Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Barn

Here is a great blog by my parents neighbour with some wonderful photos of my parents barn that I grew up spending so many hours exploring.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Campfire Reflections: Virgil Vigil

My pipes are still a bit tired from the 25miles at Virgil on Saturday. I've spent quite a bit of time reflecting over the campfire the past few days and am still fine with the outcome.

Yesterdays token 20 minute run helped to loosen up my legs a bit more and another easy day or two should have me fired up to dig deep into a good training block.

Looking back over my training log in the past few months I realize that I am certainly not where I want to be, but am very thankful of where I am and that I am able to move forward. Injuries suck and I am very grateful to be healthy again and will never take that for granted. On that note I am really looking forward to when Sara is 100% healthy too. Soon.

I found it very interesting watching the below short video clip that Sara took of me while running in Colorado. I have always felt that my stride efficiency is reasonably good, but you can tell that biomechanically I am a huge mess. I am essentially limping as my whole right side is locked up. Part of that was the Achilles flareup that I had, but the bigger problem was the tightness in my hip/psoas.

Thank gawd that is behind me now. Looking at my form not that long ago is very painful to see. I feel like I have come a long ways in the past 6 weeks and getting stronger each day. It's funny that I never felt like I was running that awkward even though Sara mentioned that my stride just looked off. It's just amazing what you can believe when you are not wanting to admit something.

Anyhow, my strength and flexibility is getting better daily and I can assure you that my current form has improved considerably and isn't anywhere near as bad as the video.

Weekly Summary (Sept 20-26):
Total # of hours last week: 9:04
Total # of hours this year: 403:00
Streak (# of consecutive days of running): 7,580
Training Log Details for the Week

Gimpy: The scenery is nice, but the form?....not so much...

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Virgil Crest: I shouldn’t have clicked submit

Ok, so Virgil Crest is still taking place as I write this, so WTF am I doing blogging? Well, in case you didn’t see the online updates or my twitter, I dropped…and dropped fairly early I might add at 25miles, or as Eric pointed out 40kms which does sound a little better.

I’m a bit disappointed, but not devastated or anything. The writing was on the wall. This was my first race in over a year and I may have rushed things just a wee bit in the race department. I had signed up for the 100mile, but my main goal going into the race was to get in 50miles in under 11 hours to be able to put my name into the Western States lottery. Virgil allows an official 50mile time if you sign up for the 100 but decide to drop after 50miles. I felt that this was a good option for me and highly doubted that I would be able to continue on for the full 100, but just wanted to keep the door open just in case.

Looking back on my training log, I should have realized that it was very stupid to try to attempt 50 yet, let alone even thinking of 100. July was still a write-off training/fitness wise, August was only a little better. And, I was only able to cram in a 4 and 5 hour run in early September, plus pacing Keith for 6hrs at Haliburton. Not ideally the type of training that I would normally do for any ultra distance race, especially considering I hadn’t raced in so long. I guess you always hope that you can get by if you run smart. Hope is a dirty 4 letter word though and you need to KNOW. I think deep down beforehand I knew it was a mistake.

The strange thing about it is that I feel that if it had been run on a little more runnable course, that I might have been ok. Virgil is tough. In fact, it’s the toughest course I have run on with 20,000ft in elevation in the 100. That was the big thing that got me. My fitness was lacking, PLUS I hadn’t done the specific training that I needed for a tough course like this. The ascents up the ski hills were brutal. I don’t think that there were many who were able to actually run many of the uphills, and then the braking of the downhills were tough too. That seemed to be the pattern of the course, you were either climbing up or braking coming down. I don’t want to sound like I’m whining, as Jeff Browning ran an awesome race on the course last year, however they added a few more miles this year which made the course that much more challenging with the addition of more elevation change and single track.

Anyhow, I wasn’t ready for this and realized this fairly early. I started the race as relaxed as possible and definitely felt like I was holding back early. The first parts I found were quite possible to run within myself. I began to struggle though when we started climbing. The ups and downs really beat up my body and due to the lack of base mileage over the summer; I had nothing to fall back on in addition to not having done a hill phase for a race like this either.

When I’m fit, I usually start feeling stronger after about 4hrs into a race. Today, I started to feel very rough at 3hrs and kept getting worse. I had a couple of good pukes, but it was more about there just being no strength in my body on that type of course. I may have been able to keep going a little while longer, but I essentially knew that my body was not ready to keep going without risking something that I was not prepared to risk on the day.

Structure wise, I’m feeling good and even feel pretty good now after a tough 25miles of the race. I honestly feel that my injury is behind me and that within a few days I can get back into hard training. That is what motivates me and gets me excited.

Yes, I should never have toed the line, however if I hadn’t then I always would have wondered if maybe, just maybe, I could have snuck in a decent race and sped up the return to competition. Unfortunately though, there is no bluffing a race in a 100 miler, especially like Virgil, without doing the work…and that is what I need to do before my next race.

While I am a little disappointed that I’m not a little further along in my fitness right now, it is good to know exactly what I need to do, and I have the green light to do it now that I am healthy.

I’ve told many of my coaching clients in the past that no matter whether you have a good race or a sub par race, the motivation should always be there following the race to train hard. I am certainly very motivated, now that I’m healthy, and can’t wait to hit the trails!

PS. Thanks everyone for all the emails, facebook, twitter and Running Mania comments.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Click Submit!

It’s been over a year since I’ve raced due to the knee issue that I’ve been wrestling with. The good news is that I’m finally healthy, know why the injury happened and know what I need to do to avoid getting this injury again. So why am I reluctant to hit the submit button for Virgil Crest this weekend?

Click submit Derrick!

I know that I’m not in great shape, but feel fit to get fit. I’ve gotten in a few good test runs over the past few weeks including pacing Keith at Haliburton, plus a solid 5 hour solo run. My training volume has been decent, though not spectacular, but still enough to be able to run the distance.

Click submit Derrick!!

Yesterday was sort of the final test that I passed. Great range of motion/flexibility in my hip, and continued increased strength as well. My physio gave me the green light to run, and said that even if I felt pain during the race at any point that it wasn’t going to set me back any.

Click submit Derrick!!!

I guess the biggest thing is that I would ideally like to have a little more time to train and get in better shape, but unfortunately I don’t really have that luxury right now since there are a limited number of races and weekends available to get in a qualifier before the Western States 100 Lottery.

Click submit Derrick!!!!

Nothing is ever ideal. I’ve been away from a race for a long time and even though I’m not in my best shape, I still can’t help but have all of these preconceived race goals. If I can just let go of those and go into the race to run relaxed, have fun and enjoy a long day on the trails, then everything will be great....and that's exactly what I'm going to do.

Click submit Derrick!!!!!

Okay, done. Submit button has been clicked! Time to get ready to enjoy a great day on some sweet single track.

Last week was a solid week of running that included a great 5 hour long run last Wednesday. Structurally, I felt really good and like I am finally in a great place.

Aside from the 5hr run, the highlight runningwise of the week was my run at Ballahack. The Ballahack trails are proposed provincial park/crown land that are just gorgeous. I remember going there xc skiing as a kid and this place just seemed so remote and wild. We don’t tend to run there that much as it’s near Tamworth and a good 45mins plus drive from our place. When we do, it’s always an adventure though.

These trails were actually the first trails that Sara and I fastpacked overnight on. We’ve also dogsledded and snowshoe run there as well. In fact, pretty much every time that we run there during the summer, we tend to see a bear and Sunday was no different.

I did the tour on the trails that I wanted to see with great views of Norway and Puzzle Lakes. Saving the best for the end, I then took my favourite trail in towards Cranberry Lake. Sure enough, just as I was climbing to the highest point in the area, I looked across the marshy section of the lake and saw a huge black bear sunning itself and playing under some big trees. It was totally oblivious to me being about 150meters away from it. I felt pretty comfortable being that far away and with a body of water between us, so I sat on top of the rock and watched him play for about 15mins. Bliss.

Another highlight of the week was visiting Sara’s parents and nephews, Whit and Sully, in Jones Falls. Just a beautiful place and we took full advantage of the opportunity to do some kayaking. Brennan and Heather kicked my butt in the race around the island competition, but I’m claiming that it’s because they were using Peter and Judy’s streamlined, jet-powered kayaks. Great fun!

Weekly Summary (Sept 13-19):
Total # of hours last week: 11:42
Total # of hours this year: 393:56
Streak (# of consecutive days of running): 7,573
Training Log Details for the Week
Kayak race. I got smoked!
Puzzle Lake
Norway Lake
Unfortunately I wasn't able to get a good photo of my friend the bear as the sun was shining towards me. Next time for sure.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Haliburton: The Other Side of the Trail

It’s getting near the end of the week and I haven’t even had a chance to post last week’s update yet. Guess I’ve fallen a little behind on the blogging front. I do have an excuse though as it’s been a very busy week and I’m trying to play a little catch up.

I decided late last week that after juggling some things around that I was going to be able to go to Haliburton after all and take part in the festivities…although from the other side of the trail. I drove up by myself late Friday and pulled into Basecamp at about 11pm. It was too late to grab a campsite, and besides, I didn’t want to disturb the runners who were racing the next morning.

The stars were out in full force like they can only be in the Haliburton Forest. It was tonight that I had the biggest pang of wanting to race the next morning. I went for a short walk towards the entrance to Normac Trail and just soaked in some of the feelings of this special race. The howl of the wolves being answered by the song of the nearby huskies, which are waiting anxiously for the dogsled season, brought a smile to my face. They would like to be running just as much as I would tomorrow I’m sure.

I make my way back to the Subaru and curl up in my sleeping bag. I’m not sure if it was the tight quarters in the Forester or the thoughts of being in the Forest, but I struggled to get much sleep.

I awoke at 5:30am with plenty of time to make it to the start line. Part of me wanted to not see any of my coaching clients before the start of their races, but instead just show up at an aid station mid-race to hopefully help boost some morale if anyone was going through a rough patch. In the end I couldn’t help but searching out everyone and giving them some last minute well wishes.

Runners were marched to the start line by bagpipe, as per Haliburton tradition, and then they were off on their 50km, 50mile or 100mile journey. The bustle of runners heading down into the Forest soon faded and I was left standing feeling somewhat lost. Fortunately, Kim was there to crew for David, so we were able to chat and then most importantly work on the task at hand…making camp coffee!

The early part of the day was a blur of activity. I scurried around between aid stations checking on coaching clients, helping out others, cheering on friends, twittering updates, and genuinely enjoying the day…though it certainly felt strange.

The course was abnormally wet from the heavy rainfall this summer, as well as some handy beaver work on the trail. This certainly affected the times of all runners and contributed to what I expect was probably the highest percentage of DNF’s ever recorded at Haliburton.

It was great seeing Aaron finish his 50km so much faster than last year, and seeing David just eating up the trails in his first attempted at the 50mile distance and cracking 10 hours. These were two very solid performances and I was very impressed with how smart and with how much precision that they both executed their races.

I had spoken with my friend Keith and his wife/crew chief Jenn and told them that I could help Keith out with pacing after 8pm if he wanted. Keith accepted and I was pretty giddy to be able to get out on the course and be a little more of a part of the race. I met Keith at 75miles and we ran the final 25mile push to the finish together. Keith was in second place at the time and seemed to be struggling a bit, but I was amazed how well he recovered after having some hot noodles and gave chase with thoughts of seeing how much of the lead we could cut into. We were getting updates along the trail and seemed to be making some headway, but the long day of slugging in the mud quickly made it apparent that it would be very difficult to keep up the pace and make any further dent into the lead. Keith continued to run well to the finish for second place, with the highlight being a bear encounter on the Normac Trail.

After a brief post race beer with Keith, I was given a long ride back out to the 75mile point to pick up Floyd the Forester…thanks Jenn. I was then able to get back out onto the course and check on SHA clients JD and Christy, as well as I was hoping to see how John M was doing too.

I pulled into aid station #6 and spoke briefly with JD who was having a very solid day on the trails and continued to be moving very well. I also saw Christy coming into the aid station obviously in a great deal of pain with very bad feet due to the wet conditions. I was pretty blown away seeing how much discomfort Christy was in, but she was still not ready to quit yet without giving it one last shot. Seeing Christy leave AS#6 had a profound affect on me and brought me to tears. It is truly amazing how powerful the mind is and what it can will the body to do. Christy limped out of the aid station in terrible pain and disappeared down the trail. It was beautiful. Unfortunately, it was just too much and she was forced to stop partway before the next aid station at 82miles…but a huge congrats goes out to her for such a brave and determined effort. JD’s race continued to go well and he kept moving strong right to the finish with a great time.

Reflecting on the race as a spectator gave me quite a different perspective of things in the ultra running world. There were so many incredible efforts that I witnessed over the course of the weekend. I heard of a runner being told that they had to hurry to make it to the 75mile aid station before 4am or she would be disqualified from the race for missing the cutoff time. Then hearing how she was sprinting into the aid station with only a few minutes to spare as if it was the end of the race. Then she still had to run another 25miles. It gets better though when she comes within mere seconds of missing the 30 hour cutoff time at the finish line and once again it comes down to a courageous sprint.

These were just a few of the examples of the many heroic efforts on the trails and my hat goes off to everyone who ran. Sometimes when you are so caught up in your own race and racing, you can miss some of the finer moments in running. I feel very fortunate to have witnessed these on the weekend. Though, I am hoping to be back again next year to play in the Haliburton Forest… possibly for a little longer though.

Congrats again to everyone. There are some great reports of the race at the following links.
David's report
JD's report
Christy's report
Keith's report
John's report
Lots of race reports on Running Mania
Race Results


Training Summary:
~ My training volume was a little skewed on the high side during this week since I ran long on the Monday and then paced at Haliburton on the weekend. Physically, I’m starting to feel great and find that I am beginning to feel a little stronger on longer runs too. This is encouraging, but I still realize that I do have a ways to go before I’ll be feeling back in a good place fitness wise. Rehab has also been going particularly well and structurally things definitely feel the best that they have in the past year.
Total # of hours last week: 17:30
Total # of hours this year: 382:14
Streak (# of consecutive days of running): 7,566
Training Log Details for the Week

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Now That's Mountain Running!

Incredible Mountain Running video of Valerio Bertoglio that I stole from Adam Campbell's blog.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

End of Summer and WS100 Dreaming

It seems like the end of summer is here. The heat and humidity (and deer flies) are gone and they’ve been replaced with cool nights.

I just love this time of the year for running, and feel very fortunate to be back into a place where I can be enjoying some substantial trail time. My daily volume has continued to be back to a point approaching almost normal amounts again. While I haven’t ventured into many longer runs, I’m now feeling like I can look to test the waters and see how my body responds to some now. Monday is going to be a long run test. This will be a great opportunity for me to see when I think I might be able to hop into a race. Wish me luck!

On the topic of races, I was looking over the Western States 100 lottery information last week. WS 100 has made some really good changes to the system, however I just realized that I’m getting burned a bit in that I currently don’t have a qualifier to put my name into the lottery yet. The qualification period is from October 1, 2009 – November 6, 2010. So, unfortunately my Haliburton 2009 race is a couple of weeks too early, and with my past year of injury, I am in need of a qualifier.

I’ve been looking over races and while I do feel that I’m a ways off of being in decent shape, I’m considering trying to hop into get a qualifier. I expect that the 50mile option will be where I look. We’ll see. The fact that we organize the Sydenham Fall Trail Run in October further limits that number of potential races to look at though.

Back to school time for Brennan and Heather now. Hard to believe it's that time again. It's been an amazing summer with so many wonderful memories. We had enjoyed a final campfire of the summer this holiday weekend.

Training Summary:
Total # of hours last week: 11:32
Total # of hours this year: 364:44
Streak (# of consecutive days of running): 7,559

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Dog Water Skiing

No...not the skis ON the dogs.

The summer must be getting close to being over as I'm thinking more and more about winter these days.

We have dogsled, cross country skied and mountain biked behind our huskies, but water skiing never occurred to us.

My friend Duane sent this article and the below video that was fun to watch. Maybe we'll need to give it a try. Too bad our yearly spring flood didn't last longer on our property.