Rejuvenated and Refocusing – Sort of

Monday and Tuesday I lay on the couch and hobbled around like everyone else after the Vancouver Marathon. Wednesday I started to refocus so I went for a short run. It ended up being a very slow and short run. My downhill legs still had stabbing pains in them. But by Thursday I felt rejuvenated and looking forward to the next big one.

I’ve been riding my bike to work this week and it is helping to stretch out those muscles. I’ll be keeping it slow and short for a while yet, but my brain is already shifting gears. I can’t wait until the next one. (Did I already forget how awful I felt during the race? That was quick!)

This post-marathon recovery is tough. Everything hurts for way too long after. When the pain in the legs starts ebbing, you realize that other things hurt that you didn’t know were hurting. Like my shoulders. They sure were stiff on Tuesday, but I hadn’t noticed them on Sunday or Monday. I guess they wanted a little of the pity party too but had to wait until the quads and the calves calmed down a little first.

The lesson is that recovery week is not all smooth sailing. One of the keys is to have patience and to keep the feet up.

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Can’t trust every bridge, and you can’t trust every muscle during recovery week.
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Recovery is not a smooth uphill battle. Everything is trying to trip you up.

Happy Recovery!

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)

bibs

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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.

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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
@NBRunning

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.

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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.

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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. 🙂

Taking the path less traveled

Along my route this afternoon on numerous occasions I made the choice to take the path less traveled. The easy pathway was the paved one. The one I took criss crossed the paved one at odd angles. It was single track with lots of mud and ice. Yee haw! It was slow and hard but was a lot of fun.

The harder it is, the stronger you get for it.

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Veer RIGHT!
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Hard LEFT!
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LEFT again. Don’t you see it? The trails right there. Yup, that’s a trail.

“When the trail ends, keep going”

Lots of Instagram trail photos at @trail_runner_guy

Places to Run – West Bragg Creek

West Brag Creek trail head is 45 minutes west of Calgary where the Rocky Mountain foothills start. There is an amazing trail system for running and hiking in a park called Kananaskis Country. From the trail head in West Bragg Creek there is a parallel system for xc skiing and snowshoeing.

And this area gets just a bit more snowfall than Calgary which is usually good but sometimes the trails are that much tougher. Since the trails are heavily treed the wind is never as bad and it just feels not as cold. However there can be a lot of ice on some parts of the trails, so bring your traction in the winter.

Imaginative trail names like Strange Brew, Snagmore Trail, Bobcat, and Braggin Rights make you wonder what the trail makers were thinking. And then you get on the trail and you start to understand where they are coming from.

On Saturday we did a trail loop of 19 km (100% single track!!) which included about 700m of elevation. There are so many options for different lengths but they all have long hills which never seem to end.

By the time we left at 1pm the parking lot was packed with cross country skiers. I don’t know if there was a competition today but I was thankful there was both ski trails and running trails.

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Hills? Oh, yeah, we have hills!

Hill #1 was downhill - yippee!
Hill #1 was downhill – yippee!

Even in the prairie we can find hills. Maybe not big ones, but lots of them and they can definitely be steep. We found this out first hand in the CRR XC Race series this weekend in Okotoks. The 8 km route was packed with hills that were rarely run-able. Passing people on the downhill was a lot of fun, but definitely treacherous.

At least we didn’t have the ice and side-ways snow we had last year (that came the next day).

Great post-race pot-luck lunch too!

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One more hill

One more hill

How many hills can there be?
How many hills can there be?

Pre-race jitters

Pre-race jitters

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Post-race potluck with lots of Halloween chocolate
Post-race potluck with lots of Halloween chocolate
2 loops and lots of hills
2 loops and lots of hills
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