Monday, September 20, 2010
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Monday, August 23, 2010
Friday, July 30, 2010
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
The title on my blog says “Training to find the edge”. This phrase was coined from a comment a friend of mine made on my race report from Moab. It stuck with me because I believe it defines us runners. We are always training to best our last performance, whether it is time, distance, terrain, or environmental conditions, always challenging ourselves. Then there are the times when you push yourself to that limit you didn’t even know you had in you and you go beyond. It is then that you find that new edge, that new barrier, and in doing so, learn so much about yourself.
My goal for this fall is to compete and complete my first 50mile race. So, to prepare for this, Derrick recommended racing the Damn Wakely Dam Ultra. To quickly summarize this race, it is a point-to-point, self supported, 32.5mile trail race through some of the wildest parts of the Adirondack Park. There is a very limited field which is made even smaller by the fact that previous years participants have first rights to registration. I put my name into the lottery and was fortunate to be one of the chosen few.
Training went well and I was pretty confident in my fitness going into the race. I had, or thought that I had, a pretty good handle on my gear and nutrition – with no support on the course, there was no backup if anything went wrong.
Kim and I drove into Piseco, NY late Friday afternoon in an absolute downpour. If there were any chances of the trail being dry, they were washed away by the rain that fell that afternoon. The one positive was that for now the temperature had dropped, but still they were calling for a high of 90F (32C) for Saturday.
Pre-race meet up and activities went perfectly -> handing out of race numbers, group photo, quick briefing by RDJim, (including the announcement that it would be the last year, for him holding this event, so sad), and final march to the starting line/trail head. After a short time gathering around, we were off into the great unknown ahead.
First impressions right from the start - this trail feels old, seldom travelled, but not over grown, a very special place. Second impressions - damn that IS shoe sucking mud, watch out for that rock/root/fallen tree, does this trail not go in a straight line, EVER! If you were to try to picture the perfect dense wooded, technical trail, this would be it.
Things ticked along nicely for the first 4 miles, I kept my pace under control, not being pulled by the rabbits and just did the work. I drank when I was supposed to, fuelled with Gels, re-filled one of my bottles at the first stream and everything was ticking along nicely. It did start to dawn on me at this point just how unrelenting the trail was; there were no breaks, no time to cruise and relax or get into any sort of rhythm as it was constantly changing trail and terrain.
Every time I thought that I could finally get into any sort of steady pace, there was another mud pit to tip toe through, or tree to climb over, or stream to cross, or (as Sara described them) slippery-like-no-other-surface-on-Planet-Earth boardwalks. But, it was all part of the game, so on I pressed.
I arrived at the half-way point feeling pretty good, but getting tired from the obstacle course I had been running for the last 3+ hours. I had been having some minor stomach issues for the last hour, but nothing too bad and with some candied ginger I had been able to keep it under control, but I was slowly losing that battle. The combination of the Gels, Blocks, and Water Purification Tabs was starting to take its’ toll. I pressed on, anticipating the final 3rd of the course where it supposedly became more runnable.
When I hit what I thought was the start of the last 3rd I was actually able to run for a stretch of about 200m until I hit was must have been the 40th mud patch and was forced back to the same old pace. So I wouldn't say the wheels fell off at this point, but the tire was definitely leaking. I was starting to feel that if I kept drinking any more purified eLoad or chewing another block that I would be sick so I decided to keep things under control by sticking with the water in my hydration pack and gels. Then, on a nice steady downhill it hit me, my hamstrings were starting to cramp a little – crap I had not kept up on my S!Caps, stupid! Reached into my little pocket, and they were gone – must have fallen out on the course. Just thought at this point, I’m screwed. My tire was leaking and I lost my patch kit. As it was hot, I was sweating like crazyand I had two hours to go with nothing but water and a couple of gels, it was time to go into survival mode. I slowed my pace a little, started walking when I felt a cramp coming on, drank what I had and kept moving forward. What I found amazingly encouraging was that after over 5 hours on the course, even with all this I was feeling pretty good. Sure I was bonking and cramping, but mentally still so much in the game. I knew what I had to do to get to the finish and just did it. There was never the thought of wanting to quit, or second guessing being out here, the mind was telling the body what to do and would not accept any excuses.
The relief that I thought I would feel exiting the trail on the road for the final 1.5 mile just did not happen. I was in a zone of pushing the body to the finish and until I crossed that damn dam, I would not relax. Finally there it was, finished in 6:34 of muddy, sweaty hell.
I stripped off my belt, pack, and shirt. While I had stopped running, I still couldn’t catch my breath. I was walking around is a semi-haze trying to recover but couldn’t. Walked into the lake to cool off, but I still felt out of breath like I was still running on the course, this was new! Finally sitting down it hit me – Gatorade – I need to get electrolytes. Finally after a couple of bottles, my breathing relaxed and my fog lifted. First time I have ever been that depleted, and you know you are when your ab muscles are cramping.
The race was tough, but fair and I would love the have the chance to come back to run it again, and give it a good smack down. This was an amazing event that I feel honored to be included in. On the back of this years shirt is the name of every person who had run the Wakely Dam, and there are only 250 names for the 10 years. This shows in the days of 25,000+ entrants in the big road marathon, what a small and unique this race is, and how few have had the joy to run the Northville Placid Trail.
The edge found at Wakely is one I have to be learn to be careful with; if you learn to mentally push through a physical limitation you also have to learn to take those physical cues and know what they mean. In hindsight, I was getting dangerously close to something more physically serious at the end. I wish I could report more on the trail; what this section was like, this lake, stream crossing, climb, descent, points of interest, but to be honest I don’t really remember. I was so focused on not falling on my face or doing something stupid that all I was thinking about was getting to the finish.
Finally the thanks – Kimberley my pre-race, post-race, life-long crew chief, none of this would be worth it or possible without you. Derrick, you trained me well, I hope I didn’t disappoint. And RDJim for inviting me to the dance, it was a great ride
Oh and Kimberley is also my official race photographer and her skills are really improving. HERE is a link to the pictures from the race
Friday, July 16, 2010
- LaSportiva Crosslites - I was originally going to run in the Raptors but I am hoping to run this race fairly hard and the Crosslites are a good choice for both speed and support.
- Darn Tough Merino Wool Socks - Light, solid fit, breathable and wool. A great thing to have between you and your shoe
- Sugoi 42k Short - I usually race in a longer short, but after last weekends long run where my shorts got soaked from the sweat after a couple of hours, I decided I wanted something a little more minimal. These are really as close as you can get to wearing nothing :)
- LaSportiva/SHA Tech Tee - Light & thin and very simplistic, and I have to support the guy who got me here.
- Headsweat Go Hat - I usually prefer running with a buff, but this summer I have found a great relationship with this hat, and it helps to keep the deer flies away. Note, must be worn backwards, of course.
- Nathan HPL#008 - 1.5 liters of water, hoping this is all I'll need for just water. Great fit, and since I was training with a pack for most of my snowshoeing last winter, this was an easy transition, it has in effect become part of me.
- Nathan Speed 2 Belt - The second part of the hydration, this will be for my electrolytes. Plan is to refill and sterilize these along the way and use for mixing my electrolyte drink. I am figuring I will need to refill each bottle twice.
- EFS Liquid Shot - Made by First Endurance, I have been very pleased in training with this product, and I am really liking the Shot bottle and not having to deal with little packages. That said I will still have a couple of my Gu Vanilla as backup.
- Gu Chomps - a new product I started with this year as a supplement to Gels. Easy to chew and don't stick to my teeth.
- eLoad - My "go to" electrolyte drink for the last 3 years. If it ain't broke!
- S!Caps - A great electrolyte companion to eLoad and Gels, really important with these hot and humid days we have been having. 1 an hour does you good.
- Guayaki Energy Shot - None of the supplements I am using contain caffeine and I was looking for a little pick-me-up. I have been very impressed with the Guayaki products and the energy shots give you a nice perk up without the caffeine buzz or crash.
- Candied Ginger - another new addition, a small piece of this when your stomach seems to be turning on you seems to do wonders for settling everything down.
Monday, June 28, 2010
Monday, June 14, 2010
Chillin together last night
and why is the Flake Bar the vice for the week? Well it is British, and the World Cup has started, so we must do our part.
So key run for this week is Saturday, so all roads lead to that training run this week. Lots of sleep and foam roller will the the prescription for the week
Monday, June 7, 2010
Monday, May 31, 2010
Thursday, May 27, 2010
Figured I better get this posted before the end of the week. Busy times. So another week in the books and another good week where runs went as planned, stayed injury free (mostly), but unfortunately slipped on the diet a bit.
Friday, May 21, 2010
- Weight Loss
- Better Circulation and Increased Energy
- Cardiovascular Health
- Speed Recovery from Injuries
- Improved Immune System
- Improves your strength and vitality
- Relieves pain (joint pain, sore muscles, arthritis)
- Combats cancer causing environmental causes
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
So I recount this story with the title because last night it was great to be a running couple. From the time we headed out to the time, really we went to bed, it was all about running and each other. We supported each other, kept each other company, fed of each other, celebrated together and just had a blast doing one of the things we love the most. What makes it even more special, was the day before we celebrated our 19th wedding anniversary. When you think about being married to your life long partner and friend, nights like last night are truly what it is all about. Thanks my love, can’t wait for the run on the beach in
Thursday, April 15, 2010
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
This past weekend, I participated in the Pittsfield Snow Shoe Marathon. Before I delve into the details of the race, I’d like to throw out a couple of BIG thank you’s.
First to Andy Weinberg, gracious host and race director. Andy greets and treats everyone as a guest in his house and then sends you out to challenge you in ways you that make you smile and cry. Whether you are running 100 miles, doing the Winter Death Race or running one of the 3 main distance races, you were treated with both respect and admiration.
Second, thank you to Derrick Spafford. When I decided to take on the challenge of running a
Kim and I drove down to
Race day dawned clear and bright with perfect blue skies and wonderfully perfect temperature. We went through our well practiced pre-race routine, and being only ½ a mile from the start, we could take our time. We lugged our Rubbermaid tote with all my “aid station” gear and nutrition to the race site, got setup in a good location and then watched some of the Death Race participants. Some of the “tasks” that were in the progress were: coming from their dunk in an icy pond; building a wheel barrow to carry wood up the mountain; and wrestling the US 4 times National 190lb champion.
We listened to the pre-race briefing and then Andy started the countdown. Then, we scrambled to get ready and when the race started, we were lucky to find ourselves close to the front so we managed to avoid a lot of the congestion. The race was a 6.55 mile loop that had to be completed 4 times for the marathon. A loop was simply put - a run up to the top of one of the surrounding hills/mountains (1,900 feet up) and back down; the top was almost exactly half way.
Starting close to the front, it was easy to get into pace without being clogged up or having to pass. The first ½ km was nice and wide, flat or downhill so everyone moved out fairly quickly. We crossed a small bridge and then hit the single track trails what we would be on for the next 9kms. The overnight temperature had been below freezing so the snow was still pretty firm. This made for fairly easy footing and the first climb went smoothly. The climb to the top is a combination of switch backs with 3 (I think it was 3) long straight steep climbs. The run back down the mountain was almost identical to the climb, a few really steep descents with a number of undulating switch backs straight through to the bottom where you crossed back over the bridge, looping back to the start. I was running close to one other guy for most of the first loop so the pace was solid, but not too fast. I had an arbitrary goal of trying to run each loop in 1:15 based on what I thought the course was like and came in from the first loop at 1:16. I was pretty pleased, but I also knew that I wouldn’t be able to hold that for the entire race as it was quite a bit more climbing than I had anticipated. I quickly downed a small bottle of e-load, switched out my water bottle and headed back out for
As soon as I hit the single track, I knew this was going to be tougher. The sun was strong and it was warming up. The snow that had been firm earlier was starting to soften and the shoeing was getting a little more challenging. I hadn’t run in this kind of snow before. The best way I can describe it is slippery; the cleats could dig into the snow but because it was loose, they didn’t have a lot of sideways grip which meant that you really had to engage the hips and core to keep a straight line. Overall this loop went well, I did slow a bit but climbed fairly smoothly, kept the pace controlled on the down hill and finished the loop in about 1:22. Kim had finished her race (single loop and came in 4th overall. awesome) and was waiting for me. Here I decided that it was getting too warm for long sleeves, so spent the time to change shirts, drank my e-load/Chia mix, switched bottles and back out again. Things were starting to “tickle”. J
This I knew was going to be the toughest.
This was the countdown loop. I finally let myself count down the kms to the end. It was a great mental game and as each clicked by, I knew it would be my last time through here. The pains were still there, but mentally pushed to the back as I focused on clicking off that next km and having a drink of water after each which was my reward. As the snow was getting softer, it really felt like I was slogging at times, but my pace was still fairly strong and I kept with the forward momentum. When I crested the top for the last time, I stopped to refill my water bottle so I wouldn't run out of rewards ‘til the finish. My descent on this last loop felt faster and more controlled than the 3rd loop and after hitting the bottom and the final km to the finish, I still had a spring in my step. For the last 200m, I made sure to stand straight and finish tall and strong. I was not going to look as tired as I felt. Crossed the line in a loop time of 1:32 and final time of 5:42, and 5th place overall.
I am really happy with this race. It was tough, but I was on both physically and mentally, nutrition was perfect with no stomach issues, cramping, or bonking. I managed to keep a steady running pace throughout, and all my climbs were solid. Trust in the training.
Oh and there is a third thank you, and that is to my life partner and best friend Kimber. You always have my back and are always at my side. You pull me to the finish and never let me down. None of this is possible or worth while without you. Hugs.
Some of our pictures from the race
Monday, February 22, 2010
Thursday, February 18, 2010
Well I had to wait till Kimber's was official (took almost 2 weeks). We have both been accepted to the New York City Marathon. I got in by missing the lottery for 3 consecutive years, and Kimber was accepted based on her smokin' half time at the Army Run (she had qualified at the Ottawa 1/2, but decided to better herself). Exciting times ahead for sure. This will be Kimber's first marathon and I am going to run it with her and enjoy all that is New York.
Monday, February 8, 2010
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
Monday, January 25, 2010
This past Saturday, Jan 23rd, I was fortunate to participate in the inaugural Dion Frontenac Snowshoe race, held in Frontenac Provincial Park, just North of Kingston. A race in this park had been a long time dream of Race Director Derrick Spafford, of Spafford Health and Adventure, and a snowshoe race seemed like a fitting event for Derrick who is an avid snowshoe racer. Derrick’s passion and attention to detail was evident in his frequent course updates, including a Video of the course made by his wife Sara, and the grooming of the course he performed leading up to the race to ensure all races had the best experience they could. He sure sets a high bar.
The race was, as Derrick described, a lollipop course; straight out on an undulating, fairly wide open trail for 1.9km, a loop through some single track trail for 3.5km and then a return on the original 1.9km section. We all lined up, got the pre-race instructions and cautions and then we given the “Go” by one of the park’s rangers, a nice touch.
I started off cautiously a couple of rows back; wanting to let the faster people and those with a bit more early adrenaline, start off ahead. I settled into my pace pretty quickly, keeping it fairly light for the first 1.9km as everyone settled into the race. I did manage to pass a couple of people through this section and by the time we turned onto the single track, I was running alone. When we hit the single track trail, I am sure I must have looked like the Cheshire Cat, with a huge grin on my face. I love running on tight, twisty trails, and in snowshoes, its all the more fun. Derrick and crew had done a great job packing the trail. I passed one other runner on this section; I felt strong throughout and could really feel the training in my legs and form. Coming off the single track and the final stretch to the finish, I could see no one in front or behind so I thought I’d have a nice easy run in. About 400 meters later, I looked over my shoulder and saw the racer I had previously passed starting to close the gap; the race was on. From there to the finish, I was running scared and pushing hard. I was glad for that as it turned it into a true race at the end. I crossed the line in 39:01, placing 5th overall (nice). I waited for
The post race did not disappoint with some excellent home made chili and amazing awards and prizes. Once again though, I was shut out of any of Grandma Rosie’s homemade fleece socks, but that is alright because I am holding out for the double lined fleece mitts.
Once again Derrick and Sara put on a spectacular event. Every detail was thought of, including the good weather. Thanks so much. But an event like this also requires a number of unsung heroes in the volunteers who seemed to love the day as much as the racers; to them we are eternally grateful.
Derrick, the happy race director
So now back to the training for one last push before