Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Time off to Heal: My declining fitness, my time away from the blog

Over the past four months, I have watched myself lose my run fitness, and my mojo for blogging. M.Ed work at SFU, coupled with the BCTF teacher's strike, and the BCPSEA lockout all have added up for me not wanting to put much effort into this online journal. Motivation waned, run training came to a halt, and I managed to get Shingles. AND put my neck out. So much for exercise and training as preventative medicine.

Truth be told, I essentially stopped running steady after the BMO Vancouver Marathon, swapping my bike out for running shoes. The bike, as I have said before, is forgiving. It is smooth on the road, adventurous in the trails. I can bike for hours and hours, and then go our the next day for more.

Having a summer off of running has not been all that bad. I still raced a 38 minute 10k at the Sandcastle Classic in South Surrey in June on a different course this year from last; mountain biked in Salmon Arm, Kamloops, and Whistler; registered and ran the Kamloops Half Marathon which turned out to be a disaster of a run for me; ran to the summit of Whistler via Singing Pass and the High Note Trail with my brother Sean; got lost on the west side of Whistler with Franco; and spent some time in Osoyoos cycling up Anarchist.

So for my first run back in the watershed, I was humbled. I was slow and felt fat. Currently my scale shows me fluctuating between 189 and 192 lbs. I would like to be down to 175-178. My bloated-ness is due to the reaching for too many beverages of the brewed type, and not enough time spent in the month of August thinking about what I am putting into my body.

But like all things, getting back on track, taking up a program, and having a goal upcoming can work wonders for a person. The last couple of days on the run have been fantastic--30-30's at the track, a tempo run of 14k, and it seems like I have began to tap into a dormant run fitness. Oh, I have limited my beverage consumption drastically, opting for tea, water, chocolate milk, or a solitary brew.

So on with the recap of Summer 2014! 

(*Although I wrote the following race recap after the Sandcastle City Classic, I never did publish it).

Sandcastle 10k: A changed course made for a bit slower time. 

The last 5 weeks after the marathon have been spent on my bike.  Ironing out my muscles and joints of the last 8 months of running, the break has been really good to recharge and refocus on what I love.

I do love the run. It is an addiction, in fact, much like my purchasing of shoes. However, of late the bike is where my focus has been. My ability to recover quickly from bike efforts is amazingly quick, and taking up double day rides has been something that is almost normal.

Which means that with all the riding happening, I have been running less. Much less. Maybe 2 times per week, on a Tuesday and Thursday if I am lucky. So going in to the 2014 Sandcastle 10k, my expectations for myself were ridiculous. Originally I had set my goal for this race at finishing in the 35 minute frame, and I believed that up until the 4km mark. More on that later.

But without running much of late, what is my goal and what is realistic are completely two different things. And in trying to meet a pre-determined time goal, the voices in my head start in when I start to fall off the pace on the run.

Along with the lack of run prep, the days leading up to the race were stress filled: teacher job action/lockout, a weekend at SFU in my M.Ed classes, and taking care of six kids at our house for the weekend take their toll on a couple, and between me and my wife, we have been wearing thin.

But no matter the result, there are great things that come out of a race, even when one falls short of a time goal. To quote Dirk Handke of Kelowna "Your time doesn't matter" in the grand scheme of things. And it is true--we put undue amounts of stress and pressure on ourselves to perform, all the while getting caught up in the outcome without realising how awesome the process and all that happens within and around the race--there are many interesting and amazing people that you meet in these types of events.

Back to the event: I did my oatmeal thing, but on the way had a French Vanilla from Tim Horton's on the way to the race--perhaps my undoing--I did the same for the marathon and it may not have served me well.

I arrived at the start finish area--new this year due to the construction on Marine Drive. This year we ended at Centennial Park instead of the run out down to the beach. That run out is fast and fun, and it goes on for about a Km or so.

I started at the front with Chris Barth, and settled in behind him and Solomon Rotich, a Kenya (whom the start was held for because he was late getting to the race I would love for the race organisers to hold the start of a race for me, if I was a ringer). In fact, for the first km or so, I was in front of Drew Nicholson, which surprised me. I was fine through 2k, but due to a lack of run prep, I began to lose places like I was bleeding. 3rd turned into 5th, then to 8th. By the halfway mark, I was hurting, and behind from where I was the year prior. I managed to get into a bit of a pissing match with Patrick Jones, a pretty fast dude. We held on to each other for the final 3k, and turned the last 100m into a sprint. He won the war between us. I was cooked. Talking with him, I found out that he was about to run the Anchorage Marathon in the coming weeks. A great guy--one who I would love to have the pleasure of meeting again.

Full gas!
This year 13th. Last year, 12th. Also, 2nd in my age cat this year, last year I was first.


On to the Axel Merckx Gran Fondo. This year, I rode it with Lori-Ann. We registered for the 92k event, I wanted to shepherd her through the maze of novice cyclists with poor bike handling skills. It seemed to work--a beautiful, safe ride that saw us cross the finish line together. I was really proud of her--no complaints about the heat, or the distance. It was a good thing that we rode the course over two days prior to the event so that she knew what to expect, and that there were no surprises for her. I knew the course, or at least the 160km route from the previous year, so I was not concerned. The course was a bit different through Summerland this year, but all the same, a fabulous locale for an amazing cycling event. I was very happy to spend an extra two days in Penticton leading up the the event, even if the red necks at the Tim Horton's do not like cyclists. Time at the beach, no stressing over the event and a fast finish time, dinners out with the love of my life--this was a perfect mini vacation for us to get away from all that ailed us.

Getting started at the GFAMO!

Results from our ride. A very fun day on the bike!
Happy and no worse for wear
Lor finished strong, feeling good. We settled into the grandstands after our ride was over to watch my brother in a two up sprint finish with Tim Abercrombie. AW lost the sprint, but we were pretty jacked to have him finish second in the Gran Fondo 160km event, coming so close to finishing first.

Tim and Aaron sprinting for the win. AW finished 2nd.
Still pretty happy about the whole thing!
 After the event, Lor, AW and me booked it out of there back to Kamloops, where we spent the next couple of days before I had to head home for my M.Ed work, and Lor had to get ready to go to N.Y.

Coming up-- Whistler 2014: Singing Pass, Comfortably Numb, Lake Osoyoos.