Thursday, March 31, 2011

Day 4: 36.6 miles down, 13.4 to go.

Today's run was a repeat of yesterday's.  Drop car # 2 off at Regent Toyota and retrace yesterday's 10 mile journey through River East, Transcona.  The conditions were much the same as yesterday, minus the sun and the bad guys.

Today's run was immeasurably more enjoyable than yesterday's because I had the good company of running pal and neighbour, Jan.  The miles slide by as the conversation flows from one topic to another.  We talk kids, partners, politics, religion, and just about anything else that needs airing.  These are good runs.  Thanks Jan!

I'm going to take 2 consecutive rest days before Sunday's 20 miler so See Mike Run is going dark until Sunday.  In the meantime here's a rule that your dear mother may have neglected to share:

Rinse your water bottle once a week with a bleach/ water mix.  I think the general ratio is 10 parts water/ 1 part bleach.  And if you have dark spots on the inside of your bottle that are almost impossible to remove, chuck the bottle.  If there's an environmentally friendly alternative, I'd be pleased to hear about it, send it along.

Cheers friends,


PS.  It's a good day to be alive.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Day 3: 26.6 miles down, 23.4 to go.

Today's 10 mile run involved dropping my vehicle off at Regent Toyota for a tire change-over and an oil change.  I was told this would take about 1 1/2 hours.  Perfect, just enough time  for a comfortable 10 mile run.  The run was uneventful, cold, nasty wind, icy sidewalks, same-old-same-old.  I'll be happy when this dirty season passes.

Actually there was an incident worth telling here.  Two huge, rough looking dudes, and one equally rough looking and equally huge dudette didn't like it when I passed them on the sidewalk of a very lonely and wet portion of the run.  As I approached them from behind I said my usual "excuse me, passing on the left" to which most people smile and make way.  These three weren't "most people".  

They turned to glower at me and didn't budge an inch so I had to tip toe past on the muddy boulevard.  They mocked my 143 pound skinny-assed runners' frame with all sorts of comments which I really didn't understand and didn't hang around to decipher.  Did I mention they were huge?  Really huge. Apparently the dudette was very mad that I had splashed her when I passed.  I wasn't about to stop and apologize.  I could still hear the comments as I rounded the corner a block away.  

I've been in similar situations and the saving grace is I can run and most of these guys can't.  Nothing came of it, but it sets the tone that we runners are very vulnerable, especially when we run alone.  It was unnerving.  I can only imagine it's way worse for women runners.  I've heard some scary stories of women being approached by some creepy guys while running.

So friends, if at all possible, run with a buddy.  Failing that, run with a cell phone.  And above all, if you get a feeling that something isn't quite right ahead, stop.  Most of the time our intuition is correct.

Today's running rule that your mama never told you is:

Be wary of running alone.  If you must run alone, always tell someone where you're going and when you expect to be back.  If no one is home, write it down.  If you sense something's not right while running, alter your course and pull out your cell phone, pre-dial 9-1 and keep your finger on the last digit.  Be SMART, carry a phone.

Run hard, run safe.

It's a good day to be alive,


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Day 2: 16.6 miles down, 33.4 to go.

I logged 10.6 miles today. There's still some nasty icy spots on the trails where the sun don't shine, but aside from that, the conditions are sublime. The sun actually has some warmth!  I ran a slow 3 miles to the Formal Gardens for my 5 kilometer trial run. I estimated that I could keep a 5 minute/ kilometer pace for the full 5 k (i.e. 25 minutes for the full 5 k). When I arrived at the Formal Gardens I caught my breath and walked a bit, set my Garmin to kilometers, set the timer to zero, pressed start, and "KABOOM" (actually it was more like a lower case "kaboom") off I went!

Pacing is really important for time trials. If you set too fast a pace you'll bonk half way, too slow and you'll never meet your potential. I paced myself using my heart rate and my breathing as indicators. Both were high, but not uncomfortably so. I felt exhaustion creeping in at about 3.8 k, but it didn't appear to slow my pace. Each lap of the Formal Gardens is about 750 meters so I needed about 7 laps. The last lap was as you'd expect... pretty darn hard, but I kept a little in the tank for the last 100 meters and I turned it on and finished strong.  Total time was 24 minutes, 52 seconds (8 seconds better than my prediction) with an average pace of 4 minutes, 58 seconds per kilometer (2 seconds better than my prediction per k pace).   I'll repeat this trial in a few weeks time to see if I can improve it by several seconds.

5 K in 24 minutes, 52 seconds

Open water at Olmand's Creek.  

The foot bridge will be flooded soon.
The detour to Portage Avenue adds about 0.8 mile.

The Formal Gardens.

Today's running rule that your momma never told you...

Running Rule # 3:  Never carry more than two electronic devises on your run or you risk looking like this guy.  

Several weeks ago I blogged a post called Running Eyes Wide Open that touches on this topic.    Running is a minimalist activity; that's the beauty.  Too much gadgetry takes away from the beauty of running.  Enjoy it.

It's a good day to be alive,


Monday, March 28, 2011

Day 1: 6 miles down, 44 to go.

Aside from some treacherous icy patches, a few huge puddles, and one irresponsible driver who splashed me at mile 5, it was a pleasant run. My legs are still a little plankish from yesterday's 18 miler so my form was rigid and lacked any hint of fluidity. Normally I take Monday's off following a long run on Sunday, but someone set a silly goal of running 50 miles in one week so what's a guy to do? I had actually planned on running 10 today, but wisely changed the plan before I left. I'm down to 2 thin layers, a ball cap, and thin gloves and still I was a little warm.
Today's running rule that your mama never told you is...
Running Rule 2: Unless you're an elite runner or you're going for a BQ, never blow past someone at the finish line of a marathon or half-marathon. Respect the guy in front of you and give him/ her some space to finish with dignity. The finish line can be highly emotional and for many, a life altering experience, especially for the virgin marathoner.
Be sensitive and be aware that you can steal that moment from someone by being inconsiderate. Two years ago at the finish line of The Toronto Marathon I was scooped by about a dozen relay runners 25 feet from the finish line. It was a hard race and I focussing all my energy on crossing the line when I was ambushed from behind by a mob of faux-runners in cotton! The moment was stolen!
So dear runner, resist the ninja moves at the finish line. Cross the line with grace and dignity and always respect your fellow runners. Give them a little room. They earned the finish line too!
It's a good day to be alive.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

50 miles in 7 days

My goal this week is to run 50+ miles between Monday, March 28 and Sunday April 3. I usually have at least one or two 50 miler-weeks per marathon. I started doing this several years ago because it just seemed like a natural thing to do and it's another milestone to anticipate. We have a 20 miler on April 3 so it's actually only an additional 30 miles. I also need to do a 5 k prediction run before Tuesday evening so I'll be on the busy side this week. I'll blog a daily update to let you know how things are proceeding.
I'll also post one "rule of running that your mother never taught you" as a teaser to keep you coming back. The first rule is a no brainer and comes from years of experience:
Rule # 1: Respect the pace guy. They know the route and the pace so by taking the lead you're throwing the whole group off. There's a little known rule of running physics called magnetic pull. Simply stated, the lead guy tends to pull the group. This is a good thing and pacers are chosen for their ability to keep a rock solid pace and pull a group along to the finish line. If a fast guy takes the lead they mess with magnetic pull and the whole group suffers. Faster runners should consider joining a faster group if they find the pace is too slow. The only exception to this rule is if the pace guy asks you to take the lead so they can fall back to check on the group.
Today's 18 miler was great. Sun shining, excellent chit-chat, dry-ish pavement, and -best of all- Bill dropped off caches of goodies along the route. How cool is orange slices and chocolate covered coffee beans strategically located throughout the course? Thanks Bill!
It's a good day to be alive.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Memory of Running

I have read a dozen or more books on running, but this one stands out. It speaks to me of the journey of life, of broken dreams, and new beginnings. It's about an obese, sedentary, middle aged alcoholic man who, having recently lost both parents in a tragic car accident, is left alone. He is tormented by memories of his dead sister's decline into schizophrenic madness. She returns throughout the journey and speaks to him and comforts him and angers him. Smith Ide is a broken man. He embarks on a cycling journey initially to shed a few pounds, but the journey transforms into a a search for the meaning of life.
It takes me back to a hospital bed when my own father was laying in palliative care, days from death, each of us with a scotch in hand, contemplating life, talking and listening with reverence. It was and remains a holy experience. My dad asked my opinion of the purpose of life and I replied "It's about the pursuit of wisdom, nothing more, nothing less.". He replied, in a mock Irish accent "Ah, Mikey, your a smarter man than your father before ya.". Later I learned he had asked each of his children the same question and replied in much the same way. It was his way of showing us his love.
As Smithy sifts through his dead parents estate he finds a letter that informs him that his sister, who has been missing for many years, has been found dead in California. Smithy resurrects his old red Raleigh, and leaves his Rhode Island home to California to reclaim her ashes. This is his story. His life unfolds as the layers are peeled back. This is a good story, a sentimental story, but a good one.
It is a story of hope and truth. Smithy is an honest man and an uncomplicated man. Much like all of us. Like Smithy, we run. We run because it is the journey that reveals truth. We run to mask pain. We run to find joy. Simply, we run.
It is a good day to be alive, but you don't need me to tell you that, you already know it.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Skins Compression Wear

Thought some of you might be interested in this event sponsored by City Park Runners.  Tell Erick or Cheryl that Mike sent you!  

Cheers,  Mike


WHEN -  Thursday, March 24th, 7:00 pm

WHERE -  CITY PARK RUNNERS , 2091 Portage Avenue, Winnipeg

WHAT -   The “SKINS” rep will be on hand to talk to us about the features and benefits of compressionwear and specifically how SKINS can improve performance and recovery.   In addition, there will be an opportunity to purchase SKINS at a reduced cost just on that evening. For example….

Sport Tights –  ( reg $149.99 )  /  On event night only $75.00 plus S&H
Half Tights- ( reg $99.99 ) / On event night $50.00 plus S&H
Travel & Recovery Tights – ( reg $159.99 ) / On event night $80.00 plus S&H

Men’s and Women’s available.

IMPORTANT – Please RSVP by March 22nd with a return email as to who is coming so we can prepare.

Hope to see you out next Thursday !  Why not come for a run at 6:00 before the event?

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Dysevolution of Man

Great run today.  Great run yesterday.  Warm weather coming next week.  Had a nap.  Babysitting my niece's girls.

Ahhh, yes, it's a good day to be alive.

:>)  Mike

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Hill Training @ Garbage Hill

It's hard to find a hill in this neck of the woods.  Fortunately for us, our past city planners had the gob-stopper of an idea to build a garbage dump right smack-dab in the middle of our city.  Clearly, present day environmental regulations are a blessing. When the dump reached its capacity it was capped, covered with grass, and prettified with a new name, Westview Park.  Alas, the pretty name never caught on and it's known forever by the locals as "Garbage Hill", "Green Hill", or my personal favourite, "Make-out Hill".  

Making out on Garbage Hill... now that's romantic!  

I blogged about Garbage Hill about 2 years ago (go here).  Since then I've come across these images of the different elements of the hill. There's 7 elements in total.  Only the Loop and the Hump are used with regularity. That's a pity because the other 5 elements are more interesting, more challenging, and offer a rather stunning view of Winnipeg.  Click on each image to enlarge.  

It's a good day to be alive.


#1.  LOOP. 
The most common element.  It's a simple run up, loop around the cul de sac, and return for 0.5 mile.  It may be the most common, but it's also the least exciting. To get an honest 0.5 you must start at the gate, run around the cul de sac and touch the gate on the return.  No cheating now!    

#2.  The HUMP  
The Hump starts off like the Loop but continues past the cul de sac at the crest of the hill, down the gravel trail to the chain link fence, and then return the same way, up the gravel trail, over the crest, past the cul de sac, down the paved road to the gate (1.0 mile from gate-to-gate). This is my favourite.  

#3.  The LUMP
Start at the main gate, approach steep hill past 3 yellow poles, ascend steep hill and continue up smaller hill on the gravel path to left, run along flat path towards the cul-de-sac, keep left and run on dirt single track toward toboggan slide at north end, descend toboggan slide and the up the small hill at the back fence, veer right back along gravel path and ascend gradual hill to cul-de-sac, then descend the roadway back to the gate.  Round trip is 0.93 mile)
#4.  The SNAKE
Start at main gate. ascend steep hill past 3 yellow poles, continue to top of smaler hill.  Veer left down switchback trail and continue along the base of  the hill.   A series of switchbacks leading from the top of main steep hill to the north end along trails and return.  This is the hardest element. Watch out for gopher holes.  0.53 miles.

#5.  THUMP
Sort of opposite to the Hump (above).  Start at main entrance gate.  Run up roadway, past cul de sac, over the crest of hill, down the gravel trail.  At the bottom of gravel trail, veer left along the grass trail that runs alongside the fence.  Run down small hill and ascend the tobogan hill.  Run along single track trail (watch out for gopher holes), past the cul de sac, toward the switchback.  Descend the switchback and exit hill by the main gate.  Distance not known at this time.  

Approach steep hill past 3 yellow poles, ascend the steep hill and then continue up smaller hill and then veer right past the stone blocks, descend path at blocks and then turn right onto small dirt path to starting point to starting point. 0.13. miles

#7.  BOWTIE (sorry, no image)
Approach steep hill past 3 yellow poles, ascend the steep hill and then veer right to stone blocks, descend path at blocks, turn left onto smaller dirt path, ascend next upward trail and return to stone blocks, descend path and then turn right on dirt path to yellow poles and ascend main steep hill.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Hypothermic Half Marathon Race Report 2011

Sorry for being such a blogger slacker, but truly, after running 4 Hypos I've exhausted the superlatives to describe this race.  Actually, I only completed 3 Hypos; I had one DNF due to a blown calf at mile two in 2009, but that's a whole other story.  How many times can I describe the amazing breakfast, the stunning trails, and -of course- the wonderful Joie  de vivre that permeates the ice and wind.  Yes dear readers, this race soothes the soul and reminds us of life's sanctity.  We are indeed fortunate for this event.    

Aside from the world-class-vegetarian-friendly-carnivore-happy-breakfast there are two things that separate this race from the millions of other half-marathons; the temperature and the course.  

First the temperature.  It's cold. Nope, it's damn cold, and yet we love it. Nope, we don't love it, we EMBRACE it.  It defines us.  It makes us unique in a world of sameness.  It's another challenge.  It's another life-event that brings us together.  Ah, the romantic Hypo, it's such a rush, such an affirmation of life and health and well-being.  

Next the course.  We're mere minutes from the downtown centre of a major Canadian city with a population of 800,000+  and 90% or more of this race is through bush, thick forest, and tall grass prairie.  Aside from that 2 mile spit on Grant Avenue the course is entirely gorgeous and void of vehicular traffic.   I've run in Toronto, Chicago, Minneapolis, Vancouver, Ottawa, Dublin, Paris, and Victoria and all are stunning in their own right, but let's not kid ourselves. Winnipeg is a runner's haven.  We have stunning courses and trails in the heart of the city that rivals any of the aforementioned...(wel,, maybe not Paris, but the others for sure).  

Kudos to race directors Rachel and Lorraine for again pulling out all the stops. From the course sweeps to the enthusiastic volunteers, to the food... I've said it before, the Winnipeg Hypothermic Half Marathon IS the premiere winter running event in Western Canada.  I enjoy the uniqueness of this run, the course, the training, and of course the food.  The best part of the run?

Well, the people of course!  It's such an honor to run with the likes of Bernie, Vivian, Sandra, Eric, Gwen and Lorie.  I dedicate this post to them.  Here's their bios...

Vivian, currently training for Boston after qualifying last year.  An amazing technical runner with tremendous focus and drive.  She ran 5 miles in the frigid darkness BEFORE the Hypo just to meet her schedule.  She comes from the School of Ted.

Bernie, quiet, intelligent, rock solid pacer.  We're both in search of similar running goals.  We ran Chicago together until I bonked at mile 16.  He waited for me at the finish line while others waited at the beer tent... it was a long wait.  I was crushed as I crossed the line.  He knew it.  No words were exchanged.  There was no need for words, he got it.  

Sandra has completed many, many half marathons and one full.  We ran Chicago together.  Her first half was the infamous Mashed Potato Hypo way back.  It was dubbed the "mashed potato" run because of the 6 inches of brown slush for the entire course. I remember both of us cursing the last 2 miles! Sandra is such an interesting person.  She's a story teller.  The miles melt by as I fall into the rhythm of her voice.  She comes from the school of Ted.

Eric has a couple of half-mary's under his belt. He used to be the water boy for Sandra, now he's stepping up to the plate and considering the full distance and he's entirely ready.  Eric is full of stories and makes me laugh.  I always light up when I see he's on the course.  Thanks Eric.  

Gwen was one of the first runners I hooked up with when I first took the plunge.  She had a running setback a couple of years ago but is slowly working her way back to distance running.  I had the pleasure of running with her when she broke the 2 hour half marathon a few years back at the Cops Run. She beamed.  Gwen is a generous and kind soul.  She taught me how to run.  She comes from the school of Terry.

Lorie is a strong runner (perhaps stronger than she knows).  We've run hundreds of miles side by side. We made snow angels (with Sandra and Gwen) one chilly night when the snow drifts were waist high.  We shared teenaged heart throbs... mine was Melanie (still is) hers was .... ask her next time.  Hint... something about a certain backstreet guy. ;>)  

Together I've run thousands of miles with these folks and every step has been an honor and a pleasure.  It's because of them -and you- that it's a good day to be alive.