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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Make Me Faster, Make Me Twitch...

Yesterday I had the chance to head down to Runner's Choice and do some running related shopping. I came back with quite a few fun things, two of which were my birthday present from Melanie to me.  She's the best because my bday isn't till late October but I wanted some running gear now. Yay for not waiting till your birthday! :D Thanks hun!

I also purchased myself some stuff, and one of those things is the subject for this post. As I'm getting back into running and racing, I decided it was time for me to treat myself to a pair of racing flats. These flats to be precise

The shoes, Saucony Fastwitch 4, were selling for $129 at Runner's Choice (and thanks to my awesome LRDC discount I saved 15$) and the color just caught my eye.  I took a peek at the New Balance Kinvara but they didn't have my size and when I slipped the Fastwitch on I knew I had found the pair for me.

Light, cushioned with just the amount of support I need (low level) and a killer look I had to buy them. And so I did. I'll be breaking them in a bit before my next 5km road race, the Springbank 5km on Sept 12th. I'll post a better review later once I've actually used them, but for now I will wait.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Why Do You Run? Why Do I Run?

I found this video on and it really hit home. The video features Anton Krupicka, a highly accomplished ultradistance runner. In the video he talks about how and why he runs, how he constantly works at distilling running down to it's more pure form. You can't help but believe every word he says, he seems so genuinely committed to keeping running as pure as possible and the latest shoe from New Balance is the product of many, many miles and a receptive R&D department.

I'm no ultradistance runner, and I don't feel compelled to use shoes that allow me to get in touch with the surfaces I run on, but dang, this guy's approach to running sure seems contagious.  So, why do I run?

I run for the peace of mind it offers.  For the me time I get.  To get in touch with my surroundings and interact on a more primal level with our earth.

I run to challenge myself and others, to inspire and breakdown. There are ups and downs, I love them all.

I run to stay fit, to stay nimble and risk injury.  With every step I take, I try and grow. I reflect on running, I love running. I run because I can. I run because I want to. I run.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Yo guy, sup?

Well, after months of talk and months of friendly pestering on Melanie's part I finally decided to attend a full hour session of Hot Yoga at the Yoga Shack. I must remind you this was my first ever hour of yoga at above 100F.. This was also my first ever hour of yoga after a 10km race the same day. Hell, this was my first ever hour of yoga period.

I arrived at the yoga studio excited, and I can honestly say I wasn't nervous. I met the instructor (and co-owner of the Yoga Shack) Lisa Shackleton. She arrived rather hurried and we managed to scare her as she arrived...I guess she didn't expect people to be there so early.  I signed their disclaimer/waiver, purchased a yoga mat and then made my way into the yoga studio.  What ensued was something I could never have fathomed.

We arrived early enough to 'enjoy' some relaxing/quiet time in Savasana or mrtasana, corpse or death pose. Wow, what a meaning! I didn't realize this till i Wiki'd it, but I guess I'll try even harder to be a dead corpse next time. :)

Lisa came into class and we started to relax even more. I came close to falling asleep twice, but the constant sweat dripping down my face kept me too alert to pass out. That was going to change quickly though...

Class kicked off and I was having a fun time learning the different positions, although Melanie had done a fine job getting me prepared over the past weeks. Sync'ing my breath with that of the teacher's was the hardest part of the class, and I found that if I slowed my breathing down to the class' pace I found myself getting very weak and light headed. 

Too many planks, warrior poses and downward dogs later and we were done the full hour. It was physically, and above all, mentally testing for the entire hour.  I was caught up in trying to focus on my posture, and breathing all the while trying to clear my mind while not slipping on the gallons of sweat that had accumulated on my mat.

I got home and weighed myself and after having eaten an apple, a bagel, and 2lt of water since the class (during which I drank another 2lt) I still weighed 2.6lbs less than this morning.  Looks like I've still got some water to replenish, which I'm slowly taking care of. To give you an idea of just how sweaty I was, I was able to splash around in my sweat puddle on my mat. I was so wet for the entire 60 minutes that I had wrinkly fingers. Yup. That wet.

I think I enjoyed most of the class, the part where I had to will my body to continue was stupid challenging. I didn't have much left as far as physical energy goes, I guess a 10km road race 6 hours prior will do that to an athlete.  I did however get the chance to truly relax and try to clear my mind, which was mildly successful.


I learned to slow my breathing in order to sync up with my exercise/pose. This is something I NEVER do. Breathing, especially when running, has always seemed to be second nature to me, so to actively breathe in unison with my exercises was a bit of a mind game.

I learned how to properly relax my shoulders and stretch my shoulder blades. The instant I did this and stretched my spinal chord thru the top of my head I felt as though I was at a chiropractor's office getting worked on. When you are normally asked to relax your shoulders you have a tendency to bring your blades together, I fought hard during this hour in order not to do this, and by golly it worked!

Bring more water. I think I need nearly a gallon of water to keep me properly hydrated.

Don't do yoga the same day as a hard running workout or run. I had little energy left in my quads and hams when it came time for runner's lunges or 1-legged splits, and by the end, even standing in tree pose was a stretch. Haha, stretch. Now I'm being funny.

That I need a minimum of 3 towels in order to clean up after I get out of the pool. Ridic.

Fun? Maybe in a sick way.
Challenging? Yes, in a giving birth kind of way I'm sure.
Will I return? Yes, I'm a sadist. Bring it on!

My 2010 Ingersoll Harvest Run 10KM Recap

As I mentioned in an earlier post Melanie and I made our way out to Ingersoll for my first crack at a 10km road race in 10 years. The weather was perfect and the sun was shining. Getting there only involved two slightly wrong turns, quite the feat considering my rudimentary directions.

We arrived there at about 8:45, with plenty of time to get me ready for the 9:30am start time. Getting my chip, bib and tshirt was a breeze and I have to commend the level of organization that was present.  The registration area was quick and painless and the ample parking staff made it easy to find a parking spot.

After a trip to the loo and a 2km warmup I was ready to toe the start line, which oddly enough, wasn't the same as the finish line.  The course was described by the announcer as being very flat from 2km to 8km and he expected personal bests from each and every one of us.

The race started a few minutes late, but nothing out of the ordinary. Here's my breakdown of the race, to the degree that I can remember.

0km to 1km

People do not know how to pace, at all.  Obviously the faster runners managed to get out ahead and stay ahead for the remainder of the race but at the 4min/km pace it seems half the runners were under the impression they were about to run a 400m lap and be done with it.  People passed me left and right, young girls, old men and just about anyone in the race. I looked at my watch to see my pace and yeah, I wasn't running slow or fast, clocking my first km in about 4:10.

1km to 3km

This included the hilly portion of the first 5km and the large downhill that lead to a rather steady uphill was nice and I managed to trick my legs into moving a tad faster without having to expend any extra energy.

Still, at this point, people decided to keep passing me and most notably was some muscle bound runner complete with iphone in hand and dj headphones on his ears. I couldn't believe what was going on, but I knew I just had to run my race and that eventually (hopefully!) I would catch the guy.

I had originally planned on doing my first 2km at 4:50 pace, something that turned out to be far too slow and I went through 2km at 8:30, a solid 60 seconds ahead of my planned pace. Ah well. My legs felt great, my lungs weren't being overworked and I decided to just stick with sub 4:30 for as long as I could.

3km to 6km

This is the part of the race where I enacted my sweet, sweet revenge on those that had originally gone out far too fast. I was still clipping along at a nice 4:20 to 4:30 pace and I began to overtake runners every few hundred meters. At this point a few women clipped past me at what I would assume was 4:10 pace and I immediately took notice and remembered to reel them back in later.

I crossed the 5km mark in just over 22 minutes (22:02) and at this point I realized I was on pace to hit 44minutes for the race, something I was shocked to realize as I was expecting a sub 46min performance, not the chance of a sub 44minute performance. It was at this point that I finally overtook a rather determined runner that I had been tailing for the last 2-3km. She was one half of the female duo that passed me just before the 3km mark. She slowed down to grab water and then trotted along as she tried to drink it. She lost at least 5 seconds in this and found herself trying to hold on to my pace, for the first time in the race. Onwards I continued, nabbing a few more runners before we hit the 6km mark to make our way back to the finish line.

Oh, remember that headphone muscle bound runner I mentioned earlier? He was walking at the 5km mark and I managed to fly past him, never to be seen again. Loved it.

6km to 8km

This section of the race was probably my strongest as it saw me pass 5 more runners that were fading slightly and stopping for water (what is it with people and water stations??? This is a 10km road race, not a half marathon...). I was now mentally shifting gears and preparing myself for the last third of the race, a third I hoped I'd be able to capitalize on and continue to push the pace faster and faster. This section also featured some rolling hills so I decided to pump my arms harder to get my legs moving and it certainly helped, most people I passed had forgotten how to move their arms.

8km to 9km

Well, I crossed the 8km marker realizing I only had at most another 9 minutes of running to do and it was like I mentally shifted gears and decided I had to lay a little more speed down.  I kicked it up a notch, now dancing with sub 4:20 pace and looking forward to the upcoming downhill we'd have, in anticipation for the last km.  This km had me pass but a few runners, maybe just two, but it set me up beautifully for what was to come.

9km to 10km

Once I crossed the 9km mark in well under 40 minutes (about 39:40 I think) I knew I had a sub 44 minute run in my sight. As I clipped down the second last downhill I finally caught two female runners, one of which was the other half of the female duo that passed me back at the 3km mark and it felt good to unleash my legs and let them unfurl as the pavement whizzed past me.  I caught a runner as we crested the hill just before the last downhill and he offered me a few words of encouragement which I promptly returned to him. I wanted him to push it to the finish line with me, but I guess my youth just had a little too much speed for him.

I caught one more runner on the last downhill and then one more in the final 200 metre kick I decided to lay down.  I crossed the finish line in 43:27, well under my original goal of 46:00 and I was absolutely elated.

In Retrospect

From start to finish I kept increasing my pace. I can't recall the last time I felt myself continually get stronger through a 10km race, I guess it's easier when you are merely running against yourself and aren't trying to snag placing points for your school team.

I had set two goals for myself prior to the race: finish in a sub 46 minute time and place top 30 overall.  Last year a 46:00 performance would nab you 27th, so when I crossed the finish line in 43:27 I thought for sure I'd have nailed a top 20 performance. Alas I did not.  I finished 21st overall, just narrowly missing out on that random soft goal I had set.  I at least had demolished my time goal by over 150 seconds!

This was my first race with my nike+ sportband and I must say it does take away some of the excitement and challenge that normally accompanies a 10 road race. I knew what my pace was at all times and this I think, is not something I want to start relying on. I want to push myself past what I think I can do, let my legs and lungs dictate how I perform, not a silly watch. We'll see if I decide to change this at anytime...

This week was a tough running week for me, with two XC workouts and my first 50km week in over 7 years, I'm amazed at what I have accomplished.

In case you'd like to see my progression (pace wise) throughout the 10km, here is my nike+ graph of the entire 10km. Don't mind the sudden drop at the end, I forgot to stop my watch.

About The Race

The Ingersoll Harvest Run is now in it's 4th year and I absolutely loved every minute of the race, including the pre and post race.  It was very well organized, the starter was informative and the course was very fast and made for some interesting mileage as we clipped along the 401 highway or tore up the streets on downhills.  Every km was very clearly marked, something that I truly enjoyed as I was able to forget about my watch for most of the race. I will certainly be returning next year and who knows, a few years down the road I may challenge for the win. (Side note, the winning time this year was a very respectable 33:50!)

Course Map

All proceeds of the race go to the Ingersoll Fusion Youth Centre.

Running Log: Week Aug 23-29 2010

Well, what a week this has been! I kicked off the XC training season with 2 workouts (both at Weldon Park in Arva) and I logged 50km over 4 runs/workouts! My legs felt great all week, with no knee pain (woot!), heel pain (until this afternoon, boo!) and my calves seem to be settling down a bit. Time to find me a massage therapist to take care of me.

Monday: Day Off (biked 22km)
Tuesday: Day Off (biked 18km)
Wednesday: 4km warmup, 12min tempo, 5x200m HARD hill, HARD 1km loop (3:30!), 3km cooldown
Thursday: 10km easy run
Friday: Day Off
Saturday: 4km warmup, 8min british bulldog, 14min tempo, 4x(2min hard, 1min easy) fartlek, 3km cooldown
Sunday: 2km warmup, 10km road race (43:27), 2km cool down

August is almost done and over with and I'm already way past my mileage goal for the month. It's been a great month of running, and general well being.  I will continue to keep myself healthy!

What a Weekend!

Well, I've had a rather busy weekend this week and the mere fact I'm still awake at the moment is quite shocking. This week saw me rack up 50.4km in mileage, a volume I have not seen since 2001.  I'm quite amazed at the fact that I managed to churn out the 50km this week and stay injury free, with no real concerns health wise.  I am continuing my stretching, physio, strengthening and SMR routines every day and I feel these are playing a large part in allowing me to remain healthy.

Yesterday I had my second hard workout of the week at Weldon Park, a workout that kicked off with 2 games of british bulldog (of which I was the last man standing in the second round). The workout was challenging, but I kept it at a decent pace in anticipation of what was to come the next day.

The next day, today, was my first race in 7 years and probably my first 10km road race in 10 years. I had very little nerves stepping up to the line and I stuck to my race plan and surprised myself.  More on that in an upcoming blog post.

So now I get to power down for a few hours, recount the previous week's workouts and gear up for an hour of yoga. Cheers!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Physio Session #2 and My Posture

So I had my second physio appt yesterday afternoon (thank you 3M for allowing me to be flexible in my work hours!) and I was told I have horrid posture while sitting, though I suppose my standing posture is likely no better.

So now I get to sit more actively instead of just crumpling into my knees while I whittle away at work.  If you find yourself sitting at a desk all day, look into getting your posture improved. It will help you immediately, and you can thank me in 30 years when you are ready to retire and you don't have chronic back pains. And who knows, maybe you'll be able to conquer the Kamasutra....

Here's a great guide on proper posture at a desk:

What I've found to be most beneficial is:

- Roll your pelvis down towards your seat so you feel your sit-bones. You want to be sitting directly on these as it will aid in attaining a more natural curvature for your back.  The sit-bones are the bones that hurt after too much cycling, or even dragon boating.

- Draw your chin into your neck ever so slightly. I have a tendency to lean forward and this can also misalign my back.

Also remember, I'm no expert. I am simply jotting down some of the changes I've implemented. Use my advice at your own peril.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The aftermath....

What an epic sounding title for my first XC season practice. The weather this evening was absolutely perfect. My first two LRDC practices were run in near 40C sun, so a chilled 25C is a welcomed change.

The turnout for the practice was substantial and included collegiate, high school and post collegiate runners. The workout took place at Weldon Park in Arva, a park I have very fond memories of. Ah the injury filled 1km loops from years gone past!

This workout sounded rather easy, and thanks to the weather I was able to hang in pretty well, tucked in between the senior group and the junior group (cept for miss sexton that was rockin' it with the big boys tonight!)

I started things off with a 4km warmup and then proceeded into some dynamic stretches/drills and ended with 4 100m easy strides. Then the real fun began. We had the choice of doing 12, 15 or 20 minutes of tempo running and as I'm still new and want to stay as injury free as possible, I opted for the 12 minute tempo. I managed to crank out just over 3km in 12:01, a pace I'm damn proud of! Let's hope I can squeak in 5km at that pace in a few months' time.

The second segment of the workout was 4-8 x 250m hills. The hill isn't too steep, but when you're attacking hard they are more than enough to knock the wind out of you.  I logged 5 of those and called that chapter closed.

The last segment of the actual workout was the choice between a 1km or 2km HARD tempo loop.  I chose the 1km HARD tempo and managed to stay relatively close to the big boys again. They clocked in at just over 3:10 for their first km, and they went off for a second. I clocked 3:30 for my 1km loop, a time that both hurt and surprised me all at once. I had no idea I still had that kind of speed and stamina in my legs, I'm so happy that I was able to rock it that hard at the end of the workout. I tired in the last 250m however, but I'm sure that will get easier with time. I hope.

Some more strides to loosen up and then I closed things off with a nice 3km cooldown, some stretching, rolling and icing.  My legs feel great considering I ran 13km tonight and had a wonderful effort. Time for a nice bath, perhaps a glass of Brandy and then to put my nose into Once A Ruune by John Parker Jr.

What a wonderful night of running, I'm so excited that physio and practice went so well. My legs feel better than they have in a few weeks now. Time to make sure I keep it that way!

A New Season, A New Story

Well today marks my return to Cross Country running training after 9 years away from the sport.  That's right, I hung up my shoes at the age of 19 and haven't looked back, until now.

I wish I had never pushed the sport aside, I can't wait to get back into the thick of it.  The question on everyone's mind (ha) is just how well will I perform this season.  I'm 20lbs heavier than when I ran at UWO, albeit it is mostly muscle and penis, and much slower than when I left XC (workout km in 2001 - 3:35, workout km in 2010 - 4:30).

My long journey back to peak form continues tonight with my very first XC practice of the year and I couldn't be any happier. Stay tuned for my post practice rundown!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Running Log: Week August 16-22 2010

This was the off week for the team as runners are transitioning into the xc season from outdoor track. I kept the mileage up despite 10 hours of dragonboat racing across 3 days.

Tuesday: Tempo Run (2km warm up, 4km tempo [4:05/4:18/4:10/4:18], 3km cool down) *quite a bit of knee pain in the cool down
Thursday: Easy 8km run after dragonboat practice
Saturday: Fast 5km run (4:30 pace) in the pouring rain.
Sunday: Easy 10km in trails

Though this week had less mileage I felt much more spent come sunday, I suppose the dragon boat races have had an effect on me.  My knee pain has gone down considerably this week and I have my first physio appt. I have begun to tape my knee while running and that seems to take care of all my issues. Along with that I am focusing on extending my hips properly so that I am not heel striking when coming back down on the pavement.

Running Log: Week August 9-15 2010

This week was the hardest week I've done yet.  4 runs for a total of 38km and a grueling 38C fartlek in the mix made for a tough and tiring week.

Tuesday: 5km easy warm up, (3min 70%...1min easy) x 8, 3km cooldown
Thursday: Easy 6km run
Saturday: Easy 8km run
Sunday: Easy long run of 10km

Some knee pain this week. I met with a doctor and was told I have PFS and have a referral for physio and knee braces if I need them. I hope I don't need them. I also began doing some stretches and exercises to alleviate some of the knee pain, by the end of the week there was definitely a change for the better.

The Running Split...

Here's a quick rundown of how I went from decent middle distance runner to a non runner in the winter of 2001:

i had a tryout shortly after the xc season...
for indoor track...
we did a 3km time trial and i had to dip below 9:11 to be on the team...
I hadnt run 3km on a track since the previous year, and going into the time trial I think my High school PB was 9:34 or 9:48...
something like that...
so the week after my hardest training season ever, mired with chronic it band issues and far too much physio, I toed up to the line with my xc teammates to see who was still fresh and fast enough to automatically qualify for the team...
15 laps later the race was done (200m track) and I came across the finish line in 9:14...
so after our cool down run the coach came over to talk to me...
I was in...
then I went off the next day for a trail run...
in that area...
and sprained my ankle. I have always been a chronic ankle sprainer, since my days of soccer and that is why even in 2003 i never returned to form...
so i went to see the team trainer and physio the next day, i was told to stay off of it for at least 3-4 weeks
which meant I would miss all the training for indoor track and they wouldnt let me compete...
that devastated me...

I Run Like Me

This simple blog will allow me track my progress as a runner. The title is indicative of my running style, I run like me and no one else. I run for me, and no one else. (wow, I sure sound like quite the team player don't I?)

I make use of the Nike+ running system so all of my runs are online and can be easily tracked, here is my profile page: Andre's Nike+ Profile.

So come back once in a while as I chronicle my training, my races and my climb back to peak form.
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