Sunday, June 28, 2009

1:09:05

Goal Accomplished!

I ran the Scotia Bank Half Marathon today and had a wonderful result. I was 8th overall with a 1:09.05. My goal was to go sub 1:10, now that I am home I think maybe I should have been a little more ambitious. I am very happy with my result but 5 seconds is not a lot and to have a 1:08 would be great. There is huge incentive for my next hard training session, after a good break.

The race went out well with a quick lead pack then a few of us stragglers in behind. I ran the first 12 km with my club mate Graeme and a guy from Northwest runners in Washington. The pace was solid and comfortable. It was good to run with Graeme as he is very strong and super fit. He recently ran close to 1:10 so I knew he would be on pace to run close to what I wanted to go. The first 5 km were good, I felt relaxed and my breathing was calm and easy, I ran 16 minutes low. I got into a good rhythm and totally shut off my brain. It was actually funny because my friend Sony cheered for me at one point and I was totally taken by surprise, it was awesome. There is a long downhill section between km 8 and 10. I have been dreading this part of the course because of some knee issues I have been having. The only part of the course that really scared me was the bottom section. I felt a twinge of pain near the bottom of the hill and some loss of sensation up the lateral aspect of my right leg, once at the bottom of the hill the sensation returned and the incident went to the back of my brain. At 10 km I was at mid 32 minutes, exactly where I wanted to be, and I was feeling good.

At this point the three of us passed a guy who had gone out with the lead group, a good sign. It was also at this point that Graeme dropped off the pace. The pace he pulled through the first section of the race was a huge benefit. There is an uphill section at km 11 and I worked hard to bridge a gap the American had made and ended out pulling him up the hill. We were then onto 4th ave with around 7 km to go. At this point I wanted a bit of energy to get to the finish line but grabbed water by mistake. I was carrying an emergency gel just in case I bonked, I used it to good effect. I was still feeling good at this point so I decided to push the pace a bit. Once we were running on Point Grey Road I knew I was getting close to home. I have run this route hundreds of times on my Sunday long run. I told myself to go hard and catch Jackson, who I could see in the distance. The American did not come with me and I was now on my own for the last 5 km. I pushed hard along Cornwall and I felt great. I felt light and energized, I felt like my feet had a positive charge with the ground a negative charge, not letting my feet touch the the pavement.

The last hill on the course is the Burrard Bridge. At this point my math skills fell apart and I figured that I was running somewhere around 1:10.10. Kevin was at the bottom of the bridge and yelled how far I was ahead of the guy behind me but nothing about pace, I was a little freaked out but motivated to run hard. I also hit a bit of a rough patch at this point and it became difficult to get my quads to fire and lift. I had a bit of a shock of panic as I thought I might be bonking. Coming off of the Burrard Bridge I was slightly panicked and a tad out of control. I was unsure where my pace was, I was on my own and starting to have some negative self talk. Then off to the left I saw another club mate, Ynuk. His shouts of encouragement gave me a little burst of energy, as well as seeing the 20km marker. I looked at my watch and saw 1:05 or 1:06 something. Again I had a little freak out in my head and just thought 'go'. I ran my last km in around 3:10 or 3:15 which is pretty good after a half marathon. I was extremely happy to cross the line in 1:09:05, 8th place! (second BC runner!)

At the time, during the race, I felt like I was going as hard as I could, now that I am done I realize that I have more to give. I felt in control for approximately 90 % of the race, the conditions were not ideal with swirling head winds and I worked alone through the last 4 to 5 km. I know now that I can run sub 1:09, maybe even sub 1:08 if everything goes my way. My body feels good and my cool down was surprisingly relaxed and easy. My quads have tightened up a bit but generally everything feels alright.

I have a few weeks off to heal my body and mind and enjoy time. I have never gone into a rest period feeling this good about running and life in general. At the beginning of the year I set 3 goals for my 2009. I wanted to run sub 31 at Sun Run, Sub 1:10 for half marathon and win the Timex series. I have achieved my first two goals and it looks like I will be third in the Timex series, not too shabby to finish behind Ryan MacKenzie and Scott Simpson! I am very excited that my year has gone so well thus far. For the rest of the year I want to continue to enjoy running as much as I do now.

Oh and I want to say thanks to the race organizers. The race was very well organized and I was very happy to have a comp elite entry. I must commend BC Athletics and the running community in BC. Of all the places I have run and trained I have never been so well treated. It is truly a blessing to run in the most beautiful place on earth and to represent such a great province. I am obviously very happy with my run.

Happy Training!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Details

Every athlete has a pre-event routine and runners are no exception.

Yesterday after work I picked up my race package. It was nice to get in before the rush and pick up my number, chip and t-shirt. The shirts are not too bad and mine actually fits! I had a great evening last night to celebrate a friend's birthday. I only had one beer but would have really enjoyed a few more. It was great to have time with friends as a distraction from the race and life's other joys and mysteries.

This morning I woke up at a good time feeling somewhat well rested. After breakfast I hit the trails for my pre-race run. I do the same basic run the day before every race. I warm up until I feel warm, do some drills and strides, then run home. This morning I felt slightly sluggish on my warm up though quite excited to be running. Once at the Brockton Oval Track I did my drills and strides. The strides were a little sticky. My legs felt rested but still a little weary. It took a few hundred metres to really get up to speed. Once I got going I was feeling the need to run a good 400 metre workout. That was a sign I should run home, have something to eat and get some rest.

My bag is packed with my flats and singlet, my clothes are laid out and I am ready to run fast. I am now going to play around with my rabbit ears and get motivated by watching the Canadian Track and Field Championships.

I hope all the VFAC runners have a great run tomorrow. It will be nice to be at the start line with a bunch of great guys and gals in the VFAC Blue. Early wake up call tomorrow, though on race day it does not matter!

Happy racing!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Things That Make You Go Hmmm


What a difference a day makes.

Tonight I was out for my last workout in Stanley Park for a few weeks. I was anticipating an easy workout which would have me chafing at the bit to run hard. I was thinking I would be well rested with tonnes of energy and a certain spring in my step. I was wrong.

Tonight's workout was 3km, 2km, 2km. I did not run the last 2km in preparation for this weekend's race. John gave me a conservative pace time with the instruction to run the workout as I would any other but not harder then normal. Sometimes when one has a shorter workout then normal the tendency is to run extra hard to get more quality out of the workout. With 4 days to go before my last race of the summer this would not be wise. My warm up went well though I felt a little sluggish, not uncommon during a taper. Drills were the same as usual and I only did 3 strides. I did not have any pop to my stride and it was a struggle to get my feet off of the ground. The first interval was a struggle. I felt tired, heavy, slow, weak. The running was not effortless nor did I feel like I was floating. The funny thing was that although I felt slow I ran the equivalent of a 9:05-9:10 3km, hmmm. The second interval I got to start with Ynuk who is seriously super ripped! He hammered the first climb which is approximately 500 meters at the beginning of the interval. It was a struggle to stay in touch with him over the first part of the interval. On the remainder of the interval, mostly downhill, I planned on opening up my stride while Ynuk was planning on cruising. I tried to run easy but I could not seem to get the legs going. Every stride involved a conscious effort to lift my leaden leg off of the ground, kick up towards my butt then reach forward towards my next stride. Thinking of lifting the leg is not usually fast. After finishing the interval I felt nauseous and generally gross. Again I felt slow and heavy. Surprisingly I ran the equivalent of a 5:55-5:57 2km, hmmmmm.

I do not know what to make of this workout. I felt great on Tuesday and may have run a little too hard. Today I felt sluggish and it was a battle to get to the end of the intervals, though I ran fast. I am thinking that tonight was a good night to get rid of some rust from yesterday's day off and to burn some of the excess glycogen which has accumulated over the last week of reduced miles. A huge bonus if one looks at patterns is that a tough Thursday workout is usually followed by a great run on the weekend for me. I am not concerned with how awful I felt tonight because I ran fast and I was anticipating a bad workout sometime soon. It is too bad it happened tonight but I now have confidence I can fight through a tough patch to get to the finish line.

I get really nervous to race, especially if it means a lot to me or if I have a big goal to accomplish. This race is no exception. I have had rocks in my stomach all week and have felt quite random at work. Thankfully the nervousness has not negatively impacted my sleep although I have found it hard to eat at times. Funny how things change. When I first started running I would eat when I was nervous. Before my first CIS Cross Country I ate a whole bag of bagels, man I had a lot of indigestion!

The hay is in the barn! (I have made a lot of hay this year...)

Happy Training!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A Few More of My Favorite Things

Taper + Rain = Blogging

I have no run today. I have no exercise today. I have written on tapering before describing how hard it can be to sit still and do nothing. When a person is accustomed to exercising at least an hour a day at a good intensity it can be very difficult to stop. I love running and training so a taper is tough. I want to go out and do something but I also want to ensure my feet are injury free (walking around before Sun Run led to something popping in my foot and 6 weeks of limping with pain). I have also become somewhat impulsive. Today I bought a pair of very white trousers and yesterday I spent over $100 on face creams. Maybe I am trying to impress someone, not really sure.

My Favorite Runs

Arisaig, Nova Scotia: The Trunk Road to the old Arisaig Road (the sign says MacDonald Rd.). This is an infinitely long run if that is what you are looking for. Starting near the ocean this hard packed dirt road has a gradual incline as one runs into the forest and the Arisaig Back Settlement. The quality of the road gets progressively worse as one runs. After around 6 km the road becomes a V where going left will take you on a trail behind the church, Grandma's house and you eventually get to my brother's place. There is a beaver pond, a great fishing spot and some great views of the Northumberland Straight. If you go right, the road becomes a old logging road which becomes merely a path through the woods. The road climbs for approximately another 3 km until the top of the 'mountain' is reached. Once to the top of the mountain there is a grid of logging and access roads to run on. The great thing about this run is the solitude (also a risk...). Once past the V in the road there is more chance of seeing a bear/coyote/deer/moose then seeing a person. There are no power lines, no cell phone service, no cars nor trucks. The only sign of humanity is the rutted trail from 4 wheelers (AKA Quads). The only sound one can hear is the pristine brook cascading down the moss covered boulders. This is a great trail to run in summer as it has a dense cover of deciduous foliage. There are a few springs along the way as well for a quick drink of water.

Fredericton, New Brunswick: The Maryville Loop is an 8 mile loop starting in the city, crossing the St. John River, through Fredericton North and then into the beautiful St. John River Valley. With crushed gravel under foot this run offers a relief from pounding on pavement. This is a very flat loop with a very gradual ascent to the midpoint, regardless of the direction one chooses to run this loop. I must have run this loop hundreds of times. A benefit of this loop is the possibly of adding small side loops to extend a long run. I would often add an extra 7 miles by running around the city. As with most trails on the East coast it is possible to run this loop without seeing a single soul. This run always made me feel fast with it's downhill finish into the city. Returning to the city in the evening, crossing the lighted footbridge, was always very romantic (even if I was by myself...).

Hamilton, Ontario: Many people make fun of Hamilton and describe it as an industrial abomination. Those people did not bother to get out of their cars! When I was living in Hamilton I had access to hundreds of miles of crushed gravel trails which led to soft dirt and bark trails. My favorite trail (I forget the name) was a grass and mud trail in a ravine near a random sub-division. It was adjacent to the Dundas Conservation Area which was a blessing amidst the "Golden Horseshoe" concrete jungle. I was unable to get real solitude on these trails but they did allow me to feel rural within a few miles of the city.

I have yet to find a favorite run in Vancouver. I love Stanley Park though I wish there were more miles of trails. To run a long run I invariably have to retrace my steps. As much as I love Vancouver it is the only city I have lived in where I cannot run the majority of my long run on some type of unpaved trail. I enjoy running on the Sea Wall but I feel it hurts my body to run on the asphalt. I enjoy the endowment lands near UBC but do not enjoy the concrete and pavement route to get there and then get home. I have to run 30 minutes to get 20 minutes of soft trails. I would drive to the North Shore trails but I do not have a car and I find it weird to drive to run. One of the joys of running is throwing on a pair of shorts and shoes and flying out the door. Vancouver is the most beautiful city in Canada (very bold statement) but other cities in Canada, even those one may not suspect, have more access to wonderful trails for running and training.

Oh and lastly a huge shout out to the the EBTCers who competed last weekend. I enjoy singling people out as being exceptional so I will here. Huge kudos to Don Smith. Don was in Ironman Coeur d'Alene. From his race report (see link on left to Studio YVR) he was not overly pleased with his result. He is what I want to be. I could not imagine finishing one Ironman let alone all the many he has done as well as ultra marathons etc. Don inspires me although I am insanely jealous of his P2.

Happy Training!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A Big Difference

I have always felt different. Part of this stems from being reared in a staunchly conservative Roman Catholic community. Growing up I never felt like I belonged. I knew from a young age I was gay, was devastated, but being accustomed to tragedy in my young life I accepted that I would not know a life that my friends and classmates would enjoy. I knew I would not have a high school sweetheart, I knew I would have difficulty with relationships and above all else I had a deep understanding that I would never be able to live the same life as I had known and loved as a young child. I longed to be the same.

When I went to university at the University of New Brunswick and joined the cross country team I suddenly belonged to something. I was now judged on my ability to tolerate a hard workout, my ability to out kick someone down to the line and my drive and determination to be 'the best I could be.' As part of the team I had a coach who was like a dad, team captains who were more like older brothers and teammates who became instant friends (once I got over my disabling shyness). For me the team became a new family. Over the years at university I went from being the shy younger brother to the older brother. I was entrusted by my coach Tim to lead the team both organizationally and by example as the team captain. It was a true honor to have that responsibility. I was known by the Varsity Athletes on campus and lived in one of the less used party houses, but it was still a party house! I belonged and was the same. I was a Varsity Athlete.

When I finally told my co-captain Andy and our friend Harrison that I was gay (after a particularly crazy night of wine tasting courtesy of his dad's home brew), the summer before my last year at UNB, my life changed. A weight was lifted off my shoulders and I was able to express myself openly. If a hot guy walked by I could now comment. I could joke with my teammates and they offered the same in return. But I now had a label and was different. No longer was I the runner guy, I became the gay dude. Although I was still running well and was captain of the team I felt different and had a new label to make me different.

I belong in the athletic milieu. I am an athlete. I have been raised to be a competitor and hard worker and every success I have has been through hard work and dogged determination. But I am different then 99% of the elite runners I compete against. To some in the athletics world I am aberrant and I am sure they would not support my running if they could choose. I have been fortunate to run and train with individuals who care more about me then labels. I have run in two university programs that pushed me to be a fast runner while understanding that I have a difference but that I should not necessarily be treated differently. I still know inside that I am different.

I have learned to love my difference. I have realized that I need to do what makes me happy rather then what gay 'society' shows as an example of how one should live. I am proud that I have been able to achieve my goals despite many pressures from outside sources to give up my passion to get a boyfriend (who would date someone who wears orange and blue socks or goes to bed at 9:00 the night before a race?). This does not negate the fact that I have lived most of my adult life as the only elite gay runner/triathlete I know, a somewhat lonely experience.

What happens when you meet a man who has the same lived experience? To spend the night talking with someone who knows what it is like to have the race of your life, party with your teammates yet still, when all is said and done, go home and lay in bed alone. Being with someone who does not need an explanation of what hurt really feels like, how good it can feel in a race or how it can send one to the depths of despair in loneliness. The joy of chatting with someone who in one breath can compare split times and strategy of a sub 1:10 half marathon while in the next the merits of circumcision. To be fortunate enough to meet someone who understands the total and complete love and devotion to something as irrational as sport who also knows the feeling of being different, of not belonging to either the gay or the athlete.

What happens when you meet a man who has the same lived experience? I am going to find out.

Today I ran my last tempo before my half marathon. I ran 10 minutes at regular sub threshold tempo pace with a last 5 minutes of up tempo running. My run felt good with a bit of fatigue from my weekend training. I was also really hungry before I left my place so that may have drained a little bit of my energy. I was really tired all day today, a bit of a hangover from the inspiring Coldplay concert!

Taper really hits tomorrow, day off!!!

Happy Training!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Things Are Coming Up Roses

Saturday Track!

Some time on Thursday I must have fallen on a horseshoe and wedged it firmly up my ass. I had a great workout Thursday, busy but somewhat lucky day on Friday and then today the luck continued. Our workout today on the track was to be 4 times 1200 with 400 fast recovery.

I booked a car to drive to the workout as I had a few errands to run after workout, turned out to be a good decision as it poured rain for the duration of the drive to the track. By the time I had changed into my trainers for the warm-up the rain had stopped and the sun was trying to say hello. I had a good warm up and my drills felt light and crisp. I am not going to lie, I was a bit surprised.

On paper 4 times 1200 metres is not a tough workout, and the pace time was quite slow with a fast recovery. The issue with this workout is that it sneaks up on you, one moment you feel great, the next in quicksand. Today there was no quicksand in my path. I opened up the workout dead on pace, 75 for 400. I descended the workout with my last 1200 run in 3:32, opening with a 70-71 second 400. I kept my recovery honest throughout the whole workout and may have even run my last recovery faster then I was supposed too. There was also not a drop of rain for the whole workout, wonderful!

This may be my new favorite workout (so I think every workout except hills is my favorite but at this moment 4 times 1200 with fast recovery is my favorite...). This workout goes by in the blink of an eye. The pace times John gives us are always bang on to be manageable yet with some room to push the last interval and finish feeling good. It was also great to have Kevin out timing! It not only takes some of the thought out of the workout but also inspires me to run a bit faster, or at least run with guts (like Kevin runs). I had a great day at the track which gives me a lot of confidence going into Scotia Bank, and no pain during the workout!

I firmly believe I am the most fit I have ever been in my life. I am convinced I am the most lean I have ever been without trying to starve myself, if anything I am having difficulty eating enough. I feel the most well when I am running. I have aches and pains and a few niggles which disappear after 10 minutes of good running. I am feeling good, maybe things are coming up roses, sub 1:10?

Tomorrow I have an easy run and swim then Coldplay!

Happy Training!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Hold On For One More Day



I managed to survive my last Stanley Park interval workout.

Last night's workout consisted of two times an approximately 3 km loop with full recovery. This loop begins with an approximately 600 metre downhill followed by around 1600 metres of climbing. The last stretch is slightly rolling terrain with a good gradual downhill for the last 300 metres. I felt tired, sluggish and sore before the workout though motivated to work hard. My quads were the most fatigued of all my muscle groups. My first interval went very well. Starting 15 seconds behind the last group of men I had a substantial gap to close over the course of the interval. The initial downhill enabled me to get into a quick cadence and to open my stride without forcing the motion. Normally I start to close in on the guys around half way through the first climb in the interval. In past workouts I may sit at the back of their pack and collect my wits before trying to get back to the pace that brought me to the group. Yesterday I had the group in sight from the bottom of the first decent but did not catch the group until after the end of the climb when we were into the terrain. I was planning on having a breather at the back of the pack but it was going too fast to facilitate rest. Instead of hanging out at the back I pushed hard and surged to the front. It was a tough pace and I was forced to work hard to maintain form and keep the turnover quick. I felt strong through the last 200 metres and finished with a few of the guys hot on my heels.

The second interval was mass start and I was thinking of running with the group for a bit for a mental break from pushing on my own. It is great to have a solid group of guys to train with and I wanted to take advantage of this opportunity. Once down the first hill I was on my own again and pushing hard. I think it was Pete who was breathing down my back up the first part of the climb which was certain motivation to go fast and get my feet off the ground. Soon I was unable to hear anything but my own wheezing and my feet stirring up the crushed gravel trails. I pushed hard but not as hard as I can go. I felt I got an adequate pummeling from my first interval and that I ought not to crush myself in the second. I finished around 10 seconds slower but still a good effort.

Tonight I am quite tired from a crazy busy day of work and a long work/training week. I was hoping to take it a little more easy then I have but I still feel satisfactory, so no real concerns. In the past two days I have gone to La Bicycletta, Fore Runners and Speed Theory. I have new brake pads for my bike (I am quite handy with bike maintenance), two new pair of shorts (very sexy high cut shorts for the 1/2 marathon) and my favorite Fast Twitch Flat. Of concern is my ability to rationalize spending all the money I have worked so hard to save on a useless bicycle. I absolutely love the P Series Cervelo Bikes. I want the P2 though would settle for the P1 in light of these tough economic times (I am not affected in the least by the economic downturn, I work in health care and people always get sick, especially in tough economic times...). I think I will wait for a while until I buy a new bike, but I sure like dreaming.

This weekend I have a track practice tomorrow morning and in the afternoon I am going to hit the Pacific for some open water swim training. I find swimming after a hard workout relaxes my muscles and aids my recovery. I also have a great group of friends to train with and I look forward to meeting up with them for our workouts. I am very fortunate to have a great group of guys and gals to train with at VFAC as well, and now that it is summer and hot I am loving the shirts off action! All look and no touch for me as most of the guys are both straight and in relationships. 'C'est la vie' said the old folks...

Happy Training!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Penultimate Tempo Tuesday

What was I thinking?

I was very nervous to hit the trails and Seawall today for my last long tempo before the Scotia Bank Half Marathon. As I have mentioned in previous blogs, I have been having foot pain since two weeks before SunRun. Over the last two weeks this foot pain has pretty much disappeared, much to my relief. After my runs this weekend the foot pain has been replaced with something much more scary, knee pain.

Yesterday I woke up with the usual stiff joints (etc.) with one marked difference, on my way to the bathroom my knee shot a good dose of pain up my leg. The shooting pain occurred when my leg was fully extended and troubled me on and off for the duration of the day. During my massage my therapist was very surprised by the condition of my legs and put me through some agony working on my piriformis. The rest of the evening was good and I took the day off from running to allow my body to repair itself. Today I woke up with the same pain and again was tormented throughout the whole day. On my ride home from work my knee shot a little bit of pain every time I pushed hard on my pedal while cycling. I was not hopeful for a full tempo, or even a run, on my way up the elevator after arriving home after work. I had a quick snack, put on my favorite Fast Twitch Flats (no I am not sponsored, I just really like these shoes, but if anyone knows of a Saucony rep who is looking for a runner, I am their man) and convinced myself to just try a warm up and go from there.

The two mile warm up was good, no pain. I decided to complete a few laps of the trails of Stanley for the first part of my tempo staying on the main trails to avoid any missteps and potential hyper extension of my tender leg. The pace felt good though my legs felt heavy and a bit tired. Once I remembered my races on the weekend my mind was at ease and I concentrated on relaxing into my stride and trying to find my tempo pace. The first 15 minutes seemed to take forever to go by as I was merely doing circles of the same loop. At this point I felt that if my knee gave out then at least I had a bit of a workout and all was not lost so I got a little adventurous and decided to climb some hills and have some fun in the trails. By the time I hit the Seawall for the last 20 minutes I was in full stride and mentally on another planet. I was imagining running sub 1:10, I was thinking about relaxing, I was thinking about pizza and caramelized onions, and I was thinking about running 'fast not hard'. Before I knew it I was into my last 5 minutes of tempo and circling second beach pool. I finished up at third beach with a huge sigh of relief, I finished my tempo, all 50 minutes, with no pain!

I walked up the stairs at Third Beach for a quick drink of water then started a slow jog home to cool down. This is usually the hardest part of my run as running slow after a hard effort always hurts my knees, until I can get a good stride going. Today there was no discomfort or stiffness in any of my joints. I was very happy, relieved and surprised to be pain free for my whole workout (with the exception of a few wonky steps). After arriving home I iced my legs as usual to ensure they stay pain free!

I am into taper mode, kind of. I have altered my training plan because of the pain I have been experiencing. Although I would love to have one more long run in the books it was nice to have a Monday with energy and without some of the side effects that long runs have. I must admit, I am getting excited to have a bit of time away from training and racing after the half marathon. I have had a busy last 5 months and my body is telling me to take it easy, go to the beach and have a few drinkies. After looking at my photo from the race Friday night I think I should also have a few more pastries. I have confidence in my skinny little body but I might be getting a bit too lean, even for my liking (I can't seem to make up my mind if I like it or not, give me 5 minutes and I will change my mind again...).

Happy Training!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Confidence Dilemma

What is the difference between confidence and arrogance?

My friend Norm made a comment to me last week at the pool. He said something along the lines of "Jay, your self deprecating is annoying." This comment got me thinking. I am quite confident in my abilities without being unrealistic. I know I am a good athlete yet understand that I am a medium sized fish in a medium sized pond. For a local runner who works full time and fits running into my schedule I am exceptional, and I am getting close to beating some of those who run full time. At work I know my place. I know my practice area and try to do a good job, yet I am not lighting the OT world on fire. And with my physical appearance I am realistic. I am 'cute'. I am not handsome nor am I hot. People from an athletic background appreciate my body as a dedication to sport regardless of the ascetic outcomes. It is little and lean, just the way I like it. To be honest I love my little and lean body. I like that I can see my ribs and hip bones and that my elbow is the biggest part of my arm (biceps are heavy and I do not want to carry them for 70 miles of running a week). I understand most do not find my body attractive but I love it.

I am a good athlete, I have a solid career and I am not bad looking, but I constantly sell myself short. I need to learn to express my confidence in my abilities without sounding like an arrogant asshole. Instead of saying "yeah my race went ok", or "The workout was good" should I start saying "The race was awesome, I made those mother f***** eat my dust" or "I killed that workout and I am totally awesome!"? Maybe what I really need is to stop the 'black and white' thinking.

My difficulty with expressing my self confidence stems from my upbringing in North East Nova Scotia. I was raised in a Scottish Catholic Parish where jealously was woven into the tartan of society, a green line of envy. I was very fortunate to be raised by ambitious parents who knew the value of hard work and who were willing to make sacrifices to succeed, values that were passed to my siblings and me. In a small community we definitely stood out as the factory owners with some of the accoutrement that come with that responsibility. For example; after the death of my father my brave mother took my three siblings, my uncle and me on a trip to England and Scotland. We had to keep our trip secret until the weekend before we left to avoid the potential wrath and nay saying of the neighbors. I can imagine what they would say to my mom, taking four children (me the youngest at 8 years old) on a trip to England. Upon returning from our great adventure I was conscious not to 'brag' about my summer trip and barely mentioned it upon returning to school. Over the years, as my family grew our business, we met with jealousy and became somewhat distant from the community around us.

Through my university education I was told to express myself without prefacing my contributions with "I do not know if this is any good but here it is." Being an A student in kinesiology and my MSc. OT all of what I contributed was good, and some very good. I was told by one wise tutor that what I produced was always of an excellent quality yet my preface took away from the message of my material. I was finally being pushed to express my ability without selling myself short. I also learned in university that people believe what you tell them. Some of my classmates who were not the brightest were regarded as being bright simply because they told everyone else they were. There were athletes who I thought from a distance were excellent but in reality were far less able then me. Another lesson, people believe what you tell them.

Now I have to ensure I heed the advice of tutors and wise friends. I do not want to come across as a cocky jerk but it would be nice to garner respect for my abilities. I want people to see the confidence I have in myself without offending them with a brash ego trip. This will be a work in progress.

Today I had an abbreviated long run secondary to some foot pain. I ran a good ten miles, all on soft surfaces to protect my feet. I am thankful to have run at all as I was barely able to walk around the condo this morning. After my run and some prolonged icing my feet are feeling much better.

Now I will endure the final two weeks before the ScotiaBank Half Marathon. I have one final long tempo on Tuesday then taper. I am heartened that I am still excited to run despite the many niggles and touch of illness I have had the past few months.

Happy Training!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Race Weekend


What was I thinking?

Friday night I ran the Longest Day 5km and Saturday morning I ran the Pride Run 10km. Both races here in Vancouver. The Longest day race went well and I think I ran a new personal best. If I held my first km pace I would have run well under 15 minutes but instead I wound up with a 15:24. As you can imagine the race went out really fast and I found myself alone in third place from the first 20 metres until I crossed the finish line. Opening up in 2:45 my pace steadily declined over the course of the mildly undulating tarmac. I believe my third km was the slowest as it was mostly up hill and I was feeling the deleterious effects of my ambitious opening pace. Leading the race was Ryan MacKenzie who ran with a fire under his shoes. He went out hard and held on for dear life while Scott Simpson chased from the gun. By the finishing times it looks as though Simpson was able to mount a fearsome charge and eat into the lead established by MacKenzie. The prize for my effort was $125. My first cash of the year!

This morning I was startled awake at 5:10 for no apparent reason. I did not have to pee, there was no nightmare and I was nicely comfortable. At 7:00 my alarm went off and I felt like a snow plow somehow found it's way to sunny Vancouver, fit into my newly tiled elevator, and ran me over multiple times. I hobbled to the kitchen and had my Seigels Bagel and my freshly ground Robson Blend coffee. I took off to the Stanley Park for the annual Pride Run. It was a great run through the park and around the Seawall. I crossed the line slightly worse for wear in first place. Running hard twice in just over 12 hours is kind of hard. I was excited to get a pair of shoes from Rackets to Runners as the prize.

After the run I hit the pool in afternoon for a good swim workout. I fear I am losing touch with my training partner as he gets much stronger and his swimming pedigree becomes obvious. I think the only way I will be keeping up soon is if he is doing breast stroke and I am doing free. It is fun to be swimming random workouts in the bright sunshine. It is also great to have a cool training group to workout with who have a priority of having fun.

So I have had a great weekend thus far with solid running and a great swim. Tomorrow is a long run then my post race massage on Monday. This is my last long run before the Scotia Bank Half Marathon so I hope to get though it without any drama.

As an added note, kudos to the weather here in Vancouver. This has possibly been the best stretch of weather since I have moved here. I have more tan now then I have had since university, and it is June! I have been a vocal naysayer to all the rain so I feel it is my responsibility to compliment the wonderful weather.

As I have said since moving here, "Vancouver in the rain is amazing and wonderful, Vancouver in the sun is the best place on earth."

Happy Training!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Prefontaine Classic: Sunday

The Prefontaine Classic

After waking up bright and early to watch Roger Federer win the French Open I headed to Hayward Field for an amazing track meet. The meet itself was very well run. I was astounded by the efficiency of the officials and the organizers. The events ran seamlessly one into the other.

Top Five Prefontaine Moments 2009

# 5: Men's 3000 metres
It is amazing how fast these men run. The winning time was 7:35.92 by Bernard Legat. To watch a multiple Olympic gold medalist race is a rare opportunity. To watch an Olympic gold medalist run as fast as he did and make it look like a walk in the park, priceless.

#4: Women's 800 metres

This race was wonderful because of it's unpredictability. The winning time was not overly fast, 2:00:18, but the winner was; Maggie Vessey of the USA. Two things made this race remarkable. First was the crash and burn of Jelima. Last year she was almost undefeated and won the million dollar Golden League Championship. At Prefontaine she went out hard and died hard over the last 200 metres finishing in last place with a time of 2:05.57. To put this into perspective I ran 2:05 for 800 in my workout on Saturday. The second remarkable aspect of this race was the kick of the winner. She ran from back of the pack to win. The roar of the crowd and shear joy in her reaction to winning was marvelous.

#3: Women's 1500 metres

Again there was a great kick in this race by another American , Jenny Barringer, to run 3:59.90. It turns out Barringer came up short and was second to Gelete Burka of Ethiopia who ran 3:59.89. This was a very exciting finish and it was hard to tell who won. To have two women under 4 minutes is crazy!


#2: Women's 100 metre Hurdles


video

My girl Priscilla won the bronze! Perdita also ran well finishing fourth. I was a proud Canadian in the crowd. The winner of the race was Michelle Perry of the US in 12.74 and Damu Cherry, a tie! Priscilla ran 12.75 and Perdita ran 12.78. What a close race. The thing about the hurdles is they go by so fast. Here and then gone!

#1: Bowerman Mile
By far the highlight of the meet for me was the Bowerman Mile. The field for this race was world class with the likes of Alan Webb and Asbel Kiprop running. Nate Brannen ran an amazing race. I was worried by the start as there was a lot of pushing and shoving and also that the pace went out a little hard for our Canadian.

video

With 800 metres to go the field was starting to get strung out. Brannen is towards the back of the pack in 8th or 9th through 800. On the back straight of the last lap he got boxed in and looked to be in a bit of trouble. He was another runner who put in a great kick and ran through the field to claim bronze with a time of 3:52.63. I was so excited, I was screaming like a little girl in the bleachers. Kiprop of Kenya won the race in 3:48.50 with another Kenyan, Haron Keitany in second with a time of 3:48.78. I have to argue that the mile/1500 is the most exciting race in track and field. It is long enough for strategy and kicks with building tension and excitement yet short enough for my fleeting attention span. As an added note there were 13 men under four minutes for the mile, WTF?



This is Nate talking to the man in black and in the yellow is Alan Webb going over to congratulate him. Another cool aspect of the meet was the camaraderie of the runners. They are like a fraternity of lean mean running machines.

So those are my highlights of the Prefontaine Classic Track Meet, 2009. This was my first major international track meet to watch besides the Pan Am Games in 1999. Hayward Field was a wonderful venue in which to watch the action with a knowledgeable and eager audience. Eugene, known as 'Track Town USA', is fabulous for running and runners. I felt so normal there, like I was just one of the gang. Every once in a while it feels really good to be in a crowd of people who know the value of a good long run and say Fartlek without laughing. Truly inspirational.

The last highlight I should mention was my afternoon long run along Pre's Trail. My 12 miles felt great on soft wood chip trails. The trails were also serving as a training site for some of the elites from the pre Pre meet. It was neat to see some hot track stars out for their Sunday long runs too!

I hope to make the Prefontaine Classic a yearly ritual. As I mentioned in previous blogs I hope to possibly race next year in a B or C heat in the pre Pre meet. I will also spread the trip out over a few more days. I want to explore the coast and take some time to slow down to enjoy the view.

Happy Training!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Prefontaine Classic: 10 km Video

This is what sub 29 minutes for 10 km looks like.
video

It looks fast on video and it was fast in real life!

Tonight I ran my Tuesday Tempo. John instructed me to take it a little easy tonight and run half my usual tempo. I ran 25 minutes and I think I ran a little harder then I should have. I was feeling a little frustrated after work today and felt the need to run away some of this disenchantment. My warm up did not feel that great. I cycled quite aggressively both too and from work. I am also absolutely exhausted from trying to have a social life as well as a work life and a training life. Spending 14 hours driving on the weekend on top of all my workouts and minimal sleep has also had a negative effect on my body and mind. As has been my trend I ran half the tempo on trails and the other half on the Sea Wall. Once into the tempo it went by very fast. The frustration I felt manifested in a need to hurt and go hard, not a good mindset for a tempo (workout or race yes!). Tempo is supposed to be controlled and sub threshold. My run was not sub threshold but felt really good. It was nice to hammer and feel great. Tonight, as I write this post, I am having some symptoms of running too hard, including a bit of cramping. This will be my only real workout this week as I am racing Friday night, I think... (comment on reasons supporting and against racing a 5 km this Friday night if you so choose).

More Prefontaine details to come!

Happy Training!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Prefontaine Classic: Saturday

Road Trip!

Saturday began with me traveling to Budget Rental Cars to pick up a car before heading to the track for my workout. The workout went very well. The workout consisted of all outs starting with a 200 followed by an 800, 400 and 200. I was happy this was the workout as I have been very tired lately and I did not sleep well Friday night knowing the excitement to follow the next day. I may have run yet another best ever workout. It was even a little old school with a little trip up on the last 200. Getting jostled always makes me want to get into a good race. Flash back to indoor track and big cross country meets.

After my cool down I jumped in the car and drove seven hours to Eugene. Not the best method to recover from a workout but I was on a mission. My mission was to deliver a parcel to Priscilla Lopes-Schliep. Priscilla won the bronze medal at the Olympics last year in the 100 metre hurdles and works with a friend of mine who I ran with at The University Of New Brunswick. It turns out Priscilla has a RedBull energy drink before she races. On her way to Eugene the RedBull were confiscated at the airport. I was in charge to deliver this commodity and help our Canadian athlete to her best possible performance. Upon arriving in Eugene I navigated my way through the tree lined streets to find the meet hotel. There were runners everywhere and more pictures of Steve Prefontaine then I have ever seen. I went straight to the front desk and informed them that I had a very important delivery for one of their boarders. After a bit of persuasion the front desk clerk rang up to Priscilla's room. After a brief chat Priscilla made the trip to the lobby where I was eagerly waiting. I got the precious cargo into her hands, mission accomplished!

Priscilla was really cool and talkative. One of the great things about most of the runners I have met, whether they are sprinters, hurdlers or distance runners, elite or rec, is that they are genuine and ingratiating people. Priscilla was no exception. To meet her one would never know that she is an Olympic medalist and one of the top athletes in the world. It was also nice to congratulate her on her Olympic Medal.

After my mission was accomplished I headed to Hayward Field.

There was a pre Pre elite meet in the finishing stages. I caught the last heat of an 800 (winning time 2:53, not that crazy fast) and the 10,000 which was very fast. This was one of the last qualifying meets before US Nationals so there was a very high quality field. I think four or five guys went under 29 minutes. It was nuts!
I think next year instead of watching pre Pre I will see if I can race. I hope there is at least one distance I could compete in.
Hayward Field was nearly empty but there was still a great atmosphere. Nights like this are when the real track fans are out. I could hardly believe how fast the 10,000 went and also that I was on track level to watch it. What other sport allows the spectators to stand on the field of play to watch? The most difficult aspect of the first night was that I was not running. I would not run the 10,000, way too fast, but next year I may look into running one of the B heats if possible.

After day one of my Prefontaine adventure I was too excited to sleep again. There was very good reason to be fired up as day two of the adventure would deliver on expectations.

Happy Training!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Track Photos

My club mate Phil took some photo's a couple of weeks ago at workout. Although I have a lot of race photos, I have very few workout photos. I don't think I will be sending these to any potential mates, or maybe that is exactly what I will do. To be honest, if a guy sent me picks of himself working out on the track I would totally be turned on. Maybe I have run a few too many workouts...At least I am smiling before the interval. This workout was 12 times 400 meters with 100 meters recovery. I think this must be going into the last set of four. I do not think I was smiling going into the last 400. You will also notice that I am the only one smiling. Brings new meaning to the only gay person in the group.

That is me without the shirt at the front of the pack. The reflective nature of my skin proves useful when running at night. I will never get hit by a car when that pale, unless they aim for me.

Happy Training!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Ode to Beaver Lake

Tonight, I felt like a runner.

Our workout was 1km, 2km, 2km, 1km. This style of workout, single/double/double/single, is one of my favorite workouts. At McMaster University we had a rugby field on which we would complete this pattern, only it was a mile loop. I always felt strong on those workouts and could reel the other guys in on the second double loop and stay with the leaders on the last single. Tonight I had a great workout, coach John telling me it may be close to my fastest average.

If having one of my favorite workouts was not enough excitement for the night, for an added treat, Kevin was the time keeper and I got to start with Brad and Peter. It was a mighty mental break to have someone to help with the pacing. The first km felt quite sluggish and I was afraid the dust and pollen was hampering my breathing. Half way through the first km I also remembered my Tuesday long run which was, to put in the most kindest of terms, a chore. My first km was around 3 seconds over pace time but as it was the first interval I was not concerned and focused on hitting my times for the remainder of the workout. I did have a slight pang of nervousness as I did not feel that sharp and have been battling some general fatigue for the most part of the week. The second interval went well and I was under pace time by 3 seconds. I also ran quite even for both laps with merely a second difference between the two. As is a common trend when I am training a lot the second interval felt notably improved from the first. It was more in control and my breathing settled. The third interval (2 km) was solid, not crazy, but good. I hit pace time dead on in negative split fashion. By this point in the workout I was running on my own at the front with only the sound of my feet on the crushed gravel and my heavy breathing to keep me company. I knew there were guys behind me chasing but I try not to think of what is behind. I was trying to find the motivation to keep going forward, sub 1:10 provided that. The last interval was a relief. I had some anxiety during the recovery and I was a little weary of my legs and mind secondary to my week of exhaustion and my terrible Tuesday run. I went out as quick as I could and just let the legs go.

It is difficult to describe the feeling. It is transcendental. The brain and mind is sending the message to the body to go, go hard, go harder. But the normal aches and pains are not there. There is the feeling of effort and the feeling of working hard but it is like floating, a disconnect present between the body, the mind and consciousness. It is the most perfect feeling I can have. All the worries and concerns of the work day are peeled away. The loneliness vanishes. There is no money to worry about, no ten year plan or responsibility. There are no relationships, it is solely running. I ran my last interval substantially under pace time. I am very happy after this workout and I feel a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. A very cleansing workout for both body and mind.

So I am on my way to Prefontaine Classic this weekend, after workout of course. Would not want to miss my track workout! I will take lots of pictures!

Happy Training!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Shaughnessy 8 km Photos

After running hundreds of races over many years I have amassed a broad collection of race photos. Race photos seem to show both the best and worst of the person running. They are raw, the soul is laid bare with no pretension. When one in photographed running there is no opportunity to put up a wall, a fake smile to fool the camera into thinking you are happy. There is no time to fix your hair or ensure the camera gets your 'best angle'. Race photos are the antithesis of the posed Friday night photo at the club. I once sent a potential blind date a picture of me running in a race. I thought it was cool, he did not and did not respond. I guess he did not like the look of my soul, the sight of my passion. I think some times the most intimidating thing about a person may not be their brilliance nor their good looks, not even an amazing talent. Sometimes the most intimidating person is the most passionate. I hope he was intimidated.



Today was an easy five miles, a massage and workout number seven in the pool, 1500 meters. My training partner and I will be working through 4o (or is it 60? I am not a number person...) or so workouts over the summer. This will be a great opportunity to have some fun without any real racing goal. I love working out and swimming will enable me to maintain base and general fitness over the summer without the pounding and injury risk of running. Another exciting benefit is that I am gaining my appetite back. It was gone when I stopped triathlon and I lost all my hard earned muscle. I think I am getting some muscle back, although from these photos (note the chest ribs) I still have a way to go before I am close to being attractive in the body department. I would much rather be fast then attractive anyways. Muscle is meant to move you!

Thank-you to Rick Horne for the great photos!

Happy Training!