From the Archives: 2018 Race #1: Road2Hope Hamilton Marathon, Hamilton, ON

  • Date: November 4, 2018
  • Gun Time: 4:05:51
  • Chip Time: 4:05:27
  • Placing Overall: 465th out of 765
  • Placing in Age Group: 53rd out of 78 (M40-44)
  • Theme Song: “Never Going Back Again“, Fleetwood Mac

Well, they say that when you run your first marathon, your goal should be simply to finish. So, I guess I did that. Barely.

It’s time to talk about the, um, difficult time that I had when I finally, after almost 4 years of trying, laced ’em up and set out to do 26.2. As I alluded to before, I had some difficulties with training for this race, and ended up at the start line undertrained. Let me say first of all that I do NOT recommend this. In retrospect, I should have bailed and done the half. I just couldn’t face doing that again. So, I found myself nervously anticipating the start gun on a very cool but clear morning at a pavilion in the boonies outside the city, hanging with my friend and training partner Michael. Conditions looked to be pretty good – temperature around freezing, sunny, and not a whole lot of wind.

Now, the Hamilton Marathon bills itself as the #1 Boston Marathon qualifier in Canada, for the primary reason that it starts up on a higher elevation plateau above Lake Ontario and descends to the lake shore, which makes the run a net downhill. (Apparently this will no longer be the case as of this year’s race, as they’ve changed the route from a point-to-point to a loop.) I can tell you that there is a relatively long downhill section, run on Hamilton’s Red Hill Expressway, but the race does not really feel like a downhill. At the time, though, I felt like I’d be able to handle the race even on my abbreviated training schedule, and I had caffeinated and non-caffeinated gels on board for my run, as well as doing the usual nipple taping, vaseline-ing, and all that stuff.

So, I was targeting a 3:45 finish as we set off, and at first things were OK. I was rolling along at about a 5:30/km pace along the dirt roads and past the farmers’ fields outside the city. I used my first gel at about mile 6, with the plan to save the caffeinated ones for an extra kick later in the race. The critical mistake, though, was not bringing additional electrolytes. I didn’t think I would need them as it was quite cool out and I didn’t expect to lose a lot. How wrong I was.

So, things seemed to be going according to plan as I hit the 10K mark at around 56 minutes and the half-marathon mark at about 1:50. This was the point at which the course started to turn downhill to the lake. Good, I thought – I can just coast downhill and have good momentum heading into the last, flat 12K of the race. But there was a problem. Actually, a couple of them. First, a stiff wind was blowing in our faces coming off the lake, so not a lot was really gained by me by the downhill. And also, I was starting to get tired already. It was clear that the lack of training was starting to take its toll. But, I soldiered on gamely, and got to the bottom of the hill and the 30K mark still within reach of my 3:45 goal.

That’s when things started to get gnarly.

There were a couple of small uphill rises and we headed over a bridge, and I was finding that my legs were pretty much jelly. I could tell I was starting to slow down considerably, and a lot of people were starting to pass me. This was probably me starting to hit the wall, but things got worse. In the sun, I had lost more fluids and electrolytes than I thought, and the cramping that I had with my last long training run (outlined in my last post) was back with a vengeance. And I still had 12K to go. I’m not talking about little cramps here. This was full on seizure of my quads that made me look like I was trying to run on the world’s smallest pair of stilts. So, I was forced to run 200-300 meters, cramp, stop, walk it off for 3-4 minutes, then repeat.

For over an hour.

I tried to take some water at a water station, but it didn’t really help, as the problem was obviously sodium/potassium loss. I also wanted to stop about 50 times. But I didn’t. I was seeing my odds of a sub-4:00 marathon slowly slipping away, but I was still holding out hope (as I mentioned, at the time I didn’t run with a timing device, so I wasn’t sure). The stretch coming back along the lake seemed brutally interminable, and I got passed by a guy running in a giant bunny costume, for fuck’s sake. I could see as I approached the finish line I wasn’t going to get under 4 hours, but I performed with enough grit that I wasn’t that far over, which I guess is something, and I was faster than the average time posted by male US runners in the marathon the previous year (4:18) so I guess that’s something. But I was still pretty disappointed.

They had cups of chicken soup being offered at the finish line and I think I guzzled about 12 to put the sodium back. The cramps were still seizing up my legs and I could not sit down. Which was a problem, since I had to drive 40 minutes home. I managed to massage my legs to the point where I could at least get in my car, but every attempt to press the pedals sent me into spasms of pain. I actually called my brother and told him I might need an emergency pickup, but at some point things subsided enough for me to be able to drive. The next problem, it transpired, was getting home and realizing… I couldn’t get out of the car. I eventually solved this by sort of rolling out the door, getting to my hands and knees, and crawling into my house.

I’ll spare you the gory details of the next couple of days, but suffice it to say that I was really worried that I had rhabdomyolysis (I didn’t) and I couldn’t climb the stairs to my bedroom, so I had to sleep on the couch. Overall, it was a pretty miserable experience, and I doubt I’ll ever do it again. It was no doubt the hardest bucket list item I’ll ever do, but it’s done. I’m happy to stick to the shorter races which I actually find fun, and not have to do a training regimen that’s like having another part-time job. Kudos to you all who do this on a regular basis, but I suspect you are built differently from me. I’ll leave it to you.

What I Learned About Marathon Training – Part The Second

So, back in 2018, I eventually did run a marathon, and my next post will be about that. I talked about my first foray into marathon training here – this was during my failed attempt to train for the Cleveland Marathon in 2015. To summarize that story: too much, too fast, without a great plan to manage things.

I learned a bit with the 2015 attempt, but still made mistakes with the 2018 one. One thing I’m happy I did do was join a marathon training group at our local running store. It’s a great way to make you more accountable, plus they already have a built in plan so you don’t necessarily have to worry about figuring it out on your own. I had recently gone through a divorce and suddenly found myself with a lot more time on my hands, so I was able to devote multiple days a week to building endurance and mileage, and we had speed and hill workouts included as part of the training regimen. Things ticked along pretty well for awhile, but eventually repetitive strain injuries started to crop up. This time, instead of being my groin, it was my shin and ankle on my right leg. Thus, I had to shut down for almost four weeks, and it was really hard to get back on track, and I ended up toeing the line in November undertrained and underprepared. So, a few things to add to my list of lessons learned:

Slow down. No seriously. Slow down. Especially on long runs.

My tendency is still to go way too fast on training. I’ve lately been reading My Marathon by Frank Shorter (good book, by the way – I recommend checking it out) and Shorter’s advice is to build speed as if you were training for a 5K, but do the long runs reeeeeaaaallly slow. This may not work for everyone, I realize, but I seem to have this irrational fear of losing my cardio fitness. My cardio is just fine. I just ran a 20:16 5K at 48 years old (more on that in a future post) and that was without really training all that hard. I don’t need to do my long runs at a 5:00/K pace. But I seem to be unable to help myself. If I were ever to do this again, which I’m really not sure I ever will, I would definitely be very careful with in this regard, because it appears to be at the crux of my injury issues.

I need to have a much better plan for electrolyte replacement for long races.

When I got over the injury, I was able to do 3 runs of 19-21 miles. I had hoped that this would at least get me across the finish line in Hamilton, and it did. But a problem arose during one of the 20 milers which I should have paid attention to (evil foreshadowing here). I was doing a 20 miler around the region with Michael, one of my run group members. It was a very cool but sunny day, and I started out with a nylon windbreaker layer on over my run clothes. Michael is a veteran marathoner and he looked at me and said, “Are you sure you want to wear that thing?”

I’ll be fine, I replied, and I’ll take it off if I start getting too hot. He shrugged in capitulation.

Now, it turns out I sweat a lot when I run, even on cool days. I mean, quite a lot. At about 7 miles I was getting pretty uncomfortable with the outer layer on, and I noted as I took it off and tied it around my waist it was totally drenched. I didn’t think anything of this until we got to about mile 18 and I started getting pretty bad cramps in my quads. I was able to finish the run though, and bid farewell to Michael. The horror show started when I got in my car and tried to drive home, only to have my quads seize (in the middle of driving) in the most painful cramps I’ve ever experienced. I literally almost crashed the car. I stopped, got out, tried to walk around, but the cramps persisted. Somehow, I managed to get the car to a convenience store, bought 2 litres of sport drink, and chugged them down. After about 15 minutes, the cramps subsided to the point that I could operate a motor vehicle, but they still would reappear off and on throughout the remainder of the day. I put it down to the bad decision to wear the outer layer, but ultimately it turned out to be more than that, as I’ll outline in my marathon story.

It’s a really bad idea to run a marathon underprepared.

I’ll say this – I finished. But it was gnarly. A full training cycle would have made a lot of difference. It left me not really wanting to do another one. That may change one day. But you should give serious consideration to putting it off if you have any doubts.

Friends of mine sometimes ask if I’m glad I did it, and to be honest, I’m not sure. I don’t know if I’m really built for marathons, and I really didn’t perform anywhere near as well as I should have. I guess it’s something to tick off the bucket list, but I still feel like I have unfinished business. For now, I’m going to stick to what I do well, which is mostly 5 and 10K races and maybe the odd half-marathon. As they say, if marathons were easy, everyone would do them. Maybe I can run one someday that isn’t totally miserable.

2021 Race #1: Tannenbaum 10K, Toronto, ON

Date: November 28th, 2021
Me:

Gun Time: 44:08
Chip Time: 43:59
Placing Overall: 36th out of 470
Placing in Age Group: 9th out of 65 (M40-49)

The Lad:

Gun Time: 51:49
Chip Time: 51:41
Placing Overall: 143rd out of 470
Placing in Age Group: 4th out of 10 (M1-19 – seriously, they let 1-year-olds in this race?)

Theme Song:Angel From Montgomery“, Leslie Spit Treeo (John Prine cover, may he rest in peace.)

This, as you might imagine, was not just the first race of 2021, but was the first for a very, very long time.

I managed to keep the legs churning more or less all the way through the pandemic; in fact, it was one of the few things that kept me from going completely off the rails. But as some of you probably noticed, it’s a real drag when you aren’t able to race anymore. Those “virtual” runs? Not for me, although I do appreciate the efforts of race organizers to do something.

So it was with glee towards the end of 2021 that I noted in-person races were starting to come back. I went into this one with no idea how I would perform after a two-year hiatus, but I had done some pretty solid recent tempo runs, and was optimistic. The idea of competition was enough of a motivation, so I did not worry overmuch. But one always wants to put one’s best foot forward (if you’ll pardon the pun).

The great thing about the passage of the intervening two years is that I now have a willing running partner in my son Brendan, so I’m going to be posting his results as well. He’s made appearances in this blog before, but he’s now a lanky 15-year-old who can already utterly destroy me at the 400 and 800 meter distance. He’s still learning long-distance running, so for now I have the edge in that (not for long I’ll wager). The Tannenbaum was unfinished business for us. Back in 2019, we had planned to run it to cap off the year, and weren’t able to make it to Toronto due to freezing rain and unsafe conditions. So, it seemed only fitting that it would be the race to kick off our slate of competitions as the pandemic was on the wane. It would be his first 10K, and he was stoked, if a bit nervous.

For 2021, the Tannenbaum, put on by Beaches Runners Club, had a new course. It now would start at Tommy Thompson Park and would be an out and back along the Leslie Street Spit, which splays out into Lake Ontario in Toronto’s east end. It’s a beautiful area of wilderness minutes away from the buzzing, hyper-urban expanse of the city – in summer, that is. My concern was that running out onto a spit of land surrounded on all sides by a huge freezing body of water at the end of November might prove to be, ah, a bit challenging. Yeah. I was right.

Pleading to the weather gods for clemency did no good, and the morning dawned grey and cold, with 2 inches of snow having already fallen and more on the way. We got to the end of Leslie Street and found parking alright, and headed down to the start line near the park pavilion.

Yeah. It was that kind of day.

The race would start in waves 30 seconds apart, because, you know, pandemic. I was up front in the first wave, as I was pretty sure I could bust 45:00, but Brendan hung back in the second wave. As the horn went I looked at the course ahead and thought, “huh, that footing doesn’t look great.” One of the race organizers even went out of his way to tell us not to expect a PR while we were in the starting corral. Thanks for the vote of confidence, my man.

Let’s get moving already. We’re cold.

So, yeah. The footing was pretty bad, but the course was largely dead flat. I felt like I was moving along pretty well given that I hadn’t really tried to run an extended period at race pace in a long time. We hit a slight rise followed by a downhill at about 2K, and then crossed this wacky floating bridge that was made of steel and really slippery. I felt pretty good at this point (and would soon realize why) and wondered how Brendan was making out behind me. The 42 minute pacer was still in my sights, although he was starting to pull away a bit. I had set a goal of wanting to go under 44 minutes for this one, and so far everything seemed to be going according to plan.

Me in a pack, with the pink Vaporflys on (I’ll talk about them in an upcoming post).

Having hit the 5k turnaround, I glanced at my watch (yes, I now wear a Garmin – more on that later) and noticed I was at about 21 minutes. I soon realized why, when the howling wind that had been pushing me along hit me smack in the face. Uh oh, I thought. It was blowing at about 20-30 mph and there was absolutely no wind break. To make matters worse, it had started to snow, and we were getting a faceful. I did get a bit of a burst as I passed B coming back and gave him a wave (he told me that he was a bit gassed at that point, which was around 4k for him, but got a substantial second wind later).

Unfortunate conditions for the kid’s first 10K.

So, I was really trying to gut it out and keep the pace as we moved into Km 7 and 8, but man. That wind was absolutely brutal. And cold. I don’t know what it is about this race, but it does not seem to be favored by weather conditions. Anyway, I knew I had dropped off the first half pace, but I wasn’t being caught from behind and I was holding my own. As we went over the weird bridge and up and down the little rise again I was pretty sure I would hit my goal time. And I did. Barely. 43:59 is not much faster than 44 minutes, but I would take it given the conditions. Even though I almost went ass over teakettle on the slippery bit at the finish line (despite being fairly warned by a race marshal).

An uncomfortable return to racing.

Brendan rolled in at just over 51 minutes, and he seemed pretty pleased with that. He was still feeling the adrenaline after the race, and couldn’t wait to do it again. He’s got the bug now. I suspect we will be racing together for a long time to come.

It’s good to be back. And hey, we also got these nifty hoodies!

Well now. This blog is defunct no longer.

It’s been so long since I last posted here that the interface for WordPress is completely different. Ah well.

I guess I have the excuse that it’s kinda hard to maintain a running blog when a worldwide pandemic makes it impossible to race. The good news, of course, is that we seem to be slowly moving to post-pandemic territory… and I’ve done my first two competitive races since November 2019 in the last 3 months, with another one coming up on March 26th. So, I’m going to try to write some stuff to get this blog functioning again, and because I’m bored so it’s a good time to pick up the thread again. The story of my first marathon was an interesting one and I will post it soon. I also did a couple of half-marathons last year, one with a rather surprising result.

But, I’m still running, and I still want to write. So let’s do this thing.

Well, let’s fire this up again.

A lot, and I mean a LOT, has happened in the last year and a half. I don’t even know where to start.

The initial idea behind this blog was to document my putative quest to run the Great Lakes Marathon Series. While a laudable goal, this turned out to be, ahh, not exactly practical, mostly because I don’t seem to be built to handle a marathon. I tried multiple times to train for one, and every time I ended up hurt, and it made me hate running for awhile. My goal was revised in 2018 to just run one marathon and get it off the bucket list.

Well, guess what? I did it. But it didn’t go at all like I had planned it.

I should mention here that I had a marriage fall apart last spring. It was difficult, as these things tend to be. In the immediate aftermath, I decided that I needed something to occupy my time and thoughts; something I could cling to as a goal to keep myself grounded, and to channel all of the negative things I was feeling into some sort of positive outcome. Marathon training seemed to fit the bill, and in order to force myself to stick with it I headed off to the local Running Room and joined a training group.

This worked. For a while, anyway.

Unfortunately, I started having ankle and calf problems about two-thirds of the way through training. This led to me eventually having to take a month off training, and although I was able to get a few 20+ mile long runs in, I wasn’t ready. Plus, I was still nicked up with little niggling things, pretty much all the time. I grew to hate having to go down a flight of stairs, because I couldn’t do it without pain in various parts of my legs. Oh, and there was the long training run I did where I ended up severely dehydrated and could not drive home… but more about that later.

Anyway, training was miserable and so was the race (report to follow where I deconstruct the experience in all its hideousness) and so was my life, pretty much. I haven’t been able to bring myself to write about all this until now. Good news is, I’m a lot better, and I have some new plans, including a seven continents half-marathon series that I will be doing in the next few years. One foot in front of the other, as they say.

A New Year… Thankfully.

So, yeah. I haven’t been posting. I won’t get into why exactly, but suffice it to say that the latter half of 2017 was… challenging. I didn’t stop running, and I did do a couple of competitions in the latter half of the year, including a 5-mile run around one of Canada’s more prestigious golf courses in the blazing heat in July (which I intend to report about at some point; it was a great competition) and revisiting the Syracuse Half Marathon, where I took over 6 minutes off my previous time. The blog ended up being a bit of a casualty of circumstances, as it turned out.

Nevertheless, it’s a new year, and time for new beginnings. My New Year’s resolution is to run the Rochester Marathon in September. I should actually have time for training this year, as my summer will be very light in terms of work. Before I do this, I’m going to be revisiting a couple of races I did in 2015 down in Florida next month, and will no doubt be doing some other races along the way.

The challenges haven’t ended. But putting one foot in front of the other has always helped. So bring on 2018.

2017 Races #4 and #5: MNP Mississauga 10K, Mississauga, ON and Jerry’s Peach Bud 10K, Grimsby, ON

Date for Race #4: May 6, 2017
Gun Time: 42:29
Chip Time: 42:21
Placing Overall: 31st out of 800
Placing in Age Group: 6th out of 80 (M40-49)

Date for Race #5: June 27, 2017
Gun Time: 44:53
Chip Time: 44:51
Placing Overall: 47th out of 298
Placing in Age Group: 8th out of 19 (M40-44)

Theme Song: The Bug“, Dire Straits

Two for the price of one with this post. I decided to do this because A) these races definitely provided an interesting contrast to one another, B) they were both 10K runs, and C) I’m a lazy, lazy man in many ways. From a performance aspect, they were definitely at opposite ends of the spectrum. As Mark Knopfler helpfully points out in the above theme song, “sometimes you’re the windshield/sometimes you’re the bug”.

There was legitimate concern that the Mississauga race would be flooded out. We had rain of near biblical proportions in Southern Ontario this spring, and Lake Ontario is currently at the highest level it’s been in recent memory. The weekend of the race, there was a plan to evacuate Toronto Island (which, fortunately, didn’t need to be executed) and everybody living there was sandbagging like mad to hold off the deluge. A significant part of the course was to be run along the lakefront trail system, but it seemed the trails were far enough away from the water that flooding wasn’t a concern. So, on a freezing cold and damp early May day, I made my way down to the Mississauga neighborhood of Port Credit to hit the race expo. There was the usual array of local race booths and gear, and lots of free stuff being given away. I stocked up on pasta at the Catelli booth, but somehow missed Canadian Olympic Marathoner Lanni Marchant who was supposed to be there. Oh well.

A major flaw in the organization of this race – kit pickup for the 10K had to be done by about 2 and a half hours before the race actually started. This arrangement sucks for out-of-towners, because the question of what the hell to do until the race starts becomes rather prominent. Mississauga is the giant belt of suburbs between Cambridge, where I live (Cambridge is rapidly becoming famous as the filming locale for “The Handmaid’s Tale”, but maybe more on that later) and downtown Toronto. Oscar Peterson is from there (if you’re into jazz), and so is, um, Billy Talent (if you’re into pop/punk hybrids). It is famous for having a giant mall, the Marilyn Monroe towers, and, well, not much else.

Marilyn Monroe' towers in Mississauga among world's best new skyscrapers |  The Star

So, I hung around in a parking lot playing with my phone until I felt like it was not insanely early to be heading to the start line. I hadn’t been doing a huge amount of work prior to this one, but still felt good, and had run a sub-20 5K a few weeks prior. The rain at least stopped by start time, and I hurtled off into the course with designs on at least getting within sniffing distance of my PR.

The big problem in this one was the wind, which was blowing at about 25-30 mph out of the northeast, meaning it was in our faces for most of the run. There was a 10K relay of school kids being run at the same time, so at 2.5k intervals I would have a bunch of youngsters come flying past me, only to catch them and pass them a kilometre or so later as they gasped for air.

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I look a little windblown.

I managed to get to the line in a very respectable 42:21 given the conditions, and since the top 3 masters were all 40-49, I snuck into 3rd place and scored a couple of gift certificates (Panera Bread!). I was quite happy with this race and in perfect conditions I’m sure I would have been under 42:00 easily.

The interval until the next race was, however, not kind. I got sick with a bad chest cold, then had a nasty bout of strep throat and was on penicillin for awhile. Then, my first run back I pulled the same groin I injured a couple of years ago in the lead up to the Cleveland Marathon, and was out of commission for a couple more weeks. Coming into the Peach Bud 10K, which was held in Grimsby on the west side of Lake Ontario, I felt physically pretty good, but I was interested to see how much cardio I could possibly have retained having basically not run for a month. The answer, sadly, was not much.

I was hoping to at least do a sub-44, but my problems in the Peach Bud were compounded by the fact that I made a very stupid mistake in pacing. I started feeling strangely winded just before the 2K mark, then noticed the clock. It said 7:49. Seven-goddamn-forty-nine. In other words, I was on pace for a sub 39-minute 10K. I’m fucked, I thought. I’ve always held the belief to be true that for every minute you go too fast in the first half of a race, you lose 2 minutes in the second, and that’s exactly what happened. At the 5K mark I was at 20:40 and I was completely gassed, with people passing me left and right. I managed to limp in just under 45:00, but was not happy about it. That’s JV shit by my standards. At least the weather was nice.

So, back to building up the training. I didn’t include any pictures of the Peach Bud because I’m still kinda pissed about it. Good motivation I guess. At least I’m physically good and looking forward to some hot summer runnin’. Got plans to do a 25K trail race and probably another half marathon in the fall, so time to get moving.

Sometimes you’re the windshield, sometimes you’re the bug. I’m damn well fixing to be the windshield next time.

“What’s a good 10K time?”

God, what a stupid question. But I asked it.

Idly whiling away the time on The Oracle recently, I submitted said query, and was pretty amused by the results. Let me say first that I understand “good” is entirely subjective. I don’t know what I expected to find, but it seems there are a lot of people with unrealistic expectations of how “good” should be defined. Some examples:

From Reddit: [Around] 32:00 is universally regarded as a decent 10K time. (underscoring mine)

Dude, WTF, are you kidding me? You and I obviously have rather different notions of what the word “universal” means. Note that this poster went on to say emphatically that he was not trolling. Uh huh.

From Runner’s World: My dad always said 42 minutes was what everyone at his running club considered a ‘serious’ time.That was 30 years ago though, and I suspect 42 minutes would now be thought of as rather slow by the serious runners at my club. 

Have runners’ times really gotten that much faster in 30 years? Maybe at the elite end, but I’m not so sure about the average club runner. I can tell you that at my club 42 minutes would be considered reasonably fast, at least for someone older than 35.

From the same Runner’s World thread: 40-45 minutes is a respectable time but to be classed as a good runner…you need to do a sub 40 for it, dont [sic] you….

Um, no, I’m pretty sure you don’t.

From community.myfitnesspal.com: For serious runners a sub 40min is considered a good 10k time. Obviously age, genetics,weight, dedication etc play their part. Decent club runners will be in the low 30’s.

Where the hell is this notion coming from that a sub-40 is “good”? I saw this a few times. There was one poster who considered a 40-42 minute 10K to be a good time for “hobbyists”. Christ almighty. Look, at my age, a sub-40 is about a 75% age grade, which is, in my estimation, better than “good”. Personally, I feel that age grading is the only real way to gauge how well one runs, but translating that into good vs. not good is utterly arbitrary. If I run at a 70% age grade and I can beat 95% of the other competitors in most races, shouldn’t that be considered “good”? I think so, but of course that’s my own interpretation.

I’m aware the counterargument to this is that running times are getting slower due to the people who enter races mostly to walk, or slowly jog, their way to the finish line. And of course, there was some additional claptrap about what constitutes a “serious runner” that I found in various threads. People were actually arguing about this. Really, who cares? We are a nation of sedentary, overweight, carbohydrate-addicted people, and we’re getting sick because of it. Why would anyone want to disdain someone as not serious when they, unlike many of our citizens, are actually making an effort to get out there? I’ve heard certain people lament the “state of the sport” because of this, as if some sort of purity needs to be maintained in running that is being sullied just because Joe Six-Pack wants to say he did a 10K. Come on. Stop being ridiculous.

I think it’s important for us, as a community of runners, to be as welcoming as possible. I have never maligned another runner based on appearance or ability, and I never would. I think, by and large, we are a group that understands and supports one another. So, for those with their noses in the air about how “serious” one is about the sport, let’s consider being as inclusive as we can, shall we? It’s my belief that we, and our sport, will be the better for it.

Races, and goals, for the coming year.

So, it’s January again, and I’ve been back into the weeds at work, but I have been thinking a lot lately about running plans for 2017. I’m shooting for ten races of varying distances, and have put together something of a tentative schedule for the first part of the year. I’m sure this will change, but for now, it’s as follows:

January – No Events

This of course is the month where I choose to run inside to prevent being flash frozen. Our winter has so far been up and down, but the last three weeks have been pretty cold. We are going to get a thaw starting this weekend, so there is a slim chance I might be able to get outside for a run early next week. I will also get a reprieve due to a conference trip to San Francisco later next week, so I plan to at least do a couple of runs there. Although, I guess Northern California has been pretty rainy so I might get wet. I’ve already started a new training cycle for my next half marathon in March. It just sucks that I have to do a lot of it on the treadmill.

February – Re-Fridgee-Eighter 8 Mile

2017-01-11 20_52_37-2012-10-29_19-18-48_uid139.jpg (JPEG Image, 200 × 200 pixels).png

Running in Southern Ontario in February is no picnic either, but it’s a bit better than January. In the past, I’ve always been somewhere south on vacation during the Re-Fridgee-Eighter, but this year it fits into my schedule. There’s an 8K and an 8 Mile – I’ve never run an 8 mile race before so I figure it’s at least good for a PR. Going to shoot for under an hour but I guess it will depend on the weather. Also, I get to complete my training cycle for the March race in Cuba at the end of February, which will be hot and humid and will prep me for the following month, where I will be taking on…

March – Puerto Rico Half Marathon

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We’ll be in Puerto Rico for the first two weeks of March, and I plan to make the most of it. The main worry I have is that I might, erm, overindulge before the race. I mean, mofongo! Lechon asado! Puerto Rican rum! So many temptations. I’m definitely going to shoot for a PR despite the fact that I will likely eat my weight in suckling pig and chicharrones. I think with the way I finished last year and my 10K times I should be able to crack 1:35.

April – OE Canada INC Run For Retina Research 10K

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I have some unfinished business at this race, because last year I wussed out. There was a big early spring snowstorm the week it was on and I just couldn’t get myself interested enough in running in the cold. Weirdly, we got more snow last year in the first two weeks of April than we got in January and March combined. Doubt that will be the case this year. Will also be starting a second training cycle this month for my June event. And it finally gets warmer at home!

May – GoodLife Fitness Toronto 10K

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No real reason why I chose this one, other than it fits into my schedule, and it’s always fun to come back to Toronto to run. May is usually beautiful in our neck of the woods, which is good, because I’m going to be doing a lot of preparation for…

June – Conquer the Canuck 25K

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This is put on by my club the Cambridge Harriers, and I couldn’t do it last year because I was out of town (and pretty bummed about it). It’s a trail run through Shade’s Mills, our local conservation area. June was super hot last year, and the course is pretty challenging. I’m stoked about this one and my goal is to break two hours. The weekend also includes a marathon, a 50k, and (for some reason) an 8.33k race. The marathon and 50K can also be run as a two-day staged race. No, I’m not doing it.

Still have to figure out the latter half of the year, but I think there will be another half marathon in there and at least a couple of 5K runs (gotta bust that 20 minutes).

Happy running everyone.

2016 Recap, and plans for 2017.

So, the holidays are upon us, and it’s time to reflect on another year.

I had some pretty grand plans for this year, and well, not all of them came to fruition. Nevertheless, I’m pretty happy with how things went. I ended up getting a respiratory infection that took me out for part of October, so I had to cut a couple of events, unfortunately. I don’t intend to do any more competitions until February, so let’s look back at 2016.

Going into this year I had a few goals:

PR in the 8K – Check. I ran 33:39 in the only one I did this year, the Cambridge Mill Race.
PR in the 10K – Check. Again, I only ran one, but it was 41:17 in San Francisco, an utter dismantling of my old PR.
PR in the half marathon – Check. 1:35:46 in Buffalo.
Sub 20:00 5K – Not quite. Best I did was 20:09 in Chicago.
Finish a marathon – Nope. Could not fit a proper training schedule into what turned out to be a rather topsy-turvy year.

So, in 7 races, I had:

One victory (in the Harvest Quarter Marathon)
Two second-place finishes (in the KW Kids with Cancer Run and the Lurie Cancer Survivors Run in Chicago)
Two top-15 finishes (Laurier Loop, Cambridge Mill Race)
One top-20 finish (San Francisco Giant Race 10K, which it should be noted had almost 6,000 participants. This is probably the race I’m proudest of this year.)
One top-100 finish (out of almost 4,000 in the Buffalo Half Marathon).

Not bad for an old guy.

As for next year, still some stuff to work on. Right now, the plan is to do the Re-Fridgee-Eighter 8K (or possibly the 8-mile, which is also part of the event) in February, the Puerto Rico Half Marathon in March, the Mercedes-Benz 10K in Oakville in April (if I can fit it into my schedule – they still haven’t announced the date), the GoodLife Toronto 10K in May, and a new local trail race, the Conquer the Canuck 25K, in June. We shall see if this holds up.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.