Monthly Archives: March 2012
I’ve seen this posted a few blogs so far, and I didn’t want to be left out so I thought I’d link it here as well.
CBC’s The Nature of Things recently aired an episode on the history of human running. Much like the book Born to Run, the episode explore human evolution and running’s place in our development as a species.
Episode Description from The Nature of Things site:
How did our ancestors survive the shift from trees to land? How did Homo sapiens evolve to dominate the planet? How did our ancestors hunt before they developed weapons?
The answer, you’ll be amazed to learn, is that humans became nature’s perfect endurance runners. With a skill that evolved far earlier than the development of our powerful brains, our African ancestors had the ability to outrun all animals around them, allowing them to endure and ultimately thrive.
From Africa’s Great Rift Valley to the highlands of Ethiopia, from the most remote place in Arctic Siberia to one of the world’s toughest ultra marathons in the Canadian Rockies, anthropologist and host Niobe Thompson takes us on a journey that weaves cutting-edge science with gripping adventure, and asks what today’s runners can learn from our evolutionary past.
I’ve watched the first 1/4 so far, and it looks just as good as all the reviews have said. If you are interested, click it here to watch the episode online:
Have a good one kids!
“Boom” Goes the Dynamite!
To say I was “happy” with the year’s Around the Bay 30km would be like saying that pre-teen girls find Justin Beiber “mildly entertaining”. This year’s ATB was not only great from a performance standpoint but also from an overall race experience. Seriously, I may have to retire from running entirely for fear of never having a race like this again (first rule of showbiz: go out on a high note).
Unlike last year, I didn’t spend half of my race-prep time sitting on the toilet trying to figure out what the hell was going on with my insides. Instead I had enough time (due to my inability to tell time) to make the family pancakes and visit with one of my best friends and trail running partner; Glenn.
Fast forward 2hrs, and we’re standing at the start line waiting to hit the pavement.
Warning: Bitching Ahead (skip ahead if you’d prefer) – One of my only beefs with this race is that it’s a mass start without corrals. It’s a large enough event that it takes several minutes to cross the starting line for those of us that happen to be in the middle back of the pack. I know this happens in a lot of races, but my beef lies in the fact that race organizers don’t even attempt to facilitate/deal with the situation in any way. Why not suggest over the loud speaker that if you are going to be running a 2hr race you should be at the front and if you are going to run a 3+hr race you should be in the back? Or, what about staggering the pace bunnies in the starting chute to give people an idea where they should be based on time/pace? This and other years, most of the pace bunnies are all within a couple hundred feet of each other which makes it nearly impossible to get forward in the crowd without being a complete asshole. This year I moved up as far as possible and it STILL took me 4 minutes to cross the line, sure it’s no 20min. wait like at some of the big US races, but this race is big enough that something needs to be done. Meanwhile, during the first 8km I was constantly having to weave through slower runners (again, I realize this happens at other races too) which leads me to believe that the don’t ask don’t tell method of managing things simply: DOESN’T WORK.
Back to the Good Vibes: This race was awesome for me. Glenn and I ran through the first 5km easily, joking and talking as the sun tried it’s hardest to break through the cloud cover. Quickly we realized that we’d both need to shed a layer or risk keeling over. Seeing an alley we stopped, and I took the opportunity to relieve some bladder pressure. I don’t know what the hell my bladder is doing but EVERY YEAR, despite peeing RIGHT before the race, I need to hang a leak within 5km. WTF? The stop was quick, and although I was posing and flexing with my shirt off waiting for Glenn to get his gear in order, I only got ONE cat-call from a pair of ladies…who obviously had fine taste.
The first 15km breezed by, I was a bit concerned about the slow start but by constantly increasing the pace gradually from the start we found ourselves in a good position by halfway…well I did. Glenn was injured for a good portion of his ATB training and although he was matching me stride for stride he had no intentions of pushing as hard as I was planning to. I asked him a few times how he was doing, and everything seemed to be working for him but I may have ultimately killed him by continually upping the pace (he’d never admit it though ;)). At the 15km mark I asked him again how he was doing and the response changed from “ya, fine” to “I’m feeling it”. Shortly after (on the far side of the lift bridge) I wished him good luck, and began my own race. I dropped the hammer and the next 5km from lift-bridge to St. Joe’s Hospital flew by. Taking the 1st 15km easier than I planned worked like a charm.
I decided to up my in-race calorie intake this year. Years gone by I have stumbled into Copps Coliseum completely spent, but this year by eating often and eating early in the race, I was able to function like a human being after the race instead of doing the death shuffle and trying to eat my own hands. Calories are key…who knew?
The Burlington section of the race starts with small rolling hills that gradually grow into larger and longer challenges, but I had enough gas in the tank to calmly and deliberately work through all the uphills while letting loose and cruising the downhills. Even the Valley Inn Road (the mother of all hills) passed by in the blink of an eye, and I found myself pushing through the top and accelerating onto York Road. Unfortunately, I seemed to have missed seeing Ali_Mc, and a few others I knew who were either at the relay station or spectating along this section. Perhaps I was too busy looking for people to high five, but before I knew it I was onto the 5km home stretch and putting my speedwork training to the test.
I knew that I was close to my 2:40 goal, but some quick calculations put me coming in around 2:41:30…then I looked down at my watch to see what my current pace was and ensure I was on track…I did a double-take. I was cruising along 20-30seconds per km faster than I expected. So I did what any self respecting sadist would do: I pushed. For the next 4 ½ km I pushed. The only time I let up was to hand my wife my extra shirt (which I had carried for the past 24km), and to turn into the Copps Coliseum driveway which takes you into the arena. At this point I have one more grievance to air: Coming down the chute on York Blvd. runners have to turn right sharply onto the arena driveway (which leads to the service entrance and the finish area). As I was pushing to finish strong, there were slower people spread across the breadth of the chute, so I saw/took an inside line and passed a handful of people. As I neared the sharp right turn, I noticed a girl arcing into the corner from a wider line, I said as loudly as possible without yelling “on your right, on your right!” but she either didn’t hear me or refused to accommodate my warnings, either way she cut me off and I was forced to jump around her or completely plow her over. I considered the latter, but thought that with all the cameras around that I might end up as a race pariah and be forced to flee the scene…and since I had just run as hard as I could for the past 2 ½ hours running away was probably out of the question. Pulling in the reigns at the last second, I stutter stepped and jumped around her causing me to nearly cream someone else,again, I’m not sure if her music was too loud to hear me or she was just being difficult but I was pissed off to say the least.
After my little debacle, I regrouped and sprinted hard for the finish line. The clock was blurry, my heart was pounding, arms and legs pumping, and…2:37:12. I was ecstatic…finding it hard to breathe, but ecstatic none-the-less. I managed to beat my A goal by almost 3 minutes!
I’m damn proud of my performance Sunday. After a lot of training/racing frustrations over the past year or so, it’s nice to see things working out for a change. I’d really like to thank Speedy Dan who pushed me during those early morning speedwork sessions, and kept me coming back week after week. As well I’d like to thank Glenn. We laughed, acted like children, talked gear/movies/rock and roll, and generally had a FUN race…I sincerely hope I didn’t kill him.
Anyway, thanks for reading kids, hope you had as great a weekend as I did.
Goooood Morning Race Fans!
How’s everyone doing?
As I was cruising around the web I found this video from one of my favourite (although now defunct) bands. This song is one of my go-to motivation songs for years, so if you can crank this puppy up and send some good vibes my way around 12:00pm EST (hopefully I’ll be rolling across the finish line) it’d be greatly appreciated.
Gotta love those chorus lyrics! (sorry about the sound quality though)
Who’s the man with the time on his side? Through the valleys and mountains I will climb, Through the marsh and the swamps I will crawl, I’m on my way…back home again!”
Anyway, we’ve got damp morning ahead hopefully we don’t need the rain gear!
Have a good one kids, and good luck to all my fellow racers out there!
Goals are funny things. It’s kind of a crap shoot as to where you choose to set the bar; I’m sure people have reasonable rationale as to why they’ve chosen a specific goal but who’s to say whether it’s a “valid” choice or not? Hell, what even counts as a “valid” goal? Do you shoot for the moon and hope for the best? Do you play it safe and choose something that’s knowingly within your limits?
My guess is that “criteria for success” are more based on what kind of relationship you have with your ego. I don’t mean to insult anyone, I’m not saying that were all ego driven saps, but I’m sure we all know someone that sets goals that they know they can achieve simply to protect themselves from the crushing pressure of (the possibility) of failure. Conversely, do you follow Disney’s example; “Shoot for the stars and if you’re pure of heart you will succeed in the (near) impossible!” i.e. – Set an unlikely goal and sink or swim. There are some great examples of over-achievers in history following this path, however for the everyday athlete it’s probably impractical. More often than not (barring catastrophe) when the going gets tough we fall back onto our training base. On race day you’ll discover pretty quickly whether you’ve put in the time and effort or not.
So what the hell am I trying to say? After my last run I decided that I was probably going to change my goal times for Sunday’s race. Why the change in expectations? A sincere review of my training specs: distances, paces, effort levels, health, mentality. I went back through my training logs and noticed that despite my honest desire to run a 2:30 30km (5 min/km), I haven’t run enough (especially long) KMs at this pace to make a fair attempt at that speed. Setting lofty goals is a fantastic way to push yourself to new heights and, again, I plan to run my skinny ass off Sunday but realistically…I don’t see it happening. Despite the well meaning encouragement from folks on a few websites I post on I’m pretty sure I’ve made up my mind. I really appreciate the support and feedback that the online community has provided; however the well-wishes I’ve received regarding Sunday’s race has to be tempered with a spoonful of reality. I can run 5km at 5 min/km, I can run 10km at 5 min/km…but 20km at that pace…plus ANOTHER 10km with significant hills…seems a bit excessive to me.
Anyway, enough psycho-babble…without further adieu:
Goal A – 2:40 (5:10/km) I’m going to be going all out for this time or better if the stars align
Goal B – 2:45 (5:15/km) I’d be slightly disappointed but OK if I hit this goal
Goal C – 2:46 (5:15.5ish/km) This is only seconds better than my time from last year, to be honest I’d probably be pissed if I didn’t get this one
Goal D – Not poop myself…always a plus
Race day miracles are few and far between. More often than not, your training dictates just how your race is going to go (outside of physical or personal calamity that is) and I know that (despite missing a few key workouts) I’ve put in my time….now let’s see how things play out…
Have a great weekend kids, and remember to always shoot for Goal D!
I just found (via some blog stalking) a nice write up/description of one of the “Character” portions in Sunday’s Around the Bay 30km (I should be getting paid for how much linking I’m doing to/for this damn race). The ATB is known for the hill section which starts about 2/3’s of the way into the race, and culminates in one long slogfest. It’s not just the height/length that’s daunting either, it’s the fact there are turns in the road just where you think you are finally done with the climbing only to be greeted by another long, hard ascent section as you crawl out of the valley.
Paul gives a pretty apt description of the hill, and has some good photo/video to show just how much of a kick-in-the-pants this infamous hill is.
Have a good one kids, Race Goals are being posted tomorrow!
(sniff) Ahhh…can you smell it? Taper is in the air. The rattled nerves, the continual low-grade feeling of nausea, the irritability, the confusion, and who could forget the uneasy sleeps that precede a big race.
For those of you who may not be runners/racers, tapering is the process where athletes start reducing their training before race day. There is no exact science to it as individual variability makes this process very much a “trial by fire” situation. GENERALLY…taper (for longer races) starts 2-3 weeks before race day, and involves the reduction or removal of harder workouts in favour of rest and “easy” run, all in the hopes of being in peak physical condition on race day. In reality, the average athlete nearly has a mental breakdown, and produces withdrawal symptoms that parallel alcoholics who’ve dropped the bottle.
In the past I have usually done something stupid before taper starts and spent most of my taper period clawing desperately trying to “fix” things before the inevitable crash on race day. Bone bruises, broken toes, and ITB flare-ups have all made an appearance in the weeks leading up to a goal, but this year Murphy’s Law delivered a classic, Good-Olde-Fashioned – Illness!
Yes, the week in which I was supposed to be peaking my mileage and intensity was spent almost entirely on the couch with a fluctuating fever and head/chest congestion. Every workout I skipped, I assured my self that tomorrow would be better and this was for the best, but after a full week where I managed only one run I was left felling deflated and significantly under-prepared. Last week, on my vacation I managed to jump back into the mileage I was supposed to be putting in but those key workouts I missed were gone forever; speedwork, race-paced long run, mid-week medium long run, gone. Damn…
But there is no use in dwelling on the past! NO, we have the future to cower in fear from! In all seriousness, I’m not that scared about race day. Unless something really unexpected happens I should be able to finish the ATB 30km in a reasonable time, and in reasonable shape…if not, well that just makes for interesting stories for you guys! The major thing I’m having doubts about is my stretch goal (I’ll be posting my goals up here Friday), I worked really hard this year to train for this race, and REALLY wanted to do well but right now I’m having doubts as to whether my stretch goal is too ambitious or juuuuuuust within reach. Guess we’ll find out Sunday…
Thanks for reading kids, and remember: When the voices in your head tell you burn things, it’s probably a bad idea to listen to them…
I’m back! Did you miss me? Of course you did…(insert rolling eyes here)
Our vacation was great, lots of Vitamin D, beach time, and my fair share of beer…well…my share, your share, his share, and her share…plus a few more here and there for good measure. Aside from the constant drunken stupor I did manage to get a few quality runs in which is a VERY good thing; I had been sick the week leading up to the trip and had only managed a single run all week while I should have been peaking for distance and intensity. I’ve been worried about how this hiccup will effect my race day performance, yes I managed to get about %90 of my total mileage in but I have missed a few key workouts that may end up sinking my “A” goal this year. Since our return I’ve been focusing on catching up on some much needed sleep, and re-hydrating before my wife finds me in a shriveled pile on the floor.
I will be writing an Around the Bay taper post for tomorrow, but suffice to say I’ve already been fighting the paranoid musings of that little voice in my head (no, he doesn’t look like the Great Gazoo…).
Have a good one kids, hope you enjoyed the great weather as much as I did.
Hey there, just a quick post to let all my faithful readers that I won’t be around for a week. I’m taking the family on another painful roadtrip (hopefully we won’t blow up our car in the middle of nowhere this time). There weather is supposed to be good, but I doubt there will be much chance of braving the ocean this time of year.
Anyway, if I can post while away I will, but I wouldn’t hold my breath if I were you.
Have a good week kids!