Monday, December 9, 2013



The difference between the cookie cutter training plans I’ve been following recently and the custom training plan I just received from’s Derrick Spafford is something like the difference between store bought cookies out of a bag and the homemade kind straight out of the oven. Sure, you think the first kind taste good enough, until you try the others, and realize just how much better they are with all of their warm, ooey gooey deliciousness.

When I first received my plan from Derrick I immediately began reading through it and was struck by how much more detailed it was as compared to my previous one. Derrick's plan was like a thick, hot juicy pastrami and corned beef sandwich with Swiss cheese and Dijon mustard on rye bread with a side of coleslaw and a pickle too in contrast to the simple "slap it together" processed cheese and white bread sandwiches I had been dining on. It was complex but not overly so. Each ingredient seemed perfectly chosen to complement the others and my mouth simply watered spontaneously at the thought of biting in to it. 

The plan was obviously custom made with consideration to what I have done recently and in my past. The transition from the old to the new appeared seamless and natural. Derrick's plan for me not only addressed the distance of the race I am training for but he has also taken into consideration the terrain I will be racing on and the weather I will be encountering. I don't believe I could find a training plan anywhere so perfectly suited to my own specific needs that would include instructions for me to pull a tire on a trail on Monday, churn out tempo hill repeats on a treadmill set to varying degrees of incline on Wednesday and to perform the middle portion of a 4 hour long run in snowshoes on Saturday.

As I delved deeper into my 3 month plan each workout brought about a salivary response like one might expected happened when Gretel came upon the Gingerbread house in the forest. Like her I felt famished and wanted nothing more then to dive in and begin eating everything in sight. The descriptions of my long runs were like the spicy gingerbread shapes which alone seem simple but when fit together create a perfect foundation to build upon. The tempo workouts were the icing mortar holding everything together and giving strength, the tire pulling and snowshoeing sessions I likened to the meticulous icing details which add depth and character and the intervals were the candy decorations and the delicious finishing touch to a masterful and tasty design.

Unfortunately the one and only thing I did find distasteful about my new plan was that it doesn’t kick in until tomorrow. I am now like a kid on Christmas Eve night waiting for Santa and morning to come, a horse kicking inside his stall waiting for his door to open to be put out to be pasture. I am a runner with a new training plan who must sit and must not run and may do anything other than the one thing I want to do, and by now perhaps you've figure out what that one thing is... I WANT TO EAT MY TRAINING PLAN!!"

Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Top 5 Things...

The Top 5 Things I saw before, during and after my run today-

The sunrise looked like this but
through my front window.

1) The sunrise over Sydenham Lake while I had my coffee pre-run-

I was up at 7am, the sky was turning all shades of orange and yellow and the beauty of it all really had me excited to get outside and enjoy the day and my long run on the trail despite the cool temperatures that awaited me.

If I had a camera this is what my picture of today's
trail would have looked like.

2) The freshly groomed snow on the trail-

I had somehow beaten the snowmobilers outside this morning and was rewarded with the most beautiful carpet of hard packed crusty snow groomed ever so flat and smooth. It was as though it was done just for me and the one other runner who's footprints I followed in for sometime. I felt very appreciative to whoever it was who got up so early on this Saturday morning to do it. Unfortunately the loud snow machines were out tearing up the snow on my return run and I had to escape to the road rather then try to negotiate the rubble of crust and powder they had surely left in their violent wake.

Like this x2

3) Two beautiful white-tailed deer-

I was 10k into my run when in the distance I saw what looked like a tall dog of some kind. Perhaps a Great Dane or a large Lab. I really hoped it wasn't some kind of skinny black bear. It ran off trail upon hearing me approach and I then caught a glimpse of two deer hopping off into the woods and with their white tails held high they vanished in mere seconds.

Like this minus the kids and dogs

4) A Jingle Bell bedazzled horse pulling a sleigh-

Just as I was heading home to pick up my snowshoes to finish off my run I was passed by a friendly horse making the most Christmas like jingle bell sounds. You don't see that kind of thing everyday and it really put a smile on my face.

Hey look it's Santa, The Real Santa!!

5) Watching the kids waiting to see Santa at the Mall-

There was a line of kids at the mall with their parents in tow all waiting to see Santa. It was the very same Santa I had stood in line to see year after year with my daughter. I found myself feeling very nostalgic for that time when she was still young and still believed.

The Top 5 Things I learned on my run today-

1) Getting the layers right on the first long run of the winter can be tricky and you'll probably dress too warm or not warm enough-

 I dressed way to warm and ended up peeling off my top layer after 30minutes of a 31/2 hr run. I learned it's better to carry the extra jacket you might need rather then put it on right away and find out you don't. I had built up a nice layer of sweat before I realized how hot I was and then risked getting colder because of it.

2) Water bottles are not good insulators in temperatures below zero Celsius-

I learned that the nipple of the bottles will freeze first then the liquid will begin to freeze, then the slushy liquid will begin to freeze the hand that is carrying it and as you drink the icy pink refreshment your throat and stomach will begin to ache from the cold. I don't know how I never had any of this happen to me before.

3) Tying a double knot it no guarantee that the laces of your running shoes will stay tied for the duration of your run-

I double knotted both of my running shoes before leaving the house and wouldn't you know it but both of them came undone. I ended up retying them using this method: After you have made your bows grab the ends of both laces. Put one bow and one end of the lace in one hand and the same in the other then make your double knot pulling the bows and the lace ends tight.

4) You don't need as much water on winter days as you would in the summer which leaves you a bit freer to wander further from home and or your water source-

 Today I was able to extend the first part of my run further then I had planned to as I didn't feel a need to return home to refill my bottles. I felt comfortable with 40 oz.(2 bottles) for the entire run whereas in the summer I would have needed 70 oz.(3.5 bottles) for the same time and therefore would have had to return home within 2hrs. Today I carried two water bottles for 3hrs and 20min. and didn't need to go home except that I wanted to pickup my snowshoes. I did consume around the same number of calories though coming in at around 1120(4 scoops or Vitargo) or approx. 300 calories and hour.

5) The second snowshoe run of the year is much easier then the first showshoe run of the year-

 I tried running for 45 min. on snowshoes a few days ago and thought I might collapse after 20min. However today after having already run almost 3 hrs. and 20kms., running on the snowshoes for another 5km actually felt pretty good.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Run For the Toad…My first 50km Race Report

“Hey, you're DFL”, a gentleman with a salt and pepper beard called to me from the sidelines approx.100 m passed the finish line where I had just completed my first 50 km race. “D.F.L.”, I thought to myself. I had heard the acronym before, now how does that go? Oh ya, “Dead F#$%king Last”. Unfortunately as I unraveled the letter puzzle in my mind the words took control of my tongue and I blurted it out loud for anyone near to hear.  Luckily there were no children around and only a few post race stragglers including the whiskered ultra runner who is somewhat of a stable fixture on the Ouser circuit (Ontario Ultra Series Events Races) ultra scene. In fact, I was quite amused to have actually made it on to the veteran runner's radar. “Well at least I didn’t “DNF” I called back jokingly, which I immediately wanted to take back just in case he himself had DNFd(he hadn't). As I headed towards Aid Station 1 to retrieve my gear I could hear a friend of his tell him that shouldn’t have said that and then they both had a bit of a muffled laugh.

50km Race Start - Of 1250 athletes only 169 were in the 50km
I was doing that a lot today it seemed, hearing conversations going on regarding me not intended for my ears. Like back at the last couple of aids stations catching wind of the attendants radioing in my position and progress, “Runner 162 is heading into Station 2”, “Runner 162 has left Station 4”. Then there’s the time that keeps echoing in my head at the last road crossing, with 250m to go and only a short final stretch of forest remaining the volunteer radioed as I passed by, “Last runner heading home”. “LAST RUNNER”, “Did I just hear that?” I thought to myself, “Last runner?”, “Am I really the last one?” I have to admit that a few tears came to my eyes, my lower lip quivered and I am sure I was sporting the most pathetic sad face you have ever seen. “People must have dropped I thought to myself but still I’m last, Last!, LAST!!”. “It’s my first 50km and I’m LAST!”. “Who cares if I'm last” the one way conversation with myself continued, “I’m last and there are people waiting for me and I’m happy just to have finished and hey I beat the muscle cramping demons, I'm still running and never gave up hope”. “I deserve last, LAST is GOOD”. There were no cowbells leading me in this time around and as I approached the finish I guessed the rain had chased everyone home early. The cars were all gone and my spirits slumped a bit. There was one lonely paramedic huddled in her truck as I made my way towards the archway I had already passed under 4 times today. I raised my arms in victory and let out a little holler (hope that pictures turns out well) and a few officials and the photographer were waiting to greet me under a shelter with a few last cow bells to seal the deal. Still as they placed my finisher’s medal around my neck I held out hope that maybe just maybe there was another runner on course but I dared not ask. I just really didn’t want any confirmation at that point that I was indeed last during this final celebratory moment of a race that had begun 7 hours and 20 minutes earlier on a cloudy and humid day.

They had been calling for rain all week plus lightning to boot. It was a chilly fall morning when I poked my head out of my first floor motel room’s back sliding door. I was heading out for some early morning pre-race food and the rain was misty but nothing like what had been forecast. Unfortunately due to the weather predictions, my crew of my Mom and her two dogs had opted out of joining me at the race. I didn’t blame her for not wanting to sit around all day in the rain with two wet border collies. So after a bagel, eggs, banana and a coffee I headed off to the race with a cooler of premixed Vitargo in 5 water bottles, enough gels, blocks and salt tabs to fuel my race  and a couple changes of clothes and shoes in preparation for a long wet and stormy day in the Pinehurst Conservation Area. The line of cars heading into the park seemed endless and we weaved and snaked our way through the forested race venue until finally I was directed to park in some obscure field. I was impressed with the organization to it all and the volunteers did their best to stuff over 1200 athlete’s vehicles into every nook and cranny they could find. I made my way to the Start/Finish area and Aid Station #1 which was also the dropbag area for the 50km runners where I surveyed the land and met some of my fellow runners. We were all busily preparing, trying to figure out what to wear etc. when the bagpipes began to play signifying the beginning of the opening ceremonies. It all happened so fast after that. I was there listening to the music of the Royal Highland Fusiliers of Canada (RHFC) and they called for the 50km runners to line up where I found myself behind the arch I would be running through for a total of five times throughout the day. The course was made up of a 12.5 km loop which you ran 4 times for a total of 50km. The 50km runners lined up and started first, to be soon followed by the 25km runners and walkers. The gun went off and everyone began to move, I kept to the back and dropped off my raincoat at the aid station and upon my leaving realized that I was in fact in last place. The mob disappeared ahead of me and I fell in behind a few other slow moving brethren.

I don’t like to say that I wasn’t prepared for this race as that kind of talk only sounds like I’m making excuses. But I had been very ill for 2 weeks straight, not being able to run at all during weeks 13 and 14 of my 16 week training program and not being well enough to run a true long run since week 11. When I finally was able to run at the beginning of week 15 it then took me all of those 7 days to get my running legs back and culminated with a nice 10km run in the woods. It was then time to taper. It really didn’t make sense for me to do so but not knowing what else to do the week of a race I kept to the schedule and taper I did. Well we have all read the studies that say you don’t lose that much fitness in the course of a month's time so I figured I’d run the race and see just how accurate those accounts were.  My “A Plan” was to finish running, “B Plan” to finishing walking, “C Plan” to finish as many loops as possible without damaging my body. So finding myself at the back of a pack of many veteran and talented ultra runners including David Riddle, Cleve Thorson and Stacie Carrigan to name a few, didn’t worry me a bit, in fact it was comforting to know that I hadn’t gone out too fast and I felt ready to settle into my own rhythm and a comfortable pace. Unfortunately the muscle cramping demons in my legs had other ideas.

In the woods
OK I expected that I might have to deal with some muscle cramping issues sometime in the race, like on loop 2 or 3 or 4, but loop 1 at 6km, no way!! I still find it hard to believe that only 6km into the race my legs began to cramp up. From the bottom of my feet to the tops of my thighs, I had spasms upon spasms. It could not have been the distance, it could not have been the hills(I had walked almost all of them), it could not have been my fueling. I didn’t know why but all I could do was deal with it so from that point on, with 44 km in front of me to go I began the process of cramp management. Whatever it took to keep my legs from going into full spasm I did. Mostly that meant running with straighter legs and walking the hills, sometimes sideways so the shins were happy. It seemed that anytime one muscle was stretched the opposing muscle cramped so I couldn’t stretch or contract any muscle too much…for hour upon hour. It was a constant mental battle to figure out the rubrics cube like solution to keep my legs functioning. But lap after lap I succeeded and really from the waist up I was in as good of spirits as anyone in the middle of a 50km race could be. In some ways I was the lucky one because I wasn’t taxing my anaerobic system at all. My heart rate was steadily between 130 and 140, exactly where I would have wanted it to be with or without the cramps. So perhaps in a way the cramps forced me to slow down and may have actually saved my race.

 As I pulled into Aid Station 1 for the last time to refuel I noticed a gentleman a bit older then myself follow me in. “One more lap for me” I told him, “Me too he replied” and I was off. Funny thing but I suddenly realized that the muscle cramping demons had mysteriously disappeared as fast as they had arrived 6 hours earlier. I was moving freely and felt strong. “Dare I ?” I thought to myself, “Dare I push the last lap of a race distance I have never run before”. The furthest I had ever run was perhaps 28km and as I entered into lap 4 I had already surpassed that mark by10km. Well I went for it. I ran every hill in the early going. Finally I was able to put to use all of hill repeats and hilly tempos I had been running previous to getting sick. I did notice that my foot was hurting me, an old cuboid problem I haven’t felt since hiking the Cataraqui Trail pulling a sled this past winter. But I wasn’t going to let a foot ache slow me down. Heck it was probably the pain from the foot that had in fact caused the cramping to so suddenly stop. I do know that the body has a short attention span and that diversions like sour pickle juice or a pinched lip has been known to stop muscle spasms. I actually tried using that tactic earlier in the race by breaking my salt tab on my tongue every hour hoping for that very effect. But alas I do believe it was the foot that finally did the trick, but how long would it last. Well not that long.

The finish
 One particular quad, the right one was determined to keep on cramping which forced me to run or walk sideways up every hill but undeterred I kept moving forward, every sideways hill climb carrying me closer to the finish. BTW, that rain I mentioned earlier that was suppose to make the day so wet and miserable, well it finally hit halfway into the last lap. I laughed, I had to laugh, no rain was going to stop me, as long as I didn’t tumble down a slippery hill and hit my head that is. But I didn’t and I rolled through each aid station, hearing my number being called ahead to the finish line as they awaited my arrival and I thought about the guy who I assumed was behind me and how he was making out in the rain. “Last runner heading home”, is what he said, and I crossed the finish line, received my medal, was chided for being DFL from the sidelines and as I made my way to the drop bag area I fully expected it to be empty and deserted, but it wasn’t. Hey maybe I wasn't DFL after all I thought to myself. Just then Peggy, the race director came to check on the area and I pointed out 4 lonely bags to her to which she replied, “Yep, they're still out there”.

 As of now while I write this I still don’t know when or if the others made it in. I wish I could have stayed to wait for them but it was a long 4 hour drive home alone in the dark and rain with a pair of cranky legs to contend with. I wish I had stayed, they deserved that. So to whoever you are, congratulations on a great race and if you were the one to finish last then CHEERS TO YOU and your well earned title of DFL!!

Lap 1 1:48:05 avg. hb 136 bpm
Lap 2 1:51:13 avg. hb 137 bpm
Lap 3 1:54:26 avg. hb 135 bpm
Lap 4 1:47:50 avg. hb 143 bpm

 Of course I have to thank the RDs Peggy and George and all of the great volunteers who encouraged all of us runners and provided everything we could possibly need during the race. Kind words, drinks, food, a good laugh and endless clapping, cheering and cow belling. Also congratulations to all of the winners and finishers of this 12th Annual Run For the Toad event. See you all next year:-)

Update: Results are up and I was officially 143 out of of 147 finishers. Cheers to finisher 147 Peter Bromley. Way to get 'er done!! Although I lost my title of overall DFL to Peter it turns out that I was DFLF. I'll carry my title proudly(after a good tear up and lip quiver that is):-P
…hopefully some pics to follow :-)

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Is it possible?

Is it possible?

I was pessimistic, in an optimistic kind of way. I held on to the hope that I would feel up to running today but knew it probably wouldn’t work out that well. I hadn’t run in 2 ½ weeks and history tells me that I never have a good run the first day back after being off for injury, illness or race recovery. So I was hoping for the best but expecting the worst, i.e. runners knee symptoms that always pop up, shin tightness I’ve been plagued with for a year now and maybe even the muscle cramps which crept into my last run those 17 days before that finally clued me into the fact that I was sick…real sick. Not just stuffy nose above the shoulder you can run through sick. I had the sweats and unexplainable cramping of my quad muscles only a couple of kilometres into my run which had me turning home with the sinking feeling that I wouldn’t be back anytime soon.

“Maybe a week”, I thought to myself, 7 days of no running and resting would surely have me back on track ‘er trail, missing merely one week of a 14 week plan (which had already been modified from a 16 week plan). Even though the coming week was supposed to culminate with me running my first half marathon, as a training run mind you, I knew I’d have to give the “rest and recovery thing” a good effort or I’d risk letting this illness drag on even longer. I had already taken a half assed approach to getting over whatever it was, with taking 2 days off then trying to run, and taking another 3 days off before trying again and failing miserably.  I was only getting much worse and didn’t want to jeopardize my ability to take my place at the starting line at this year’s Run For The Toad 50km on October 5th. So 7 days off it would have to be. I’d probably have to miss the half but hey, if I was back to feeling good by the Saturday I might still be able to get it in and then get on with the next 3 weeks, and what important weeks they were to be.

Two of my biggest running weeks were ahead of me, an 84 km week followed by a 74, a 67 then a taper week before the BIG RACE. Two of those weeks would hold the biggest running totals I have ever done along with some hilly tempos and increasing hill repeats so I was still holding out hope that one OFF week to kick this illness wouldn’t be the end to my successful foray into the world of ultras. Well the week dragged by and I visited my doctor to get her opinion. It isn’t always easy to get in to see her and I luckily already had an appointment lined up to talk to her about my shin. It had been a year since she had diagnosed me with a stress fracture. The diagnosis was the impetus for me to begin hiking and in turn for deciding to back off of 5kms and try to get a good base of slower miles in my legs. For the most part this approach worked out well as it had always seemed that I would begin getting injured (foot, calf, knee) when speed was introduced to my training. Unfortunately though, the shin never seemed to be absolutely happy as it still had this constant omnipresent dull throbbing ache.

So there I was in the doctor’s office and she starts in with, “So I understand your shin is still bothering you”, to which I reply, “Forget about the shin doc, I have bigger problems these days”…or something to that effectJ So it turns out I had a temperature and together with the sweats, muscle cramps and aches she thought I probably had a nasty virus that was going around. She also ordered a round of blood tests to be sure it wasn’t something more chronic like anemia or a hypothyroidism. Well the rest of the week didn’t go well and I ended up skipping the half, and had only enough energy the next week to get up and go back to sleep a few hours later, every day, day after day. I have never felt like that before and all kinds of thoughts entered my head, let’s just say I was worried and not just for my race but my future health as well. I was very glad that I had taken time off to recover though because as it turned out I could have extended this thing a lot longer if I hadn’t headed the warning signs and tried to push through my workouts just to get the miles or time on legs in.

So here I am now, four days out from the race. Having missed 2 ½ key weeks of training I bring you back to my initial question, “Is it possible?” Can I actually run and finish a 50km race this Saturday? Well to fill you in further, the first run back which you’ll remember had me optimistically pessimistic lasted about 15 min before the knee started complaining, so I tried again a couple days later. I got a bit further each day, 40min, 50min then had a 90 min. run this past Sunday. Heading home from Sunday’s run in Gould Lake on the same stretch of trail where I first felt my shin pain last year, I couldn’t help but hope I’d make it back to my car running. I was also trying not to think about the muscle cramps that plagued my runs 3 weeks back that had put a sudden halt to my training and I had some time to reflect on what had made it all go so wrong. Had I pushed the pace on my back to backs? Heck, should I even have been running back to backs? Well I know my first mistake was throwing my coaching/training funds into the monthly expenses pot and going it alone or coachless for the first time in 4(?) years. But I saw it all as a learning experience and one I dove into head first and excitedly so if not with some trepidation.

I had pieced together a training schedule in a way only Dr. Frankenstein might appreciate. A part from this 50km plan I found on the race’s website, a piece from that marathon plan I googled, a tidbit from past plans, a crumb I picked from my former coach’s brain. I think I probably screwed things up when I  became so concerned with hitting weekly distance goals that I ran recovery runs for distance and not by how I was feeling and thinking back believe that many of them could have been reduced by half or more. In the past I ran 30, 40, 60min recovery runs but now was doing 13km recoveries which came in around 90 minutes. I even wrote a few times in my journal that it didn’t seem much like a “recovery run”. The week I began to fall apart and get sick I had to take two days off before my hills because I was just too darn tired. I had every intention of making up the days later in the week but my body had other ideas and put a stop to my hill repeats early, then rewarded me with horrible muscle cramps on the way home during which time I fell hard and scraped myself up on the trail. I really think that with the overtraining or overreaching as some like to call it, that I left myself vulnerable to whatever viruses were circulating at the time and I seemed to pick up a nasty one.

What I have learned is that viruses love to attack weakened, damaged cells and I probably had a big share of those due to overstressing my system. So once the virus takes up residency in these dying cells it begins to replicate itself. The more weakened cells you have the more viruses can move in and the longer it can take your immune system to fight them and clear them out. So what may have been a virus that most people can deal with in a week, my compromised system took 3 weeks to take care of. All I can say is thank goodness it is gone and lessoned learned.

An interesting side note for runners is that viruses actually help clear your body of all of those damaged cells we accumulate as a result of breaking down our muscles etc. during workouts. Our body is actually not that good at recognizing what cells have been damaged so the bad ones tend to sit around a long time before being replaced with strong healthy cells. However, viruses like colds and flus can detect those compromised cells quickly and when they do move in the body is alerted to the virus and the damaged cells and begins clearing them both out. Of course a cold or flu virus is pretty easy for our bodies to deal with if we are relatively healthy however sometimes a real nasty one can move in which can lead to one of many diseases. So if you are one to always come down with a cold before a race it is probably due to an accumulation of damaged cells from your training. This of course has me pondering how we can best use this knowledge so as to make sure we are healthy for race day. If I want to avoid a cold, obviously, not over reaching in my training is a no brainer but I might want to consider taking a week off now and again weeks before a race to let those damaged cells clear out of my system before a nasty virus moves in. Or if I can’t avoid the colds altogether, I could at least try to “schedule my colds” for earlier in training rather than later. One way to do this might be extend my training period and perhaps the tapers also. Now that I have a better handle on the damaged cell, virus connection it makes it easy to connect it to other dots such as making sure to boost  my immune system with what I put in to my body and to take adequate recovery no matter what the bloody schedule calls for.

As for the race I plan on starting very conservatively. I can only hope to finish at this point. I’ll have a small crew of 2 border collies and my Mom. I am running it as a long run…a very long, long run or perhaps just a good days hike:-) I really hope to be able to run more then I walk. I don't even know if there are cut-offs...let's hope not:-P
Map of Race Course



Monday, June 17, 2013

Sri Chinmoy 2013 - Race Summary after inadvertent delete:-( With Update:-)

 (photo credit Rhiannon Murphy)
Feeling good just before... 

(photo credit Sara Montgomery)
 ...the wheel(left wheel to be exact) fell off:-)

OK I had a nice report all written up and I accidently deleted it. I had inadvertently typed it into the caption portion of one of my pictures and when I deleted the picture everything below it was also deleted. Note: I have since had time to add a few important facts and some past due thank-yous to the summary in bold.

So to summarize what I had written-

I went out "TOO FAST", well actually, "NOT SLOW ENOUGH". I learned there is a difference. Even though I had topped out with a 4 hour long run a few weeks before the race, I had been keeping my heart rate below 140bpm in training and in turn that meant usually walking the longer hills. I figured that because this was a flat course it would be faster and therefore I should be faster and hoped I would be able to get away with a bit higher heartbeat of 145ish for the duration. Wrong!! I think the one thing I failed to realize was that I had been walking during training so I had never really run more then 2hrs. non-stop and with the addition of the faster pace, higher hr and 100% pavement it was all too much for my left quad. I know it was my A-goal of reaching the 50km mark that drove me to blindly go where I had never been before but I found that I just couldn't let go of the idea of hitting that mark until it was too late.

My left quad started to pull on my knee cap after 2 hours and try as I might I eventually had to walk the remaining time. I could walk without pain but could not run but a few steps which was the most frustrating part as the rest of me wanted to run but we were being held back my one little party pooper:-(

I ran approx. the same distance in the first 2:15 hours that I walked in the last 3:45. I was at 19km at 2:15 hrs. and walked just over 18 km after that. I wasn't exactly power walking either, more like I was out for a nice brisk stroll. In the end I was not only the slowest runner but the walkers were passing me too. That is when I really began to appreciate just what great athletes all of these people were.

I learned that ultra runners are the most seasoned runners that I have ever come across anywhere. Most have run more ultras then I've run 5kms and some have run 10xs more and for some that is just this year. I bow to the endless hours and countless miles in their collective rock solid muscled legs:-)

I have recovered very well. I haven't run yet but the left quad was the only sore spot and then only going down stairs the next few days after. I'm going for my first run since the race tonight,(Monday 17th) wish me luck!

I would like to add that this event was organized and run to perfection by Hladini Wilson. All of the lap counting volunteers were very encouraging and one particular French gentleman spent the entire day trying to learn to pronounce my name with his thick accent. I had my own food and water so didn't sample the buffet but there was always something on the table for everyone(including my daughter to my dismay) throughout the day. I highly recommend putting this event on your race card if you ever want to try this type of event in the future. The views of the lake were breathtaking and ever changing with the sail boaters and kayakers out enjoying the day as the racers winded their way around the point of the Royal Military College grounds and weaved in and out of the historic walls of Fort Frederick.

I also want to thank my crew of my daughter Rhiannon and my Mom Jane for being there for me for the 6 hours and managing my water, food and clothes. It turned out to be a cool, dampish windy day for the spectators although for the runners it was pretty perfect weather as long as you were able to keep moving. I unfortunately was not, so I had to don my wind pants and another shirt to keep me warm in the latter stages of the race. Funny story but when I finally decided to get some warm clothes on I headed for my crew and there was my Mom, warm(and asleep) in the car, but who could blame her:-) Another cute story about my daughter has her seeing me slow down and beginning to walk when my knee started barking. Well this was embarrassing her and she called to me, "don't walk Mom, RUN". So I started running again and this happened a few times. Then as the day progressed and I had been walking for a few hours every now and again I would get up the gumption to try and run again and I'd hear a voice call to me, "don't run Mom, WALK":-)

Also thanks to my coach Derrick Spafford for preparing me for this race If I had only listened to his warning to keep my hr around 135 I am sure I would have run much longer. I was also surprised to see him and his wife Sara around the 4 hour mark of the race. I had already been walking for what seemed like weeks now(2hours) and I knew I had some "explaining to do". Thanks to Sara also for taking a few pictures to commemorate the event. When I saw her taking my picture it kinda felt like I was at some kind of Ultra graduation and they were my proud parents taking my picture...which believe me was weird:-P But really they have both been there from the beginning of my running career and I know they understand better then anyone what that race was about for me and that it is the first of what will hopefully be many more ultra events to come.

Onward and upward:-)

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Kingston Sri Chinmoy Self-Transcendence 6-Hour Race 2013

"There is only one perfect road,
and that road is ahead of you,
always ahead of you."
~Sri Chinmoy

A runner at the 2012 Sri Chinmoy 6hr. Race with a view across
Lake Ontario of Kingston's Historic City Hall.
(all pictures courtesy of the race's official gallery)
A quick preview of the Kingston Self-Transcendence 6-Hour Race, 2013, which I will be participating in on June 8th.


The Kingston Sri Chinmoy Self-Transcendence 6-Hour Race is run on an 880-metre paved loop along Lake Ontario and around the walls of Fort Frederick and the Royal Military College in historic Kingston, Ontario. I am really not sure why I was drawn to this race as my next challenge following my hike of The Cataraqui Trail, or the "CT" as it known amongst us hikers:) The race has been around since 1996 although very few people I know are aware of it, including, most "running people" I know.

The official lap counters from the 2012 edition of the race.

Runners on part of the 880 metre winding path.

Scanning through the past 16 years of results I could count on both of my hands the number of people who have hailed from the Kingston area. Despite there being a huge running population here and with the race being run practically on the training grounds of the Kingston Road Runners Association, for some reason it has not attracted the road, trail, tri or ultra crowds from the area. A few recognizable names from the ultra-community who are regular attendees of the event are, Laurie McGrath, who dominates this race every year she shows up and Helen Malmberg who is the RD of Canada's premier ultra, The Haliburton Forest 100.

A runner with the "Leader Board" in the background.

Perhaps one reason I am drawn to this event and am not as dismissive of it as others appear to be, is that I don't feel that I am any certain "kind" of runner. I don't feel affiliated with, or a lack of affiliation to, any particular type of racing be it road or trail, short or long. I guess I haven't been at any of them long enough to have tired of one over the other. The one thing about running on a looped course and is perhaps why these events are run in this manner is that I assume it becomes less about the "place" you are running in the longer you are at it.

Participants of the 2012 edition of the
Sri Chinmoy Self-transcendence 6-hour Race
Seeing as the course is so short and repetitive it wouldn't take long for every straight away, curve and dip in the road to become programmed into one's legs leaving your mind free to "transcend" the body, kind of like when you zone out while driving and can't remember how you got home. Sure it's possible to reach this state of mind on a longer road or trail course but with ever changing terrain you need a higher level of mental awareness then you would on these short looped courses. Anyhow it will be interesting to see how the race plays out for me and I am really looking forward to finishing up my training and for race day to arrive. Will I find a place in my mind to transcend to while my body pounds out each and every monotonous loop? Or will I be fully aware and living every moment of the race, the good and the bad? I guess I am looking forward to it either way.


"What gives life its value,
If not its constant cry,
For self-transcendence?"
~Sri Chinmoy


Sunday, April 7, 2013

Running priority for 2013- #1) keeping Eliza healthy

My priorities concerning running this year are to #1) keep Eliza healthy, happy and injury free.

As a runner I know that injuries aren't planned so therefore planning not to have one may prove to be impossible, however since most of my injuries to date have been caused by muscle imbalances, stress and inflamation(calf tightness 2009-2013, runners knee 2009, hip 2010, ankle/foot 2011-2012, shin stress fracture or tendonitis 2012-2013) I have a pretty good handle on what I need to do or avoid doing in order to avoid the 3 injury causing agents listed above.

Ways I plan to avoid the 3 injury causing agents listed above-

STRESS- relieving stress is good...avoiding stress is better. There are physical and mental stressors. Physical stressors not only stress the bodies tissues, muscles and tendons but the nervous system with physiological, pschological implications. Mental stressors from work and life in general can also have physiological impact.

 I am avoiding stress by removing intense workouts (ie. interval, high end tempos)from my running and strength workouts and working only in an aerobic zone which for me is 126 bpm - 136 bpm.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Picture Enhancement...Steroids for My Photos?

I thought I'd enhance some of my photos from my recent adventure on the Cataraqui Trail after viewing a bit of,  "Trail Porn"(I'm not sure how long the site has been around but you can submit pictures if  you think they have what it takes to be a "Porn Star"). It is amazing what a few adjustments of contrast, brightness, saturation, cropping, straightening/rotating etc. can do for a once drab photo. Not only is it fun but it almost makes me feel like I know what I'm doing :-)
Compare the originals with the digitally enhanced version. Like with steriods, the enhanced version may look better however they are in some cases nothing but a distorted reality. So what do you think? Is picture enhancement OK, or should I be banned for life?