Weekly Summary- 5/5/2014-5/11/2014

Goals (from last week): 3 weeks till Sulphur Springs. That means 2 good weeks of training to go. Let’s get big milage on the trails: 50km+ of trails next week, 80km+ overall, and a long run over 25km. 1 hill workout. 6+3.

Monday, 5/5: 13km pavement, Easy, strides. Upper body at gym.

Easy 12.5 along the standard route plus 5 strides at Churchill park. I stopped for a bit to watch a couple guys pull a big carp out of the channel. There is a fish sanctuary at this far west end of Lake Ontario, Cootes’ Paradise, and since Carp, especially Asian Carp, are an invasive species here (pretty much everywhere else, too, I guess), there is an underwater fence of sorts to keep the habitat-destroying Carp out of the estuary and protect the native species. Further, there’s a narrow channel underneath York St. along the Waterfront Trail where fish are effectively funnelled and rejected. For some reason people really like fishing there. Fishing for Carp. I don’t get it. I guess they’re big, and put up a fight, but it’s not like they’re tough to hook or prestigious or anything.

Tuesday, 5/6, 23km trail, Easy, “174m” elevation.

The weather was beautiful so I decided to go and get some trail kms. My plan was to run out on the Hamilton-Brantford Rail Trail to Little John Park (or Little something Park) and join Monarch Trail. Then Monarch Trail to Sulphur Creek, around the Main Loop in DVCA, and back. This was my first real run with the Nikes.



My legs were still sore from Sunday’s race, and so I took a couple stops in the first few km to stretch. Monarch Trail was MAF (muddy as fuck), then HAF (hilly as…). There’s a big climb on Arteban road that thankfully the Sulphur Springs route does not cover. Monarch trail headed West is a climb, then a big downhill, then right back up. I took a pretty nice spill on Sulphur Creek Trail bombing down a hill a few km later. The bulk of the trail was a mud pit and I figured if I stepped in it at downhill speed I would surely bail, so I hopped over some roots on the elevated left side of the trail. No biggie most of the time. But this time I clipped a toe and went down. Luckily I did a kind of army roll thing and landed on the meaty part of my arm, though my left hand (with waterbottle) got scrapped up a bit. My knees were bloody but I wasn’t really hurt at all… Just kind of shocked, I haven’t fallen down in a long time. Like a real fall. I suspect (kind of hope) that it won’t be the only time I fall on the trails this summer.

Trails are tough man. All the elevation changes and footing struggles takes more out of you than you think, and really slows the pace. I think the elevation from Garmin and Strava is somewhat off in these parts.

Wednesday, 5/7: Off, lower body at gym.

Thursday, 5/8: 12km pavement, Easy. Upper body gym.

Easy 12km along the standard route. Trying to recover from Tuesday’s effort and Wednesday’s gym session.

Friday, 5/9: 17-18km trails, Easy pace, “320m” elevation.

Another warm day so I decided to run the Sulphur Springs course in it’s entirety. I biked the 9km to the DVCA trailhead- the race starts in Ancaster, but there’s an access point at DVCA. My legs were complaining from the start so I took it fairly easy. The race guide says there is 580m of elevation along the route, and that’s more accurately measured than Garmin/Strava data. I didn’t run the entire 20km loop- I wussed out of the Monarch-Spring Creek trail section that I covered on Tuesday. I knew I’d be back out on Sunday and figured that ~18km was enough.

This was the first day I was actually hot on a run this year. Like, ‘hey, I’m fucking hot. And thirsty. And out of water.’ I had to stop a couple times to find the route, but that’s more or less expected when I’m looking for new routes or trying to follow specific ones.

Saturday, 5/10: Off.

Sunday, 5/11: 20km trails, Easy effort, “420m” elevation (580 actual)

I biked out to the trailhead Sunday morning and ran the full 20km loop. I wanted to get 25 but I skipped breakfast to get outside in a hurry before it got hot and was running out of gas. I guess I could have taken a gel, but that seems like a wuss move on a 25km run.

Gorgeous morning for running: 20C, sunny, clear sky, nice breeze. Probably the most perfect weather day we’ll have all year. I had to double back to find the course near Lookout Trail and did some walking on the last couple climbs on Sulphur Creek Trail. The race starts/ends at the top of a pretty monster hill up Martin rd. to Ancaster Community Centre, and there is a pretty tough climb (‘The Three Sisters’ I think they call it) about 5-7km from the end of the loop. The Three Sisters are followed by an extended downhill so I think I’m going to try and take them at a pace that will let me keep running at the top and blow down the hill. Hopefully there will be enough room for some recovery before taking the final climb. I feel for the 50mi/100mi guys and gals. Trails are tough, huge respect to those folks.

Totals: 85km, “1024m” elevation (at least 1200m actually), 7h51min. About 60km of that on trails.

Thoughts: My ankles are feeling better. I’m lucky I didn’t get hurt worse on that spill- pick up your feet! Lots of hills and trails this week. Kinda bummed that I didn’t get a 25+km run in. Next weekend get 25+ along the race route. 5 runs, 3 lifts. I’m ok with 5 runs instead of 6. I got my milage and the rest day was well needed/earned.

Goals for next week: At least 2 trail runs, one over 25km. 6+3. More mobility work and foam rolling.

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Bannister, Landy, and the Mile

60 years ago today Roger Bannister broke 4:00 in the mile when he ran 3:59.4. 6 weeks later Australian John Landy shaved a second off Bannister’s time. About 2 weeks later Bannister and Landy squared off in Vancouver at the Empire Games.

Landy, a front-runner, took the lead halfway through the first lap and tried out outrun Bannister’s finishing kick. Bannister had run the final lap (400m) of the mile race as fast as 54sec. in previous races. At the start of the fourth and final lap Bannister was right on Landy’s shoulder but Landy put a few steps on the Brit around the first corner. Bannister would later remark that had Landy known how tired he was Landy likely could have finished him.

Going into the final turn Bannister was back on Landy’s shoulder. Both men would finish under 4:00, and Bannister would collapse at the finish line. That’s a hell of a race.

Today the record stands at 3:43.13, a time set by Morocco’s Hicham El Guerrouj in 1999. Guerrouj and Kenya’s Noah Ngency both ran >3:44 that day, and American Alan Webb is the only person to even break 3:47 since, in 2007.


Neal Bascomb- The Perfect Mile

Bascomb’s book is an interesting account of Bannister, Landy, and American Wes Santee all chasing the 4:00mile. I wanted more historical and philosophical perspective, but it was cool read on how these men trained, their lives, and their pursuit in 1953 and ’54.

Mile World Record Progression (wikipedia)

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Weekly Summary 4/28/2014 – 5/4/2014

Goals (from last week): more trails, hill recovery, 6runs+3lifts. Long run on trails of at least 25km, hill reps/speed workout, and a tempo run. Back to my Around the Bay schedule: 3 key workouts, 2 easy, 1 easy/recovery.

Monday, 4/48: 12.5 pavement, Easy, 5:02/km

Easy 12 on the Standard Route. Working on keeping things loose. Wanted to do strides but had some serious GI issues in the last 2-3km and just booked it home. Upper body work at the gym.

Tuesday, 4/29: 12km pavement, Hills, 343m elevation (?)

Decided today was the day I was going to add the Chedoke Stairs into my hill reps. Last week I did 8x Bedoe hill, this week 5x Bedoe+about 300 stairs. The elevation data for the stairs is off- Garmin and Strava don’t seem to recognize the climb. Either the elevation gain is already included in the hill and my hill reps are less gain than recorded, or the elevation doesn’t get tracked until a couple hundred meters past the escarpment edge. I think it’s the latter, since there’s about a 50m increase on most GPS trackers that happens just after the edge.

Anyway, these hurt. Apparently I have no idea how to climb stairs and my calves took a bunch of damage. I guess I was bouncing on my toes trying to stay light but instead of pulling my knees up I was doing essentially heel raises 300x/rep. My calves were destroyed for the rest of the week. But I didn’t know they were going to be that bad so I went ahead and signed up to race a 10k on Saturday. Ya!

Wednesday, 4/30: Off, lower body work at the gym.

Thursday, 5/1: 9.5km pavement, Recovery, 5:18/km.

From my Strava: “Legs are sore, that’s fine, but my calves are shredded. Why did I agree to race a 10k on Saturday? Those stairs really did me in. Probably taking them all on my toes and using my calves wasn’t the best strategy…? Meh, they’ll be stronger for next time.” 

I stopped a few times to stretch, and I was feeling the stairs + leg workout workout from the past two days.

Friday, 5/2: 10km pavement, Easy+Strides, 5:13/km.

Calves were still hurting. Dealt with it. I’d been wanting to do strides all week. I always want to do strides but usually skip them. I didn’t go to hard since I was racing Saturday morning, but getting the legs speed up was great.

Saturday, 5/3: Lynne’s Legacy 10k race, 2nd overall, 40:21 (?!?!?!)

Ok. I don’t think the time is right. But I got 2nd place, no doubt.

Lynne's Legacy Run

I got up wishing I was running the 5k or not at all but made my way down the street to the start. This was a local run I saw posters for along my Standard Route and the course in fact WAS my Standard Route. So I figured I had to go kick some ass.

There weren’t a lot of people there when I showed up, but the bib pickup and all that went pretty smoothly. I took a look around and didn’t see anyone who *looked fast,* except one guy who I’ve seen around a couple times. I thought ‘hey, I’ve got a shot here.’ Now, I’m not that fast. This was my first time racing the 10k distance and my best effort at 10k was a tempo run I did in 44:10. I was aiming for 43:30, but figure this would be a good workout anyway. But there were only about 150 (??) people there, and most of them were charity/fun run type runners.

I lined up near the front with a few others and chatted a bit. One guy wanted to run 10k in 37, another in 45. A few others were doing the 5k. The gun went and we took off and within 9 or 10 strides 37min-guy was gone. A few others passed me but didn’t get very far ahead. 45min-guy (Patrick) caught up and we did that silent ‘ya, let’s run this thing’ agreement.

I fucked around with my watch a bit- I had a pace alert set to keep me in the right zone but it got really annoying really quickly. To do this I had to pause the run on my watch, so my Garmin overall data is unreliable; the splits are still good but they’re about 400m off the distance.

At the turnaround for the 5k 37minGuy was long gone, a group of four of us were pretty much together with a 5th runner just ahead—this turned out to be Murray, who I recognized from the MEC race the weekend prior and others. Murray and the other two members of our pedoton (peloton, with feet) all turned at the marker. I told Patrick ‘Man, wish I was I was running only 5. Good news is there’s only one guy ahead, I think we’re 2-3.’

Course marshals lett us know we were 2 and 3 in the 10k. I was pretty sure, but it’s nice to be certain. I looked back a couple times in the first 6km and didn’t see anyone within striking distance, so I figured I’d let Patrick set the pace and just hang on to him.

We clicked off steady workman-like paces running side by side until about 8km. It was good running and we were chatting a bit. It’s so much easier to run with people. This was a pace that would have been mentally tough for me to keep on a tempo run a couple months ago (4:15-4:20/km), but I was breezing.

Splits through 8km: 3:55, 4:18, 4:18, 4:18, 4:19, 4:22, 4:20, 4:14

I don’t know if his strategy was to hold on to me or what. I think we were both content with how we were running. I thought I could tuck in behind him and save some energy but it wasn’t really that type of race and I’m not really that type of guy. We were carrying each other and we were both definitely thinking to ourselves in secret: ‘so how am I going to beat this guy?’

At the 9km marker there was a slight downhill around a corner. I managed the tangent just right and Patrick started falling behind. I wasn’t sure if I was picking up the pace or if he was gassing. I seemed to put a stride on him every 50m or so. Turns out I was running around 4:00/km. I was feeling fine (relatively) and could see the finish. There’s a slight hill that was no problem for me. I was maybe 50m up on Patrick at the top of the hill and I was running hard.

One thing that’s been consistent in all my races is underestimating just how far the finish line is form my current position. I did it in Around the Bay, and I do it during my workouts: ‘just 2km, piece of cake!’ ‘oh that’s like 200m, gun it!’ I thought I was about 200m out, but it felt more like 400 and I was really pushing those last couple hundred. I worried that Patrick could have sprinted by, but it looked like he was done. Phew.

Splits for km 9-10: 4:11, 4:10 (pace)



Nice kick, kid. Good enough for 2nd overall in the 10k distance. 37minGuy ran 33:xx according to the clock. Patrick came in 26 seconds behind me and had 41:20 for 9.6km on his Garmin. The clock had us at 40:21 and 40:37. So there were definitely some errors somewhere. There’s no way that my splits could add up to 40:21. According my watch I ran 9.36km in 39:50. On that, I would have had to run 600m in 30s somewhere along the way to meet 40:21. I definitely did not do that. Realistically I think I ran 42:30-43:00. That fits the splits recorded by both mine and Patrick’s GPS. Maybe the GPS was wrong and I ran 4min/km all morning, but I doubt it.

Still, huge PR. I hung around and got my prize package, etc. Chatted with some people and thanked Patrick for the PR. Cool. Good race.

Sunday, 5/4: 5.5km, Recovery, 5:23.

I was feeling alright and the weather was beautiful so I thought I could give my new trail shoes some work and squeeze in a long run. I set out with the intention of 25km on the trails. By about 2km I was grimacing and knew that I shouldn’t run more than 10 or 12km. I just turned around on the spot, took the long way home, and called it a recovery run and a rest day. #ListenToYourBody

Totals: 57km, 587m elevation gain, 5h10min.

Thoughts: I didn’t do any trail running, and my hill work was limited by that hard day on the stairs. My ankle problem is kind of here still. I got 6 runs (barely), but only 2 lifts. And I didn’t get a long run. But fuck it, 10k PR!

Goals for next week: 3 weeks till Sulphur Springs. That means 2 good weeks of training to go. Let’s get big milage on the trails: 50km+ of trails next week, 80km+ overall, and a long run over 25km. 1 hill workout. 6+3.

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Weekly Summary 4/21/2014 – 4/27/2014

Goals: More trails, more elevation, ankle and lower leg mobility, MEC Race on Saturday.

Monday, 4/21: 12km pavement, Easy/Recovery, 5:08/km.

Ran the standard route out Waterfront trail and a double loop of Bayfront park. The weather was great so I busted out the singlet. It took a while for the legs to get going, and I stopped to stretch some at around 3km. My calves and hammys were complaining a bit, but things started feeling better around the 5km mark.

I hit the gym for some max effort upper work- benches, rows, rear felt flyes, and core. Im feeling stronger up top. A lot of people say that lifting isn’t conducive to strong running but I feel much stronger, quicker, and in control when I’m lifting. If I’m not too sore, that is.

Tuesday, 4/22: Off.

I think the weather was pretty funky, and I had Tuesday or Wednesday planned as an off day anyway.

Wednesday, 4/23: 10km, pavement, Hill Reps, 5:48/km, 462m elevation gain.

8x Bedoe Hill again this week. This time around I was faster up, but really took my time on the recoveries (about 3min).  1:19, 1:21, 1:23, 1:21, 1:21, 1:21, 1:22, 1:19. I had some pretty serious lactic acid buildup on the last few climbs. I think that means its working. My energy levels weren’t great, this was just a workmanlike, no nonsense effort. I took the short way home and had some ankle and weird knee/quad niggles at the end. No point logging the extra km for pride’s sake when I’m racing this weekend.

Thursday, 4/24: 12km, pavement, Easy, 5:05/km

Easy 12km along the standard route. No biggie. Thought about 15 w/ some pickups, but the legs are a little stiff from yesterday and I’m racing on Saturday.

Rep upper workout at the gym: bench, chin-ups, rear delt flyes, OHP, core. I skipped leg day this week because I figured hills+racing had me covered. Next week: 6runs, 3 lifts.

Friday, 4/25: Off

I wanted to run a short 8-10km and do some strides but the weather was funky and I made plans to ride out to Burlington to buy a new bike. This fell through, luckily, but not in time to get a run in.

Saturday, 4/26: 12.5km, trails, Race, 5:00/km, 217m elevation gain.

MEC Trail Race. 12.5km in 1:02:25. Not a bad effort. Check out my race report here.

I could have prepared better and took the race more seriously, e.g. by not drinking and eating pizza and staying up until 3am the night before.

The hills gave me some trouble. Not cardio trouble, but ‘my legs aren’t strong enough’ trouble. More hill reps, less recovery, better preparation.

Sunday, 4/27: Off. 26km Ride.

3 off days? What is this? I was pretty sore, so I thought I’d get a recovery run in. But I blew out my shoes on Saturday and MEC hooked us all up with a discount so I rode into Burlington to grab some trail shoes. Say hello to my new Nike Zoom Wildhorses. Slick.

New Nike Zoom Wildhorses. AKA Real ass trail shoes.

New Nike Zoom Wildhorses. AKA Real ass trail shoes.

Totals: 45.9km, 758m elevation gain, 4h01min.

Thoughts: My feet and ankles are still sore. I think it’s just from running gnarly trails, they’ll get better as they get stronger. I probably could have had a better week: better eating, fewer excuses (‘it’s race week, I’ll skip today’).

Goals for next week: more trails, hill recovery, 6runs+3lifts. Long run on trails of at least 25km, hill reps/speed workout, and a tempo run. Back to my Around the Bay schedule: 3 key workouts, 2 easy, 1 easy/recovery.

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MEC Trail Race One Race Report 1: How I did

On Saturday April 26 MEC Burlington held the first race of their 2014 series, and their first ever trail race. They offered 5.5k, 9k, and 12.5k distances. I ran the 12.5k. I’m writing two reviews: my race report (how I did), and my race review (how they did). Both me and the race organizers did awesome, but one of us has got some room for improvement. (Spoiler: it’s me)

MEC Trail Race One Race Report 1: How I Did

I ran the 12.5km distance as a kind of tune up for Sulphur Springs- I’m running the 25k distance there and these races cover a lot of the same trails. I had no time goal, but I wanted to run strong and see what kind of pace I could sustain on the trails. My guess was somewhere between 5:00 and 5:15.


I ran a bunch of these trails in the weeks leading up to the race, including a course preview the weekend before with a crew from MEC Burlington, so I knew what I was in for: mud and hills.

I probably should have ate and slept better the day before. And I definitely should have drank less beer. I slept in and so had to skip breakfast and coffee and head out on the 9km bike to the race start. I figured the ride would either be a good warmup or tire my legs a bit. I think probably the latter happened. I got my bib and chip and got ready to go.

Spring Creek out and back

The race was 2 trails: an out and back along Spring Creek, and two loops of the DVCA Main Loop. 5.5km-ers did just the out and back, and 9km-ers did only one loop. The 9 and 12.5km runners headed out 10min before the 5.5km-ers.

MEC 12.5 Map

MEC Trail Race 12.5 Course

We got called to the line and I walked through the arch/timing chip area and set up about 4ft behind it. I figured this would put me in the first 20 or so runners across the line. Turns out everyone lined up beside/behind me. I toed the line with the guys who won the 9 and 12.5km distances, totally not by purpose.

I took off with these guys when the gun went. One look down at my watch- which read something like a 3:30 pace- told me I had to slow down and let some folks by.

Me, accidentally at the front of the pack at the start.

Me, accidentally at the front of the pack at the start. #0476 Credit: @MEC_Burlington on twitter

The run out was fine, some rolling hills and a couple big mud pits. I tried to settle into a pace I could manage. At the end of the trail there’s a “big, mean, nasty hill” (according to the race director). It’s steep enough it could have stairs on it, but today it was just covered in mud. Here’s where being one of the first 10 runners to reach the hill paid off- it wasn’t too dug up and slippery. Yet.

I turned around at the top of the hill and tried to hold on and not crash into any up-going runners on the way down. I was slipping and swinging off trees trying not to fall. Turns out pretty much everyone did the same, and I saw quite a few 9km-ers with big mud slicks down their backs later on in the race.

When I got back to the trailhead there was a kid counting out our positions, I was #19 overall coming out of the trail. That includes some 9km guys who were flying.

Main Loop Lap #1

I know this loop fairly well, having run it probably 6-8 times this year and covered it on the bike in past summers. There are three significant hills in the direction we ran it.

You can see four 'peaks,' but the 3rd is really part of the climb to the 4th. I think the data is not wholly accurate for the out-and-back portion.

You can see four ‘peaks,’ but the 3rd is really part of the climb to the 4th. I think the data is not wholly accurate for the out-and-back portion.

Hill 1 : Switchbacks.

The switchbacks are about 400m worth of 10%ish grade. This section was really muddy in earlier weeks-I’m talking knee deep postholing-but either the DVCA or the race crew (or both) did a great job with some quick reconstruction.

I could hear some runners closing in on me and I wasn’t about to let them pass on the hill. I shortened my stride and pushed up pretty quickly. I could have had better form- more arm swing, high knees. As usual, I opened up on the downhill that followd.

Hill 2: Hermitage Climb

About 200m after the top of the switchbacks you start climbing again. This time in what I call the Hermitage Climb.

DVCA InfoSheet on The Hermitage

DVCA InfoSheet on The Hermitage

This is also a pretty short, steep climb followed by a quick little drop in elevation and then about 400m of flatfish running before the next climb.

Not much to say here. I ran up it.

Hill 3: The Peak

The Peak takes you to the highest elevation on the trail. It’s a tricky hill due to both location- it’s the final climb of the 3 hills that cover about 80m of gain in just over a mile- and it’s trickiness. From the bottom it looks like a fairly easy slow gainer, but then you turn a corner and it gets a little steeper. From here you can see what APPEARS to be the top of the hill, and it’s not until you crest this lying SOB that you can see you’ve got about 100m more of climbing.

Luckily, I was knew this was coming. But I had no strategy for dealing with the hills overall. I mean, I planned to go even effort up and then let it rip downhill, but I had no energy conservation plan. This was part of my problem: I didn’t really take the race, the distance, or the course seriously. I can run hills, I can run trails, and 12.5km is my baseline easy distance, but I didn’t respect the race ahead of time. It started to show here as some folks passed me.

At the time I assumed everyone who passed me was doing the 12.5k, and that I was getting my ass throughly kicked. A couple of folks I recognized from the MEC Meetup the weekend prior (Patrick, and ??? I think, though they might have gotten past on the Hermitage climb), and two runners wearing mostly all blue got by just before the hill. One of the folks in blue was the first (and only) woman to pass me during the race. They were running good, and I trailed them up the hill but let them go after the first of two big downhills that followed. The woman in blue went on to win the women’s 9k distance for, and I believe all 4 of these folks ran the 9k.

I could hear two more runners about 200m behind me chatting and running strong as I finished the lap.

DVCA Main Loop #2

The loop was a bit more crowded now as more folks made there way to the 2nd portion of the course. I had to weave around a couple slower runners but for the most part everyone stayed to the right and was super friendly.

I had some time to recover since the hills all come in a 1 mile stretch during the frontside of the loop, and this leaves about a mile of flat/downhill running before you’ve got to start climbing again.

5.5km Start

5.5km Start

Hill 1: Switchbacks.

You don’t see the switchbacks until you’re right in front of them. Ditto for the Hermitage Climb. So all three hills are full of trickery.

I passed a couple women who, immediately after I got by started laughing. They were cracking up. Straight howling. I wasn’t sure what they were laughing at, until one of them said something along the lines of ‘OH! THAT’S THE HILL!? HAHAHAHA.’ I didn’t want to ruin the surprise they’d get from the next 2 hills, so I just kept running.

I had to power hike up the top half of the switchbacks, hands on knees, pushing hard. Part of my goal to ‘run strong’ was running all the hills, start to finish, but the lactic acid was really starting to burn. The two guys I heard behind me at the start of the loop got by. I chatted with them afterwards- one was named Tim (Tom?)- and he said that running together was a huge benefit since it kept their minds of the climbing and that they were pushing each other a bit. I would see them again about 200m in front of me near the end of the loop, but wouldn’t catch them. No one else passed me.

Hill 2: Hermitage Climb.

A little bit of power hiking at the crest to get over. Along the short flat section I passed a woman who asked something along the lines of ‘how many km is this?!’ She was clearly hurting and it took me a minute to figure out she wanted to know how much more of this hilly business she had to endure. I didn’t know if she was running the 9 or the 12.5, but I told her she was halfway through the loop and that she was doing great.

I had to get by a group of three running side-by-side just as the downhill started, and I really wanted to open up to flush my legs and get some turnover before the final climb so hollered: “Trail left! Please!” and thanked the group before letting it rip.

Hill 3: The Peak.

I don’t know. I gutted it out, and then ran down it, and then started the push for the final 1km or so home.

BONUS HILL 4: Main Loop to DVCA Trailhead.

I knew this was here, and I knew I would have to climb it. I figured it wasn’t significant enough to worry about. I was wrong. The hill covers a 250m-ish stretch from the Main Loop to the Rail Trail and then slopes down to the finish line. It isn’t accurately reflected in the GPS data.

I figured ‘fuck it,’ Im hitting it hard. And that was cool. For the first half. I was more beat than I thought.

About halfway up the hill some St. John’s Ambulance guys on bikes were on lookout. And right about there I started to slow down. I kept pushing but just not at my max. I knew there was a dip and another short climb before the folks at the finish line could see you and I wanted to at least look like I was finishing strong up the hill.

I hit the final push, and opened it up on the downslope and through the finish line in 1:02:25, good for 17th overall a 5:00min/km pace.


I didn’t feel THAT bad, but as soon as I stopped running I was a nauseous as ever and quickly darted behind a tree to gag, but didn’t puke. I blame this wholly on the beer and crappy food the night before. The effort wasn’t enough to make me that sick on it’s own. I took maybe 5min to recover and started chatting with some folks I saw on the trail and from the MEC Meetup.

Emma from the MEC Meetup won the Woman’s 12.5k distance in 1:07:xx, so big congrats to her!

The top Men in the 12.5 distance were crazy fast for that course:

MEC Trail Race 12.5 Results

Sub 4:00/km?!

After the 10km bike ride back to WestDale I hit up My Dog Joe some the breakfast and coffee I skipped earlier in the morning. Celebration fritata!

Celly Hard.

Celly Hard.

Final Thoughts/Sulphur Springs Prep

I could have prepared better and I could have run stronger. But I’m pretty happy with the result of MY FIRST TRAIL RACE.

I think I’ll aim for 5:00/km at Sulphur Springs and see what happens. Between now and then I’m hitting hills, trails, and tempos. I’ve largely left out tempo runs since Around the Bay and focused on hills and trails. I don’t think it hurt me today, but I definitely would benefit from more sustained efforts at threshold paces.

I also need to work on hill recovery. One of the toughest workouts I did in training for Around the Bay’s hilly portion was a long run in which I hit the hills hard and focused on recovering while running. I need to do more of that. None of this hill-stop-recover bullshit I’ve been playing with.

The problem today wasn’t my cardio, My legs just didn’t have it. They tired easily and were complaining from the start. Either I need to rest up better, eat better, or get stronger legs. Or all three.


Blown out Hitogamis

Blown out Hitogamis

I ran in my Mizuno Wave Hitogami’s. They were fine except in the mud. And also except that I blew holes in the uppers along the seams. Only 350-ish km (about 100 on trails), and the uppers blow out? Im pretty bummed about that, but I guess that’s not what they were made for.

New Nike Zoom Wildhorses. AKA Real ass trail shoes.

New Nike Zoom Wildhorses. AKA Real ass trail shoes.

MEC Burlington hooked us up with a 10% discount this weekend. (Ya, not much but hey, pretty awesome to give to EVERY RUNNER!) So I rode in on Sunday and grabbed some Nike Zoom Wildhorses for trails for the rest of summer. I’m looking forward to getting them nice and muddy.

Overall it was great race, and while I didn’t run as strong as I wanted to it was a good test before Sulphur Springs. I should have taken the course and distance more seriously.



Check out my GPS details of the race on Strava

Official Results from Guelph Victors

Details on the DVCA & Main Loop

MEC Burlington Race Series and Twitter. Give them a follow and come race.

These guys are putting on 4 MORE races this summer, I’ll definitely be at a couple of them at least. Bonus! They’re chip timed races for under $20!!

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Weekly Summary, 4/14/2014-4/20/2014.

Ok, so. I was posting about my runs everyday on tumblr while training for Around the Bay. That was fun, but clearly not long-term sustainable. I’ve since migrated to Strava and also want to keep this blog alive. So, after weeks of not positing anything outside of Twitter and Strava I decided to do a weekly summary/recap post, plus one other post per week here. Here goes.

MEC Burlington Trail Meetup Crew before Saturday's course preview run.

MEC Burlington Trail Meetup Crew before Saturday’s course preview run.

Goals: Lots of trails and elevation. Prep for Sulphur Springs Trail Race 25km (end of May) and MEC Race ONE trail 12.5km (4/26).


Monday, 4/14: 12km pavement, 5:13/km.

Easy/recovery 12km. 5:13min/km. Standard route- Waterfront Park+Double Bayfront loop. Legs were pretty sore from running on trails on the weekend, especially below the knee. On GingerRunnerLive (check Ethan out, probably the best running channel on YouTube) Sally McRae mentioned that she takes recovery runs really easy, stopping to stretch and relax along the way. So I took a cue from her and stopped a few times to stretch my achilles and hammy’s. It was 20+C, but quite windy and the temp dropped at least 5C near the end of the run when it started raining. I got to the gym for a max effort upper body workout- bench, incline bench, rows, bent over flys, shrugs, curls, and weighted ab work-as well. I was making good progress on Joe DeFranco’s WestSide for Skinny Bastards 3 program before March when my Around the Bay training kicked into high gear and I took the month away from lifting. The program calls for 3 workouts/week: Max effort upper, max effort lower, and upper repetition day. I only got 2 in last week because I was dying from DOMS after the month off.

Tuesday, 4/15.

The weather was pretty crappy so I took the day as an off day and went to the gym: max effort lower body- squat, single leg work, GHR, hip work, abs.

Wednesday, 4/16.

Took the day off for some reason (I’m writing this a week later).

Thursday, 4/17: 12km road, 466m, 5:42/km.

Hill reps. I wanted 7 reps of Bedoe hill (300m long, about 60m up). I got 8 reps for a total elevation gain of 466m. Took the long way home to get 12km total on the day. Legs felt good going up hill. I’m working on keeping my breathing steady when climbing and at max paces. Sticking to a 2 or 3 count keeps me calm and my body working much better than gasping or huffing and puffing. I imagine it keeps the heart rate from spiking and crashing everything as well. I was slower on these reps than I was last week: 1:25 avg. instead of 1:20. That’s cool. Keep working.

Friday, 4/18: 16km trail, 275m elevation, 5:19/km.

More trails. I wanted 16km along the Chedoke trail, hopefully this would give me some good climbing and gnarly trails. Basically I set out to find the gnarliest stuff I could run along that trail. This lead to lots of stopping and walking around fallen trees/mud pits. I worked on proprioception and looking 6-10 feet ahead of me rather than 2-3.  Good run. My Mizuno Wave Hitogami’s did ok, but were definitely at their limits in the mud and rocky bits. My ankle was getting sore later on that day.

Saturday, 4/19: 21km trail, 170m, 5:41/km.

The plan was to meet up with some folks from a group based out of MEC Burlington and preview next weekend’s race route at DVCA. The route is about 9km of trails that are totally runnable, but muddy. I ran to and from the meet up for a total of 21km. It took me a bit to warm up, an my ankle wasn’t immediately cooperative. I think the trails+road flats is exposing my weak and not very mobile lower legs. The run was great, got to meet a bunch of people and the weather was perfect. The pace was pretty easy for me so I focused on staying calm on uphills and flying on descents. Buttkicks for speed! There were a few times I nearly spilled flying downhill, but I made it out. I think I’m strong and quick enough to fly downhill pretty good, but need to keep breathing steady instead of holding my breath or breathing too rapidly.

Sunday, 4/20: 21km trail, 191, 5:36/km

More trails! It’s a long weekend- not that that means anything to me…-and the weather is great. I was feeling a little stiff from Saturday, but knew it would pass. I wanted 25+km, but also wanted to run trail out of DVCA that I had only rode before: Monarch Trail. I set out along the rail trail, out via the same route as Saturday’s course preview, and around the Main Loop, just as the day before. I was mostly fine to this point, but didn’t think I’d get 25-30km. I hit the Monarch trail, climbed a few side trail hills and found some single track to run before the trail evaporated. I was at the top of a fairly tall cliff at this point so I climbed down and took 5min chilling in the middle of the woods at a creekside. Eventually I hiked back up and found the trail, which has a huge ass hill that I eventually had to walk up. I’m not sure if the Sulphur Springs route includes this hill or not, but I kind of hope not. I powered on through Monarch trail, which was super muddy and eventually made it back home with 21km for the day. I was pretty tired from a 58km weekend. Let’s call Saturday and Sunday B2B long runs (the double!) rather than a mid-length run and a quit early. Awesome trails, great running this week.

Weekly Totals: 81.5km, 1159m elevation, 7h30min.

Goals for next week: More trails, more elevation, ankle and lower leg mobility, MEC Race on Saturday.

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Around the Bay 2014 Race Report

You’re not going to win. You’re not going to loose. All that’s at stake is a little bit of ego, and you’ve trained hard. What the hell is there to be nervous about? Go have some fun. You earned it.

This is what I told myself in the days leading up to Sunday’s Around the Bay Race. I was confident and I knew I was fit enough. But as usual before key events, my stomach was in tighter knots than my legs in peak training weeks.

Around the Bay is North America’s oldest road race, and the 2014 iteration marks it’s 120th anniversary. It was also my first goal race of 2014, my first race over 21.1km, and my third race ever.



My goal was aggressive: 2:20:xx. I ran my first Half Marathon in November in 1:38:56, an average pace of 4:41/km. They say to dial back your pace when going up in distance. But fuck that. Sometime in December I decided to transition to 30k and then Marathon distances while keeping my 4:40/km pace. Because fuck it, I’m 28 and fit and have been running for just a little over 18 months. Why the hell not.

So ya, 2:20:xx. That would put me somewhere in the top 7-9% of finishers, but still a solid 5min shy of a nice silver finishers medal (<2:15, Gold for <2:00, bronze for everyone else).

Race Day

I had some stomach issues the Saturday before- not hungry, cramping, feeling of fullness. But I stuffed my face anyway and drank plenty of water. Sunday morning I had the same breakfast I’ve had everyday for nearly 6 months- Kashi, milk, banana, coffee- and threw in an apple and some almonds for good measure. But still I couldn’t shake the cramps.

I was worried that I had over done the training, but this turned out to be a false flag. The first week of the taper I felt terrible: slow, heavy, sore legs, and tired, always tired. I was certain I was overtrained, and that my peak week-100km with B2B long runs-had ruined me. But the legs loosened up with some tempo intervals and strides, and by Friday afternoon I was feeling pretty good. Check out the plan I built here. There was some revising along the way-I made a few of the speed workouts harder for some reason-but mostly this is what I did.

There was much tweeting about the weather and what to wear in the days leading up to the race. The forecast originally called for 2-4C and sunny with a little wind, then changed to -2-2C, sunny, and quite windy. I was committed to shorts no matter what. Up top I went with a Patagonia Capilene 2 half-zip base layer, lululemon running t-shirt, a brand spanking new New Balance singlet, and the greatest shorts of all time: Patagonia ProStrider 5″. And gloves. And of course, my Ray-Bans. I brought along jacket and toque just in case, but didn’t end up needing them. I ran in some 1.5-week-old Wave Hitogami’s, and they were great. Love those shoes.

Some race gear and swag

Some race gear and swag

It turned out to be a perfect day for running- probably about 4-6C, sunny, with not enough sustained wind to really be bothered by. My nose got a little pink. I could have done with only 1 of my 2 top layers, and I took the gloves off at about 20km.

But not all my gear worked: my Garmin 220, my swanky, reliable, new GPS watch, failed on me. It was money all winter, but couldn’t get a GPS lock on a shakeout run on Saturday. It seemed like it would work on Sunday, but crapped out. More on that later.


My plan here was to go out conservative: 4:45 to 4:40 splits and settle in. I took off way to quick in my HM in November and paid for it down the stretch and I wanted to be smarter this time around. I lined up in B corral between the 2:15 and 2:20 pace bunnies- probably should have been farther back, but whatever.

When the gun went I took off. I caught the 2:15 bunny and blew by him. My watch read 5:10/km-ish, so I figured whatever. Around 1km it was reading 5:15/km and I was passing people. I figured, shit, I better pick this up. I started seeing red coloured race bibs; A Corral bibs. I was making gains on the top runners in the field. 5:00 pace, apparently.

Around 4km I asked a guy what pace he had: “’bout 4:10.”

Fuuuuuck. Not only was my watch- and only guarantee of steady pacing- toasted, but I was about to run a sub-21 5k. Not the way I wanted to start.

I slowed it down a bit, reset the watch, watched some people go by and pulled it together. Around 8km I asked another guy: “Hey man, what pace you got?” “4:25ish.” Shit. I couldn’t run slow enough and the watch wasn’t going to cooperate. Around here I got passed by some guys I know on twitter- guys who were aiming for 2:12:xx (check out A whole lot of soles).  I dialled it back some more and started manually clicking my splits. This helped a lot, mentally anyway. It was nice to gain some token of control.


I was 45:28 at the 10k marker, nearly a full minute ahead of the 46:40 I wanted. This stretch was probably the toughest for me. I was running blind and getting passed, and those km are kind of in a no-man’s land between ‘feeling fresh’ and ‘nearly done.’ I felt vulnerable, and kind of lost. I downed a gel at 10km and gagged hard but forced it down. I had no problems in training with the GU flavours I brought along, but my stomach was not ok with things on race day. Even getting water down was tough. I knew the GI issues weren’t enough to slow me down unless they affected my water and gel plan so I just powered on.

I was 1:08:43 at 15km, I wanted 1:10:00. I was ok-calm, comfortable and strong-but worried. I realized this was going to be tough, and that I would need to win the mental game to make up for the fast start. I knew I was ahead of the 2:20 pace bunny at least, and the guarantee that I nearly a minute and a half in the bank already meant I could pull back if things went south and still be ok.

I’m really impressed by my ability to clock off steady 4:30-4:40 splits without a watch. I was going on feel alone and pretty much on auto pilot. Tempo runs, baby. This might be the most valuable lesson of the race: that I can run by feel, if a little fast.


At 20km I was 1:32:12. I wanted 1:33:20. Still had a minute in the bank. Two things happened as I finished up the section on Beach Blvd. and turned on to North Shore Blvd. in Burlington. First, the 2:20 pace bunny caught me. I panicked a bit, since I thought I was ahead of schedule, but then overheard him saying he was about a minute fast. Phew. Second, the turn to North Shore around 18km means that the hills are coming. I think most racers find this worrying, and probably the toughest part of the course. But had run out and backs on this stretch of road all winter. This was my road, and these were my hills, and I had a plan: take the hills even effort, and open up on the downslopes to gain the time back and flush the legs.

This was a great plan. I felt strong and didn’t redline up any of the small rollers or the first big set of hills at LaSalle Park- where my Mom was waiting with her camera. Fuck ya, Mom. I was starting to hurt, but was ok. By this point the 2:20 bunny was gone. He was charging up the hills, running even pace up and down. The first few rollers he would put about 10m on me, then I would gain it back on the downside, but the gap kept getting bigger. I was clicking splits around 4:38 (I think) so I let the bunny go. At the top of LaSalle hill I tried to take a GU and only got about half of it down. I brought 3, planning to take one at 45min and one at 1:30. This meant I had an extra to take around the 22-25km mark if I wanted it. And I would.

LaSalle hill is a tricky one- it’s a long, slow rise followed almost immediately by a downhill. This is nice. However, the downhill is maybe 200m long and followed immediately by a another hill roughly 400m long. This is not nice. I cruised through these without really getting into trouble, but I was getting close. Just past the second hill I started jockeying with a few guys who I would end up running with until the end, one of whom was about 6-3 and wearing a white top. I ran into ‘big white’ after the race and he commented that I was running well and ended up pacing him for about 5km before we started going back and forth. I told him he should have helped me out and took the lead for a few km, since he was clearly not getting any drafting advantage behind my 5-7, 135 frame. We chuckled, congratulated each other, and went our ways.

At about 23km- nearing the end of North Shore Blvd, about to turn on to Plains rd.- some cyclists decided to join the race. Fuck those two guys. Im going to rant for a minute. There’s a couple of sharp 90 degree turns in the course here, so runners take the tangent. Now, I saw many cyclists out for a ride along the course-you know, the guys in full bike suits and shit. Fine, we’ve got one lane blocked off, you stay in the other. Cool. But for some unbelievable reason two cyclists- in hindsight definitely NOT associated with the race- decided they needed to take the tangent at the exact same time me and Big White were. These guys weren’t biking fast, they were just assholes. They actually cut me off. I was partially stunned, and outraged. Partly because wasn’t sure at the time if they were associated with the race, and partly because couldn’t believe they were doing this, I just barely muttered “Oh Fuck off!” Dude heard me, no doubt, but I wish I gave him a push. The road is marked off, there’s about 9500 of us out there. And you guys came from behind me, which means you clearly say the long line of runners. And on your leisurely Sunday ride you NEEDED to take that tangent. Fuck you, dude.


I coasted along Plains rd. and opened it up down a long hill into the vally. Somewhere along here I took my 3rd GU and got it all down with minimal gagging. Ya! Victories! Near the bottom of the valley there was an awesome guy hanging out blasting We Will Rock You on repeat. Apparently he’s there every year. I high fived the shit out of him. I credit him with the energy I needed to get up the big ass hill. Best supporter along the entire race course: the timing, the song, his attitude, everything. Thanks man.

My splits were still looking ok so I ran steady effort up the hill, grunting and yelling and hooting because God Dammit that was my fucking hill. I passed a bunch of people doubled over and walking. I got close to redlining in the last 100m but kept it steady. Big White said at the top “that was tough.” “Ya,” was all I managed.

I did a lot of hill work, and focused on active recovery during long runs. It wasn’t fun. I had a few long runs that involved sprinting up hills and then pushing forward (instead of catching your breath/recovering as in intervals) to build endurance and get the body to recover at pace. Doing this in the middle of 28-30km runs fucking sucked. But it paid off and I recovered very quickly from these hills, even after my fast start.

I got you, hills.

I got you, hills.


We passed the Grim Reaper, and this is where things really got tough. I had energy but yy legs were toast. The last 3km were all about guts. I tried to pick it up at 27 but probably ran steady, got passed a few times but I knew I’d get them back.  My calves started to cramp up along this stretch, not bad enough to stop me, but bad enough that I knew this was about it. I kicked it at 28km and really pushed- clicking off 4:34 and 4:20 splits on the home stretch. I reeled in a few people and closed about 200m on a largish group of runners. By the 29km marker I was redlining and knew it it was down to how much guts I had left.



They had a clock posted where you turn into Copps Coliseum (First Ontario Place?), and this is where the finish line is. When I saw those big red digits flashing 2:20:09 I knew I had made it. Man, what a great feeling. I ended up crossing the line at 2:20:21 on the gun and 2:19:51 chip.  Nailed it.

Post-Race & Thoughts

It took to a while to recover, and I got to hang out with my Dad, Step-Mom and her Sister (Step-Aunt?) while chilling out. I was pumped up, once my stomach settled, anyway. I’m finally just coming down from the accomplishment now- Wednesday evening. I grabbed lunch from NaRoma Pizza Bar with my Mom and her boyfriend before heading home to sleep and eat and rest on Sunday. Awesome times all around.

This was tough. It was a long training period-16 weeks-and a long, cold winter. My plan was on the money and had me fit enough that even when I had to cut a run a few times to let the legs rest I didn’t miss a beat.

Big thanks and shout out to everyone who helped along the way and to my friends who dealt with me all winter when this was the only thing I wanted to talk about- looking at you Mike, Kait, Jen, and Amy.

2:19:51. Post-race looking tough. I was barely holding it together. Props to my pops for the photo.

2:19:51. Post-race looking tough. I was barely holding it together. Props to my pops for the photo.

What’s Next

I’m committed to a couple trail runs: the MEC ONE 12.5km in Dundas in a couple weeks and the Sulphur Springs Trail Run 25km at the end of May. Really pumped for the Sulphur Springs run. They do 10k, 25k, 50k, 50mi, and 100mi distances that weekend. Badass.

I’m thinking about signing up for the Goodlife Toronto Half-Marathon in early May to see if I can’t shave a few minutes of my time from last fall. I think I could run 1:35:xx, which is a pretty big jump from my previous 1:38:56. Full marathon in the fall for sure: 4:40/km=3:17ish. Alright.

Posted in Around the Bay, Race Reports, Running, Tumblr | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments