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 ...

Friday, March 28, 2008


A couple weeks ago I went to my family doctor to have him check me out and sign a form for the Spartathlon entry ensuring them that I was fit to run in the event. He's a funny guy from Korea who can't really fathom the distances that I run. He was the one about five years ago who said I should stop running long distance (marathons at the time) if I didn't want the arthritis in my big toe to get worse. Also when I was driving the bread truck many years ago, because my blood pressure was so low (tired all the time) he thought I might have had bleeding in my stomach and sent me for tests. I'd rather not discuss those ones at this time. I've heard a lot of similar stories from people who's doctors simply advise them to stop doing what they're doing and that will make everything all right instead of seeking alternate methods of curing.
So he did a couple checks and was surprised at my heart rate (low) and wanted me to have an ECG done (it's been a while) and have some blood tests to make sure everything was on the up and up. I went to the BioMedical centre near by the other day right when they opened at 8a.m. because you can't eat anything for ten hours before the tests and, as you can imaging, I was starving. I get there right at 8 and there's already a line-up of at least ten people!! I guess everyone else had the same hunger pangs and wanted to get in and out as soon as possible. I went home and came back at 9 and went right in. Lesson learned.
I sat in the chair reclined all the way back while the assistant hooked all the wires up to my arms, legs, and chest. After a minute or so she said we were all done and was it normal for my heart rate to be so low? I said if it's under 50 then, yes, it is. She looked at it for another minute and said she wanted to have someone else look at the graph that printed out. A couple minutes go by and she says she wants to phone another branch where they have cardiologists working and fax the printout to them to look at it. I laughed and asked why? She said in her six years working there she hadn't seen a rate so low - 34!! That shocked me because I take my pulse quite often first thing in the morning and it's never been below 40 or 42. Afraid I was going to drop right then and there she asked me to sit down while she faxed them.
Another few minutes pass and she comes out stating that the cardiologists were a bit concerned but after faxing it to my own doctor, he assured them that because of what I do that it was alright. Way to go Doc!!
I had a similar incident when we were applying for life insurance nine years ago and my vitals were "below the normal range" and had to undergo another round of more detailed tests to prove that I didn't have some sort of malady. Sometimes it doesn't pay to be a freak. Carrie advised me that Miguel Indurain's resting heart rate used to be 28 so I have a ways to go.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Long Run

I can't remember having done a run more than four hours in training since way back in '05 before H2H which, I think, lead to my first bout of shin splints. That one was around 5:15 all on the road. It makes me cringe just thinking about all that pounding on the hard surfaces. Never again will I go that distance unless it's in a race and even then that's once or maybe twice a year.
Last weekend I did 4:40 on the trails, throwing in four long 2 mile repeat hills. It was only 28 miles and due to the slower speed I felt pretty good after. It was starting to snow at the top of the mountain and it was only then I realized how freezing my hands felt. I didn't dare stop for fear of cooling down and getting even colder. Seeing as I had my pack on with extra bottles, it would have been too easy to throw in a toque and gloves before I left home but I figured it was the end of March, how cold could it be?? Lesson learned.
This weekend is a run between 5 and 5.5 hours which I'm going to do closer to home out on the country roads where the roads have softer grass or gravel shoulders to run on. This is also to prevent the legs from getting too thrashed in the trails a week before Diez. Hopefully with less steep climbs I won't be too beat up.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Chuckanut 50 km

I've been looking forward to racing this event ever since I did it two years ago. Last year didn't work because I didn't have the mileage in my legs to be competitive with myself and I was doing the triathlon thing of course. Also, it sold out before I even thought to look at registering, but that's beside the point. I think it was fate because like I said, I wouldn't have been properly prepared. I thought about how it had been two long years since the 2006 race as we started out on this one and I felt very satisfied knowing this was going to be a fun one. My only goals were beating my '06 time of 4:29 and finishing in the top ten. There were a few heavy hitters here so I was looking forward to gauging my fitness. Most notably was Scott Jurek who competed in the Way Too Cool 50km just seven days earlier in California. His resume includes seven wins at the Western States 100 mile, winning the Badwater 135 mile Death Valley to Mt. Whitney race, and twice winning Spartathlon, to name a few.

The weather was supposed to be non-wet but that didn't work out well, at least until we started. All the way down the I-5 travelling to the race it was pouring which didn't bode well for the condition of the course. I was travelling with Carrie, Tracey, and Scott Corsie, a Burnaby Fire Fighter, who was doing the race, and finisher of a 150 mile Sahara desert stage race in Egypt last November. It had been raining off and on all week so I figured we were in for some muck. Quite a contrast to 2006 when it had been warm and dry leading up to the race and the day itself was beautiful. I felt supremely under-dressed in just shorts and a t-shirt when everyone else had arm warmers or long-sleeved shirts on. I was chilly before we started but the fact that the rain stopped about five minutes to eight was a relief. After we got going it was alright but my fingers were never all that warm for the whole day.

We started out and I guess there was a pack of about eight of us with two more further off in the distance. They were really easy to see because one had a red shirt on and the other an orange one. After two miles or so we come out of a small section of trail and had about three more miles of basically flat, easy running. No one was going very fast, I thought everyone was keying off Jurek or another one of the fast guys at the front. I felt like keeping up a good pace so motored past everyone until I was about a hundred feet in front and in third place. I was clipping along like a metronome doing a 6:58 - 7:03 pace all the way to the first aid station. I guess at that point guys behind me had stopped to fill bottles but I didn't have the need so kept right on going. This put a bit of a gap between them and me and as we entered the forest and the climb to Fragrance Lake I could see the two leaders not far in front of me.

All the way to Fragrance Lake I tried to keep a steady pace and the heart rate low but I know I was going too hard. I felt strong and relaxed but kept in the back of my head the thought of all the other climbs that were to come. I guess I figured I could survive them due to the fact I'd trained here so much in the past. After Fragrance Lake the downhills to the second aid station was where I really noticed the mud being a factor. I kept thinking that the two hundredth person to go through here was in for a rude surprise at the condition of the trail.

At the second aid station I powered through without stopping and was briefly (about five seconds) in first place until Bryan Dayton from Boulder took over his lead again. Second place at the time was Jeff Hashimoto who mistook me for Matt Simms momentarily. I was quite flattered because Matt is an exceptional runner. Jeff and I traded places back and forth up the next thirty minute climb to the top of the mountain via the gravel road to aid station three. Every time he stopped to walk I would pass him and same when I stopped to walk. Bryan just kept on motoring the whole way up. I never saw him walk the whole day, and I could see him in front of me for nineteen miles.

I fumbled a bit looking for my drop bag at this aid station and thought I'd be on my own for a while but managed to catch the leaders again after ten minutes through the most technical part of the race. Once we broke out onto some flat and rolling terrain I was starting to feel like not racing and just trying to maintain a steady pace to the finish. You know, when the legs get really heavy and mentally you're not feeling the greatest? It was a couple miles later on a long climb that Scott Jurek and the eventual second place finisher, Peter Ellis, went past me. Floated past me is a better term for it, they looked awesome. That was the last I saw of him or Bryan Dayton. Jurek was in view once in a while but he too was gone soon enough. I got ahead of Jeff who was having cramping issues and settled into fourth.

The long twenty-five minute decent from aid station four to number five actually felt pretty good, but I knew when I hit the bottom and started back on those flats I wouldn't be so happy. I was right. I think I was doing eight minute miles all the way back and was in the familiar mood of, "I don't care if anyone passes me, I'm tired". I really only had one gear at this point. With around a mile to go as I passed people they would cheer for me and then about fifteen seconds later I could hear them cheering for the next guy behind me. That's when I knew I was in trouble. Brian Morrison went by me with three hundred metres to go looking really fresh. He did a couple shoulder checks to see if I was going to be a threat but I obviously wasn't. I had a feeling he had a good sprint in him if I made a charge. I've never had anyone cruise past me so close to a finish before and it bothered me for a bit afterwards. You know how you think once you're done that you could have gone faster? Well, I felt pretty good with my result and bettering the 2006 time by fifteen minutes in worse conditions and I am truly over it. Plus it's a bit of a boost seeing the results and the time difference between first and sixth being only five minutes.

Overall I'd say I'm happy with this one and that I actually raced it. It'll take a few more events to make me know what I can and can't do and I'm looking forward to figuring all this out.

Diez Vista in three weeks!!

Chuckanut 50km 2008 - 5th place, time 4:14, 150km of racing down

Sunday, March 9, 2008

I'm In

Cool. I've been wanting to do the Knee Knacker for a few years now and finally hit the jackpot with the lottery along with 259 other lucky folks. Now all I need is my four hours of trail maintenance to fulfill the race pre-requisites.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

New Canadian Running Magazine

Hey there's a new magazine out there all to do with Canadian content. I even made pg. 16!!

"Bentley, Whelan repeat winners at Haney to Harrison 100k
It was a cold, wet day for the 11th running of the Haney to Harrison 100k on November 3 in B.C. Darin Bentley of Surrey, B.C. won the 100k race for the third straight year in a course-record time of 7:39:44. The race featured all four members of the Canadian men’s World Cup 100k team, with Bentley surging ahead at the halfway point to finish 35 minutes ahead of fellow World Cup team member Darren Froese of Victoria.

Tania Whelan of Surrey triumphed in the women’s race for the second straight year with a time of 10:15:22, more than two hours faster than second-place finisher Heather Flaherty of Nevada, Iowa.
In the concurrent eight-person relay race,

Peninsula Runners from Vancouver emerged victorious in 5:42:13, followed closely by the Islanders team from Victoria in 5:43:32. The Striking Vikings from Edmonton won the women’s division of the relay in 7:11:53, eight minutes ahead of the vfac Hustling team."

Check it out at Canadian Running

Monday, March 3, 2008


....to Knee Knacker. Less than three days to the lottery on March 6. Let's hope my luck is better than Western States. I'm one of 320 vying for 200 spots so the odds are better this time.

The Dirty Duo 50km

The Dirty Duo is quite a unique event. There are many choices to participate in:

15km run
25km run
30km bike
25km run + 30km bike as a relay team
25km run + 30km bike as a solo
50km run

Something for everyone. I chose, surprise, surprise, the 50km. I received this entry in a draw at the 2006 Haney to Harrison race but couldn't use it last year so Heather MacDonald graciously let it carry over to this year. I'm glad I did it.
I'm two for two in the beautiful weather department for racing this year. For the beginning of March we were greeted with overcast skies but no rain. The sun came out briefly on the run and more afterwards.
Again I was treating this day more as a training session but wanted to slightly push the pace but still have the legs feel less thrashed than Orcas Island. A lot to ask for and all have come together for one event. I talked with a few people whom I hadn't seen in a while - Matt Sessions and Bruce Grant to name a couple. Both are fabulous athletes that I plan to extract as much ultra expertise from as I can over the next few races. Matt is even venturing into Ironman territory this August in Penticton. Get on the bike, man, for goodness sakes!!
I drove up with Scott Corsie who was doing the relay, as the runner, with another Burnaby Fire Fighter, Greg, riding the 30km.
There were a few speedsters starting out, namely Matt, who did a 100 miler in Texas a month ago but looked amazingly strong and light going up the first steep stair sections. I thought about keeping him in sight but kept the mantra, "Chuckanut in two weeks, Chuckanut in two weeks", repeating in my head to slow myself down. It worked because I never felt over-extended in the first few miles and, again, walked the steep sections or at least walk/ran them.
After a couple of miles I figured I was in third place after passing Jen Segger from Squamish, first woman at Orcas Island and the youngest competitor in Badwater this July at 27. As it turned out today she was third overall. I ran on my own for a number of miles, always worried if I was on the right track, grateful every time I saw the orange flagging tape. There was never a real worry as the course turned out to be very well marked (nonetheless I took a map this time, lesson learned from Orcas Island). I never really thought to be in contention as a top finisher as I was only on a "training" run. Even so, going up a the long steep Old Buck trail the aid station personnel informed me I wasn't far behind the leaders. The competitor switch turned on and it only got worse when I could see Matt and someone else way up the hill in front of me. Turning onto the Baden-Powell trail the second place guy was even closer, with Matt still floating up there the same distance away.
I think it was around eight miles when I went into second place, right in the snowiest part of the route. There was a lonely outpost of an aid station up there that made me feel glad to be moving and warm. After that it was a steep, technical downhill through Ned's that I caught and passed Matt. I'm not overly great at the downs but for some reason I felt really good - feet landing okay and seeing the trail well ahead.
At the Gazebo aid station I grabbed my two other bottles and left with Matt about one hundred feet behind me. One volunteer directed me where to go as there wasn't a person manning the turn back into the woods about a kilometre down the road. I wasn't sure where I was turning off but sure enough when the time came it was so well-marked there was no way to miss it.
I took off through this loop and after a couple miles we reversed down the same path to do a second loop of Old Buck, Ned's, back to the Gazebo. My footing on Ned's wasn't like the first time, fatigue setting in, slowing me down so I wouldn't go down.
Once past the Gazebo it was a few miles to go but they were TOUGH miles. After some flats we had to go up and down and up again stairs and more stairs. It was the Grouse Grind of stairs. Then it was past the last little aid station where two girls directed me down the path saying, "You're almost there now". I've heard that once or twice in races and never trust it. This was a very muddy section that zig-zagged through a swamp and you felt like you weren't geting anywhere. Once through that and into the sunlight it was all down hill to the finish. Time 4:11.
I couldn't believe how good my legs felt on the flats at the end. I definitely felt tired on the last sets of stairs but all in all I was in good shape. Even Sunday and today I felt none of the soreness like Orcas. Maybe the trick is to race every couple weeks. Wait a minute, I'm doing that anyways.
Scott had already finished his 25km run and we were waiting for Greg to come in. Finally we saw him finish and he described his day of getting lost and climbing numerous switchbacks, bike on shoulder, for no reason other than to find the course again.
This was the first race that I taped my toes and the balls of my feet. I did it for my interval training last week but knew that the feet take more of a beating through the trails. All in all it worked well with no blisters. I'll try again at Chuckanut to see if it works again. Pictures from the website to follow shortly.

Thank you to Heather MacDonald for the picture!

Only 1161 kms to go ...