Coffee-free experiment (update)

The no-coffee experiment has gone quite smoothly (except the first couple days). In March, beginnng with the start of lent, I decided to be coffee-free for 10 weeks leading up to the marathon. Then on marathon day, I would have one (or maybe two) for the performance enhancing energy boost that it would provide. Maybe a good idea, maybe not. It’s an experiment.

Well it is 3 days until the marathon and how is it going you ask? I am totally coffee free except for twice last week. I succombed last week to a cup (couldn’t refuse politely), and then two days later I actually made myself a cup. Mmm, tasted so good. Then I buckled down and haven’t had another since.

I have been drinking one cup of caffeinated tea on most work days and the odd coke here and there so it is not a caffeine free diet.

But now I am nervous about what a cup might do to me on race day. Maybe I will have a cup over the next couple days and see what it does to me.
If I wait until race morning, either I will be peeing a lot on race day and therefore spend my gained time in the toilet, or it will give me the jolt I need to get up those hills.

Even if I don’t take a coffee until after the race it has been a good exercise in self discipline.

Any other crazy rituals or experiments anyone has tried?


Caffeine-free water? Great concept. Hope it catches on.

Vancouver Marathon Preview

I’m really looking forward to the BMO Vancouver Marathon. This was my first marathon in 2006, 10 years ago. At the time I really didn’t know what to expect. I had trained all winter mostly outside in a frigid remote corner of northern BC and then showed up on race day with a drizzle that lasted most of the race. Definitely not what I had trained in.

I ran it a second time in 2010, and it drizzled then too – miserable conditions.

Again I have been training mostly outside in a Calgary winter (think dry and cold) and have not had to run in rain in many months. The current forecast is for sun, but we know that Vancouver and rain go hand in hand.

This time I have 12 marathons (or longer) under my belt. My expectations of what a marathon feels like should be more accurate this time around. I don’t think its going to be any easier, just that I know how much it will hurt. Even after 12 marathons, a marathon hasn’t gotten any shorter, it is still a LONG way.

I’m flying on Friday, so I have most of Friday and Saturday to acclimatize, and chill out. Then I’ll join the throngs on Sunday morning to run the beautiful point to point route along the ocean, the seawall, the beaches, and through my alma mater, UBC.

The one hill that I’m worried about wasn’t on the route last time. It is 1.5km long at 5% slope. And the downhill portion is about the same. So by about the half way point I expect my quads will be trashed and my lungs will be burned up. But I tell myself, not to worry about the hills until they are in front of me. Let them do their worst. I’ll be ready for them.

2006: 3:36

2010: 3:21

2015: Hoping for 3:09 but that might be a stretch (and then a hobble and some moans the next day)




Tapering is the Pits!

All this energy! Feeling really fit. Feeling I could run forever. But forcing myself to run less and sit more. Yes, sit more. Trying to keep the legs fresh. Still eating a lot even though I’m not burning it this week. And sleeping a lot.

The week before a marathon is the pits. I need to rest and trust that my training has worked. I need to stop worrying that that I’m getting sick.

But on the upside, the niggles in my legs are going away. I have time and energy to do a little more in the evenings. And I suddenly have more family time. And I have time to plan my travel and couple days in Vancouver prior to the event.

I don’t think my fitness will decrease this week but I’m still running a couple 5k training runs, and one semi-fast speed work session this afternoon.

And this is the week to check that I am signed up for another race, so I have a goal as soon as I am done the marathon. I am indeed signed up, but I can’t focus on that one yet. I need to get through this week. Next week, while I am still hobbling and moaning, I can plan my training session for the next one.

For this week, I need to dispel the worries, anxiety, and what-ifs. I trained for this, I can do this.

Here’s some more advice from another taper-er who is also perhaps “cranky, irrational & moody”.

And another arcle: “You’re Probably Tapering for a Marathon if…”

Any other advice for race week?



Shorter and Easier

The Vancouver Marathon is on May 3rd and I am getting quite excited. I just have to get through this week and then the hard work will be done. The actual marathon is supposed to be the easy part. The training is what was tough.

The runs are getting shorter and I seem to have more time in the day. This tapering in the 10 days before a marathon can make me more antsy with more energy. But I am harnessing that energy by starting to coach my kid’s soccer team, and by continuing to bike to work. I don’t want to overdo the training and burn myself out. But I also cannot just stop running since I need to keep up my confidence and keep some speed in the legs.

Happy training!


Canadian Rockies Trail Running – Expect Epic-ness

I am getting excited about trail running in the mountains this summer. The snow is melting and the trails are drying up. I have all kinds of plans to get in some long epic runs. The Canadian Rockies can be amazing. I found a website describing some mountain running trails in our area (called Kananaskis) and after studying it I realize that I have defnitely not done them all yet, not even close.

With my need for vertical training this summer for Ironlegs 50 miler, I should have a lot of options. I just need to find the time to get out there without making my family feel like they are abandoned. For mountain running options, it is only 40 minutes to Bragg Creek area, 1 hour to Canmore, and 1.5 hours to Banff townsite. Bragg Creek has mostly treed, and well travelled single track in the “foothills”, although there is a lot of vertical to be found. Canmore is surrounded by several large peaks and has a lot of community trails. And Banff, well that is just amazing.

Last summer’s exploration of the trails was pretty amazing. I described the trails we found in Jasper, Kootney, and Banff in this  blog post from last fall.

I stumbled across this book “Mountain Running in the Canadian Rockies” by Bob Walker (although I believe he is a runner). I’m going to dive in when it comes to my local library.

One problem is that the “winter gates” don’t open until May 15. So most of the good climbing is inaccessible until then. But right after that… I plan to be out there.

Galatea Creek, Kananaskis


IMG_20150403_132359702 (576x1024)
Galatea Creek, Kananaskis
IMG_20150403_135257500_HDR (576x1024)
Galatea Creek, Kananaskis
Near Allen Bill, Kananaskis
Dog Lake
Dog Lake, Kootenay National Park
Floe Lake - Numa Pass
Floe Lake, Kootenay National Park
Near Canmore
Cougar Creek, Canmore

Happy Trails! See you out there.

Faces of the Bow River

Most of my runs are along the beautiful Bow River within the city limits in Calgary Alberta. I am lucky the river virtually runs through my backyard and that the riverside trail system is so accessible from my place.

I find the running water so inspiring. Here’s some recent views from my runs.

Fire and no water

My long run this weekend was a point to point, sort of, with a grass fire thrown in just to spice it up.

It started off as a15 km race in which I was a pacer so it was at an easy pace for me. The race was in Nosehill Park in Calgary. This is essentially a large grassland park surrounded by subdivisions.

As we were finishing we noticed some firefighters casually making their way into the heart of the park but we didn’t see any smoke and so we weren’t worried. I cooled down for half an hour after the race then ran home the long way.

The long way home included running back into the park where we had just raced. As I was finishing this small loop I saw a small grass fire from near where I had just come from. There were more fire trucks on their way. I didn’t stick around because it looked under control. However after I left, the helicopters dropped water on the fire but not before it burned 10 acres of our amazing park (it must be more than 1000 acres total). The rumor was that the fire started from someone firing toy rockets.

All this didn’t add too much time to my run except a few minutes to sit and gawk.

After this the route I took home meandered through a few communities and parks before following the Bow River downstream back to my house for a total of 36km. 

About half way home my new water bladder sprung a leak.  I got soaked as it dripped down my legs. I dumped out most of the remaining water and ran with only a few drops left in it. I must have looked a mess with wet pants and all. But then runners are used to people thinking we are crazy.

For that last part of the run, the wind was gusting something fierce. I was glad to get that last long run done.

These long runs are a great way to experience the city, if you have to do them in the city like I usually have to. You get to experience so much more of the city than anyone else ever gets to. And you have so many more stories to tell.


Happy trails!

Fly with the wind

Fast doesn’t just happen.
Fast is no days off.
Fast is leaving nothing in the tank.
Fast is born

Ending off the weekend feeling fast.
I have run faster but this time it just felt fast. Well half of it felt fast. The part with the wind. Yeah I guess those gusts were pretty strong. But I sure was cruising. Especially on the downhill with the wind at my back.

Just don’t ask me about the first half of the run. With the gusts whipping in my face. No fun at all.

But I choose to remember the fast part. That was fun.


Another weekend, another race

It was a good day for a race. The sun was out and the wind kept away until after the race.  Very well organized.

The second half was very fast since it was unrelenting downhill with 6-8% slopes for most of 3k straight. Of course that meant the first half was miserably slow. 4k up, 7k rolling hills, 4k down. 200m vertical over 15km.

The setting was our massive city park which is mostly grassland, and is the highest point in the City so we had amazing views of the Rockies on this clear day. 

I paced my daughter to her longest run ever.  So proud of her. She can sure stick to something if she puts her mind to it. At 14, she was the first / only under 19 out of several hundred runners. 1:28 for 15k. My 12 yo came in second in the 10k (in her age category). Amazing kids.


Calgary MEC Run Series

Discovering Trails in the City

The city is full of trails! You just have to be on the lookout for them. Check out some of the ones I’ve found within Calgary city limits in recent months.

You just have to turn the camera in the right direction so there are no buildings in the view. 🙂

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