Monthly Archives: March 2016

Preparing Mentally for Around the Bay

I am in taper mode now.  The hardest workouts are behind me and in a week and a half I will be running my second Around the Bay 30k race in Hamilton.

My souvenir shirt :)

It has been a busy few months preparing for this one.  In a period of two and a half months the following has happened:

  • surgery to try to fix my previously dislocated finger
  • various appointments because of the above
  • 4 to 6 hours a week for I-don’t-know-how-many-weeks-now because of a “frozen shoulder” or adhesive capsulitis
  • two sets of report cards, one set of parent/teacher interviews
  • an Ottawa winter, including a snowstorm that dumped 50+ cm of snow in 24 hours
  • the general life/work/run balance that we all juggle

I found myself slipping in the positive attitude department.  Maybe it was the winter weather.  Maybe it was fatigue.  Maybe I was just too damn hard on myself.  I often felt like I was making little or no progress.  I also felt frustrated with the fact that so many people I know run quickly with less training.  It was like I was working hard with no reward.  Things that were going through my mind included:

  • “I am working harder and getting slower.”
  • “I should be getting more mileage in.”
  • “I should be running more mid-distance runs but don’t have time.”
  • “Damn my G.I. system!!!”
  • “My shoulder hurts. All. The. Time.”
  • “My longest run should have been more than 27k”
  • “I should have done more hill work.”
  • “I think my age is starting to show in my running, maybe I am past getting P.B’s”
  • “I can’t even run a half marathon in a reasonable speed.”  (This was during the Hypo Half a couple of weeks ago.)

With all this nonsense playing like a broken record in my mind, it was pretty difficult to get excited for Around the Bay.

Last week I decided to change my thought patterns.  Instead of the thoughts above, I started paying attention to these facts:

  • I compared my long runs this training session to when I did ATB in 2014.  If I counted runs of 15k and longer and totaled them, I ran 76 more “long run kms” this time around.
  • My long run pace was similar to my long run paces in 2014, not slower like I thought.
  • My last two long runs I picked up the pace a bit.  In fact, my 27k run was done only one second slower per km than my race pace from 2014’s ATB.
  • A few days ago I ran 3k at a 5:02 pace – slightly under my personal best 5k pace.
  • Yesterday I did 5k of rolling hills at about 25 seconds per km faster than I plan on running ATB.
  • Today I did 10k just under my hoped-for race pace.
  • I seem to be recovering well after each run.  In fact, that 3k fast pace was the day after my 26k long run and my legs felt great.

By thinking about the above, my mindset is changing.  The fact is I am capable of improving my last ATB time if things out of my control go well.  The biggest factor is of course weather.  I can’t tell you how happy I would be if there is no wind in Hamilton on April 3rd.  I still have memories of fighting ridiculously strong wind gusts for much of my marathon in the fall.  I can fight it for a while but it obviously takes its toll.

A big issue for me is the G.I. issues.  If you are a runner you know what I mean.  My intestines hate distance running and cost me several minutes at a couple of outhouses during the Road2Hope Marathon in the fall.  Those minutes in turn cost me my goal of a sub 4:30 marathon (final time of 4:34).  There seems to be only so much I can do about this and so I am letting go of stressing about it.  Instead I have a plan.  This time my watch will be stopped if I have to use those lovely portable facilities at any time on the course.  To hell with chip time, I am just going count running time.   Let’s call it non-porta potty time.

So let the taper begin.  I’m not antsy yet, but probably will be in a few days.  Every ache and pain feels like a major injury now, just like what always happens in the days before a race.  I am obsessively washing my hands in the hopes of not getting sick like I did before the marathon.  Other than that, there is not much I can do at this stage other than to hold on to those positive thoughts listed above! (I confess I may go back and read the list daily).

Happy running!

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2016 Running

I am so behind on posting, here we are two and a half months into the “new” year.  How did that happen?  I have been running, I swear, though with mixed success.  I seem to be working hard on my runs but not necessarily making progress.  Or at least it doesn’t feel like it.

That said there have been a lot of fun runs and more snowshoe running than I have ever done.  Some of that running included an afternoon out with CBC Ottawa’s Omar Dabaghi-Pacheco and my family to film a segment for his news series “Cold Play”.  You can check out that segment here:

It was a fun afternoon though I can tell you that you do a lot more standing around than running for a t.v. shoot.  At -25C we were more than a little cold out there when not in motion!  The part we really enjoyed was Omar’s invitation to come to the CBC Ottawa news studio the night the segment aired.  He gave us a full tour of the studio and the boys got to hang out at the anchor desk with host Adrian Harewood after the show.


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If you watch the Cold Play segment you will also see Omar’s piece about snowshoe Ultimate Frisbee.  Madtrapper race director Mike Caldwell organized what I believe was the area’s first such tournament as part of Ottawa’s Winterlude.  Mike, the boys and I joined up despite three of us having no knowledge of the game.  Evan was introduced to it this year in grade 7 so he was able to fill us in on some of the rules.  We also invited our neighbour who has played for years to join our “Ultimately Doomed” team in the hopes we would not be totally slaughtered!  We ended up playing some serious ultimate types (including a few who didn’t seem to notice that they were playing against a 10-year-old and were all over him – really?) but had an amazing time.  Three losses and one tie – not too bad!  We are already planning on signing up for next year.

As for running, well like I said I have definitely been out there.  I had to take a week off in January because of surgery to try to fix the finger that I dislocated back in June while trail running.  The surgery was somewhat successful but the finger still does not like to straighten, or completely bend for that matter.

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Otherwise I am usually managing to fit in 40-50k of running (or snowshoeing) a week.  I believe snowshoeing season is officially over now.  There is still snow out there now but when we went out last week it was so wet my snowshoes ended up raised off the ground due to the build up of snow in the crampons.

This winter that started late made up for it by dumping lots of snow in the last half of the season.  It certainly made running a bit of a challenge when you had days like these:

This is my driveway!

This is my driveway!

Fun on a snowstorm day!

Fun on a snowstorm day!

Note the wall of snow beside the sort-of ploughed sidewalk.

Note the wall of snow beside the sort-of ploughed sidewalk.

Let is snow!

Let it snow!

It wouldn't be winter without ice. This is not a lake, it is a field near my house.

It wouldn’t be winter without ice. This is not a lake, it is a field near my house.

I have tried hard to do more specific runs; tempos, speed intervals, strides and of course long runs.  Yet somehow I am running slower.  I feel like I am working harder for slower paces.  One of the advantages of starting running later in life is you get P.B’s at an age when long time runners are slowing down.  Perhaps as I approach 47 I have hit that stage of losing pace.  I am hopeful though that as spring comes I will still find the odd P.B.

Right now my eyes are on the Around the Bay 30k race.  It is only 3 weeks away and I admit I am mildly discouraged.  On the one hand I know I can do the distance.  In long runs I have done a 23k, 24k, 25k and 27k plus a half marathon and a 14k snowshoe run (which time-wise converts to about a half marathon).  I would have liked to fit in a 30k run before the race but I don’t think that will happen.  I will do one more long run next week – probably 27 or 28k – and then start the taper.  Yesterday’s 27k long run wasn’t bad, in fact I ran it only a second per km slower than I ran the race 2 years ago.  Technically I know I should be happy with that for a training run.  My worry is I just don’t feel like I have it in me to go faster for that distance.  When I ran the race in 2014 I finished in a surprising 3:04.  The weather was perfect and I felt great that day.  I really would like to get a sub three-hour time this year but I am not feeling confident.

Probably what is not helping is the fact that last weekend I ran a very disappointing 2:04 Hypothermic Half Marathon.  While I wasn’t looking for a super fast time at that race, I did expect to be faster than that.  Last year at this time I ran a 2:01 half in Prague and I don’t think I was running any more than I am now.  The half marathon last weekend beat me up, physically and mentally.  I just kept getting slower on a perfectly flat course.  I am hoping it was the lack of fueling that was the root problem.  I opted to wear my hydration backpack filled with Tailwind only to discover that despite the beautiful sunny day it was still cold enough to freeze the hose, meaning nothing but water from the stations until it started to thaw around 14k.  For me, that is too long to go without taking fuel.  At 18k I actually had to stop and take a long walk.  I suppose the lack of a taper may have played a role too given the fact I had run a 25k long run the weekend before. I did get a nice medal and a full brunch afterwards so all was not lost.  The advantage of having a slow 21k run is that I also still had energy in the afternoon and was able to get 5k of snowshoeing done, though admittedly there was more walking that running!

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So I now find myself trying to be cautiously optimistic.  Technically I should be able to run at least a slightly faster time at ATB this year.  Realistically, there is a possibility that I will be slower.  Hopefully I will at least enjoy the run as much as I did last time.

Happy spring running!

Just a little wet on our road!

Just a little wet on our road!

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