Monday, July 30, 2007

Mileage Monsters

I was mentioning to a friend the other day about the long runs that I had been doing lately with my running buddy, Patrick and had to smile when he called us a couple of "mileage monsters". That and "crazy".

In preparation for the Stormy 50 Mile (80 K) Ultramarathon Trail Race, Pat and I had reeled off runs of 45, 35, 40, 45, 50, 42 and 35 kilometres... and that was in addition to my averaging 20-26 K on most Fridays. Plus the usual tempo runs and speedwork.

Yesterday, Pat and I caught a break with the weather. It was cloudy and overcast rather than the hot, clear blue skies we had had for most of the week. Even then, it was almost seventy degrees and very humid. We both were still recovering from the trip up to Haida Gwaii and the Skidegate Totem to Totem Marathon. We finished the 35 K in three hours and fifty minutes. It was comfortable pace.

My weight is down to 187 this morning and I should be at 185 by the time of Stormy. That should be a comfortable weight to run at.

This weekend I will limit myself to 20K on Friday and another 20K on Sunday. Then a week of easy living and maybe a little more emphasis on carbs in my diet.

The nice thing about the Ultras is that you can go at a steady enough pace to eat comfortably along the way. Hopefully it won't be too hot, although I have done two Stormy's where the temp was well into the 80's.

Looking forward to those soft-boiled potatoes!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Summertime Blues

Seem to be suffering a little Haida Gwaii, post-partum let down in the week following our return home. Granted, the ten days that Patrick and I spent in the Queen Charlotte Islands were jam-packed, so much so that we both needed a few days afterwards just to get caught up on sleep. Maybe just a little mid-life ennui...

I took Wednesday off and then did a pretty hard 10 K on Thursday morning (46 minutes) and a 20 K on Friday morning. I did both at the crack of dawn to escape the summer sun. It has actually felt a little like July here in Vancouver for most of the week!

Doing 35 K on Sunday. Eighty K (50 miles) coming up fast on August 11, and just three short days after my 47th birthday, is not that far off, so I guess that qualifies as some sort of a taper...

May lay off the speed work and the hard hills until after the race as well.

Hoping to sneak in under ten hours for the race.

Weight 187.5 this morning.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Fine Finish

After ten solid days of running with some big mileage days - a marathon and a 50K -and travelling in Haida Gwaii and not much rest to speak of, I fully intended to take Tuesday night's tempo run easy. Maybe no more than a light 6K to move some blood around...

I ran the first three kilometres with Seymour and then decided to do 8K after all. It was a warm evening and with a few kilometres to go I found that I was catching up with the back end of the 3:45 marathon group.

It had been a spell since I had done any speed work so thought I'd hit the after burners for the last five hundred metres. You have to show the kids every once in a blue moon not to take the old man for granted...

I managed to catch the last few stragglers a few hundred meters from the 8K mark, but they weren't willing to go down without a fight, bless their little hearts.

In a mad dash we sprinted in and I spiked my heart rate up to 192.

Was a little sore this morning, not too bad, and tipped the scales at 188 pounds.

Should be able to hit 185 for the Stormy 50 Mile Trail Race on August 11.

Monday, July 23, 2007

The 2007 Skidegate Totem to Totem Marathon

Thanks for the notes regarding my absense, and my apologies for the huge lapse between posts. I have been away, in a place where it felt like I was in a different world.

The next time you see a race volunteer, give them a high five. The next time you see a race organizer, give them a hug. Chances are, if they are organizing a community event - from scratch - they will need it, and they will most assuredly deserve it.

Back in 2003 my good friend David Seymour and I were up in Haida Gwaii, and we were granted the rare privelege of witnessing the ground-breaking ceremony in Skidegate of Kaay Llnagaay or Qay'Ilnagaay - the Haida Cultural Centre. With it's completion in May, 2008 it will soon be a ground-breaking piece of architecture as a fusion of form and function. Aside from being a world-class Museum, historical and educational facility, the Qay (rhymes with 'guy', but with a 'K' sound, as it is known to the locals) will be so much more than a breath-taking collection of Haida art and artifacts. The Qay will be the ultimate expression of a living, thriving Haida culture in an extraordinary period of a contemporary cultural revival and renaissance. Even ten months from completion, the Qay facility takes your breath away.

So in 2003, David Seymour, or just 'Seymour' as he is known to the world, and I were trying to think of ways to get people to come to the Queen Charlotte Islands/Haida Gwaii and Skidegate and witness the extraordinary. As a devout traveler and marathoner, I thought that Skidegate would be an amazing venue for a truly unique destination marathon. A place to travel to, run a marathon and to see and do the kinds of things that make up one of those rare 'once-in-a-lifetime' kind of experiences. In an island landscape as much art as geography, the name for the event came to me in a flash, a 'Totem to Totem' Marathon. 'Run Haida Gwaii'.

The Totem to Totem Marathon. Seymour loved the idea the moment it bubbled and tumbled over my lips and off my tongue in a nearly incoherent babble of words. He mentioned it at the time to the Chief Band Councillor of Skidegate, Willard Wilson and to the Skidegate Band Manager, Barabara 'Babs' Stevens on that trip in 2003. During that trip I was also a guest in Babs' house and we had many conversations. Let's be frank, Willard and Babs are not marathoners, and I suspect they even think that marathoners are a little bit crazy (and let's let's face it, we are, aren't we)but both Willard and Babs are doers and they were willing to mull over the idea. A seed had been planted. Over the next few years there were many meetings and much discussion. And in the intervening years, the Qay slowly took shape and rose out of the mists that so often shroud Haida Gwaii.

Last year the Totem to Totem Marathon became as concrete as the Qay. Five runners went to Skidegate and ran the inaugural Skidegate Totem to Totem Marathon in 2006, from the Totems in front of the Qay, out 13.1 miles to St. Mary's Spring and back. It was a spectacular venue for a marathon, and on a flat level course we saw thirty-two bald eagles along the route.

This year, the 2007 Skidegate Totem to Totem Marathon (and Half Marathon) tripled in number from five to fifteen runners. When corporate sponsors failed to deliver on their promises in time, the local race organizers in Skidegate simply went ahead in their own inimitable fashion and did the race organization themselves. Special thanks must go out to Janna and Andy Wilson, Babs and Seymour - they made the race happen. And thanks to the dozens of other volunteers who made the race possible for the runners. And this year, even the eagle count was up, to thirty-seven! Nearly an eagle per kilometre. The race conditions were near perfect, cool and overcast. When the course is certified, it will be a marathon on which to run personal bests and set records.

I flew up to the Queen Charlotte Islands/Haida Gwaii on Friday, July 13th (yes, I know, Friday the 13th!) with my good friend, fellow marathoner and superb photographer, Patrick Gross for a full ten days in an attempt to see and do as many things as possible - just as if we were destination marathoners taking the vacation of a lifetime. We traveled from the very top of Haida Gwaii on Graham Island, to it's southern-most tip on South Moresby Island. Along the way we were awe-struck, filled with wonder, feted and feasted. We saw humpback whales, seals and sea lions, too many ravens and eagles to count, a black bear up close and dozens of deer. We saw a puffin and countless other sea birds, flora and fauna. In the historic southern Haida villages which are a World Heritage site, we were simply left speechless. If you ever have a chance in your lifetime, you simply must see the Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve. It will be one of those things you never forget.

With Pat, and later on, our friends Seymour and Kirsten, we had an unbelievably fun-filled excursion of running, eating, drinking, adventure and excitement.

I will be writing a much longer piece detailing where we went, what we saw and what we did, but during the ten days we were in Haida Gwaii, Pat and I did manage to fit in a seven mile and a thirty-two mile run to go along with our 26.2 mile marathon on Saturday, July 21. And with Kirsten we also fit in a vigorous 10K hike along the beach and a river-bank out to see a historic ship wreck. And we caught a few salmon along the way, plus a few crabs...

In the meantime, thank you again for your e-mails.

And please visit these web sites -

In addition to those already mentioned, special thanks to our Guide from Moresby Explorers, Laura, our cooks Susan and Erin, to our fishing guide, Trent and his family, and to Danny, Nika Collison, Gracie of 'Gracie's fame and her daughter Caitlin, Roberta Olson and to all the people of Haida Gwaii who have once again raised the bar on what true hospitality is all about.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Frequent Runner Miles

After a Sunday where we did back to back Half Marathons - ie, 42K (26 miles), with the Canada Day long weekend looming we decided to switch our run to last Saturday - all 45K (28 miles of it).

I did a fast 8K tempo run last Tuesday, and with only two days of recovery and on a hot afternoon, only managed a 37 minute time. A little disappointing, but given my recent mileage not all that surprising.

I added in another couple of easy 20K romps before our epic 45K Saturday romp that nearly took us out to Horseshoe Bay and back. We ran along marine Drive and made a scenic detour out to Lighthouse park and it was one of those days and one of those runs where it would have been great to have a camera because the views were so spectacular.

Interestingly, that gave me a full three days rest until the Tuesday night 8K tempo run, and despite running in the early evening, in the setting sun, with temperatures in the high 70's, I manages to whittle nearly a full minute off my time, and at a significantly lower heart rate in the first 4K. This 8K was done in 36:20.

This weekend we are backing off to do a 35K, and then follow that up with a 50K and then the Haida Gwaii Totem-to-Totem Marathon in Skidegate in the Quenn Charlotte Islands the following weekend.

The Stormy 50 Mile (80K) Trail Ultra-marathon on August 11th is looming ever closer!

I feel pretty good, relatively speaking and I am tipping the scales at 191 pounds.