I’m the worst RunBlogger – evah – 2014 ROUND UP

So I have basically been MIA on this blog since the spring. Life sometimes (often) intrudes on our  (my) plans but I was fortunate enough to get some SOLID running in this spring/ summer 2014.

I’m going to plow through the balance of 2014 so we can get present and get REAL ‘n’ Runny for 2015 Baby!

So. Here we go:

Pick Your Poison and ATB 30k 2014 – I had to skip these. One, I was out of the country for and the other I was injured

Laura Secord 100k. – This was a total debacle. I humbly advise anyone considering this race to get REALLY comfy with muck and ice-cold water. The morning of this race found me huddled with a few intrepid runners in howling winds and freezing rain with a start that was a cannon blowing and ushering us off into the cold, dark pre-dawn hours. We immediately got lost and a pack of us went about 3-4k off course.

This set the tone for the rest of the day. The course was barely runnable between amidst cement like mud, insane amounts of water, then ice, then hills. My foot completely froze at the 40k+ mark and I decided THIS race was not worth losing toes for. DNF.

Cayuga Trails 50 Mile – Ithaca, NY – This race is in a word – AWESOME. From top to bottom I just loved this thing. Ithaca is BEAUTIFUL (who knew), and an awesome town. The event is organized incredibly (Ian Golden is a ROCK STAR), and the trail is fucking TOUGH and wicked. From 12,000 ft of vertical gain to the deep amazing gorges to the badass, waist deep river crossings, its just too good. Got to run for a few moments with Chris Vargo (eventual winner and Nike Trail athlete), and Yassin Diboun (Inov-8 athlete). Swag at this race is awesome and they are pure old school class – only medals are given to the podium – awesome. Finished just over 12 hrs which for me, was a lovely trainer for VT100, and impressive considering I have NEVER chaffed like I did in this race.Crotch Chafe? Supersized? INSANE would be the word for the post run SHOWER.

chafe

Vermont 100 Mile – This was a beautiful event. Super well-organized with the best darn aid stations ever. I was really ready for this and went out nice and easy.

The quick version of this story is that I DNF’d at 84 miles. My quads were completely trashed and i was so tired at this point i was running into trees and off the trail.  My pacer who was connected to me through the race also pulled out of pacing me after 10 miles – he was supposed to pace me to the end (20 + miles). There’s a point in the race that you can see the finish line but have to keep going for another almost 20 miles, in the middle of the night. This is when he said – “Hey dude – I gotta get back to my dogs, sorry – see you later”. This wasn’t the reason I DNF’d but seriously, WTF ??? I pulled out not long after this at 84 miles. I was driven back to the start finish and who walks by me eating a burger ?? My FUCKING PACER. Sorry bud – you were really nice on the trail but that was an ASSHOLE move:). ANYWAYS. I learned a ton on this race and am SO grateful for my AWESOME wife who drive around the Vermont Green Mountains following me and meeting me – YOU are the BEST babe.

My key take aways from this were a) if you can walk – you can run, b) I will NOT DNF again because of fatigue c) I need to train more in realm of middle of night running, d) have my nutrition more locked down and e) – I NEED to get to know my pacer – well. Also – ZEKE RULES!!!!

Run for the Toad – 50k – I love this race. It’s fun and fast and well organized. I signed up spontaneously for this and enjoyed every autumn moment of it. Run it if you haven’t already.

Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon 42.2 – Man that’s a mouthful. I decided to run the 42.2 on the Friday before the race – it was going to be a nice weekend. This race has top notch organization. 27,000 people regi’d, bib’d, started, finished, fed and exited with amazing precision.Good times.

That’s ALL – sorry for the speed and conservative details. 2015 will be a FAR better blogging year.

Special thanks to GENUINE Health for allowing me to be a Healthy Ambassador using their amazing Activ Sports Nutrition. Check it out here

ALTRA LONE PEAK 1.5 REVIEW

I’m a little conflicted as to how much I can add to the myriad of reviews on this shoe. It’s been reviewed a LOT. The fact that so many people have written about it should give you some idea as to it’s popularity.

I’ll try and keep this succinct.

Altra Lone Peak 1.5

Altra Lone Peak 1.5

As I’ve grown into this sport of ultrarunning I’ve gravitated towards more natural ways of doing things. Generally as I age I think I’m adopting a less is more attitude (except dessert).  Keeping that in mind it was a matter of time before ALTRA got onto my radar.

Altra in a nutshell (forgive my paraphrasing good Altra people) is making shoes that are ZERO DROP. In traditional running shoes you have an elevated heel that is “stacked” to cushion a heel strike impact and actually encourage it because of its height. With ALTRA you have shoes made to position the foot in its natural state – heel and forefoot at level ground, with protection (cushioning underneath/material around foot and toes) &  a natural “last” or an upper  SHAPED LIKE YOUR FOOT

I purchased the flashy red and white pair you see pictured here. Since then, there has been an “all black” colour-way released but this combination trumps in my opinion.

Out of the box these shoes felt pretty great. I have a “normal” foot width and found these to be UBER comfy with a relative snugness around the heel (locked down not tight) and the open toe box that allowed for a natural splay. My only initial beef was and is the incredible LENGTH of the shoelaces. I didn’t measure but the laces were SO long I had to run the extra lace down the front of my tied shoes and tucked back under the criss cross to keep them out of the way. (You can see I actually opted for no-tie triathlon style lacing that work well for me with them).

The next thing you’ll notice that is unique to these shoes is the tail “rudder” – like extension from the heel of the sole of the shoe. The claim is that this extra piece should aid in steep downhill traverse or loose downhill running sections. I actually TRIED to employ the trail rudder when I thought I could and I’ll be damned if I noticed any real difference. I believe we may see this evolve into a nub-like nod to its heritage and eventually disappear. Trail-Shoe Darwinism.

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Second feature that’s obvious in the rear of the shoe, on the upper’s heel, is a Velcro patch for securing trail gaiters. This is pretty ingenious and I’ll bet more will follow suit. Not surprisingly I hear ALTRA will be manufacturing their own gaiters soon which makes sense.  Other nice things are drain holes in the toebox of the shoe and a sturdy but comfy and light feeling upper. I find that when using a weaved material a shoe can often be stiff, “creaky” and general feel like a shoe sweater (see the Torin 1.0). The Lone Peak 1.5 and all subsequent shoes employing a “weave” like upper in the ALTRA stable feel good, light and very wearable as well as durable.

So running in this shoe is in a word, AWESOME. I feel light, natural, protected and fast in the Lone Peak 1.5’s. Quick and easy transition with very good traction on all types of ground. I’ve actually used them fairly often on hybrid training sess’s in the city of Toronto here that has been getting killed with snow and they were a dream.

I’ve found with the roomier, anatomic toebox design, my feet feel fresher – longer. (sound like a shampoo or chewing gum commercial):). It’s true though – these shoes left my feet feeling great which is kinda key in ultra running in my books.

Try these shoes and you will not be disappointed. They come in some other cool colourways for ladies and are actually built differently for women. NO JOKE – they have engineered their women’s shoes to be FEMALE specific – that’s pretty badass in my opinion – well done.

Lone Peak 1.5 Women's

Lone Peak 1.5 Women’s

Good Job Guys – can’t wait to try the OLYMPUS

Altra Olympus

Altra Olympus

What are your fave trail shoes? Do you run in a more natural or stacked heel shoe? Why? What are your experiences with the Lone Peak 1.5’s?

Happy Trails:)

A lesson from an unlikely source…

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I fancy myself an ultramarathon runner so some things I generally do NOT like are :

- Running on the road

-Road running races

- Short races

-Short road races

….in no particular order. SO it should come as a bit of a surprise (or not if you know me well enough), to hear that I ran the Chilly Half this past weekend in Burlington, ON Canada.

I originally signed up for this race with my wife. E was looking for her first half marathon and wanted it soon, so this was all hers and I was going to happily pace her out on her first go at the distance. Injury intruded on E’s plans and I was left to decide whether to run this thing or not. My mind was made up in short order when I realized some awesome people from my run group where taking part this year as usual. I offered to drive a few of us and everything was a go.

As I mentioned earlier, a road half is NOT my kinda race and my wife could tell the morning of, that I wasn’t exactly JAZZED to be running it. Waking to a fresh layer of snow and -15C wasn’t helping either. My run group mates helped warm me up a bit and we were in Burlington in no time. We were also lucky b/c a few of us had a hotel room basically on TOP of the start/finish – so awesome to have a place to change and prepare – thanks guys!

SO I had ZERO plan for this race and realized it as the gun went off. After  the first couple of k’s I felt I had a decent pace which turned out to be a 4:35 km/min. Felt comfy and that was my new plan – hold this pace.

The route was basically an out and back along the lake shore that was, forgive me, a long stripe of pot-holed slushy, icy, shit. The footing wasn’t horrible but it was SO bloody nasty – my god. In short order I found my apparently VERY sensitive toes were losing their sense entirely. Tips of all 10 of them TOTALLY numb. I was wearing a very fast and light pair of New Balance RC1600’s that did nothing to protect me from the elements but they felt pretty fast.

At about 8k I started to feel a little burn in the calves/quads and also felt a little out of comfort because the feet I was running on – I couldn’t feel so much. I hadn’t run a half in a long time, I was going faster than I normally race in a trail ultra and I was losing feeling in my body. My brain started immediately planning an exit and rationalizing a slow down or a quit. This was met opposite thoughts of “F that – I’m not going to die – suck it up ya big baby”. The pain and irrational frostbite fears were real though and they were playing with my head. I decided that in the meantime I would maintain my pace as I acknowledged my fears and the pain AND numbness. These played out for a while until I was able to set them aside and frankly, just run.

I found a place of acceptance and was just able to get forward progress happening until about the 19k mark. At this point my nose closed up, as in I couldn’t inhale or exhale – my nasal passages were I guess frozen or cold to a point that they literally swelled shut.

I normally, like most human beings, panic a little when I can’t F#$!%ing breath but I calmed right down as I kept cranking away into the home stretch. Deep mouth breathing and a mantra of “light & fast” carried me into the finish.

My feet were totally numb, my thumbs where numb, my nose was frozen shut, my calves where beaten up and my garmin said 1:38. Not bad  for crazy conditions like these I thought.

I hobbled over to my friend’s hotel room and found the speedy couple had blazed some serious times. My nose began to thaw almost immediately as well. We chatted and laughed as 2 other friends came in…frozen..with stories of falling at 11k, getting up and finishing (i woulda called a golfcart and packed it in) – that grit inspires me. The feeling in my feet came back as my soaked shoes and socks came off and the rest of me warmed with a saintly cup of coffee that was bought for each of us by our speedy friend. Other than the fact that I had the soft warm post race “body buzz” feeling, you would never have guessed I had just been through the suffer fest I described.

Physically I was totally fine – great even – mentally I had changed though – ever so slightly but still different than when I started. I was reminded how tough I can be when I get out of my own way and how things are rarely as bad as they first seem when I’m in the midst of them. This half marathon of the road variety had taught this ultra trail runner  a few things and I’m glad for it.

As I sat reflecting on this I checked online to see if actual finish times were posted and found them. Found my name. Scrolled across to confirm my 1:38 finish. What I found was a 1:37. My Garmin was off and I was reminded that things are also often not as good as they first seem either – sometimes they can be better:). PB.:)

Happy Trails.

F@#K YOU WINTER:)

F@#K YOU WINTER:)

Being Canadian, I have had to deal with training in some seriously inclement weather of late. This year the snow and cold has been in a word – brutal.  Some snow, slush, cold temps don’t bother me all that much but when a sustained “POLAR VORTEX” swirls over our heads for weeks at a time, pushes come to shoves.

Being Canadian I like to think of myself as coming from hearty stock but this, my friends, is Bullshit.

Maybe I should bring Earl Grey - HOT instead of gatorade?

Maybe I should bring Earl Grey – HOT instead of gatorade?

SO. For the past weeks I have been judging my rocks and hard places and have ended up doing short, interval and long runs on – YUP – you guessed it – the treadmill.

Before you say anything – I agree with you. You’re right. The treadmill is a soul-sucking, mind warping, bastard child of the Inquisition that is second only to the Pear of Anguish in it’s fiendishness. It’s all these things and each time it was a better choice for me than running out in the cold grey bucket of post x-mas shit that has been the weather around here until basically today.

Perhaps greatest among it’s ghoulish qualities, the treadmill is, in my opinion, dreadfully isolating. While we step onto one often sandwiched between two others in what can be a wide bank of “‘mills” – the disconnect is obvious to anyone. Personalized incline, speed, towel placement, time, TV channel sometimes, music ALWAYS, headphones in, ME, ME, MINE, GO AWAY, ME.

When I’m on a treadmill its an antiseptic speed exercise.  Get IT done as fast as possible and hit the showers and move on with the day. It’s pure work and the antithesis of why I run. While I feel I train as hard as anyone out there I do NOT choose to slave and the mill feels that way to me.

 

This past Sunday after one last Saturday long run on a treadmill – I finally could take no more and manned up to join my group’s Sunday long run. What a difference. Sunny, sweetly sarcastic frosty faces smiling at & with me as we loped along Lake Ontario’s frozen shore.  A complete pleasure and a feeling of reconnection with my tribe and my world. Joyful warriors all of us.

300-Spartans-running

My steps were light and fine form found me easily –  effortless. That’s why I run – all that.

Spring is just around the corner and I can feel my rut melting away….with a little help from my friends.

 

Ps – Go F!@K yourselves treadmills. All of you. :)

 

RunBlog = Epic Humblebrag?

By even describing what I’m doing here as epic is a lovely display of lack of humility. Me with the 8 followers (max?) who read this (see scan:)) does not equal anything epic. I suppose I can include that in my hyperbole rant.

I’ve recently found myself in a conflict of feelings as to why this blog exists. I’m questioning myself and my motives as well as the act of writing this itself.

The question I’m asking myself is  whether this blog is just one big humblebrag veiled in helpful, ultra-runnery informativeness. IS it?

HUMBLE-BRAG
Definition: Subtly letting others know about how fantastic your life is while undercutting it with a bit of self-effacing humour or “woe is me” gloss.
Example: “Uggggh just ate about fifteen piece of chocolate gotta learn to control myself when flying first class or they’ll cancel my modelling contract LOL :p #humblebrag”
humble

As I’ve matured in years I’ve grown to realize how important humility is to me in my life.

Humility is the the only place for me that gratitude can take firm root and flourish. While gratitude may be fleeting like blossoms on a tree – it comes back as do they-  to a healthy host with strong roots and branch. When I’m in that “attitude of gratitude” I can’t be anywhere but in the moment – present. When I am present I enjoy my life – which is really JUST that moment – to its fullest. I’m better in every way to everyone and that’s why it’s so important to me.

Humility based gratitude, the real stuff in my books, is a big reason why I run.  There was a time when I thought the mere presence of my gazelle like self running trails or the city streets could inspire awe in those looking on.  Viewing one 5 second video of myself running smote that fantasy like a bolt from the heavens.  I suppose that was the universe’s way of guiding me to the essence of what’s good.

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When I run outside I feel like a small piece of the world deeply connected and flowing through it’s space. I’m invited, allowed and encouraged to play in our world and it’s wonder and it’s amazing. I can’t feel the way I’ve just described truly if I’m mired in self centred promotion of my unequalled awesomeness. Nor can I when I’m slipping a little humble-brag into a tweet, blog or IG post.

I’m not sure I Can answer my question here but I can say this – I DONT want this to be a humble-brag and I DONT want to be a humble-bragger and the only way I can be humble is to ACT with humility. No mileage “just” updates, no detailed tweets of my workout making sure to include killer stats- just honest to goodness passing of info, humour, race reports and hopefully something good.

That’s where I’m at today – with this.

Pete

VERMONT 100 Mile Training

So I got in. Awe-SUM!!

That was a week of hand wringing and a morning of coffee and checking in waiting for the 10am sign time to hit.

I get SOOOOO anxious and FOMO-y nowadays with races selling out so fast that signing up is a semi-traumatic experience. On this occassion I was very happy to get into a legendary, grandaddy of an ultra – the VERMONT 100.

Below is my training sched for those interested in distances and days etc. This was taken almost verbatim from Bryon Powell’s epic “RELENTLESS FORWARD PROGRESS”  which I feel is a MUST OWN for any hopeful ultramarathon runner. It helped me a shit ton. I post this ONLY to display what a potential training sched would look like to someone looking for one and that’s all -

VERMONT 100 MILE TRAINING SCHEDULE (miles)
Week Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun Total
1 Rest 6 5 6 Rest 12 5 34
2 Rest 6 5 6 Rest 14 5 36
3 Rest 6 5 6 Rest 16 5 38
4 Rest 5 3 5 Rest 14 5 32
5 Rest 6 5 7 Rest 16 7 41
6 Rest 6 5 7 Rest 18 7 43
7 Rest 6 5 7 Rest 18 10 46
8 Rest 6 4 6 Rest 14 7 37
9 Rest 7 5 7 Rest 63* Rest 24
10 Rest Rest 5 7 Rest 14 12 45
11 Rest 7 5 7 Rest 24 5 48
12 Rest 6 5 6 Rest 32* Rest 17
13 Rest 7 5 7 Rest 18 7 44
14 Rest 7 5 3 Rest 31 Rest 46
15 Rest 5 4 7 Rest 14 10 40
16 Rest 7 5 7 Rest 24 5 48
17 Rest 7 5 7 Rest 18 14 51
18 Rest 5 4 7 6 Rest 50* 22
19 Rest 6 Rest 3 Rest 20 12 41
20 Rest 6 4 6 Rest 14 5 35
21 Rest 7 Rest 7 Rest 24 14 52
22 Rest 5 5 7 Rest 18 Rest 35
23 Rest 5 Rest 7 Rest 10 5 27
24 5 Rest 4 Rest 2 100* Rest 11

* indicates a race.

FARTLEK! BLESS YOU!

Those who have just begun running/training and those who are head shaking, eyebrow raised observers, encounter this term and are instantly offended, worried, giggly or all of the above. Is it some strange practice developed on Gulags to run prisoners into submission? Is it a particularly flatulent hang-over run?

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WHAT is FARTLEK??

Here is the required wiki explanation:

Fartlek, which means “speed play” in Swedish, is a training method that blends continuous training with interval training.The variable intensity and continuous nature of the exercise places stress on both the aerobic and anaerobic systems. It differs from traditional interval training in that it is unstructured; intensity and/or speed varies, as the athlete wishes. Most fartlek sessions last a minimum of 45 minutes and can vary from aerobic walking to anaerobic sprinting. Fartlek training is generally associated with running, but can include almost any kind of exercise.

So that’s a pretty good and dry explanation but all the points are there.

Now – what does fartlek training mean to me? One word – AWESOMENESSTIME!!!

Have you ever been cruising along at a comfy pace and had a great song come on your mp3 player or seen an inspiring view or even had a happy thought, that made you pick up pace for a while? You’re smiling, flowing, grooving for 5-6 minutes then the song or thought or view disappears into the ether and you find yourself back at your comfy pace….THAT was a good example of what fartlek can be.

Think of a baseline run of about an hour and within that time you find 3-4 x 3 min bursts of inspired speed with it – THAT is a simple fartlek training cycle. The principal of Fartlek that I find the most important to stress is – speed PLAY. Play and enjoy and discover your joy through it. Training is difficult and punishing at times, yes, but it is also our passion alight and directed.

Try some speed PLAY in your next workout with a simple Fartlek progression of 60 min run with 4 x 3min PLAY bursts:).

I suggest trying a fartlek workout with some music in your ears. A favourite of mine is Curtis Mayfield’s Greatest Hits – a great combo of groove and funk and energy and just all around BADNESS and fun.

“Only in play can you have both. In play you realize simultaneously the supreme importance and the utter insignificance of what you are doing. You accept the paradox of pursuing what is at once essential and inconsequential. In play you can totally commit yourself to a goal that minutes later is completely forgotten. Play, then, is the answer to the puzzle of our existence, the stage for our excesses and exuberances. Violence and dissent are part of its joy. Territory is defended with every ounce of our strength and determination, and moments later we are embracing our opponents and delighting in the game that took place.           Play is where life lives, where the game is the game. At its borders, we slip into heresy, become serious, lose our sense of humor, fail to see the incongruities of everything we hold to be important. Right and wrong become problematical. Money, power, position become ends. The game becomes winning. And we lose the good life and the good things that play”

- George Sheehan