Tag Archive for WPS Half Marathon

Recap of the past little while, including my race report for my first DNF – Sprucewoods Ultra 50k

Hang on, this is going to be a long one…

So where to start?

It has been quite a while since I have had a chance to post and I have run a few races in that time and there are definitely some stories to tell!

I think I will start with the Winnipeg Police Service Half Marathon on May 1st. This is the event I set my half marathon PR at back in 2014 (1:46:00) and I was a fair bit slower this year. I definitely hadn’t been training for speed work for the half distance and it showed. I still hit 1:59:55 so a sub 2 hour half was quite respectable.

My wife ran this one too and did great!

It was a really great day to run too – sunny and just a little cool. Since I knew I wasn’t trying to kill any PRs, I was able to take it easy and just enjoy myself and the run.

Thanks to all the organizers and volunteers for this race!

Next race was 2 weeks later – the Sprucewoods Ultra 50k, my first real trail ultra. Before I get into that one I want to go back a few weeks and set the stage…

On April 16th (2 weeks before the WSP Half) the organizer of the race (Dwayne from Trail Run Manitoba – www.trailrunmanitoba.com) had set up an event out at the race venue to help familiarize people with the trails and route of the race.

The event is at the Sprucewoods Provinicial Park a few hours outside the city. I haven’t been out there since high school and I figured hitting the familiarization event would be a good idea. The park is fairly unique – it is home to some real hills, not mountains but definitely some pretty steep slopes and unique terrain.

The meet up was to start at 8:30 out at the trail head – the same time the 50k was scheduled to start on race day so I thought that was pretty cool as I could use the drive out to judge how much time I would need on race day as well.

The weather was interesting as well – windy (although not too bad in the forest) and chillly (hovering just under freezing). There were also weather watches out indicating that some rain that was coming could turn into a major snowfall. So I dressed warm and dry!

The organizer had plans for 2 running groups – one doing the full trail once at around 25 miles and a shorter run at about 10-11 miles. I planned to do the shorter one as a test of some of my equipment and then head home. So that is what I brought liquid and fuel for.

…but I ended up starting out with a group that headed out a few minutes early and found out part way in that they were planning to do the full 25 mile loop. So I figured I would head out with them for a bit and then turn around and head back to around a half marathon distance.

I was doing fairly well and feeling pretty good so I decided to keep going with the group for longer than I expected and I eventually got to the point where it was shorter to keep going instead of turning around and heading back. So I texted my wife to say I was going to be later than expected and kept going. (unfortunately absolutely no cell service out there so she didn’t get that text until much later in the day)

Definitely some pretty interesting terrain – some lovely hills, some great cliffs to look out over and at least one tree across the path that we had to get around.

So about 13 miles in it started to rain with ice pellets (which were fun) and it rained, and rained and rained. Even though I was wearing some decent water resistant gear I got damned soaked. The rain started to mess with the trails near the end too – slick and slippery. There is a lot of sand in the area and when it was all wet it got a bit messy here and there.

About 15 miles in I was out of solid fuel though and running low on liquids and I started to slow down. The rest of the crew continued on as I took my time and started to conserve my energy in case I hit the wall. As I slowed down, I got wetter and wetter. I got to the point I would regularly squeeze my fists and force a huge amount of water out of my gloves to lighten the load a bit – this unfortunately had the effect of pushing out the water that my body heat had already warmed up and my hands would get instantly cold for a while. At about mile 20 I put on my second set of gloves while I was in a cabin along the route trying to warm up a bit.

With the rest of the crew off on their own I had to find my way back on my own – luckily I was using a GPS running app on my phone (and a battery bank with my so I had lots of juice) that I would stop and check every 10-15 minutes and at any trail intersections to make sure I was still heading toward the trail head and my truck. (oh yeah – I got a new truck replacing my 8 year old van a few weeks before this run)

So I made it back to the trail head in the end – a bit slow, quite wet and a bit cold. But in the end with some turn arounds and detours I ended up accidently doing a trail marathon in the freezing rain fuelled by 2 bottles of 0 calorie electrolyte drink, 4 oatmeal cookies and a small bag of M&Ms. OK…so definitely fairly confident at that point that I could do the 50k without any issues, especially if it was decent weather that day.

The stage is now set – feeling strong and healthy and confident that the 50k should be doable. I have done two 12 hour Lemming Loop events before and hit 50k in each of those at the 6 hour and the 6 hour 25 min mark respectively while still conserving energy to pull out another 18-19 miles over the next 6ish hours. So I figured balancing with the hills I should be able to hit near the 7 hour mark which I figured would be more than respectable.

I spent quite a bit of time in the days leading up to the race making sure my plan was solid and I had my gear all sorted out. I was especially certain that I had a method of cleaning up after the race as I didn’t bring 50k of trail dust and sweat into my new truck!

I had my hydration backpack ready with 2 litres of liquid and lots of solid food and a belt pack that holds 2 bottles ready to go with another 1.5 litres of liquid that would also hold my phone for my gps app as well as a second device for taking pictures.

The 50k race was set to be a 25 mile loop that takes a detour at about mile 19 that is 3 miles out and another 3 miles back to bring the runners up to the full 50k once they finish the loop. The race also has options for 100 miles, 100k (starting at midnight! Way to go Anthony!) and a 50 miles. They also have a trail half marathon event and 10 mile plus 10k kind of challenge – the one occurs at night and the other the next morning.

It is a fantastically organized event!

Now, since this was a trail event the weather did have to play a factor even though it was forecast to be nice out. Since the rain during the trail test event, there had been rain at all at the Park and with how sandy the terrain is the risk of fire was pretty big. Manitoba Conservation (the government body that runs the parks) put out a fire hazard warning which meant that the organizers couldn’t take vehicles out on the grass service roads to set up the aid stations out on the trail. The warning came out on Wednesday / Thursday with the 100 milers set to start at noon on Friday.

The organizers did a mad scramble and worked with Manitoba Conservation to change up the trails and find spots where the aid stations could go. In the end instead of a 25 mile loop they changed to a 20 km loop that would have 2 aid stations. The first leg would be about 7.5 miles through some of the original trails and then on some gravel roads – then more roads and back on the trails before hitting the 2nd aid station at about 10.5 miles and then another 2ish miles to get back to the start.

The 50k runners would do 2 laps and then after the 2nd lap run back along the trail for 5k to a marker and then turn around and head back to the finish.

Phenomenal that the organizers managed to pull this together as fast as they did – especially as they had already started moving their race headquarters out to the trailhead (with extremely limited cell and internet service) when the fire ban came up. Again – major kudos to these folks!

Ok – now race day. Like I said, I was feeling confident, I had my gear ready, weather was set to be great and I was ready to go. I literally had no race day jitters which is so strange for me.

I got out to the race – checked in at the race tent and got my timing chip, chatted with some folks (ironically about hydration – but I will get to that in a minute) including Dwayne the main organizer who recognized me from the Lemming Loop races, had a last bio break and we were off at 8:30.

Very sunny morning and just great to be out there. The runners spread out fairy early on and if you were wanting to run with no distractions from others it was possible very early on.

On my 2 previous 12 hours I used run/walk cycles of 5 min / 1 min to conserve energy but I couldn’t do that here – so my plan was to walk the hills and run the rest of the time and the hills were frequent enough that there were plenty of walking breaks.

It was a bit warm in the sheltered areas but in the open it was a touch cool with the wind but mostly I was happy with my gear choices.

I was feeling great – having a few snacks and at about an hour and 15 minutes in I hit the detour from the original trail onto the gravel road – it was fairly sandy and loose but it was mostly downhill (at least at the beginning) and I was able to really feel like I was moving – it felt great! I looked down at my Garmin watch to see how fast I was going and saw that it said I was only doing 3.4 mph…huh? Damned thing locked up during one of my walk breaks and now it wouldn’t even power off so I could reset it. Damn…I eventually pulled out my headphones and put one ear in so I could listen to the pacing info from my GPS running app.

Made it to the first aid station feeling really good. I had a quick drink of water and some chips (phenomenally well stocked aid stations – just amazing) and kept on moving. I would occasionally pass some of the 100k and 100 milers still out there pushing – just amazing as well.

After a mile or so more of gravel road (and a wickedly awful hill) we eventually got back on trail and into the woods. And I just kept pushing to get to the second aid station which was just as well stocked as the first.

Then more trail with a lot more hills, they weren’t long hills but maybe undulating would be the best word to describe it – up, down, up, flat, down, up, up…etc

The near the end of the first lap I came around a corner, heard a horn and saw a crap load of speedy runners barrelling towards me – the 10k trail race had begun hammering down the trail towards me.

I kept to the one side and kept moving but made sure they had room to pass. I cheered them on and got a lot of encouragement from them as they went past.

That was interesting.

Finished the first lap (at about 2:25 in or so), had a snack and small drink and then headed out for my 2nd lap figuring I would break out the camera on this lap, take it a bit easier and just settle in to it.

I did take some shots of a bridge over a creek (which apparently on the race in previous years used to be an old beaver dam you had to ford) but they didn’t turn out very well when I looked later so I won’t bother to post them here.

On the hills I was starting to feel my heart race a bit but I figured I just needed to be a bit more careful and slow down more to make sure I wasn’t pushing too hard.

At this point I did settle in comfortably, I could hear runners behind me chatting but they didn’t seem to be overtaking me and there was a runner ahead of me that I had swapped positions with a few times that I was starting to slowly gain on again. I was still confident and felt decent in my legs so I wasn’t feeling particularly concerned at this point.

Then I hit this long slow hill with a sharper incline at the end and my heart was racing pretty decent and it started to get dark…I started breathing a bit deeper and frankly got a bit spooked…then realized that it was just a cloud going over the sun and not me getting to pass out…phew.

At this point I did take a bit of extra time walking though and let some chatting runners get by and then did a bit more running but my hydration backpack was starting to feel pretty heavy and I was looking forward to ditching it once I got done this lap…it never occurred to me to wonder why it felt heavy though…

I ended up walking some more and having some more snacks. I popped some english mint candies as well which seemed to clear my head and I did a bit more running and resolved to walk a bit more until I got to the detour onto the gravel road again and then I would push and get myself sorted again.

I got to the detour and the gravel road and tried to run…and did not have it. I tried a few times but I couldn’t make it happen. Ok, walk some more until get to the aid station, have some more to drink and then get moving again.

Got to the aid station and then kept moving – even the aid stop didn’t do too much for me. Still way too much walking and not enough running.

At this point I started taking big gulps out of my hydration backpack hoping to recover but no dice. By the time I got to the 2nd aid station I was averaging under 3 mph and realized I was done, there was no way to recover. But I was determined to finish out the 2nd lap so I kept walking – at this point it was getting really tough. Heart kept racing even on small hills, legs would cramp if I walked too fast and a headache kept coming and going. I was also damned close to throwing up several times. I have never felt that awful on a run – even on the 2 12 hour runs.

My mood was not helped at this point seeing many of the other 50k runners now coming back down the trail at me as they were on their last 10k leg. An extremely encouraging bunch of runners though – everyone was saying good job to each other and encouraging one another. Fantastic to see.

Some of the runners were pretty funny too – shortly before I hit the second aid station one of them came running around a corner saw me, looked excited for a second and then yelled “F***….sorry dude I thought you were the turn around sign!”, I ensured him it was just around the corner behind me.

I started drinking fairly heavily out of one of the electrolyte drink bottles I had on my belt…again it never occurred to me to wonder why it was mostly full…

I got done the lap and one of the volunteers held up the 50k finishing medal for me, I thanked him and said that I was only at the 40k mark. I then wandered over to my drop bag, took off my backpack (again noticing how heavy it felt but not understanding why), and contemplated sitting down to rest and figure things out. But at this point I was feeling really awful and I needed to just get to my vehicle and sit and rest.

So I wandered over to the check in tent – lifted my leg to take off the timing chip and they lady there said they could take it off for me if I needed. I assured her that my legs were fine – took off the chip handed it in and thanked them for the race.

Dwayne the main organizer congratulated me but I had to tell him that I didn’t finish and I didn’t think it was healthy for me to continue. Hopefully I thanked him at this point. If I didn’t, I apologize! I appreciate all the work that went into the event and that someone is doing that so that crazy ass runners have these events to go to.

My first Did Not Finish – I’m not sure what I thought about that at that point but all I knew was that I needed to go get somewhere where I could sit.

I walked back over to my dropped gear, walked the quarter mile of hell to my truck, popped the tail gate and sat down for a minute and drank a coke.

Once I thought I could stand again, I got my stuff out of the truck and cleaned myself off with bottles of water that I had stashed in the truck for that purpose. I did a full cleaning and full change into non-running clothes and finished my packing up.

I then grabbed a beer and a sandwich I had in my cooler and sat on the tailgate for a while admiring the view. After I finished the sandwich and the beer and I sorted myself out, got in the truck and drove home doing some deep thinking.

I could not figure out what the issue was and what took me down. I thought it could be hydration as it was warmer than I expected but I had a crap load of liquid with me so how could I get dehydrated?

Before the race, when I was talking with one of the other runners, I mentioned that with my size I needed to drink early and drink often otherwise dehydration would take me down and there would be no way I could rehydrate fast enough to recover. Turns out that was a prophetic statement.

I got home around supper time and made sure to drink lots and lots. When I got up the next morning I was still 5 pounds down from what I was the morning before even though I drank a lot the night before. Definitely dehydrated.

Now I go out to the truck to get my junk out of the back and once again I am surprised at how heavy the hydration pack was. It should have been empty – in marathons it lasts me until about mile 25 which is about where I got before I crashed out…

It was over half full still even though I was hitting it hard near the end…and it all clicked…I hadn’t been drinking out of it for the first 2-3 hours of the run….what the hell? I essentially did the first half marathon distance dry…why?

I have a system that gets me through these long races without getting taken down by dehydration – I have a big gulp every mile or 10 minutes depending on how fast I am going and how warm it is outside. I did not follow the system and to make it worse it never even occurred to me that I wasn’t doing so.

On the half marathon race the weekend before I had drank more liquid on a cooler day doing less distance over way easier terrain. Something was not working right in my brain on race day, that’s for sure.

On the positive side, there were really no ill effects once I was re-hydrated. The day after the race I ran around on a steep hill with the pups with no problems at all.

So pretty dumb move on my part and I still can’t quite figure out where my brain was since my hydration ritual is ingrained in my brain, or at least I thought it was.

Every runner makes mistakes, it is just unfortunate that this mistake was a fairly basic one that delivered me my first DNF.

In the end though I am trying not to beat myself up too much about it since I came out healthy and I know that walking off in the state I was in was the smart choice. I am also still confident that I could have finished if it weren’t for that mistake so that says I am still pretty damned strong. Which helps since the Fargo Marathon is in a week…

Well – that was a long story but hopefully it was at least partially entertaining and can serve as a warning to others! Drink you bastards!


PS – thanks again to Dwayne and all the volunteers – fantastic event under tough circumstances!

Well, running streak is done. Bit of a catch up post to say how it went and where things are

So…I need to do some catching up – it has been a while since I updated the blog! Bad Ted!

There are a few things I need to cover and it will probably take a few blog posts to get through it all.

My to do list for the blog:

  1. The end of the run streak – how it worked for me and the pros and cons and how I could have made it much more useful.
  2. A trail run gone weird…gear and trail familiarization run that I ended up extending into a trail full – how did that happen and how did it go?
  3. Upcoming races / race reports – where am I at and how will they go or how did they go. Run at the Ridge 2k today (report), WPS Half Marathon (tomorrow morning so this will probably be a race report), Spruce Woods Trail Ultramarathon 50k (next weekend), Fargo Marathon (2 weeks from the 50k)
  4. Signing up for Goofy Challenge again (#6) – thoughts and planning
  5. Other possible races for the summer and the fall

I will start off the list with #1 – the end o the run streak. Five hours of overtime on Wednesday night killed it finally.

So, some quick stats:

  • 118 days total (New Years Eve plus 117 days in 2016) – average of 4.1 miles per day
  • Total of 484.91 miles in the streak and 479.69 miles in 2016
  • 298.78 miles on the treadmill (whoops, broke another one)
  • 180.91 miles outside

This puts me about 33% higher than last year at this time for mileage but still probably 33% lower than the glorious running year that was 2014 (1971 miles that year including half marathon PR 1:46, full marathon PR 4:09:44 and my first ultra hitting 49.2785 miles in 12 hours).

The run streak was definitely an interesting experiment and if nothing else it accomplished the major thing I needed it to, which was to get me motivated to run again. Which was doubly impressive because I was fighting a fair bit of stress over the past few months that could easily have turned the treadmill miles to chips and beer instead.

I did find though that maintaining the streak ended up being more important that doing specific training or following a training plan. I played this streak by ear and I would go long or short depending on how I felt – it helped keep the streak alive but didn’t really help me train to do a faster half marathon, for example.

That is on me and not something bad about run streaking – if I run streak again, I will build a plan that still allows for flexibility but also has a set training schedule built in for any upcoming races that are in the future.

That being said I did re-build my endurance a fair bit (as I will discuss more when I talk about the planned 11 mile trail test run that I willfully (and stupidly) turned into a trail marathon on a whim). And I also rebuilt my ability to run on tired legs – an ability that has always helped me on endurance events such as the 12 hour Lemming Loops and the Goofy/Dopey Challenges I have done.

What’s next then? Uhh…I’m not sure yet.

The family ran a 2k at the kids’ school this morning (the kids did great and our son especially showed some major heart pushing through – very proud of how he did) and this was my first run since the streak ended on Wednesday. So I have taken a short break since the streak ended.

I guess that gives me a bit of a taper for the Winnipeg Police Service half marathon tomorrow morning? My wife and I are both running that one and the weather is supposed to be fantastic – sunny, little to no wind and a bit cool but not stupidly so – but I honestly have no idea how I will do. I have had some great runs on the treadmill that could indicate I could maybe to really well tomorrow…but most of my outdoor runs have me settling in to a much slower pace. So, I have no idea what is going to happen tomorrow, conditions will be perfect to fly but I might just end up out for a bit of a cruise instead.

I don’t really have a plan but I suspect that I will find the 2 hour pace bunny and tag along for a mile or 2 and see where I am – hopefully that will trigger the ignition and I will step it up, if not then I will hang on with the 2 hour group and see what I can do at the end.

Either way I am not going to beat myself up about it…the Spruce Woods 50k ultra will provide all the beating I need next Saturday.

And if there is room for further beatings, they will be delivered 2 weeks later by the Fargo Marathon.

After that it will be time to assess – 1 month after Fargo is the hometown Manitoba Marathon – I haven’t signed up for it yet and I will decide if I do or not depending on how much of a beating I receive.

Then there is the local fall race schedule – Treherne Marathon in early September, Fort Garry Rotary Half a couple weeks later, then the Lemming Loop 2 weeks after that (24 hours this time?) and then the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Services Half another 2 weeks later.

That is a lot of races and I have to keep in mind that I am signed up for the Goofy Challenge in January as well that I need to stay healthy for.

Lots of things to think about and I can’t make decisions on what I need to do until I get these next 3 races done.

Lots of moving parts!

Isn’t running fun?

My initial thoughts for 2016 – run streak and a shot at Goofy Challenge 2017?

So I have been thinking for a while about what my goals and plans for 2016 should be. While I did have some great events, overall my running did not go very well in 2015. My mileage and speed are way down and the weight I previously lost is coming too far back – not good things.

I had indicated at the start of last year that I wanted to back off a bit because I felt I was putting too much time into the running and maybe falling down in other areas – family, hobbies, etc.

But the way I backed off wasn’t the way I would have wanted it to happen. There were some legitimate illness and injuries that had an impact but a big part of the issue was a loss of motivation and energy. Running used to be a habit but that fell off – meaning that I used to run out of habit even if I was tired or not motivated and I have lost that.

So that is the first thing I need to fix this year and to do that I am going to run streak.

Now I have tried run streaking before and it did not go well. But I did it differently during that attempt than what I plan to do it this time. When I did it before, I did it including double run days – I would do my normal 5 days a week training plan but would also add in a couple mile morning run every day before work – giving me up to 10 runs in a week. I did not adapt to the change in the sleep cycle well and I maybe lasted 9 or 10 days before I fell apart on a 2 mile run.

So I won’t do it that way this time. Instead I will ramp up to doing the 5 days a week run schedule and will do a single mile on the rest days. I am hoping this will get me to the point where, even if I am tired or unmotivated, I will run no matter what.

How long a streak though? It is a leap year and I love the idea of run streaking the whole 366 days. Granted I also ran Dec 31st so it would be 367 days. That is a bit of a daunting task considering how little I have been running, so I will start with setting the first goal as run streaking January. Once that is achieved I will break it down to run streak each month until the year is done.

That should make take care of getting back in the habit of running all the time, but how do I get myself back into running long distances? I did pull off 50+ miles in the 12 Hour Lemming Loop back in early October but that was more about experience and shear pig-headedness than about any sort of conditioning really. As I think about it, about the only thing that has made me truly commit to training has been the Goofy Challenge and the Dopey Challenge. So I am going to lay it out there that I am going to train to do the Goofy Challenge in January 2017. I don’t know yet if I can make that work financially but I am going to mentally commit to it – I have done 5 and want to do a 6th. That means everything I do through 2016 is going to be as part of a training plan for January 2017. Usually a marathon training plan comes in around 18 weeks but I am giving myself 50+ weeks so I will need to have several milestone races / runs along the way that will break the period down into more manageable chunks.

I don’t have that fully worked out yet but I have a few races running through my mind:

  1. Hypothermic Half marathon on Feb 21st – this one probably won’t work as we are vacation until the 20th and I don’t know if I would be able to hit package pickup or not. I will be investigating further.
  2. WPS Half marathon on May 1st – this race is where I hold my half PR (1:46:00 – 2014) but was about 10 minutes slower in 2015 due to illness. I will be looking for redemption on this race – maybe not a PR but back to sub 1:50 would be the goal) This means lots of speed work through March and April.
  3. Spruce Woods Ultra marathon event – the weekend after the WPS Half marathon – they trail marathon, 50k, 50 mile, 100k and 100 mile options all with decently generous time limits – so maybe, just maybe I might do something that will scare the hell out me here…
  4. Fargo Marathon – May 21st – just a bit of a drive away from Winnipeg but it is a flat course and the weather seems to average better than the Manitoba Marathon a month later which is a positive for someone coming off of several months of winter running. This one gives me a better shot at getting back to the low 4 hour range, possibly even PR or finally breaking below 4 hours.
  5. Manitoba Marathon – June 19 – If I have been training well and consistently at this point then hammering out a new full marathon PR would be the goal (currently 4:09:44 in 2014) – my marathon PR is for this race but my history with the weather on this one is not great (I have a tendency to get spanked by the heat or drenched).
  6. Treherne Marathon – Sept 11 – I haven’t done this one before and it is only a bit of a drive from home. It is done mostly on back country unpaved roads and I have, up to this point, ruled out doing this race because I keep getting an image of it raining and making the roads a mess. But this one may help me stay motivated through the summer.
  7. Fort Garry Rotary Half Marathon – not sure the date yet but is usually a couple weeks after Treherne Marathon. This can be a good race to show off summer conditioning as we head into the fall.
  8. Lemming Loop – Sept 30 / Oct 1 – I have done the 12 hour event 2 years in a row and I am thinking of doing the unthinkable and moving up to the 24 hour event.
  9. WFPS Half Marathon – October 16 – only a couple weeks after the 12 or 24 hour Lemming Loop and I could be exhausted for this race. But I have done this one several years in a row and it is a tradition at this point.
  10. Wine and Dine Half Marathon – my wife and I thought about doing this one for our 10th anniversary last year but it didn’t work out. So maybe this year as a couple’s trip?

So I don’t know what I will do for sure but those are the races I am currently pondering.

One other major motivation idea I am looking at is tracking my yearly mileage as the miles I would need to get to Disney World from my house. Google Maps lists this as 1928.75 miles – I did 1971 in 2014 so it is possible. I will call this personal mission the “Run to the Goofy Challenge”. The bonus with this challenge is that if I start seeing myself getting close to that number later in the year it might drive me to go further – maybe beat the 1971 to have my highest mileage year ever or maybe even beat 2000 or 2016 miles?

To ensure I hit any of these milestones I will definitely need to tackle the sleep and weight issues I have been having but I have done it before and can do it again.

Basically I will need to break things down into more manageable chunks with sub goals to achieve and celebrate along the way. I’m not exactly sure what that looks like yet but I know I will have the ramp the mileage up slowly as I try to rebuild – so January won’t be 200 miles but maybe closer to the 130-150 range, but by the end of the year I should be hitting 200 mile months at least a few times.

A slow, strong, steady progression is key here.

Lots of work to do – but I will make sure to blog about it more frequently to help keep me honest and motivated.

Cheers to strong 2016!

Ok – I think I finally have a plan to start training properly for the 12 Hour Lemming Loop in October. Now to make it happen!

I had planned on trying for an 18-20 mile run yesterday that didn’t happen in the end – lack of sleep kicked me in the teeth again and the heat/humidity would have been pretty brutal anyway. My backup plan was to run this morning instead – I was certainly up early enough (4am? Why?!!) but had a vicious headache that didn’t clear up until almost 7 – and it required Advil (which is not a wise thing to take prior, during or right after really long runs). (also discovered a worm issue that the pups have unfortunately – going to have to take them into the vet this afternoon to get that sorted – should be a straightforward fix but it takes time)

So after getting some productive stuff done earlier this morning, I have been sitting here beating myself up and getting frustrated that I am not getting in the mileage I want to. I figure I need to come up with a plan – otherwise I am going to keep struggling and remain unfocussed. I need to fix this.

Time to get creative – coffee and the laptop on the balcony and enjoying some cooler weather and brainstorming ideas on how to ramp up the training and motivation so that I can do well at the 12 hour Lemming Loop the first weekend of October. I just missed 50 miles last October and want to beat that this year. So I am starting with determining my goals, figuring out what is in my way and finding a path forward.

Goals – I want to break 50 miles and preferably break 52.4 (double marathon) – and 60 would of course be awesome.

So how do I get there without throwing all my time at running. I want to enjoy the running and not grow to resent the time it means I will be spending away from the family.

I am currently finding it hard to train 5 days a week while thinking about spending 5-7 hours a weekend running. It wouldn’t be too bad if I could feel energized enough to run when I let the dogs out in the morning – but unfortunately I am getting less than 5 hours sleep a night at this point and that is impacting all areas of my life – running, diet, work, everything.

So there are the obstacles – lack of sleep, I’m not enjoying running as much right now and I am resenting the time I am running as something that is taking me away from my family (and hobbies I have let slide too for that matter – look at this way – I have essentially been trying to maintain and train for almost 3 years straight now – time to shake things up!).

So first off I need to get sleep. I have to find a plan to get that done. I’m not sure the path forward on this yet but I may have to start going to bed an hour or 2 earlier than I do now – probably a good start. Plus I have 2 weeks of vacation coming up at the end of July…there will be napping…there will be much napping.

I also want to find a way to back off to 4 days of running a week while still training the long distance endurance. This would give me more time with the family and for doing other hobby stuff. Both of which should give me more energy all around. There is always talk about work / life balance but if you are constantly training for long distance running events you need to find a run / life balance as well.

But how to make 4 days of running a week work? From what I have seen that would most likely mean dropping speed work – or at least dedicated speed work days. The best I can tell is that many ultra runners don’t spend a lot of time on speed work. The long runs are key.

With that in mind my general game plan is going to be to stop doing dedicated speed work for now but add some speed intervals into other runs.

Roughly I am figuring for July:

Monday – rest day – swimming

Tuesday – medium distance on the treadmill – 10 miles done at a strong pace and with speed intervals

Wednesday – rest day – swimming

Thursday – medium distance on the treadmill – 10 miles done at a strong pace and with speed intervals

Friday – rest day – swimming

Saturday – medium long distance outside – 13.1 miles with some speed push

Sunday – 3-5 hours running outside at a slow pace with practice for run/walk intervals – 18 – 30 miles.

This gives a total of approx. 51-63 miles a week over 4 days – I am hoping this is sustainable even if I don’t get the sleep sorted out.


If I do manage to get some sleep (and consequently some energy) then I will be looking at adding more mileage in August. This would most likely consist of adding morning runs before heading to work on Wednesdays and Fridays for sure and potentially Mondays. There is the potential there to drive me up to 7 days a week which might be overtraining so I will have to watch that and adjust accordingly.

For August I would like to try to get in one training run of about 6 hours in length – I’m not sure if I will do that outside or break it up into a few chunks with some time outside and some time on the treadmill.

The rest of the August runs should follow the basic cycle laid out for July but with an attempt to complete them a bit faster and recover a bit quicker.

September is a bit up on the air so far.

If all goes well in July and August I will be looking at whether or not I should do the Treherne marathon at the beginning of September. I would like a little bit of revalidation after the Manitoba Marathon and this could be the race to do it. I will need a long run that weekend anyway as part of training and I can maybe use this race as that training run. I kind of swore that I wasn’t going to do this race though as the majority of it is run on country back roads and if it rains it could suck pretty heavily. I will be looking closer at that race in August.

Two weeks after the Treherne marathon there is a half marathon here in Winnipeg that I have done the last 2 years running (Fort Garry Rotary Half) and I will be tempted to do this race as well to get a better half time than I did on the WPS Half Marathon back in early May. But it is also only 2 weeks out from the 12 Hour Lemming Loop at that point and I’m not sure I want to do a race that close and risk injury or burning out. Also, if I’m not doing speed work then it it is a bit of an unknown on if I could beat my WPS Half time or not anyway. Plus I might want that day as my last long training run before the Lemming Loop.

Lots of decisions to make – if everything goes really well I might do both of those races but if I find I am struggling with the distances I need to run I will concentrate on training for the Lemming Loop instead. Those decisions will come in August. Until then I need to ramp up the longer runs while staying healthy and motivated…and getting sleep.

To help energize myself more for running I need to get back in touch with other hobbies so that it doesn’t seem that all I am doing is running and working. So I am going to start playing with writing and photography more. Also, more playing with the kids, more time with my wife, more training the dogs, more time doing other stuff besides obsessing about running.

Ok – I think I found the path forward – now to make it happen!

WPS Half Marathon – 1:55:15 official – all things considered I can accept that and will now focus on getting back to where I was.

Ok – so let’s start off with a big thanks to the organizers and volunteers – the WPS Half marathon is consistently well run and the volunteers are always great. I have done 4 in total (last 3 in a row) and each time I have been impressed. Thanks again!

So how did the event and run go for me?

The day definitely started out different for me than most race days. This is the first real race I have done since we got the pups and I didn’t factor in time to get them out before I headed out so I was a bit rushed. But I gave myself plenty of time to get to the race and get parked and settled so it wasn’t an issue but did require some juggling that I will need to remember for future races!

The race this year had a different start location than previous years – still in the same park but in a different area of the park. Parking ended up being further away from the start line than before so more walking was definitely required but being used to the long walks needed for runDisney Disney World races the walking didn’t bug me. I did give directions to one runner though who didn’t know the park well – the start line is not visible from most of the parking so more signage might have been helpful there.

Weather was beautiful – definitely shorts and short sleeves weather for us northern runners. Sun was up and the sky was clear.

I got in the start corral, absorbed the sunlight and tried to figure out what my game plan was. Anyone reading the blog probably realizes I was quite ill for most of the first part of April and my training plan fell apart quite significantly. I have been able to put in some decent shorter runs in the 5 mile range since then but I haven’t done double digit mileage runs since March. So I knew I was going to have issues with the speed + endurance combined that is needed for a half marathon. I knew that my PR of 1:46 was not going to fall today and I figured I needed to be under 2 hours for my own piece of mind. The 2 hour mark has a weird mental power for me – it represents the mark where I was finally able to tell myself that I had managed to get back into running again properly. I broke back under 2 hours at the 2013 WPS Half marathon and haven’t raced a half slower than 2 hours since and it would have been a tough hit mentally if I had that happen today.

But I still couldn’t figure out what my pace should be.

On top of the illness my right knee (which I have had trouble with off and on since high school) was aching pretty fierce on Friday. It was fine yesterday and didn’t give me any issues running with the family in the Run at the Ridge 2k but it was worrisome enough that I was tempted to wear my knee brace to be safe. In the end I left the brace at home but it was something I knew I needed to be conscious of.

While I was contemplating, I fired out a tweet about my indecision and got some encouragement back from Bill from Florida (@rilla6969 on twitter and blogging over at rillaruns.wordpress.com). I met up with Bill a couple times back at the Dopey Challenge in January and he is always ready to give encouragement. Encouragement…shove…whatever you want to call it.

So with the clock ticking down before the start, I decided I would see what happened on the first mile and then try a solid push and try to stay over 7 mph for as long as I could and if it fell apart then at least I would have a buffer to make sure I was under 2 hours.

And we were off! Accompanied by a flyover from a Canadian Forces hercules (I think)!

A bit congested at the start but nothing to rival Disney so I was able to cope. First mile finished in 8:28 and I felt not too bad – definitely took longer to get my breathing right but I settled in decently enough to try a little faster.

Mile 2 – much faster and less congested – 8:09

Mile 3 – shin splints in my left leg? What the hell? I haven’t had shin splints in years – I was pissed about that! The anger must have changed my form a bit because they disappeared after a few steps and never came back the rest of the race. Decent pace for the mile – 8:12

Mile 4 – this mile includes a 180 that you have to slow down for – not too bad but something to watch for. 8:15

Mile 5 – right knee made its presence known. Not bad but it let me know it didn’t like the steep incline up to a bridge over a river. This became a common theme for the knee – it was fine except on inclines. And it never really hurt, just an ache and a reminder if I did anything stupid it would call me on it.

During mile 5 I stopped for my first fuel break and walked a bit but still got 8:52 for the mile so not awful.

Mile 6 – 8:27 – slowing down a bit but still ok – 8:27

These first 6 miles included a lot of me repeating to myself “these are only mental barriers, they are not physical barriers. Keep pushing”. Starting around mile 7 I was starting to hit actual physical barriers though.

Mile 7 – 8:48 – definitely slowing down. Endurance was just not there for the speeds I had in the first half of the race. I hit the half way point of the race at around the 55 minute mark so I knew sub 2 hour should be there, which was a relief but I could tell even at this point it was not going to be easy, I was going to have to work for it. Wind seemed to pick up a bit along this stretch as well and the area is pretty exposed, and of course we were running right into it! That sapped a bit of energy as did the rolling inclines of the road in this area. Neither the wind or the inclines were really that bad but I was hitting the limits of my recent training runs and felt them harder than I should have.

Mile 8 – 8:48 – steady at least. Still feeling pretty strong.

Mile 9 – 9:01 but including my 2nd fuel stop / walk – so pace was pretty solid still. Lots of corners to slow you down on this mile though (2 180s and 2 90s).

Mile 10 – 9:28 – now back on the same road as mile 7 and the wind was maybe even stronger. Either that or I was sucking wind pretty bad (could be both actually).

Mile 11 – 9:22 – again slower than the first half of the race but feeling a bit stronger again since we weren’t so exposed any more.  We were also heading back toward the finish line now and into the sun – that always helps the mental attitude.

Mile 12 – 9:35 – 3rd and final fueling walk – so my pace was actually picking back up.

Mile 13 – 8:59 – stronger pace again – back in the park with cheering crowds and good scenery.

And finished the last 0.1 miles in 0:49 – a solid, strong push to the finish line avoiding the desire to sprint and maybe hurt myself.

Final time 1:55:15. Sub-2hours achieved and my mental state saved!

Got my medal and this year’s gift – finisher socks! Kind of unique. The WPS Half always gives out some kind of finisher gift – I have previously gotten a sling bag, a bib belt and running beanie. Both the belt and beanie get used quite frequently. I’m not sure about the socks but I will give them a go and see how they work for me.

I hung out around the finish line for a bit and went to wander back to find my vehicle when I got stopped by someone calling my name. It was Trevor, a gentleman who works for the same company I do and in the same building. We had a quick chat and he mentioned that he found my blog a while back and that he had been reading along. Cool! My readership isn’t very big and I didn’t think anyone local followed along – nice to know that there is someone – it help keep me honest! It did come as a bit of a shock because I didn’t think anyone around the office knew about the blog but still very cool!

Trevor – congrats again on strong sub-2 hour! Awesome work!

So after a quick chat, I continued my wander back to the vehicle and headed on home.

Now that I have had a bit of time to think and review how I did, I have come up with some thoughts on how to get my mojo back:

  1. Get the mileage back up – that one sounds simple but my mileage was decimated in early April and I am going to have to focus to get my running back and to rebuild my endurance. No slacking.
  2. Mid-week medium long runs – these are my 8-10 mile runs usually done on the treadmill on Wednesday nights. I don’t do speed work on these runs but I do push strong, even paces…kind of like you need for half marathons? Even before the illness, I was missing an unusual number of these runs because we have 2 different activities for the kids those nights and I have to start running pretty late to get the miles in. So these runs ended up being easy to ditch. No more! I have realized these runs are crucial to keep sustained speed up past about the hour mark – you can see me crashing out around the 8-9 mile mark and missing these runs is one of the reasons!
  3. Sign up for the Manitoba Marathon – 7 weeks away – my intention was to wait to see how close I got to PR today and if I was really close I would train speed like a demon and make the PR happen at the half during the Manitoba Marathon event. After the run today, I believe I need the pressure of a full coming up to drive me to put in the miles properly. Basically I will train to get my miles back up and try for a good showing in June at the full and then train hard through the summer. In the fall there are several good half marathons in the city and I will make a PR attempt again then. I also have the 12 hour Lemming Loop coming up at the beginning of October so I need to start rebuilding my base now.
  4. Sort out my diet and weight – to put it simply I have gained about 5 pounds in the past couple months. Some of that could be contributed to being ill but the big part of it was I have been eating to run 50+ miles a week, and I haven’t been anywhere near that. So time to focus hard on that again. Goal – back down to 215 for the Manitoba Marathon.
  5. Use the pool wisely – we have our backyard pool open now and I am going to have to use it for additional endurance training and resistance exercises. This will help the weight loss but also help rebuild endurance. Still have to decide how best to do this but I will come up with a plan in the next few days.
  6. My right knee – my bloody right knee, it keeps coming back to haunt me. I need to strengthen it again. The additional miles will help, as long as I ramp those miles up in a smart way. But I think I also need to do some resistance exercises to – so squats and lunges need to come in and hopefully I can figure out something in the pool too.

Those mostly sound like negatives so I throw in a positive too – I was able to drive myself mentally – I pushed through some crap and kept going. That hasn’t been lost. Good!

So that looks like way more words than necessary to describe 2 hours of running, but there you go.

Once again, thanks to the coordinators and volunteers today! The work is appreciated.