Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Looking back on the Lower Mainland Cross Country Race Series

Cross country and trail running has dominated my late 2013 racing season.

Wrapping up the Cross Country Series with an age category win was a major fall objective. In the attempt to get faster at longer distance events, it is my belief that I needed to race faster at the shorter distance events. These shorter xc races proved to be affordable, competitive, challenging and fun, and over the course of the last 3 months, I have seen some pretty cool things happen from my results.

The following are a few short summaries of my races, and some assessments of what I could improve on for the coming year of races. Read on!

Sunday, 8 December 2013

The 30th Annual Gunner Shaw XC: The last race of 2013 on a beautiful day!

The 30th Annual Gunner Shaw XC Start! Photo: Leo Lam

The 30th annual Gunner Shaw XC presented by Lions Gate Road Runners went down under beautiful skies on Saturday December 8th. After a week off of all physical activity, I was not feeling too confident about this race. For one, I have been recovering from a cold that took me out two weeks ago, just in time for nationals, leaving me less than stellar for the race last week. To recover from said cold and the race, I laid low and did absolutely nothing. 7 days off of no workouts. The last time I pulled something like that was in August, while on vacation. Before that, it was during spring break in March when the family was in L.A. 

It has been a while since I took some time off.

Friday, 6 December 2013

2013 Canadian National XC Championships: A Wet Day in the Muck

Start of the 2013 Master's XC Canadian National Champs. W. McCulloch Photo.

The 2013 Canadian National Cross Country Championships were held on November 30--a cold and wet Saturdary morning. This race would prove to be a tough run-day at Jericho Beach. Rain, wind, mud, puddles--all perfect to make for honest cross country racing weather!

My goal for this race was to have a fast time, and let the chips fall where they may. It sucks that this week I managed to get sick trying to prepare for the national championship event, all the while finishing up my M.Ed final paper for the first course. Finding balance between the disciplines of my life are proving to be a healthy challenge during this fall.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

2013 Fraser Valley XC Ramble RR, other ramblings, and HOKA's!

Chasing points....

The Lower Mainland XC Series is drawing to a close with only two races left: The Fraser Valley XC Ramble and Gunner Shaw 10k. After 6 races, I was tied for first in the points standings with Nicholas Browne, a runner who is of a higher athletic caliber than me. On any given day, Mr. Browne could mop the floor with me, and take the series points standings. Yet, I still want to remain competitive in the category.

Besides, registration for this event in store was only $5! I could not pass that up!

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

2013 Remembrance Day Run, Stanley Park

I ran about as hard as I could today. I left it all out there, and it was not enough.

I made my way out to Stanley Park for the race, and the overall goal to chase points in the lower mainland XC series, and to take the age group win for my 35-39 category, thus securing another 30 points for my effort, and almost locking up the category with two more races to go.

Friday, 25 October 2013

Racing 6 days after a marathon

After the Victoria Marathon, I managed to get our for one run before my next race this past weekend. My Friday afternoon run was a recovery of sorts, difficult to say the least: accumulated fatigue in my hamstrings, a lack of flow--starting and stopping, it was a run to forget. But those types of runs need to happen to get the engine rolling again, and I did want at least one in my pocket before my XC race Saturday, 6 days after the Victoria Marathon. Of all the stuff I have read on recovery after a marathon, nothing that I have found says that it is a good idea to race so close to such a hard effort. The skeletal system, cellular system, mind, and rest of the body need time to repair. I threw caution to the wind and headed to North Van.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

BC Marathon Championship Results: 35-39

...Winning the masters 35-39 category is kind of like a Strava KOM where you are the only person who has ridden the segment--a 1/1. However, I do remember a couple of BC XC mountain bike champions in years past who won it with little competition....

Still, I don't mind taking the blue ribbon for my age category. I showed up and ran. Perhaps one day I could shave 37 minutes off my time for top spot. 

I highly doubt or want that to happen....this is just a little bit of icing on a BQ....

The best part of this list is that in the 14th spot, my Father-in law managed to secure his own age group championship win at the age of 60! Blue ribbon!!

BC Athletics results

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Goodlife Fitness Victoria Marathon: Boston Bound!!

The fruits of my labor.
I have finally figured it out.

I know the secret to running a fast(er) marathon.

I do not mind sharing that little secret with everyone. 

But what works for me, works for me. 

It may not work for you.

The goal for 2013 was to run a qualification time for the Boston Marathon. Blowing my chances at that on the hottest day of the year at the BMO Vancouver marathon in May, I had secured my back pocket chance by registering for the Goodlife Fitness Victoria marathon at Thanksgiving. I had hoped that it would not come to that, that I could make my qualification time at the BMO and not worry about the fall marathon. But sometimes things do not work out the way we plan. The Victoria marathon, my fifth in three years, turned out to be my best yet.

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Finding balance in the busy-ness

Trying to balance running and cycling... and family, and work, and M.Ed, and .........
September has nearly come to a close. It started with a Meet Your Maker experience, that was very, very enjoyable and disappointing all in one, and ends with a decision to can the cyclocross season altogether. Along the way included 45 hours of physical activity, nearly 370kms of running on the month, the start of the SFU HEAL Masters in Education, along with September start up at school.

Finding Balance--the test of ones life:

Needless to say, it has been a busy month. Trying to find balance between late night studies, early morning runs, weekend long runs, classes for me at SFU Surrey and my own delivery of classes, and impromptu appointments like one the other evening ("Oh, by the way--it is meet the teacher night at the kids school. See you there!) have me reeling with energy and fatigue, trying to process the fast paced mad action that a jammed full schedule dictates. Our time is not our own--it is for those that expect of us. Kids, students, classmates, spouses, family, we give ourselves over to those who we are responsible to.

Resuscitating my run: Fall marathon training

From  Sept 13th:

After the Knee Knacker, I was cooked. Running had lost it's appeal. I had no desire to lace them up and go out for any amount of time or distance. With the MYM50 fast approaching over the summer, I realized that for my own health and well being, although I could attempt it, it was going to be a really bad idea to complete a 50 mile mountain run and feel like running in the following weeks.

Flash forward to Sept 13th. With the Victoria Marathon in mind, and the success of the MYM50 DNF, I have managed to amass a solid block of training in the past 2 weeks. A couple of 32k runs, some tempo, a Yasso 800 session, and morning runs of between 11k and 18k, and I am getting my stuff together for what may prove to be a great marathon. With the impending cyclocross season upon us (something that I am taking a break from this year), running and staying healthy is the main focus of my training.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

SFU and HEAL M.Ed.

HEAL SFU Graduate Studies

As of September 2013, I have started to complete at Masters of Education at Simon Fraser University. This means some of my running and biking exploits will have to be put on hold while I attempt to do some higher learning.

This page will follow my journey through the SFU M.Ed HEAL program, related to assignments and allow to connect with other HEAL M.Ed candidates. I will continue to write both blogs, only Watershed Athlete Heal will be a blog that discusses issues related to health and activity with an academic spin. This will give the audience of Watershed Athlete a glimpse into my academic life and focus.

Check out my academic work at Watershedheal.blogspot.com

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Meet Your Maker 50mi 2013: My first DNF.

There is nothing sad about not finishing a race. Nor shameful. In fact, when knowing that one is underprepared to race, the DNF can be a godsend.

The 2013 Meet Your Maker 50 mile ultramarathon went off this year with twice as many competitors, over 300, topping the inaugural year's count of just over 140. I was one of the solo competitors who signed up almost a year ago with dreams of finishing the ultra for a second time. After this year's Knee Knacker and the feelings that I had in my body in the following weeks, we set out a plan to deal with the MYM50 ultra, undertrained.

Monday, 26 August 2013

Meet Your Maker 50mi Race Preview: The 2013 plan.

Frisby Ridge, Revelstoke: A lot of climbing.....

After a solid couple of weeks of vacation in the interior (Kamloops and Osoyoos), I absolutely feel underprepared for the 2013 Meet Your Maker 50 mile ultra. In a bit of haste, my brother in law signed us up last year as soon as registration opened: he wanted to finish the race that he could not, due to some serious blisters; I was down with conquering this ultra for a second time, this time with more preparation. *My race report from last year is here.

My 2013 MYM 50 training began last December, and was going great even up until the Knee Knacker, albeit was a bit stunted due to a love affair with my road bike in May and June....and July and August.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Knee Knacker Race Report: The most difficult run I have ever done.

The Knee Knacker is THE toughest run. 

Perhaps it was for the fact that I went out a shade too quickly; that the course is a monster of roots and rocks, uphill kickers and quad obliterating downhill blasts; that my legs stopped working for me after Hollyburn; or that I preferred to ride my bike when training for this ultra marathon. 

But, that does not change the fact that it is one tough mutha of a race.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Axel Merckx Penticton Gran Fondo Report

Penticton from the Naramata Bench. Photo: Robert de Rot
MY GOOD LORD!! Penticton is absolutely BEAUTIFUL! I do not know why I have not spent more time there. The 2013 Axel Merckx Gran Fondo on July 7th, 2013 had to be one of the greatest organized events in one of the most beautiful settings in North America. Oh, and the ride? That was also spectacular: challenging, fast, and very, very fun!

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

The 30th Annual Sandcastle City Classic: PB for the 10k!

A wet kick to the line. Photo credit: Paul Mathias 

The 30th annual 2013 Sandcastle 10k went off under cloudy skies that opened up and let wet loose just before the race began. It is a great due to the free beach parking, and the school bus ride up to Crescent Park Elementary School, and the finish line food. I began my warm-up at 8:30, taking a short 3k run to get the body settled and into the groove. I had a few butterflies before the start of this race, and the lack of preparation going into it became evident moments before the start. My goal for this race was to run the thing in the high 35 minute area. That was my dream goal, even though I have never come close to that before.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Sunny skies, Strava, and supplementing my run

The Vancouver Marathon has long passed. After the race, I decided to take some time away from run training. I did not stop running, but I let myself have a break from the constant pressure of workouts, intervals, hills, and the stress of knowing that what I was doing was all for my next race. The downtime away from the diligence and commitment has been very lovely and very needed. Even with Knee Knacker coming up, one of the 25 toughest runs in North America, I am surprisingly not super stressed out. This lack of obsessive run training has created a void. In it's place, I have become re-acquainted with my bicycle.

It started gently enough with a recovery ride the day after the marathon in the Watershed on my mountain bike. I wanted to spin out my legs and try to prevent painful DOMS from setting in (preventing DOMS from setting is is futile, but I did try my best to mitigate the soreness and stiffness by having two massages in two days, two ice baths, and the bike). One ride turned to two, and sooner rather than later, I was back to doing long rides, intensity and double days of bike in the AM, run in the PM, or vice-verse. A couple of things happened: I fell in love with my bike--with the ride, again. I signed up for the Axel Merckx Gran Fondo in Pentiction on July 7th. And Strava, that ugly, sexy beast came back to life for me.

Monday, 27 May 2013

Searching for the run of my life: The BMO Vancouver Marathon

Finishing up the Marathon. Photo: Doug Francis

It has been a while since I last made a post, and much has happened since the Chuckanut 50. A trip to L.A. with the family the day after the ultra, 10 days in SoCal at staying in Santa Monica with my close friend and adolescent travel partner Andy O., visits to the amusements parks (Disneyland, et al.), and hitting the beach in San Diego made March very memorable. The weeks leading up to the Vancouver Marathon had me plagued with a serious Achilles tendinitis injury. I had to undergo some PT treatment at Physiomoves by Christine for a few sessions to deal with it. It lingered for the whole month, putting my marathon in jeopardy. I was left before the race thinking that I could go out and run right through the pain, and risk being laid up post race, or take it easy and have fun.

I wrote the following the night before the BMO Vancouver Marathon:

Thursday, 4 April 2013

The 2013 Chuckanut 50 Race Report: Running as a team, waiting, flying, and failing.

I have been reluctant to post this report. This race fell short of my expectations, and with a vacation immediately following the run, I had no impetus to write it up. Three weeks on, this race report is better late than never.

After the Chuckanut 50 ultra, my first, longest run of 2013, I took some much needed time off with the family over spring break and headed down to San Diego and L.A for a trip to the land of golden sun. Reinvigorating the body and rest was what I needed after the last few months in Portlandia Vancouver, and it was a wonderful time in California.

The Chuckanut 50k ultra was on March 16th. It was a good day.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Chuckanut 50: Pre-race jitters

SATURDAY!! I am hoping to find a bit of redemption on Saturday in my second running of this ultra. I vowed last year to train for more hills, differentiated intensities, and to hopefully to try and be healthy for the next time that I throw down in Fairhaven. One year has passed, and I am on the eve of my second 50k race. So far, all three check out.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Winning the lottery!! Knee Knacker 2013.

Tonight was quite the exciting event: my first foray into entering a lottery. The 2013 Chuckanut 50 lottery did not materialize like I thought it would, but with the Knee Knacker taking only 268 runners out of a possible 360 or so, this meant that the odds of getting in were close to 75% for someone who registered before last Thursday. I had high hopes that both my brother in-law and I would get in. If only one did, then it would either really suck, or be a monumental accomplishment for the one who had to do the race.

Sunday, 3 March 2013


Last weekend was amazing. 75kms over three days, not a tonne of distance for 3 days, but all runs were specific workouts. Throw in the 30km race, and it was a taxing 3 days. What more could a person ask for?
Over this week I have come up with an answer-- maybe a day or two between the Saturday hills at SFU and the Sunday race. The weekend was great. The week? Rough. People who do not run think that runners destroy their knees, but the reality is that a runner's quads are what get trashed.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Fort to Fort 30k Trail Race: Building for the bigger events

If a racer targets goal races, A races, and then the lowly B race, then the Fort to Fort 30k Trail Race on February 24, 2013 was a B race on my seasonal plan, and a C race in terms of course marshalling. First off it is a first year event, having changed up from the Houston Footrace 10k of the last number of years presented by Peninsula Runners. Any number of things could go wrong for the organizers, and they did.

Monday, 18 February 2013

Influencing my children: The battle for all parents

My first run after the First Half Half Marathon was less than stellar, so I decided to take a couplle of days off of the run to get healthy. Instead, I rode my bike and ran with my kids.

Running with kids was like pulling teeth to get them out the door, but once we were in the forest, all three of them loved it. We ran for 5k on Saturday and 6k on Sunday. At each km, we take a walk break. For the boys, they love to run over the dirt jumps, bound over logs, and run uphill as fast as they can. I tell them to pace themselves, but when it comes to running downhill, they take off like bullets. They are 5 years old.

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Reflections and ramblings on the First Half Half Marathon

A few days after my half marathon PB, I am already dreaming of the next few races. Preparing for those races is necessary, and my prep began the very next day when I treated myself to a massage. This seemed to help loosen up some of the leg stiffness and pre-empt any DOMS. I am trying to move away from a dependancy on ibuprofin, and eating natural, unprocessd foods to help with any inflamation or pain. I do like my plain greek yogurt, so that one has to stay.

But all the preparation for the upcoming events can and does hit a speed bump, as it did Wednesday morning. I was starting out on my early recovery run with my brother Sean, when 300 feet from my front door--DOING! My anterior left IT/quad went on me. It seized right up.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

First Half Half Marathon: Another PB!!

I tackled the Pacific Road Runner's First Half Half Marathon on February 10th, 2013. This is one of the most scenic and beautiful road courses I have ever done: a flat, fast course on the seawall around Stanley Park, starting and finishing at the Yaletown Roundhouse. This race usually is blessed with a beautiful day of February weather, and today was no exception.

I think that the reason this race is so good is that it is a Variety Charity fundraiser. This year the Pacific Road Runners donate 40% of the registration fees to Variety, which amounted to $50,000! The other 60% goes to putting on one of the best races going, bar none. That goodwill is evident in the volunteers and in the race organization.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Aldergrove Mud Run 2013: Putting together the perfect race

Sunday February 3rd was my third time racing the Aldergrove Mud Run in as many years. The third race in the Fraser Valley Trail Series, this is a beautiful course takes runners through a good portion of Aldergrove Lake park. A number of  short, steep, punchy climbs and twisting fast descents on wide, soft gravel paths weave through the undulating forest of the park, with a few bridges over marshes and creeks. This is a beautiful park. The temperature today said 5 degrees, but once the race was underway, the conditions were perfect--almost warm, no rain or wind to speak of, only overcast.

Thursday, 31 January 2013

A Paradigm Shift: Nutritional Choices

After a lackluster cyclocross season and virtually no motivation to get on my bike after it was over, I decided to throw down a lukewarm New Years Resolution. Lukewarm for the fact that all resolutions get broken, and changing things up wholesale can come back to bite oneself as we will lose interest and revert back to our our old ways.

What better than to change up my diet nutritional choices* for 2013? Or at least for a few days of it at the beginning...

(*I hate the term "diet". Diets are meant to end so that a person can go back to eating what they normally ate once they are finished with their diet, and blow themselves back up so that they have to diet again. Such a dumb word.)

What I have been doing over the last 36 years has benefited my taste-buds. However, each year I have slowly added a bit more weight to my body. At this stage in my life, I feel like my metabolism is going to begin to slow down, and my weight any day now will begin to head north. I fear that at the current rate of consuming a high carbohydrate food, I do not want to let my health slip out of control. I do not want to continue to keep on competing at a high level and taxing my body with maximum efforts in races, yet my body is not burning the proper clean fuels to run efficiently--working in the most efficient way it can.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Campbell Valley Stomp 2013--a New PB. Third Time's a Charm.

My third running of the Campbell Valley Stomp was my first race of 2013. This race comes after my December run streak, and after some specific training on each of my runs so far this month. Hill repeats, tempo runs, and a couple of long runs have definitely helped in bringing some strength and speed to my form, which definitely helped at the race on January 20th.

The course is the same as it has been-- a 5k-ish loop course that rolls over the terrain for the first 3 kms on crushed gravel, then a steep downhill descent into the valley, then 1.5 kms of needle-and-threading the way through the technical rooty, twisty, and icy forest floor until a false flat into the climb up to the parking area.

Sean, Philip, and I set out at 7:30 for the race. We managed to get there around 8:15, the perfect amount of time to run the course in reverse, and then toe the line for the 9am start. The start was good--I managed to scale it back a bit from my normal blow-thyself-up start, and Sean kicked it up a good amount from how he likes to start.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

December Run Streak: My Month of Daily Running

2012 has come and gone. And with it, a number of yearly totals of which I am now forced to start fresh on. Run kilometers, bike kilometers, both are reset to zero, and new goals begin. Right now matching my 2012 number looks daunting, but one workout at a time will do it. Perhaps 2013 will be a better year for training and results. But for now, let's look at the final month of 2012 and my run challenge.