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, December 31, 2010

Two New Records!!

That's right I've worked so hard lately that I've managed two more personal bests:

1. No running for the last 54 days - not sure what the previous record for me is but for sure it's less than 54 days.

2. The longest I've ever gone without posting an entry on this site - 36 days.

About the blogging: it's not like I haven't thought about writing things, and if the record was for not writing AND thinking about writing then the record would only be a day or two. It's been for a couple reasons: nothing to write about except being hurt or sick and people can only handle so much of that. Also while being hurt or sick I haven't had much motivation for writing. I think Denise McHale has the record for length of times between posts.
As for the lack of running, most would know I had shin issues before, during, and after Gibraltar. The 'after' issues lasted a lot longer than they ever had before. I didn't see a doctor or anything because I know from the past what needs to be done for this: rest. And rest it I have. It took about a month before I couldn't feel any discomfort, then I thought I'd give it another couple weeks to be sure. I think in the past I've rushed my recovery from the shin splints only to have them resurface a few months later. Of course I've still been riding my bike and swimming a fair bit. I was up to 2400m swimming up until three weeks ago when The Sickness came, then all forms of exercise halted.
I started getting this cough which steadily got worse and worse until it was accompanied by a fever and body aches. I hit it with every over the counter concoction I could find but nothing touched it. I was getting no sleep because I was hacking on and off throughout the night. Long part of the story short: I finally got some antibiotics because I have a respiratory infection. I'm on day 5 and feel better but still have a lingering cough. Tomorrow being the start of a new year I'm going out to do start the big comeback. I'm going to do it in my fivefingers shoes to kill two birds with one stone: start running slowly, and start running minimalist again, but slowly. This will be done on the soccer field as well to provide even more protection.
My sister gave me a little program from when she had a stress fracture a while ago and it basically entails running for a minute, walking a minute, a few times a week for a week or two. Then it moves up to the unimaginable two minutes of running x4 for a couple more weeks. You get the idea. Slow is the way to go.
Scott Corsie from Penticton is responsible for me signing up for a couple more races. In his quest to finish the Canadian Death Race he wants to do some races beforehand so we're going to sign up for Dirty Duo and Diez Vista. Not that I'll be in shape for either one doing mostly road work in prep for Comrades but it'll be fun nonetheless.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


Still no running for me. I'm thinking the shin splints may be a stress fracture due to the time it's taking to get better. Usually it's a couple weeks off and I'm back on the roads. There hasn't been a lot of change in the weeks since the race but I'm pretty sure that's due to doing the race. As the snow comes down I can't really get too excited about not being able to run, I'll stick to the bike and swimming. Plus there's still some shocks left in the bone stimulator that I used on my foot back in the spring so have been applying that to my shin the last few days.
Speaking of the bike, I was out last week in a frigid wind and if I didn't have an errand to do I would have turned and ridden the tailwind back in a heartbeat. I'm back in the pool, up to 10 x 150m. Ultraman here I come!! Went out on the bike again yesterday before the latest snow and froze terribly. I'm convinced I don't have enough clothes in my wardrobe to ward off the elements for more than 45 minutes at a time. I have to bounce from coffee shop to coffee shop to keep the feeling in my fingers.

Link to Gibraltar photos

Gibraltar '10">

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

How not to run a 100k

So probably not the best idea to have shin splints three weeks before the big race and do no running. For some reason in the past any similar ailment would clear up or at least lessen over a couple weeks. In the time since the Around the Lake race on Oct. 16 to race day on Nov. 7th my shin didn't feel a whole lot better. Luckily Mel Bos (part of the women's team) brought her husband, Kevin, who does massage, physio, ART, etc., and he suggested we try taping it up the night before the race. I'd seen it done on the internet and thought it couldn't hurt to try. I also hit the advil heavy the day before which seemed to help.
After a rushed trip to get to Gibraltar late Friday night, then a quick look at the city and The Rock on Saturday, the race came all too soon on Sunday. It was nice for a change with the race start being about 300m from the 'Athlete's Village', a cruise ship brought in just for the runners and support. In the darkness we made our way along the dock to the line. Supposedly we were to run one lap on the street near the cruise ship and then make our way over to another part of town and continue for 19 loops of just over 5k. And I thought 10 loops of 10k in the past was bad! Anyways, somehow the leaders were told to do another lap so already we had run farther than we were supposed to, like 100k wasn't enough. We ended up doing a shorter 12th lap to make up for the extra distance at the beginning.
For some reason, the 19 laps didn't turn out to be as bad as I thought it would be. Maybe because we ran the first few in the dark so when it got light we had only 17 more to go. No, that's not it. Can't say why but this race, although being my second slowest 100k time ever, seemed to go by quite quickly. The course was horrendous: the first 2.5k along the seedy waterfront of Gibraltar made you want to run with others just as a safety precaution (strength in numbers); the path for the first half of the loop was broken asphalt and a lot of twists an turns AND a hill thrown in there leading up to the water station at the halfway point. I remember thinking how the hill would seem like a mountain in few hours (I never did walk one step on any of those 'climbs'). The second 2.5k of the loop was slightly rolling with a downhill that brought you back to a two-way stretch where you could see runners' positions relative to yours. It also led back to the main aid stations for each country. Once again all the support we had from our gang was stellar. Never at loss to offer food or drink or encouragement. One of the main reasons I keep coming back is because of the great group of people that accompany this race.
The first 30ks were awesome, I was on my pace to hit 7:29 overall. Within minutes of reaching the 30k mark I could feel something was wrong. The legs started getting heavy and it was hard to keep up a decent pace. I tried to keep it up, honestly I did. At 50k I knew any chance for a PR was over and it was all I could to just to keep moving and not either walk or drop out.
The race took its toll on the men on our team save for Thierry. He had a great overall race and finished in 7:40-something. Jack and Rick went out with injuries. Matt started out strong and I remember passing him about halfway. Darren was flying out of the gate and I really thought this would be his day to go sub-7:30 but then I noticed where we passed each other was getting closer and closer meaning he was slowing down. The women all did great with Denise being our superstar finishing in 7:56 for a new Canadian women's record.
When I finished it was probably the most anit-climatic of any 100k race I've done. I was really glad that it was over but didn't get that rush of emotion that I usually do when I'm about to finish. Maybe it's time to either really focus hard on this event or pick another distance and concentrate on that. No more of these years where I try really hard at doing well at many different distances and end up not happy with any of the results.
Some good advice: don't donate blood the day after flying home from Europe and five days after doing a 100k race. I'm still feeling the effects.
Pictures of the trip to follow soon!!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Live coverage from Gibraltar

Starting on Sunday, November 6th, you can get updates from the race on the IAU website.

Sunday, October 31, 2010


I thought I had written more over the past week or so but it was only that I thought about writing while I was doing stuff but never got around to doing it. To sum things up I've not been running, just sticking to non-impact activities like the eliptical, swimming and biking. I can't stand the water running so haven't been doing that, no matter how good it is for you when injured. The swimming is coming along, I'm up to 15 x 100m on 10 seconds rest. The eliptical is starting to get boring so it's good the race is next week. I'm back to loving the bike. Had two, two hour rides last week when the sun was out and the feelings flood back in as to how much I love pedaling. Even going to work in the dark has been a blast.
I'm not expecting to reach my goal of 7:30 next weekend but I'm going to try anyways. As this could be my last 100k in the near future I want to make the most of it but it's all up to the body at this point. After a few visits to see Colin McKay at Precision Health the shin feels a bit better, as long as I don't run. Advil will be my friend.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

2 minutes slower

On Saturday was the Around the Lake 30k out at Cultus Lake. The weather was a 100% turnaround from last year - beautiful sunny skies and warm once we got running. Carrie, my sister Karen, and me headed out early and got there way too early. Had to sit in the car and stay warm until closer to the start. My goal again was to run steady and not be too thrashed by the end of it or in the days afterwards. I could tell on the first climb that I didn't have any trail legs in me. I wanted like last year to go fast on the dirt road at the top of the first steep section and it worked out I was able to. My shin was ever-present every step but it wasn't stopping me from going on. Once I finished and cooled down I could feel it getting worse. I was happy only being two minutes faster with no hill training because last year I had been doing a bunch of hill work to be ready for H2H.
I've been paying for the over-mileage of the last week or so with the shin not very happy. The plan now is to lay off the road and stick to the bike and eliptical. It's close enough to the race I should be semi-healed up and able to go the distance.

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Crunch

As usual it's coming down to Crunchtime: the last few weeks before a race where I fret that I haven't done enough mileage. So, like in the past, I go out a little too much and end up tired, unmotivated, discouraged, broken. A day after the marathon I did a 32 mile road run followed the next day with a 23 mile trail run. Surprisingly I'm not too tired, I'm still raring to go for Gib, I want to do the race, but I may be a bit broken. My left shin is acting up a bit but I think it's close enough to race day that I can baby it for the next couple weeks. Tomorrow is the Around the Lake 30k at Cultus Lake that I'm using primarily as a speedier workout on a soft surface. If the shin gets bad I'll be taking most of next week off to get it to hopefully heal up a bit.

Monday, October 11, 2010

The long and short of the last four weeks

Firstly I'm changing the way I'm going to be blogging in the past. I've found over the last year that by not posting anything for weeks at a time makes me not want to post anything more and more. It's like the more I need to write the less I feel like writing. So from now on I might just put down a few lines here and there on anything that comes to mind or the results of a certain workout. No more epic stories that take half an hour to read. I may extend it somewhat for a race but other than that I'll try and do more postings more often. Saying that this will be the last long one because it's been almost a month.

Okay, not to bore you with getting overly detailed here. Basically since UTMB things have gone down the crapper and only now are crawling back through the sludge to the land of the living.
I had set out in September to create a training plan to carry me through to Gibraltar on the 8th of November. As has so often happens after I develop a plan and start following it, I come down with some sort of malady, sickness, or injury. This time it was an injury but having nothing to do with running, at least not in the short term like a fracture or shin splints. After work one day I had this pain in my lower back and the following day I could barely move without getting a sharp jolt of pain all across the waistline. I went to the clinic where I was told I had problems with my SI joint and needed to see physio and massage. Two days later I went to physio where I was told that it wasn't my SI joint and that my hips were looking pretty much aligned but the nerves were aggravated in my lower spine. She gave me a few simple exercises to do and after two days it was still killing me. I had a regular massage scheduled but all Holly's efforts couldn't put a dent in the discomfort. Sitting for more than ten minutes totally stiffened up my lower back. I even tried acupuncture (what I do when I'm totally desperate) thinking it would loosen things up.
Finally I got referred to a sports massage guy, Ken Scheel, in Vancouver and luckily he could see me on short notice. He had a look at my spine and hips and knew right away that something was out of line. He'd look at my back, get me on the table, twist me and bend me, stand me up, have another look, get me on the table, twist me and bend me a different way, and on and on for an hour. I don't know how the physio missed the fact that my right hip was twisted up and forward and my lower back muscles were guarding it but luckily Ken knew what he was doing. As soon as he was done and I left the office I felt about 80%. I could sit in the car without pain but there was still some traces of the pain. Two days later I ran for the first time in nine days for one hour. The next day the pain was back a bit so I went back to see Ken. He said things had regressed a bit so it was more of look, table, twist, look. After that I've been feeling almost 100%, just a bit stiff at times. The third time I've seen him was only for a quick look and to say to come back if things get worse. He figures it's been something that's been building for quite a while and it was something simple that finally caused the hip to go out of alignment. Anyways, with some exercises I've been stretching and strengthening the hips to avoid anything like this in the future.
Okay, that aside I was at least glad to be running after the scare that I wouldn't be able to do the Baker Lake 50k or the Kelowna Marathon or Gibraltar. I guess I should be thankful that I was even able to do Baker Lake but I had such a crappy time there that it overshadowed my gratefulness.
I've been doing most of my runs the last few weeks wanting to finish with negative splits. I thought I could do BL in 4:15 with the out being 2:15 and the back 2:00. Whoa, was I mistaken. Firstly I hadn't even been in the trails for weeks and even though the trail is fairly easy as far as trail races go, I knew I was in trouble at the turnaround. I tried to bump up my speed on the way back but it only furthered me quicker down the path towards bonktown. Long story short I finished in the worst time out of the three I've done that race.
Fast forward a week to the Kelowna Marathon with solid week of training and no real tapering (okay two days) with a goal in mind of three hours. Just a quick run not wanting to feel too stressed and one that wouldn't leave me hobbled for days afterwards.
Having done most of my runs on the Mud Bay dyke the last few weeks I was pretty used to flat. One thing I'm hoping is to build up my 'flat terrain' muscles seeing as there'll be no hills in Gibraltar. I figured Kelowna is pancake flat and this would be a good test. The wind picked up shortly before the race then the rain hit us hard for about 45 minutes. After that it was just overcast with a bit of a breeze to help cool us off from the 17 degree weather. To get under three hours I needed a pace of 6:52 per mile and after starting I pegged my GPS at 6:48s just to account for any bathroom and refuelling stops. The pace felt pretty effortless and I let nothing distract me from keeping the pace. Even at the beginning when most people took off at 6:30s I settled into my own groove and sure enough I reeled most of them in. A first for me in a race of this length is how good I felt all the way through. I was feeling so well in fact that I thought I might try to up the pace 30 seconds per mile in the last five kms. As soon as I saw the 37k marker I turned the hat around backwards and hit the split button on my watch. There was a guy about one hundred feet in front of me and another about the same distance in front of him that I'd been watching for over an hour. As soon as I upped the pace I was catching and passing them. The increase in speed felt effortless and it was like I was still doing 6:48s. I finished in 2:57 feeling like I could do more which is what I wanted. Congrats to Carrie who did the half in 2:03 with not a whole lot of training the last month. Also to my sister, Karen, who was trying to qualify for Boston with a 3:50 but missed it by 6 minutes but still ended up with a PR.
Today my legs feel great and I have a four hour run planned tomorrow and Wednesday. This week and next are the last two big weeks of mileage before the taper to Nov. 8th. Feeling the best I have all year.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

At Long Last...

Some pictures from the UTMB but mostly of my touring around:

UTMB '10

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Post UTMB - aka The Shortest 100 mile I've Ever Done

So if Fat Dog was the longest 100 mile I've ever done, then the UTMB was the shortest. I might as well start from the beginning before addressing all the issues.
I arrived in Geneva on Wednesday the 24th meeting Ian and Jenn at the airport. We caught a shuttle bus to the Hotel Chamonix Whymper (which is what a lot of people would be doing in a few days' time) at Chamonix, basically the French Whistler.
The first night I slept my usual Europe sleep: 8pm until 1am, toss and turn, drift in and out for a couple hours til 4am, stare at the ceiling until 7.
Thursday Ian and I went up the Augille du Midi gondola which actually involves taking two separate ones to the top which is at 3800m or about 12,500 ft. It was an amazing, cloudless day and the pictures are fantastic. I'll put them on when I'm home.
The next day, race day, was the opposite of Thursday - lots of rain. We even got a text that morning from the race organizers telling us to be prepared for rain and windy conditions during the race. Jenn's race, the 98km CCC (Courmeyeur-Champax-Chamonix) started at 10am in the town of Courmeyeur which would have been the 78km mark of the UTMB. I picked up my race kit and readied my pack and drop bag. My stomach felt almost a little flu-like and I had a bit of a headache, maybe from too much sun the day before. I wasn't overly excited about the race because of this and the weather didn't help either. At 5pm Ian and I walked over to the start area where there were already a few hundred people there for the start at 6:30. I nudged my way forward until I was part of the mass. For this race the pack you carried needed to contain certain safety items and always not weigh less than 2kg. I watched as race officials went around and randomly inspected and weighed the runners' bags. They played the Italian, Swiss, and French national anthems and the race started.
I thought I was close enough to the front to avoid getting stuck in the bottle neck that I've seen on videos of previous years' starts. I was greatly mistaken as it took, literally, five minutes of walking before I could maintain some semblance of a pace. Now all I could think as we were trucking down the town road towards the eventual trail was that I was going to be stuck behind so many runners trying get onto and run on the narrower trail. I made some bold moves and hurried past as many as I could but when we hit stretches of even gentle uphill the crowd screeched to a halt as the people in front started to walk. It was exactly like rush-hour traffic.
When the skies really opened up on us it was nice to see dozens of runners peeling off to the sides and donning rain coats. It was still pleasantly warm so I didn't bother with the coat quite yet feeling that a little water never hurt anyone. This allowed me to gain a bit more room. After about thirty minutes there was some breathing room and the climbing began.
We were basically going up a ski slope of switchbacks and every once in a while we'd go past a chairlift tower. Thankfully I decided to take the trekking poles on this race because without them I never would have made it as far as I did. I've never been a firm believer in the poles but I'd never want to do another race like this without them. Almost everyone had them and those that didn't were falling off the back pretty quick.
Next came the downhill which was awesome and long and steep. Near the bottom it was getting dark and heading through the forested area it was headlight time. A lot of runners were waiting until the bitter end to turn theirs on and I couldn't believe how dark it got and some still hadn't switched on. When we strode into St. Gervais, the first major aid station at 21km, it was like Mardi Gras. I haven't seen people lining the sides of the route like that since Winchoten, The Netherlands, for the 100km World Championships. Everyone was out and screaming and kids were high-fiving us as we ran by. It felt like the Tour de France. I just grabbed some water and bananas because I was going to fill up my camelbak at the next big station at 31k.
The trail to there was nice and undulating and I was moving up the field. At the top of a section of road I came to the town of Les Contamines, the 31k point. It was here I was intercepted by someone and was told the race was "stopped" due to a
mudslide. I asked if they knew when it would be open but they didn't know and I could get some food and rest. I started to refill my camelbak and a volunteer at the water table said that the race was over. I guess that the previous gentleman translated "over" into "stopped" and it didn't sound as permanent. I spoke with an organizer then who said due to 80km/h winds, no visibility, and extreme mud sections at the higher mountain areas, the race was cancelled and we could catch buses back to Chamonix. I guess last year three people died in another mountain race in similar conditions and the organizers were worried that might happen again. Jenn's race was halted at the 80km mark but if competitors had gone past there already they were allowed to continue, due to the mostly descending end of the course.
I made my way back (keeping a long story a little shorter) to the hotel in around two hours. As I was cleaning up we watched on The North Face website and a Facebook site to see if there was any news on a rumour of the continuation of the race or possibly a new race the next day. The last we saw before heading to bed at 2am was that there was going to be a press conference at 9am in the morning. Jenn knocked on the door around 3:30 having dropped out of her race at 70km because of the cold and wind and horrible conditions.
We got up at 8:30 or so to have Ian check his facebook and see that a friend of his who was doing the race as well was on a bus to Cormeyeur to do a continuation of the UTMB only from Cormeyeur to the finsh, about 90km. Apparently a text had been sent out but I received nothing of the sort indicating any other race going on. I'm not sure if I'd had notice of a race starting at 10am if I would have started but it would have been nice to have a choice. All sorts of things were coming to light throughout the day: I spoke with several people who didn't receive any information about a new race and they knew other people with the same story. By now it was obviously too late to start even if I wanted to. Also, they were only putting 1000-1300 runners into this new race (depending on who you talked to or what you read) so how would everyone have done it anyways? Finally I found out tonight that entrants into another race, the 107km TDS, which was first delayed three hours then finally cancelled due to the conditions, would be allowed entry into this race. Now you're adding approximately another 1000 racers who could theoretically want to run at least some kind of race. In a conspiratory theory kind of way I'm thinking they purposely didn't send out texts to everyone or it was a "lottery text" and runners were chosen at random. Probably not true but I'd like to get to the bottom of it all.
Anyways, what's done is done. Can't really complain too much. At this point I'm thinking I'd like to try and get into this race again next year because it is so damn beautiful and challenging (at least the little bit that I did see). If I had done the race I never would have been able to go on an amazing six hour hike today up to 9000ft over the Col de Terasse. Pictures on that to follow as well.
Tomorrow is another shorter hike then some souvenir shopping before heading out Tuesday.
I have the fall all lined up with races in September and October to quicken my pace for the World 100km Championships in Gibraltar in November. Unfortunately I won't be able to attend the Haney to Harrison this year as they fall on the same weekend. Gibraltar, H2H? H2H, Gibraltar? I think you know what choice you'd make.
I have to thank as usual Jim Stewart of Cactus Club Cafe in South Surrey for allowing me to get to the start line of this amazing race. Also, of course Carrie and the kids who let me get out early throughout the summer to do some great training runs.

Again, more pictures to follow in a few days.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc Cancelled

This is from the North Face website:

The Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc has been cancelled 31 miles in due to severe weather. High altitude weather in the mountains is not passable and not safe.

A press conference will be taking place in 1 hour back in Chamonix with the race director. The athletes are returning to Chamonix. Additional information and updates will be provided then, within the next hour or so.

We will update as soon as we have information.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Update from TdMB

After looking up weather conditions for Chamonix and the surrounding areas, it looked like there might be a bit of rain to start the race. Then, today, we received the following email from the organizing committee:

Attention, weather conditions planned during the race: rain, wind and cold.
Provide the necessary equipment

Comité d'Organisation de The North Face Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc

Thank goodness Darin is prepared and packed for any kind of weather! And I don't think he ever was a boy scout!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Pre-Mont Blanc

Scott Corsie sent me this quote the other day, "Some men storm imaginary Alps all their lives and die in the foothills cursing difficulties which do not exist." Edward W. Hore

I thought this was weirdly appropriate as I'm about to take on probably my biggest trail challenge to date. I definitely am worried about getting through it all because being in the longest race where I haven't been supported by a crew, there are a million things that could go wrong with no way to correct them. On the other hand, I like the way you're not allowed to have pacers and every runner has to carry a certain number of items in a backpack, even the ones with crew. Kind of puts us all on the same level playing field. Of course, the only level field of this whole run is a few hundred metres at the start and then the pros will be gone.
Some 100 milers are won in 14, 15, or 16 hours. This one is usually around 20 or 21. To make the top 100 out of over 2,000 entrants, I would finish in about 30 or 31 hours. I was hoping for the 24 hour barrier to be broken but I can't see me going much less than 30 hours. I'm prepared for 30 hours and if it takes me longer I'll be relying totally on the supplied aid stations for food and energy drinks.
Anyways, not to run on with my fears and worries, the race starts at 9:30am on Friday the 28th, BC time. I should be done hopefully by 3pm Saturday the 29th if all goes well or better. There's around 20 time checkpoints along the way to follow the runners. Here's the website

Ultra Tour de Mont Blanc

Another cool website with videos and more info on the race, along with a Google flyover of the course can be found at:

Trail Running Soul

If there's video of the start I'll be the guy in the white hat, yellow shirt, and red backpack.

Au revoir, mon amis.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Guess who moves up an age group today?

Happy 40th Birthday Darin!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Stormy 50 Mile Training Run

For all of you that are going to say, or have said, "Oh, yeah, another 'training run' that he goes out and wins (or tied in this case)", I wasn't thinking 'race' in my head at any point along the way. I didn't really want to be out front for any of it and even contemplated starting 15 or 30 minutes later than everyone else so as not to be tempted to run harder than I should. Really. I have to say I wish I had run this race in the past because, in my opinion, it was one of the best organized races I've done. The aid stations were awesome, the flagging plentiful and exactly where it was needed at those 'doubting myself' times, and the volunteers were very helpful and supporting. I also like the way the relay was run in conjunction with our race because there were always people you could see on the course and the exchange points were packed with encouraging runners waiting to head out. I know I said last year I was going to try and get people I know to run 40 miles or 40km for my 40th birthday but it never really materialized. Carrie and I went to Whistler instead and I incorporated this run as a last long one before UTMB to go along with our 40th birthday weekend. I guess when I turn 50 I'll do a 60km run.
Tim, Dave, Dario, Hozumi, and I all ran the first leg pretty much as a train following Tim's perfect pacing. It was fun to chat along the way and also as a perk they were able to catch me from going off course in the first couple miles because it heads out onto some streets and my eyesight is failing from old age so it was tough to pick up the flagging at times. At the Perth aid station they all stopped to get water but with my camelbak I kept going. Long story short I ran alone save for a couple relay people going past me like I was standing still until I passed the University at around 26 miles when Hozumi caught me. We ran pretty close until Nine Mile Hill when I managed to run/walk that stretch on my own again. Little did I know that Hozumi's powerwalking outclassed my 'running' up the hill and he was right with me and we reached aid station 8 at the same time.
Normally I like to run on my own in my own misery but I have to say it was quite enjoyable having someone along for the ride at this point. We talked about all sorts of stuff to pass the time. At the Powerhouse station for the second time I could feel myself losing some energy and my fun meter was on low as Hozumi and I took off together. I think he actually might have waited there a bit for me as his crew had bottles ready and I had to fill my camelbak. My energy level picked up after some Coke and we were running strong the last few miles save for the longer uphills. I couldn't keep up with him on the steep hills and when I wiped out with about three miles to go I stood, brushed myself off, and hoped he was long gone so I could just do my usual finish line shuffle. At the next turn I saw him waiting for me, probably not a pity wait, but to see why I had stopped, like, due to a wipeout or something. Somehow I knew in the back of my mind that he wasn't one to sprint to the finish and this actually came up in conversation with about a km to go. We laughed and couldn't understand how people would sprint to a finish after running 50 miles total and three hours with someone. It was a classy move on his part that this didn't happen because he could have dropped me anytime in that last eight mile stretch. Together we finished in 7:24 quite comfortably.
The next day my legs felt pretty good. I was telling Hozumi that, due to training for Fat Dog and UTMB, I hadn't done that much straight running for months. Most of my training has involved running but also thrown in has been a lot of climbing up steep stuff. That's why I'm surprised my legs didn't cramp and I could walk the next day which was a good thing, too, as Carrie and I did the Ziptrek tour at Whistler.
Thanks again to Wendy Montgomery and her band of merry volunteers for being part of my birthday celebration and putting on such a terrific event.

Saturday, August 7, 2010


A few people out there have the misconception that I'll be 'racing' the Stormy 50 mile event tomorrow morning. Well, let me be the first to clarify my plan: Just get through it. No racing, just running. I haven't had any speed in my legs pretty much all year.
So Stormy is simply a long run because I was getting a bit bored with going through the same trails and mountains lately and thought I'd do something I've never done before. It's the last long run before UTMB and I don't want to have dead legs for the next week and have to recover. Slow and steady will be tomorrow's plan.
There you go.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

4 years - it was a good run

Last weekend Ultraman Canada was held in and around the Penticton area. I always knew my record of just over twenty-three hours would be broken, just as I knew my run record for the third day would fall eventually (which it did last year). Congratulations to Kevin Cutjar of Penticton who now owns the record in a time of 21:49. Kevin has also won Ultraman Hawaii and someone told me he won Ironman Canada back in the '90s some time. At 44 this guy is in pretty okay shape I would say. The number two finisher for the men, Mike LeRoux, finished in 22:36 so he actually beat my time too!
Now that UMC is a qualifier for UMH, you're going to see better and better talent showing up in Penticton to do this event. And, we just found out that there will be an Ultraman UK in September 2011 which our friend, British endurance superstar Ian Mayhew, signed up for. I see another crewing adventure in my future.
Here is the final write up of this year's race:

Ultraman Canada Day 3 Final Race Report
The 10th Ultraman Canada event hosted the largest field ever and brought a higher caliber of athletes to the
event. This year’s field also included the highest number of female athletes ever in an Ultraman event and was a
hotly contested event. The final standings of Day 2 provided racers and staff with lots of suspense going into
today’s 84.4kmdouble marathon. Those involved were rewarded with tremendous performances from the 35
athletes that lined up at the start. The athletes were rewarded with near perfect weather conditions for the
In the men’s division, the excitement stared when Penticton’s Kevin Cutjar , the leader going into the run, set
off in the front and never looked back. He ran a spectacularly consistent pace throughout the entire course to
post a time of 6:37:41 for a total overall time of 21:49:45. Cutjar broke the previous run course record by over 6
seconds set last year by Benat Zubillaga and demolished the previous course record by 1:10:50, set in 2006 by
Darin Bentley. Cutjar becomes the only person to have won both the Ultraman World Championships in Hawaii
(1995) and Ultraman Canada.
Mike LeRoux , of Australia, maintained his second place overall standing by running a 7:17:31 double marathon
for a 3 day total time of 22:36:54, also beating the previous overall record time and claiming the second fastest
time overall. Rounding out the top three on the men’s side wasMike Coughlin of Sudbury, ON who started the
day in same position. Coughlin posted a negative split on the run completing it in 7:36:41 for an overall total
time of 23:33:03. His time was good enough for the fourth fastest overall time at Ultraman Canada.
The incredibly competitive women’s field started the day with only 13 seconds separating the first and second
place positions. Tracey McQuair of Penticton, BC, was leading Australia’s Alice Clark at the start and blazed
herself to the overall win in the women’s division by posting an 8:37:46 run for an overall time of 26:08:24.
McQuair’s time was quick enough to claim the second fastest run and overall times ever. Kellie Smirnoff, of
Jacksonville Beach, FL posted the second fastest run with an 8:40:18 which moved her into fifth place in the
overall women’s standings and give her the third fastest women’s run time ever. Consuela Lively ofWinter Park,
FL,posted the day’s third fastest women’s time with a 9:07:28 to finish third place overall. Andi Ramer came
back strong from issues on the bike yesterday to post a 9:25:02 run which boosted her into second place overall
with a total time of 28:09:49. Alice Clark who had dominated the bike course for the last two days completed
the course in 11:45:28 for an overall time of 29:16:19 and fourth placing in the women’s race.
Overall, there were 32 official finishers, 18 men and 14 women that wrapped up the three day adventure
through the Okanagan and Similkameen Valleys. Seven athletes were unable to complete the event due to
various medical, nutritional issues and time cutoffs.
Ultraman Canada 2011 will take place on July 30-August 1, 2011.

"A higher caliber of athletes"? "Demolished the old record"? Ouch. I've never been demolished before.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Fat Dog 100+

Had someone had a microphone in front of me for the last leg of the Fat Dog 100 it would have recorded mostly expletives and curses. Ask my pacer, Scott Corsie. After coming so far and being out there so long only to encounter the last bunch of miles up Skyline trail was my breaking point. But not to get ahead of myself. I could bitch and moan about all the little things that I think can be changed but I think race director Heather Macdonald has heard it all and I hope she takes it all in to make it a better event next year. I'm just going to tell the story of how my day (and a half) went.
I was a little nervous about this race even before my stress fracture back in April. I've only run one other 100 mile trail race two years ago and that ended with me walking the last 5 or 6 miles on feet that got pretty chewed up with blisters. Since then I've come up with ways to avoid the same thing, on shorter courses, though. The feet were my biggest concern for the race, not the stress fracture I had months ago. Of course I wondered about my endurance as well but I'd done a few five to six hour runs in the last month with some gnarly climbing so I figured I'd be ready for any bit hills. Turns out I would need every bit of "power-walking" practice I'd done.
The family and I stayed with our friends Scott and Michele in Penticton from Tuesday until race day. Before that we camped in Fintry for three days so my pre-race diet consisted of lots of camping food and my favourite - ice cream.
Scott and Michele treated us like royalty and it was awesome to sleep in a bed before the race instead of a tent. Scott would be accompanying Carrie and the kids around the course to help crew for me and I was grateful that Carrie would have some help to take a bit of the pressure off. Having a crew was the best thing as it made life so much easier when I pulled into a station.
We all woke at 1:30 Friday morning and hurried out the door around 2. We followed the directions to the start line but where it said Lakewood Trail Head there was supposed to be a small parking lot. Turns out you had to go off a gravel road to the left to reach the small parking lot. There was another car there with two girls wondering where to go as well. We said we'd go down and if we didn't come back in a few minutes that they should follow. We went down the bumpy gravel road and eventually came across the lot where a few other cars were. The good thing was there was a men's and women's outhouse. The bad thing was that the men's had no toilet paper and the women's only had half a roll. Seeing as no one was waiting, into the women's I went.
We all started crossing a small bridge which was about two people wide and stopped halfway across. Peter Watson counted down and at 4am shot off a starter's pistol and anyone camping within a mile knew we were starting as well.
I was stuck almost at the back as we all slowly started up some single track switchbacks. It took about twenty minutes and I was able to scoot past a few people then it opened up somewhat and I could move a little faster. Eventually I was with Brian Morrison, a very accomplished trail runner, and Hassan Lofti-Pour, also a great runner and World 100k Championship teammate in England last year. We did a lot of climbing the first portion of the first leg and arrived pretty much at the same time at Cathedral aid station at 12km. After that there were a bunch of switchbacks leading up to the treeline and the alpine. I could see the lead relay runner off in the distance and used him to find the trail more easily. If not for the flagging I don't know how anyone could have followed the 'trail' because often I was running over a field of rocks or small shrubbery from one flag to the next. To the credit of the organisers the route was extremely well marked for the first few legs. Hassan caught up to me and we caught up to the lead relay guy, Peter from Langley, but he was soon off flying on the downhill while I went at my own pedestrian pace to save my quads. It couldn't come soon enough because at that time of day it was pretty chilly up there with a nice wind blowing. It would have been good to have arm warmers and light gloves.
I pulled into the first crewed aid station, Trapper, at 27km (according to the route maps) after 3:30 of running to find the gang there, chair waiting. I fell into it and immediately took off my left shoe and applied a blister pad on a hot spot I felt forming on my instep. A note about my shoes: In the pre-race meeting they mentioned the river crossing at 54km and it was suggested to change shoes after. I figured I'd use my older, crappier shoes until the river then change right after (I figured it'd be about 4-5 hours on my old shoes so no problem, right? Little did I realise the course was longer than advertised and I'd be in those shoes for over eight hours). Carrie was trying to fill my camelbak with me bent over tying my shoes but it wasn't working. I stood and she was filling it and that's when I noticed the little black flies or whatever they were feasting on my legs and arms. I could barely stand still while she re-filled my pack without doing a dance to get rid of the bugs.
Hassan and I left at the same time and we began running up a gravel forestry road. He suddenly remembered he didn't take off his long-sleeved shirt so went back to the aid station to drop it off. I continued on at my slow pace knowing he'd catch up soon enough. I saw a relay runner ahead of my up a trail and set off after him. Higher up I looked down and saw Hassan about to go past the trail leading up to where I was so I called to him. I figure I saved his whole race right then and there and he should give me the North Face jacket he received for winning the race. We went up a bunch more switchbacks (sounding repetitive yet?) to another gravel road and this was where I led us wrong. We went about ten minutes on the road when it started going downhill. I was pretty sure on the maps that this section was another long climb up to the alpine again. We backtracked and couldn't believe we missed the trail.
Up we went until the next alpine section where we came to a beautiful lake and kept running only to realise we'd run out of flagging tape again. We searched another ten minutes until we went back and, again, saw how obvious the Centennial trailhead was.
We were supposed to run into a water station and it just never came. Finally after three and a half hours and no water remaining, we found the small Calcite station. It was supposed to be at 40km, but, really, 3.5 hours to do 13km from the Trapper station?? After we filled up we headed for the river crossing, the 50k mark, and ran down the trail Elias and I had marked months ago. The grass had grown up substantially and I hardly recognised the trail. There were some steep downhills to the river and we set across. We should have gone one at a time because the current was moving fast at waist level and us losing our balance and grabbing the rope was causing the other guy to be thrown around as well. I tell you, if either of us had lost our grip on the rope it would have been damn hard to stop ourselves from being carried downstream. The rocks were very slippery and it would have been tough to stand up and walk the rest of the way without the rope.
On to Bonnevier station where Hassan and I each changed shoes and socks. Over eight hours to do 54k seemed not quite right. Peter, the relay guy from Langley from the first leg, came up to me and asked if he had seen the guy on his team that left after him and was ahead of us. I said no and that he must have taken a wrong turn, something I heard a fair bit during and after the race.
Up we went again along a gravel road and finally out of the sun down some more trails. When we started climbing again it was evident I didn't have the power-walking ability that Hassan had so I said for him to go on. From this point I was walking most uphills. I figured it was the elevation because after this every time we went up to the alpine my legs had no gas and felt pretty weak. At some point along there the "overflagging" became "few and far between flagging" because at one spot I ran back five minutes thinking I'd missed a turn but saw I hadn't. Back forward I went until I finally saw another piece. From here on it was best just to keep going straight and eventually there would be more tape. Once at the top in the meadows again it got pretty hot and it seemed forever until I reached the Heather station (70k). The volleys there were awesome as they filled my bottles and even made me a grilled cheese sandwich. The bugs were atrocious again and I commend the people who were up there for long periods of time. I nibbled on the sandwich for the next few kms and along this high trail were some of the best looking viewpoints.
I finally started going down eventually hitting the water drop at Nicomen Lake. After another nasty uphill I headed down some long switchbacks until finally running into Scott before the aid station. Turns out a relay runner had twisted and probably broken his ankle and Scott (ex-firefighter) headed out to ice and bandage him up. We ran back to the aid station, Cayuse, at 100km.
Scott figured to join me so he changed into his running attire and off we went, headlamps at the ready. There was another aid station at 106km (an hour of running from the Cayuse station), and Nicola Gildersleeve's and Peter Watson's station at 109km, Sumallo Grove. It was pretty much dark here but I could see the impressive spread of food they had there. Had I not been running I'd have camped out there eating everything in sight! Because of the dark and the trail being quite overgrown in places, Scott and I decided it wasn't worth the risk of injury to go headlong down the trail so we walked a fair amount of this section. It was here I noticed my hands looked very Mickey Mouse-like in that they were swollen. I felt like a cartoon character with these huge hands but could hardly form a fist.
It was along this stretch that kept going and going where I decided that I wanted to save Scott, Carrie and the kids more aggravation and time wasted by dropping out. I really thought it would be better for everyone to pack it up and go get some real sleep and save them more hours of waiting for me. Scott said he would stand by any decision I would make. When we got to the 26 mile bridge station at 121km, we realised it was near impossible to drop here because of the 1.5km hike to the road which was deserted of traffic anyways. We decided to get to Gary Robbins' Skyline trail station at 136km and decide there what to do. Plus that's where Carrie would be (sleeping) waiting for us.
On we went for two and a half more hours through the same type of hard-to-run-in-the-dark trails. There were some ups and downs emotionally but when we got to the next station I knew we'd go on. A very tired Carrie said that we've come this far and it would be kind of a waste not to go on and finish the bloody thing. We figured about 4 hours to the finish but Gary slapped us with reality when he said more like 6 hours. Well to try and cap this report soon, it took Scott and I 3.5 hours of solid climbing of switchbacks to reach the Lightning Lakes signpost. Thinking we would be heading down to the lakes soon, we high-fived and congratulated ourselves. Little did we know this was only the start of another hellish section. The hallucinations were in full swing as I called out "there's the water jugs" only to get closer and see they were a bunch of logs. I kept my comments to myself until I was sure what I saw after that. When we eventually saw the jugs at the top of a hill, we were both hesitant to believe what we were seeing. We filled up our containers while fighting off the bugs and headed, where else, up. Thinking again that one more climb and we'd see the lakes and start heading down, we went on. Of course it was too much to hope for when we ended up climbing another 6 peaks!! Some of the goat paths were quite dangerous at this point due to our tiredness and disorientation. Some slopes were so steep that if one of us slipped, it would be hours to get back up to where we fell, as long as we were uninjured and able to get there. At the top of the last peak we saw a couple hiking the other way and knew we were almost there. They were nice and told us it had taken them an hour and a half to walk up and gave us a pretty accurate description (for a change) of what we could expect on the way down. On the descent a huge bug (at least if felt like it was huge) flew into my eye and I couldn't get it out. I thought my water bottle had just water in it and so spilled some on my hand and rubbed it in my eye. It was then I realised it was CarboPro and my hand and face were now very sticky. Scott caught up to me and promptly removed the carcass from my eye, totally above and beyond the duties of a pacer. When you sign on to pace someone, you don't expect to be out there for 16 hours, which he was. He was in bad shape like me but never complained about it.
We finally reached lake level and started on the road around the lake. Hannah and Elias met us a few hundred metres from the end and ran us both in. Carrie was there with the camera but I pulled her through the finish line with us. No runner can finish without their crew is what I always say.
So it was the end of a very, very, long run, the longest I've ever been on my feet - 31:45 (although the time on the website states 32:34). After talking with people who had GPSs along some parts of the route, it was determined the 100km race was actually 120km, and the 100mile was anywhere from 115 to 120 miles. The elevation was 15,000' for the 100k race and 23,000 for the 100mile. Full credit for the family for having the patience to wait all those hours for me and for Scott for gutting out a crazy 70 or 80k with me. I couldn't have done it without all of them.
As for what's next I believe that this event has given me insight into what UTMB will be like so for that I am grateful. As for next year I hope Heather takes the suggestions that people have made in how to make the race better in the future.
Pictures to follow soon.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Lost Lake 50k route and Buntzen

So, yes, I went down to Chuckanut again and ran some of the race route but with a small twist this time: I did the race route of the Lost Lake 50k. The website touts an elevation gain of 8000' and it didn't disappoint (unless you're asking my quads). The worst part was the Pine and Cedar Lake trail that I'd never gone on before which involves a steep descent of 1.6 miles and 1500'. When you reach the parking lot at the bottom, you turn around and go straight back up again. Call me stubborn but it didn't occur to me until I could actually see the parking lot at the bottom that I could have turned around anywhere on this trail and avoided the painful uphill on the way back. Like I said: stubborn.
My plan for this run was to a) do 6 hours, b) get to know the Lost Lake route so I could do it again, and c) get a lot of climbing in the legs at my snail pace to build up those muscles for the races to come. I ended up doing 5:10 for the day, I figured out the route nicely, and definitely got the climbing in. I realised how accurate my Garmin was by following the direction and distance signs for trails and it was pretty much bang on every time.

So today I went to Buntzen Lake to go around there and do the Diez trail as another attempt to hammer my legs. I got there kinda early, 5:30, to find the gates don't open up until 8am. 8am!! "Fitness doesn't sleep in", I cried out. Of course you think you could park on the streets anywhere within a half-mile radius of the gates? Not a chance. I guess when the parking lots are full the locals don't like the out-of-towners abandoning their cars in front of their houses to walk to the beach. I literally parked a half-mile away and started my run from there.
You ever start a run and you haven't even gone twenty minutes and your guts start telling you that you better find a bathroom soon? Well it happened to me today. Luckily there are bathrooms right near the lake. Unluckily they were as locked as the gates. No problem, I thought, I can keep running until 8 when they open up and use them then. Wrong. I started scouting places I could go and which sort of leaves looked the most attractive in lieu of paper. Luckily I got to the north end of the lake and encountered some outhouses that were unlocked and stocked with real paper. Whew.
I did over two and a half hours(running)before going up the Diez trail which was good to do tired because it made it plain for anyone to see (and luckily there wasn't anyone around) that I am woefully underprepared for UTMB at this point. Hopefully I should be able to these trails a few more times before the end of August, and with poles. Ended up with 5:20 and almost 30 miles. The last "luckily" was that my car was still there when I went to leave to go home!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Scorched Sole (almost) 50k

Normally a 50k race, this trail run was cut down a few kilometres due to snow at the top of Little White mountain. Snow! At the end of June! What is this craziness?? According to my Garmin watch after the race I had travelled 28.18 miles but it's been known to tell the odd little white lie especially with elevation. After this race it read 7500' of climbing which I think is highly suspect. Anyways, it was long and up, then it was quick and down.
850k of driving, then the run, all in 24 hours. Carrie picked me up from work on Friday and we arrived in Penticton at 10pm at fellow ultrarunner Scott Corsie's house (he now has strep throat). He and his wife, Michele, graciously donated their basement bedroom for us on the night before the run. After a whopping six hours of sleep we were up and heading to Kelowna. Cutting it somewhat close getting there 30 minutes before start time, things were a little tense because Scott, who was doing the 50 mile race and arrived there before us, had locked his keys in his car with his drop bag supplies and was waiting for BCAA. Seeing as the 50 milers started at 6am, we knew he wouldn't be doing that one. As it was he ended up doing the 50k starting about 15 minutes after everyone else.
It was nice to catch up briefly with Bruce Grant whom I haven't seen in a long time, only knowing what he's up to by reading his blog. He formally presented me with my age group prize for the BC Ultra Trailrunning Series a couple years ago: a cool Nathan backpack. Okay he basically gave it to Carrie as I was walking into the port-a-potty for some pre-race business to take care of.
I told a few people that this was only a training run and honestly that's what I did. I knew the course was mostly uphill to the turnaround so I told myself to work pretty hard on the up and to take it easy on the downhills. It truly was a lot of climbing at the start so I tried to keep my breathing as easy as I could and when it got heavier I slowed down even more (if that was possible). At about the six mile mark I blew my nose runner/cyclist-style and felt right after a fast trickle of something come out. I touched my hand to it and, as I suspected, I had a bleeding nose. It seems when I leave the moisture-laden air of the coast to hit the dry interior I get one of these. What was I to do but pinch the nostrils and carry on, right? By now my hand and nose were covered in red and I was hoping I'd hit the second aid station soon and that they'd have something more absorbent than the leaves I was wiping it with.
I arrived at the second aid station sooner than I thought I would, thankfully, and was greeted by a volunteer saying, "Wow, did you fall?" I guess my face looked worse than it was. Luckily they had paper towel and I cleaned up as best as I could. Off I went down the flat KVR trail hoping it wouldn't happen again.
After the third aid station the trail went up again and where it turned into more or less a fast flowing creek coming towards me. There wasn't a lot of room on the sides to run so basically I stuck to walk/running up the middle, picking my steps carefully.
There was one more small water station before the ascent to the top of Little White. I didn't bother filling my bottles, knowing there would be water up at the turnaround. That was a bit of a mistake because I had to start rationing my water after basically walking the next half hour. The trail running turned into more of a post-holing adventure as the snow got deeper and deeper. At this point I thought I was in second place and so was waiting for number one to come down the trail the other way after hitting the half-way point. I guess whoever was in front of me was doing the 50 mile because I reached the post indicating it was now time to start the crazy descent with no one coming back the other way. Now it was time for the taking it easy part.
Again, because it was a training run and knowing that the downhills are prone to hurting my legs, took it fairly easy on the way back. It was pretty fun running back through all the mud and water that I tried to avoid on the way up. It was easier to go right through it than avoid it. Next along the KVR trail again which had seemed flat going the other way but turned out to be a slight incline. It was tough mentally because it was a few kilometres in length with nothing to look at but the long straightaways. I reached end of the KVR and back into the trails which were mostly down again with a few flats thrown in.
Now, at this point I still told myself that if someone passed me now I wouldn't care and tried to stick to that story. I ended up coming in at a pretty relaxed time of 4:33. 2:43 going up, 1:50 coming down. Crazy.
My legs felt really good right after the race, not too knackered at all, which was good because Carrie and I had to drive me back home to go to work that night. Speaking of Carrie, she did the 25k in 3:06 without doing a lot of training the last few weeks.
It was quite a whirlwind trip but worth doing for a training run in a different type of terrain and area.
Thanks are in order to race director Dan Crockett and all the volunteers who did a great job on this low key and fun race. Here are just a few of the 1000 pictures Dirk Handke took of the race:

Tim Weins, Bruce Grant, and me

Me with Dirk Handke

Race Director Dan Crockett

Carrie's finish

Thursday, June 24, 2010

A Good Couple Weeks

So I've been back at it for a while now. The longest training run before last weekend was 2:30 in the trails. I even made it up to SFU to run the 5 Peaks course finally. I had meant to go up there on race day a few and leave twenty minutes early and run the course twice (a total of 20km). I thought of myself as a bit of a bandit but seeing as I've never "bandited" a race before, I had to consider exactly what the definition is. I've done some searching and it usually ends up coming down to robbing or cheating or living outside the law. Well if I had done that course before the start without paying for it, I don't think any of those would have applied. To me, a bandit is someone who lines up at a race like every other paying competitor, races with them, and uses the supplies at the aid station. I've seen some pull out at the end without crossing the line/timing chip mat. I was planning on being self-sufficient fuel-wise and wouldn't have influenced anyone's race by being so far in front hopefully no one would have caught me. Therefore I would not technically, in my world, not be a bandit.
This past Sunday was the Summer Solstice 25k run on the North Shore that I did as an easy training run. It was definitely harder than I would have done a 25k training run. It's been a while since I've ran over there and forgot how technical everything was: the roots, the rocks, the uphills, the downhills. As I'm 'gradually' building up the mileage so I hopefully don't break myself again, I wanted to take it pretty easy which I did. The crazy part was the steep downhills that took their toll. My foot was sore for a couple days and only today ran 45 minutes since the race. To 'ease' back into it I'll do the Scorched Sole 50k (as an easy training run) this Saturday to make sure everything is good. Or I could hurt myself and be out of Fat Dog and maybe even UTMB. What will it be? Stay tuned.

Friday, June 11, 2010

2 Hours in the 'Nut

Yesterday I returned to the mountain where I started all my trail experiences: Chuckanut. I know people are probably getting tired of me saying that I ran in these trails (again and again) but that's exactly what I did. It's close, no traffic, easy drive, and, oh, yeah, no traffic.
It has been three months since I tiptoed through these trails it felt great. Slow, but great. I didn't know I could shift into such a low gear going up hill. I was going slightly quicker than walking and I managed to keep moving the whole time except for the really steep stuff.
I knew it would happen: today my legs are trashed. No matter how slow I go or for how little time, I can't escape the next day's tragedy that are my legs. It always happens when I'm not in the trails for a while. Kind of like not swimming for a month. It's gonna suck. The running was fun but today not so much. I feel like I've run a road marathon. The only consolation is that I've gone through this so many times before that I can tell myself that in only two or three more outings there will be no pain or suffering. At least that's what I tell myself now.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

1:20 Look At Me Go!

Okay I was going to write the other day about the 1:10 run I did and how excited I was and how glorious it was to be back on my feet. Today, though, I did a whopping 1:20 all on the road with no discomfort or pain or otherwise. Everything was good. Everything, that is, except the weather which was very Haney to Harrison-ish: rainy, windy, but not overly cold.
Doing my 1:10 was the first time in almost two months I've run outside listening to music while running and I realised how much I miss the tunes. I always thought I would never listen to music on the bike but over the past couple months of riding and no running I was a little lonely for my ipod. I would ride out and when I was on the rural roads I would plug in and was quite surprised how well I could still hear cars coming up from behind me. I only got freaked out once when one surprised me. I felt guilty because I was of the opinion that it wasn't safe to ride with headphones and used to think riders like that were asking for trouble. I forgot how boring it can sometimes be riding for hours on end with the same song going around and around in my head.
Anyways, going to try and build up slowly the time on my feet for the next few weeks starting in Chuckanut tomorrow for two hours - less than 10% of what I'll be running for Fat Dog.
On the weekend the boy (Elias) and I drove out to Manning Park to do my trail maintenance for Fat Dog. Little did he (and me actually) know what he was getting himself into. It involved driving to Manning and meeting with about ten people including Heather the race director, driving another 20k down the highway, and another 20k up a gnarly forest service road. My van still hasn't forgiven me for that trip. We walked a pretty rough trail flagging and clearing branches and obstacles. It ended at an incredibly steep decent down to a river that we'll be crossing during the race. Heather says they'll have to go back and make switchbacks and or stairs to make it a little less difficult. No arguments from me. All in all it was a good but tiring day. We even managed to rush home and be ten minutes early for Elias' hockey game. As tired as he was he had a great game.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Old and New Articles about a Comrades Runner

I thought this was a pretty funny story. We've all wanted to do this at some point during a hard race, it's just that we're all not blessed with an identical twin.

TRACK AND FIELD; Deception in Marathon Has Race Officials Seeing Double
Published: July 22, 1999

JOHANNESBURG, July 21— One of the top finishers in South Africa's most famous road race admitted today that he had cheated by running it in relays with his virtually identical brother.

Sergio Motsoeneng, 21 years old, and his brother, Fika, 19, were desperate for prize money, their lawyer said, and gave the $1,000 Sergio won to their father, who lives in Qwa Qwa, a depressed former black homeland, with 11 children. The lawyer added that the family had been on the verge of selling the $85 gold medal Sergio received for finishing in the top 10.

The Comrades Marathon, first run in 1921 by 34 men raising money for a veterans group known as the League of Comrades of the Great War, has grown into South Africa's biggest road race, with nearly 15,000 entrants of all ages. Each year, it reverses direction between two cities, Pietermaritzburg in the Drakensberg Mountains and Durban on the coast.

This year, on June 16, it was the downhill run, which is 89.9 kilometers long (about 56 miles), for which the record is 5 hours 24 minutes 7 seconds. But watching the winner finish is less entertaining than the bitter end of the race. It is considered a great shame to be among the last 1,500 competitors who fail to finish in 11 hours and are ''swept up by the broom wagon,'' sometimes paralyzed by cramps and clawing at the rescue vehicles.

The whole race is covered on national television, and most of the runners finish in the last hour, staggering into the stadium, collapsing at the finish line, crawling or carrying each other over it.

According to an account by the South African Press Association, Nick Bester, a former champion who finished 15th this year, had complained that something was wrong with Sergio Motsoeneng's ninth-place finish. Bester had counted everyone who passed him in the final miles and there was one too many -- and electronic-race records showed Sergio was behind him earlier.

Sergio confessed through his lawyer today after Beeld, an Afrikaans-language newspaper, published pictures of both brothers in the race wearing the same number. They looked very much alike, but their watches were on different hands, and one runner had a scarred shin.

Apparently, Sergio began the race and ducked into a mobile toilet after 45 minutes to change shirts and shoes with Fika. Fika ran the next 30 kilometers, and they changed again at least once. Changing shoes was necessary because microchips in each runner's shoelaces and sensors allowed constant tracking of every entrant. South Africans across the country were able to log on to a Web site and find out exactly where their favorite racers were at any moment.

Clem Harrington, a lawyer who has run in 21 Comrades, said Sergio Motsoeneng was a desperate young man from a poor family. He and his unemployed client, both from the town of Bethlehem, will meet with the Comrades Marathon Association on Saturday to return the medal and negotiate repayment of the $1,000.

This has not been a great year for the Comrades. Motsoeneng is the third runner to be dropped from the list of top-10 finishers. Viktor Zhdanov, from Russia, who finished second, was disqualified after testing positive for ephedrine, and Mahlala (Rasta) Mohloli, the sixth-place finisher and a popular local runner in the same club as as Motsoeneng, tested positive for nandrolone, a strength-building steroid.

The Comrades prize money is so low that it attracts few world-class entrants, but many runners from the former Soviet Union participate and do well.

''This is a tragic story,'' the press association quoted Harrington as saying. ''Hopefully, Sergio will not be lost to the sport because he is a highly talented runner. If he harnessed the energy he put into cheating into rather running the race properly, who knows, he might have finished among the top five.''

'He didn't need to cheat'
Iqbal Khan
May 31 2010 at 01:56PM Get IOL on your
mobile at m.iol.co.za

Sergio Motsoeneng has paid his dues and has started a new life in his road-running career.

The man who finished third in Sunday's 85th edition of the Comrades Marathon was reluctant at first to speak of his antics in 1999 when he was found guilty of cheating after being placed ninth in that year's race.

Motsoeneng twice swopped clothes with his younger brother but was eventually found out after newspaper photographs showed the runners wearing different watches.

"It's been a long time now and I have come through a tough time in life. I have suffered the embarrassment. I'd rather not talk about it as it's in the past," he said on Sunday night after his outstanding run from Pietermaritzburg to Durban's Sahara Stadium Kingsmead.

"I know I should not have done that - I was a young man then and when the idea was thrown at me I went with the flow. It's now history.

"I'm a family man now and I'm a grown man at 33. I realised that one makes mistakes in life. I came through a tough five-year period of suspension and want to look ahead.

"I knew this would crop up again when I got close to winning the race. It has to come back to haunt me but I appeal to all to leave it at that - it's really the past. It's finished and I look ahead all the time."

Cheryl Winn, who was chief executive of the Comrades Marathon Association at the time Motsoeneng was bust, said he should have had faith in his running ability.

"It just goes to show he did not have to do what he did in 1999. He has great ability in running ultra-marathons - his third-place finish proves just that," she said.

Motsoeneng was in his early 20s when he ran the 1999 Comrades and was slapped with a five-year ban by the Comrades Marathon Association. He was also stripped of his ninth place after he admitted cheating.

An investigation was launched after a runner further back in the field complained that Motsoeneng had not overtaken him.

After examining time sheets and data from the computer timing system, race referees initially cleared him of cheating.

The lookalike brothers' plan was only foiled because photographs of the race published in Beeld showed runner number 13018 at one stage wearing a yellow watch on his left wrist. At another stage the runner with that number was wearing a pink watch on his right wrist.

Other photos later revealed Sergio twice swopping clothes with his 19-year-old brother, Arnold, in portable lavatories.

"I was naive at the time. I did not think we would get caught but we did. I lived through hell for the five years - tried to keep my mind on running by helping youngsters and coaching development kids," he said. "I've turned to God and I'm guided by him. I feel I have paid my dues for my mistakes and want to look to the future rather than look back in life."

Motsoeneng returned to road running in the 2006 Soweto Marathon. Last year he finished 29th in the Comrades.

Monday, May 31, 2010

A Positive Update

After waiting yet another two weeks from my last podiatrist appointment I've again set out running thirty minutes at a time in the trail. So far it seems that things are okay other than the predictable discomfort of not really running for six weeks.

Friday night around 11pm I tuned in to the Comrades Marathon website to watch the race live. I sat in awe for two hours. I don't know what it is but I can sit and watch that kind of stuff - marathons, ultras, Tour de France, Ironman - all day long on the tv/computer. I marvel at the skill these world-class athletes have. The commentators' verbal skills and knowledge of the athletes rivaled that of any I've ever heard. It was a little tough watching the runners knowing I could have been there although the chance of starting back at square one was the chance I didn't want to take. I woke up in the morning and immediately checked the winners' times and to watch the finishers coming through the line. Again it was hard not to imagine myself finishing and making a fool of myself in front of the camera to people back home. Technology - ain't it great! With an hour to go before the 12 hour cutoff there were still 7,000 runners to come in. The finishing line at this time looked like the start of the Vancouver Sunrun where 50,000 people are all moving towards the start line after the gun goes off. If people in North America think ultrarunners are crazy, ultra races must be as commonplace as the marathon in the rest of world. How else do you explain the number of runners who started the event? Another comment on the coverage: never once in all the time I was watching did the screen "freeze", "overload", "fail to load", or in any way, shape, or form inhibit people from watching. That sort of thing seems to happen a lot on other webcasts I've tried to see over the years especially for the Hawaii Ironman. If their webcast gets overloaded with hits from friends and family of 2000 athletes watching from home, how does the Comrades site do it for over 20,000??
In honour of the runners who did the race I took off on the bike and covered 92km in about 3 hours, almost 31km/h average speed. The winner of Comrades ran 89km in 5:29, over 16km/h. Amazing.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Sad Update

Okay so the longer the break from writing the longer the blog, right? A lot has happened in the past couple weeks so hang on, here we go.
So in the past couple weeks I was toiling and stressing over whether to go to South Africa for the Comrades Marathon. Was my foot healed up enough? Would it be able to go 89km without fracturing again? Was it worth taking the chance and setting myself back another six weeks?
Even though it's been seven and a half weeks since my last long run of 20 miles, it's only been four with the walking cast. Not supposed to have been running at all for four to six weeks I went out a few times last week just to see what was what. I started with a 17, 19, 30, then 45 minute run. There was definite discomfort in the foot but it didn't feel like a sharp pain or one that was getting worse. Weird thing too was that it didn't hurt more afterwards or ache later on in the day. Having said that I went to the podiatrist on Monday for a check-up.
He was at first not happy seeing me without the cast on but that was only because I was out doing stuff that didn't take too much walking. He also didn't think my small runs was such a good idea, either. The topic of running Comrades never came up and I never offered that I was still thinking about it. He said I should do another two weeks in the cast and stay on light duties at work for those two weeks. Well, having gone back to the hall on Saturday it was too late for that but I would try to stay in the cast as much as I could. Really. What kind of scared me straight was his statement on how I could be running along, feeling not too bad, then all of a sudden feel that sharp pain in the foot of the bone fracturing again. Not a pretty thought.
So It was after my appointment with him that finally pushed me over the edge to dropping out of Comrades. It was a supreme struggle with myself to weigh the pros and cons of going or not. I'm barely in shape now to run, let alone do 8 hours or more. I didn't want to hurt myself further and get set back another month. That would have taken me to the beginning or middle of July which would have killed any chance of doing Fat Dog and give me barely six weeks to train for the Tour de Mont Blanc. As it is now I should be able to ease back into things in a couple weeks, get a decent base of trail running, do Fat Dog as an easy, easy long run then hopefully be able to climb 31,000 feet at the end of August. Comrades has been on my list for a long time and may or may not get done next year. It'll remain on the list and it might take me 15 years to be there for the 100th anniversary. I could only be that lucky to be healthy enough to still run that distance then.
On the training side of things I've been staying out of the pool just because of sheer boredom. The bike has been my forte since the weather has been so decent. I've been hitting the three hour mark quite consistently with a bunch of two hour ones thrown in. Last week I was just at the halfway mark, about an hour from home, when I had to stop at an intersection due to traffic. What I'd done a thousand times before somehow escaped me and instead of clipping out of my left pedal and resting my left foot on the ground, I ended up unclipping and leaning to the right (right foot still clipped in) and was about to fall. I managed to forcefully get my right foot out of the pedal to avoid the crash but in the process heard the snap of my plastic cleat on the bottom of my shoe. I quick exam proved what I feared: the tip of the cleat (the Look type) had broken and there was no way to clip in solidly to the pedal. Quick assessment: no bike shop anywhere close, an hour from home, no sag wagon to call (not that I would anyways, goes against everything I believe in). Good thing I didn't have to be anywhere in a hurry. I basically had to keep downward pressure on the pedal the whole way and if I hit a bump my foot would fly off the pedal. The novelty wore off in a hurry but I made it home safe and sound. Luckily I had a set of older ones that I'm now using.
So the plan for the coming weeks is to get pain-free then hit hit every trail race I can, time permitting, as training. That's right, run the race, not race it. If I'm going to drive somewhere like Chuckanut or the North Shore to do a training run, I might as well do a race where I don't have to think about the course and there's aid along the way. I'm going to do that all through the summer and fall as well. Not that I'll be 'racing' because I learned the hard way a couple years ago that too much racing doesn't do my body good. If that goes okay then I'm going to approach next season the same way - race my way to fitness!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Fourth time the charm

Finally I've done the first (metric) century of the season on the bike. In honour of the Miwok 100km trail race held yesterday in California, which I did in '08, albeit probably around 106km due to my route error, I thought it only fitting seeing as I couldn't run the distance, I'd ride it.
After three unsuccessful attempts at riding 100km this year I did it yesterday - 100.19km. The three other failures were because of time constraints and one morning I had to be at Hannah's softball so needed to cut the ride shorter. The distances I did were 91km, 95km, and 97km. The 97km was a killer - so close. I don't do junk mileage as I think it's ridiculous to go around the block a few times just to make a certain distance or time. I plot the route out on a map and go and do it.
Yesterday was a beautiful afternoon aside from the wind. It was blowing from the southwest so heading east was a joy. Knowing what to expect coming home I thought I'd hammer out and take it easy on the way back. The average speed eastwards was 33.3km/h and at the end of the ride it was 32.1. It seemed like I had the headwind coming back and with the hills and all returning I figure the wind was coming more from the south so not directly in my face. Pretty happy with the effort of the last 20km which were a mental grind and killing sore lower back. Ah, the joys of the ride.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

On Monday the 19th I went and saw Dr. Green, the podiatrist, and we talked about how to get me back on my feet so to speak. First and foremost I needed to stay off it as much as I could and if I had to walk I would have to use a walking cast or air cast.

Also, I couldn't do my job at the firehall to its full capacity so therefore had to go on light duties, mostly deskwork if possible. There's nothing worse as a firefighter than being stuck at a desk doing data entry all day. It's more tiring than I thought but I think it's the boredom. It's also a great motivator to get healthy again. When he finally got the actual pictures of the scan he sent me an email (which is cool because how many doctors actually send and receive emails from patients??) saying that the stress fracture is more "impressive" than he thought. I guess it REALLY lit up the film. It's located at the 3rd metatarsal and kind of radiates along the bone, making it "impressive".

So one problem solved. I've been in the cast for a week and a half and I think it's helping. The weird thing is that it actually feels better when I'm moving around and especially after water running or being on the eliptical trainer. Must be the increased circulation.
Dr. Green also told me about this ultrasound machine that I could get which supposedly heals stress fractures up to 33% faster. I said let's do it! He said they cost around $1500. I said, whoa, that's a little steep. He said that it's usually used on a person if a stress fracture is taking three or four months to heal and that insurance won't always pay for it unless this is the case. I said let's try anyways. So the next day I get a call from the company Smith & Nephew from back east asking for my medical insurance info. He calls Sunlife and then calls me back saying that Sunlife has given permission for me to use the Exogen Bone Healing Unit. Great I said. They'll only cover 80% of the costs he said. I'm thinking 20% of $1500 is still a little high for me to pay for something that'll eventually heal on its own. I'm not willing to pay $300 I said. Well the machine actually costs $3000 he said. Holy crap I said. I'm definitely not willing to pay $600 for this. Well then we'll cover the other 20% says the guy on the other line without skipping a beat. Sweet! So I've been using the bone healer for the past week which could also explain why it's feeling better.

I'm thinking Comrades may be a possibility!

Friday, April 16, 2010

The All-Knowing, All-Seeing Bone Scan

Okay so my self-diagnosis of a neuroma on my foot was mistaken. I guess it isn't possible to get a doctorate in podiatry just by surfing the net. It's good and bad because by the sounds of it a few cortisone shots for a neuroma would at least enable me to run and maybe get through the year (good). Then the winter would be a time to get proper treatment (bad - surgery, alcohol injections). As the bone scan yesterday showed, and a call from Dr. Green the podiatrist today confirmed, the bright white spot on my foot is indeed a stress fracture. What does this mean? It means that now instead of amputating just a toe or two, the whole foot has to go in order to make it to South Africa in six weeks. Alternatively I can stick to water running and biking right now. On Monday Dr. Green and I will discuss such prospects as amputation or casting or I don't know what else.
On the upside I've rediscovered my love for cycling and have a bunch of long rides planned in the next couple months whether my foot is better or not - Whistler, Mt. Baker, and Penticton are all in the cards.
On the down side I've rediscovered my hate of water running.
Thanks to all those who have shown me support and advice with what I'm going through. I'm pretty sure people could just have a form letter on their desktop to send me when I get injured, it's happening so often:

Sorry to hear about your ___________ injury (insert latest malady here). Hope you get well soon, etc, etc.

I never get tired of the sympathy so keep it coming.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Update on the Foot

So Carrie remembered reading on Matt Hart's blog a few years ago that he had a foot problem similar to what I've been experiencing. He went through months of trial and error to get corrected and finally found out that he had Morton's Neuroma. I was at the sports doc again today with my x-ray knowing it would show nothing and it didn't disappoint. I did comment that on film it was a good-looking foot and he agreed - the bones looked healthy and strong. It didn't show the ligaments however. So I suggested it could be Morton's and he thought that's what it was as well. Off to the pharmacy to try a topical anti-inflammatory for the weekend. I have an appointment with a podiatrist on Monday to see what's next and if I should go with the nerve-killing alcohol injections. At this point I'm willing to have a lifetime of a numb toe to make it to Comrades and get back to running. For the experience of that race I want to be there, even if it's only to finish as the gates close behind me. I never thought that I would make that kind of decision but, hey, I've got nine more toes, right?

Thursday, April 1, 2010

If There Was Only Someone Else to Blame

Yes, I'm sure it comes as no surprise to anyone who's followed along here for any length of time that, amazing I know, I'm injured yet again. This one there's no hiding from. After not running much for three and a half weeks I guess I felt pretty good after the Dirty Duo and Chuckanut. Good enough to head out barefoot for 30 minutes two days after Chuckanut. Two days later I did another 25 minute barefoot stint. It was the second one where I felt like I had a slight bruise on the top outside of my left foot, almost like when your shoelaces are tied too tight. Not one to take a warning sign, I did a 2:30 run two days after that with no discomfort other than my legs felt like crap. Two days after that I did an hour in my racing flats and it was a bit painful, advil not helping. Tuesday I went out for 45 minutes in brand new regular-cushioned shoes and the advil didn't put a dent in the pain I was in. Okay something is definitely not right with me. Luckily I got in to see the sports doc, Dr. King, after my run on Tuesday and he sent me for x-rays yesterday. The tech there didn't see anything but my next appointment with Dr. King is on Thursday. There really is no rush because, fracture or not, I ain't running with it feeling this way. I guess the bottom line was too much barefooting too soon after not running for a few weeks. Weird because I'm not known to be one to overdo things. Really weird.
So it was to the pool yesterday for the first of probably many water-running sessions. 30 minutes felt like a long time but I know I need to do it. Luckily I can ride the bike without pain so I'm off for a three hour jaunt shortly. So after all this I can safely say that Diez Vista is out and probably the marathon as well. I have 8 weeks to be ready for Comrades so that's the focus.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Chuckanut '10 - 16th, 17th, 18th, 19th, 20th....

...what's the @#$!% difference. These were the words going through my head on the worst part, for me, of the Chuckanut Trail 50km. That seemingly endless 6 miles back to the finish after a 25 minute descent makes my feel like I'm moving through sand. I know last year I challenged myself to run this last section in a pace of 7 minutes/mile and accomplished it. This year, after a month of weird hamstring discomfort, I just wanted it to be over. It was here that I started in 15th place and thought, "Hey, I'd be happy with that". Until the first person passed me and now I'm thinking, "There is no glory to be found between 16th and 20th so I don't care if four more people pass me". And on I went.
This was my fourth edition of this race, still my favourite as I do quite a bit of training on it. It's the area I plan to run a lot on in the coming months to get ready for the longer trail races. The training will include long runs, night runs, and long night runs.
The day was so bright and warm it was easy to believe that spring was only a day away. Through the flat 6 mile beginning I felt pretty good, the hamstring not bothering me at all, possibly thanks to some pre-race advil. I re-filled my bottle and headed up the Fragrance Lake trail at the first aid station. Normally I can go up this without stopping and ended up only slowing twice this time with the legs quite comfortable chugging merrily (not quickly) upwards. When I hit the top I could tell there was some trail-training lacking. They were a bit jello-y and not feeling too peppy. After we passed the lake we descended into aid station 2 where I was glad I didn't need to refill the bottle for the long, arduous climb up Cleator Road. I managed this one without stopping but to the casual observer I'm sure my running looked like walking.
At the top of the road I grabbed more water, headed up a ways more to the start of the Upper Ridge Trail. This is usually my favourite area to train on and that's how fast I went on the path on this day - training pace. Not really too fast, just enjoying the warmth and the many views from up high. It also felt very non-race-like because there was no one else in sight in front or behind the whole way on the ridge. It wasn't until I started up the Lost Lake trail that I found and passed some folks. I think I only walked a couple times near the top of this trail before flying back down to the bottom of Chinscraper and aid station 4. Regrettably I had to fill up again at the worst possilble spot before this steep section. I did take the time to chug some coke in hopes of breathing life into my legs.
All the walking I didn't do before caught up with me and the steepest sections owned my running legs. I thought at some spots that I might as well run because walking wasn't going to help refresh my legs any and I wouldn't need rest for the long downhill to the flats. I still walked anyways.
I got to the bottom and through the last aid station without stopping and shuffled through to the finish. Four people passed me on the way in, the last one being two hundred metres from the finish when I was taking my shoes and socks off and ran BF across the line.
I was quite pleased when I later checked my previous results and found I was only 6 minutes slower than my personal best on this course. I tell ya, maybe I'm better off with very little training then hoping for the best during races. Should I sit on the couch from now until Diez Vista? Might be worth a try.