Tuesday, July 29, 2008


Just that word alone brings up different memories for different people. Maybe it's something that you are afraid of or maybe it's something that terrifies you because you've never done it before. It could be an object or animal. It could be an upcoming event. Fear can do so much to ruin the psyche of so many people that you have to wonder how we accomplish the things that we do.

In my case, I try to use fear to motivate me. Each day, when I think about the Haliburton 100 Mile race, I ask myself whether I can do this or not. I am fearful of lots of things when it comes to that race but mostly I'm afraid of not finishing. It has more to do with how I feel about myself than how others perceive me. Weeks after the race, whether I complete it or not, people will go on with their daily lives. Meanwhile, I'll be the one who has to live with the memories. It's a long off season and that means lots of time to think.

There are other times, though, when I envision myself crossing that finish line and how amazing it will be. Obviously I try to think more positively than negatively. Taking on a task of this magnitude is something that not too many people are willing to attempt. I can feel proud that I am attempting another one this year. That won't be enough to satisfy me, though, as I am driven to complete my first 100 miler.

My run today was a tough one. My calves were really tight and after the first mile I wondered if I was going to be able to run much further. I did so much running and walking in the trails on the weekend and my calves really took a pounding. Thankfully I was able to block out the pain long enough to complete my 11 mile run. The cumulative effect of all the miles I've run since April (760 miles, 135 hours) are starting to have an impact on my body. My ultra friends have told me that by the time the season is over, I won't have much left in the tank. I guess I'm about to find out if that's true or not.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Memories of a first race

Reflection on 12 week Learn to Run Clinic with Greg.

-week #1, started with 1 min. running and 2 min. walking

-week #12, 10 min. running and 1 min. walking

-Nutrition, nutrition, nutrition - the most important part

-exciting and exhausting

-positive thoughts only

-must have running shoes for running only

-keep your head up - especially on hills

-heel toe, heel toe

-pump your arms, feet will follow

-Keep Hydrated

-Keep smiling

My Current regime - weight training 2xweek, run 3xweek

My goal was to run my first 5K race. As a person who never ran before and
not an athlete, learning to run with Greg at my side was always positive,
encouraging me with constant feedback during training sessions. Each
session I set the pace and he kept that pace for me, when I was tiring I
knew to keep pumping my arms and the feet will follow. When I started this
journey in 2006 I was overweight and unfit, and through your nutrition
counselling I lost 60 lbs in 9 months and became physically fit. I have
learned to step outside my comfort zone and try new things. When I am now
asked to try something new, I never say no, usually I say yes and give it a
try and see where the journey take me. My current goal was to learn how to
run and this was achieved, 5K run, July 26 at Whitby Waterfront 38.05 min
with you by my side. Next goal 10K with the best nutrition possible, can't
wait to get started.

Greg, thanks your patience, professionalism and expertise in nutrition and
running. I now know anyone can learn to run at any age.

The journey continues, stay tuned.

Karen Macfarlane

My Motto - Want it, Own it , Do it.

A night to remember

After running in the rain during my 3 hour run at the Seaton Trail earlier in the day, it was time to put my focus on someone else. Last night my first running client completed her very first 5K race at the Whitby Waterfront. Watching her get ready as the race approached, reminded me about how I felt going into my very first trail race. So many thoughts went through my head, most of them were questions about what I was doing. Even though she was properly prepared, our mind tends to create self-doubt by bringing up negative thoughts. So much of running is having a strong mental foundation so I was glad that she was able to focus on the race itself.

We kept a nice even pace throughout and she did an amazing job of following my instructions and finished very strong towards the end. Many people who know that I do Ultra Marathons will ask me why I'm teaching a learn to run group. The reason is simple. I get great job by helping people find their passion in life. Many have followed my lead and are now running themselves. It really doesn't matter if you run for 5K or 50K but what does matter is that you enjoy what you are doing.

My client is already thinking about her next goal we will resume our training next week. I'm sure she had a tough time sleeping last night and I hope that she celebrated her achievement in high style because she deserves to!

Way to go Karen, I'm so proud of you!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

This decision was easy

After a great trail run and an even better conversation with my trail running friends who I look up, my decision to enter the 100 Mile Haliburton race was an easy one. I will attempt another 100 miler and this will be no easy feet (pardon the pun). Thankfully I have secured some incredible support for my endeavour and I'll be needing them every step of the way.

I feel like my training is where it needs to be and my diet has never been better. I've been switching to eating more of a Vegan type diet and eliminating many foods such as flour, even whole wheat, and as I result I'm running much better and look leaner than I have in months.

My goal is to run the Haliburton race at 150 pounds and right now I am 9 pounds away from that goal. There should be no reason that I can't hit that target weight even when the training starts to decline as the race becomes closer.

What I need to start doing is to practice walking for long stretches of time. This is one thing that I didn't do for my Sulphur race and it really cost me as a result. Tomorrow I will be running 15-20 miles (haven't decided yet) and then I'll do a 2 hour walk in the Rouge Valley later in the afternoon.

I am so fortunate to have amazing friends who not only inspire me but also motivate me to do more and more. Even three years after I started running I still didn't think that I belonged in their inner circle. I know realize that I do and that is a nice feeling to have. The friends who I run with are in their 50's and 60's and we they joked about how I should be kicking their butts on the trails. They have no idea of the amount of respect I have for them as they have already done things that I probably will never do. Two of them will be running the same race as I am and another 2 will be helping to pace me at night. I couldn't have asked for anything better than that.

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Holy Grail of ultra running

When I first started trail running I was doing the shortest distances available, usually 25 to 30 K's. At these races were lots of runners who, after I had finished my race, were still running for hour and hours more. I'll never forget one time when I had really pushed myself to finish a 25K race in a good time. I was chasing down a runner and with about 100 metres left to go I sprinted towards the finish line and overtook him. The finish line was split into 2 sections. One was for the 25K finishers and the other was for those crazy runners who were running another 25K. I noticed that the runner who I had worked so hard to pass, was heading out for another loop. Suddenly the joy I felt in passing him turned to a feeling of amazement that he was heading out for another loop.

From that day forward I decided that I wanted to be that guy who was going out for the longest races available. This brings me to this year and my decision to run the 100 miler or not. The more I talk about it, the more it becomes a real possibility. I even joked with my kids about how Daddy will be running with bears and wolves in Haliburton. They both encouraged me to go for it.

What I need to decide, and rather quickly, is how far am I willing to go to get my goal? Physically I'm in the best shape of my life and barring injury, I'm confident that I have the ability to do it. The next part is the mental aspect of the race. Do I want to walk in the middle of the night for hours and hours? Do I risk injurying myself and then not able to run for months afterwards? These are questions I really need to answer this weekend. Once I commit, there's no turning back.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

What lies next for me?

We become what we think about all day long.
— Ralph Waldo Emerson

These last few weeks without a race have given me lots of time to think about what goal I want to accomplish between now and the end of my racing season in November. I have already earmarked a 6 hour race in early August and then comes my biggest decision to date. I have been strongly encouraged to attempt another 100 mile in Haliburton. Each year I have increased the distance at that race and my thought was this year to do the 50 Miler. Even though I made the right decision to stop running at Sulphur after 69 Miles, a part of me is still feeling guilty for not finishing. It's easy to look back now and say that but at the time of the race I made the smart decision. However, my competitive spirit still tells me that I should have toughed it out. Had I done that, I wouldn't be thinking about doing another 100 Miler but now I am.

There is still time to find a running crew who will help me and I have enough good friends who would surely lend their support. The decision really lies within me and how badly I want to erase the memory of that last race. Can I afford to wait until next May or should I attempt another 100 miler in September? Stay tuned.....

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Forget Monday......

I say throw away Mondays because my week truly starts on Tuesday. For me, it has more to do with kick starting my running week with an amazing 6 mile run in the Seaton Trail. It certainly has all the elements that I love about trail running including soft terrain, technical climbs, a closeness to nature and because I run at 6 AM, some truly breathtaking scenery as the sun starts to rise. Today I had to deal with rain which I love, but running in the trails in the rain is far more challenging and fun than running on the roads. My trail shoes are muddier than they have been in quite some time and thankfully they have held up amazingly well. After going through pair after pair of Brooks Cascadias, I'm glad they have modified their shoe because I'm able to run in these without having to worry about them ripping at the sides.

Trail running will always be my first love with regards to running and each run is completely different from the one before. I never know what I'll encounter in the trails which makes it something to look forward to.

Running in the trails certainly helps to build up my core strength as the constant up and downs of the trails forces me to be more precise with my running. If I start to get lazy on the trails with my running, which can easily happen on the road, I know that I'll likely take a tumble. It's starting to get a little easier for me to let go of the fact that I may fall, twist an ankle or worse. The more I worry about that, the less I'm concentrating on just enjoying the fact that I'm running in a place where I love. There are lots of runners who will not run in the trails because they feel like they cannot go fast. Trail running requires you to let go of that need to always worry about speed and instead allows you to just run like you would if you were a kid again. Unfortunately many of the road races that I've done haven't grasped that concept as they are too competitive for what I want right now.

I'll gladly run a slow trail run over a fast road race any day of the week, which for me, starts on Tuesdays!

Monday, July 21, 2008

A big week ahead

After having a great 14 Mile run in the rain yesterday, I stayed on my training program and took the day off from running to lift weights instead. Even though I wasn't able to run on Saturday, I don't want to try and "make up" a run because that doesn't make much sense. Instead I did the smart thing and lifted weights. I'm starting to really feel the benefits of the weight training and today I increased the weights on my most of my exercises. Although the reps are high (30) I still get a good burning sensation in my muscles so I know it's working.

I'll be either running trails or roads tomorrow as well as Wednesday and Thursday then the fun starts. On Saturday I will be heading up to Paris Ontario to run in a training run for a race I'll be doing in October called Run for the Toad. A group of us will be running 3 loops there (37.5 K). I'm sure I will see many familiar faces there because with no race for still 3 weeks, many of us will use this opportunity to get ready for the second half of the racing season.

That same evening, one of my clients will be running her first ever race in Whitby and I'm so psyched for her. I have been training her for the past 12 weeks and she has done an amazing job throughout our sessions. This will be the culmination of all those weeks and I couldn't be any more proud.

Even though my legs will probably be tired from running in the morning, nothing could keep me from running with her as she completes her first race.

When we ran together last week, I told her about the learn to run group I taught in 2006. I'll never forget running in all of my students and they were so excited to fulfill their goal of finishing that race. Even though many of them have stopped running, I know that they'll forever remember that event. Being able to have an impact on someone's life in a positive way, makes me feel like I have accomplished something myself and it's something that I take great pride in. I often have said that I can do a great job of keeping someone motivated but that I can't GET them motivated for that lies within.

Whatever motivates you, make sure you never think about quitting and try to stay as positive as possible, even when times get tough. The world is filled with people who take great pride in what they "used" to look like or have accomplished, make sure that you are one of the few who continues to cherish the present and looks forward to achieving more in the future.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

For those about to run.....I salute you!

I wish I could truly describe how magical it is for me to run in the rain. Then again, maybe that's the point. Something that provides me with this much joy, shouldn't have to be explained, it just IS and that will have to suffice.

My 14 mile run started north along Church street and took me to Concession #5. I've been trying to increase my hill work and that certainly happened today. I headed East on Concession #5 up two hills, one of which is affectionately known as "puke hill" (for obvious reasons). I've been practicing doing "criss/crosses" while running up hills and this has really helped. I do short choppy strides and go from one side to the other instead of charging up the hill. I've noticed that I can maintain better speed this way and my focus shifts from the top of the hill to just running from side to side. It's almost like I'm cross crounty skiing up the hill if that makes sense.

After running up those two hills I come to Westney Road where I go North. I pass Greenwood conservation park, Taunton Road and then come to Williamson Road where I go East. This takes me to Harwood. There is another hill climb from Harwood to the Rossland and then I continue North along Harwood until I come to Ringer street. I head East on Ringer until it takes me to Salem Road. From Salem I run to Highway 2 and then from there I go West to Westney Road then Westney back to Rossland and then back home.

I saw a few other runners today and they also seemed to be enjoying themselves running in the rain. Throughout my 2 hour plus run today, it rained continuously and I loved every minute of it. Whether you run long or short distance, for fun or for competition, it's something that you know you enjoy doing and you can't seem to get enough of. Therein lies the difference between a runner and everyone else. We are a special breed of people, not easily defined by words. Our passion lies in our ability to push ourselves further and harder than before. Our goals are only limited by our imagination. Above all else, we define ourselves as a runner first and that's what makes us special.

Friday, July 18, 2008

You need to find what moves you

Part of what I love most about my job is the interactions I get to have with my clients. There isn't a day that goes by where I'm trying to inspire, motivate or investigate what makes my clients "tick." I would say that the majority of the clients I see go to the gym because they feel that it's the only way that they can get some legitimate exercise. There are those who really do love going but I can probably count on both hands the number of clients who fall into that category. No, I would say that one of the biggest struggles I have is trying to convince them that they must do some sort of exercise daily in order to achieve their results. I hate to burst everyone's bubble but 3 days per week is not going to get much results unless their diet is 100% accurate and very few people have the ability to do that.

It really doesn't matter what type of exercise you do as long as you find something that you like to do. Opening yourself up to new experiences is the real key I believe. It may happen when you join a sports team like volleyball or basketball or maybe individual sports such as tennnis or badminton are your thing. It may be as simple as taking your bike to the rotary park and biking for an hour each night. Whatever it is that you choose, make sure you understand that this needs to become a regular part of your life. This will ensure that not only will you get your goals you will be able to maintain them.

Yesterday I decided to stray away from my comfort zone and ran a different route. Fortunately I use google maps to outline the route that I wanted to go. Unfortunately google maps doesn't account for road closures due to construction. I ended up having to double back to find my way home.

I've been lucky to have run in rain for the last two days. Today was a weight lifting day in the morning and then I'll be running in the afternoon. I think I'm getting a little "itchy" for a race but with nothing planned until August 9th, I'll have to settle for some long runs in the Seaton Trail.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Where will these shoes take me?

Another new pair of shoes, another running journey ahead. I retired my last road running shoes on Sunday and today was the first day running on the roads in my new Mizuno's. It was fitting that the day started out with some rain, a little bit of lightning and then the sun came out. Knowing that the my favorite weather to run in is the rain, I'm sure the running Gods were smiling at me today.

My last running shoes took me through well over 600 KM's in the two months that I had them so who it's going to be interesting to see where these new ones take me. Stay tuned......

Today at the Pickering Running Room they are having a 20 minute challenge. I urge anyone even remotely interested in walking or running to come out tonight at 7 PM. It's a great way to get motivated to try a new sport. Who knows, you may end up hooked like I am. I've often told people that running has changed my life and it continues to get better and better because I found my passion. I would not have found it, however, if I had not been open to trying new things. Come on out tonight, what do you have to lose?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

My favorite part of the day

This is the closest picture I could find which describes my Tuesday morning highlight of the day. It's towards the end of my trail run and has the most breathtaking view that is hard to explain. I guess there is a certain risk involved, I mean a train could come by at any time when Ken and I are running on the tracks but it's not something that either one of us even thinks about. When I'm running on those tracks it's as close to being "suspended" myself as I'm going to get all day. I truly am lucky to be surrounded by some amazing nature trails such as the Seaton, Greenwood and Rouge Valley.

Today's pace was faster than I've gone in quite some time but I seemed to have lots of energy today. I think I'm finally getting to know my way around those trails. Tomorrow I'd like to do a mid-week long run but that all depends on how early I want to get up tomorrow. The minimum I'll shoot for is 11 Miles.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Finding balance can be tough at times

It is probably the one thing that I continue to struggle with in my own life and finding the proper balance between my running and everything else can be tough. I know that my scales are tipped slightly, some would say tilted, towards running. What makes it difficult is that I know that running is a springboard to so many other positive things in my life. I also know that without running I feel empty, and I know that something is missing.

To help with my balance, I've really started to do more strength training. Although I only do this twice per week, people have already noticed an increase in muscle mass. It's something that I have to be concerned with as I don't wish to add more weight. Looking leaner, though, has the illusion of being heavier than you are so I'm hoping to achieve this through weight training.

I've made a conscious effort to cut back on my running slightly to ensure that I have a long running career. For me, though, I continue to develop my mind, body and spirit through running. It's something that I can honestly say I've never experienced from any other type of exercise. As I continue to strive for balance, I'm sure my scales will need adjusting from time to time. Thankfully I have good friends who will help when needed.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

A return to my roots today

Sometimes it's nice to run without a plan and that's what I did today. I knew that I wanted to get in a minimum of 2 hours of running in but I had no idea where I wanted to go when I got up this morning. What I decided was to just start running and see where my feet wanted me to go.

I ended up doing the mileage, distance and time that I wanted and was able to return to many of the streets that I hadn't run on since the winter months. My route took me through Greenwood where I first discovered trail running and up a hill affectionately known as "puke hill" for obvious reasons. I haven't done those hills in quite some time but I was happy that I was able to run them today. I realized after I did them that I must start incorporating more hill training into my workouts.

The weather was a little humid but the rain kept it nice and cool at times. It was one of those runs where my body just felt great being out there. This was the last run possible in my shoes as the heels have all but vanished. I won't be doing roads until Wednesday so that gives me a few days to find my new pair of shoes.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Trail running never felt so good

We had a nice turnout this morning at 7 AM as we headed out for our 25 KM run. What made this run so much fun is that we all ran our own pace. Some went a little fast, some are getting ready for various races so they decided to run a little slower but it really didn't matter. The best part was just being out amongst nature. Spending the first 3 hours of a morning running through trails is something that I'll never get tired of.

I was able to tell my story of how I first started running and was also able to listen to others tell their own stories. It's really interesting to find out how we all came to our passions. It's also nice not having to explain how important running is in our lives as we all acknowledge that.

The run was challenging, as it always is at the Seaton. Coming off a tough 50K race last weekend, my legs were a little sore but not too bad towards the end. 3 hours was just the right amount of pounding today.

After our run we all gathered around and ate and talked about our various races and what we have planned. I swear that most of us run so much so that we can indulge in eating afterwards. Burning close to 1500 calories is a nice way to start the day.

I can listen to the veterans talk about their running careers all day long and it never gets boring. They have so many training tips and I feel like a sponge as I soak it all in. I know it's going to make me a better runner.

The plan for tomorrow is to do a semi-long recovery run. I'd like to get in at least 2 hours or more but we'll have to see how the day plays out.

Friday, July 11, 2008

No race.......no problem..........

I've often said that the best part of my trail races is when we all gather around afterwards and tell stories, share a drink and re-fuel. Well, even though we have no race tomorrow, I'll be running with plenty of friends at the Seaton Trail tomorrow morning at 7 AM. Many people would think that I'm crazy to get up early on a weekend but I wouldn't have it any other way. I'm sure that by the time I'm done running at 10:30 or so, many people will just be getting out of bed (LOL).

I recently found out that I will be able to do a race in early October of this year. That same race was what catapulted me into trail racing but I haven't been able to return to that race since 2005. It will be nice to come full circle, so to speak, at that race. The only difference is that this year I'll be doing the 50K run instead of the 25K. What's another ultra marathon right?

Today I did some light weight lifting and I'm proud to report that I've been able to do some weights at least twice per week for quite some time now. I definitely feel better doing some resistance training and because I keep the weight down and the repitions up (30 reps per exercise) I know that there is very little chance of putting on added weight.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Passing along my gift to others

I was given a gift about 3 years ago by an amazing person and now I'm able to do the same to others around me. I'm sure that most people who know me can attest to the fact that it's hard for me to contain my enthusiasm for running. At any point during a conversation it seems that I'm looking for a way to interject and add a running metaphor. Most times it applies and it surely is how I define myself. It's still hard to believe that I've been able to do so much in such a short period of time. What strikes me most is the amount of people I've been fortunate enough to meet since I started running. I've met people from all walks of life and have even had a chance to run with the former Minister of Finance. Running truly knows no boundaries and I've been welcomed by a host of individuals and it just keeps getting better and better.

Today I taught one of my clients in my learn to run clinic. This woman has done an amazing job and continues to impress me each week. We are now fully into the 10 minute run and 1 minute walk. Hearing her talk about her goals this morning literally gave me chills. I know that she and anyone else can achieve anything they put their minds to. I have not met a person who I feel cannot run unless they have already given up in their own mind (outside of an injury of course). If you are defeated in the mind then running will never be for you because most of it is mental.

Our minds constantly try to talk ourselves out of doing something, even if it's something that is healthy for us. The people who I run trails with are some of the most mentally tough people I know. Most of us are not the fastest of runners but we compete nonetheless because we love being out there in the trails. Knowing that it might take us twice as long as the winners, you would think that it becomes even more difficult to get motivated. Then you realize that the real competition is the one that takes place between your ears and suddenly it becomes a whole new ballgame.

This weekend my thoughts will be all about running in the Seaton Trail with some amazing friends. This will be our "mini-race" as we don't have a real one for 4 weeks. The best part will be when we all sit around afterwards and talk about how much fun we had in the trails. I can't imagine a better way to spend the weekend.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

It's H.....nope I can't even type that

I swore that I would never complain about how H.. it is outside(see I can't even type the word). After running through -26 or worse conditions in the winter, I longed for the day when all I had to do was throw on a shirt and shorts and head outside for a run.

I'll take a slower pace over freezing my extremities any day of the week and twice on Sundays. I think my slower pace today had more to do with tired legs than anything. I'm starting to feel the effects of last weekends race so I'm running smarter this week. With no race for 4.5 weeks, it will allow my legs to heal, that is if I decide to let them. I already have visions of my next race which will either be a 6 or 12 hour run in early August. I may enter a few shorter races between now and then just to keep from getting too bored.

In any event, no matter how high the temperature gets, you won't hear me complain about it because all I have to do is think back to those runs in January, February and March and that brings me back to my senses.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

I don't need to go to the zoo to see nature......

Part of what motivates me to run in the trails instead of on the roads is that I get to be up close and personal with nature. Today was yet another example of that. Sure it's tough getting up at 5 AM to go for a trail run but it's also an amazing way for me to start my day. Just minutes into my trail run we came across a deer. He stared at us for what felt like minutes. Finally, as we walked closer to it it ran off. It never ceases to amaze me at how lucky I am to see things like that. Whether it's seeing a deer, beavers or turtles, it makes me appreciate life more and more.

The other favorite part of my trail run has got to be the run across the railroad bridge high above the Seaton Trail. Sure, there's the added element of danger as a train could come by at any time but it's not something I think about. As I'm running across the bridge and look down at the water, see the trees and the nature around me, I can't help but think that I'm lucky that I get to start my morning off this way.

Before long the trail run ends and I'm left with this feeling that I want even more of it. It's like a positive drug, I suppose, and I can't wait until I get some more of it. So, you can have your zoos, I'll take a run or walk in the Seaton Trail or Rouge Valley instead. Discovering nature is more exciting than having it handed to you.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Going out to eat doesn't have to cause panic

There are two ways you can look at things when you make the decision to go out to a restaurant for dinner/lunch. The first is to just realize that you will be eating more calories than you should and are OK with this decision. The second is to do some researching on the restaurant before you go out to eat.

Both decisions are perfectly fine and they each have their own consequence associated with it. There's nothing wrong with treating yourself to a meal every once in a while. There's also nothing wrong with deciding before you leave to look at the nutritional content of the restaurant you are going to.

Last night I took my kids to the Keg for dinner. Before I left the house I checked out their website and found that they had all the nutritional breakdown for their meals. This helped me plan what I was going to eat (I didn't worry about the kids). What I found was that their sirloin steak was 8 oz. and had just over 500 calories and 30 grams of fat. This was their leanest choice. Their baked potato with the skin was 350 calories. These were the lowest choices on the menu so it's what I decided to get. I actually gave some of my steak to the kids as it was more than I usually eat at one time and instead of butter for my baked potato I asked for salsa on the side. I ate the "meat" part of the potato and left the skin behind.

After dinner I was happy with the choices I made and my stomach appreciated it as well. There are times when I'll go out to eat and won't do this type of homework ahead of time. What's important is that YOU have to make that choice for yourself on whether to splurge or be good. Just be happy with whatever choice you make and don't feel like you are eating something to make somebody else happy. A friend once told me that food tastes much better without a side of guilt!

Sunday, July 06, 2008

5 Weeks is too long for me without a race

After doing one race every two weeks for the past 3 months, I suddenly have no race to look forward to until August. This is simply unacceptable (LOL). I'll probably go through withdrawal at some point so please bare with me.

In all seriousness, though, it will be nice to get my body some much needed rest and heal itself for the final stretch run in my running series. I currently am 6th in my age category and there's a good chance that once the standings are updated, I'll be in the top 3. My goal for this year has been to do as many of the Ultra races of
50K or better, as possible and that's what I've been able to do.

I wore a new pair of trail shoes yesterday, the Brooks Cascadia and they performed amazingly well. I've had trouble with the previous model of this shoe as it would tear easily on the sides. After doing some major hill climbs and running on dirt roads yesterday, I'm happy to report that the shoes are still in one piece.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Now THAT was a vertical challenge!

To sum up the race today with one word I would use "hilly!"

My race day experienced started with my alarm going off at 3:30 AM this morning. I picked up a friend at 5:00 AM in Scarborough and we headed off to the race which was about 1:45 minutes away in Creemore.

I completed my 6th Ultra race in the past 11 weeks today and it was every bit as tough as advertised. They really did mean vertical challenge as there were 4 monster hills and a few mini ones which felt like monsters towards the end of the race. One of the hills was nicknamed "oxygen hill" because you really did need some after climbing it. It seemed to go on forever.

The race was a 25K loop which I did twice which meant that I climbed 8 major hills in total. I haven't done any hill training so that put extra pressure on me today. I did the smart thing and loaded up on salt pills and advil and it seemed to help as I avoided any cramping issues. Many runners were not as fortunate as the heat really took its toll today.

I ran the first 25K very conservatively in just under 3 hours. The 2nd loop was very difficult as I was left alone for long stretches of the race. I finally was able to catch up to a few runners and this helped to keep me motivated. I got a great boost of energy at the 35K mark and this carried me home. I actually felt very strong during the last 15K of the race and wished that I had had this energy earlier.

I was happy with my finishing time but the best part was hanging around afterwards and sharing stories with the other runners. Because there is 5 weeks before the next race, many of us are trying to arrange a fun run in a few weeks. We all wished that there was another race right around the corner.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Another race, another new challenge

Tomorrow I will be doing yet another race (50K) and this one promises to be pretty tough. It's called the Creemore Vertical Challenge and it will consist of doing 60% hill climbs. It will definitely put my quadricep muscles to the test.

I haven't really looked back to see what I have accomplished over these past 3 months but doing 6 Ultra races of between 30 Miles to 68 Miles, is something that I can truly be proud of. I knew that this year would be tough on me physically but so far I've been able to remain injury free and have maintained my running base mileage. I've also been doing a minimum of one and sometimes two days of weight lifting and I think that has helped strengthen my core muscles.

It will be a long day tomorrow as I'll leave my house at 4:00 AM and probably won't return until sometime in the evening on Saturday. It will be nice to see so many of my friends tomorrow at the race.

As is customary, I took yesterday off from running and did my 2nd day of weight lifting this week. I decided not to do any lower body lifting because of my race on Saturday. I've recently started to do some Tae Bo type training at the end of my weight training workout. I start off by using 5 pound weights in my hand as I simulate some boxing movements. Towards the end of the workout I drop the weights and just punch with my hands. This has increased my speed and overall muscle endurance.

Although my first love will always be running, it's nice to throw in some different workouts to keep the body from getting too accustomed to the training. My body is so used to running 10 or more miles daily that if I don't do at least that much it's almost like my mind and body feels letdown.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

The more you do the better you feel

I was expecting to be very sore this morning after running for 11 miles and biking for another 16 miles. What I found, though, was that this morning I had one of the better runs I've had in quite some time. I was able to run 8.5 miles in 1:10 which is the equivalent to a 5:10 Kilometer. When I was training for the 2007 Mississauga Marathon, Ken and I would routinely do sub 5 Kilometers but today was the closest I've gotten to that pace.

It doesn't feel like I have a race this weekend but since I've been doing so many Ultra Marathons, I feel like my body has been able to bounce back quite nicely. I haven't really had a rest week since my first race in late April (50 Mile Seaton Trail Race). Saturday will mark my 6th race in the past 11 weeks. The veterans who I've talked to about this have told me that by the end of the race season, in late October, I won't have much left in the tank. I'm hoping that because there is a month between my race on Saturday and the next one in August that I'll be able to do more speed work.

The race on Saturday promises to be very gruelling with lots of hill climbs, hence the race is called a vertical challenge. My goal, as it is with all the other races I've done, is to finish. I'm sure that knowing I won't have a race after this for awhile I'll push myself a little bit more on Saturday.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

A chip off the old block

After finishing my 11 mile run today I still had plenty of energy so I decided to bike to Whitby to see my kids. I promised my oldest that we would go biking together and he was so excited when I got there. He didn't just want to go biking, he wanted to bike back to my house. To put things in perspective, I live in Ajax near Church Street which is about 8.5 miles away from his house.

The quickest way to get back would be to travel along Bayly to Harwood, Harwood to Rossland and then Rossland to Church Street. While this is the quickest way, it isn't necesarrily the safest way. Bayly is a single lane road and my son hasn't been biking that long on the major roads. After thinking it over I decided to let him do it.

He followed all the instructions I gave him and did an amazing job. Once we hit Harwood we were able to ride on the sidewalk which I was happy about. He only had to stop two times as his legs were tiring. I had the biggest smile on my face as he kept pushing himself along the way. I knew it was going to be tough for him but I was so proud of what he did. It took us about 1 hour and 20 minutes to get home and he said he wanted to do it again.

This is one Canada Day I'll never forget!

Create your own "bucket list"

I recently watched the movie the Bucket List with Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson. The story is about two men who are dying from cancer and they decide to create a list of things they want to do before they die. This included climbing to the top of a mountain peak, skydiving and riding a fast car.

After the movie I thought about my own list and also thought about what Dan Millman says in his book the Peaceful Warrior. We all have a terminal illness, it's called birth. I have my own list of things that I want to do and at the top of it is running an ultra marathon (minimum 50K, maximum 50 miles) on every continent. It is a lofty goal that's for sure but it's something that I know I can achieve.

My attempt at trying to sleep in this morning met with mixed results. I was able to sleep until 6:30 but that's about it. I hit the road for an 11 mile run at 8:00 AM. It was nice not having to worry about too man cars on the road as most people I assume were sleeping. I'm sure I must have woke up some of them with my singning during my run (LOL).

I hope your Canada Day includes some kind of exercise, it's probably the best way to honour one of our most beloved heroes, Terry Fox. Everytime I think that I can't complete a run, I think about people like Terry and how he was able to accomplish what he did on one leg. Suddenly my aches and pains don't seem as bothersome anymore.