Archive for 2012|Yearly archive page

Day 2: Speed Work

In Thought of the Day on June 20, 2012 at 3:59 am

Day 2 of marathon training starts early. I couldn’t sleep. I woke up a 4 am in a nervous panic. My son’s lacrosse team is in a playoff with a team from Burnaby, a neighboring town and the league commissioner was suppose to give me a ruling on when and where we play. In turn I would have to notify the waiting parents and the team to ensure we could field a team. His last email said ‘I will let you know tonight’. How ominous those words were. I checked my email before I went to bed at 10:30, nothing. At 4 am I check again and he had notified us just before midnight that the game would be played today. It’s less than 15 hours before game time. I put the email out.
I make myself a cup of coffee in the hotel room. Hotel coffee is bad but at 4 am standing around in my underwear, it’ll do. I gather my running clothes together, lay out my work clothes for the day and pack the rest of my stuff into my suitcase and then head down to the car. As the alarm on my watch beeps telling me it’s 5 am I pull into the parking lot of Mill Wood Rec Centre, a local track that I find through Google Maps.
The Hanson brothers marathon program says that Tuesdays are for speed work. Unlike Higdon that says do this many intervals at this pace for this many sets, the Hansons are little more forgiving. There is a little more left to interpretation so long as the end result is a cumulative amount of miles. I like that!
I walk out to the track with my Ultimate Direction Access hydration belt which I dump off to the side. I shuffle into a warm up jog and as I round the backstretch I see kids in the adjacent skateboard park. It’s 5 am?! They are dressed very warmly and are riding around the park on their bikes. I get a bad feeling. I complete the first lap and stop to pick up my belt. On the second lap it seems I have attracted their attention. Two of them ride over and do wheelies and fish tale their bikes in my path. I am mildly irritated but don’t break stride. They can’t be more than 15 years old. I have a son that age.
They ride back to the skate park and start shouting and jeering. ‘Run Jackie Chan run!’ How original! Rednecks in the making! There are three of them. The one that didn’t come out for the ride along looks like he might be sleeping. Did they sleep out here? This is a residential area there is no malls, no restaurants, not even a gas station nearby. Were they street kids or just kids with no limitation parents?

I break out into interval pace. Without a steady training regime and mostly heart I soon find a comfortable groove. I am reluctant to glance down at the Garmin to see what my pace is or even my split at the 400 mark. Eyes straight ahead, focus. The first 800 is done in 3:35.
The kids have now attracted some attention from a city worker who looks after the park. A pick up truck with the City of Edmonton logo parks itself on the grass near the skate park. I feel a bit of relief as I know I’m not alone out here. My shoulders relax and my pace smoothes out. Second 800 done in 3:34.

I can’t hear anything but the kids occasional shouts of profanity. They keep circling the bowl of the skate park like sharks in the tank. The city worker drives away and I am alone once more. I remain focused on the task 4 x 800. Yasso 800s they are called. Named after Bart Yasso who discovered that training your speed in consistent 800 meter intervals equates to your finishing time in the marathon except minutes become hours and seconds become minutes. Third 800 in 3:31.

I used these 800s in my last training program, quite successfully I might add. I consistently trained at 3:30 for 800 meters and I ended up with a 3 hour and 29 minute PR. The guide I read said not to exceed 3 miles of intervals which would have been 6 repetitions but because of my recent lack of training I shoot for 4. I still feel good but at this point why should I push I’m still building not refining my pace. Defining not refining! The final 800 is complete in 3:29.

As I warm down I take notice of what is happening over at the skate park. The city worker has returned and a shouting match ensues. I casually walk back to my car as the kids mount their bikes and head off towards me. They ride right by and behind the Rec Center. A police cruiser pulls in. Show’s over!

I drive back to the hotel in a slight euphoria. I finished my speed workout unscathed. It’s just after 6 am and I have the whole day ahead of me. As I get in the elevator and the door is backed open by an older man. He’s dripping with sweat as he towels off, fresh from a few miles on the treadmill. “Great morning!” he says as the door closes.

“Yes, The best!”


Fathers Day

In Thought of the Day on June 19, 2012 at 12:37 pm

Today is Day Zero? Day Zero of my marathon training plan. Zero is less than one of course, in most circles zero has no value. Today is Day Zero because it’s Fathers Day. As it turns out the marathon was a gift for Fathers Day from my wife. Inside the gift bag I opened this morning was a box of Clif Bars, two pairs of running socks, a couple of Clif Shots and the receipt from the marathon entry into the Goodlife Fitness Victoria Marathon (bucket list).

I have being floundering in my running lately. Sporadic is an understatement. I am actually scared to look and the mileage I have racked up in the last 4 months. So what gives? Why such a fall from grace. The list is endless but I don’t want to make excuses, I am responsible for me.

So when I opened my gift this morning I was dumbfounded. I thanked my wife for such a gracious gift and immediately my mind began to calculate dates, times, paces, schedules, and plans. Fear and anxiety came and was quickly replaced by confidence and bravado. I can do this.

The day continued on. I made the family breakfast. We went to the store to buy some flowers. We went to the cemetery and paid our respects to my wife’s dad. Tidied the house and packed for my trip to Edmonton. All the while thinking, planning my next move. Hanson’s or Higdon? No time to run today.

Lacrosse at 3, the last game of the regular season. Thank God the end is near! Coaching, managing, scheduling, executive meetings have taken its toll. The game was a loss and created more problems then anticipated. We are seeded last heading into the playoffs.

Running has always been my solace. My fortress of solitude! I needed this and although I am a father, husband, volunteer firefighter, coach, podcaster, and part-time philosopher, nothing can replace what running gives me? It is intangible, unquantifiable. I love it and it loves me back, most days.

Thank you Jen for giving me the spark once more

Wisdom from a 90 year old

In Thought of the Day on February 27, 2012 at 1:20 am

Written by a 90 year old
This is something we should all read at least once a week!  Make sure you read to the end!

Written by Regina Brett, 90 years old, of the Plain Dealer, Cleveland, Ohio
“To celebrate growing older, I once wrote the 45 lessons life taught me. It is the most requested column I’ve ever written.
My odometer rolled over to 90 in August, so here is the column once more:
1. Life isn’t fair, but it’s still good.
2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.
3. Life is too short – enjoy it.
4. Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and Family will.
5. Pay off your credit cards every month.
6. You don’t have to win every argument. Stay true to yourself.
7. Cry with someone. It’s more healing than crying alone.
8. It’s OK to get angry with God. He can take it.
9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.
10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.
11. Make peace with your past so it won’t screw up the present.
12. It’s OK to let your children see you cry.
13. Don’t compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn’t be in it.
15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye But don’t worry; God never blinks.
16.. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.
17. Get rid of anything that isn’t useful. Clutter weighs you down in many ways.
18. Whatever doesn’t kill you really does make you stronger.
19. It’s never too late to be happy. But it’s all up to you and no one else.
20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don’t take no for an answer.
21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don’t Save it for a special occasion. Today is special.
22. Over prepare, then go with the flow.
23. Be eccentric now. Don’t wait for old age to wear purple.
24. The most important sex organ is the brain.
25. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.
26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words ‘In five years, will This matter?’
27. Always choose life.
28. Forgive but don’t forget.
29. What other people think of you is none of your business.
30. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.
31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
32. Don’t take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
33. Believe in miracles.
34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn’t do.
35. Don’t audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.
36. Growing old beats the alternative — dying young.
37. Your children get only one childhood.
38. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.
39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.
40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we’d Grab ours back.
41. Envy is a waste of time. Accept what you already have not what you need.
42. The best is yet to come…
43. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
44. Yield.
45. Life isn’t tied with a bow, but it’s still a gift.”

Hunting for Huntsville

In Thought of the Day on February 23, 2012 at 8:37 am

I remember family vacations as a kid. They left memories that I hold on to fondly to this day. I don’t know what it was, whether it was the fact the I got my father’s undivided attention when we went fishing off the dock or just the feeling of family unity as we did everything together. We ate together, fished together, and slept in a very cramped hotel room together. The Holiday Inn in Huntsville Ontario holds a warm spot in my heart. I’m sure it has changed a dozen times over since I was a kid but the memories are so forged in my mind that I could paint a picture of the hotel lobby, the walk down to the lake and the feeling of the prickly pine needles as we took that walk down to the lake. Some 40 years later and I am literally in the drivers seat, I have kids of my own and my wife and I are planning are own family vacation.

It’s a self serve world today. Everything is based on convenience and self indulgence. It would be so easy to pay the price and go to Disneyland or even Great Wolf Lodge (both of which we’ve done) but I want something different. Last year we rented a house in Pacific City, Oregon. I had an incredible time. I would hope my kids would say the same. Honestly, full disclosure, I think the best part was no WiFi! The house had no Internet connection so we were left to our own devices. We watched TV together because there was only one TV. We watched the owners collection of movies together, most of which I had seen twenty years before. There must have been a sale on ‘B’ movies at the local grocery store. We went crabbing. We flew kites. We went sand boarding. We did everything together.

So this year, the question is ‘how do I top that?’ The answer?! You don’t! I just chalked up a Huntsville Holiday Inn experience. My kids may not appreciate it now or maybe even ever. I’ve never reminisced with my brother and sister about our childhood vacations so I don’t know how it affected them. Those vacations were important to me, more now in retrospect. They were key bonding moments or at least I am brainwashed to believe it so. I am now hunting for another house in the same city as last year, around the same time of year. I am determined to find another Huntsville.

Week 3 & 4: Travel, Snow and Cougars

In Pushing Limits, Training on January 31, 2012 at 10:25 pm

Week 4 has just finished and is now in the books. I neglected to re-cap on week 3 at the end of week only because week 4 was so tough to squeeze in anything: eat, sleep,run, work, work some more then repeat. At times it seemed like the repeat emphasis was on work.

During week 3, my little town of Mission received a blanket of snow that would not go away thus forcing me inside to the treadmill. At the same time our neighborhood received a cougar scare believe it or not so we became very diligent about keeping the kids inside and of course not running in the trails. I plodded along for the entire week on the treadmill getting in two outdoor runs near the end of the week. In total I reached my weekly sub- goal of 40 miles. Full disclosure I was 0.12 miles short of 40 but back in week 1, I was over my target so it kept me on pace.

Week 4, I was going to be traveling all week and in anticipation of a busy work schedule resigned myself to only bringing shorts and short sleeve technical shirts. I knew it would be heavy emphasis on work and not a lot of alone time to explore the city by foot. The week started well enough, I ran early Monday and later Monday for a rare double. In between was mostly travel driving up to Kamloops and picking up my team from the airport. Tuesday and Wednesday were tough. I started the days early and ran on the treadmill then worked some pretty long hours before grabbing some dinner and collapsing to bed. Thursday the intention was there but the body just said ‘No mas!’. Things weren’t going well at this installation. Frustration was at an all time high which you would think would make me want to run! Right?

Maybe it homesickness, maybe it was the talk on the phone with my wife about ultras or maybe it was the frustration of work but for whatever reason I woke up at 2 am on Thursday morning and started re-checking my work on the laptop. By the time 5 am rolled around I was exhausted but had to go to work.

Friday was an extra day on site. I had to check into a different hotel which I selected based solely on their fitness room. Feeling a little less burdened as this was my final day on site and I would just be tying up loose ends I ran. My intent was to go as long as I could. I knew I was behind for the week with a target of 45 miles so I wanted to make this a good one. All I had in me was 6 miles!

As it turned out that was my last run of the week, so I ended my week with 22 miles total. If I don’t run another step in January, this being the 31st, I will end the month with 129 miles. Not bad but I leave it on a low note. I’m trying! I’m really trying but I just have to re-assess.

My short term goal was 200 miles by February 5th. If I ran 45 last week I would be 49 miles from target. But I didn’t so now I’m 71 miles from target! It’s a long year and the big goal is still 2500 miles. I could push it, risk injury and get 71 over the next week or I could maintain the weekly target of 50 miles or I could sit on the couch until the rain goes away.


Week 2: Snow

In Training on January 20, 2012 at 7:07 am

It’s all in the execution! With week 2 of 2012 now in the books I covered 35 miles as planned but it was a stretch. Two days left in the week saw snow in my hometown for the first time this winter. The first night saw about 5″ of snow which is odd for the west coast which usually sees rain from November to February. What is more usual is the snow never melted and it just kept snowing. We are now on our third day of snow.
From a runner’s perspective snow always presents a bit of a challenge.
The snow budget in my city is next to nil. Like I said it rains from November to February.
I’ve been to cities that have a great snow budget. It’s probably one of the only redeeming qualities of Edmonton. I can run freshly plowed sidewalks for miles in Edmonton. In Mission I can’t see sidewalks and to run the streets means to share single tracks with the cars who have never heard of the term “snow tires”. Who ever coined the term “all season tires” must have lived in California.

So I finished up the week on the treadmill. I’m one of those fortunate enough to own his own. It’s clunky, it’s loud and best of all it was free a hand me down from my mother’s fitness resolution some 15 years ago. So when they down sized homes 8 years ago I adopted a treadmill.

Its a love-hate relationship. I love to run but I hate to run on the treadmill. I love the fact that when the weather gets ugly the treadmill is there for me. Yes, I realize this relationship sounds abusive and if the thing had feelings it would have left me long ago. But it has to be really bad in order for me to want to run in place on top of a rubberized moving platform. So there I was 7 miles on Saturday and 6 1/2 on Sunday, finishing the week with 35 miles exactly my target goal!
This week will be a stretch a quick trip to Edmonton where it’s -27C right now. I will be back tomorrow night. A one day trip to Kelowna and then home for two days. The forecast for home is snow all week. The goal for this week is 40 miles. I’m going to take it one day at a time because just like the weather things may change.

Running a Mile High

In Thought of the Day, Training on January 11, 2012 at 6:00 am

I was in Denver the other day. Business travel is a necessary evil for me. On the bright side I get to run in different places. On this trip I had planned to run inside on the treadmill, the dreadmill as I like to call it. Denver in the winter is supposed to be cold, snowy and just plain ugly. Imagine my surprise when the weather was sunny, no snow and in the low 50s. My business meeting ended early for the day giving me the opportunity to run the streets of Denver. But I had no Garmin! I purposely left it at home on the charger because I had planned a treadmill run. Could I actually run without it? Could I run naked? Or so it felt as I stepped out the door of the hotel.
Isn’t it strange how running without something you are so accustomed to, that has become so apart of your lifestyle can make make you feel naked without it? I haven’t run without a recording device like a Nike+ or a Garmin in such a long time, probably 4 years. This run would stretch my comfort zone as I would soon find out.
The run started out from the hotel and I took a quick left. The sun was beginning to set so the once balmy short sleeve temperatures were becoming a thing of the past. I crossed the road as sidewalks that see no direct sun still had the remnants of last Saturday’s snowfall. Running while traveling is both adventurous and scary especially for the directionally challenged like me. My plan was to run for 5 miles. Without a GPS I was going to have to estimate. After a right turn I ran for another 10 minutes I am guessing was a mile and another right turn. I was going to run a big square. So what I thought was around 2 miles I headed back for the hotel. Running along the side of a highway I felt like Dean Karnazes running for a purpose rather than the experience. Traffic roared by me and my thoughts were being drowned out by the tires on pavement rolling past me. I realized that the sun had now set and I was running in complete darkness on the edge of a highway. The temperature had now dropped to what I suspect was freezing when I heard a ding, my cellphone. It was telling me that the battery was now dead. Another bad decision and I took the on ramp to the Interstate instead of the off ramp back to the hotel. So there I was shorts, t-shirt, dead cellphone and running on the Interstate. How stupid is that. I could have turned around but by now the wind was starting to kick up and to face traffic would have been like running in a sand storm. I ran for another quarter mile to the next exit which would get me off I-70 and take me back to the hotel. By now my hands were freezing with an ache in my wrists, the early onset of hypothermia. I rounded the final corner with the driveway leading back to the hotel. I stopped the timer on my stopwatch and the time read 48:15. I’m guessing the run was about 5 miles and I could probably validate that on but I won’t. To me it felt like 5 and that’s good enough.
In hindsight the treadmill would have been the safer bet and probably more comfortable. But it’s not about comfort is it? It’s about living outside that comfort zone, running naked!

The journey of a thousand miles . . .

In Training on January 11, 2012 at 5:30 am

I believe you can do anything if you put your mind to it. I believe that you can push the envelope of human physiology as an experiment of one. I believe in the 10% rule. The rules states that you shouldn’t increase your weekly mileage by more than 10%. The rule has also been used in terms of stretching the limits of your long run. I believe in the 10% rule but I also believe the limits can be stretched beyond 10%.
I’ve been a runner for 28 years now. I’ve had injuries that were both chronic and acute. I have done some dumb things in training. This may be the dumbest thing I am embarking on or it could prove to be of great benefit.
I am stretching the 10% rule. I am stretching it to about 50%. I have run the past 2 months averaging about 3 to 4 runs a week. My weekly volume has been about 20 miles. Last week I ran 32 miles. I’m not completely stupid, I plan to only run 35 this week and 40 the week after.
So far the feet are a little sore and the ankles a little achy but other than that I am good to go.

What could you do with 2,500 miles?

In Training on January 6, 2012 at 10:51 am

2500 miles in one year:
48.07 miles per week.
6.83 miles per day everyday

A podcast friend of mine finished off his 2011 running campaign with just over 2500 miles (I believe it was 2518 miles but don’t quote me). The effort was purely inspiring and I for one of many am always impressed by his fitness. What was impressive was, with 9 days left in the year he had 85 miles to break 2,500. He doubled his daily average for 9 straight days to seal the deal.

To run 2,500 miles in one year is daunting. To look at the number on in January is even more daunting. I don’t necessarily want to run 2,500 miles in one year. I love to run don’t get me wrong but 2,500 miles can be represented in many other ways.

2,500 miles is 416 hours and 40 minutes of running, that’s like 17 days 8 hours and 40 minutes of running based on a 10 minute per mile pace. That’s like Hmmm, well what else could I be doing with that time?

I could be watching every episode of first three seasons the Big Bang Theory end to end excluding commercials 12 ½ times.

Or about 116 games of major league sports whether its football, baseball, or basketball based on a 3 ½ hour game coverage. That’s about 2.2 games per week every week.

Or compose about 20,000 tweets plus update my blog, Facebook status and search for deals on Craigslist!

I guess my point is there are a lot of non-life force generating activities that I could be doing instead of running. Running is good for me. It creates “Flow”!

I think my “A” goal for this year is going to be 2000 miles. I will be happy with that. My “A+” goal will be 2500 miles. I’m going to break it down into achievable benchmarks to make I’m on track. I’m not going to simply divide by 12 and say this is the monthly goal. I am a believer in slow build to a peak period (periodization) a recovery period and start the cycle again.
My first benchmark is the first 5 weeks of 2012. My goal is 200 miles by February 5th. Five successive weeks of 5 mile increments: 30, 35, 40, 45, and 50. At that point I will re-assess.

Low Hanging Fruit

In Personal Bests on January 2, 2012 at 2:44 pm

As the year starts I pondered some goal oriented running. I feel the need for speed to coin a phrase. In order to see where I want to go I must know where I have been first. I have never been great at record keeping. I’ve never put too much focus on personal bests but as the years start to sap the speed from my legs I felt the need to establish my past records.

20120102-090458.jpgWhat I found was a bunch of low hanging fruit. Yes another colloquial expression but I can’t help myself these gems were just hanging there ripe for the picking. To find your personal bests you can do what I did and go to and search on your name. I found almost my entire race history for about the last 14 years. Of course if you race a lot you will have to sift through all the races but luckily for me there wasn’t a whole lot.

My 5K time is 20:03 which may have a statute of limitations asterisk on it. To me records are best when you break an established barrier, usually in denominations of 5 minutes. For a 5K, you have to be world class to break 15 minutes and really unless you are a real numbers nut all the minutes in between 15 and 20 are fuzzy. Does anybody know if 18:01 is a whole lot better than 19:01? It’s the milestones like sub 20 that sound truly impressive. For what ever reason my PR is 20:03 just 4 seconds away from saying I’m sub 20.

My 10K time is almost sub 45. A milestone, yes but not as cool as saying I’m sub 40. Sub 40 is wicked fast and only with some kickass dedication could I even come close. I am almost positive I’ve run lower than 45 minutes in a 10K but I have no record of it. Ripe for the picking!

My Half Marathon PR is also still in that 10 second window of being respectable. Are you noticing a trend? Its like seeing a finish line checking my watch and suddenly the line moves 5 seconds away.

My marathon PR is special to me. My previous PR was 3:31.39 prior to that it was 3:42.25 and prior to that 3:53.25. My first two marathons were a year apart so lopping off 11 minutes in one try was great. Doing it again 5 years later with no attempts in between was just as great. To my credit I have only run four marathons spanning 10 years and every time I did I set a new PR. It makes me apprehensive about trying it again.

Ultras? Ultra marathons shouldn’t count for personal records because every course is different. In fact, we celebrate the differences. This one has 15,000 ft of elevation gain. This one has 11,000 feet of gain and loss but is all single track. You can’t compare distances when the courses are vas

tly different so you end up having course PR’s. Which is why I listed it here. That being said they do have speed records for ultra courses and it is usually the flattest courses with the least amount of technical trails. (Side note: I would love to run a 50K and eventually a 100 mile ultra. Once again low hanging fruit because it would be my first attempt at the distance.)