marathons to run on day three would not be easy if those weather conditions persisted.
Day 3 On this final day the weather provided some relief with a sunny cool morning, no wind and clear skies. All remaining participants on day three finished the 54 mile run under the 12 hour cut off time, however everyone’s body took a major beating to the lower legs and quadriceps due to the last 20 miles traversing uneven gravel road surface and mountainous terrain.
Ultraman is in a different league compared to Ironman in terms of the time commitment and training along with the support required to complete the event. The mental determination and ability to stay focused for up to 12 hours at a time and be mindful of every stoke or stride so as to be efficient as possible to conserve energy and stay uninjured. An interesting fact is that there have been more people who have climbed Mount Everest (approx 1900) than who have done an Ultra man.
There are many extreme physical, mental and emotional highs and lows experienced on the course over the three days. Some say they even meet God. I have experienced all of the above, but what imprints on me the deepest is the amazing support given by everyone involved for all individuals to be successful and to complete their goal. It is real testament to see the best of humanity at the extreme fringe of human endurance. In this race there are no winners or losers, only participants, the event is actually not advertised as a race. Everyone commented on the fact it was the best event they had every attended. The feeling after the weekend was if we had all become family and lastly it gave us all the opportunity to discover the potential we all have with in.

Really Cool Video from Badwater in July

This was a clip from CTV I think which I snagged from the trainharder.com website. There's a lot of coverage of Jen Segger who is from Squamish.

Badwater Clip

Friday, September 5, 2008

Ups and Downs

Okay so ever since this this article came out in the Surrey papers, tons of people from work, the kids' school, and neighbourhood have been wishing me good luck and inquiring about Spartathlon. It is so great knowing that I have the support of so many friends and family, but it makes me nervous as well. This is no Ironman that I've done before. This is not JUST another 100km race. This is something I haven't even come close to in terms of distance. I want to finish this more than my first Ironman, more than any race I've ever started. Knowing that people will be watching (apparently there will be race-day coverage that will let you follow the athletes' progress from checkpoint to checkpoint, I'll put it on the blog if there is) makes me want to finish even more. Just know that I will do everything in my power and use all my endurance experience to get to the finish, even if it's by walking or crawling in at 35:59. My legs are feeling the effects of the distance.

Ever since the Death Race I've had IT band issues that affect my knees. It's definitely gotten worse this last week after LAST week,s 95 miles (unheard of distance for me in training). This week was a mere 91 miles but I think that's it for the long distance weeks. On Wednesday I did a run from Mud Bay to Boundary Bay in Tsawwassen to a gas station to get more water. That's an 11.5 mile, dead flat, gravel dyke. After getting water I went back to Mud Bay, got water from my car, went back to Boundary Bay, got water, went back to my car, got water, and did a half hour out and back for a total of seven hours. Total 51 miles. THAT will be my longest run until the race even though I had longer ones planned. My knees, ankles, and hips start to ache after only a couple hours and I took only a couple Advil because I hate using them while I'm running (kidney issues and all that). I did the first five hours at a 7:55 min/mile pace then thought I would try to slow my speed and walk for a minute every fifteen minutes. The lower speed seemed to help some but I ended up with the last two hours with an 8:48 min/mile average. I kind of screwed up and ran out of carbohydrates with about an hour and ten left to run. Back in the car I felt like I did after my 100 mile: I could barely keep my eyes open driving home, close to bonking. I stopped and got a bag of ice, went home, filled the bathtub with cold water, dropped in the ice, dropped in my sorry butt. I've done the cold water thing before but never with the ice. I couldn't get my core temperature back for an hour after only ten minutes in there. It felt good though.

I took the next day off and then did a 30 mile run on Friday. I went around the neighbourhood, through some trails, and also some flats. I wanted to go out easy and ended up with a 8:19 per mile average. Still a bit faster than I wanted. I figure around 8:30 should work but I'm afraid of slowing down even more along the way. I guess as long as I'm making forward progress during the race that's a good thing whether I'm running or taking walking breaks every so often.

More details on race coverage to follow.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Ultraman Day 3 and overall

Well it's been over for two days. Most of the athlete's have had time to digest what they've done and I'm sure they are proud of their accomplishments. Congratulations to all who finished and anyone interested in next year's race should be out there right now swimming, biking, or running. The overall results are here: Ultraman '08 Results

2008 UMC Re-cap

Monday, September 1, 2008
Summerland, BC
Ultraman Canada Day 3 Race Report

The final day of Ultraman Canada 2008 provided great weather conditions for the 84.4km run. The weather remained cool and the winds were mostly from the rear helping guide them from Princeton to the finish at Memorial Park in Summerland. Although the weather was good, the course remained difficult and only the relay run course record was broken. Heather Flaherty of Nevada, Iowa broke her own record, set just last year by running a 9:02:17. Her brilliant effort was not enough however to over take Penny Youngash who ran a 9:24:11 to given Team Pulse the overall victory with a time of 25:34:51. Flaherty and Flock of Team Law and Disorder finished second in the relay division with an overall time of 26:15:07.

The men’s race saw Seattle’s Jeff Geoghagan motor to a first place run finish in a time of 7:55:22. Florian Kraft of Germany ran a 8:06:15 to maintain his lead and claim the men’s overall champion with a total time of 24:46:06. Geoghagan finished second overall with a total time of 27:11:57. Alexandros Strathopoulos of Greece rounded out the top three with an overall time of 29:03:03. The women’s field was led by a strong performance from Penticton’s Sheena Miller who captured the women’s championship by running a time of 10:00:32 for a total time of 30:49:20. The second female of the day was Jenn Dawkins of Mapleridge, BC with a run time of 10:42:09 giving her a total time of 32:05:33. Rounding out the field of official women’s finishers was Beatrice Van Horne of Reston, VA with a run time of 11:39:02 for a total time of 32:38:33.

All athletes on today’s course were able to make it to the finish line prior to the 12 hour time limit. They were greeted at the finish by their crews, volunteers, and spectators and treated to a wonderful barbeque and camaraderie. Many look forward to their future attempts and participation in next year’s Ultraman Canada.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Ultraman '08

Ultraman Canada

The race is now officially over as of 7pm Monday night. The results take a bit of time but here are the write-ups for the first two days:

2008 UMC Re-cap

Monday, September 1, 2008
Summerland, BC

Sunday, August 31, 2008
Princeton, BC
Ultraman Canada Day 2 Race Report

The 273.4Km bike ride that awaited the athletes on the Day 2 stage of Ultraman Canada provided the most brutal conditions ever seen in this event. The 12 individuals and 4 relay team members faced approximately 170Km of strong head winds, rain, hail and cold temperatures. Simmon Hoffstetter of Team Pulse lead the day with a relay record Day 2 bike time of 8:52:16 to retain their hold on first place in the relay division. He was followed by Cutris Flock of Team Law & Disorder with a time of 9:06:56.

The first men’s individual finisher of the day was Florian Kraft of Germany with a time 9:19:55 retaining his hold on first place with a total time of 16:39:51. Penticton’s Sheena Miller was the first female finisher of the day with a bike time of 11:11:12 moving her into first place overall in the women’s division with a total time of 20:48:48.

As noted by athletes, crew and race officials, the weather provided for slower times and closer competition as everyone had to struggle against the same factors. The conditions caused 2 athletes to withdraw due to physical ailments. Day 3 will conclude Ultraman Canada with an 84km run from Princeton to Memorial Park in Summerland. The first finishers are expected to arrive after 2pm.

Saturday, August 30, 2008
Penticton, BC

The first day of Ultraman Canada gave the athletes an understanding of why this event is called ULTRAman. Cold water temperatures greeted the 12 individual athletes and 4 relay team members as they embarked on the 10K swim at Skaha Lake. Quickly, the wind picked up making for some serious chop on the water. Florian Kraft of Germany and Sabrina Taylor of Surrey, BC were able to power through these conditions and set new men’s swim record (2:35:45) and relay swim record (2:37:29) respectively. Beatrice Van Horne of Reston, Virginia was the first solo female out of the water in a time of 3:21:15. Penticton’s own Sheena Miller was the second female out in a time of 3:48:52.

Taylor’s Team Pulse was able to battle with Kraft on the bike in brutal headwind conditions and very cool temperatures. Simmon Hoffstetter, Team Pulse’s cyclist, was able to pass Kraft to be the first bike across the line giving Team Pulse a total time of 7:18:24, a new relay team record for Day 1. Kraft came in just over a minute behind in a total time of 7:19:56 setting a new men’s record for Day 1. Van Horne kept her lead in the women’s division by posting a 5:58:09 bike split for a total time of 9:19:18. The fastest bike split of the day was posted by Calgary’s Curtis Flock at 4:36:17.

The swim saw one athlete drop from the event due to equipment failure. He was able to continue and complete the 145.3km bike ride. All athletes will continue the Ultraman adventure on Day 2 (Sunday) which consists of a 273.5K bike from Penticton to Princeton. On Monday, the athletes will tackle the final day of competition with a 84k run from Princeton to Summerland.

For Mr. Kraft to beat my overall race record he'll have to have run about a 6:20 for 84km. Impossible? No. The weather looked like it was going to be good for running but the crappy wind may have tired a lot of athletes out on Day 2. Here's hoping that all the competitors could finish before the twelve hour cut-off.

Day 3 should be up later tonight or tomorrow at Ultraman Canada
I'll put the recap here as well.

This race is in my top three of any I've ever done and always recommend anyone who wants to challange themselves like never before to give this one a shot. It has none of the pressure or hype of an Ironman race which makes it much more fun for everyone. It's a three-day party!! Okay, maybe not quite a party.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Epic Weeks Are Here Again...

....sung to the tune of "Happy Days Are Here Again" (the old song from the forties or early fifties. Saw it on MASH. What can I say? I love that show.)
So last Saturday Ian sent me the next weeks leading right up to Spartathlon in one month. My legs almost detached themselves from my body in revolt. Never had I seen such hours spent running. He seldom does my workouts by distance, mostly by hours run. Here's what I've done this week:

Monday - I took a run from the Club Fatass website around Burnaby Mountain. I didn't realise how hilly this would be. It took my an hour and fifteen minutes the first loop to find my way and the half mile run up after the 7.7km mark to the right turn on the Trans Canada Trail was a killer. Especially the third time I did it. I went through other trails to make it more interesting but I was either going up or down. Not overly conducive to a long road run but it reminded my glutes what it was like to scream. Time running 6:15, mileage on the Garmin read 41 miles. Total round trip time from doorstep to doorstep - 8.5 hours (I used the car as an aid station and there was a lot of filling up).

Tuesday - Long easy bike ride 4:45, 124km or so. As I have throughly exhausted the roads from here to Mission with the bike, I decided to go south through the States. The incredible wind was blowing from the Southwest so as usual coming home it was totally in my face.

Today - Long run 4:45, 35 miles. I woke up with the winds howling through the neighbourhood and thinking that this was going to be a great day for a run. Thankfully it wasn't raining anymore and didn't for my run. I tried to keep it as flat as possible because my knees were still aching from Monday. Also the glutes were talking to me on every downhill. I felt as though I'd been running fifty miles already, and that was after twenty minutes of being out the door. I didn't know how I was going to get through this run. After two hours I took a couple advil and that seemed to calm down my knees. Again I wore layers and once it warmed up the sweat was pouring off me. The only break I got was when I was going into the wind where it cooled down some. For a perfect ending a mile from the house the sun broke through and made the last ten minutes that much more enjoyable.

I went afterwards and saw Colin McKay at Precision Health and he confirmed that my knee discomfort was due to IT band tightness. He worked on them for a bit and it made them feel awesome. I'll be going back again next week for another session.
Then it was off to the sauna for a forty-five minute sit in the heat. I can't take the really hot sauna anymore, it makes me feel like I'm going to puke after being in the other one for half an hour. Maybe I'll try the opposite - ten minutes in the stinkin' hot one, then thirty in the hot one.
Tomorrow is another four or five hour bike to the States, Friday off (thankfully), then a 2.5 hour run Saturday. Wait until I tell you about NEXT week.....

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Triathlon Silver

Anyone watching last night's Olympic triathlon would not have been able to stay seated in their chairs for the final 5km of the run. It was the most exciting race of this Olympics in my opinion. When Whitfield took a bit of a breather in the final km then bridged the gap, my parents' living room was filled with cheers from our whole family, huddled around the tv hoping for gold. After a valiant kick to try and drop Frodeno, the German proved to have a kick of his own. We're all very proud of Simon Whitfield and his efforts. It's another drop in my bucket of motivation and inspiration.

Monday, August 18, 2008


"As I have always held it a crime to anticipate evils I will believe it a good comfortable road until I am compelled to believe differently."
- Meriwether Lewis, 1805

This was my motto for all of '06 before I did Ultraman. Seeing as I'd never done a three day race such as this one, there was no reason to get worked up and scared of the distances just because it was all new doing 512km that close together. It's like Spartathlon - why get nervous about the distance when there is only so much I can do in the weeks before? I can't run five 100 mile weeks because I'd be battered and burnt out. I have to take what I have, improve as much as I can within my abilities, train for what I can - heat, distance, elevation - and hope for the best. This is a run of attrition and I fully believe, seeing the dnf rate, that finishing is the same as winning. I will believe it's a good comfortable road until something leads me to believe otherwise, and even then I'll keep moving forward.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Heat Aclimation

So I've been hitting the sauna every day for the last week for varying times. Usually for 30 - 35 minutes. There are two saunas at the South Surrey Pool: one that's hot, and one that's unbelievably smokin' crazy hot. I've been going into just the hot one for 25 minutes or so, then hitting the really hot one for 5 - 10 afterwards. It's all I can do to stay in there. I've got water and gatorade with me but after a few minutes I can't sit still and feel the need to run out screaming to the cold showers. Hopefully it'll help somewhat if it's hot in Greece. I figure I'll get up to 45 minutes a day combining both and I should be good. Last week wasn't the smartest workout: upper body weights - 45 min, eliptical workout - 45 min, 30 min sauna, 10 min Hades sauna, and a cool down with 5 min in the hot tub. Needless to say I had a headache and was dizzy for a little bit. I was sweating for a good hour afterwards, much more than normal.
A couple days ago was a 4:10, 125km bike ride with arm and leg warmers on to keep in the heat. The day after was a 2:30 run complete with running tights and two layers of shirts (on long sleeve) in the middle of a 30 degree day. That got some strange looks by people in cars passing by. It was good though because I felt okay, only a bit fatigued from the bike the day before and the fact I haven't run that long on the road since April. The next day wasn't as bad as I thought - quads were good and no shin pain. Still just a little nagging twinge on the lateral side of the right knee that isn't an issue when running although I can feel it. The next day it's only a bit achy.
Doesn't look like much chance for heat training this week so we'll be layering up to simulate. The end of the week sees me doing a 6 - 6.5 hour run, going to return to the trails for that one. Nothing too technical but still lots of elevation.

Thursday, August 14, 2008


At the gym last night it was hard not to be motivated. My night entailed an uppper body weight workout (I never do lower body weight lifting, as evidenced by my chicken legs), :45 on the eliptical, :30 in the sauna, :05 in the "hotter" sauna, then a cool down with :05 in the hot tub. While doing the weights the Olympics were on the tv. I paused long enough to watch some heats and some finals. Next, on the eliptical rocking to the Ipod, I was watching the gymnastics and thought to myself what it must take to be that disciplined for four or more years to even get a shot at achieving those goals. I started thinking that if they can do it for years, I can stay disciplined for five weeks!! No more refined sugar, and working on abs, stretching, and weights.
I had totally planned to get ice cream after this night's exercise and it would be "the last time until Greece" (like I've never said THAT before), but watching those athletes, I had a change of heart, or should I say stomach?. I saw how lean they were and decided that they didn't get that ripped by over-eating and downing sweet dairy products. That's it for me. Smaller portions more times a day, no junk.
I might put each day of training on the blog just to keep myself honest with the streching and core work.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

The Canadian Death Race

First and foremost without the amazing crewing efforts of Carrie, Hannah, and Elias, there would have been no race. Grande Cache, Alberta, is no tourist destination and the weather was not what you would consider a tropical paradise. The fact that they were at each and every aid station before I got there and were all set up made my race happen. The kids were happy every time and even helped their mom out with water and handing off bottles. I was worried on the first two stations when I was there a bit earlier than we had discussed but it was for not as they sought me out amongst the other athletes and spectators.

After all day in the car on the Wednesday before the race my back was some kind of tight. I did a 40 minute run on Thursday morning where it was almost seizing up and my breathing was like I was eighty years old. Overall I felt like crap. Friday I did a 30 minute run and it felt a bit better but I still wasn't overly optomistic about how I'd feel the next day. Luckily I had my good friend Advil to watch over me if times got tough. We picked up the race package that day and saw a bit of the midway with its Sumo wrestling ring, rock climbing wall, mini race cars, and the vendor's booths.

It was nice to be within walking distance from the start line and not get up too early - 6am for an 8am start. I knew it would be a long day for the crew and that was a bit of an incentive to finish as fast as I could. I registered and nothing was left but the anthem and the start.

People didn't take off in a flash, even the relay racers. I thought for sure that there would be a mad rush of folks trying to get ahead. I kept an eye on eventual winner and fellow World 100km teammate Jack Cook but didn't exactly want to be in front of him. As he had done this race two times before I figured he knew what pace to head out on. Of course, he could have been making me chase him hoping I'd think he was in way better shape than me (a probability anyways) and maybe I'd hold back.

The first leg was fairly flat with a few short, steep sections that I walked, and also some long descents that I took conservatively. I saw Jack up ahead of me for most of this stage but was definitely running my own race. Another runner named Mike Scherman who ended up in fourth place ran with me for a bit. He had done a few Ironman races and when I told him the guy in front of us was Jack Cook, he quickly took off and was running with him most of leg one. We cruised past a lake where I thought the aid would be and was worried because only an hour had passed and thought Carrie might not have been there yet. As we had about six more kms to go on a gravel road to the end of the stage, everything worked out fine.

Leg two starts out with maybe a kilometer of rolling terrain and then heads right into a quad track straight up where the walking began. This went on for some time where I was walking then running a bit then walking some more until around a corner was a marshall directing people right. He says, "Here you go, right up these stairs." I can tell you that this trail of "stairs" would never have passed building code as such becuase it was necessary in some spots to grab trees to pull yourself up the grade. Even the relay members with trekking poles were having a hard go of it. We finally got out of it and could run again across a ridge and through the timing station then back around and down the way we had come.

We had looped around and now we saw the same marshall again who this time lead us to the right again but down a section as steep as the one we'd just climbed. If there had been more rain that day or in the previous few days, I would have slid to the bottom, out of control. As it was there was a trekker in front of me and I think he heard I was kind of losing it so he went to move to the side but wiped out on his ass. All I could do was say sorry a couple times and go past - there was no stopping.

This started what was a section they called The Slugfest. Not exactly sure why but only that it was a long rolling batch of terrain that was mostly narrow single track with bushes from my ankles to my neck that soaked me in about ten minutes of going through it. There were more sections of quad-straining downhills and even at one of these spots they had marshalls to warn us of the impending dropoffs. It was here that I caught up to Mike Scherman and joked to him how he let Jack get away. He said that the way Jack was going up the hills he had to let him go. I know that Jack can put in a good push to shake people and it worked that time. Mike was from Montreal with no real hills to train on and could have been why I passed him pretty easily through this part. Finally at the top of Grande Mountain (6500') there was another timing point but also brutal wind and rain and sleet. Yet after five minutes of descent it warmed up and the rain stopped.

I remember at the pre-race meeting the race director was saying at this point all we had to do was follow the powerlines and we would have no trouble getting down. It was easy enough but at the top I could look across this valley to the other side and see the powerline trail clearly - it was wicked steep going down then the mirror image of grade going back up. I could see off in the distance a runner going up and he was oh so teeny tiny. Oh, well, here we go. This was the scariest part of the race: I never thought about staying safe for my next race or even trying to be conservative now, it was just hold on for dear life, hope I didn't twist an ankle and fall and roll (and roll and roll and roll), or trip on anything. There was about ten feet of flat running at the bottom and it started up again. At the top of this was basically more downhill all the way to the bottom, up a stretch along the highway, and through about three blocks of town to the starting point again where the leg ended.

My super-crew greeted me and I changed out of my soaking shirts and put new ones on. For some reason I thought I was going up the next mountain on the next stage so put on two shirts which I regretted because it got quite warm during stage three.
This stage went through town for a couple more blocks before heading out along the river over winding trails that were for the most part runnable and a lot of downhill. I traded leads with a girl for a ways who turns out was splitting up the race with another girl with whom she was doing the Trans-Alps race in a few weeks. That one's on my list.

At near the six hour mark I saw Jack in front of me and was quite surprised. I caught up and asked how he was doing - he was fine - and I just carried on in my steady gear. We were within a hundred feet for the rest of leg three and with me just edging him out at the checkpoint at the start of leg four. Starting this one I knew it would be easier terrain than stage two but longer hill-wise and time-wise. Through a bit of woods then down to the highway there was no sign of which way to go. This race had the best markings of any long race I've done but at this point I didn't have a clue. All I know is I went to the right and hoped I'd see someone behind me soon. It turned out I was going in the right direction as a relay member went by me like I was standing still and said we head into the trail soon.

As soon as we did, it was quad-trail straight up. Jack caught me halfway up the narrow trail and followed me until we got to the gravel roads. After a bit of downhill running, we hit the uphills again and he literally power-walked away from me. Whether it was fatigue, knowing what was coming, or altitude, I had my one steady gear and I was sticking to it.

I would see him once in a while on a switchback nearing the top of Mt. Hamel (7000'). This section was amazing because we were above the treeline with mounds and mounds of shale all around us like it was dumped by a thousand trucks along the trail. The view was incredible, too, and you could see the pockets of rain showers heading our way. At the top of this we turned right to go about 300m to a hut where we then turned around, went back the way we came for a kilometer or so, retrieved a prayer flag to prove we'd gone the distance, and went back to the hut. They took my flag, I registered my timing stick, then started down. I think I could have gone down faster on this section but I was concerned about saving the legs and not cramping them.
Ten minutes down this road I was wondering if that hut was the place I was supposed to pick up my backpack with my headlight and jacket and water in. It was too late to turn around so I kept going wondering how I'd go another two and a half hours on the amount of fluid I had to drink. I began thinking I'd have to grab water from a stream. Then I thought how would I be able to start leg 5 without a headlight as I remember them saying if you start it after a certain time you couldn't go without one? I was conserving water when I came around a bend and saw the Ambler-Loop aid station with our drop bags. Man, was I relieved!!! I left my backpack there to be picked up after the loop but refilled my bottles and promptly drank half of one. This loop was a couple k's down a gravel road then back through trails, mostly uphill.

After strapping on the backpack at the station again it was a quick 10km descent down a logging road. How monotonous was that? There was so much down I was begging for an up. At the bottom we turned and ran along the highway in yet more quad-trails. Along here it was cool because cars would drive by and lean on the horn in support and they would shout out "Go Death Racer!!" I was quite surprised when I saw up ahead Jack's red shirt again. Why couldn't he just be ten minutes in front and I'd never know and wouldn't have to worry about sprinting to the finish?!?! He left the aid station before me and that was the last I saw him (thankfully).

There was an incredibly cruel hill to climb for at least ten or twelve minutes once we left the aid station. After that was lots of single track with the bushes at knee level but so close to the trail it was hard to see the ground. I wouldn't have wanted to do that section in the dark. It would have been some slow going. With a bit of downhill I reached the river crossing. Here the racers have to give the "ferryman" (dressed up like Death) a coin we'd been carrying since the start and this gave us passage across the river in a boat. If you had no coin, you couldn't cross. I was looking forward to a bit of a break but no sooner than thirty seconds after I sat down were we on the other side.

I thought the beginning of this stage was a cruel climb - we went up and up and up from this point with a bit of rolling hills but then more climbs. There was the final trail section that was covered in tree roots for what seemed like kilometers until I finally got to the last gravel road. What do I find here? More @#$%! hills. This road was twisting and at every turn all I could see was more up. The gravel road led to a paved town road which, as a final insult, was all uphill to the finish.

I got to the end, handed off my pack and bottles to Carrie and ran in to the finish with the kids in my arms. Since they're getting so big, I wanted to carry them over the line seeing as next year for sure they'll be too big to do so. They were lighter than air to me I was so happy to be done. I was reunited with Jack and we had a good chat about the race. He was definitely deserved of the win.

This event was a lot harder than I expected but after seven years of thinking about how I could do it, I was very pleased with having finished. Especially after the shin splints and racing a 100 mile, 50km, and now this run in only six weeks. Next year the races will be more spread out for sure.

No Stormy 50 mile this weekend to recover and put the focus on Greece!!!

See the link for the pictures below:

Pictures from Death Race

Canadian Death Race

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Pre Post-Death Race Report

For all my thousands of readers out there (or is that ten or under?) just a quick update to say that the Stormy 50 mile is not on the plan any longer. Suffice to say the Death Race was a workout, and then some, so will need the time to recover then focus fully on Spartathlon in six short weeks. Still don't know how I'm going to get enough miles in for that one, but when has that ever stopped me?!?! Pictures of the D.R. will be on tomorrow and a report shortly. Just hard to do one when I'm so busy working :)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Pre-Death Race

Just a last quick thought on the Knee Knacker:
I think the year was 2001 and I was up at Penticton to watch the Ironman and ultimately sign up for '02. We were waiting in line to get a table at a breakfast eatery after the athletes left on their bikes. There was a guy in front of us wearing a shirt with all these sharp, jagged lines on the back and upon closer inspection I read that it was the Knee Knacker trail run elevation profile. It was with the utmost awe and respect I stared at its 8000' of climbing and descending and although I didn't talk with the owner of the shirt, I commented to those I was with to look at the dude's legs. Dropping below his shorts line were skinny, knobby knees and below those were huge calves that screamed out years of development on the trails. Below THOSE were the most prominent achilles tendons I've ever seen. It was as though the ridges of the tendons reached the middle of his foot. I thought again with the utmost awe and respect what it must take to develop such running attributes. All I had were skinny, knobby knees with no calves and your average, waiting to be pulled any time, achilles'. It was a moment when I realized how "crazy" someone must be to attempt such a race and I never would have believed that I would compete in it one day, my aspirations being triathlons. Even when my friend Evelyn did Chuckanut a few years before me, after hearing about it, I believed that only those schooled in masochism would do an event such as that. I guess it's all relative. When I started running, a marathon seemed as far as the moon. At the finish line of my first triathlon, I was like a baby in terms of knowledge in the sport of triathlon. An Ironman (me not even aware there was such a thing as an Ultraman) was but a dream years in the future. Subsequently the Canadian Death Race has loomed on my radar for more years than an Ironman did but there was always interference not allowing me to enter. Maybe the lure of it was the trails beckoning me. It seemed again like an impossibly difficult and ambitious race, something to be feared just at the mention of the name. After years of conditioning and thousands of miles, a marathon, Ironman, Ultraman, 100 km, and 100 mile all fell before me. Of course there are further distances than that. Those I've done mere sprints in the overall scheme of things. Whether I do things that are "crazy" in terms of distance to almost everyone who inquires is yet to be determined. I had to walk/run 100 miles before I attempt 152, just as a half-iron preceded a full. The Death Race to me represents a test of endurance but also speed and I hope to not only complete this but to actually race it like I never have before. That's not to say I'll do as well as I want (have I ever?), but I only want to feel that I gave it my all and hope things come together in this last long run before Greece.

Now, again, how not to taper for a race is spend three days in Las Vegas in 40 degree heat eating too much and drinking too much (only one night, really). This was first time there and it was mind-blowing in terms of the size and decadence of the hotels and casinos. Those who've been there know what I'm talking about. I planned to run while there but when it's 30 degrees at 8am I didn't think it would be very beneficial. I would step outside from the air-conditioned casinos and love to feel the heat but then five minutes later it felt like I was standing beside an idling bus engine wondering why my scalp felt on fire. I don't know how anybody could live there. Anyways, after my massage today I have to say my legs have felt the best in weeks, mostly due to the three day layoff. I did a small 40 minute road run today and I'll go out in Alberta (no worries about heat there!!) on Thursday and Friday before the race. My only desire is to feel fast and if it turns out I go fast then that's all the more better. I have a time goal as usual but will keep it to myself for now.

I got the official email invite to attend the World 100km Championships in Italy this November. More to follow later on that. I'll post Vegas pics of the wedding reception we attended one night there (the drunken one) if they end up being suitable for publishing. 12 hours of driving, here we come!!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

A Heck of a Run/Hike

How to NOT taper for an extremely difficult (at least to me) 50km:

1. Ride for 5 hours last Sunday
2. Take Monday off due to being wasted (see #1)
3. Drive to Osoyoos for a funeral then come back home at night (with 9 hours on my ass I should be rested, right?)
4. Get decking materials delivered Wednesday and work on it that day plus Thursday
5. Go to the Cultus Lake waterslides on Friday with the kids and make approximately thirty trips up the stairs to get to the slides (good quad workout but not the day before a race)

Things I would change about the week - none.

Yes I've finally admitted that I may have scheduled too many races this year with not enough recovery in between. Most of the 'A' races have been ones that I've never done and I therefore wanted to do well at. However since my shin splint issues I haven't regained my fitness and am having trouble being rested for these events and also to get ready for the next ones.

On that note, the second of three races in six weeks was the Knee Knacker on the North Shore. The way the leaders took off I thought for sure I would see at least a couple of them in a few hours, them having gone out too hard. I never saw them after fifteen minutes. I thought I was taking it easy on the first huge climb up Black Mountain but I felt thrashed halfway up, shades of Bighorn. Once I hit the top there I felt somewhat normal again and puttered through the snowy, muddy forest. Some sections I saw nothing but mud in front of me with a pink ribbon on the other side indicating that that was indeed the route I had to take. Seeing as there were other footprints through the muck I jumped in and across it. It almost took too much effort to look for a way around the stuff.

There was an eventual decent into the Cypress Mountain parking lot aid station but it was short lived as we went into the forest again for a very technical section. My right knee has been bugging me since Bighorn when I run for more than ninety minutes and it acted up around here. Still unsure what it is.

After arriving at the Cleveland Dam we had to make our way up 500m of roadway to the start of the Grouse Grind. There was only a couple hundred metres before we veered right taking a slightly less hilly route up. From about the three hour mark whenever I'd walk a steep section, I made myself run once I reached the top. I figured that if I kept walking when it levelled out these walks would become longer and longer and I'd never finish. I remember getting to the final major aid station and someone saying that there was five miles left with a bit of an uphill included. Then about a half hour later at a road crossing someone said I had four miles to go which couldn't have been right. A third person later said two and a half so I counted on that one being right (hopefully). I'd never run this last section and the steep part in the middle kicked the crap out of me. Then on one of the final downhills I could hear the finishing line announcer and thought I could make my goal of 5:30 having ten minutes to do so. Of course it wasn't to be as there were a couple nice walkable uphills before the final decent into Deep Cove, then a flat section to the finish. I was eight minutes over my goal time but had such a great feeling of accomplishment when it was over.

This is an abridged version of what we saw on the run because it would be too hard to describe all the stream crossings, views, hills, rocks, roots, stairs, volunteers and aid stations we came across. Just to note that it was an amazing experience that I'd love to do again one day.

As a side note Gary Robbins suggested I try Injinji socks to help prevent my toes getting thrashed and blistered. I've used them minimally in the past and on a whim pulled out the only ones I have and gave them a try on race day. I also tried a double taping method of my big and little toes instead of the usual single wrap. Maybe it was the socks or the lack of big toenails but whatever it was my feet survived admirably. The right had a small hotspot but the left had no discomfort whatsoever. I could be on to something here.

As a side note to the side note, Carrie reminded me that she, too, uses Injinji socks and has been trying to persuade me to use them more for quite some time.