Monday, January 4, 2010

2009 Year in Review

2009 started and finished on a bit of a down note, but in between I was very happy with how the year went with having some great training and a few solid races.

This time last year I was just coming off of being quite sick with Steven's Johnsons Syndrome. Following that illness, I was able to have a great winter of training leading up to Rock and Ice, but then was force to drop out with the flu during day #2 of the race. This was disappointing, but the silver lining was that I was able to enjoy Sara's great race and see her win the women's three day race.

Following the disappointment of Rock and Ice, I rushed back into training and was looking for a race asap to take the sting out of my DNF. I got some decent training in, but looking back on things I probably wasn't ready to tackle Sulphur Springs 100miler so soon. Any time you enter a race due to emotion and you are thinking that it MIGHT be a good idea and go ok, you are probably not in a good place to run well. This was the case at Sulphur. I started off pretty strong and felt good, but had stomach issues very early on a particularly hot day. I ended up pulling the plug at 60km. Strike #2.

I was a little down after Sulphur, but got right back into training and had my sights set on the Finger Lakes 50 miler in New York. I trained hard going into it, but didn't put a lot of pressure on myself, which I think was a good thing. I tried to treat FL50 as more of a training run and less of a race. This was good as the conditions were brutal on the day and I ended up running almost all of the 50miles in very deep mud. I was pleased that I was able to win the race, but was more pleased that I hung on and had a strong finish under my belt.

It didn't really seem to take long to recover after FL50 and I was able to get right back into training. I had a great summer of training including many weeks in the 15-20 hour range, with one week as high as over 24 hours. During this highest week in my buildup to Haliburton I knew I was ready to have a good race as my long runs were feeling awesome and included a 5hr, 4.5hr and 6hr run during a one week period. My average daily run for the period of January 1 - September 1 was 1:48 per day, which showed how consistently high my mileage was.

As I've stated before, my goals for the 2009 Haliburton 100 were to break the old course record of 18:23, hopefully break 18hrs and to repeat in winning. I achieved 2 out of 3 of these goals with a time of 17:52, only to be beaten by Glen Redpath who smoked the course in 17:18. The race went very well and looking back on the day I don't think that there is anything I could have done differently to run quicker. Yes, I had a few stomach issues and bad patches along the way, but it is 100 miles, so it shouldn't be easy after all! I was happy to be able to work through these and pull off probably the race that I am the most proudest of. I had some great help along the way with Sara and Kim Bohn crewing, David Bohn pacing me for the last 30km and also Keith for some great long runs in the buildup and pushing hard during the race.

Speaking of Keith, one of the more memorable runs of the year was our Frontenac Perimeter record run before Haliburton. We had a great run and ran the perimeter in 6:19:49 (5:59 of actual running time). Keith filmed a video of our run that still makes me laugh to watch it.

Two weeks after Haliburton, I felt very well recovered and decided that I wanted to do another 100miler in the fall at Ozark 100 in Missouri to see how my body would respond to it. It's always easy looking back on things now, but I rushed back into hard training way too quickly with a big week. I felt good in my first 4 hour long run back, but then followed it up with a few runs where I felt my knee twinge. I didn't really pay close enough attention to it and it suddenly became a real issue for me. Unfortunately, even with the entry fee paid for and flight booked, I realized I wasn't going to be able to race and that I was going to have to cut WAY back in my training for a bit.

Despite my knee injury, we still had a great week in Banff during Sara's work conference. We certainly didn't do all the runs and the amount of running that we would have liked, but we did the best we could, got some great recommendations for runs and had fun getting caught up with friends. Seeing and being in the Rockies was something both Sara and I have always wanted to do and this was a great opportunity. Banff probably slowed down my recovery from my knee injury, but I wouldn't do anything differently as it was so great being out there.

Returning from Banff meant time to get more serious with rehabbing my knee. I've been seeing Greg Lehman and following his recommendations. The problem has been a tracking issue, so I've been diligent about stretching, strengthening, foam rolling and starting to see some good progress just this past week. Greg is a chiro, is in the process of becoming a physio, and has so many tools, treatments and theories to share. We feel fortunate that he is here in Kingston, but saddened to hear that he and his family will be relocating in Toronto in the spring.

Even though I was struggling with my injury, December 25 was a pretty sweet run and marked a milestone of running with 20 years of running every single day without taking a day off. It's been fun looking back on my streak and some of the runs I've done during this period. I wrote a short article about it and posted it on the La Sportiva Blog.

Aside from running, we had some great vacations and trips with Brennan and Heather that included a canoeing/camping trip in Frontenac Park and our yearly holiday in the Adirondacks. The Adirondacks are such a special place for us and we enjoyed an amazing hike into Avalanche Pass and climbed Mt Catamount. We have decided that this coming summer we won't be vacationing in the Adirondacks, but have already booked a one week trip to Colorado with Brennan and Heather. Can't wait!

Work wise, I couldn't be happier right now. Things are busy and I am doing what I love with Spafford Health and Adventure. I feel fortunate to be working with some great coaching clients and sharing in their adventures, having fun organizing unique races, continuing to do some writing and Dion snowshoe sales have taken off and are doing well in Canada. I am happy that my job is a little different each day and never really know with 100% certainty what it will be from week to week or how it's going to evolve. Always fun.

Even though the year ended in a bit of frustration in my knee injury, it is improving each day and 2010 is looking to be a very exciting year.

I would also like to take the opportunity to say a huge thank you to La Sportiva for supporting Sara and I for another year. We both feel very fortunate to be a part of a great running team while wearing the best trail running shoes and gear on the market.

Here's looking forward to a great 2010. Happy New Year!

2009 Year Ending Running Total:
Total number of hours: 551:59
Total number of runs: 451
Average per day: 1:30:44
Average per week: 10:35:08
Running Streak: 20 years as of Christmas day.


  1. Derrick,
    You sure had a lot of ups and downs this year but it was so great that were able to come back from the disappointment of Rock and Ice to run Haliburton in unders 18 hrs. Also so nice to end 2009 by celebrating a 20 year running streak. I hope you write more about your streak as I know there must be some great anecdotes to share which would really help put into perspective what an amazing feat it truley is.
    For example-
    How has your life changed since your first run of the streak when you were 24?(did you have hair then? Got pictures to prove it?)
    What was your longest and shortest run?
    Did you ever almost miss a day?
    Did you ever have to sneak a run in without anyone knowing?
    How did you fit a run in the day after you broke your leg?
    Where did you run the day your kids were born?
    Did you ever feel guilty for having to go running?
    Where was the prettiest run?
    What was the worst weather run?
    Did you ever get lost?
    Worst animal encounter?
    Best animal encounter? etc. etc.
    These are of course just examples of questions but I am happy to send you more if required: )

    Well 2010 has already begun and it is very exciting to see how the new year will playout for you. I am sure it will be an quite the adventure as always.

  2. Awesome. I guess if our bodies wouldn't fail us now and then, it would take all the mystery out of running. Maybe it's a blessing in disguise.

  3. Gosh many questions. I'll have to ponder and get back to you sometime. I'll start with this...

    The closest to missing a run came on my way home from Rock and Ice Ultra in 2008. I left Yellowknife at 5am, after celebrating with a few beers the night before, and had a long day of travel. I was exhausted from the race and trip and came down with a fairly high fever over the course of the day. When we arrived in Toronto, I figured I still had plenty of time to drive home and get my run in before midnight (the witching hour as I refer to it). Unfortunately, we got hit with a pretty bad snowstorm and the drive was very slow. I got to Belleville at about 11pm and realized that I wasn't going to make back to Yarker in time to get my run in. So, I pulled off the 401 at the Quinte Mall and ran loops around the parking lot. It was not fun as I was dead tired and felt brutal. The mall was closed, so I couldn't even get changed comfortably either. That was probably the closest that I came to missing it though. The call home to Sara to tell her where I was and what I was doing was a tough one to explain that night.