Tuesday, September 29, 2009

New Shoes - ProGrid Razor

So I like shoes - who doesn't - and I am always on the lookout for that next pair - some MAY call it an obsession. I made the switch to LaSportiva trail shoes this summer, from my beloved Mizuno's and have been thrilled with them. Prepping for R&I, one of the factors I was not looking forward to was having to purchase a neoprene booties to go over my shoes when snowshoeing. The technology gods were listening. Walking into Bushtukah on Friday looking for some new socks I came across the new Saucony ProGrid Razor, the perfect combination of trail shoe and neoprene bootie, accented with a Vibram Sole.

The best description of them I could find was on Gear Junkie.

Marketed as a trail running shoe that works for snow or dirt, the Saucony ProGrid Razor has a waterproof eVent treatment and light neoprene gaiters. It is based on the company’s popular Xodus chassis, including a similar Vibram outsole and a cushy midsole. But the Razor adds an eVent waterproof/breathable membrane to keep you dry running through streams or puddles. It’s made for snowshoeing as well.

I ended up with a full size lager than normal (10.5). I wanted to make sure I had room for two pairs of socks if needed and a little toe wiggle for a hot pad if necessary. They are a neutral shoe, and I generally lean towards a mild stability, but on snowshoes with orthotics, I think they will be just fine. Tried them with the Dion's last night and it truly is a match made in heaven.

An added bonus, they were on sale from $135 to $108, plus we had a coupon for $25 off purchases of $100 or more. How could you not say no? Let it snow!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Puppy Slide Show

Just trying something new from Zenfolio

Slide Show - press Play

Monday, September 21, 2009

Weekly Summary Sep 14 - Sep 20

9/14/2009 - 9/20/2009: 57.8 km 4:45:50

Meet Strider - my new running buddy. We brought him home from the breeder on Sunday. He is a 14 week old Vizsla - More pictures here - we just love him

Well it sure wasn't the highest week, but it was a great week. Recovered from pacing in Haliburton and sleeping in the car and then built (a little speed) and tapered for the Army Half. I had no expectations for the race - just hoping to run strong - 1:40 was a goal time, which I surpassed - running a 1:35:42, my 3rd fastest half.
1st 10km - 45:09
2nd 10km - 44:54 (slight -'ve split)
Last km in 4:23
and the last 350m (Garmin had it at 21.35 total) was a 3:48/km pace

I really have found those running drills paying off. Didn't feel as strong, but did feel that my stride was more efficient, which I think payed big in this race.

Kimberley crushed her NCM Half time - breaking the 1:43 barrier with a 1:42:58 - super job my love. Her race report.

Not too sure what will happen this week with Puppy - sleep will be a luxury, but all worth it.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Haliburton Forest Pacers Report – 2009

Being asked to be a pacer for someone in a race is, as a runner, one of the highest compliments you can receive. It shows a respect for not only your ability to run the pace and terrain that the participant will be competing in, but also your ability to make tough decisions when required, and to both motivate and encourage. So when Derrick Spafford in a slightly “off handed” way asked if I would be interested in pacing him for the final leg of his 100 mile race in the Haliburton Forest, I did not take it lightly.

To get ready to pace Derrick, I had two major challenges: 1. Just coming back off the stress fracture in my left heel, I needed to get into shape to run 30-40km on the Haliburton trails; 2. To conquer my fear of trails in the dark. Getting back into shape was relatively easy - build slowly, listen to the body, and don’t get reinjured. The second required a little more “guts”. One of the reasons I never wanted to attempt running a 100 mile race (and there are quite a few) was that you, by nature of the beast, are required to run the trails in the dark. I don’t think that I am alone in the fear that that brings. So, on went the headlamp and the early mornings, starting with a easy 15’ run, building my confidence up to 2:00 the Monday before. I was ready.

Kim and I drove up to Haliburton on Saturday morning; there was no need for us to be there for the 6:00 am start as our job would be much later in the day. We got the car set up for sleeping in and headed to the Finish/50 Mile turn around and waited for Derrick to come though and head back out. It wasn’t long ‘til Derrick came through, looking strong but hot, or is that hot and strong based on his outfit? Sara drove in from CP#2 (check point) and picked us up, our day had begun. The later day/early evening flowed as we made our way from CP to CP unpacking and waiting – repacking and moving on. Sara was a bundle of nerves, happy to see Derrick come in and anxious every time he left. Based on his previous year and his performance so far, the plan was for me to join him at CP#6 on his final return at around 8:00pm. I was ready to roll, and at 7:59pm he arrived at the CP, reloaded and we headed off right on schedule.

Derrick had 4 goals for this race for himself, 3 of which I knew could be reached if we arrived before midnight, so leaving the CP we had 4 hours to cover 30km, time for me to get to work.

CP#6 - #5 - The first section was 5km long and the only stretch that I had not run before. I was surprised when we left CP#6 at how well Derrick was moving. We paced through the few hills and too many random logs fairly smoothly, arriving at CP#5 in good time.

CP#5 - #4 - After a quick pit stop at CP#5, we headed out for the longest section we’d face that night, 10km until #4. This section is the hardest. It has a couple of relentless climbs and some pretty technical areas. Derrick had a “bad spell” a couple of kms in, but recovered fairly quickly. I was impressed by how smooth he was running. He had asked that I lead on the up hills and he would lead on the down hills, but I instinctively knew that he would prefer to lead the majority of the time, as it the easiest for the experienced runner. So I let him take the lead through most of the trails, passing and trying to pull him when I felt he needed a little motivation. We passed quite a few other 100 milers heading out through this area, everyone seemed to be taking it all in and having fun with the beautiful night in the woods. Finally through that section, it was a welcome sight to see the dangling glow sticks and hear the aid station; we exited the woods and almost sprinted down to the CP.

CP#4 - #2 This was just a short 4km stretch, when done you have that awful loop around the lake to look forward to, but you are out of the physically tough section into the mental part. The coolest moment was when Derrick said it was here that he fell apart last year.. Just after he said it, he accelerated ahead as if to put a stamp on it -> it was not going to happen tonight!

CP#2 - #3 Up to this point I had been letting Derrick control the pace and only kick it up a bit when I felt he was losing focus. However, coming out of CP#2 I knew we had a good shot at the sub-18 and it was business time. I lead out of the CP and onto Normac, where once again Derrick had a “bad spell”, but after apologizing for the dinner conversation, he took the lead and we were off again. We exited Normac, climbed a long up hill, started running. From here it was us against the clock, and I was damned if I was going to let the clock win. A brief stop at CP#3 and we were off for the home stretch.

CP#3-CP#2-CP#1 Countdown. We had just over 5kms left and the clock was our enemy, 18 hours was doable but we needed to stay focused, time for me to get to work. I lead Derrick out of the CP and just ran; so long as I could see my shadow in his headlamp and hear his footsteps I knew he was fine. There was no conversation; there was no need. We both knew what had to be done. Derrick held strong to the invisible string, we ran the tangents on the corners, racing under the stars. Just before turning off the road to the small trail that lead to CP#2, Derrick said we have to enter the CP together, so I pulled aside and let him lead following him in. I told him to make it quick, and he did. He actually accelerated through the CP heading to the last 1.5km to the finish. I quickly took over the lead again as we followed another runner up that final climb – for a brief moment I thought it might have been the race leader, but it turned out to be Derrick’s friend Keith, having an amazing race too. Derrick struggled up the final climb and we ran stride for stride to the blinking lights ahead… the finish line, crossing in 17:52 – job done.

Words escape me as I try to describe what a thrill it was to watch such a dedicated ultra runner. The strength, focus, determination and pure athletic ability were inspiring to watch over the course of the day, and especially the final 4 hours that I got to spend with Derrick. It was an honor to be able to play a small part in his reaching 3 of his goals; beating his time from last year (18:42), breaking the 2006 course record (18:23), and finally, breaking 18 hours.

I have always said that I would never, ever run a 100 mile race. Now, I am not so sure.

Derrick report is posted on his site here

Kimberley's great pictures here

Monday, September 14, 2009

Weekly Summary Sep 7 - Sep 13

9/7/2009 - 9/13/2009: 79.1 km 8:34:35

Overall a good week. Highlight, of course, was pacing Derrick Spafford for the last 30km of his amazing 100 mile race. We have the Army 1/2 this coming Sunday - I will race it but with no intentions other than having fun and supporting our dedicated Armed Forces

Mon - AM 2:03 (out at 4:30 am - Headlamp)
Tue - Noon Strength
Wed - Noon 32'
Thu - AM 45' - Noon Strength
Fri - PM 25'
Sat - PM 3:49 (Haliburton pacer)
Sun - PM 1:00

Gotta work on that pacer report now.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Weekly Summary Aug 31 - Sep 6

8/31/2009 - 9/6/2009: 71.8 km 6:37:30

I am going to mark this as my final comeback week. I have been slowly building back since returning from Florida, and I think it about time to call the build back quits and start thinking about training for R&I.

Weekly mileage wasn't as high as last week, but I had planned a back-to-back 2:00 runs Sunday and Monday so ended a little light. The army 1/2 is coming up in a couple of weeks, so to help Kim get ready for it the weekends focus was hills on roads. Not that the 1/2 is a hilly course, but there are a couple of sneakers that will get you if you are not ready for them. Confidence with the headlamps on the trails is much better, even added a little speed at times when I could open the pace a little, but as my father always warned me - "Do not over drive your headlights" - in other words don't drive faster than what you can see with your lights.

Next few weeks will be intersting as far as training. I have 4 running events lined up - nothing that I would even class as a "B" race - just getting out for the fun of the moments and the little adrenaline rushes.

Event Schedule looks something like this:
Sept 12 - Haliburton (TBD)
Sept 20 - Army 1/2
Oct 3rd - Toad (25k with 12.5k c/d)
Oct 18th - Syndenham 8km

This week:
Mon - AM Strength and Core
Tue - AM 42' (headlamp trails) - Noon Strength - PM 1:08 Drills
Wed - Noon 1:00 (Birthday run - 49 and doin' fine)
Thu - AM 1:11 (headlamp trails) - Noon Strength
Fri - Noon Strength
Sat - AM - 43' ( Ran 4 loops of Heron Hump with Kim - Feeling stronger on the Hills)
Sun - AM 1:53 (Double loop of Corkstown. Coming back on the 2nd loop - gave Kim a 1'30" head start and then had to run her down. Fun time - tough chasing that little bunny.)

This week will be full on taper. Not that I am really racing, but I want the legs as fresh as possible - plus I really need a nice easy week. See ya in the forest.