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 ...

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Remembrance Day Run

I ran to work yesterday, November 11th. I thought, What better way to observe this day, because I couldn't go to the usual ceremony at the Legion, than to do an 11 mile run to honour those that gave so much? Now I know that this doesn't seem like much of a tribute, but it's all I could think of.
The rain was pelting and the temperature biting. I was happy and cheerful the whole way. No amount of rain or cold or injury or suffering I could ever endure in my lifetime would equal one day of what those men and women went through to ensure we live the lives we do.

Whistler 50 mile

See, what did I tell you about who would win?? The last post I predicted Chris Downie would beat me. I can see into the future and it was there I saw Chris winning the race. I really have to start using this gift in other ways besides predictiing race winners. Okay, I admit I slowed down enough so that at mile 35 he passed me and stayed ahead until the finish. I knew how bad he wanted to win so what was I supposed to do?
Anyways, the real race report (and what really happened):
The support crew, Carrie and the kids, and I drove up to Whistler last Friday, checked into the hotel, picked up the race package from RD Ron Adams, had dinner, went back to the room, and got stuff ready for the race. At 9:30 Carrie realized she forgot to bring her contact solution so not wanting to wear her glasses the whole next day we walked to the store and bought some stuff priced like there was an impending hurricane coming our way. Unfortunately it didn't come with the little contact holders that you put them in whilst in the solution. That would have been the box with the impending Apocalypse pricing I guess. Got back to the room, now 10pm, and I finished with my gear and went to brush my teeth. Finished that, went to have a glass of water, filled said glass with water, noticed all the foamy bubbles in the water, said, "Oh that's nice (thinking it was soap or something), and proceeded to dump the mixture down the drain before Carrie could yell, "NOOOOO!!" Figured it out yet? Yes, I dumped her contact down the drain. Taking apart the pipe under the sink only proved that, even if her contact was retrieved from said pipe, it would not want to be something one would want to insert in one's eye afterwards. Glasses anyone?
Race day came early like most of 'em. 4:30, out the door at 5:15 to the Conference Centre to get the timing chip and check in. Saw a lot of familiar faces: Barb Owen from Badwater and fellow crewmate Tracey, Nicola Gilersleeve, Hassan Lofti-Pour, and Wendy Montgomery, former RD of the Stormy trail race. Good to catch up with those guys.
We walked outside to the start in the cold and the dark, not wanting to look each other in the eyes as we'd be blinded by the headlights. As we were about to start I asked Nicola if she knew which way to go and she said no. I looked to my right and asked the guy beside me if he knew, but he was tuned into his tunes and didn't hear me. Turns out it was Chris Downie (the guy I let win, remember?). Not quite sure why people wear headphones in the dark, especially in bear country where they haven't gone hibernating yet.
We were off at 6am to run the first of four loops in the dark. Loop one was 21km, and the final three were 17kms. Doing the first one in the dark was a bonus because by the time it was light enough to ditch my headlamp it was like a new run with everything looking different. I was behind Chris, Hassan, and Jenn Segger for most of the first lap until the aid station at about 16k when suddenly I was in the lead. I didn't realize this until I caught up to the cyclist leading us around and as he wasn't going much ahead of me, figured Chris and the rest must have stopped at the aid station to access their bags. Luckily for me my superstar crew was there to hand me a new bottle on the fly.
So once it was light I could see how beautiful the course actually was. The snowy mountains, the sunlight streaming through the trees, the freakin' hills from 8km to 16km of the loops. This whole section was all hard-packed snow but the running was fairly easy, other than the rolling hills which, by the fourth lap, felt like mountains. I almost wished I was back in Haney because at least those hills were closer to sea level and I wouldn't have been sucking wind as bad. I told myslef I'd run the steep section of hills the first and second lap and I could walk the bad ones after that. I didn't disappoint myself and did exactly that. I tried eating on those walk breaks but the air was so dry I had no spit to process the food. Lots of little sips from my bottle later I eventually got it down.
I lead from the 10 mile mark to the 35 mile mark and knew my time had come when on the golf cart path, which did basically an out and back, I saw Chris not far behind me. It actually took him longer to catch me than I thought and when he did he put about three minutes into me. We must have been running the same speed the last lap because I neither made up time or lost any. I couldn't have changed gears if I tried - there weren't any left. Not sure if it was the altitude or the cold but my legs felt heavy with no jump to pick up the pace. I felt that way from the halfway mark onwards. I honestly wouldn't even have done a sprint if Chris passed me with 50metres to go. I also didn't really care. It was good to be out running but it didn't have the excitement and rush that other races have had for me. It was good to see the junior crew members on the last two laps and with 4km to go I couldn't persuade them to join me to the finish line. Go figure.
One of the highlights was going through the start/finish onto the third lap and having none other than Steve King, wife Jean at his side, calling the race, bellowing out my accomplishments (all two of them), and treating me like royalty.
At the end Chris and I chatted for a bit and he thanked me for letting him win. Okay, he won fair and square.
I honestly wish H2H was still in existence and maybe next year I'll run a solo journey along the same route just because.
Thanks to Ron Adams who made the race as spectacular as I knew he would with the organization and route.

Friday, November 4, 2011

For the Record

Tomorrow's Whistler 50 mile is looking to be a cold one starting the day at minus 4 or so. Could warm up to plus 2 so that's awesome. My predictions:

ultimate goal is sub-6:00 which I've never run for this length of a race, a 7:10 per mile or so pace.
secondary goal is sub-6:30 which should be doable.
outside goal is finish before the sun goes down

I think Chris Downie is going in as the favourite. He's been fast for a few years now so I plan to run my own race at my own pace and try for my first goal and not chase him and blow up. It will be nice to have someone to chase, though.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Long Run and the Find of the Year

My last long run before the Whistler 50 mile was 28 miles last Sunday from 176th st down 0 ave to 248th st, 248th st to Fraser Hwy and the Otter Co-Op for water then reversed the course. 3:30 at about a 7:25 pace which felt very comfortable even with a fair amount of rolling hills. I would like to have done a 35 mile run before Nov. 5th but that's life. Tomorrow will be a flat 3:00 then start an eight day taper. I'm feeling pretty good physically and speed-wise. After a few years of not doing dedicated speed work, it's been going well doing them on the treadmill.
So, The Find: on the second half of the run last Sunday I turned the corner from 248th st onto 0 ave when I looked down and saw, unbelieving, an iphone 4 staring at me. "Hello, what do we have here", I thought to myself. I picked it up and even though it was wet with dew it turned on, probably thanks to the Otterbox case it was in. There was no passlock on it so I could access the phone numbers. I have to admit that on the way home I thought how cool it would be to present this to Carrie and say she could keep it but that obviously wouldn't be the right thing to do. Plus what do you tell the kids and how does that look to them? Damn kids keeping me morally straight.
After hauling it home I called the person's mom's cell phone from the address book. She said it belonged to her 11 year-old son. Eleven! A lesson to all: (do i even need to say it?) Don't buy your kids toys like that until they're more responsible or at least until they can pay for it themselves and they might take better care of it. So this kid's mom picked it up that night and, not that I would have accepted, didn't offer any kind of reward for recovering this $400 or $500 item. I mean, come on, if I had lost something like that I would be ecstatic someone returned it to me. If not money then at least a gift card to Tim Horton's or SOMETHING. I guess Karma is reward enough.
That's the third phone I've found over the years either biking or running. I've recovered four or five driver's licenses, three Visa cards, and an 80gb ipod. Once there was a guy near the border standing on the side of the road as I rode my bike past. I didn't think anything of it, just kept riding. On the return trip two hours later he was still there albeit a bit further down the road. I stopped and asked what was up. He said he lost his Nexus card somewhere in the last couple kilometres from the restaurant he had lunch to where he was now. I rode back to the restaurant and traced his path back to where he was. A few hundred metres from where he was I saw the corner of the card sticking out from under some leaves (it was around this time of year), much to my surprise. The moral of that story: I don't really know if there is one but it never hurts to try and help someone. Which reminds me, from now until Dec. 10th I'm trying to recruit 100 people to give blood to coincide with my 100th donation. If you're interested check this out:

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Best 50k Ever!

Wow, when was the last time I started an entry with that much positiveness?!? I seriously had the most consistent, solid race that I've had in years. My usual race: set goal a little high, start off quick feeling strong, have some low points during the middle, get passed by a few people towards the end telling myself, "I don't care if anyone passes me, I can't go any faster", and finish the hurt-fest with a slow shuffle feeling crappy about my running and myself. Last weekend's Baker Lake 50k was totally opposite.
Last year I wanted to go sub-4:30 meaning I'd have to hit the half-way at 2:15 at the latest. I also thought about trying to do a negative split on the way back by running quicker. Never been able to do that in the past so don't know why I thought I'd be able to. Anyways, in that race I started out too fast and crapped out even before the halfway, finishing in 4:41 or thereabouts.
This year I still had a sub-4:30 in mind but didn't know if it was going to happen. The plan was to go out fairly easy and try and feel good the whole way. After not doing much trail running I wasn't sure how I'd feel. This is an easier trail race than some I've done but is still challenging in the second half.
I left following three fast skinny guys. I kept up with them for the twelve minutes it took to get to the trailhead and then they were gone. After twenty minutes or so I heard footsteps behind me and turned to see a young girl bombing up behind me. I imagined my next blog report being titled, "I am officially old", because I get killed by girls now. I stepped off the trail and let her go by then kept pace with her, making sure I didn't go too hard, therefore breaking my pre-race plan. She ended up letting me go by when I got too close siting that she needed a pit stop. I didn't see her for another twenty minutes until she blew by me again. I was thinking to myself that she looked kind of young and possibly hadn't run too many of these before. Knowing that I've done the "start out too fast, end in a crash" scenario before, I couldn't even warn her about keeping an even pace she was going so quick.
I was running up inclines when in the past I would have been walking. I did have a bit of a low spot around the 1:45 point so started drinking every five minutes instead of ten. It must have done the trick because before I knew it I was running on the flat section to the last big bridge before the turnaround. It was the fastest I'd ever made it to the halfway point, 2:04. The three frontrunners were about six minutes ahead of me, the quick girl about a minute, and there was a guy about two minutes behind me.
My time at the turnaround was fast as I had two bottles made up and ready to go from my drop bag. I left feeling strong again but knew not to hammer the first flat section on the way back because there were some steeper switchbacks waiting.
At about the 2:45 point I came across one of the three leaders who was in a rough state throwing up on the trail. I stopped to make sure he was alright and didn't need anything and he ensured me he was okay. Turns out it was the guy who'd won the race last year but started today feeling sick. Guess it caught up with him.
At 3:10 I saw Quick Girl ahead on the trail, not running up to her name. It didn't take me too long to pass her and the way she was going I pretty much knew I wouldn't see her again.
I started getting into that frame of mind where I just plug along at a decent but not too fast a pace and walking some of the hills. Just like the Kelowna marathon last year I thought I'd try running hard in the last bit of the race, like the 3:30 mark (I figured I would make the finish around 4:10). Just as I was coming up to that time point the guy who was close to me at the turnaround finally showed himself. I congratulated him on having a good second half and let him go by, but not before I asked how old he was. Thinking the two remaining guys ahead of me were younger than 40, if this guy was too then I was in contention for getting a Baker Bear for being the first old guy (over 40) to cross the line. He told me he was 29 as I let him go by me. Seeing as I had planned to try and pick up my pace at this time anyways, I thought this would be a good time to try my plan with him pacing me. I have to say I've never felt that good at that stage of a trail race. We were cranking up the hills where if I was by myself I would probably be walking. We even ended up chatting a bit on the flat spots. I wanted to show the young guy that it was going to take work to drop this old-timer.
We neared the bridge that was basically a huge log over a fast moving river and we kind of missed it, heading down to the river instead. I shouted that the bridge was over this way and went over it ahead of him. Again, I don't know where this burst of energy came from or what I was trying to prove, but I took off for the next ten minutes, essentially dropping him until we got back to the trailhead. I saw he wasn't that far behind so I kept the pace up all the way down the forest service road and eventually over the dam where I looked again and saw him back in the distance. Funny because usually it's me that trails behind someone and watches them run off down the road, unable to catch up. I felt a little bad because he'd basically pulled me during that low stretch thirty minutes earlier. I guess a race is a race and I finally felt like I had a bit of that killer instinct I haven't had in a couple years.
I finished in 4:16, 11 minutes better than my previous best back in 2007 and my fastest 50k in years. It was also good for first place out of all the old guys, earning me a Baker Bear for first in the Master's category.
This was also the debut 50k race for Carrie and my sister, Karen. Carrie finished in 6:53 and Karen was 6:41. Congrats to them both!! I was so proud.
Coming up could quite possibly be the Whistler 50 mile ultra on Nov. 5. It would be cool to be in the first race that took the H2H's place.

Monday, September 26, 2011

I'm Not Dead!

Cough, cough, hack, sneeze, cough. Just blowing the dust off the blog because it's been a little (okay a long) while since anything has been posted. I know I said I'd post the Badwater pics and I will. Not exactly sure why I've felt unmotivated to write anything recently. Could be because we spent most of the summer camping or doing other things than running or sports of any kind. I have to say it was refreshing. But now I'm back!!

One of the summer highlights would have to be riding with 9 guys from work up to Whister. We left on a Tuesday in early September from Vancouver with the weather being perfect. It got a little warm after Squamish because of the slight tailwind and going up all the hills mid-afternoon. I think I clocked the 120km trip at around 5 hours of ride time. After beers and pizza and then dinner at Mongolie Grill, it was hit-the-sack time at 10:30. 6am came early to get ready for the ride home. As energetic as we might have felt after we arrived at Whistler, we were all feeling slightly sluggish the next morning. It didn't help that when we left at 8am the temperature was 8 degrees. Glad I brought my arm and knee warmers, vest, and light gloves. These were especially beneficial for the first hour or so when we were descending way more than ascending.
We missed the headwinds around Squamish luckily and after that we pretty much cruised all the way back to the skytrain in Vancouver for a total of 4 hours. I had big ambitions after this ride to go from my house to Mt. Baker (250km round trip) a couple weeks after but got laid up with a cold. Still not off the radar as I might try it next week depending on the weather.
As for running (oh, yeah, that's what I really do, isn't it?), Carrie and I ventured to Manning Park last week and did the Frosty Mountain 50k and 27k. I was crazily signed up for the 50 thinking it would be a good long training run leading up to the Baker Lake 50k which would be much less hilly than Frosty. Carrie was the smart one doing the 27k. Little did I realize that because I hadn't been doing a lot of trail work, this was going to be tough. Oh, how we think we know our bodies!!
Short summary: There were two guys way out in front after a couple k and I was following a group of eight. Not worried about getting lost I only saw the guys in front of me. On the long first climb we passed the people heading up to man aid station #1 with water in hand. We got to the sign indicating where the first aid station was to be and carried on. Twenty minutes of steep climbing later I saw some runners coming back towards me. My first thought was that there was a bear or something on the trail. Nope, we had just gone the wrong way. All the way back down what we'd just gone up and saw that at the first aid station we were supposed to go right instead of left. Oh, well. If it wasn't before, it definitely was now, a training run.
The path up to the summit of Frosty was mountainous to say the least. With the cold wind, clouds whipping past, and small flakes falling, it felt like an expedition. I basically kept the heart rate down and just made it a long day of training and slogged to the finish feeling actually not too bad in 6:18. Should have been probably a half hour faster if not for the detour but that's racing.
Next up is the Baker Lake 50k this Saturday. Carrie is attempting her first 50k as is my sister. Tracey and Lucy, crew from Badwater, are also running so it will be a bit of a Death Valley reunion minus the heat. Looking forward to pushing myself a bit before a bit of trail down-time to concentrate on the Whistler 50 mile on November 5th. Might as well.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Comrades Pictures

Even though Darin hasn't edited the pictures yet, here is the link. He'll have to write some captions too but at least you can see what it was like.
Photos and some videos

Thursday, July 7, 2011


Yeah I know it's been a while since I've written anything, loyal fans. I know I still haven't posted photos of Comrades. I have to transfer them from the laptop to a memory stick then transfer them to the computer in order to do all that. I know it should be easy but I'm in the dark ages somewhat with all that stuff and need my IT person (Carrie) to do it for me. In brief:
We did two days of biking on the KVR last weekend which was really cool. Pictures and comments to follow (really).
We're off to Death Valley this weekend to help crew Barb Owen to the finish (if Carrie and I don't pass out from the heat first). I feel lacking in the heat training but Barb assures me it should be cooler this year than most. Average temp is 126F and she says they're forecasting 113-116F. Thank goodness!!
Good luck to Bruce Grant who was second on the waiting list for Hardrock this weekend but just found out that he made it in.
Good luck to all the Canadians doing the World Trail Championships in Ireland this weekend as well.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Sinister Saunas

With the daunting task of crewing for Barb at Badwater in two and a half weeks looming, I've been once again hitting the sauna in hopes it prepares me somewhat for the environment in Death Valley. I'm pretty sure I'm in way over my head when it comes to the heat but I try and fool myself into thinking by doing 30-45 minutes in a sauna I'll be ready for 30-40 hours in the desert. Better to grasp at straws than at nothing.
It really isn't a comfortable environment to sit it: my head gets really hot, after twenty minutes I'm acting like I've got ADD and can't sit still - tapping my feet, moving my arms, even walking around - until eventually I'm accused of having autistic tendencies because I'm rocking back and forth or side to side and can even be heard moaning for the time to go faster. The goal is to do several days of 45 minute sessions and try to guzzle as much water as I can in that time. In 30 minutes I'm drinking almost a litre and a half. I'm not sure we can even carry that much water in the crew van to last me the race. Barb will have to learn to conserve.
The barefoot season is upon us!! I feel like I'm cheating a bit because, really, anyone can take a barefoot mentality in the summer (it is summer, isn't it?) when the weather is (hopefully soon) nice and the ground is dry and warm. Hopefully by starting now I'll be well-prepared to continue through the year in better condition. I've done a few runs in the racing flats and everything feels good so far. I'm trying to take the running a bit slower this year and stay off the asphalt for a while until things toughen up. There are so many minimalist shoes on the market by so many companies you have to wonder how they can even sell the regular shoes when they claim the minimalist way to be better for you.
As the summer is approaching I've decided not to race at all through July and August, saving myself for, well, I don't really know. Camping is a priority and we have quite a few trips planned. Kinda hard to do 3, 4, or 5 hour runs at that time. I'll keep up with the maintenance and hope an epiphany hits me as to what race I should do. My sister wants me to pace her for the Skagit Marathon in September as an eleventh-hour qualifier for Boston next year. There's also the Baker Lake 50km trail race and the Victoria Marathon in October. I'm again having trouble wrapping my head around paying $100 for a marathon.
Long term I'm thinking of the Sinister 7 in July next year. 148km through the Rockies in Southern Alberta then maybe a trip to Drumheller after.

Monday, May 30, 2011

My Comrades Experience

I could talk a ton about what it's like to be here but I'll keep it to the race only.
Leaving Sally's mom's place in Hillcrest at 4am got us to the race start around 4:30, one hour from gun time. It turned out it was warmer than I thought it would be, about 13 degrees whereas back in Hillcrest it was about 8. Better to start in Durban than Pietermaritzburg, a few people had told me. After a pre-race picture I left to go to the entrance to the race start area. With 45 minutes to wait I thought I'd bide my time in the bathroom line-up thinking that by the time I got to the front I'd have to go and also there wasn't much else to do anyways. I with I had brought a camera to the start to show what it was like lining up much like the start of the Sun Run where everyone's all packed together. I was waiting by the side fence when I felt a little drop fall on my hat. Surely it wasn't rain with not a cloud in the sky. It could only mean one thing - a good luck crap on the hat from a bird. It turned out to be lucky for me.
With the South African anthem sung, next came the singing of "Shosholoza", a traditional song as explained by Wikipedia:

Although the original author of the song is unknown, Shosholoza is a traditional miner's song, originally sung by groups of men from the Ndebele ethnic group that travelled by steam train from their homes in Zimbabwe to work in South Africa's diamond and gold mines. The Ndebele live predominantly in Zimbabwe(formerly, Rhodesia) near its border with South Africa, and they can also be found in the northern border of South Africa. The song mixes Ndebele and Zulu words and is Zimbabwean in origin even though the two ethnic groups are very similar. Some people argue that the song describes the journey to the mines in South Africa, while others say it describes the return to Zimbabwe. It is also sometimes sung "stimela si phume Rhodesia". According to cultural Researchers Booth and Nauright tell us that Zulu workers later took up the song to generate rhythm during group tasks and to alleviate boredom and stress. The song was sang by working miners in time with the music beat as the were swinging their axes to dig. It was usually sang under hardship in 'call and response' style (one man singing a solo line and the rest of the group responding by copying him). It was also sang by prisoners in call and response style using alto, soprano part divided by row. Former South African President Nelson Mandela describes how he sang Shosholoza as he worked during his imprisonment on Robben Island. He describes it as "a song that compares the apartheid struggle to the motion of an oncoming train" and goes on to explain that "the singing made the work lighter".

In contemporary times, it is used in varied contexts in South Africa to show solidarity in sporting events and other national events to rely the message that the players are not alone and are part of a team.

The song was usually sang to express the hardship of working in the mines. It expresses heart ached over the hard work performed in the mines. The word Shosholoza or "chocholoza!" means go forward or make way for the next man, in Ndebele. It is used as a term of encouragement and hope for the workers as a sign of solidarity. The sound "sho sho" uses onomatopoeia and reminiscent of the sound made by the steam train (stimela). Stimela is the Zulu word for steam train. "Kulezo ntaba!" means (At those far away mountains), "Stimela Siphume eZimbabwe" (the train come from Zimbabwe), "Wen´ uya baleka" (Because you're running away/hurrying). In contemporary times, its meaning it to show support for any struggle

Ku lezontaba
Stimela siphum' eZimbabwe
Ku lezontaba
Stimela siphum' eZimbabwe
Wen' uyabaleka
Wen' uyabaleka
Ku lezontaba
Stimela siphum' eZimbabwe

A rough translation:

Go forward
Go forward
on those mountains
train from Zimbabwe
Go forward
Go forward
You are running away
You are running away
on those mountains
train from Zimbabwe

That song was sung very loudly by most I could see around me. Pretty emotional. After that all that was left was for the rooster to crow, something a competitor used to belt out before he ran the race. I believe they tape recorded him once and now they play that before every race. The gun fired at exactly 5:30 and 16,000 folks all left on a journey of self-discovery.
Although they call this an "up" year, it's hard to imagine how many hills there actually are. I can't wait to get home and download the profile from the Garmin. The route travels one side of the closed off freeway out of town before turning off onto the old highway at about 8km. Cowies Hill, the first of The Big Five comes at about 17km and although it didn't feel too bad to run steadily up it on the outside of the road (less steep) I should have taken more walk breaks. Like most people you get caught up in running because everyone else is. Up and over that my legs were feeling great and the next challenge was Fields Hill at 25km. This was a longer, steeper, and with a few tight S turns. I walked a couple times up this one just because I thought it would be a good idea not to blow up this early. After that climb it was the usual rolling hills but mostly rolling up than down. 35k in we crested the road to Hillcrest. It here that there was the most people watching and cheering. I was amazed how I got inundated with "Go Canada Go" and "Hey Canada" (all pronounced Ca-Na-Da). It really lifted me up on this long steady grade out of Hillcrest. One aid station was playing a song that the kids like but I always make fun of. It really made me think of them and all sorts of things and I admit I got a bit choked up at that point. The elation and energy would not last long.
The sun was hitting us pretty hard by now and for those of us who have had no heat training to speak of it was starting to take its toll. I thought I was drinking enough but by the time I was halfway up Botha's Hill (#3 of 5) I could feel those dreaded beginnings of cramping in my quads. I started with the electrolyte tabs, something I haven't used all year. I never really know if those are helping or if I should just drink more fluids. I really picked up on the drinking of water as well as my own drink mix. Passing the the halfway mark at 3:25 I knew by how my legs felt and that there were still some ugly hills upcoming that a sub-7 finish probably wasn't in the cards. I started focusing on sub-7:30.
The distance markers for this race count backwards every single kilometre and I passed the time by doing the math on converting the kms to miles and how slow I could run them and still reach my goal. After Botha's Hill comes Inchanga, short but relatively steep climb where my quads and calves really started talking. I began stopping at about every second aid station that had people to rub ice or arnica cream on my legs, anything to get me to the next one. I figure I did this probably a dozen times over the last 40kms.
Through the area known as Camperdown and up to the highest point in the race at 810m was Umlass road. You'd think being the highest point that it would be all downhill after that but not a chance. We did get a nice easy descent for a couple kilometres after that though. To get a 7:30 finish my average pace had to say above 8:15 minutes per mile. At this point I was around 8:00 and figured it'd be no problem, even with the last ugly hill upcoming.
Around the 12km remaining mark came what's known as Little Pollys. Not to be confused with it's bigger, upcoming cousin, Polly Shortts. People sometimes think they're on the big one when the first have to get over the little one. I can't remember much about Little Pollys because by this point I was really messed up, thinking only about how I could nurse my legs a few more kilometres. Once onto Polly Shortts you know you're on it. It starts with a few twists and turns then all you see in front of you is a deadly steady go. You might say I walked a bit of this one.
After Pollys I knew there was lots of downhills but they killed my legs as much as going up. My mental fortitude was tested often as all I wanted to do was walk the ups, downs, and the flats. The only thing that kept me going was that I had come all this way for a silver medal and had the cut-off been 7:00 or 7:15 I would have known I couldn't make it and therefore probably walked most of the last 8km after Pollys.
The km markers ticked down and I knew I could run the last two miles in twenty minutes easy barring and last minute leg seizings. I hoped like hell I could manage just a little longer. Everything was locking up - quads, hams, calves, and even my ankles were causing me to run awkwardly on the outsides of my feet once in a while. I stopped at the top of the last little hill when someone ran by and yelled on his way by, "Don't stop now or you won't get the silver." I knew I had the silver, it was just a way of appeasing my body momentarily for all it had been through.
Finally on one of the last turns I saw Sally and Sean holding out my Canada hat and the sign I made for the fam to carry across with me. A half lap around the outside of the cricket oval and the finish was in sight. Having watched a bunch of people's finishing videos on the computer from last year it was a little emotional seeing it from this side. I thought about how long I'd been thinking of that very moment - for a few years but specifically eighteen months ago when I had signed up for last year's race. I know now that had I come here for the race on such little training due to my stress fracture I would have suffered horribly. Even though it was a "down" year last year it still would have killed me with insufficient training.
My average pace ended up at 8:12 minutes/mile with a finish time of 7:26, 426 overall.
I hung around until the end, chatting with fellow Canadians and watching people come across the line. Sometimes there would be a huge mob of runners finishing at the same time, led in by one of the "buses", as in "The 11 hour bus", or what we call pace bunnies.
Still not sure what caused the ugliness in my legs this time. Lack of heat in the spring? (probably not). Underestimating this race's hills and difficulty? (probably)
I can't say I'd do it again but it would be interesting to see what the down run would be like.
Looking back on the last two years' worth of racing results I'm going to take a hard look at what is important to me and what I want to occupy my time with. Will ultrarunning be a part of that time? Time will tell.

Comrades Pictures

Darin's Comrades Videos

Friday, May 27, 2011

A Little Scared Now

So I went on the bus tour of the route yesterday. It's not called an Up Year for nothing. There were The Big Five of course - Cowies, Fields, Bothas, Inchanga, and Polly Shortts, but it seemed like when we weren't going up those ones, we were heading up some other type of incline. It never ended. I may have to call off all the bets on the 6:30, 6:45 and possibly the 7:00. The goal is still definitely sub-7 but even a 7:30 to get the silver medal (awarded to the finishers between 6 hours and 7:30) would be an accomplishment. It amazes me that the winners of this thing go under 5:30.
I know it's getting close to winter here but I still figured it'd be pretty warm in this part of the world. The weather I looked at beforehand seemed favourable. At getting here, though, it was drizzly and cool but still warmer than at home. That was Wednesday. Wednesday night and Thursday were pretty much filled with wind storms and rain showers. I went for a :30 run in between downpours and did the legs ever feel heavy!! Mind you I went up a pretty long steep hill which wasn't the best thing. Steep enough that I could feel it in my quads and IT bands the next day. I'll try them out again today for around 20 minutes.
My hosts here in Pietermaritzburg, Sally and Sean Jackson, have been superb in meeting all my whiny and moaning needs. They've been driving me all over the place. We're about and hour out of Durban so in order to be that much closer to the bus tour at 8am in Durban we stayed at Sally's mom's house in Hillcrest, only 30 minutes from Durban. We'll stay there Saturday night as well to give us that extra time to sleep. 3am comes early. Should be a chilly start so am glad I brought a sweatshirt to throw away after the start. Gloves too. Could have used an old pair of sweatpants but hey, if it's chilly for me it'll be freezing for these SA boys. Score one for the Canadian.
More later.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

That's About It

Three and a half more days until I leave. What more is there to do? Well there's packing, for one. I'm notorious for leaving things until the last minute and packing all my crap is no exception.
The long runs are a thing of the past. Today was my last one, clocking in at a harrowing time of 1 hour, about 8.75 miles. Tomorrow is 4 x 1 mile on the treadmill maxing out at around 5:45 per mile. Saturday is 3 miles, Sunday 6 miles at "pace", according to my schedule. As my pace to be a sub-6:30 time has to be 7:10 per mile, and I've been averaging sub-7:00 the last couple of weeks, it might just be 6 miles on Sunday running how I feel. Monday is 3 miles, then 10,621 miles of flying. Wednesday is 3 miles, Thursday and Friday off, Saturday 2 miles then Sunday is the big hurt.

The race starts 5:30am SA time Sunday May 29th, which is Saturday night at 8:30pm Vancouver time. That means I will hopefully be finishing around 3am Vancouver time. Set your alarms for 2:30 and track me to the end at the Comrades website. My number is 58807. You can watch the whole thrilling adventure streaming live online. What else would you rather be doing?

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Zippidee -do da

So I don't know what it is but the plan has come together and everything is feeling perfect (knocking on wood). As soon as I was done the really long stuff I was to switch to shorter, faster runs. Not that I had an idea what I would be running these faster runs at, just that they'd be less than the 7:30 per mile I'd been doing in the training runs. I found out today that the Comrades "up" run this year is officially 86.96km, shorter than the "down" runs which are usually around 89km. This is good news as I have a better chance of hitting my time goal of 6:30. If it was 89km I'd had to have run a 6:57 average mile and now it'll be 7:13. Much more manageable and possible (but not guaranteed). To get a 6:15 it would be 6:57 per mile but with the hills I can't see that happening without me blowing up.
Anyways, back to the week that was. The key runs this past week were a fast 10k and a "long" run of 1:30. I slapped on the racing flats for the 10k and set out thinking I'd stay steady at a 6:45 pace. As the minutes went on I kept seeing the average pace on my Garmin dropping but I still didn't feel taxed. I ended up doing the first 3 miles averaging 6:18 per mile and the second 3 miles with a 6:04 pace and felt great. Now I know it's only one tenth of the race and I won't be going that fast, but it was a great mental boost to have some speed after weeks of long slow stuff. The next day was a 1:30 run along the hilliest part of 0ave again and ended up cranking out a 6:49 average over 13 miles. Again, felt awesome. Today was only an 8 mile scheduled run and after ten minutes I was flying again with steady breathing and not feeling bad at all. Two weeks to go before I leave!!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Long Runs Done

The last two weeks were the longest in terms of mileage in a couple years when I hit 100 miles each week twice. When I did that I almost broke myself, having the shin splints return. This time I topped out at 75 miles each week and felt much better for it.
My regime which I borrowed from www.halhigdon.com and used for almost all my road races (the site has programs from short distances through the marathon and even one specifically for Comrades, which I've been following for a few months now) has emphasized back to back long runs which I've never really done in any of my ultra training. I always found it was too much at once. I understand that the first day is to tire you for the second to simulate the latter stages of a long race and hopefully to get you though it. Whenever I've tried this I find that I'm mentally not into the second day's run and the fatigue seems to be more of a block than I can hurdle. Two weeks ago my long runs consisted of 5 hours at Chuckanut in the trails, then a 4 hour run the next day. Chuckanut started out really well. I planned two, two and a half hour loops of lots of steady climbing, mostly on well-groomed trails. When I went to start my second loop my legs felt like they weren't into it. I managed to run all the hills like the first loop but at a slightly lesser pace. When I was about 4 hours into it I did the math as to how much time I had left and realized I wouldn't be able to run the last bit of the second loop because I needed to get home. Also that section of the loop was pretty steep and technical in spots and I'd be walking a lot of it anyways. Not really beneficial training when getting ready for a road run. I still ended at 5 hours and the Garmin read 32 miles. The next day I started running along 0 ave again through the hilly section, eventually getting to a rolling stretch of about five miles where I'd turn around and run it in reverse. When I was close to an hour and a half I felt a deep ache in my knee and started freaking out that it might be something bad. I decided to turn around at the 90 minute mark and hopefully make it back to the car. As I kept running on the return route something hit me: I remember that I had this same discomfort a few years ago. I stopped, stretched the quad of my left leg really well then started out again. What do you know there was no more discomfort. I remember going to see Active Release Therapy ace Colin McKay one time with the same ailment and he said it was tight quads. Here we go again.
After fifteen minutes I had to stop and stretch again. It wasn't debilitating but it was definitely bugging me. Luckily I had a massage later that day and that seemed to help a bit. I ended this run with 24 miles done.
A few shorter runs over the weekend and I was on to the last week of long runs. This time I decided to do a 5 hour run on Wednesday and a 4 hour run on Friday with Thursday being a rest day with another massage in there, too. The 5 hour run consisted of starting in Maple Ridge at 240st and Dewdney Trunk Road, right along the old H2H course. I intended to head east to the Mission Municipal Hall, refill the bottles, and head back. As I've been staying off the roads as much as possible the last few months, this would be a test of the legs. I've been trying to stay on routes that have a dirt or gravel shoulder to run on to minimize impact. Lots of times the ground is soft and probably makes me run with greater effort because of the absorption of energy when running. However I thought this would only make me stronger and hopefully reduce the chance of getting hurt again. I couldn't remember if the H2H route had much of a shoulder as along this section it's always been dark and I stuck to the road surface. Turns out that about 75% of the stretch I ran along had a decent shoulder.
The run started reminiscent of the actual H2H race: about 4 degrees and raining. The shoulder was quite often full of puddles and muddy but I stuck to the plan and ran through it all to avoid the asphalt. I had everything that day - rain, sun, wind, hail. I don't think it was the best temperature training for S. Africa but I'll deal with that by hitting the sauna from now to when I leave. I even went the first half with no music but treated myself to the tunes on the way back. My ears end up bleeding if I listen to the music for too long. I ended up the run at 5 hours and 40 miles. 7:24 minutes per mile average. I was pretty happy with this because the route was very hilly in stretches and I felt strong on the return trip. The knee was aching for most of the run but it got to a certain point then didn't get any worse so I could ignore it.
Two days later I went out to Aldergrove Lake for the last time (thankfully). I'm getting to know every inch of that loop and the only thing that changes is the amount of horse poop along the path. I felt excited to do the run and the legs felt peppy as well. This is what I was hoping for. I did one loop of the trails then headed out around the neighbourhood roads to switch things up. I came back and ran the same trail route in the opposite direction in the same time as the first loop, only in a new pair of shoes to break them in. I still needed about :40 after this to hit the 4 hour mark so changed into the racing flats I want to use on race day and cranked out some 6:45 minute miles to finish off the run. Everything went really well on that day and I wasn't even dead tired. I'm beat the nights after the run and the next day but the day after that I'm ready to go again. Confidence is high for the run that's only, holy crap, 27 days away. Now time to taper with some shorter, speedier runs and quick hill repeats. Knock on wood I don't break before the race.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Diez, Fatigue, and Flights

If you look up "Diez Vista" in the dictionary it reads, "Steep, difficult, borne from the depths of hell, exhausting, occasional scenic viewpoints depending on the weather". It may be all these but I still really like doing this event. It's got elevation (8,000' worth), great views of Indian Arm, gnarly and hair-raising descents, great aid stations, fabulous volunteers, and race directors extraordinaire.
I was meaning to post my goals before the race but never got around to it. What I would have said was how it was going to be a training run (yes I know I've said that many times before, but this time, as the others, I meant it). I thought about breaking 4:30 but didn't think it would happen, so I changed the time goal to 5 hours. Even though I was 9 minutes over my goal, partly due to the extra elevation added to skirt some flooded trails (thanks BC Hydro!), I felt overall that it was a successful training run. No falls, bruises, extreme emotionally low periods, and when I finished, my legs felt the least destroyed they've ever felt after an ultra. I'm hoping that that means either I went slow enough to fulfill my goal of not racing, or that I'm in super-awesome shape leading up to Comrades. The fact that I fatigued myself the week before Diez as well cemented in my head the fact I wouldn't be as fast as if I'd tapered. Tuesday before the race was a two and a half hour mountain bike ride with some guys from work, Wednesday was an hour run, Thursday was a 2 hour hard road ride, and Friday was a 2 hour run along the hilly part of 0 ave - 16 miles. The couple days after the run were positive for me because I actually felt like I could have run again but knew it would be better to rest my normal three days afterwards.
An hour and a half on the bike yesterday and a 3 hour trail run today has me back on track, although still a bit tired. A 4 hour run tomorrow should make me forget all that.
Got my flight to SA today. Leaving on May 23rd arriving on the 25th. Coming home on the 2nd of June. Gone to the next level of excitement!!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Dirty Duo report, SFU Running, Long Runs

Okay I know, too much to post. I've been soooo busy, blah, blah, blah. Just haven't been able to sit down an formulate much lately.
A quick recap of the Dirty Duo 25k:
Equaled my time of last year not having run in a trail for five months.
Slightly longer recap:
The first half hour once we started climbing was all I could do to stop, wait for Scott to catch up, and walk my way to the end. Funny thing is that after the thirty minutes things settled down - legs stopped hating me and started working better. I ran behind Jen Seggar for probably 45 minutes until I slowly (and I mean 'slowly', no offense to her because she was scheduled to run a 100 mile race the following weekend) past her on a long steady climb.
After that it was a matter of dodging mountain bikes (sometimes pushing them to help them up the hills) and following the markings to the finish. The trail was wetter and muddier than last year so you'd figure my time and the winning times would be slower but that was not the case. The winning time was about twenty minutes faster than me which over 25k that blew me away! Carrie and my sister, Karen, also did the 15k race.
Did a run through Simon Fraser University a week ago. In the past while training for Ironman, biking up roadway to the top of Burnaby Mountain was a February staple through wind, rain, and sleet. On this day I did a couple hours through the trails and around the back and ended up running up the roadway for the first time ever. I was surprised it only took 14 minutes when by bike it took me 9 (the short route, anyways). I plan to go back soon and do repeats up that bad boy. Funny how little things remind me of biking up that hill: the scenery, the traffic, the never-ending @#!$ hill!!
Have my long runs up to 4 hours all on trails. I've been out to Aldergrove Lake a few times doing 1 hour loops of 8 miles. It's actually not bad because the terrain is constantly going up or down, nothing too crazy, and it's not technical so I can make good time.
This weekend will be my third running of the Diez Vista 50k. Should have been my fourth but the stress fracture last year decided that one for me. I'm planning to do a two hour run the day before to tire the legs a bit. Seeing as I need to do back to back runs for the next month I should start this week and use it as a training tool. Should I be concerned I am definitely not ready for 7,800ft of climbing? Shucks, it's just another day. Time on the feet is what's important right now.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


Last Friday a group of ten of us from work went to the Burnaby Velodrome for a Learn To Ride On The Track session arranged by another co-worker and track superstar, Andy George. It lasted about two hours but the time went by so fast it seemed like twenty minutes. We started out with about a ten minute talk from Claire, an instructor, on going around the cote d'azur, or "coat" as it was called. It's an eighteen inch slightly canted strip around the inside of the track that basically gets you onto the track so you can pick up speed before going up onto the steeper parts.

Me standing on the "cote" showing for scale how steep the track is in the curve - 47 degrees.

It was definitely a bit of a learning curve riding the fixed gear bike with no brakes and practicing speeding up and slowing down not being able to coast. After a few laps it was down to the centre again for another talk on transitioning to the "sprinter's lane" between the red and black lines and up to the blue line (see picture above). After another break of five minutes and a demonstration from Andy on how to hit the last curve then stand and sprint down to the corner and into the sprinter's lane, we were all doing it.
It was a pretty cool feeling having no wind resistance and just bombing around through the corners but it wasn't easy riding near the top because of the small hills just before each curve after the straightaway.
I would recommend anyone to try this at least once in their life as it gives a deep appreciation to the track riders and the power required to do really well.



Definitely Not Me

Thankfully Not Me

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Barb Owen's race report

Here is the Brazil 135 and Arrowhead 135 report from Barb. I sent it to Pano at Trainharder.com and he graciously published it:


Almost as cool as her report, Barb is allowing Carrie and I to crew for her at Badwater in July!! That's bound to be just about as challenging as doing the race. It's also a big help if you crew to getting accepted into the race one year....Hmmm.

What impressed me most is her prep for those two races, something I haven't taken as seriously myself since Ultraman in '06.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Whistler Relay announced!

The new Whistler 50 Relay and Ultra has been announced:

Whistler Relay

I'm signin' up!!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

It's been a long time since...

...I biked three hours (last Thursday) - some time last year
...I swam 2900m (last Wednesday) - Ironman 2007

...I ran over an hour in length - Gibraltar last November
...I ran an hour and a half - last week
...I ran over two hours - last Sunday (2:02)
...I felt this good running - ?

Of course now that I seem to be feeling pretty good and starting on some pace workouts (6:30 per mile) and hill runs, I can imagine the feeling won't last. I only have the last two years to fall back on to emphasize this. I can't remember the last time I was gearing up for a race without some kind of concern or injury. I suppose it was in early 2008 when Spartathlon was the big one on the radar and I was running well in the spring and everything seemed to be going as planned. Then I learned my lesson by running too many races too soon, a lesson that I won't repeat. Speaking of Spartathlon, Canadian living in America, Glen Redpath, ultrarunner extraordinaire, has contacted me for advice on the race. Seems he's wanting to do it this September which can only mean that my Canadian record is most definitely in jeopardy. He should be in the running to win it so it will be an honour if my record falls to him.
So another reason I'll soon break myself again is that the plan I meant to follow starting in January I am only getting into now. Whenever I put down on paper what I should do, that's when I push myself too far and overdo it. Plus I'm trying to catch up to where the Comrades plan is now, which is a long run of 26 miles. I only hit 16 on the weekend, 12 last week, and 8 the week before. What's the old adage? Only increase your weekly mileage by 10% at at time? At that rate I wouldn't be close to being ready for South Africa. This week is a 20 miler followed by a 22 or 24 the week after. Yikes, was that my bones groaning?!?!

On a more interesting note, Barb Owen from Maple Ridge and extremely talented ultrarunner, has completed two of three races this year entailing 135 mile runs. First off was Brazil 135 through the hotness and humidness. Two weeks later was the Arrowhead 135 in Minnesota. In February. With temperatures cold enough to freeze clothes to your body should you be unfortunate enough to let yourself sweat, Barb trudged through brutal conditions to become the only woman to finish this year and only the second woman in the race's seven-year history to cross the line in the time allowed. Next on Barb's list is the Badwater 135 mile race through Death Valley. She has her application in so hopefully she'll be accepted into that one and try to complete all three in one year. I'm awaiting permission to publish here her account of both events. Stay tuned.

Next on the "man, are there ever a lot of athletes better than me" list, is Greg McHale (that's him on the right). Greg is Denise McHale's (remember Denise? First Canadian woman at the World 100k in Gibraltar and Canadian record holder for the 100k, and recently won the Yukon marathon outright. No wonder she has no time to write entries in her blog!) husband and an adventure racer. He decided to enter and complete the Yukon Arctic Ultra race that started last week and he finished yesterday - 8 days and 6 hours later. Did I mention it was 430 miles? In the Yukon? In February? Yes, that's a bit of an adventure.

I had a revelation while running the other day: I'm considering all my pre-40 years-old racing times to be defunct. Now that I've crossed over into middle-age, all my times are now new. SO, if I run a marathon again before I'm 50, the time to beat is 2:57 that I did last fall in Kelowna. When I'm 50 it starts all over again.

Carrie got me a copy of Chasing Legends for Valentine's Day, so anyone wanting a screening can let me know!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Chasing Legends

Here is a site describing the movie Carrie and I just got home from, and how you could buy a copy if you wanted to:

Chasing Legends

In a word - awesome. One of the best movies about sport I've ever seen. If you've ever ridden a bike you'll like this movie. Whether you're 8, 18, or 88, you'll like this movie. It'll make you want to get on your bike and ride.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

What to say, what to say...

Okay, I know. But first, two little rants.

The first has really nothing to do with running or riding or sports in general. Merely something that irks me. It has to do with Craigslist and how people conduct themselves in terms of responding to emails from me and coming to look at items I have for sale. I feel some examples would better illustrate this:
I have a tent-like shelter on Craigslist at the moment that I bought but turns out is too big in my backyard (long story). I have it on there for $225 which is a very good price as the size is 12'x 12' and Canadian Tire sells the same type of shelter that is 10' x 10' for $230. The day after I put it on someone emails me to say they have $150 cash, would I take that? Choked I emailed back a simple, "Nope". It's like putting your car on there for $8000 and someone, sight unseen, asking if you'd sell it for $5000. I had another person this past weekend email and say they were 'very interested' and could they come look at it on Saturday or Sunday. I called and talked to them and we agreed Sunday at 11:30 would work. 11:30 came and went as did the rest of the day with no word from them. Now, in this day and age of instant electronic messaging and cell phones, how hard is it to AT LEAST email and lie if necessary to say you can't come and look at it. Just say, "We can't make it today, will have to re-schedule". That took three seconds to type. It's not like I put my whole day on hold but I did hang around until 12:30 to be sure. It's that kind of inconsideration (inconsiderateness? non-consideration? you get the idea) that drives me crazy. I've never done that to someone. My other example is when you email someone and ask if a certain item is still for sale and they don't respond one way or the other. I emailed a guy about a winter bike for me - cheap, winter transportation, $5-600 - and never received a response. The next day I emailed again asking to please just let me know if he still had it. Literally two minutes later I got my answer: "Sold" was the one word answer. Now would that have been so hard to do after my first email? In-con-siderate. No respect.

Rant #2: Riding my bike to work in the dark, getting no respect from drivers.
Okay, I'm lit up like a Christmas tree on my bike when I ride to work at 6 in the morning in the dark. I know drivers can see me because on longer stretches of road, especially with no cars coming the other way, most cars give me a wide berth, pretty much going in the whole opposite lane to get around me. They can see me because I have three red blinky lights on my backpack, one on my helmet, and three on my bike. On the front I have two white lights on my forks, one on my helmet, and a huge, 900 lumens, sun-like light as my main headlight. So when on a stretch of road with no cars oncoming, I have to question a driver's common sense when they don't even give me one extra inch of room almost like they didn't see me. Then there are those idiots who, at any time of day or night, will still pass me on a narrow stretch of road or a curve when there is oncoming traffic. There is no way for them to give me room and are forced to get a little too friendly. I hope more drivers pay attention to the many "Share the Road" signs that have been put up in the Lower Mainland lately.

Whew, I feel better already. So what's been going on the last three weeks? I started my program of walking/running a little after the New Year. I did the first two weeks running every second day in the trails wearing my fivefingers shoes and when I couldn't make it outside I was on the treadmill in racing flats. After these two weeks I noticed similar sensations in my left foot like when I had my stress fracture last year. I switched to my regular trail shoes and that seemed a bit better. I've kept running and it hasn't got any worse, though the feeling is still there. I did my first road run on Monday since Gibraltar on Nov. 7th. A whole 4.25 miles at 7:00/mile pace. I wouldn't be telling the truth if I said I wasn't sore yesterday with the quads and IT bands complaining the most. I'm going to try and add ten minutes to every second run up until about an hour then I'll figure out a plan from there if I'm not wrecked again. On the up side my biking is feeling phenomenal. I've been doing nearly hour rides to work then the usual thirty-five minute trips home every day and with the hills I'm feeling pretty strong. Throw in a two hour ride on the days off as well. The goal is to do overnight up and back trips to Whistler and maybe Penticton this summer. Throw in a few Mt. Baker rides and life is good.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Starting the New Year right

So the New Year started out with a splash at our usual spot at Crescent Beach (5th year running) with six of us going in and out very quickly. I know I said I was starting my running program on the 1st but, what can I say? I didn't. I did, however, do it on the treadmill on the 2nd at work. 10x 1min walk, 1min run. Whew what a workout. Yesterday I strapped on the Fivefingers and went through the trails near the house doing the same workout. I was wanting the trails because of the softer surface but with the cold we've had lately the ground was like asphalt anyways. Still a feel-good workout. Actually yesterday was a mini out of order triathlon: Swim 1600m, run 3 miles, bike to work 18km.
The swim pretty much went how I thought it would: crappy. Three weeks without running - no problem. Three weeks without riding - ha! I wouldn't even notice. Three weeks without swimming and I'm sinking like a rock all over again. I'm hitting it again today to keep the fun rolling.