Tuesday, July 27, 2010

iRunFar Gear Review: La Sportiva 2011

Check out iRunFar.com for Bryon Powell's gear review of the new and exciting La Sportiva Electron and Quantum trail running shoes... due for release in January 2011.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Colorado Bound!

“I’m going out to Denver…”

It’s been a long time coming, but we’re finally heading to Colorado this week for holidays. Colorado has been on our wish list for a long time. The thought of seeing and running in some of the beautiful places that you read about in various magazines and on websites is very exciting.

Unfortunately, while my knee and achilles are improving a great deal, they are certainly not in the place where I’d ideally like them to be to be able to log some long runs in the mountains. I am actually surprisingly ok with this. While I really had hoped to get a few specific longer mountain runs in during our trip there, the goal all along has been to have a great time together with Sara, Brennan and Heather in this mountain playground. We have lots of fun things planned including staying at a glacier at 10,000ft, hiking various trails and mountains, and catching the Crankworx Mountain Bike Series. We are also going to use this opportunity to pop in and say hi to the wonderful folks at La Sportiva in Boulder. Should be a great trip!

As for my injury progress, this past week has continued to progress nicely. My knee is feeling quite structurally sound and my achilles has improved a great deal…while just still feeling a little weak. I have one more shockwave treatment tomorrow morning, followed by a few more light days, and then I can hopefully start increasing my volume and training harder again. Being patient will of course be very challenging considering that we will be in some of the most beautiful running terrain imaginable. The goal will have to be to keep busy with lots of other fun things to take my mind off of not being able to run as much as I’d like. This shouldn’t be a problem though.

Time for HOLLERDAZE!!!!

Oh, and one more thing...as I mentioned on my Twitter page, a huge congrats to SHA runner David B for his awesome race at Damn Wakely Dam 32.6mile self supported race. David finished 11th in a strong field. Look for a full report here soon.

Training Summary
Total # of hours last week: 3:37
Total # of hours this year: 307:21
Streak (# of consecutive days of running): 7,517
Training Details for the Week

Here is the best song about Colorado. A great Steve Earle cover of the classic Townes Van Zandt song...

Friday, July 23, 2010

Mosquito Mountain

Ok, here's a random thought...

I've been reading a lot about mountains and mountain climbing lately in anticipation of our trip to Colorado next week. On a completely different topic, we also have a whack of mosquitos at our place (BIG and lots of them!).

Has anyone else ever wondered if mosquitos think of humans the same way that we think about mountains? I mean, they keep coming back and trying their best to conquer us and bite us even though they are probably fully aware of the potential dangers of doing so and getting whacked in the process. Which is not unlike humans trying to climb mountains and sometimes being foiled by the mountain or weather conditions.

I guess the reason I sort of thought about this a bit more recently too was hearing about my sister Deb's recent attempt up Mt Fuji, when she was forced to turn back due to bad weather. Glad you didn't get smucked like a mosquito Deb!

Okay, back to work Derrick!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Sounds of Yarker

Even though I’m in full-on rest and rehab mode while waiting for my knee and achilles to heal a bit more, it was still a nice weekend in the wilds of Freeman Road.

As I’ve mentioned before, we tend to spend a lot of time hanging out in our backyard with the dogs, quite often by campfire. Saturday night seemed like just another one of those nights. We had a great dinner of STP (Sweet Tater Peppers) over the open flame, and generally just enjoyed relaxing with the temperature being a little cooler than recently. Nothing but the bright, starlit sky and the peaceful sound of birds, coyotes and really bad wedding music.

Huh??? WTF? We live on a pretty secluded dirt road and very rarely hear much noise. Therefore, we were surprised to hear the PA system of a wedding dance blaring through our quiet night. Apparently there must have been an outdoor wedding and reception in nearby Colebrooke and the direction of the wind had the music selection coming through loud and clear to our normally tranquil backyard setting.

What can you do? At first we were annoyed that our little bit of paradise was spoiled by the sounds of some really bad wedding music, but then it became rather fun and we got into the celebration, unbeknownst to the bride, groom and anyone else who was there for that matter.

Have you ever noticed that at a wedding you always hear the exact same songs? Which is to say a very brutal selection of the worst of the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s pop music. Yes, that is way too much Abba, Kenny Loggins, Bob Segger, and company all wrapped into one big Cheesefest of every other bad song you could ever imagine. We had fun with it though and made a game out of guessing what would be the next bad song that was going to be played. This wasn’t our normal way of spending an evening, but surprisingly we almost made it to the end of the reception. Our dogs didn’t seem to share in our enjoyment though and I think just wanted to go to sleep. Apparently they have different tastes in music than we do. :)

The backyard meadow (note our 1km barefoot grass trail is out there, but just a little hidden)...

Training Summary:
My running this past week has been reduced to let my knee and achilles get stronger. The shockwave therapy from last week had my achilles feeling better than it has in months. This is very encouraging as I think this has been part of the problem with my body compensating and contributing to the knee pain/tight psoas. My knee seems to be coming around nicely from all the stretching, rehab and rolling/sticking that I’ve been doing. I have a few more treatments of shockwave over the new 10days, but hope to be in a good place to kickoff our upcoming holidays in Colorado. Can’t wait.

Total # of hours last week: 5:33
Total # of hours this year: 303:44
Streak (# of consecutive days of running): 7,510
Training Details for the Week

For the record, the Ramones were not played at the outdoor wedding the other night.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Shockwave Therapy

It’s been 2 months since I re-injured my knee. After an appointment at the KOPI Sports Medicine Clinic two weeks ago, I discovered that the cause of my Patella Femoral problem has been due to a very tight right psoas. This has also resulted in an achilles tendon flareup from the change in my mechanics too. Lucky me…two injuries for the price of one :)

Anyhow, I have noticed some pretty good improvements with my knee as I’ve been focusing on stretching my psoas more; however the achilles has been on again, off again. Some days it is pretty good, while other days it is pretty tender. The common thing though is that at the start of every run as of late it has ranged from being anywhere from tight to tender, and doesn’t feel like I have my normal strong toe off.

I have felt as though it has improved, but not at the rate that I would like it to have. I’ve continued on sort of in a state of half ass training and half ass recovery. After consulting with my physio today, he was not pleased with the progress of my achilles at this point either and feels as though it may be limiting the recovery of my knee injury. I totally agree.

I guess I feel that I could probably continue on the way I have and things ‘might’ turn around soon, but then again they might not. I do feel that I have more to lose then to gain right now and have decided to be a little more aggressive with my rehab. I’ve held off this long in the hopes that I could turn this around and be ready for a late summer race. As the weeks click past though, this might not be the wisest approach. I have definitely decided not to run Haliburton 100 this year, which will be tough not to do since I just love the race. I am looking into other options a little later though. Virgil Crest 100 certainly appeals to me, which is a few weeks later, but still may be too soon. We’ll have to wait and see how things go.

So the exciting news for me is that I have tried a new form of therapy called shockwave therapy. It hasn’t been around for long, but from everything I’ve read and heard, it’s been getting great results. I feel very fortunate in that KOPI offers this therapy at their clinic. That is one of the reasons that I decided to come to this clinic is because of all the different things that they offer under one roof. That is the way healthcare should be!

I had my first shockwave treatment today and didn’t really know what to expect. It was almost like a jackhammer hitting my achilles for about 5mins. It was a little uncomfortable when it hit some tender spots, but not too bad. I did feel as though my tendon was a little looser, though a bit achy following the appointment. I also had some pretty deep ART on my psoas again and it seems to be improving. The thing that I have to be careful of with shockwave is to take it pretty easy for a couple of days following each session, which is the main reason for my decision to cut back a bit more. I have a total of 3 sessions booked in the next two weeks. This is usually enough to get maximum benefit from what I have been told at KOPI.

So, the plan for the next few weeks will be to keep the volume pretty low, especially for the first two days following treatments, and then increase a little before the next session. I’m almost treating the shockwave sessions the same way that I would a long run, hard workout or race, and give it lots of recovery after.

While I’m a little disappointed that I still don’t have a race in the near future, I am encouraged about where I’m at right now and where I hope to be back to in a few weeks time. After all, it’s all about being out there and in it for the long haul.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Canadian Trail Races, Gatineau Park and Rock Lobster (I mean...Dunder)

Rock Dunder
We have wanted to go to Rock Dunder ever since we heard about it a number of years ago while I was working at Trailhead. There was a big push to preserve this piece of property and we finally had a chance to see first hand why.

While Sara and I didn’t explore Rock Dunder by our normal means of trail running, we enjoyed it just the same by taking Brennan and Heather on a fun filled hike on Saturday. It is less than an hour drive from our home, located on highway #15 near the village of Morton. We were surprised at the rugged terrain, elevation gain and beautiful views. The hike we did started out as a gradual climb that eventually popped us out on a beautiful summit overlooking Morton Bay.

After a quick lunch, while enjoying the view, we continued down the loop to a cabin on the water and were treated to a very refreshing swim to cool off from our hike. The soft pine needles on the final section of trail out to the parking lot were a soothing way to finish our hike.

Having thought that we knew every trail in the region, we were very surprised at this gem. This was prime Canadian Shield and there were many parts that actually reminded us of our trips to the Adirondacks. While the trail system isn’t too extensive, it was certainly enough to come back, do a few creative loops, and you could get in a decent length run.

Gatineau Park
I had a Monday morning meeting in Ottawa, so we made the last minute decision on Sunday afternoon to head to Ottawa to stay over night. One of the things that pulled us in was to have the opportunity to go for a run in Gatineau Park. Surprisingly, we haven’t really spent much time in the Gats other than a snowshoe fastpack a few years ago, so don’t really know the trails very well.

With it getting a little later by the time we got there, we felt it was best to just park at the Visitor Center and run from there. As I said we didn’t really know where we were going, or how to get there, so were a little disappointed to find that the initial loop from the parking lot was all of about 10 minutes long, which was not really enough to satisfy our trail running needs. Upon another inspection of the trail map, we headed off and were able to find some nice trails featuring great climbing. The problem was that we were getting pulled in further and further while not wanting to turn around. Common sense prevailed, and that fact that we hadn’t brought headlamps, we turned back in time to avoid getting caught in the dark.

This quick taste of the Gats left us longing to get back for a full day for more exploration. Armed with our newly purchased guidebook and maps, we are already drooling over where to run next time.

Canadian Race Highlights
There were some great trail races this past weekend with the NACAC Mountain Running Championships on Friday night and the Knee Knacker 30mile race on Saturday...

The NACAC Mountain Running Championships featured some of the top mountain runners in Canada and the US. It was great to see Taylor Murphy run well on the course and finish as top Canadian in second place. American Joe Gray won the race, but Team Canada beat the US by one place for the team title. This years race was supposed to be entirely run uphill, but the route had to be altered at the last minute due to Grizzly bear activity in the area. The course was therefore moved to Canmore and did feature some downhill segments as well. Top Canadian finishers have earned the right, pending funding, to represent Canada at the World Mountain Running Championships later this summer in Slovania. Complete results

The Knee Knacker 30mile race was also held on a very challenging course in BC this weekend. Adam Campbell won the mens race in his second ever ultra race, against a top field of Western Canada ultra runners including recent 6th place Western States 100 Mile finisher Gary Robbins. Ellie Greenwood was the top female in the race smashing the old course record in a time of 5:06, while finishing in 6th place overall. Complete results.

Training Week Summary
Not much to report here. I am trying to be very patient and mix long days or harder days with shorter recovery days to baby my knee and achilles. This approach has been working very well in combination with plenty of rehab. I’ve feeling pretty good now and actually got in 3 runs of 90 minutes last week including one light tempo workout. The goal for this coming week will be to increase the length of my runs and aim to get into the 2+ hour range again.

Total # of hours last week: 7:48
Total # of hours this year: 298:11
Streak (# of consecutive days of running): 7,503
Training Details of the Week

I couldn’t help but think about the song Rock Lobster when we were hiking Rock Dunder on the weekend. While I was a little more into Punk than the New Wave movement when I was younger, I have to admit that I did, and still do, own the record…

Friday, July 9, 2010

Hot in the City

Hot enough fer ya?

Yikes. We have been going through a hell of a heat wave here in Eastern Ontario with daily temps reaching the mid-30C and the high humidity making it feel like 40+C.

I’ve heard a number of people complain out this crazy weather to me and asking how it’s possible to run in it. While it’s very easy to get discouraged about it and want to just not bother, the best thing that you can do is accept it and treat it as an opportunity to benefit from a different type of training affect and try to acclimatize yourself to it.

With running, it’s always going to be a challenge dealing with the heat, so now is a great chance to get a bit of training in that will help for the next hot weather race. I can’t help but think that all of the folks who were spending time doing heat acclimatization in a sauna for their buildup for Western States 100 miler, would have much preferred to run in these type of conditions that we currently have.

While I do see the huge benefit to heat training, here are a few of the things that I have found that have helped…
  • Modify the length of your training runs. Make sure to get out there for your daily regular runs, but it’s ok to cut back the volume a little.

  • Modify the intensity of your runs. Whether it’s an easy run or a hard session, you may find that your pace per km may need to be cut back by up to 30secs or more per km compared to normal. Accept this and don’t overextend in these conditions.

  • Leave the Garmin at home. No need to try to get X kms at X pace in during a heat wave. Just another reason why I am a big believer in the benefits of running by time and not distance.

  • Stay on top of hydration before, during and after your training. Sounds simple, but can be overlooked.

  • Don’t forget your electrolytes. You are sweating more in training and just daily living as well.

  • Run with handheld bottles for all runs, even short runs. I tend to use a waistbelt hydration system more in races as I find it a little more comfortable, but there are times when if your stomach isn’t feeling so well in a race that handhelds will be more comfortable. This is a great opportunity to get used to them. You certainly don’t need to have two handheld bottles of water with you during every run, but it’s great training to get used to it and also nice to cool down a little if needed.

  • If you are running longer, do smaller loops with cutoff options or options to replenish with more water along the way.

Our bodies really are amazing machines and I have found in the past week that even on some of the hottest days that we’ve had, that I’m already finding it much easier to tolerate the heat. There’s just nothing quite like the feeling of turning a potential negative into a positive training experience. Though I have to say that I am looking forward to the upcoming break in the weather and some cooler days ahead.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Monday, July 5, 2010

Canada Day Weekend

What an incredible Canada Day Long Weekend. Lots of races to follow, good weather and good fun!

A couple of congrats to some SHA runners who competed in the past week. JD survived a very hot day at the Creemore Vertical Challenge 50km. From all counts, the only thing that was tougher than the relentless hills on the course was the brutal heat. EJ also had a very busy period of racing with her debut at the Limestone Mile in a great time of 6:29 on a windy day on Thursday, then following it up by winning the women’s race (3rd overall) at the Sydenham Lakeside 5km on her home turf in a very solid time of 21:46. Great job guys!

Aside from another weekend of searching out race results, we enjoyed a relaxing time hanging out at our home. We find it interesting that for some weekends when we have thought that we’d like to go camping, we usually end up just staying at our own little ‘cabin in the woods’. For two of the nights we stayed out late by campfire; cooking dinner by open flame, enjoying a few beer and just hanging out with the dawgs. Doesn’t get any better than that. We are very fortunate to have this at our disposal on our property and take full advantage of it. No real reason to go away to camp. To add to this, we are also lucky to have a pretty great trail system we can connect to that is only 2kms down our dirt road to hook onto. I guess this is always why we feel that whenever we are at home, it truly feels like we are on holidays. That was certainly the case this weekend.

We didn’t even have to go out to get any fresh fruit over the weekend as we have a huge crop of wild blackberries (or blackcaps in ‘Fitchettese’) this season. It is incredible how many berries we have been able to pick as each day there are loads more that are ripe. Yum!

Our only venture into the outside world over the weekend was going to Sara’s sister-in-law, Heather’s surprise 40th party in Chaffey’s Lock. Heather seemed very surprised and it was great to see Jeff, Heather and the boys again after their recent trip to Australia. One of the highlights of the evening was listening to some great new music provided by Paul Langlois of the Tragically Hip accompanied by Sara’s brother Jeff. Most of the songs were new material written by Paul that will hopefully be coming out in a solo album at some point. Being a harsh critic of music that is currently being put out, I would definitely say that this was by far the best new music I have heard in a long, long time and it was a real treat to hear it in this setting. Can’t wait for the CD.

Running-wise, it’s been great to see Sara feel stronger in her training and being able to put a consistent period of healthy running weeks together. I’m still feeling some nigglies with my knee and achilles, but they seem to be feeling better each day. I’m confident that I’m heading in the right direction and will be able to cautiously increase over the next few weeks and start getting some good long runs in again soon. Yesterday’s 90 minute run felt awesome, but I awoke to some stiffness again today. I had another ART session with Tom this morning and it does seem like my psoas is beginning to loosen up a bit more which is good. Onward and upward.

Training Summary:
Total # of hours last week: 6:28
Total # of hours this year: 290:23
Streak (# of consecutive days of running): 7,496
Training Details of the week