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 ...

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

1211 kms of racing

If all goes well this year and I make the lottery for Knee Knacker in a few days AND decide to do the Stormy 50mile one week after the Canadian Death Race, the year's racing will total 1211 kilometres. If no KK or Stormy then it's a mere 1081. That's more mileage raced in a year than even my biggest triathlon year, and that's all three disciplines, not just running. Hopefully this isn't an injury waiting to happen.
So why am I finding it as hard or harder to get in all the training doing six or seven workouts a week when I used to do up to thirteen during triathlon training? I think I have more on the go right now and also usually have to drive a distance to get my long runs in the trails which takes up the whole day. Not that I'm complaining. There's more people out there who don't have the time and want to run and be active than those who have time yet sit around mostly. There's no part-time job I'd rather have right now than running. Of course, the pay could be better....

Aldergrove Mud(?) Run

Last Sunday was the 8km Aldergrove Mud Run. In the past years I've done this event it's lived up to it's name but with about ten days of little precipitation, it was a much different run. The trails were dry and the weather perfect. I had planned to do a 24km Diez Vista training race on that day but due to the lingering snow at the higher levels (the story of this winter), it was cancelled. Too bad because I would have liked to see some of that course again before the race. I guess I'll be going up there solo in a few weeks when it clears out.
So I decided to do the Mud Run as it's put on by Peninsula Runners and it looks good to fly the colours when I can. I decided to do it as a three lap run but at a faster pace than a simple training run. Maybe 80% speed or so. I could get used to this "easier" pace and way of thinking when it comes to racing - no stress, no time worries. It's nice. I do need to get my killer instinct back if I want to have some success in the shorter races.
I started out in the middle and let a bunch of people go ahead. After settling in to a pace, I started passing them. Funny how that works. Going out hard is not all it's cracked up to be. I finished the first lap in 33:08, three minutes slower than two years ago but still good for 9th place out of 161. Lisa took my tag from my number and I carried on. I had a few comments from folks as we crossed paths out there. Mostly disbelief that I'd be doing another lap or shouts of encouragement from those who thought I was still racing. Good times.
By the time I finished my third lap the crowds were dispersing after the awards and draw prizes. A solid run (bad memory, forgot the GPS) in 1:45, much easier than a trip through the Diez course but that'll be for another day.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Orcas Island 50km "Race"

My prayers were answered in regards to the weather for the 50 km run on Orcas Island last Sunday. The sun was beautiful and even a little warm when you were standing in it. I was praying for decent weather, not for me running, but for Carrie and the kids watching. It would have been tough facing Hannah and Elias afterwards if it was pouring rain and they were stuck inside the whole time. The ferry ride and drive home would have been even more fun than that.

We arrived at Camp Moran, an old summer camp, around 4:30 on Saturday and set out making our dinner in the huge industrial kitchen before the rush to use it came. We got settled into our cabin, comprised of seven bunk beds and a bathroom, soon after. We shared our cabin with Jeff and Debbie from Oregon. They had three kids of their own. We didn't see them much as we were doing our own dinner preps and eating and watching the running movies playing in the huge dining room. After that we bedded down at 8:30 in the cool cabin as the heaters didn't seem to want to perform as intended. It was a most chilly night with all of us in touques and dressed fully in warm clothes. I was jealous of the kids' new mummy sleeping bags we just got for them, my ten-year old Canadian Tire special just not cutting it. We were all so tired that it didn't matter much.

It was quite cold in the morning as well but I opted for shorts as I always warm up when I run. A few people doing the 50 started early at 7:30 while the rest of the 25km and 50km racers left at 8:30. I didn't know who was doing which race so didn't try to keep up with any of them. The goal of this "race" was to make it a simple training run and finish feeling good and not too thrashed. It was a big step in my running year as this kicked off a busy schedule of runs and races. I was excited that my plans were being executed and with such a beautiful day it couldn't have been more perfect.

At the two mile mark my toque came off while climbing a huge goat path that was barely discernable save for the flagging tape for general direction. What treated us at the top was an equally steep downhill - one of those roads that you either walked or had to fly down. The legs felt pretty rubbery for a few miles afterwards and I was concerned because we would be doing those hills again on the second loop. The race was supposed to be more of a single loop but that course took us up to elevations where there was still a lot of snow so the race director, James Varner, decided to make an "easier" two-loop course of lower elevation. It turned out that what we did had only 600 feet less climbing (6400') than the regular course. I got to practise my power walking up the steeper hills, as hard for me to stop that it is. I think that's a big reason why my legs felt fresher at the end than a usual race. I even walked when others around me were still running!! Funny thing is that they didn't get much farther ahead of me.

I was running with Miles Ohlrich from Seattle towards the end of the first 25km. At the end of that loop I got new bottles from Carrie and I reapplied the lube on my toes. I was starting to get hot spots so decided to try and hold them off for longer. It worked because at the end I had no blisters and my feet felt great. Could be because I have only four toenails out of ten at the moment.

Used with permission from Glenn Tachiyama
I caught up with Miles which helped me endure the second trip around. We chatted the whole way with finishing being first and foremost in our plans. As it turned out we were in third place most of the second lap but an errant turn (my fault) took us a mile off course until we realised our mistake. Both of us being out of water didn't make us any more happier but we got back on track nicely and ended up tied for ninth.

I was happy that I was able to push at a moderate pace and not be dead at the end of it all. It was awesome to have the family at the end to greet me and the kids enjoyed playing with other kids while they waited. The ferry and drive home was good as well until we hit the border where we proceeded to crawl through for an hour and forty minutes. All you can do is laugh.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

I Feel Dirty

I've done something that I never thought I would do. I feel strangely dirty, almost the need to take a shower or go to the confessional. It's something millions of people have done in the past, but it was always a thing I said I didn't want to and wouldn't ever do: I bought a cell phone. We've had one in the past but it was an emergency one only. It was a huge, heavy old boat anchor that worked like a phone and that was it. No camera, texting, internet, mp3, etc.
Now I know most of you are let down by this build up because chances are you own one of these devils. I never had the need to have a communication device stuck to my hip 24 hours a day. If worse came to worst, I would go to a pay phone (which are pretty much obsolete now) or to a gas station and ask to use their phone. OR I would simply ask the first person I saw if I could use THIER cell phone and guess what? 99.9% of the time that person had one.
I don't have a business where suppliers or employees are in need to talk to me RIGHT NOW!! Anyone who needs to get hold of me can leave a message at my home phone and I'd get it eventually. Frankly I don't want to be called anytime anywhere by just anyone. One of my pet peeves is people who drive and talk at the same time. So I leave the parking lot with my new phone and what do I feel the strange urge to do? Call someone while I'm driving!! It's a demon alright.
Now with the kids getting older, it is handy if they need to call me from somewhere and that's an advantage. It's also helpful being semi-lost running on a mountain needed to phone for directions or for help or someone to pick up the kids from school which happened a few weeks ago. Scott Corsie and me were in Chuckanut and headed back kind of late with a big border line-up as the icing on the cake. He had a cell phone (remember the 99.9%?) and I called the kids' school.
Anyways, I now can be reached at all hours day and night so if you think you may need to have that convenience, email me and I'll send you the number. I'll answer, of course, as long as I remembered to take it with me.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Winter riding

Back in the fall, when triathlon season ended, I was going to write an article on "Ten Reasons I'm Not Going to Miss Riding". Things like, "Taking twenty minutes to get the six layers of clothes on", "Accumulating an extra few pounds when every stitch of clothing is soaked", "Changing flats in the cold and/or wet", and "Not having to deal with the horrendous traffic". I never really got around to it and for some reason, every time I've gone out this year, as a means of cross training, I haven't felt the need to go through with the writing of it. Maybe because I can pick and choose my days to stay out of the wet or extreme cold, or it's just that I feel no pressure or guilt if I don't make my prearranged times on the bike. I don't mind getting dressed and it's my old adage that once you're soaked, you're not going to get any more wet.
As it's simply a way of recovering from a long run, I can sit and spin and take in the scenery without worrying about distance or average speed when I'm done. The worse I've been in was a month ago when it was about two below and I lasted two hours. Last week I headed out east with a glorious tailwind, feeling great. Then some of those old negative emotions crept in when I turned to come back and the wind was full on in my face and the skies opened up. The rain lasted only a short time and then it was only my soaking self and thirty kilometres to go. At the end it still added up to a great day. Today I did two hours in seven degree temperatures and it felt like spring was beginning to beat back winter. How much riding I do is up to Coach Ian, but I think my head is in the right place for it.

(Don't) Let it Snow, (don't) let it snow, (don't) let it snow

Okay, I'm not a scrooge when it comes to snow but like most on the west coast, I like to see it come, maybe stay for a few days, then melt away and have life return to normal. This winter has been unusual in the amount of days it's actually snowed. It may stay for a day or an hour. Annoyingly unpredictable.
For the past few years, snow would mean that I had to either wait until later in the day to ride or couldn't at all or had to go on the wind trainer. This year, being a running year, means that I can't hit the trails up in the mountains like I usually do. I remember running through Chuckanut two years ago in February getting familiar with the course. It was beautiful and best of all, no snow. I was there yesterday and only half way as high as I was going to go and there was already six inches of snow with more coming down. As beautiful and peaceful and enjoyable as it was, there was no way I was going to do much in this. It was fresh snow on top of already frozen and slippery stuff. I made it further up where the snow was almost up to my knees. Of course looking for something different I headed further up the hill to see what it was like to go through stuff like that. Good thing for the gaiters or it would have been even colder and wetter than it was. I had to run down and stay in the lower, gloriously muddy, trails afterwards. Here's one guy thankful the groundhog didn't see his shadow.