Monday, May 31, 2010

Weekend Races

This past weekend featured a lot of great Canadian ultras and other races to follow.

I'd like to start out by saying a huge congratulations to SHA runners JD, Christy and Kim.

JD and Christy both ran extremely determined races in the heat at the Sulphur Springs 50miler, and finished strong. The conditions sounded pretty nasty, and there were many casualties along the way, but congrats to both for finishing on a tough day. This was Christy's first 50miler, so is always a special one to look back on. JD already has his race report on his blog, and hopefully Christy will put some words down on her blog at some point too.

Also, on a hot day at the NCM 10km in Ottawa, Kim was scheduled to run with her son Graham &/or pace her friend Brian. Turned out that neither one of these happened at the last second and Kim went on to run a very solid second half of the 10km and came within 30 seconds of breaking her 10km PB. Just goes to show you that you never know what can happen in a race.

Congrats again folks! You all ran awesome and did yourselves proud!

Elsewhere here are a few other results.

Sulphur Springs: Adam Hill came within a couple of minutes again of breaking the course record in the 50miler in 6:28, while rumour has it that Harvey Lewis broke the course record in the 100mile, though complete results haven't been posted yet. A huge congrats also to John for toughing it out and finishing his first 100miler, when many others would have DNF'd. (Next one will be that much easier John!)

Blackfoot 50km: Taylor Murphy won the 50km, while breaking the old course record by 11mins in a time of 3:32. Funny story in that apparently Blackfoot rules REQUIRE that runners must carry a waterbottle with them, even though there are 4 waterstations for every 25km loop. Depending on how fast you are running, it is entirely possible to not need to carry water with you during the race. This did not sit well with Taylor 'Fast Camel' Murphy as he was planning to just drink at the aid stations, and it's a well known fact that Taylor has an aversion to running with water. However, not wanting to risk a DQ, Taylor searched out a waterbottle at a friends stag the night before and wore it for the race. I'm sure that Adam is laughing to himself if he's reading this following his recent post about water needs.


Training Summary (May 24-30):
Nothing too exciting. A mix of a few decent days, a few recovery days and a nice long run with Sara at Frontenac Park. My knee continues to be a bit annoying, but on the whole it seems to be showing signs of improvement again.
Total # of hours last week – 11:37
Total # of hours this year – 240:47
Streak – 7,461 days of running in a row
Training Log Details for the Week

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Inspiration, Motivation and Perspiration

Amazing how you can go from an umpteen hour week of running one week, and then drop to under 7hours the next. Blech!

As I mentioned last week, I re-injured my wonky knee a bit last weekend while organizing the Kingston 5 Peaks Trail Race. Running with a heavy backpack while setting up/tearing down the course was just a bit too much for my knee on technical trails with lots of turns. I was actually pretty ok with this for the first few days as I had just gotten in a great 50km trail run a few days prior to the re-injury. I fully expected that things would settle back down again quickly after giving it a bit more TLC and extra focus on rehab.

It hasn't bounced back quite as quickly as I had hoped, but is making slow progress. It had improved to the point where I thought about even trying a local low key race. Malcolm Anderson was organizing the Run for Tomorrow Trail Marathon on his property and with it being only 3km's from our house, we had already signed up for it a few weeks ago thinking it would be a great opportunity to get a long run in. My plan was to see how my knee was during the race and if it started to bark much, I would stop. The course was run on a 2km trail loop, so it made for a good opportunity to pull the plug if I needed to as I'd never be too far away.

My knee actually felt pretty good for the first hour or so, but I did start feeling it a bit more near 90mins, and realized that it would not be wise to try to continue on, so stopped at 2hrs after completing about 25km's. While there weren't a lot of people taking part this year, it was a great event that was as much about the enjoyment and atmosphere of the day, as the running. Malcolm put a lot of effort into his event and even had a live band. We're already looking forward to next years race.

The past few days since Malcolm's run have been progressively better and I feel like I'm already heading back to a good place. On top of the added emphasis on rehab, I have also been focusing a little more on proper form and getting back into a bit more barefoot/Five Finger running again. This has not only helped with my knee, but also my chronically sore, as of late, achilles.

With improved fitness comes the desire to test oneself in a race, and I've been thinking about this a lot lately. I was considering running the Mohican 100 mile race in mid-June, but really don't feel that it would be wise structurally at this point for me. There is no way that I want a major setback now that I feel I am getting back into decent shape. My feeling now is that as long as I can increase my training again over the next few weeks that I may look at a 50miler in June or July; then consider doing a 100 again in the fall. But really, my #1 priority is to get/stay healthy and be able to enjoy lots of long runs over the summer on the trails. Everything else is secondary.

It was with that in mind, that a couple of blogs I read recently really spoke to me and are great reads. Anton Krupicka talks about the very topic of risking injury/further injury at the expense of a race. Then, there was Scott Jurek's story about his big 24hr race recently. Both of these posts provided a lot of fuel for me to ponder during upcoming runs.

I'm really looking forward to doing just that in the coming days, weeks and months. Regardless of the ridiculous heat wave we are currently experiencing, I just want to be out on the trails running long.

Good luck to everyone at Sulphur this weekend!

Training Summary (May 17-23):
Total # of hours last week – 6:47
Total # of hours this year – 229:10
Streak – 7,454 days of running in a row
Training Log Details for the Week

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Snowshoe Magazine Feature: Ask the Coach

It’s May and time to start thinking about snowshoe season! Okay, so most of us may be lacking a little in the snow department where we live right now, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t enjoy the thoughts of the upcoming season, in addition to getting our bodies ready for next winter...

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Busy Days

Busy days at Spafford Health and Adventure.

I really enjoy my job. Spafford Health and Adventure has evolved considerably since the early days when I first started. The thing that I like the most is that it tends to be a little different every day, and I am never 100% sure what direction my business may take in the future. I love that I am not locked into doing one thing exclusively, and I wake up each morning feeling refreshed and come into each day (and season) knowing that something is going to be a little different.

The coaching aspect of my business continues to be very rewarding and I feel fortunate to work with such a wonderful group of hard working athletes who I enjoy helping meet their goals. Seeing their commitment pay off with solid performances is very inspiring and keeps the sport always fresh and exciting.

One of the things that I always find challenging however is when a race comes around that I’m directing and a number of my clients are competing. I’m torn as I really want to be able to be a part of their day, chat and generally be available to support them, however the strains of race directing pull me a little more in that direction. However, I’d like to give a quick shout out and big congratulations to Christy, EJ, David and Kim, who all ran awesome races at the Kingston 5 Peaks race. Way to go guys!

I would also like to take this opportunity to say a huge thank you to my family who are so helpful with supporting SHA events and volunteering. It can be a bit stressful in the days leading up to the race, during the race and even following the race, but my parents, Jack and Rosemary Spafford, and my kids Brennan and Heather were such a big part of this that we couldn’t have pulled it off without you. Thanks again. Then of course there’s Sara too who pours her heart and soul into the event as well…thanks so much Sweetie!

So, I have a bit of a break from race directing with the next race not being until the Sydenham Fall Trail Run on October 17, 2010,

The other aspects of my business includes writing and Dion snowshoe sales. I am also looking into the possibility of other lines of products to offer for sales on my website too, but will only offer products that I strongly believe in and use myself. I have already purchased Succeed S!Caps electrolyte capsules and will be offering them for Canadian sales soon once I finalize shipping costs, etc.

Speaking of Dion Snowshoes, I realize that it’s not the season for it, but lots of excitement for next season. I have a meeting with Bob Dion tomorrow in Watertown, NY and am looking forward to seeing some of the new products for next season. The plan is to also offer Dion snowshoes in some of the retail stores in the area, as there has been such a strong demand for them. We are also looking at offering another snowshoe race in the Kingston area next winter, and are excited to be able to offer a small fleet of demo snowshoes for those who don’t own running snowshoes but would like to try it out.

So, as you can see, it’s always an adventure! Looking forward to seeing what tomorrow brings.

Training Summary (May 10 – 16):
I had a great week of running early on, but I knew it was going to take a hit over the weekend with the 5Peaks race on Saturday. The main focus was to get a solid 50km long run in on Thursday, which I did, running it in 4:20 and feeling strong. The race was a busy time and my body suffered a little. While running with a pack full of marking flags on the course, I seemed to have strained my knee a bit. I am taking it easy for a few days, which I think will do the trick, and then will start bumping things back up a bit again. Really looking forward to a quiet holiday weekend coming up.

Total # of hours last week – 15:41
Total # of hours this year – 222:23
Streak – 7,447 days of running in a row
Training Log Details for the Week

Monday, May 17, 2010

Kingston 5 Peaks Trail Race - Results & Photos

Kingston 5 Peaks Trail Race

May 15, 2010

J&J Mountain Bike Trails

Enduro (10.3km), Sport (6km) and Children's Challenge (400 & 800 meters)


Sunday, May 16, 2010

Kingston 5 Peaks Trail Race - Saturday, May 15

The Kingston 5 Peaks Trail Race was held on Saturday, May 15, 2010 at the J&J Mountain Bike Trails just north of Kingston.

The weather was ideal and the competition fierce. Over 150 competitors competed in the Enduro (10.3km), Sport (6km) and Children’s Challenge (400 & 800 meters). The course featured an exciting combination of single and dual track trails through forest and meadow that included pine needles, dirt, mud, grass, rocks, roots, bridges, logs and challenging climbs and descents. This race definitely had the most difficult terrain of any running race in the Kingston Area with approximately 1800 feet of elevation gain in the Enduro Course.

Awards were given out to the top 3 overall male and female winners in the Enduro and Sport Course, with medals award to the top 3 finishers in each age group.

Taylor Murphy defended his 2009 title by winning the men’s Enduro Race in a time of 39:39. Cliff Worden-Rogers was second in 41:34, while Patrick Foran finished third in 42:59. Rachel Schmidt won the women’s Enduro Race in 52:46 with Carolyn Raab second in 53:27 and Aimee Young third in 53:50.

In the Sport Course, Dylan Walsh won the men’s race in 26:19, followed by Brad Vaughan in 27:01 and Daniel Bannister in 27:07. Leslie Reade won the women’s Sport Course in 30:47, followed by Cathlin Antonello in 31:30 and Grace Harju in 32:46.

Thank you to our wonderful sponsors for providing merchandise awards and draw prizes.
Complete results will be available soon by timing company and at

The Kingston 5 Peaks Trail Race was also the second race in the Spafford Health and Adventure Trail Running Series. The next race in the series will be the Sydenham Fall Trail Run on October 17, 2010 with information available at

Thursday, May 13, 2010

50km Progression Run

You don't always need a race to feel good about where you're at with your training. Today was one of those days. Here is my training log entry...
50km progression run in 4:20 from home to Kingston via Cat-Sydenham-K&P-Sunnyside-Little Cat. Awesome workout. Started off easy for the first 2hrs (mostly around/below 140bpm), then gradually picked it up. Felt great between 35-45km and did my hardest running there with a number of km's in 4:20-4:30 range. Pace then slowed down a bit on the rolling trails of Little Cat, but effort stayed the same. Great test to see where I'm at, especially since this was done on tired legs with having run 19hrs in the past 7 days with some decent quality. Ave HR = 143bpm. Ascent 958m/Descent 1026m, so a bit of a downhill on the point to point route says Mr. Garmin. Combination of railtrail, rolling grass trails and about 45mins total of road. Really felt good and in control.

While today's run certainly wasn't a race effort, it did feel really good and comfortable. Sometimes you learn as much from submaximal workouts as you do from race efforts.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Monday, May 10, 2010

Fred's Bread

I have always had a passion for doughy goodness. I looooooove bread.

As a kid I clearly remember coming home from playing hockey or being outside, and making a bread sandwich. Yup, that’s 3 or 4 slices of bread stacked on top of each other, with nothing else in the middle. The softer and doughier the better.

Sara and I have always tried to eat fairly healthy and I think that all things considered when you look in our cupboards and fridge, we do a pretty good job. Recently, however we have started taking a closer look at some of the foods that we assumed were healthy choices, but when you look at the label, you can’t pronounce many of the ingredients. Bread included!

Just take a look at what’s in most of the whole wheat breads in your local supermarket and you’ll see a whack of ingredients that don’t seem so healthy.

With that in mind we decided to start making our own bread and bought a breadmaker. As with most items in our house, our breadmaker had to have a name, so we named him Fred….Fred the Breadmaker.

Fred is super easy to use. Just dump in the few ingredient (that you know how to pronounce), turn it on and a few hours later, Fred has made a perfect loaf of doughy, yummy goodness. Easy, healthy and delicious!

The only problem with Fred’s Bread is that when training hard and putting in high mileage, it is not difficult to have an entire loaf eaten within the few hours that it takes to make another.

Training Week Summary:
Going into last week I changed the focus a little. My daily volume had consistently been pretty good, but I felt like I could use a few recovery days to allow my body to recharge and get the jump on a few little nigglies. I also wanted to get in a pretty long run, so this worked well.
John was visiting his family in Kingston, so we arranged to get together for a long run at Frontenac Park last Friday. The weather was perfect and we ended up getting in a solid 6hrs that just flew by. This was really good for both of us as it was my longest run back since Haliburton and was a great final long run before John does Sulphur in a few weeks time. I felt strong structurally and like I got stronger over the course of the run, other than a little glitch at about 4hrs when I realized that I had been spending too much time talking and not enough time paying attention to refueling. My bonk was a good reminder how sensitive my body is to fueling. Once I got a couple of gels into me quickly, I rebounded and felt strong again for the rest of the run (though probably could have used a few more gels spread out over the run).
I felt like my body recovered well from the long run, but only did an hour the next day. All systems were good. I then finished off the week with a nice 3hr run with Sara in Frontenac again. This was my third run in Frontenac between Sunday to Sunday, but it was extra special as it was nice to get out for a long run with Sara again. This was Sara's longest run back since her injury and she seemed really strong during it.
For the coming week, I'll continue to get decent volume in during the early part of the week, but know it will take a hit this weekend with organizing the 5Peaks race on Saturday. Looking forward to the race and hoping for great weather.
Total # of hours last week – 16:35
Total # of hours this year – 206:42
Streak – 7,440 days of running in a row

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Miwok, Bairu, PYP, McCauley and Crashes

It’s Wednesday?? How did that happen? The kid is a little slow on the blog front this week.

Things have been pretty hectic lately with lots of stuff on the go. The Kingston 5Peaks
trail race is a week from Saturday. It looks like there will be a good turnout for this second year event.

Last week was an amazing week in ultra running and also in Canadian running in general. Here are a few highlights.

Miwok 100km:
This super stacked race turned out to be as epic as all of the prerace hype. Anton Krupicka ran a very well executed race to win in 8:02. Some of the most interesting parts of the day included what went on elsewhere in the top ten. Unfortunately, one of the pre-race favourites, Canadian Gary Robbins had to pull out after 50km. Read Gary’s excellent and honest report on his race (a must read!). Even without Gary finishing, Canadians ran very well with Chris Downie finishing 7th and Glen Redpath 8th overall. There are some excellent race reports on Rod Bien’s and Anton Krupicka’s blogs, plus a great interview that did with La Sportiva runner Nathan Yanko who finished 4th.

Kami Semick had a great day at Miwok and one the women’s race in a time of 9:10.

New Canadian 10Km Record:
Simon Bairu continued his fantastic season of running by setting a new Canadian record of 27:23 for 10km. This broke Jeff Scheibler’s old record of 27:36 by 13 seconds. Bairu will be making his marathon debut this fall and is looking to break the Canadian record at that distance too.

Pick Your Poison:
The next race in the Ontario Ultra Series took place last Saturday. It sounded like the weather was a bit nasty at times again for this race, but some strong performances were turned in. SHA runners JD and Christy both ran strong races with JD completing the 50km and Christy completing 25km. Complete results are here.


My Training Week:
Now that I’ve increased my volume up consistently where I would like it to be, I’ve started to add more regular harder efforts into the mix. This has ranged from steady long efforts to tempo runs, with some hills thrown into the mix too.

I had my longest run since last September of 5:09 last Monday and even though it was longer than the week before, I felt much better structurally and my body held up very well. Thursday was a hard, hilly tempo run of 30mins in the middle of a run on a 1km loop. This felt awesome and I handled it well.

The week continued with some great volume and intensity with a run at McCauley Mt on Saturday while Brennan rode his mountain bike. I ran the first 20mins of my run with Heather who ran incredible on the hills, then I got in some more good climbing. Bren had a great time on the trails, but unfortunately took a nasty fall on his final run of the day, by hitting a hidden rut at the bottom of a hill. He went down pretty hard, but was ok and is proudly showing his crash to all his friends.

Sunday concluded a great week with a 3 hour trail run at Frontenac Park with Taylor. I was a little tired going into this, but luckily Taylor showed mercy on me and let me lead …he didn’t have much choice as he didn’t know the route :) . This run was at a quicker pace then I would have run by myself, which was great to get in. It was a hot day as well, so it took that much more out of me too. I had a few nigglies at the end of the week, so looking forward to a few lighter days to re-charge a bit before going long again.

Total # of hours last week – 17:25
Total # of hours this year – 190:07
Streak – 7,433 days of running in a row
Training Log Details

Brennan’s nasty tumble at McCauley Mt…