Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Masters Swim

So there are a lot of people who say you should do something that scares you once a day. Once a day may be a bit much for me, but I at least met that goal yesterday.

As I have documented, swimming is not my strong suit. I am comfortable in the water, but my stroke is awful. Over the last couple months I have had a lot of encouragement to join the Monday night masters group, which at this point has almost been completely taken over by our tri club. I have put it off for weeks between being sick and being nervous, but last week I said to Graeme if I was feeling better by this week I would go.

So I did. And it was hard. And I was the slowest person (in the slowest lane), but I survived.

I can tell that my fitness level is way higher than my swimming ability. I think at the end of the workout, Graeme was more tired then me. Granted he was swimming in a faster lane, but I just don't have the arm strength/technique to push harder then my fitness level at this point. Not that I wasn't tired!

The coach was nice and even though there were a lot of swimmers, he managed to give me a few tips. I think if I continue to go I will see some real improvement.

So yes, it was scary, but I am glad I went. Now to get up the courage to keep going!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Weekend and Hallows Eve 10K Report

Friday evening started out by helping my mom get set up her new place as she arrived here in Vancouver. Her move here has been a long time coming and I'm glad she is finally here! She is currently staying in a furnished rental that is right across from our old place, and it was fun to spend the evening in the West End again and get to visit some of our old stomping grounds.

Saturday was time for errands, a quick run, actually signing up for the race on Sunday and then our tri club's end of season potluck. It was a good crowd, and Mick, who hosted the evening got a number of good roastings over his adventures of the previous weekend. We were able to stay to the end of the party being that the race on Sunday didn't start until 9:30am.

We headed out to the race about 8:30am this morning. It was a cool morning and I had a hard time deciding what to wear, but decided on full length tights, a tank and a warm long sleeve shirt. I did end up being a bit overdressed, but not to the point that it affected my race.

This was my first trail race and it was a lot of fun! One of my best girlfriends also came out to run and so we got to hang out before and after the race. I have been trying to convince her the North Shore is a good place to live and I think she is coming around. And because it was "Hallows Eve" race, there were lots of great costumes. Including a group of ladies dressed as skunks, and when I ran past them on the trail all turned around and said I startled them and lifted their tails.

So the race. It is a pretty hard route with lots (and lots) of stairs with some good downhill and flat sections. The trail is relatively technical with lots of roots, a couple short switchbacks, along with a lot of raised bridge type walkways.

I decided to start a bit towards the back and I probably should have pushed forward a bit more. The race starts going straight up a hill and I did manage to pass some people in that section. Once you are onto the trail it is hard to get by people. I was stuck behind one woman for a while who was having a hard time on a downhill section when she eventually let myself and one other person by her. I did well on the stair sections, taking them 2 at a time and passing a bunch of people. Of course going down the stairs I think they probably all passed me back.

Overall I felt good about my race. I had been undecided on whether to do it or not as my lungs still weren't feeling 100% from my cold, but it didn't really bother me at all during the race. Overall time was 1:01 and change. Good for 10th in my AG. I'm happy to have had a solid race where I felt pretty strong throughout.

To end off the weekend we had a good and interesting meeting at the tri store, and that will be its own post.

Monday, October 19, 2009

What a community we have. And a lesson.

Sunday evening started out as usual at our place. We had just sat down and cracked a beer with the intention of watching Sunday Night Football. It was around 5:30 and Graeme checked his twitter account when he found out that a friend of ours through the tri club had not returned from his morning run on the trails near his home. Mick is an awesome guy, and at 72 is probably still fitter then I am.

Jordan, the president of the club had put out a call for any able runners to come and join the search. As soon as Graeme sais Mick was missing, I said we had to go. We got dressed as quickly as possible and headed up to Mick's house which was being used as a headquarters. When we got there we were directed to the Gazebo in Lynn Headwaters where the North Shore Search & Rescue operation was being run, as well as where Natalie, the VP of the club, was signing in runners and organizing what trails were being searched.

Graeme and I don't know the trails that well, except for one area, which already had people on it. I figured being in a bigger group would be best, especially as none of us were experts on these sections of the trails. We ended up going in a group of 6 and heading east of the Baden Powell. By this time it was dark, but we all had flashlights and headlamps, and with 6 of us had a good amount of light. In is a very interesting experience to be in the middle of the woods in the pitch black. But I can say I never had any thoughts about my own safety. Both due to the number of and the people I was with, and because our focus was all on Mick.

We did a big loop, ending back at the headquarters. Just when we arrived we were told that voice contact had just been made and they thought the person was Mick. It turned out it was. We don't know the whole story of what happened yet, but he ended up getting stuck on the wrong side of Lynn Creek. North Shore Search & Rescue were able to walk him out later that night and he was home before 2am.

Mick is such a lucky guy. I said when we pulled up to his house that it was obvious he had a lot of friends. The street was lined with cars with hardly anywhere left to park. Everyone just wanted to be out there to try to help. Apparently there were over 100 people out on the trails last night looking. What a great community of runners and riders then North Shore has. As well as the amazing volunteers of North Shore Search & Rescue. I am so so glad that someone heard his voice. What an amazing story.

This brings me to the lesson. Be prepared! For those of us living near the trails and the mountains, I think we often take for granted that it really is the wilderness. Let someone know where you are going. If you live alone, at least leave a note saying what trail you are headed for. Carry a phone (not that there is service everywhere, but there is in some places), water, food, a whistle, and especially if you are planning on going any distance, a foil blanket. They take up no room, don't weigh anything, and will keep you warm in an emergency. I can't say I have followed all of these guidelines in the past, but I will be from now on.

This is really a reminder about how something as seemingly innocuous as a standard trail run, on well used trails can turn into something much, much more. How wonderful that this lesson comes with a happy ending.

Monday, October 12, 2009


I have been laid up with a bad cold all week and had done no activity since the back to back long runs of last weekend. Saturday I decided to do an easy 5km just to see how everything felt. Breathing was very laboured and difficult, and there were a couple sore spots in my calf and my right IT band that I am glad I found out about so I was able to work them out a bit.

Up at 6:05am Sunday morning and had half an English muffin and a banana. Race start was 7:15am and we left my mom’s just after 6:30 to drive downtown. Graeme dropped me off and went to find parking while I headed to the start line. I made a quick stop in a portapotty (thankfully I didn’t wait in line at the first set of portapottys once I heard there were more near the start line), did a short warm up and made my way into the 8K crowd. I moved up as much as I could, but was still stuck behind quite a few people talking about hoping for a 10mm pace.

It was a cool, clear morning but I thought that my long sleeve shirt and knickers might actually be too much clothing based on all of the shorts and t-shirts around me. Waiting for the start surrounded by people it was actually pretty warm, but once the gun went off and we headed out to Dallas Rd, it was quite a bit cooler and I was glad with my clothing choice.

Sunrise was about 7:30am and we got to see the lovely pink sky out above the ocean on the way out. First couple miles were ok, but when my garmin beeped, I could see I was not on pace for a sub 40 min time. I pushed the pace a bit, but could feel that my breakfast was not digested and my stomach was not all that thrilled and I had to rein it in a bit. Around 3 miles my shoelace came undone and I had to stop for that. I decided to just push the last 2 miles as much as I could although my left IT band was now starting to hurt.

The last 2 miles were a bit faster and my final time was 40:13 which was good for 8/146 in my AG. Of course most of the fast people raced the half or full marathon! So a 5 min PR over the only other 8K I have done right after I started running.

Not quite the sub-40min time I had hoped for, but with the cold I will take it. And it is proof things are going in the right direction, if not quite as fast as I’d like!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Fall Goals

While I am not especially strong in any of swim/bike/run, the bike seems to be where I am strongest comparatively, both to the amount of time I spend on it, and to the other two sports. Being that fall is not the best time to work on the bike anyhow, I will be working on my two weaknesses. Swimming will be a year round project (and needs to be for me!), and running is going to be fall specific.

I joined the Tuesday night fall run clinic run by North Shore Athletics. I haven’t run with a group like this before but I figured this aligned well with the run-focus. I haven't run on a track or done any kind of focused speedwork since track in high school. And I didn't run in grade 12 (which is a whole other story that I will tell sometime), so its been a long time.

I was a little wary of joining the “advanced” group, but both Graeme and Ramsey said I should. I was definitely at the back of the group on the first day, but I didn’t feel out of place. The second session was actually on the track, so while I am slower than most, as it's running in circles, it doesn't really matter.

I also going to do some running only races, which is something I haven't done in a while. Whern I first started running I was injured all the time. Especially when I set a goal race and trained for it. Over the last year and a half I have tried to build a base and just raced here and there instead of training specifically for a race. I am hoping with the base I have built and continue to build, the run focus won't cause me as many issues this time around. Of course now that I have found the great people at Moveo, when I feel something start to come up, I know where to go.

The first race up is the 8K of the Royal Victoria Marathon on Sunday. Of course I have been sick all week and haven't done anything! I am feeling a bit better now, but still not 100%. So the race probably isn't going to go as well as I had hoped, but I'll give it my best. I'm just hoping I can breathe a little better by then!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Running and running and running some more

So this week was my highest mileage week in a while. It was supposed to have ended with yesterday's long run, which brought me up to just under 30 miles for the week, all on the road.

Graeme and had been talking about possibly running some of the Howe Sound Crest trail with Scott but wasn't sure as he's had some calf issues. We were out for breakfast this morning when the text came and he decided to run and somehow I decided it would be a good idea too.

We met a group from the club in the Cypress Mountain parking lot (Scott, Nick, Jordan, Shannon, Graeme and myself) and headed out. Now, on a good day I am slower then everyone in the group and I was feeling the effects of my birthday dinner the night before and a breakfast out less than an hour before. Oh, plus the miles already in my legs this week. I was off the back the entire time but the day was gorgeous and it would have been impossible to not enjoy it anyhow.

We made our way out (and up!) to St. Marks Summit and turned around there after soaking in the view. It ended up being about a 2 hour run/trek, bringing my run total to over 6.5 hours for the week. My legs are feeling it now!

I think a few more of these will be good for me. It's nice to have people pull you along!

We live in a beautiful place.