Monday, January 31, 2005

First Month Round-Up

Sunday’s run to end the month was long, cold, wet and miserable. We got rained and drizzled on for most of the three hours we were out. The first 16K we did as part of the regular clinic, and then a hard-core group tacked on another optional 10K.

Actually, the run kind of resembled the month of January itself. I don’t know what is about January, it's kind of a depressing month, is it the blahs or the blues, or do the blues come in February? The first month had its ups and downs. The worst I suppose, being my bout with bronchitis which caused me to miss four days of running and which sapped my strength for a good ten days. So my cold and the weather, first a week of snow, then a cold snap, followed by days and days and days of unrelenting rain from the Pineapple Express, courtesy of the Hawaiian Tropical Punch weather system, stretched my good humour to the maximum. Did I mention the part where my car got flooded? Oh, and an on and off relationship is off, in one of those kind of miserably, soul-wrenching ways, after what was a thoroughly disastrous, hopelessly disappointing Christmas and New Years. And I am still unemployed. Oh, joy!

The ups for January (hey, I’m trying to find a silver lining here) were the undeniable excitement of doing the planning and strategizing of what it will take to quailfy for the Boston Marathon - -this year, starting this Blog, and meeting a whole new group of enthusiastic recruits for the Running Room Marathon Clinic. There were also a lot of good runs in the month, some of them great. I got a new tattoo in January. I got a new dog in January, all two pounds of him. As soon as Cactus Jack stops pissing in the corner, my life is going to be coming up roses, I tell ya! Roses! Cactus, stop chewing on my Nimbus!

I am exactly one month into my roughly ten-month plan to qualify for the Boston Marathon. I say roughly, because the marathon where I hope to qualify, the Okanagan International Marathon in Kelowna - -, is in mid-October, so from the beginning of January until the race is about nine and a half months. As usual, I digress. So how are we faring after the first month?

On January 1st, I weighed in at 201 pounds, a fact of which I was inordinately proud of at the time, after having survived what can only be described as the Christmas from Hell. However, instead of eating and drinking my misery away as per usual, I managed to be reasonably sensible during the Holidays and I also ran at least three days a week. This morning, on the 31st, the scale is hovering between 198 and 199. My goal has been to lose two pounds per month between January and October. So, Month 1, a success! I think February should be even easier in the weight loss/leaning out department, as my weekly mileage is going to start to climb significantly. It would be nice to exit February at 195-196 pounds.

And speaking of mileage, I ran 15 of the 31 days in January. I missed four days because of illness. Bottom line, I managed to run at least every other day and better yet, I never once missed a Sunday long run or a Tuesday night marathon clinic. So in that regard, I consider January a success. And, morale-wise, I feel pretty good about my training. Mentally, I feel confident that I am on the right track.

My over-all January mileage was 176.64 kilometres or 109.76 miles, which took me 18:20 to cover. My average run was 11:78K done in 1:13. My longest run for the month was 27.6K (17.5 miles).

The eighteen hours and twenty minutes of running is an interesting piece of data, because I know that on average I am burning about a thousand calories per hour. So if I divide 18,200 by the 3,500 calories in a pound of fat -, I have burned off 5.2 pounds of fat this month. And well my actual weight loss is in the neighborhood of three pounds, I don't doubt that I have added a little muscle. In addition, I have been careful to watch my protein, to make sure I am getting enough to recuperate and repair my muscles, the kinds of fats I am consuming (from vegetables and fish versus animal fat), and I have been trying to ensure that I get enough complex carbohydrates.

I am looking forward to February!

Post script. And after that long, wet, cold, miserable long run yesterday? A long, dry, warm, thoroughly entertaining breakfast feast with many good friends.

Saturday, January 29, 2005


I drove 800 kilometres in the last two days, a quick round trip to the University of the Okanagan in Kelowna to screen The Vanishing Tattoo, for the Anthropology Dept. and to speak with the audience.

I was surprised how much the long drive reminded me of running. I was out of radio reception soon after leaving Vancouver and rather than play music I was quite content to be alone with my thoughts. The weather was bright and clear for the first time in weeks and the road was bare. The miles rolled by beneath me and the scenery unraveled before me. It reminded me nothing so much as a long, slow, easy Sunday morning run. There is as much to be said for the long solitary run just as there is for the many benefits and joys that come from running with a group. It’s amazing how little time one has to be alone in this day and age. Running for me has always been a great way to sort out my day, shuffle my thoughts and mull over what is happening in my life. Right now I seem to be stuck in a bit of a rut, waiting for pots to boil and chickens to hatch.

Today I ran 9.6 miles, or 15.5K, up to the University of British Columbia from my house, near 4th Avenue and McDonald Street, in an hour and about 45 minutes. From my front door to the bottom of the hill at the end of Spanish Banks Beach, is a perfect 10K round trip, the top of the hill is exactly 12.5K and the entrance to Wreck Beach is not quite 16K. I love this run. Wreck Beach, one of the world’s foremost clothing optional beaches, would be incentive enough, but the road to UBC has the infamous ‘UBC Hill’. The hill is about a mile and a quarter from the top to the bottom. I usually run it every Friday and since I started this pattern, hills have become much easier to do in all my other training, something I’m sure most of my regular running buddies would attest to.

Looking back over the last two weeks I realize that my runs on Tuesdays and Wednesdays have slowly been turning into races. Normally I am content to run at my own pace and let everyone else do their own thing. Of course I can hear loud braying and guffaws from Seymour as I write this. But all chortling aside, this whole ‘Boston or Bust’ thing has really sharpened my competitive instincts even more than usual. And some of the people I’ve been pacing myself with are ten, fifteen and twenty years younger than me. And much, much fitter I might add. I just have to let it go and focus and concentrate on my long-term plan or I can see myself burning out long before October. Time to impose a little self-discipline.

January is almost over, and after Sunday’s long run on the 30th, I’ll summarize my first month of training to qualify for Boston. You know, mileage run, weight lost, all that good stuff I promised and have been dreading since day one of this little exercise.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Back to Basics

Ran a nice little 10K tonight. Had a bit of muscle soreness from the speed workout on Tuesday. Went out for the first 5K with a heart rate of 162-165 and did the distance in a time of 25 minutes. We stopped at the Nike Lounge at the Plaza of Nations for four or five minutes, a glass of water and a bathroom break, and then headed home. On the way back I stepped the pace up a bit for an average heart rate of 165-168, and made it back in just under 24 minutes.

Afterwards, my recovery felt good, with just a little left over coughing from the episode of bronchitis last week.

The Great Debate!

On Tuesday night we ran a long 6K, a very long 6K. In fact we ran 6.7K, or 4.18 miles, take your pick. And I ran it in 31:24. Felt much better, the best since my bout with bronchitis last week. Did the first 3K with my heart rate around 160-165 and then for the second half, came home at 172-178. Did the last two hundred metres at 182 because Leah was trying to pass me. Hah! As if! Me getting passed by a cute blonde? I don't think so. Is there anything dumber than the male ego?

Interestingly, my e-mail from Jeff Galloway, has generated all kinds of debate in the marathon clinic at The Running Room, on Denman Street in Vancouver.

Mike felt so strongly, he fired off an e-mail to me.

I don't think Michael thought he'd wind up on the Blog, but here is his opinion in living colour.

Hi Vince,

You can go and check out;

and try to figure out exactly the relationship between body weight and speed and energy expenditure.

Or you just trust me as a German mechanical engineer that it comes down to this ridiculously easy formula: What you loose in body weight (in % percentage) is exactly what you will gain in speed (%). Since VO2 max is always per kg body weight, your V02 max will increase just due to your loss of body weight. So, for the same effort (% of your V02 max [ml/(min*kg]) you can run faster since you have less body mass to throw around. Makes sense, doesn't it?

So, that's why Lance Armstrong's answer to the question 'How do I become a better climber (on my bike)?' is always: Loose weight, buddy!

Galloway is a nice guy - but you can sometimes just believe in the laws of physics. I'm not trying to be a smart ass, I'm just trying to share some wisdom. And I honestly don't think it freaking matters if you do 10:1 or 5:1 or 33.4:1. But what do I know about that... ? :-)

Galloway seems to be so in love with his training theories that he totally forgets about those little things. Trust me, I didn't believe that weight would make such a big difference in the first place - until I checked it out. I have 1km sprint data for 185lbs and 195lbs and my times reflect the relationship down to two decimal places.

Loose weight, buddy! 1lbs/week is fine. No matter what other gurus say... I've lost 1 lbs per week since I started in November. And I never felt sluggish or not had enough energy. Just be short by about 400 calories a day. I'm sure I could win against you in a 10km race. But I'm 182 lbs and you are 200. Imagine what you could do racing at 185!!!! Oh my god!

Of course you are already in phenomenal shape because you have been training for so many years now. And I think, the sooner you loose the weight and the earlier you see the improvements in your time the more fun you will have running and the more confidence you will have that you are already a 3:15:00 marathon guy.

Run for your life!
Mike "the Kraut"

The website that Mike provided the Link to is a great one, I've been on it myself several times before.

Mike is part of the Running Room marathon clinic and his goal is to run a 3:30 marathon. It's Mike's first attempt at a marathon and the longest race he has run to date has been a 10K. His ace in the hole is the fact that he has a long history of competive cycling and he is a triathelete.

And like Mike, I totally believe that their is a significant correlation between weight, or degree of overall leaness, and performance, especially in endurance events. Mike is preaching to the choir there.

But I still think that I will feel better and perform better in my training if I stick with my goal of two pounds per month between now and October. I would like to lose weight by leaning out because of my excerise load, rather than curtailing calories.

And while Mike is claiming he's not being a smart-ass, I can say unequivocably that he's a great devil's advocate to have on a run! I just love somebody who uses the word, 'data', when talking about running. Makes me all teary-eyed and brings back misty memories of long runs with Seymour and Dr. John...

It's interesting that Jeff Galloway talks in his book on running at some length about his struggles to overcome his dependence on Hagen-Daaz ice-cream. So not even the little ectomorphs are immune to the siren call of frozen cow juice.

Mike is as interested in getting his Max VO2 and bodyfat tested as I am, so if he grants me permission I'll let you know how he fares!

Monday, January 24, 2005

How Fat is Fat?

Calipers and guess work are just not going to be good enough any more. Right now the best guess about the bodyfat of yours truly is 15-16%. The problem about guess work is that I have a very specific goal of having a bodyfat percentage in the range of 8-10% by early October of this year - going from 200 pounds to 180-185. And it's hard to begin a journey unless you have a rough idea of what your final destination is going to be. So, beginning with the philosophy of there is no such thing as too much information, I am dedicating myself to getting down to the nitty gritty of finding out exactly what my bodyfat percentage is.

Fortunately for me, the University of British Columbia Sports Medicine Clinic offers a hydrostatic bodyfat test right here in Vancouver and not that far from my humble abode. In essence, you get dunked into a great tank of water, expell all the air from your lungs and they weigh you under water. Sounds like a party to me. It is also the most accurate bodyfat test there is.

At the same time the Sports Medicine Clinic also offers a Max VO2 test on a treadmill that also establishes what your maximum heart rate is. For a data freak like me, this is like the second coming of Christmas.

I've chatted with a few running buddies and we're going to try and get a group rate. The best part of this for me, I think, is the establishment of a clear statistical baseline against which to measure my improvements (or lack thereof) over the course of my training during the next nine months.

And for anybody in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, here is what you need to know;

Nutrition Assessment & Fitness Testing
J.M. Buchanan Exercise Science Lab

Progressive Intensity Test:
A progressive intensity test or maximum oxygen consumption test (VO2max) can be performed on either a cycle ergometer or treadmill to assess cardiovascular fitness. This is a measure of the ability of the heart and lungs to deliver oxygen to the working muscles. Both methods start at a low intensity and progress through a series of stages until maximal point is reached. The individual is fitted with a heart rate transmitter and a face mask to monitor physiological variables every minute during the test. At the conclusion of the test, values are determined for maximal oxygen consumption (aerobic fitness), maximum heart rate, and anaerobic threshold.
Cost: $125 Student rate: $115

Hydrostatic Weighing
Hydrostatic or underwater weighing is a method of assessing body composition by measuring the body’s density. The individual is fully submerged in a water tank and expires as much air as possible while a weight reading is recorded. This value is then converted through a series of equations to give a reading of body fat. At the conclusion of the test, values are determined for body fat and lean body mass.
Cost: $30 Student Rate: $25

Both tests can be combined for an overall assessment of cardiovascular fitness and body composition.
Cost: $150 Student rate: $135

Computer printout interpretation of results and counselling are available on completion of the tests.

Mon, Wed, Thu, Fri from 9 am - 4:30 pm (last appointment scheduled at 3 pm) and Tue from 12 - 8 pm (last appointment scheduled at 7 pm).
Call (604) 822-4356 to book your test.

NUTRITION ASSESSMENT – Registered Dietician
For anyone interested in enhancing athletic performance, improving overall nutritional health, losing weight or learning how to manage a healthy heart diet. Your session with UBC Aquatic Centre’s registered dietician includes an assessment of your current diet, goal setting, personalized nutrition education and the development of practical strategies for your success.

60 min Nutrition Assessment.
Cost: $60 Student rate: $55

60 min Nutrition Assessment with computer diet analysis. Cost: $110 Student rate: $100
30 min Follow-Up session. Cost: $35 Student rate: $30
Combo package = 60 min Nutrition Assessment and two 30 min Follow-Ups: Cost: $115 Student rate: $105

Combo package with computer diet analysis. Cost: $155 Student rate: $145
Appointment times: Tue 5 - 8 pm and Sat 10 am - 2 pm.
Call (604) 822-4501 to register.

As I am just recovering from my bout with bronchitis, the plan is to schedule the testing in ten days to two weeks. By that time I should be fully recovered and back to full strength. Should be fascinating stuff! You won't want to miss this episode!

Still Chewing the Fat

In pursuit of answers to my questions about body fat and it's relationship to performance in endurance athletes, I also queried Elzabeth Quinn who writes the Sports Medicine Column for

First my e-mail and then Elzabeth's answer.


Subject: "Question for Sports Medicine"

Is there a rough correlation between percentage of body fat and performance for long distance track and field athletes? I've heard that the reduction of every percentage of body fat is worth about a one percent increase in performance for endurance runners. I know that most elite marathoners have a body fat of between 3-7%.

I am a 44 year old recreational marathoner and in the past twelve months I have run three marathons and a 67K Ultramarathon. My best race times in the past year were, marathon time - 3:53, half marathon time - 1:41 and best 10K time - 43 minutes. I am 6'1" and weigh 200 pounds. I would like to attempt to qualify for the Boston Marathon when I turn 45 and my qualifying time is 3:30.

Based on a caliper test, my current body fat is about 15%. I have been below 10% body fat before (twenty years ago!) and feel that between now and October a body weight of 185 pounds is a realistic goal.

What are your thoughts on this subject?

Best regards, Vince Hemingson

Hi Vince,

First - congratulations on some impressive past performances! With such dedication I think you are well on your way to your qualifying goal.

Yes, runners with less body fat have less weight to carry and are more efficient. I think your goal weight is realistic and will help your performance. I would also recommend considering weight training in your training routine. Men typically start to lose lean muscle mass around age 30 of about 5% every 10 years. Weight training helps maintain lean muscle mass, helps improve metabolism and provides more running 'horsepower' if you will.

You may want to consider a few sessions with a certified trainer to get your nutrition, running and weight program set up and make sure you don't overdo it -- you goal is doable, but will be challenging. You definitely don't want to lose too much too fast or your performance could suffer instead of improve.

Best of luck in your training!

elzabeth quinn, m.s.

So Elzabeth's advice meshes very nicely with Jeff Galloway's. I have to confess that I thought both Jeff and Elzabeth would have been more emphatic about me losing weight. In fact, neither of them seem to think losing weight should be a primary goal for me and both cautioned me that losing weight could adversely effect my training regime and ultimately my performance.

Elzabeth's advice about weight-training is well taken and is something that I have done pretty consistantly for most of my adult life. There is no denying that in the past few years weight-training has taken a back seat to my running and I am spending less time in the gym and more time on the roads and trails running. But I can still bench press my body weight and I try to cross-train as often as possible. And, oh yeah, fit in the rest of my life!

Fat of the Land

I can't figure out if I'm becoming more like a runway model or a Hollywood starlet, but I'm beginning to obsess a bit about bodyfat. No, not theirs, mine. I can't get over the notion that simply losing a few percentage points of bodyfat will result in that great pancea of all weekend warriors, the 'free' improvement. The idea that a new piece of equipment or a change in form will result in an increase in performance for what appears to be little or no effort.

Trust me, I am fully aware that this is a pipe dream and no one knows better than I, that nothing is for free. But being an obsessed 44 year-old man with a weakness for every bit of new technology and gear that comes along with the promise of better performance makes me, in the parlance of salespeople everywhere, a textbook 'laydown'. There is no easier sale than to another salesperson. Back in the day when I sold cars and stocks and encyclopedias door-to-door, we called folks like me "pooches" and the opportunity to sell something to them, "cherry-picking". Ahhh, the good old days.

But back to my fat. I have been busy consulting and I'm going to share my results with you. I fired off the following e-mail to Jeff Galloway,

Dear Mr. Galloway,

I am a great admirer of yours and greatly appreciative of your contributions to the sport (more like a religion to some of us) of marathoning.

I have run eight marathons in the past four years as a result of following your 10 and 1 program. I have been a pace group leader at a Marathon Clinic for the last six of them, a hugely enjoyable and tremendously gratifying undertaking.

Is there a rough correlation between percentage of body fat and performance for long distance track and field athletes? I've heard that the reduction of every percentage of body fat is worth about a one percent increase in performance for endurance runners. I know that most elite marathoners have a body fat of between 3-7%.

I am a 44 year old recreational marathoner and in the past twelve months I have run three marathons and a 67K Ultramarathon. My best race times in the past year were, marathon time - 3:53, half marathon time - 1:41 and best 10K time - 43 minutes. I am 6'1" and weigh 200 pounds. I look much more like the sprinter and football player than a marathoner! I would like to attempt to qualify for the Boston Marathon when I turn 45 and my qualifying time is 3:30.

Based on a caliper test, my current body fat is about 15%. I have been below 10% body fat before (twenty years ago!) and feel that between now and October a body weight of 185 pounds is a realistic goal.

What are your thoughts on this subject?

I've even started a Blog about my goal to qualify for the Boston Marathon in October of this year!

Best regards, Vince Hemingson

To which Jeff Galloway, bless his speedy, Olympic-qualifying, little soul replied;


Congratulations on your progress in running. Yes, there are some signficant benefits from running that are not bestowed by any other experience. In all of my running schools, retreats and coaching I have learned that this blending of mind, body, and spirit is like solid gold. Times in races are like a facade of shiny tin in comparison.

As long as you approach your Boston qualifying as a game--and not make that your means of running satisfaction, I support you. I've heard from over 10,000 runners who have qualified for Boston using my methods. I believe that you are fully capable of doing this, with the right training and the right weather on race day.

Get a copy of my books--especially NEW MARATHON. Both are listed below. They may be available at Running Room stores. If you cannot find them, you can order them from our website, autographed and can email questions as you read.

You'll see in the Prediction Table in the back of GALLOWAY'S BOOK ON RUNNING SECOND EDITION, that your 10K performance predicts about 3:25. Here is what I recommend:

1. going to a 3-1 ratio on long runs--and run them at 11 min per mile.

2. This slower pace and more liberal walks will allow you to increase the long one to 29 or 30 miles--which gives a potential improvement of 10 min or so

3. Do mile repeats on the non long run weekends as noted in my book--in the time assigned. You could run a few more of them than is listed on the schedule.

4. Once a week, (Tues or Thurs) run a 10-12 K, and run the middle 5K at race pace, walking for 30 seconds, every 4 minutes. This is what I recommend in the race itself.

You would also benefit greatly from my one-day running schools, and retreats (beach and mountains, including Lake Tahoe). These are highly motivating and offer individualized information.

Jeff Galloway e-coaching to your goals

Any of my running buddies reading this must be laughing their heads off. I doubt that few people have recommended Jeff Galloway's books on running, especially his Marathon book, more than me over the past few years. As a pace group leader I tell everyone two things.

"The best twenty bucks you will ever spend as a runner will be on Jeff Galloway's Marathon book. And for 'Gawd's Sake', if you're serious about running, get a heart rate monitor!"

Now, imagine my delight to discover yet another e-mail from the inimitable Mr. Galloway in my inbox shortly after the first one. Jeff followed up with;


I forgot to answer your question about body fat. Certainly some reduction will help your times. I hear from many runners who try to reduce the waistline, and run out of gas during training. Read the fat-burning sections in my books and let me know if you have any questions.

Jeff Galloway
e-coaching to your goals

So Jeff has gifted me with some great coaching advice and some definite food for thought. Right off the bat, I can see that my over-all strategy that I laid out at the beginning of my Boston or Bust Blog is pretty sympatico with his suggestions. The biggest surprise is his suggestion that my long runs come every three weeks and that my pace on those days should be 11 minute miles.

Currently, I tend to stack my long runs so that after increasing the distance for two Sundays in a row, I then drop back a little on the third Sunday and then increase my long run distance for two more consecutive Sundays. My understanding of Jeff's writings on marathoning leads me to believe that he thinks that at age 44, I am probably in need of more recovery time. Certainly this is something that I have experienced first hand over the past five years and a piece of advice I offer to everyone in my pace groups over the age of 40.

My pace on Sundays has been around 9:45, and I increase that to about 10:30-10:45 during the optional add-on mileage. I also go from 10 and 1's to 5 and 1's during the optional mileage.

The idea that really popped out in Jeff's e-mail is the suggestion that during my marathons I run for four minutes and then take 30 second walk breaks. THAT is fascinating. I am definitely going to have to mull that idea over. I'm looking forward to trying it out in some training runs in the next few weeks and I'll be sure to let you in on how it works!

Thanks, Jeff!

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Back in the Saddle Again

With all due apologies to Gene Autrey, after being bucked off by the bronchitis bug, I’m back in the running saddle again. After a three-day dose of antibiotics I am at least back on my feet, if not back one hundred percent. My breathing was excellent in the early morning before the run, but I wasn’t sure how strong I was. My coughing was largely over but I think a few women in the group were a little disgusted by the fact that my sinuses were dripping like a leaky faucet. I did my best to keep the snot rockets well clear of the group. But it’s endurance running, folks, ya gotta do what ya gotta do.

The marathon clinic schedule called for 16K today. I led my 3:45 group out at a good pace, if perhaps a little fast. At the end, a group of five of us did an optional 6K. On the optional mileage I drop from doing 10 and 1’s to 5 and 1’s and go from 15-20% slower than marathon pace to 30% slower than marathon pace. As I tell my group, on Sundays it’s all about time and distance. According to my Nike Triax, we logged 22.6K in two hours and twenty minutes on the nose. It feels great knowing that we’ve banged off two half-marathons in the past two weeks and everybody has been very strong.

I felt great right up until about the last two K and then I felt a little leg-weary. Interestingly, my heart rate was a rock solid 140 for most of the run, and during recovery it was dropping under 120 to as low as 116. I had to keep myself in check going over the Burrard Street Bridge because I had a lot of bounce and spring and I wanted to let the horses out to run. Save it for hill training, Hemingson, save it for the hills!

And, for better or for worse, my appetite has returned. Now, if the running Gods are willing, I’ll be able to get in a solid four or five days of running in the next week and a few days of cross-training. But I’ll heed Dr. Boris’ words of caution and be sure to monitor my recovery so that I don’t try to do too much too soon. Ohhh, it’s good to back on board again!

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Restless in Vancouver

Restless in Vancouver

Four days without running is driving me around the bend. I’ve cleaned house, caught up with the laundry and slept as much as is possible. But the urge to go for a run has left me as itchy as a new tattoo.

Having promised Dr. Boris I’d stay out of lycra-spandex until at least Sunday, I’ve tried to scratch my running itch with the next best thing. If you can’t do it, at least you can read about it! I went out to a local bookstore and loaded up on running magazines (I’ve already got a stack of books on running taller than me).

The best of the bunch this month is definitely Runner’s World February issue. The front cover story features a man, one Dean Karnazes, whose running exploits I can thoroughly appreciate, and better yet, identify with. Karnazes is an ultramarathon specialist, a runner who doesn’t really get going until he’s out past the hundred mile mark. A winner of the vaunted Badwater Race in 2004, one of Ultramarathoning’s crown jewels, Karnazes has his sights set on running 300 continuous miles. His longest run to date? 262 miles (or 10 marathons back-to-back nonstop) A great piece and a great read.

Dean Karnazes has his own website at The site also mentions his book coming out later this Spring in 2005.

"There are those of us whose idea of the ultimate physical challenge is the 26.2-mile Boston Marathon. And then there is Dean Karnazes. Karnazes has run 262 miles nonstop; he has won the 135-mile Badwater Ultramarathon across Death Valley-considered the world's toughest footrace-in 130-degree weather, and he has run a marathon to the South Pole.

Ultramarathon Man is Dean Karnazes' story: the mind-boggling adventures of his nonstop treks through the hell of Death Valley, the incomprehensible frigidity of the South Pole, and the breathtaking beauty of the mountains and canyons of the Sierra Nevada. Karnazes captures the euphoria and out-of-body highs of these adventures and just as graphically describes the often gruesome bummers (he once fell asleep while running and just missed being hit by a car in the middle of a two-lane highway).

With an insight and candor rarely seen in sports memoirs, he also reveals how he merges the solitary, manic, self-absorbed life of hard-core ultrarunning with a full-time job, a wife, and family, and how running has made him who he is today: a man with an uberjock's body, a teenager's energy, and a champion's widsom."

Release date: March 17th, 2005"

A follow-up article in Runner's World on what it takes to run your first Ultramarthon and a 16 week training program to tackle your first 50 miler is also well worth the read.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Diagnosis Dilemma

I am incredibly fortunate to have been blessed in life with a series of great family physicians, starting with Dr. Henry Birnbaum, and now with Dr. Boris Gimbarevsky, who took over his practise. I pulled my t-shirt over my head and hopped up on the table in Dr. Boris' examining room as soon as he asked me how he could help me.

I outlined how I'd been feeling for the past two days and said he'd probably want to have a listen to my lungs.

It took Dr. Boris all of two seconds to start shaking his head.

"Take a deep breath in and out", he had instructed and I did my best to comply, I really did.

But the wheezing rattle that emanated from me as Dr. Boris listened on his stethoscope was enough.

"You sound bad, you sound really bad, in fact you sound terrible."

As he prescribed me antibiotics for my bronchial infection, I quickly began negotiating.

"So, I guess I probably shouldn't be running for a few days?"

"Not if you want to get better."

"But I've just started another marathon clinic!"

"I suggest you get better first."

"How about if I took three days off?", I suggested, thinking ahead to my Sunday run.

Dr. Boris sighed as he so often does in dealing with Hemingsons.

"Are you still running with your heart rate monitor?"

I nodded in assent.

"Easy on Sunday, IF you're feeling better, and keep your heart rate down, you should be okay. And you'll need to use the Symbicort", he added, referring to my asthmas inhaler.

After a few minutes of pleasantries and getting caught up with Dr. Boris I immediately took pains to get my antibiotics down my gullet as quickly as possible. Let the healing begin!

So, rest for Thursday, Friday and Saturday and hope that an easy run on Sunday has me back on track.

Smell the Coffee

It's true. Sometimes you have to wake up and smell the coffee. I had planned to run a very easy 10K last night. That was right up until the point in the afternoon where I climbed a single flight of stairs and was left bent over and gasping for breath at the top. And did I mention that I was light headed? I then did something unusually intelligent for yours truly. I called for an appointment with my physician. Judging from the rattling and wheezing sounds coming from where my lungs are supoosed to be, I suspect I may have a touch of brochitis. However, as I have yet to finish medical school I'll leave the final prognosis to Dr. Boris.

And the rain continues to come down in Vancouver. The whole world is a soggy mess. Where's the silver lining in all those rain clouds? In keeping with my focus on my long-term goals, I also cancelled my cross-training session for Thursday. I was supposed to spend 45 minutes training and 45 minutes sparring with a friend of mine at Contenders Gym. JW is preparing for his first fight in a few months and as he is short of sparring partners, I have volunteered my services. However, in my current condition, I don't think I'd represent much of a challenge. And much as I like JW, I don't really want to be a semi-mobile punching bag.

The only benefit to this bout is that whatever bug has bitten me has resulted in me being put off my feed. I have lost a couple of pounds this week, just from feeling really crappy. My weight has dipped below 200 pounds for the first time this year. Not a weight loss regimen I'd reccomend to anyone.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Running on Seven Cylinders

Sometimes you have to listen to your body. After two weeks of unseasonably frigid weather, Vancouver has been run over by the Pineapple Express, also known as a Tropical Punch. If you happen to think, as I do, that this sounds suspiciously like the drinks special at the Maui Hilton, you are not alone. It is, however, a very colourful description of the weather system that is now inundating Vancouver and indeed much of the rest of the Wet Coast of British Columbia with precipitation. The Hawaiian allusion is attributable to the fact that the warm, moist air responsible for all the rain has come to us courtesy of the South Pacific. That's the geographic area, not the musical, that is. In the past 48 hours we have had more than 100mm of rain and we’re expecting another 300mm in the next few days. I saw a man with a long, grey beard building a very big boat next door…

Anyways, back to my body. During Vancouver’s cold snap it had gotten as cold as –9 Celsius, and when taking the wind chill factor into account during some of our runs, I had been piling up mileage in weather as cold as –15 C. Business as usual for stubble-jumpers who run in the Canadian Prairies, but the conditions were a travesty for a West Coast boy. I have a touch of exercise-induced asthma to begin with and the running in the cold seemed to exacerbate my condition. I developed a bit of a dry, hacking cough that wouldn’t go away - but I FELT great during all of our runs. Yesterday morning my resting heart rate was up, which wasn’t a great sign.

Last night’s Tuesday Marathon Clinic called for a 6K speed workout, and within a few minutes I knew that all was not right with Vince’s world. The run took place during a torrential downpour, and despite the freezing rain I was overheating and my heart rate bore no relation to my speed. I had no snap, my legs were dead and it felt like I was running on seven cylinders. At three-quarters effort I couldn't catch my breath. My heart rate shot through the roof. And the dry cough had turned into something reminiscent of Dennis Quaid’s interpretation of Doc Holliday in Wyatt Earp. I sounded like I had tuberculosis – hack, hack. I backed off from an eighty percent effort to cruise control.

Now it’s time for me to practice what I preach to everybody in my running group. You have to protect the franchise; you have to take care of your body. If I was coaching myself, I would have benched me, but I hate not to show up for a Clinic night. I hate to let anybody down and the best way to set a good example is to show up every night. Ya gotta come to play. Tonight I have a 10K and I intend to take it very easy.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Sunday Morning Social

I have to admit that I have long since evolved past the point where running marathons is about setting personal goals or a new personal best time record or, something as truly unimaginable as a podium finish or even a best in class. No, I have become what the ubiquitous, ‘they’, call a ‘lifestyle marathoner’. I would no sooner miss my Sunday morning long run than the Pope would miss his Sunday Morning Service. Sunday mornings are the social highlight of my week. It’s where I get caught up with some of the best and most enduring friends I have made in the past few years.

This latest burr under my saddle blanket, qualifying for Boston, has had a few unforeseen consequences. As I have stepped up my pace appreciably, I am no longer running surrounded by familiar faces, even on the long, slow, distance (LSD) Sunday mornings that I cherish. My good friend Seymour is a prime example. Seymour and I have trained for at least four and possibly five marathons together. This discrepancy in my memory would have been perfect fodder for a protracted discussion on one of our four hour pace group jaunts on Sunday morning. At least ten or fifteen or maybe even twenty minutes would have been spent in recalling the whos, the whens and the wheres of our recent marathons. And before you know it, miles would have passed by under our feet. I can’t recall the number of times that we have run for three or four hours and then been astonished that the run is over because the time has passed by so quickly.

One of the great things about training for a marathon and in running out of Denman Street is the people I meet. I will often run with a cardiologist, Dr. John who is every bit as bitten by the gadget and technology bug as myself. There are doctors and lawyers and artists and executives and students, all of them who find that running a marathon fills some need in their lives. It’s a healthy lifestyle, a lifetime goal, an opportunity to get away from what it is they do, leave their worries behind and just get lost in the miles. The Sunday morning runs go on for so long that everything that happens in the world and in people’s lives becomes a topic for discussion. The stories are often as meandering as the trails we follow. And often times very personal. When you run marathons with someone over an extended period of time it’s as if you’ve been in boot camp with them or done time together.

Now, on Sunday morning, having stepped up in speed to lead the 3:45 marathon group, I am surrounded by new faces, some I recognize, some that are running their first marathon. And of course at the start of every new marathon clinic, as a pace group leader, it’s exciting to see all the first time marathoners. They are the main reason I love being a pace group leader. There is nothing quite like being in the holding pen that lies just behind the finish of a marathon race. It’s the area where the volunteers hand you a cup of water, wrap you in a plastic sheet, drape that coveted finishers medal around your neck, cut your timing chip off your runners, and guide you to the tent where the food and refreshments are laid out.

As a group leader I always hope to finish the marathon in the vicinity of the people I’ve trained with. If you finish close together there is much hugging and falling about as if you are all comrades in arms and of course you are. The faster runners waiting ahead of you will tell you that so and so has finished but that others are still out on the course, still doing battle. So you wait in the holding pen for them to cross the finish line because you want to see them and you want them to see a familiar face. And they come in, a few seconds and a few minutes apart and it is wonderful. Finishing your first marathon is a magical thing. People are astonished that they actually managed to achieve the goal that they set for themselves, “I never thought I’d finish, Vince!” And when the full weight of their accomplishment hits them, there are often tears mixed freely in with the sweat. Having been a tiny bit of helping them finish is like running my first marathon all over again. I have yet to get tired of it.

Now I see Seymour mostly on the periphery of the clinic and the coming to and fro from the Running Room on Denman Street. Fortunately our tradition of Sunday breakfasts after the run has held and this is where I will get caught up with old friends. And bring new ones. An indication of just what a social group we are is illustrated by the fact that we have already begun planning our dinner for the end of the clinic and our celebratory dinner where we hand out little awards AFTER the marathon. At Denman Street an awful lot of eating and drinking accompanies our running!

This Sunday our clinic goal was to run 13K. I always add some optional mileage and was planning an extra 3K. Unfortunately there was a communication fritz and the 13K route was more like 16K and by the time my group had finished our add-on, we had run 19.6K! After doing 10 and 1s for the regular mileage, I switch to 5 and 1s and decrease the pace for the extra distance. Still, it was a bit of a stretch!

Vancouver has been going through an unseasonably cold stretch of weather. So much so in fact, that the city that prides itself on being green all year round has been white for the better part of ten days. And bitterly cold. Late Saturday evening I watched out my front window in horror as great white flakes began tumbling from the sky. I thought there would be no way my Miata would ever get through any kind of snow to get to the clinic first thing on Sunday morning. Then, sometime after Midnight, it began to rain.

The running conditions that faced us the next morning were nothing short of treacherous. So for almost 20K we had to gingerly run through slush, on compacted snow, and on ice made slick with surface water. No one in my group fell but we had a few close calls. And everyone commented on the fact that running on such surfaces was particularly fatiguing as you were running almost on tippy toes trying to find safe traction and grip. We ended up using lots of peripheral and core muscles to keep our balance and those muscles definitely got more of a work out than they’re used to. Still, it's hard not to feel as sense of satisfaction at getting in 20K and feeling great afterwards.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

The Plan - Running Leaner, Meaner and Smarter

Having made a very vocal declaration of my intention to qualify for the Boston Marathon to all and sundry within earshot, and the even more public decision to write about it on the Blog, I now have to go out and do it. Saying you are going to qualify for the Boston Marathon and actually doing it, are, to not put too fine a point on it, two entirely different exercises. And there is no getting around the fact that running a marathon in 3:30 is a very different beast from running one in 3:53, which is my personal best to date. Twenty-five minutes is a huge amount of time to carve off a personal best. So what makes me think I can do it? And how am I going to get there? Please allow me to ramble…

For starters, I am not built like your typical marathoner. I’m more mesmorph and not much ectomorph.
At 6’1” and roughly 200 lbs, give or take an entrée or two, I am mindful of the fact that there exists a rough rule of thumb that states that for every percentage point of body fat you lose, you should become about one percent faster. So the first step in my strategy to qualify for Boston is to getter leaner. I'd put my body fat at somewhere between 12 and 15%.

What does your typical marathoner look like? For me, Kenyans come immediately to mind. And I don’t much look like I’ve ever set foot in the Kenya Highlands, never mind come from there. I say this because the lion’s-share of the top ten fastest-ever run times in the world in the marathon are held by Kenyans. The feats of West African runners in distances from 5K to the marathon are staggering to contemplate when you analyse the results of distance events in the last twenty years.

And not just any Kenyans mind you, we’re talking about a select group of Kenyans, largely from the Kalenjin tribe, from a relatively small area of Kenya, in the Nandi Hills. And these superb athletes seem almost to be cut from the same bolt of cloth, resembling each other in height; 5’5” – 5’7”, weight; in the neighborhood of 125 lbs, and levels of body fat; under 3 percent. So at an elite level, there are clearly genetic parameters at play.

One of my favorite marathoners is former World Record holder (2:08:34), Derek “Deke” Clayton from Australia. Deke was called a “monster” marathoner by the sporting press who wrote that he “pounded the pavement” as he ran. And how large was this monster? Six feet two and more than 160 pounds, that’s how large. It’s enough to make you go back to the buffet.

It’s not that I’m all that slow, I ran track, 100 and 200 metres in high school. But I also ran out of gas two-thirds of the way through 400 metres. In College and University I was much more drawn to the gym than I was to the running trails and at one point I weighed around two hundred and twenty pounds with less than ten percent body fat. I could also bench press more than three hundred pounds.

In my late twenties I ran four to six times a week, and living in the heart of Vancouver, spent my early mornings circumnavigating Stanley Park on the Sea Wall, about 10K . It was a perfect way to get an hour of exercise, averaging between 42 and 48 minutes, depending on how I felt. I managed to reel off a number of 37-38 minute 10Ks in the full flower of my youth.

During my thirties I had a lot of back trouble that stemmed from a series of traumatic injuries and almost all of my exercising routines were curtailed. In fact, for a couple of six-month periods, I was unable to walk without the use of a cane. I ultimately ended up having back surgery for herniated discs, L4-L5 and L5-S1, the procedures being a discectomy
and a laminectomy
Post surgery, I was left with a significant degree of chronic back pain, although I consider the surgery to have been a huge success and I’d do it again in a heart beat.

The advice I got at the time from my neurosurgeon, my physiotherapist and my family physician was that I should consider finding a form of exercise that would lessen the impact on my lower back. Did I find an alternative form of exercise? Not really. The result was that by the time I was approaching forty I was also approaching two hundred and fifty pounds. Yikes! I promise to post a photo in the near future that I keep on my refrigerator door. I look like a Scottish Sumo Wrestler lost in the jungles of Borneo.

One day I looked in the mirror and I didn’t like what I saw and I decided right then and there that if I was going to be in pain, I might as well be in pain and be in shape. So I hired a personal trainer and I started running again, working my way up to about an hour a day.

I dropped thirty pounds in a very short period of time (three months) and plateaued for a while at about two hundred and twenty pounds. Being goal-oriented by nature, I also liked the idea of running a marathon at forty. Over the course of time my weight continued to drop, first to two hundred and ten pounds and then to two hundred pounds, which is where I balance the scales today.

The great benefit to this weight loss, and a completely unforseen and welcome development, was that I was better able to manage my back pain to a much greater degree. Certainly I felt much better and had a much more positive attitude. I don't think I can overstate the benefits that a running lifestyle has given me.

Over the course of the next ten months I believe it will be possible for me to shed a pound and a half to two pounds per month. I would be extremely happy with any weight under a hundred and ninety pounds by the time I plan to qualify for Boston in October at the Okanagan International Marathon in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada. Up until now, almost all of my weight loss has come from the amount of exercise I am getting from running three to four times a week, year round, and training for multiple marathons. The next stage of weight loss will certainly require me to monitor my caloric intake and pay greater attention to my specific training and nutritional requirements.

In the meantime, my best 10K times in the last few years have been in the 43-44 minute range and my best half marathon has been a 1:41. One of my favorite websites for all things having to do with marathons is and they have some fabulous training tools. They also have a race predictor that calculates potential times in races based on times you have already run in other races. Eureka!
According to the calculator, based on a 44-minute 10K, I should be able to run a 3:24 marathon. Based on a 1:41 Half, I should be able to run a 3:31:32. At least I’m still in the ballpark.

Therefore, the second step to qualifying for Boston is to get meaner. And by that I mean focused. I’ll be concentrating on getting more out of my hill training and speed work outs, and being disciplined in my long, slow distance runs where I plan to continue with Jeff Galloway’s advice to go the extra miles. I'm planning to work my way up to 30 miles.

The third part of my strategy to qualify for Boston in Kelowna is to run smarter. I am a huge believer in the benefits of training with a Heart Rate Monitor - - and have done so in all my marathons. I can’t imagine training without one, although that may say as much about my love of gadgets and toys as anything else.

My resting heart rate in the morning is 47-49, although occasionally I’ll see a 46. Should my morning HR get above 50 I know it’s time to back off a little. My Maximum Heart Rate is a little strange, and outside the normal bell-curve. I take the “220 minus your age Rule of Thumb” and toss it out the window. In Hill Training I can get my HR up to 210 and I saw 212 last Spring. I usually run a marathon at a steady 160-162, do the last 10K at 168-172, and in Victoria I did the last kilometer at about 178 and crossed the Finish Line at 182.

My other toy to which I’m addicted is my Nike Triax pedometer - It's like having a speedometer on your wrist. I re-calibrate mine a couple of times per year on a measured track and while Nike only claims 97% accuracy, on a track I can get that to within one percent. And this is where the smarter part of qualifying for Boston comes in. I’ve run my last three marathons with the Triax and to say I was shocked by the data I collected would be a gross understatement.

The year I ran my guts out in Victoria into a 30-35 knot headwind I was very disappointed to finish in 4:02. But I was stunned when I checked my pedometer to see that I had not run 26.2 miles, or anywhere close to it. According to my Triax, in the process of weaving around other runners on the course and meandering around the corners without really paying the slightest attention to the racing line, I had covered 27.4 miles! I had run an extra 1.2 miles, even taking into consideration a few percentage points of error, this was significant. I was shocked, and immediately gave myself credit for having run a better race than I thought, if not a particularly intelligent none.

The following year in Victoria, in order to avoid some of the masses of runners, I started near the front of the pack. That strategy and my best attempts to follow the race line as best as I could, resulted in the Triax registering a distance of 26.8 miles. Better, but still over half a mile extra. And my time? 3:53.

So next October I am going to attempt to qualify for Boston in a much more sparsely attended marathon, on a flat, stretched out course without a lot of curves – none other than the Okanagan International Marathon in Kelowna. That plan alone should be worth another 6-8 minutes off my time. And the closest I'll get to free time. All the other improvements in speed and time that I'm looking for are going to take hard work and effort over a long period of time.

My first goal is to run the Vancouver Marathon in May around 3:45 and then run the Okanagan Marathon in Kelowna in any time under 3:30:59.

That’s my plan to qualify for Boston – run Leaner, run Meaner, and run Smarter. The time between now and October 9th will tell the tale.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Taking Stock

It's two weeks into 2005 and my Quixotic quest to qualify for the Boston Marathon (now, that's alliteration) seems to be proceeding nicely.

I turn 45 in August and and my qualifying time for the Boston Marathon drops from 3:20:59 to 3:30:59. Don't laugh, I know all kinds of marathoners who would look back over their racing careers and would KILL for 59 seconds. Over the Christmas Holidays I began to think more and more about the odds of my being able to make the cut.

My best marathon time to date is a 3:53 in the Royal Victoria Marathon (October, 2004) and I've been wondering ever since what it would take to wack another 25 minutes off my best time.

My 3:53 came in my eighth marathon in four years. My first marathon was in Vancouver in the Spring of 2002.
My goal was to beat four hours because I'd heard that Oprah Winfrey had run HER first marathon in four hours. I was gutted when I staggered across the finish in 4:06:09. I thought I'd been beaten by Oprah, and foolishly, I allowed the thrill of finishing my first marathon to be diminished by missing my time goal by a mere six minutes and nine seconds. I didn't realize until nearly a year later, when bitterly whining to a running buddy who filled me in correctly, that Oprah had actually run her marathon in 4:29:20, which is still quite a feat.

But I digress. Being somewhat obstinate, a trifle obdurate and not a little obtuse by nature, when it came to the marathon, I felt I had unfinished business. My goal had been to run a single marathon; just to say I had and then retire from the field triumphant in having beaten Oprah and the four hour barrier. I felt I had to keep running until I finished a marathon in less than four hours. Why? Because that is what I had told everyone I was going to do.

The next marathon in 2002 was the Royal Victoria in October, so I kept training. In the midst of training, our financing came through from National Geographic for a documentary film I was working on, The Vanishing Tattoo, My Marathon plans were cut short - sort of... I had promised a good friend of mine, Seymour that if he ever ran his first marathon, I'd be there with him every step of the way. Imagine my surprise, when in a little cyber-cafe in Kuching, Sarawak - on the island of Borneo - I received a note from Seymour telling me he expected me be a man of my words and to live up to my end of the deal.

I pulled out my airline tickets and discovered that, all things working according to plan, I was scheduled to arrive back in Canada on October 9th, which was a piece of cake, because the Royal Victoria Marathon wasn't until October 13th. I hit the reply button on Seymour's e-mail and informed him that I was his partner, the only provisio being that he had to arrange all the travel and accomodation plans as I figured I'd be recovering from jet-lag for a day... or two or three.

A short digression. While filming The Vanishing Tattoo in Borneo I had been wearing these great boots and a khaki kilt, courtesy of The boots were great boots and the khaki kilt was just comfortable when the temperature was averaging 36 degrees (95 F) and the humidity painfully close to one hundred percent. I even won a Utilikilts Photo Contest posing in my kilt in Borneo . You can't make up stuff like this!

On the trip back to Canada I began formulating this idea. And the plan seemed to make sense over the course of the two days it took to travel by longboat out of the jungle and back to Kuching, and it still made sense during the 36 hours it took to fly from Kuching to Kuala Lumpur to Tai Pai to Los Angeles and back to Vancouver. I was going to run the Royal Victoria Marathon in a pair of boots and a kilt. Did I mention I was taking pills to prevent malaria that often cause hallucinagenic side-effects?

When I shared my plan with people, the universal response I got was one of incredulity and, "Was I nuts?" To a person I was told that I'd never finish the race. Which in hindsight is a reasonable reaction. At the time all it did was enforce my belief in the idea and cause me dig in my heels, boot heels that is.

More bothersome to me than the prospect of my attire was the fact that I hadn't run in nearly eight weeks. But while in Borneo, even in the extreme heat, I had managed to get in some long hikes and exercise of one sort or another on a fairly regular basis. Plus, in August I had managed several 20 mile long runs.

So my second marathon looked like this - A lark, yes. An adventure? To be sure. But my time? Seymour and I crossed the finish line in 4:42:10. In order to break four hours I was going to have to run yet another marathon.

The next five marathons over the next few years included another one in a kilt and my trusty boots; the Burnco Marathon in Calgary (5:02; and who's really counting seconds after five hours?)
, another in bone-chilling snow, sleet and hail in Vancouver where I ran a 4:03, a heart-breaker in Victoria where I ran a 4:02 into a blustery 30-35 knot headwind, another one in Vancouver where, with a mile to go I calculated in my head I was going to finish in about a 4:01 and I didn't think I could survive that so I figured I'd cut my losses and save myself for another day and sauntered across the finish line, yes, I actually sauntered, in 4:12 and then I ran another Vancouver Marathon in May, 2004, a mere ten weeks after breaking my ankle in February, and I eased myself through the course in 4:32 because I was damned if a little broken ankle was going to knock me out of the race.

And during this period I was a four hour pace group leader for a marathon clinic regularily held by the Running Room
Breaking the four hour time barrier began to take on a life of it's own. By now, I figured my reputation was at stake. Plus, I was spending a small fortune on runners and gels.

Whew! As you can see, I got close enough to four hours at the finish line to see it, smell it, almost even taste it. But it was an e-mail to and then from, Jeff Galloway in 2003 that I am convinced got me across the finish line in under four hours last fall. A running buddy of mine and I were advised by Jeff to stretch the distance on our Sunday LSDs, (not the pyschotropic drug, but the Long, Slow, Distance run you do every week in marathon training to build your endurance). John and I added a couple of miles every Sunday until we got up to 30 miles. The result was that my last few marathons were run with negative splits and that I felt very strong at the end.

Last summer, in 2004, after missing four hours in the marathon by a few minutes I was almost beside myself. But that is the incredible attraction of the marathon. At 26.2 miles, the marathon is a thinking mans race. It is the careful management of scarce physical resources. After you run one, you can almost always look back and see, I could have shaved a minute off there, a few seconds here, I should have sped up there and eased up on the long hill... In other words, you can Monday morning quarterback all your races for years and years! In the summer of 2004, August 14th to be exact, I took Jeff Galloway's advice to heart and then I took it a step further.

I ran an Ultramarathon trail race, the Stormy Trail 67K Ultra in Squamish. That little adventure took 9:42 to complete. Oh, and I was wearing boots and a kilt again. Mostly because someone told me it couldn't be done.

But the effects of the long mileage training I was doing had huge benefits in my marathon training. The final result was a 3:53 in the easiest marathon I have yet run.

Next, my strategy for shaving another 25 minutes off my marathon time in the next ten months.