So, right to the numbers:
Distance run: 289km (~ 180 mi)
Time run: almost 28 hours
Calories burned: 28k
Days run / not run: 17/13
Days this year / distance: 334 / 3455
So, right to the numbers:
Distance run: 289km (~ 180 mi)
Time run: almost 28 hours
Calories burned: 28k
Days run / not run: 17/13
Days this year / distance: 334 / 3455
A very wise man once told me, If you want to be a faster runner, run fast more often. After a successful outing in Victoria, I wanted to up the stakes in Sacramento so speed work was in order.
One of the advantages to working at SFU is access to a top-notch track. I debated various workouts we’d done in the clinic, 1000m repeats, mile repeats, ladders, pyramids, but as I’d be doing these alone, I wanted to keep it as simple as possible. I’d never trained with the infamous Yasso 800s before, but they certainly seemed to fit the bill. Starting with 4 on the Friday after Victoria wouldn’t be too strenuous, and that would mean I was hitting the magic number of ten 9 days before Sacramento. This was cutting it a bit closer than Bart recommends, but that’s a risk I’m willing to take. It’s worth noting that there are detractors to Yasso 800s, but I don’t think there’s much in the running world is free from controversy.
My goal in Sacramento is sub-3:40. I plan on running with the 3:35 pacer – the amazing Tim Twietmeyer – for as long as I can. So I’ve been targeting 3:30 as my 800m time. As the table below shows, it went pretty well. Although my recovery laps were consistently too fast.
And I’d like to thank Emma for coming out and joining me on the track on the final two weeks – speed work is always … well, not easier, but more bearable with company.
But that marathon did net me a 14 minute PB, and over the past two weeks I’ve set a few more PBs for some of my lunchtime runs, so I’m not complaining.
November is my only month this year without a race – but December’s CIM will make 15 for the year.
The numbers -
Distance run: 254km (~ 158 mi)
Time run: 24 hours
Calories burned: 25k
Days run / not run: 19/12
Days this year / distance: 304 / 3166
— Greg Burnham (@becomingajock) October 13, 2013
Oh what a difference 2 years, and almost 30 races, can make. It’s almost impossible to compare this year’s Victoria Marathon with the 2011 version. Sure, the course was the same, the weather was similar, but the results were markedly different. Most notably, 31 minutes faster.
Owing to a backlog of work and other upcoming plans, Siobhan opted to stay behind, so I set off for Victoria alone. But then I ran into Pargol at the ferry terminal and we travelled over together. Arriving downtown Victoria shortly before noon, we parted ways and I went off to get some lunch. Next was package pickup and a stop at the New Balance booth in the expo. Size 14? HA! Sucker, no way. But there is a New Balance store just a few blocks away which had a greater range of sizes and some good prices. Dinner that night with a bunch of the run club at Pag’s, a quick stop to pick up Alan’s race package and then it was back to the hotel room to chill-out, get gear ready for the race and sleep.
I got a surprisingly good night’s sleep – although I did dream that there was a heavy snowfall overnight – and got up shortly before Alan headed off to race the half. Breakfast of oatmeal, followed by getting the last of my gear sorted and I headed out. I was early enough that I saw most of the halfers heading up Government Street, and once they’d all passed I ran into Nikki and Kimmy who had just arrived. Dropped my bag off at gear-check and killed some time watching the 8k finish.
With about 40 minutes to start, I made my way over. There I ran into Fiona (running her first marathon) and then started seeing lots of familiar faces. Lined up with Julie, Jenna and Laura and soon enough, we were off.
I was determined to not pay much attention to my pace for the first little while, I just focused on running fairly easily and trying to stay as close as possible to the inside corners as we wound our way through downtown. As we were heading along Cook St back towards the water, I realized that Julie was right beside me. I’d never run with anyone for an extended period before, but I relished the opportunity. We were approaching the first water station and I figured, might as well gel up. Shortly thereafter, we entered Beacon Hill Park and passed the 5k sign. I looked at my watch and it had an average pace of 5:13 – faster than my target 5:20 for a 3:45 marathon, but so far so good. We looped through the park and headed east towards Oak Bay. I took a split at 10k, 52:18, still averaging 5:13 and I was taking a gel pretty much every 5k or so. The next 10k split was 52:38 and the average was holding steady. Halfway was 1:52, Julie was right with me. Coming up to the turn around we saw Jan, Melissa and Wade heading back. Then on our way back we saw Jenna, Laura, Mortezza and Nikki (I probably got that order wrong). This third 10k split was right on target 52:21 and we’d been holding an average pace of 5:13 for at least 25k. As we were looping through Oak Bay Village again I glanced at my watch around 33k – pace had dropped to 5:15! A 2 second average drop in just 3k – this was not good. I didn’t mention it to Julie, but I did try and pick the pace up a bit – there was only 9k left and I was determined not to blow up like last time I was in Victoria. We kept slogging along, and the pace held steady at 5:15 as the kilometres counted down. We hit 40k with a split of 54:17 – almost 2 minutes slower than the others. BUT, the end was close – only 25 more corners to go. Damn you James Bay!! This last bit seemed to take forever, but then we saw the signs, “1 Mile to Go”, “1 Km To Go”, “800 m To Go”, and finally, “400 m To Go” then it was around the last corner, and we could see the finish line. Julie picked up speed here – we’d been running this last stretch with someone she figured was in her AG – and I looked up at the clock, it was just rolling over to 3:44 but I knew that my chip-time would be below that. Crossing the finish line I gave Julie a hug thanking her for pacing me (silly woman thought I was pacing her!) and then wandered around for a bit in a daze. Got my medal and then looked at my watch again. 3:43:25. That is a 14 minute PB over my time in Seattle two years ago and, as I mentioned, over half an hour faster than last time I was here in Victoria.
So what happened? Why was this possible. There were some key differences to this race from any other I’ve run. While having Julie there was a huge help, I’m hoping that’s not essential to a good marathon for me, because I won’t have that advantage in Sacramento (although with 8000 runners, I’m sure there will be a fair sized pace group). But thinks that I did, that I can reproduce next time are:
I’m not counting on Sacramento having too many kilometre markers, so I think I’ll look at taking 5 mile splits. In Victoria I was trying hard to be conservative on the downhills, but with the net-downhill that CIM boasts, I think I’m going to try and open it up a bit more. The weather will be a big factor. Last year it was raining heavily, but that was also the warmest day in almost 20 years. Needless to say I’ll be studying their weather history a lot over the next several weeks. I’d love to get under 3:40, which means an average pace of 5:11. Time to ramp up the speed work.
And for the record, that was 14 minute PB.
Official Results: 3:43:25, 326th out of 913 men, 47th out of 118 in my AG, 441 out of 1693 overall.
So, September. More like runtember, amirite? This month’s highlights:
The numbers -
Distance run: 401km (~ 250 mi)
Time run: 40 hours
Calories burned: over 38k
Days run / not run: 30/0
Days this year / distance: 273 / 2913
— Surrey Marathon (@SurreyMarathon) September 29, 2013
Yup. I donned the pink ears of a pace bunny for the first time! This was the 2nd Annual Surrey International Music Marathon, but its first year having pace bunnies. I’ll admit I was a little nervous going into this. I mean, sure, running a 2 hour half marathon isn’t tough for me anymore, but on the preceding Thursday I went out and ran 16k, trying to keep my pace in the range that I’d need to be. And people, that was work! So yeah, there would be challenges. Not the least of which was the fact that I was running a race the day before!
Because of “budget restrictions” there was no SkyTrain service to Surrey in time for the start, I caught a ride with Barry. As he was sunning the full, he wanted to be out there by 6:30, which meant a 5:45 pickup time. Which meant a 4:30 wake up. Yeesh.
We ended up arriving well before 6:30. Fortunately there was already lots of volunteers around so we found a spot to set up camp and hang out for a while. Every so often someone would spot my ears and come over and ask about what the plan was, and I’d explain that I’d be running 10-and-1, shooting for an overall average pace of just under 5:40 which would mean running between 5:20 and 5:30. It seemed like almost no time before Barry and Dave and all the rest of the marathoners were heading out to start, and I went out to see them off.
Then another quick trip to the washroom, a few hellos to some people and it was back outside to line up at the start. And we were off!
While I’d spent some time reviewing the course map and elevation profile, I really don’t know Surrey at all, so I wasn’t sure what the course would be like. And I have to say it was much hillier than I was expecting. I tried to keep the pace modest on the up hills, and work a bit harder going down. For the most part it worked well, although obviously I was a little faster than I should have been. I’d decided beforehand that I wasn’t going to plan any water stops, but if we happened to be walking when we hit a station, I’d grab some. As it turned out that didn’t happen, but I wasn’t feeling very thirsty at the end anyway. Finally we were rounding the last corner and the finish line was in sight. I crossed the line with 3 others, and several more that we’d passed in the past couple of k had obviously latched on when they saw my ears.
But the best part was immediately after finishing, talking with a couple people who had just set new PBs – it was really gratifying to know I was using my running ability for good rather than evil.
And I even got my picture in the (online) paper!
Official Results:1:57:09, 203rd out of 815, 156th out of 348 men and 22nd out of 56 in my AG
I can’t believe I didn’t write a report for this race last year! Damn…
Oh well. So, this year I was catching a ride out with Emma, Melissa and newbie Sanjay. This race used to start at 10AM, but as of last year – with the cancellation of the half marathon option – it’s moved to 9AM. So pickup was shortly after 7 and we were pulling into the parking lot around 8:30.
It was, in a word, wet. There had been high rainfall warnings for must of the Lower Mainland this weekend and Anmore was no exception. In all the 5 Peaks races I’ve done, there was only one that was really, really wet (Golden Ears in 2010) and it looked like this was going to top it. But these are the kinds of conditions you can expect when you live, and race, in a rain forest.
We hit package pickup and got all our gear straightened away, huddled under the tents and pretty soon it was time to line up at the start. The first couple of k are pretty simple, moderate elevation changes and nice single track. Then the climb begins. 425m in 2.4k (for comparison, the Grouse Grind is 850m in 2.9k). This section alone took me about 35 minutes (a couple minutes faster than last year!) Immediately following it we have about 5k of downhill. This section slowed me down. Everything was so wet and slick that it was difficult to get any real speed. Finally I was down across the suspension bridge and through the aid station. Now there was just a few k of rolling hills along the lake. Then I could hear the announcer at the finish line, and finally I spotted the “1 KM TO GO” sign. So very, very welcome.
I ended up running a couple of minutes slower than last year, which is a little disappointing, but given the treachery of the downhills, not too surprising.
Official results: 2:09:12, 21st out of 28th in my AG, 81st out of 143 overall.
I know what you’re thinking – but Greg, the month doesn’t end until tomorrow, why are you posting early? Well, I know that Saturday will be a rest day, so I won’t be adding anything to my month then.
Two races this month. The Squamish 50, my second ever ultra, and the 5 Peaks Trail race at Whistler/Blackcomb. Not a great month, distance-wise, but seeing as it involved both the taper for and recovery from the toughest race I’ve ever run, that’s not a big surprise. And two pluses, I beat my best time on the 5 Peaks race by 16 seconds, and our 5k speed test on the 29th beat out my previous 5k time, from the Longest Day last summer, by over a minute.
The numbers -
Distance run: 290km (~ 180 mi)
Time run: 32 hours
Calories burned: over 27k
Days run / not run: 16/15
Days this year / distance: 243 / 2513
Wish I’d brought gloves. Wish I’d brought my warmer arm sleeves. – me, just before the start of the race.
It was a beautiful day Friday as Siobhan and I made our way down to the Greyhound terminal. We had tickets on the express bus which – we were very pleased to find out – was a deluxe coach. Leather seats, electrical outlets, free wifi – it was a very relaxing ride to Whistler.
Once we arrived in the village, it was a short walk to the Adara Hotel, where we checked in and dropped our bags off in our fancy room.
Then we were off to find some food. Just after leaving the hotel we saw a sign outside shouty Gordon Ramsay’s Araxi – 10 oysters for $15. Well, that’s an offer too good to pass up, so we sat on their patio and slurped down some shellfish. Obviously Gordo wasn’t in attendance that day, because service was S.L.O.W. We wandered around the village a bit more, running into Michael and his family – fresh from Ironman package pickup. Then we went over to one of our favourite Whistler eateries, the Brew House. After dinner we picked up some snacks and went back to our room.
Saturday started with the sound of rain outside, and Siobhan opted to stay in bed. So I stopped off at the Starbucks for some tea and then went to the gondola to start the trek up the mountain. With all the cloud cover, the views were spectacular.
Equally so on the Peak to Peak ride over to Blackcomb.
Once on Blackcomb there was some waiting around and chatting with other runners, then gear check and soon enough we were lining up to start. I’d decided to be a little more aggressive in starting this time, so I moved myself fairly close to the front, and ended up being in the 3rd wave.
The course starts climbing, for a little more than 1.2k, it’s not a gruelling climb, but it is a hell of a way to start a race. Once that’s done there’s a nice drop for a little over 2k. But then there’s the big climb (well, the first big climb.) The slow trudge, climbing over 200m in just 1k. Once we get to the top of this one, and our quads are nice and thrashed, we head downhill again. For the first few hundred metres this is over jagged rock – this was where I fell two years ago – but then we have a couple of k of nice single track. Then the 2nd big climb. Again this one is a little over 200m, but spread out over 1.5k – so much better, right? When we finally get to the top this time, it’s on to a gravel road and all downhill to the finish line.
Oh, and my wardrobe worries from above? I had nothing to worry about, The weather was near ideal, overcast and no rain with temps in the low teens. I could only hope for such weather come the Victoria Marathon in October.
And it turns out I was a whopping 16 seconds ahead of my previous fastest time on this course. A slim PB, but I’ll take it.
Official Results: 1:29:21; 117th out of 210; 25th out of 35 in my AG
Thanks to the folks at Powered By Chocolate Milk for the post-race recovery.
Huge thank you to Siobhan for her unwavering support and encouragement in my running and especially racing – I wouldn’t be able to do this without her. And a big thank you to the fine folks at Powered By Chocolate Milk for their ongoing support.
After a big lunch at Sushi California (thanks for the recommendation Wingka!) I headed down to the Greyhound station to catch the bus. We departed right on time at 3:00 and arrived in Squamish shortly after 4:00. The driver made is way through downtown Vancouver’s Friday afternoon traffic like … well, like a professional driver, I guess?
Next stop was the Squamish Budget Inn, which is everything its name implies. No fan, let alone AC, and obviously a fair number of my fellow guests where there for the music festival. Glad I brought ear-plugs. A potential problem was that there was no kettle in the room – which would make it tough to prepare my traditional pre-race breakfast, oatmeal. The tap water seemed pretty hot, and I thought it would do the trick, but I’d better pick up a back-up breakfast just in case.
After dropping off my gear I went over to the brewpub at the Howe Sound Brewery for an early dinner, then to a grocery store for a supply of Clif bars as potential breakfast and some Gatorade.
Back to my sweltering room I watched a little TV then tried to get to sleep – it was going to be an early morning.
Turns out the tap water worked! Although I did add a bit too much making for a soupier oatmeal than I normally have, but hey, a little extra hydration can’t be a bad thing, right? Shortly after 6 I was out of the room and heading over to the only Starbucks in town to get some tea, then it was off to the shuttle bus pickup point.
I checked in and got my bus ticket – soon enough Steve and Leah showed up, followed by Dave and Alan. Thanks to Dave Cressman at Distance Runwear, I had a supply of the new Gu Salted Caramel, so I made sure that Steve, Alan and Dave had something new for race day.
— David Papineau (@broadwayrunclub) August 10, 2013
Then we were all loading on to the buses and whisked off to Alice Lake and it’s start line. There were Karl and Solana and Kathryn and a bunch of other people I knew or kinda sorta knew. Some milling around and quick pre-race briefing and then the sun came out and we were off.
Damn, 450 words in and I’m just getting to the race now.
Start to Aid 1 – 8k
In the first 8k we gain about 150m. This section was mostly runnable, with just a few short parts that were steep enough to walk. Certainly if there was not another 42k beyond it, the whole thing would have been running. At the aid station I refilled my water and electrolytes, grabbed a handful of M&Ms, said a quick Hello to Chris Price and headed out. I knew that soon I’d be coming up to our first serious climb.
Aid 1 to 2 – 10k
The first 1.5k of this leg was more of what we’d already had, some mostly runnable climbs mixed with fun, technical descents. And then the climb started. About 5k with an elevation gain of about 650m. Unrelenting, nonstop ascent. No doubt the steepest climb I’ve ever had in a race. Hoping to get some relief, and speed, on the subsequent descent proved to be futile. The “Danger” signs posted at the summit weren’t joking. There were sections with near vertical drops and loose dirt everywhere. So glad there wasn’t any rain to further muck things up. After a couple of k of descent, on a section that was finally runnable, I felt an intense pain in my right Achilles. I stopped for a second for a couple deep breaths – convinced I’d torn the tendon – and looked down at it. I saw something black and yellow and quickly reached down and pulled it off. Ok, so, not torn – just stung. Keep running. Got to the second aid station, refilled my liquids and continued the descent to Quest.
Aid 2 to 3 (Quest University) – 5k
The run to Quest was fairly uneventful, pretty steady downhill but the day was definitely heating up. And I kept getting elapsed-time confused with time-of-day. I’d look at my watch and see “2:45″ and think it was almost 3 PM and really it wasn’t even noon yet. Also, I needed to pee – but they’d have bathrooms at the next station. Finally got to Quest, up the stairs and there was a little kid with my drop bag. Perfect. My shirt and visor were soaked and as I peeled them off another volunteer came over and grabbed my water bottles and refilled them. Really can’t say enough about how awesome all the volunteers and crew were out on this race, they made the unbearable downright pleasant well, I exaggerate). Got changed, refilled. Grab some more watermelon and pretzels and took off.
Aid 3 to 4 – 9k
So … remember me saying I needed a bathroom? Did you see any mention of me taking care of that at Quest. No, I wasn’t being modest in the write up, I totally forgot while I was there. But the need was becoming so – um – pressing as I shambled up the next ascent that I soon ducked off around a corner and took care of business. Then I was off and running! Well, power hiking was more like it. Up and up and up. And then, a Nester’s tent and … OMG, freezies! Such an awesome mid-run treat – thanks guys! Because it was really starting to get hot. Plus I had another 5k or so of uphill staring me in the face. Finally getting to the top of this climb and a course marshal was there saying it was less than 3k to the next aid station and all down hill. Whew. Especially loved the super steep, super slippery wooden bike path that lasted a good 30 or 40 meters (sarcasm). A few more steep drops, some nice single track and then it was aid station 4. Refill liquids, grab some food and off again.
Aid 4 to 5 – 8k
There were a few more ascents in this stretch, but a lot of it was downhill. Sadly my legs were feeling so thrashed that I couldn’t push much on these sections. To be honest, I don’t really remember much about this section, except that I was getting passed on a regular basis. One thing does stand out though. Around 33k I heard another runner coming up behind me, so I moved aside to let him pass. As he did he said “Your leg looks totally blown, are you ok?” I was a but surprised by what he said, so just stammered out a quick “Yeah, I’m fine” and kept on, but then I got to wondering is he wasn’t playing some kind of messed up head game. Can’t figure out why, as we weren’t even in the same race (he was doing the 50 miler). Anyway, kept on moving forward, exchanging a few works with other runners when they would pass me or I would pass them. Finally got to station 5. Dunked my head in the water, avoided any candy, refilled my water bottles (caught a glimpse of Mr. Headgames as he left the station) and chowed down on some fruit.
Aid 5 to finish – 10k
10k to go. My watch said 7 hours so I had 3 hours to the cut off. I totally knew I could manage 18 minute kilometres. Right? Yeah, for sure. Not long after leaving the station, my watch started beeping at me. Low Battery. Well, this was certainly the longest I’d ever run the GPS for, and I assumed it would give up eventually, so let’s see how long it lasts. 7 and a half hours, it turnes out. Just over 43k. So I took it off and dumped it into my pack and tried to resist the urge to look at my bare wrist for the rest of the run. Up and down and around and over, this last 10k felt like it was taking forever (which, looking at my pace, it pretty much was). Eventually got to those steep stairs that I remembered from running the 23k version last year, then it was a couple of k through town and finally spotted the finish line. Crossed it, cursed out Gary – he loved it:
— Gary Robbins (@gary_robbins) August 12, 2013
And, um, not really sure about the first little bit immediately following the race. Pargol got a picture of me looking exceptionally dazed and confused:
I phoned Siobhan shortly after the race (“You sounded drunk,” she told me the next day) and went to take a shower. After that some food and a visit to the beer garden and I was feeling much better.
As I said, I don’t know if this was the best or worst 9 hours (ok, ok, 8:50) of my life, but I’m certainly going to come back next year and test myself again. This is an amazing course with more than its fair share of challenges. Congratulations to Gary and Geoff for an incredible event.
Oh right, my stats. 8:50 – 105 out of 160 finishers, 12 out of 21 in my AG, 48th out of 73 men.