Tuesday, 27 December 2011


I had this list done in late November as I had feeling my motivation starting to wane, and while being in a training cycle is far better, this keeps me going until then. So, here's my planned list of races, including some of the "maybes":

Maybe - Jan 14th: Nose Creek cross country 8k. Can register on the day for this one, so if I feel like it, I'll show up.

March 17: St Patrick's Day Road Race, 5k. I'm not mad about the 10k course, but the event is well-put on with a good atmosphere. I'd go a little nuts if I stayed at home, so will do the 5. There's a chance of an age group medal, based on the 2011 times, though PB is not really a priority for this one.

April 22: Spring Trio 10k. My 10k PB from 2010 has to go. Flat course by the Bow River, so maybe less than exciting, but should make for a good time. Perhaps even a sub-40 minute time if everything goes perfectly.

May 27: Calgary Marathon. Time to qualify for Boston! This will be my second marathon, and will need 3:10, but will go for 3:09 to improve my chances of successful registration.

July 8: Stampede Road Race 5k. 5 weeks after the marathon, it would be great to PB this again - I could get an age group medal if a couple of quick 30-somethings stay in bed...

August 18: 5 Peaks cross country race, Nakiska. Stunning country about an hour's drive from Calgary, this will make a great headcam video! I might however be on holiday for this one, though it would be great to do a race on holiday..

September 29: Harvest Half Marathon. An annual staple, PB would be great, but not essential.

November 4: New York Marathon. Having read about it, seeing the tv show convinced me to go. If I'm not successful in the lottery draw, I can get a guaranteed entry, and overpriced hotel room, from an official tour provider. If this doesn't work out for whatever reason, the back-up is the California International Marathon in Sacramento on December 2.

Of course, there will also be  the Resolution Run on New Year's eve, which I'll be doing this saturday...

Friday, 23 December 2011

New Headcam movie - not mine, but I'm in it!

2 posts in one day! Just after my last post, I finally found the video by the lady next to me in this photo from the St Patrick's Day Road Race back in March. I guess not every video goes on youtube. The entire race is on there.
I lost the strap for my camera in Quebec City, and will need another. Her camera is a go-pro and can cost anywhere from $300 to $1,000. Mine's from ebay and cost me $40.

I overtook her just after this was taken, she sounded a touch out of breath. I pretty much went the same pace throughout.
The whole video's great, with the exception of the Bon Jovi song. I appear on the left just after my wife is to be seen on the right at 12:03 in her trademark earmuffs taking the above photo. My form is rather poor to say the least with my feet at odd angles. In my defence this did improve over the year, and I had just moved house when I lined up for this race. I felt out of practice in a way.
There's a good bit at 15:25 where it looks like I almost slipped on a patch of ice, though I often stick my arms out like that as a precaution. After that I disappear into the distance.

Video can be found at : http://vimeo.com/23619810
The company that posted it, and offers training on various sports is: http://thedoctrine.squarespace.com/videos/

2011 in review

There's still the Resolution Run to do on New Year's Eve at 6pm. While it has a start/ finish line with a clock, there's no official timing, and although I call it a "race", it's kind of a stand-alone event.

I might post my 2012 plan in January, although I put it together a couple of weeks ago to stop my motivation from flagging.

Before I forget though, and as it's the season for end of year lists and reviews, here's mine.

"The One That Got Away", St. Patrick's 10k, March: Don't move house a week before a race. I also could have done with calibrating my garmin - it's not a GPS, it uses a footpod - so I was going slower than I thought. To be honest I probably couldn't have improved my 10k PB that day anyway. It was what I had been looking forward to while I was lifting boxes, painting, etc. I did this in 42:12, so my PB is still 41:28. Of the distances I attempted this year, it is the only one that I didn't get a PB in - this 2010 PB will be history in 2012.

"90 minute barrier smashed", Calgary Half Marathon, May: Having re-jigged my training after the St Patrick's disappointment, I had a more structured plan when it came to speed work, and a carb loading strategy from a book I'd read. The 90 minute barrier in the half marathon had been my holy grail ever since my first half - and indeed first race - exactly 2 years before when I came home in 1:46. Everything went right, so the race in that sense was "undramatic", and I crossed the line over a minute under the 90, believing afterwards that I could've gone even quicker. It was a dream come true, and I also loved the sound of "62nd out of 2,965".

I started my blog shortly after that race. I had mostly wanted to keep a log of race reports. I quickly wrote-up my main races to date. It's another way in which my running has evolved this year.

"Sub-20 minute 5k!", Stampede Road Race, July: What a gut-busting distance that is. Leaving the startline confusion to one side, I managed - just - to get under 20 minutes in a 5k. Last year I went way to fast and burned out halfway round, coming home in 20:15. This time I managed 19:48, getting 4th in my age group, so no medal, but happy to achieve my goal. It finished on a track - 1st time ever for that too.

"Irene & The Hamstring". My 6th half marathon and the first time I had failed to get a PB. I went to Quebec City for this one, and I missed it by 4 minutes. The beginnings of Hurricane Irene and having to stop to stretch my hamstring both led to disappointment. I wasn't unhappy for long - I understood what had gone wrong on that day. What's more baffling than that is when things go right, it's hard to understand why...
...which is what made the Harvest Half Marathon just 5 weeks later all the more worth savouring. I was expecting at best to squeek inside my PB, but ended up knocking off 55 seconds. My favourite race of the year on balance, a beautiful day all-round.
It's also the second time I used a "headcam", for want of a better term. In the first picture at the top, next to me is a lady with a Go-Pro camera. I went for a way cheaper and lighter option. Once again, it's another way in which my running has changed, wanting to capture every second.

The biggest surprise of all perhaps was 3 weeks after that. I entered a 5-miler as a reward to myself for getting a new job, knowing too that my 34 min+ PB for the distance was slow and beatable. What stunned me was that I came home in 31:02, at a faster pace than my 5k PB. That 10k PB will soon be gone mwah ha-ha!
I also volunteered for the first time ever, and it was good to give back. Next year ought to be great!
Merry Xmas, I'll be going for my first run ever on Xmas day!

Monday, 12 December 2011


Running Under the Influence, that is. In between a team lunch featuring that rare term "open bar", and my wife's company christmas party, I was still able to get my run in on friday. Bloated and frankly a little drunk, this tempo run was surreal until 20 minutes in when the runner's full operating system just kicked in again.

In a small way, these christmas parties represent a small milestone. Not having bought any sharp clothes since my becoming a runner and losing a lot of weight, I went and got myself a Hugo Boss shirt - slim fit to show of being in shape or to show off just because I can. This is not something I'm really given to, but the point is that before I would have avoided doing this at all costs, not comfortable being myself.

It makes me wonder about the mindset of some who perhaps don't care enough to do anything about it, the wish they had when occasions such as these come up. Perhaps this is where many of the failed new year resolutions come from?
My sunday run was back to doing a snow plough impression again - tough and slow. Saw deer for the 4th week in a row, got stared at by some lovingly shooting me the "you're crazy" look. A teenager I ran past yelled "why don't you walk?" I replied "too cold".
So now it's time to plot next year's program of events...

Sunday, 4 December 2011

First tumble while running & snowploughing

Managed to get outside this week, seeing as unlike last sunday, there were no tarps or bags of trash flying through the air. I did the flying instead.
In all my 3 years of running, I had never taken a tumble. I slipped and twisted my foot getting off the bus in January 2010, which took a month to recover from, but never during running itself. Running on an unshovelled sidewalk, I stepped half on the paved edge. In the space of a second, I told myself "fall now, and choose how you do it, or take a few more futile steps, fall anyway and twist your ankle." So I twisted to the left, let myself drop, pulled my right arm in and pushed out as I rolled. I ended up rolling back onto my feet as I'd had a second to plan it, utterly painless! I laughed at myself for the next couple of minutes, but had to stop as my teeth started to get cold.
It was like being a snowplough in places, more than ankle deep. My Salomons were excellent however, and kept my feet completely dry. I missed my turn in Fish Creek Park, but found the second one which took me to the same exit point. 
Close to where I had seen a coyote 2 weeks ago, I kept imagining I was being watched as I edged toward the other side of the valley. Having stumbled up to the top, there were more unshovelled paths to negociate. Next time there's this much snow, I'll stick to cleared pathways even if it means going a certain distance then doing a u-turn which is somewhat unfulfilling for a long sunday run - I don't really mind when it comes to speed and tempo runs on wednesdays and fridays.
This was more like strength training, or cross training. Having to lift my feet up so high was quite tough of the hips - a real going over. I don't think I've gone at this pace for years too, 18.7k in just over 2 hours. Still, it's the overall training effect that matters - the reward will come at race time in the spring and summer. I read somewhere that "the will to win is nothing without the will to train." Perhaps replace "win" with "get a PB" though.