Wednesday, 25 November 2015

November, easy & yoga

November, we will rebuild
Easing my way back to running, I kept the runs short - single figures - and quite slow. 
Strength training is even more vital than ever, got to get the core strong. Here's A-Chang and I getting our planks in on our anniversary. 
It's time too to reacquaint myself with slippery pathways, despite being able to sneek in a few runs in shorts (my thanks to Tammy Li for the photo). I managed 96k for the month, only doing 60 in October as I had to take a break at the end of the month. 
November was also a time make 2016 training plans and schedule races, all while enjoying the oven-fresh naans along the way. Subjects for another post.

A-Chang wanted to take yoga classes once again, so I decided to join her once a week. 
It's a bit far from home, but is a friendly place that avoids a few of the pretensions that have put me off other venues. 
I do a bit of yoga at home too. The class I try to get to is called "happy hips", an obvious choice for runners. 

Streaking into 2016
I got out to Marda Loop for the start of the Strides Streak. I enjoyed my first run across the dam that wasn't during a race. My runfie face badly needs work though. 
My weekly totals in November: 15.3k, 23.7k, 24.9k, 26.9k. With my 'winter legs' coming back, December is the start of base building. For the first time, I'm following my first base-specific plan. 
The intention is to be in better shape than ever in February when the sharpening phase begins. Those PBs don't run themselves, so let's go. 

As a Calgary Marathon ForeRunner, I have been given a entry to participate in the 2016 race, however, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Monday, 16 November 2015

Don't mess with the Marshal

I like to volunteer in November, racing is out as I'm usually a creaking gate by this time of year. 
I was stationed at km 11, which was also about km 17.5. A small part of the course on a road, there were 2 of us, and I pulled traffic duty. 
It was turning into quite a warm sunny day by the time 2nd and 3rd places came through. I think the lady on the left once overtook me on a leg of the Banff Ekiden. 
Simon came past, later saying he was having an off day.
In 3 hours there were less than 10 cars, so I mostly used my sign to point the way. 
Simon again, on his way to 'only' 1:28. 
Done by lunch. I wasn't very animated this time as there was another marshal with me. 
Pleasant and quiet, it really was "Last Chance" with snow arriving a few days later. 

Saturday, 14 November 2015

2016 - let's race

I love race day. While I'll always go after a PB if I can, this season is above all about fun. I think I might even be capable of treating a few races as extended training, rather than fastest possible time at all costs. There's always a first time.  
So here's my calendar, hope to see you all out there. 

January 16 (sat): MEC race #1, 5k. 
I have never raced in January, so will do this quick and slippery one. 

March 13: St Patrick's 5k. 
An annual favourite, spring weather or blizzard? You never know. 

April 3: 2XU Compression Run 10k, Singapore. 
Yes, you read correctly. Not a destination race, just a race while on holiday. The course seems to vary a little every year, but if it's flat, I would love to get a PB there. My solitary sub-40 dates back to 2012. 

April 9 (sat): Jabulani Challenge 12k trail, Sydney, Australia. 
Holiday part 2. A trail race on the outskirts of Sydney, really looking forward to this one. 

April 30 (sat): Eyeball the Wall 15k. 
Back to Calgary for a guaranteed PB, will race around the reservoir as a medium tempo training run. 

May 29: Calgary Half Marathon.
The big one. My current PB dates back to 2013, when I finished limping with a pulled hamstring. I'm working on hip and glute strength for a smoother PB. 

June 19: Millarville 8 mile bun run.
You can be a runner or a "bunner", stopping twice to scoff cinnamon rolls. It should look great on the GoPro. 

July 10: Stampede Road Race 5k.
PB'd last year, another would do nicely. So would a flatter course without a turnaround. 

July 17 (sat): 5 Peaks 13.6k trail, Glenbow. 
I had my first 5 Peaks experience last year, really enjoyed it. This is just out of town, should be fun. 

August 6 (sat): 5 Peaks 11k trail, Fish Creek Park. 
The one I did last year, though it seems to have been shortened so might skip it. 

September 17 (sat): 5 Peaks 14.5k trail, Canmore. 
I've raced in Canmore just once (a leg of the Grizzly), an overdue return. 

October 1 (sat): Harvest Half Marathon. 
8th year in a row. The last few have not gone very well, so hoping to put that right. 

October 15 or 16: MEC race #7, 10k.
I had to drop out last year when I took on the half. Finishing is more fun, so 10k it is. 

That's 13 races planned. May the training and fun never stop.

Saturday, 7 November 2015

Banff Winterstart

A quirky finish to the season, my first Banff Winterstart. 
7pm start, out of town, up Tunnel Mountain Road and back again with a few flashing lights, the stars and hope to guide the way. 
My GoPro was unlikely to capture much usable film, though its strap was useful for carrying a glow stick. 
For the final time this year, A-Chang was there for logistical and other support. 
The dangling running shoes were a nice touch. 
Getting outside at the last minute, there were more people than I thought. I shoehorned myself into the crowd about one quarter of the way back. I picked up a glow stick on the ground in front of me. I can only imagine the pandemonium if anyone had tripped up at this packed start.  
Guy in singlet...
"Hmm, no warmup. Never mind, this is going to be slow regardless."  
As I was leisurely overtaking people, a few exaggerated toe-offs had me realize the earlier rain had frozen in many spots. 
It takes a few runs on snow and ice to get my winter legs. This was my first such run since about early March. In the dark. 20 or 30 would come piling past each time I slipped a bit and anxiously backed off. 
Up Tunnel Mountain Road following the line of lights, watching out for those stopping to walk. The occasional glance upward at the star show above was all too fleeting. 
A tentative turnaround, I took it slowly down the hill out of apprehension for falling. The light show on the way down was a great distraction. 
A favourite was the guy dressed as a shrimp with his 2 buddies in leopard costumes. 
One runner even brought his dog along, wearing glow rings. 
Memories of winter runs had me slow down at intersections, always the slipperiest. After the turn back onto Banff Avenue, I managed to drop my water bottle. "I don't want to have to buy another one," I concluded, so I went back for it, waving my glow stick like a drunk air traffic controller. 
Back under street lights again, 10 minutes slower than my PB for a 5 miler. A good recovery run though, in which I victoriously didn't fall over. 
Some great costumes around, though the icy patches on course made me anxious. Fun overall, and a nice workout to continue my recovery. 

That's it for 2015. Training for a PB push at the Calgary Half Marathon starts tomorrow. It never stops. I want it to never stop. 

Monday, 2 November 2015

The Renaissance

Square One
I rose again on sunday to run for the first time in 2 weeks, since pulling up during the MEC half marathon.

The old adage of going without something making you appreciate it all the more is triply true for me and running. One thing that amplifies this is an extra couple of days a week in the gym. I was forced to watch people frankly hurting themselves doing such things as holding onto the treadmill as if superglued to it, keeping their backs bent on the rowing machine, etc. 
There seemed little escape from seeing other pet hates such as people reading while working out, wearing hoods and woolly hats. 

Pressure Valve
I'd given myself 2 weeks before the next run on November 1. Just survive October. That was easier said than done: I work in the energy sector in Calgary, and there have been countless job losses this year (many in October), and jitters about new governments, provincial and federal. Running keeps me centred among times of worry, fully justified or otherwise, so its absence was keenly felt. 

On sunday morning, I laced up to go for an exploratory 5k. Nerves? A few. It's hard to overstate how badly I wanted the waiting (to run again) to be over. There are times that it is the best coping mechanism bar none. Other runners know what I mean. 

The Run
The plan was to go easy pace for 5k, stopping even if I felt PB-fantastic. First few minutes, just concentrate on smooth technique. About 10 minutes in, felt quite a bit of tightening. Run gently. 
Just before the 20 minute mark, all signs of discomfort faded. As I finished up on a newly opened stretch of pathway, I even started to enjoy it. Gasp!

Next Up
Next saturday, it's off to Banff for the Winterstart, a 5 mile race in the dark with glow sticks. One run on wednesday before that just to check everything. There's gradient on this course, so at the moment it's helpful to have no temptation to attempt a PB (31:02). 
This will end my 2015 season, and my training program for 2016 starts right after. Winter's coming, time to get ready to outdo yourself next spring.