Thursday, September 30, 2010
It seems to happen that when researching something I come across a different subject which results in an entirely different train of thought. I set out to research the shoes in the above blog ( looking to replace the swim shoes that have stretched out and flew off my foot yesterday in mid stride). The picture of the Eco-Runner carrying a garbage bag was quite a sight. I pick up garbage during a run sometimes but this guy really goes out of his way and collects an average of 5 bags per run (1200 bags of trash per year)! Inspired, I stuffed a grocery bag in a pocket and set off to meet Nicole for a run. This is how much garbage I collected after only 14 minutes of running. Crazy!
Saturday, September 25, 2010
Some of us (ok, me) are in the throes of what is termed the Post Marathon Blues...and frankly I'm sick of this feeling! Personally, I am looking at tomorrow's run as the official end to this blues thing. Maybe we'll go somewhere new...and somewhere extra muddy. I have no idea what distance we'll be running as it'll depend on the collective mood ( 20 miles anyone?). It might be a good idea to bring cell phones and marking tape, just in case ( don't want to do that lost in the woods thing again).
We'll meet at 6 am unless I hear some enthusiasm for meeting at 5 am ( anyone?). Location same place as usual.
Running is so varied form one person to another, it is so individual, it keeps us all learning about ourselves and our environment. Each run, training or race, is so different and ever changing that there are a variety of guide lines for how to train for different events, and they later become more narrow per runner, as to what works for that one specific person. There are so many ideas and schools of thought, which keeps it all interesting and I don't think I will ever get board trying new things. Although now, with trying a new distance I find comfort in the thought of something less varied, a training plan I can stick to, something concrete to follow, one that is specific to this new distance. Call it a starting point, a diving board, something to expand on in the future. We are looking at the last marathon as part of our training plan for the next adventure, Vulture Bait 50k. I am currently working in an after plan, especially knowing how I can feel 4-5 days after the high from completing a marathon. Not something I'm liking.
Experimenting with nutrition and distance has taken up a large part of running this year, each long run has brought out new snacks (Jeannie's chocolate cake was a nice touch back in Feb.) new ways to hydrate in different temperatures (water and Gatorade freeze well in -20C). Where are we going to feel exhausted? How far until we need to refuel? How are we going to refuel? We have discovered that the 'long run rounds' are great cookies for spring summer and fall, but get too frozen in the winter. The home-made protein bars are best in winter as they are better frozen, and get too soggy in the spring and summer when it is getting warmer out.
I guess the lesson is to plan what you can, then roll with what ever falls onto your path, and to always keep getting up. As I write this though I see Gail has a way more awesome post... so I'm gonna stop here and take her advice to keep motivated....
See you tomorrow morning.
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Because really the Ultra is in less than 4 weeks....... OK, the panic is now starting to come to the forefront. Since Treherne I have ran 2 WH3 runs (totalling about 6 miles) and a 14 km trail race at Birdshill Park for a total of under 15 miles. Now I did run all this with a nice bruise on my left foot and a knot in my right calf, and that is my excuse for not having any additional mileage, but I am thinking I need to ramp this up significantly so I can feel comfortable going into Vulture Bait.
Now Nicole is planning to run 'The Lemming Loop' Trail race on October 3rd (run as far as you can in 3, 6 or 12 hours, she is shooting for the 6 hours), and I am thinking I should do the same. This will give us a good idea of what Vulture Bait will be like, and this will also be good to have prior to starting our taper runs leading up to it.
It is going to be a fun next couple of weeks, and I am loving every minute of it. Now just to find the time to get all the running in that I want to do. Life is nothing if it not full of challenges.
Monday, September 13, 2010
Nicole, Gail and Me Before the Start of the RaceMy Lovely Wife and I Prior to the Big Race
The run started at 8:00 am sharp at the Treherne Community Club and the weather was perfect for running, not to hot and partly cloudy. It was definitely a good day for a run. I did get some looks as I headed in and out of the community centre, not sure why, could of been the kilt, could of been the VFF's (I like to leave the shoes on till just before the race for the dramatics bom ba da da). I will say I was a little surprised I only had 2 or 3 people come up to me and ask me about the kilt, I was actually expecting a little more. I think Nicole got more questions and comments about her VFF's, which she always answers with a smile.
I want to do this report a little differently this time, expanding on the emotions listed above, it might give you a view inside my head, not like I need another voice in there (just had to include that from Gail's last post about the shirt from Queen City Marathon, makes me laugh every time), as I worked thru the marathon.
This one is easy, I have been looking forward to this run for about 4 weeks, and we were finally on our way driving down the highway from Winnipeg towards Treherne. Gail was driving, I was in the passenger seat, and Nicole was tucked away in the backseat. Nicole and I knew this was going to be a good day for a run due to the following reason, earlier in the morning after packing the kids in the van and heading over to Gail's house, 'Run to the Hills', by Iron Maiden came onto the radio as I started up the car. Nicole caught the irony right away, I was singing along, and it took Nicole to point out what I was singing. This was definitely going to be a good day.
The hour drive out seemed to take forever, but we made it by 7:15 am, enough time to wander around a bit. When we got to Treherne, we were directed to the run location by numerous locals at every corner pointing the way to ensure no one got lost (seems hard to imagine in a town of under 700, but I guess its possible). We got to park about 200 yards from the start/finish line, this was interesting to see this as we pulled up. I could not wait to start the run.
I am finding that this happens to me every run, I get those little thoughts in my head, like '26.2 miles, your going to run that, are you crazy', and 'your knees are not going to hold up, why are you doing this to me?' and my favourite 'you could just pull up a lawn chair, have a beer and watch all the crazy people run!'. This is where I think, well I am one of the crazy ones and I don't want to be left behind. Butterflies in the stomach seems to be a common thing for me at these runs, but I find if I get myself lined up to start, and once I cross the start line at the start of the run I am fine, but I have to remind myself not to go out to fast. The nervous energy always seems to propel me to go to fast at the start, which causes me problems later down the road. I was determined not to let that happen this time. So to help curb the nervous energy, I decided I was going to start this run barefoot, to make me concentrate a little more and hopefully pace myself (did I mention that the majority of this run is on gravel/dirt roads).
The 'Start' warning call was made, and the 70 or so full marathoners lined up ready to go, with Nicole, Gail and myself lined up towards the back as per usual. The official start was called and we were off, we started south from the community club on a dirt road out to the asphalt street, and did a quick tour of the town prior to heading out onto the dirt roads. My feet were responding well to everything that was thrown in front of them for terrain, and the dirt roads were in awesome shape with some good tracks and not to many sharp stones. I had a lot of interest in my barefoot running once I caught up to the back half of the half marathoner's, and struck up quite a few conversations along the way until they cut off of our route. The kilt came up (no pun intended) a few times as well. I was quite happy with my progress, I maintained a 9:00 minute mile thru town, but slowed down to a acceptable 11:00 mile once I hit the dirt roads. I was able to carry this for the first 10 miles or so, slowing down when I hit a hill (I am actually faster going up then going down, which I find interesting) climb and descent to about a 13:00 min mile. I used the hills to pass numerous runners that were walking up them, I think this shocked a few people as a guy with no shoes and a kilt raced by them on a hill climb.
I was so happy with my feet, they felt great, and my confidence sky rocketed and the determination kicked in. It became my goal at that point to not only finish the marathon, but finish it barefoot. It would be the longest run I have done barefoot, as my previously best was 16.0 miles, and that being on a mix of terrain but mostly concrete sidewalk (this was dirt/gravel road).
I will say it was kind of a weird feeling as I approached the point where the half marathoners split off from the marathoners (this was about mile 10). I was running with a group of about 30 to 40 runners and then I headed south, and Everybody else kept going straight. Wow, suddenly I was alone, I could see another marathoner way off in the distance, but it wasn't to long before they were gone too. Boy they are right when they said it is a lonely feeling to be a marathoner, but this made me more determined to push on, but it was honestly harder to gauge my progress and my pace even with the garmin not having some fellow competitors to run with.
A Little Bit of Embarrassment
I can only start this section like this, IT WAS VERY WINDY, I had a hard time keeping my kilt down as I ran along the course (of course it was not a wind that blew in one direction only, it changed directions frequently). For the first little while, I was running with one arm arm holding my kilt down, this obviously impeded my speed, as I was unwilling to give everybody around me a free show, considering I was running 'au natural' under the kilt (what can I say I am Scottish). Once I broke off from the pack, it appeared that the wind died down so I was able to go back to a typical running gait with both arms pumping in time with my legs, this of course allowed me to increase my speed. This of course worked great until I reached mile 13.1 thru mile 16.0, here we were on a wide open prairie road and the wind was absolutely crazy. I had to concentrate a little more on my feet placement because the road was getting rather rough in areas and some pretty nasty stones and rocks kept appearing. Because of this, one good gust of wind hit me at just the right moment, and my kilt lifted up, and I swear it was around my neck. I pushed it down quickly and took a quick peek around to see if anybody by chance saw my 'peekaboo I see you' imitation, and I was quite glad that it appeared that no one did. This brought me back to holding onto my kilt a little more often (I must find a way to deal with this on those very windy days), for the duration of the race.
As the saying goes, "No Pain No Gain", well normally I am a big believer in this statement, but on this day, I hit my limit and on a surface I was not expecting. After running, I would say 14.0 plus miles mostly on dirt and gravel roads and my feet felt as great as they did, and seeing the asphalt road ahead, it was no wonder I was smiling as much as I was. Boy, that was a mistake, I hit the road with a vengeance expecting to be able to fly over the asphalt with not having to pay as close of attention to miss all the rocks. Well let me tell you, the first 20 yards was ok, then I hit the unexpected, the asphalt was in such bad shape it felt like I was running on a cheese grater, serrated side up. I danced around the asphalt trying to find a good line that was not all broken and jagged, moving from the right side to close to the middle (did I mention this was a secondary highway and I did see some traffic along the way). To top the bad surface off, the wind started howling again, and it almost felt like I was going farther backwards then forwards, as I expelled a whole lot of energy trying to maintain a decent pace while trying to hold my kilt down. This stretch was about 2 miles and I was thankful when I saw the next water station and the restart of the gravel road. My feet were more soar then when I ran on the fresh gravel previously. I stopped at the water station, grabbed a water, answered a couple questions about the kilt and the no shoes, then started down the gravel road, with a sigh of relief for the moment.
So lets see, I finished 16.0 miles barefoot as I set forth on the start of the second leg of gravel road (this being more gravel than dirt), and now the bottom of feet felt like one big bruise (two if you count both feet). I made it down the road about a 1/4 of a mile, dancing around and not having much luck, even the small stones that I normally glide over with no issue, felt like daggers in the souls of my feet. Disappointment set in as my thoughts of finishing the entire 26.2 barefoot curl up the chimney like a puff of smoke (and then they were gone). At this point I was wrestling with the possibility of putting the VFF's on and decided it might be for the best. So I came to a stop and tried to put a shoe on, imagine someone hopping around off balance on one foot trying to slip a slightly swollen foot into a shoe, while trying to keep the kilt from blowing up and exposing more to the world then I wanted too. At this point Gail caught up to me, so needless to say, being a little embarrassed I gave up trying to get the shoe on, and decided to carry on barefoot a little longer. I started running again, dodging the rocks as best I could for the next 1/4 mile, but not very quickly, in fact Gail was leaving me in the dust, and Nicole was gaining on me quite quickly. At this pace, I was getting nowhere, so with a final sigh of defeat, I kneeled down and started to get my shoes on, it took a little bit but finally success, they were on. With that I was off and running again, you would be surprised with the difference that that little bit of rubber between your feet and the ground makes protection wise. I was able to pick up my speed again to a modest 11:30 mile, sore feet, near exhaustion and all. I know I should not be too disappointed, as I did run 16.5 miles barefoot, and not to many people can say they have achieved that, so I did sneak a smile or two along the way.
Not only was the distance a source of exhaustion, but the wind was causing havoc with the progress that I was making. I was expelling more energy than I was expecting as I hit a gust of wind head on more times than not. It was definitely challenging, and any thoughts of completing this run under 5 hours had just gone out the window, I just wanted to finish as strong as possible. I will admit, some doubts did start to cross my mind, as the exhaustion started to set in, but I decided I was going to push thru it and give everything I had, until I could not go anymore. I decided that I would start to walk up the hills to save some energy and use the momentum of the run down to propel me further. This seemed to work, I was able to push myself further ahead by doing this, another mind game I started as well was to break the run into 2 mile increments (from water station to water station), this seemed to work as well, as the exhaustion was there but it became manageable as I started to break the race into pieces and focus on the small piece rather than the sum of all the remaining pieces. I think I had found my second, third and possibly my fourth wind, and my legs started to move not as fast as at the start but they were still moving. This carried me thru to the 24.0 mile water station (that and 3 Gu's, and some encouraging words and comments from the volunteers throughout).
Some More Grit
By the time I hit mile 25.7 and the last water station (yes they had the last water station at the edge of town), I was almost spent, but with some last words of encouragement from the volunteers, I dug down deep and picked up my pace as I hit the town's asphalt roads. I was determined to use every little bit of grit I had left to finish this race running as fast as my tired legs could carry me. Rounding corners and running up the residential streets as quickly as I could until I saw a curious sight, two direction arrows together going in different directions, not completely sure what it meant (was I to go around the first sign before turning in towards the finish line?). All that was going thru my head was a HHH reference, as I thought, damn it if I am going to shortcut this, so I wheeled around the sign pointing in the wrong direction and headed into the community centre entrance area. By this point, my legs were really starting to feel heavy, but I dug down and ran straight for the path to the finish line.
As I saw the finish line, Gail came sprinting out to get a picture of me as I worked my way to the finish line, I lifted my arms in mock premature celebration prior to her snapping the picture. I was just focusing on the finish line, as Gail yelled something about a beer and beer fairies and at the time it did not register, just the sight of the finish line. As I drew nearer to the end, the announcer called out my name (and got it right) and added the fact that I was wearing a kilt. I was elated with emotion and exhaustion as I gave him the thumbs up and crossed the finish line in 5 hours 25 minutes and 54 seconds plus or minus (now I have a PB to improve on), not the time I was hoping for but I finished and now I can say I am one of the few who has ran and completed a marathon.Me as I approached the Finish Line and Yes I am Still Smiling
Nicole as she sprinted to the finish line to complete her 3rd marathon
Ecstatic From Achieving The Ultimate Goal
All I can say is 'Woot Woot!' I did it. Now I can focus on the next goal for next month completing a 50 km trail ultra marathon at Vulture Bait. But I am high on life at this point and will not forget this race anytime soon. It was a whole lot of fun, and I will be back again next year.
Kudos to all the volunteers from the start of the race, to all the water and aid stations, thru to the volunteers at the end. Also a big thanks to our beer fairies (Glenn and Jamie), who shared a cold one with us at the end, we look forward to providing the refreshments next year.
And a big kudos to Gail for finishing her first marathon as well (and kicking my ass to boot), you were one of the driving forces to helping me finish this goal. But the biggest kudos goes to my wife Nicole, who not only finished her 3rd marathon after signing up 4 days prior, but also accomplished a PB by more than 5 minutes, she never ceases to amaze me with her strength and perseverance in all that she does.
Sunday, September 12, 2010
Sunday, September 5, 2010
Funny what a difference a year makes, in what you think is important in your life. Last year was all about the 'STUFF', I wanted the big screen tv with all the channels, the nice car, just simply all the toys. This year, I want to get rid of the tv and all the channels, I want to minimize all the 'crap' that we have collected over the years, I just want to go out and experience life and nature, to enjoy it for all it has to offer. Wow, I feel liberated.
Anyway, to get back to what I was originally writing about, 'The last long run before Treherne', we have to jump back to last night (being Saturday evening).
'It was a dark stormy night.......', just kidding it was actually a pleasant evening, about 17 degrees C, with blue skies. I was going to go out running with Gail to get a good run in prior to the taper week. Gail was working downtown, so she decided to run from work and we would meet up at the track at one of the high schools to do some laps. The goal was to run for 4 to 5 hours, and get as much mileage in as possible. I left the house about 6:00, and headed out wearing my running kilt, and carrying my VFF's as usual. I will admit, I was a little apprehensive at first about the kilt, as I was heading out by myself and it was very light out (the last time I went out was with both Nic and Gail and it was dark). Well that being said, it took about 2 minutes to hit my comfort zone, and from that point it was 'Who cares what people think, I am comfortable and that is all that matters.'
I headed from the house and decided to add a couple of miles by going the long way around to the track. This was done at a 9:00 min mile, a little quicker then I was originally intending, but I got into a groove and just decided to go with it. I did pass quite a few curious onlookers, including a older couple that actually turned around up the street to come back to I guess to confirm what they saw. I can imagine Fred and Ethel sitting in their car driving down the road, and Fred says to Ethel, "Did you see that? Was that somebody running with a kilt and no shoes?" and Ethel says "You must of been mistaken Fred, but lets go back to take a closer look". As it was definitely a much slower drive by, I just smiled and waved. Just some entertainment on the run. To be honest, I really don't care what people think nor say, I really believe that life is all about the 'Personal Choice', and this is mine.
Further down the road, I passed by a skateboarding park, which was currently packed with people, I did get quite a few thumbs up and a couple of whistles (still not quite used to that, might of turned a slight shade of red to match the kilt). It amazing to me that most of the younger kids and adults have more acceptance to getting away from the norm and being more of a free spirit. For this I am envious, and hope they never change (but unfortunately as they get older a lot of them are forced to conform to the norm, and thus lose their free spirit).
As I was running up to the track, I could see Gail running from the other direction, good timing as we arrived almost at the same exact time. After dumping some of the unnecessary items for the track (water bottle, cell phone, my VFF's that I was carrying), we hit the track. The intent was to run around the track for about an hour, so we did not to fast but at a steady pace. There always seems to be someone using this track, and tonight was no exception, we had a guy on roller blades being pulled around the track by his dog, a couple of other runners, a couple of walkers, and a couple arguing in the parking lot (never a dull moment). Nicole showed up with the kids and snacks about the mid point and we stopped to munch on some home made bannock and choc-zucchini muffins along with some Gatorade (need those calories). For the short time we stood there, we were swarmed by mosquitoes (damn, it's September they should all be dead by now), so we decided it was time to get moving again. We finished off the hour, not sure how many laps and or miles we did on the track, but we completed the goal that we set out for. It was now time to head out for some different scenery.
We grabbed our stuff, and headed out up the road, not exactly sure where we were going, just seeing where our feet would take us. We headed up P Avenue with the goal to run for another hour, and then Gail came up with the idea to stop for a beer once we finish the next hour to give us some more calories for the balance of the run. Me being a hasher, this sounded like a wonderful idea, and we were off to complete the next goal. Of course the hour was full of interesting looks and a comment from a lady walking her dog, "Doesn't it hurt to run with no shoes like that?" (She asked this, while pointing at my kilt), I politely said, "Not at all", I think she was still trying to process the no shoes then she saw the kilt. We carried on up the road, before heading north on SJ street back to N Ave. We passed by a fire truck and a police car at a call, and got a couple of looks, I don't know why this always brings a smile to my face, but it does.
We got to a local watering hole at pretty much the hour time, but I was trying to get my VFF's on, as I think it is not polite to go into a business with bare feet, and I was concerned about showing off my bare butt (and possibly other things) to the 2 women sitting in the window who were intently staring at me. I will say, I must learn how to bend over without exposing myself as well as how to sit with my legs closed (these are things guys never think about), so I don't give a free show every time I wear my kilt. I think Gail was seeing how uncomfortable I was and the time I was having trying to get my VFF's on, she suggested that we move on and she would grab a coke up the road. I agreed to this very quickly, so we headed out. Not to far up the road we found another little place that sold beer and it currently did not have any customers, so we ducked it there for our well deserved beer. I did get a couple confused looks from the three that were working, but them seemed quite happy to have us there, very friendly atmosphere, but I hope they are typically busier then they were at that moment. After Gail downed her beer, and I drank about 3/4 of mine (not a big fan of Moosehead), we headed out the door.
The one thing with stopping running and entering a building is, that I start to sweat very badly (not as much during the run, just once I stop). This happened at this point, and as we started running again, I thought I was experiencing some chaffing (in an area that I would definitely not prefer to chafe), under the kilt. Honestly, I really haven't had any chaffing to speak of to this point so I was just assuming this was what it was. Anyway, to make a long story short, it was not chaffing, just allot of sweating going on that was affecting the free swinging motion (I will leave this to your imagination). We carried on up the road at a decent pace, a couple more honks, a couple of whistles (I am still assuming these were all directed at Gail, because who would direct that towards the guy in the kilt?), just a normal day in a runners life. It was starting to get dark, and I was having a harder time picking up all the rocks and glass that were all over the sidewalk, so I had to concentrate hard to avoid as much as possible. This worked great until we got to a open field, and all the damn street lights were off (its great running for about a half mile in dark conditions when you can't see what you need to avoid). So during this time I stepped on a monster rock that hurt like a B***h, then I picked up some glass at the last moment, but still ended up with two pieces stuck in my left foot, I got one out, but missed the other (Nicole ended up digging it out of my foot the next day) which ended up really embedded in my heel.
We ran for about another mile or so, then stopped to walk for a bit, legs still felt good, but I had to answer the phone. We walked for about 1/4 mile, then went our separate ways towards home. I ran the last 2 miles in my VFF's as it was to dark to avoid anything properly without light (must remember to bring light next time if we plan on running after dark, makes life a lot easier), and kept about a 9:55 pace, not to bad. All in all, I ran for 3 hours 37 minutes and completed 17.5 miles (with a few stops and a walk along the way) this works out to a 12:25 mile and I could of kept running if I had needed too, so this makes me believe that I am ready for next weekend. Thanks Gail for spurring me on.
Thursday, September 2, 2010
With my brother up, and not wanting to leave him and his fiancee to their own devices while I ran (I thought it was the host like thing to do!), I have not even got out to my typical Monday night Hash Run (but the meal we had was well worth it). I did have 2 early morning workouts at the YMCA this week but that's it. That being said, it is going to be a interesting weekend, as I have to run lots on my taper week. I am looking at a 20 plus miler on Sunday, and probably another long run on Monday if it's possible.
Wish me luck.