26 April 2019

Long may you (and I) run

Tomorrow the racing season begins - or at least the racing season as I had planned it for 2019.

With the 50km Pick Your Poison Trail Run set to go on soggy (and perhaps loggy ...?) terrain I'll be embarking on my year of all-ultramarathon racing.  It's been a pretty solid training season thus far, having focused my efforts on just banging out mile after mile and teaching/training myself to get out there even when I don't feel like it at all.  My friend Steven Parke (a wise, competitive and very experienced ultrarunner) recommended to me that one of the things that I might consider doing in preparation for my first 100-mile race this September (the Hallucination 100) is to take a month to run every day.  This sounded like a good idea, so I picked January (all 31 days of nasty-ness) to lace up and get out every day ... and then I did so again in March, and hopefully will continue to pick off alternating months comprised of 31 days.  I feel like I'm beating up my legs pretty well, but so far no real injuries and mentally I feel like I'm becoming more anti-fragile.

But to be fair, this will not be my first registered race of the year ... earlier this month I participated in the MEC Barrie Race One (10k), but not running for myself.  I had the privilege of being asked to help with MyTeam Triumph Canada as an 'angel', pushing my 'captain' in a race-specific wheelchair.  My captain's name was Matthew, and as someone confined to a wheelchair because of a disability it was a special opportunity for him to participate in a competition that was otherwise run by able-bodied individuals.  We had an absolute blast ... Matthew with his cowbell in hand, ringing it to cheer on other competitors and to signal to me when he wanted us to throw it into 'high gear' (at one point we even managed to chase down the race leaders! ... for a few seconds).  I was glad to have my new pair of Reebok Floatride Run Fast on my feet as they seriously helped me recruit speed on demand, especially considering that I'd run a 20km warmup before the start of the race. :)


Captain Matthew has requested me as an 'angel' again for the MEC Barrie Race Two, which will be a half-marathon distance ... it's an honour to have been asked, and I hope to help make it another great experience for us both.  As such my season will be peppered with non-ultra races ... or perhaps we can call those 'ultra-special' races, at least for me.

#sporttheunexpected #MyTeamTriumph #highgear #feeltheFloatride #RunNinjas #werunthistown

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23 January 2019

Washing away the grime of 2018

I can hardly believe that I've not posted anything since last September.

But with January quickly winding down, I thought that perhaps I'd better provide a bit of a wrap-up on how my 2018 went ... so if I could describe it in just one word it'd be:

disappointingfrustratingconfusingdeflatingfutile

(c'mon ... I bet that someone would want to use that every now and again to describe their feelings 'in one word')


My single focus, my one all-consuming goal for 2018 was to cross the finish line in a marathon before the race clock read 3:00:00.  To that end I worked once again with a coach (who happened to also be my friend and RunNinja leader Mike MacInnes) to try to make me sub-3 ready for last year's Mississauga Marathon.  Under his guidance I incorporated strength work that I'd not put in since my university days, and bumped my weekly mileage as high as it had ever been (to 100 miles in a single week).

Alas, my efforts were fruitless ... I bumbled my way to a gun time of 3:19:58, one of my slowest efforts in a long time.

Less than two weeks later, out of sheer stupidity, I ran the MEC London Marathon in 32°C unbridled heat, and it took me 3:32:02.

It was getting worse.

Trying to reinject some speed I tackled a couple of 10ks over the summer, not being able to log anything better than a 45 minute gun time.

In an effort to keep the streak alive, I went back for a fifth time to perform pacing duties at The County Marathon (as the 3:30 bunny), wholly unsure that I was able to actually complete the job this year.  However I managed somehow to keep it together to peg a 3:28:58.

Feeling like maybe I had one more kick at the can I accepted a bib transfer from my fleet-of-foot friend Jeremy Grampola and took on the Hamilton Marathon (a race that I've never really enjoyed or performed well at) - and sure enough, the best that I could muster was 3:17:16.

Whatever balloon I had, had burst.

Caveat:  I completely understand and appreciate that running two Boston qualifying times (for my age group) in one year should provide enough satisfaction to anyone.  I don't want to diminish the objective accomplishment, nor cast any judgment on anyone else's performances or capabilities relative to those times.  It's just that in comparison to my goal, and what I felt like I was fit and healthy enough to accomplish, I fell flat on my face.

Perhaps I've gotten too old for fast racing.  Maybe I fooled myself thinking that I had the right stuff to go sub-3 in the first place.

The truth may lie somewhere in-between or elsewhere.

So with the books closed on 2018, my 2019 plans have shifted away from the marathon.  Time to circle back around to the race that I bailed on back in 2016.  It's time to go after that belt buckle again.

I've resolved to focus on running ultras this year - so far I'm registered to tackle:
Needless to say this means that I will be shifting my focus from road-speed to trail-endurance, and testing my mental limits perhaps more than my physical ones.  

Also by way of a mini-update, I've elected not to renew my ambassadorships with Salming Running and Endurance Tap.  Please don't get me wrong - I believe that both organizations and their respective product lines are great, and I would happily endorse them with anyone interested in stepping up their running performance.  However I found that I personally did not have the best feel and feedback with my Salming running shoes despite the great technology and design elements integrated into their footwear, and even though many many people do experience them to be fantastic weapons in their arsenals and leading them to new personal bests.  As for Endurance Tap, I'll probably still be packing my running vest pockets with their gels but I'm also looking to experiment a bit with Maurten as a number of friends have given it a big double-thumbs up.

That's a wrap for now - looking forward to turning a corner in 2019, and hoping all the best for you in your running and life adventures!
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25 September 2018

[Guest Posts] Road review - Reebok Floatride Run

Thanks to the thoughtfulness and generosity of my contact at Reebok Canada I was able to help hook up a few of my RunNinja club athletes with a pair of their Floatride Run shoes for testing and review.



Did I lose any friends over this?  Read on and find out!
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I have been running consistently for about 6 years now, but I had never tried Rebook before. The shoes are simply amazing – very light and comfortable. They are completely different from other brands I have tried in the past, and I’m glad I got this pair of shoes. I would totally recommend these shoes to my running buddies. Thank you Reebok Canada!

[ Juan A., Ecuadorian ultra-runner, college student ]


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Reebok Floatride Run Ultraknit
Weight 7 0z. / Drop 8 mm

I tested these shoes on road runs between 5 km and 22 km.

Appearance
Stylish. I generally don’t wear purple, but the colour combo of purple and smoky grey with white soles is flashy on my feet. The geometric shapes, honeycombs and triangles, add to the shoes attractive quality.

Performance
Overall, running in Floatride is fast and light. The shoes felt seamless to my feet. The fabric knit material on the tongue, and upper section of the shoes shaped to my feet, making them very comfortable to run in. However, due to the flexibility of the fabric, my feet moved around in the shoes. The shoes made a flapping sound with every foot strike. That was remedied when I was more mindful to be lighter with each of my steps. The geometric plastic frame on the sides of the shoes have 6 holes for the lacing. It would’ve been nice to have 8, to do up the lock lacing to keep my heels in place.

Recommendation
I would recommend everyone to try on a pair of Floatride. They’re a fun pair to run in. They’re super light and have plenty of cushion and spring for the short and long runs. Just tie the laces a little tighter than usual for a snug fit.


[ Christina B.  trail runner, soccer player, graphic artist ]

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Give 'em a try yourself!  Head on over to https://www.reebok.ca/ (and why not check it out now while they're having a "VIP Sale" online ...?)!
 
Disclosure: My friends received these products from Reebok Canada gratis but was not obliged to provide anything but an objective review. All opinions expressed are those of the reviewer!

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21 June 2018

Road review - Reebok Floatride Run Fast Pro

I'm almost never an 'early adopter', so this is unusual territory for me ... testing out the Reebok Floatride Run Fast Pro even before it's available to the public here in Canada!


Here's my video review after about a total of 20k running in them ... but good golly I had to say something!



Disclosure: I received this product from Reebok Canada at their expense but was not obliged to provide anything but an objective review. All opinions expressed (however poorly) are my own!
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30 April 2018

Is this going to go my way?

After a long, icy winter here we are at last - week 23 of the 23 week breaking-3 (hour) marathon training plan.

It all comes down to this.

Or perhaps it's better said that it all comes together this Sunday.

That's the hope anyway - that the work that I've put in at the guidance of my coach Mike MacInnes will pay its dividends when I toe the line at the 15th annual Mississauga Marathon.  It's been a season of new training tactics - from regular strength workouts to fewer 'rest/recovery days' to greater overall weekly mileage - all in an attempt to become faster, more durable and anti-fragile.  Even though I'm still reasonably new to the running scene I do count myself as being an aging runner and the approach that coach Mike has had me take over the last few months has definitely stretched my limits.

How do I feel during this last week of tapering?  My friend Lewis asked me that exact question this past weekend and my answer to him was "honestly, I'm not sure how I'm feeling".  The reasons for that are because I've run two 'tune-up' races this season (the Chilly Half-Marathon and the Around The Bay 30k) which both resulted in disappointing chip-times, and many of the prescribed race-pace (or faster) workouts have seen me fail to come close to the speeds that I was asked to hit.  I also feel as if I've done that precarious dance on the overtraining line wondering at various times whether or not I'd actually crossed over into the dark side.

That all being said one of the refrains that has constantly run through my head during a long and dreary-ish winter has been "trust the training plan, trust your coach".  I know that Mike is a stellar athlete himself and intelligent when it comes to the ways of exercise physiology, and he has clearly told me that the entire plan is designed to culminate on marathon race day ... that the final stage of supercompensation is focused on presenting the best version of myself on May 6.


He's also been a big proponent of the mental training aspect, having recommended that I read "How Bad Do You Want It?" by Matt Fitzgerald.  I also received a recommendation from my pal Steve to read "Endure" by Alex Hutchinson - alas, being a reluctant reader I've not had an opportunity to benefit from either of these sport psychology-focused texts, but I have kept visualizing the huge smile on the face of my running icon Yuki Kawauchi as he crossed the line as this year's Boston Marathon male champion.


So I can say with confidence that I've put the work in - I'm still riding a bit of a high having completed my first 100+ mile training week just over a week ago and believing that that is going to be a big contributor to how good I will feel especially in the later stages on the marathon.  I'll also be wearing a new pair of racing flats (the Salming Race 5) which I did not have available to me for my previous two races this spring and which feel much better and lighter than the Salming Speed 6 for posting fast times (at least in my humble opinion).  And one other intangible - for which I can take absolutely no credit whatsoever but is nonetheless a mental boost for me - is that my friend Jeroen Hendrikx wore the singlet that I had in my drawer for the last year to a 19th place finish in yesterday's Hamburg Marathon, crossing the line in 2:20:45.  

Yep, that's my old race kit blazing through Germany in 2:20!

There it is - I've done my part to control what I can control.  The rest is up to the weather, how much rest I can get this week, the germs that I can manage to avoid and how smartly I control my pace out on course.  Regardless of what my official finish time will be I'll know that I stretched beyond my comfort zone in preparing for this race and am grateful to coach Mike for his guidance and support and to my RunNinjas clubmates for all of their outstanding encouragement and companionship on this journey!

#nononsense #runSwedish #teamTap #fuelsimply #werunthistown #breaking3
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