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 ...

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Muddy Trails to You

So on Tuesday, two days after the half, I did, for me, the unthinkable - went for a 3 hour run through the trails in Chuckanut. Feeling that I'm not overly prepared for the trail season (also trying to keep the road running up for the World's, a tough juggling act) I thought I'd kick start the fitness and do a long one. Of course, it just happened to turn out to be the muddiest, wettest, slipperiest, and in the last hour, the coldest time I've ever been there. I would NOT want to be running that race in a few weeks if the weather was like that. Every hill had a river running down so running up or down was difficult in it's own regard. The last hour my hands were freezing and my jacket was doing nothing but conducting the cold from my core.
The highlight was I went down a few trails I'd never been before which was a little unsettling when the weather was so bad. A little eerie getting to a viewpoint and having about thirty feet of visibility and then only fog as a view.
My legs felt crappy the first hour and I was thinking this wasn't such a hot idea so soon after a half but that was during the initial :45 climb straight up. After that things mellowed out a bit. That's been the story of the year so far: my legs do not like hills. I'm sure more runs in the trails will rectify that.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

A Masters PR!!

So good news is I got a Masters (over 40) personal PR (as it's the only half-marathon I've run as an old guy), bad news I didn't hit the time I was wanting.
The day was cool but not raining which I'd take any day over H2H weather to start a run. I never usually wear gloves during a race but I'm glad I did this time. When I turned on my Garmin before the start of the race the screen read "Low Battery". Crap, how could that be? Oh, yeah, I remembered I hadn't charged it lately. I haven't seen that message in a while and didn't know if it would last another hour-plus for the race so as a back-up I stuck my regular watch in my water bottle holder. Sure enough about five minutes before the start it died. Suddenly I had the realization I'd have to be doing the math all race to figure if I was on pace. Plus the course is marked in kilometres (I'm a miles guy) which would definitely test my mental skills to compute my pace while running hard.
I stayed on a 6:00 mile pace (about 3:45/km) until a long hill at the 6km mark where I knew I had to gear down and grind up it. I was in second place at the time and the first place guy was roughly 45 seconds ahead of me when I did a time check. At the top of the hill there was a straightaway of a mile and when he turned the next corner his lead was around a minute. I could see him most of the race until the last couple k when he must have poured it on (admittedly, not to take anything away from him, I'm sure I slowed down, too) and I lost him. Back at the 12k mark there was a long steep downhill where I thought I might have made up some time for my goal but more mind-twisting computations revealed I was off the pace by about a minute fifteen.
As we hit the spot where the 10k runners turned around, there was suddenly an ocean of people ahead of me heading towards the finish. The lane that was coned off for us to run in wasn't wide to begin with and with all the runners vying for the lane I took the high road and ran outside the cones. Often there were three or four people running shoulder to shoulder which made it challenging to get around (this HAS to be the reason I didn't hit my time goal).
In the last km (it got easier as I got closer to the finish to do the calculations working down instead of up) I knew I'd need to run it in 2:15 to get my sub-1:20 goal which, on the best day, would be damn near impossible. I settled for the fact I should get under 1:21 but when I turned the last corner, saw where the finish was, looked at my watch, saw I only had 45 seconds to spare, I gave it all I had but still finished 6 seconds over 1:21. Second place overall, 1st in the 40-49. Good news it's a 40-44 record for myself that probably won't be beat because I don't plan to do another one of these for quite some time. Not a fan of the suffering it takes.
Then after I was done I thought of how, if I wanted to run a 2:39 in a marathon, I'd have to run FASTER than that for twice the distance!! Maybe my 2:44 marathon record will stand forever.
Now do I do the 25k or 50k at the Dirty Duo on March 10?? My trip to Chuckanut this week should decide it for me.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Weekend of Running

After a great, relaxing weekend away, and an awesome run through the sunny trails, in Fairhaven, WA, at the foot of Chuckanut Mountain, I'm recharged in my running mind and am ready to start the hard work for the season ahead. I found out on Saturday that I got into the Cascade Crest 100 miler, through a lottery process, at the end of August. Sunday night I registered for the Lost Lake 50km through the trails of Chuckanut but with only 150 people allowed, not the 1000 that the Chuckanut 50km potentially can have. It only cost $40 for Lost Lake so why not? Even if I decide not to do it I can't lose.
So the big races of the year are paid for:

April 22 - World 100k
May 12 - Lost Lake 50k
June 9 - San Diego 100mi
July 7 - Sinister 7 145k
August 4 - Death Race 125k
August 25 - Cascade Crest 100mi

Everything else is just sprinkled in if I'm feeling good and motivated to do more. It's only 740km, however, so I have to find another 260km to make my 1000km goal this year.

I emailed the Vancouver Marathon about obtaining a spot on the elite team (not that I am elite but thought I'd take a shot). Turns out the person in charge of it this year is Lynn Kanuka, a former Olympian. She has heard of me through a mutual friend but said at this time they were only offering spots to men who've run in the last 18 months a 2:20 marathon (women 2:40). Needless to say I won't be getting a free spot into the marathon. She did say at the end that if not enough people were selected or qualified she might be able to get me an entry. So I'm leaving it up to fate for the marathon - if I don't get a spot then I won't do the race. If I get one then I will. I'd like to do it just to check out the new course but I won't be ready to run a decent (in my mind) time because of the 100k in Italy two weeks prior.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

2012, The Year of Training By Racing

The new year is here and I'm going into it with another lengthy list of races, reminiscent of '08 when I raced way too much and ended up with a few injuries. I'm doing it a little different this year however. But first, the list:

FEBRUARY - Ft. Langley Half marathon - signed up

- Trying to see if an early season speed race helps get me better prepared for a faster 100k (April). I had planned on trying for a PR of 1:15 but with the course being pretty tough, hill-wise, and me getting over the latest cough/cold that kept me from running for a week and a half, I've down-graded my expectations to a sub-1:20. A 1:19 equates to a 6:00 min/mi pace which I think I can sustain for the 13.1 miles. I've done the speed-work involved in achieving a 1:15 but when it comes to pace runs of up to 5 miles, I have a hard time maintaining the 5:45 necessary for a 1:15.

MARCH - Dirty Duo 25k (50k?) - NOT signed up

- Always a good first trail race of the year, just not sure whether to do the 25 or 50k yet. I'm pretty sure I won't be in 50k shape by then.

APRIL - World 100k, Italy - On the team

- Why not? Representing Canada has always been a highlight of my racing year

MAY - Vancouver Marathon - NOT signed up

- Still not sure a road marathon two weeks after a road 100k is a smart thing for me but as it's on the new marathon I'm curious to see what it's like. If I had a mediocre run it would give me something to improve on in the future. Also not sure if dropping $100 on a marathon just to run it and not race it is worthwhile.

MAY - Lost Lake 50k - NOT signed up

- I've looked at this one for a couple years now. It's run around Chuckanut Mountain so I'm familiar with the terrain. Harder than the Chuckanut 50k

JUNE - San Diego 100 miler - signed up

- Friend Bruce Grant recommended this race in the past and it intrigued me to do it. Plus it's a good time of the year as I should have a decent base by then.

JULY - Sinister 7, 145km, Alberta - signed up

- I've talked to a few people over the years and this one is supposed to be a good one. On the day of registration you could actually watch the thing fill up. 350 solos in about two hours. Crazy. It'll be done in conjunction with a trip afterwards to Drumheller and the dinosaur museum for the kids.

AUGUST - Canadian Death Race, 125km, Alberta - signed up

- Doing it again because I'm in love with suffering. That's what I remember about this race. Another "in conjunction" race where we'll go visit friends in Canmore afterwards.

AUGUST - Cascade Crest 100 miler, WA - signed up for lottery, drawn Feb. 11

- Always heard this was a good one but usually had another race to do or was bad timing or didn't want to train throughout the summer.

SEPTEMBER - Plain 100 mile - NOT signed up

- Have wanted to do this for a couple years but for the Cascade Crest reasons I never did it. I love the thought of this being such a low-key event with no aid stations or trail markings or prizes or anything.

SEPTEMBER - Frosty 50k - NOT signed up

- As I got off course to the tune of :30 last year I can't help but improve on my time


SEPTEMBER - Steve King 100km - NOT signed up

- How could you not want to be part of an event that the great Steve King has put his name on?? It goes from Princeton to Summerland which is part of the Ultraman route.

SEPTEMBER - Surrey Marathon - NOT signed up

- No, not Surrey, England, but good ole, down in the 'hood, Surrey, BC. Just because. Hopefully my gun license is approved by then so I can have some protection while running.

OCTOBER - Baker Lake 50k - NOT signed up

- One of my first trail races ever and even after four times doing it, still one of my favourites.

So there you have it. At least 1,100kms of racing, only signed up for 551 so far, with another 160 hopefully by next weekend. All the other ones I want to do are simply a matter of dropping down the cash, no lotteries. I should be over 1000 anyways providing I don't wreck myself in the meantime.

What I plan to do this year for some races is make it about the journey, not just the race. Hopefully by doing this I'll stay healthy and won't be too concerned about the standings. Just do them to do them and be thankful I'm able.