Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Sitting time

I just saw this post over at Mark's Daily Apple:
"16 Tips for Desk Jockeys: What to Do About Sitting All Day"
. Since I am logging more sit time as I try to wrap up this degree, I found some of the tips and links useful, although it can be generally summarized by: "move more" or, "duh!"

I am about to crawl into a very anti-social hole for the next 2-3 weeks. During this time you will find me here:



Drinking this:

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Mt Fuji will have to wait for another day...

I just saw the following message on the Ultra Trail Mount Fuji race website. The decision is more than understandable and I imagine a very difficult one for the race organizers, I feel terrible for them. I will admit to being more than a bit heartbroken myself. With all the devastating images on television and the incredible resolve of the Japanese people, my desire to experience the country, the mountain and this race were stronger than ever. I sincerely hope that I can toe the line at the race this fall.



A message to all ULTRA TRAIL Mt. FUJI participants

On March 11th, 2011, a very large earthquake shook Northern Japan causing significant damage and tragically claiming over 10,000 lives. Japan is still reeling from these huge losses, but we as a country, are trying our best to overcome this terrible crisis.

After the earthquake, the Ultra Trail Mt. Fuji (UTMF) race committee faced an extremely difficult decision as to whether or not to continue with the race in May. While we are still experiencing frequent aftershocks, and rolling blackouts, thanks to the heroic efforts of the workers at the Fukushima nuclear power station, the fear of a nuclear meltdown and the widespread leakage of nuclear radiation have been drastically reduced. The city of Tokyo, and the Shizuoka and Yamanashi regions where the race is to take place are considered stable and safe. However, as a country, there will still be many uncertainties over the next two months and many, many wounds that will still desperately need to be healed. Given this situation, we have made the decision to postpone the race.

We are tentatively targeting to reschedule the race for this fall, but we are not yet able to set a confirmed date. We will keep you posted regarding the new date but in the meantime, your race fee will be refunded to you via PayPal. You will also be given priority registration once the new race date is set and will be notified via email. If you decide to re-register for the race, you will be required to re-submit your race fees at that time. In lieu of the race, we are planning to hold a UTMF trail cleanup event on May 21st and May 22nd. All volunteers are welcome. More information about this cleanup will be posted on the website as soon as the details are available.

Finally, we would like to thank you for the many kind emails we received from you expressing your concern and sympathies. All of our hearts go out to those who were impacted by this terrible catastrophe and to all those in Northern Japan who must continue to struggle to rebuild their lives. We deeply appreciate your understanding and support and will work hard to keep up the positive spirit needed to make it through this challenging time.

ULTRA TRAIL Mt. FUJI
Race Committee

Monday, March 21, 2011

Chuckanut


The Start (by Glenn Tachiyama)

I have known for a while that endurance sports and endeavours are about energy management. You have a limited resource in reserves, made up of talent/fitness, to rely on for the event and you have to figure out how to best use that resource over the course of the race. The key in this process is knowing, and being honest, about the levels of your reserves. On Saturday, during the first 10-11kms of the Chuckanut 50km, I wasn't honest with myself.

With full respect to the talent toeing the line, I really wanted to have a crack at a podium finish and set off with that as my goal. I always want to be competitive at races and test myself, and I have been training hard the past four months. In short, I was looking forward to racing. I am also a realist and I didn't think that my goal was unrealistic, but I knew that it would take a big effort. In retrospect, I forgot to give myself room to readjust my goal, or to set benchmarks along the course of the race to achieve it. My approach is best described as running completely by ego and it lead me to ignore my body's internal signals telling me that I was tapping into reserves that I didn't really have to give early on in the race.

Feet twitchy with anticipation (Joradn Stead-Bellingham Herald)

I ran the opening, mostly flat, urban trail segment alongside Geoff Roes, Erik Skaggs and Jacob Puzey, with Michael Smith, who I chased around the Colorado Rockies 2 summer ago at the Trans Rockies run, about 20-30 seconds up the trail and with my Trans Rockies partner Aaron Heidt, trailing us by 20-30 seconds. Although I wasn't uncomfortable with the pace, I was a bit worried that the effort required to go at that pace was too hard for me given the 3-3:30 hours of racing left.

Recognizing the caliber of the athletes that I was running with, I knew that I was likely in the mix with the podium (I was right about this and course records were eventually smashed) and with a podium place in mind, I chose to keep rolling with them rather than back off on the pace, which would have been the mature/honest thing to do and would have been a much wiser use of my energy resources.



A smile concealing a grimace (Glenn Tachiyama)

At around 12kms, we turned into some initial rolling trails and I instantly knew I was hooped. As the trail narrowed to single track and the terrain headed up, my heart rate skyrocketed, my neck and chest tightened and my legs felt like lead. With Mike already out of sight, I quickly became a spectator to Erik and Geoff, who were bounding their way up the switchbacks ahead of me. My seat to their show got progressively worse as they got smaller and smaller and I fell back into a classic case of self-loathing, as I knew my goal was rolling away from me.

This was a completely ridiculous mental state to be in and I knew it. Geoff has won almost every ultra that he has raced, and is considered one of the best in the world, and Erik is held in equally high regards, but one of the first signs of an energy low is negative irrational thought. I tried to relax and keep my turnover up and I wasn't moving too slowly, but I could see that Aaron and Tim Olson were closing in on me, as I discreetly glanced down at them along the switchbacks. Once again, I let my ego get in the way and rather than worry about myself, I kept pressing, rather fruitlessly, trying to hold them off.

Finally, after about 16-17kms or so of running, Tim, then Aaron, went by me quite effortlessly and I finally admitted that I was in a bad way and began to internalize my goals. I focused on finding a rhythm that my body was happy with and consuming enough sugar to make a 12-year old on Halloween night proud, in order to pull myself out of the funk.

I had very little coordination and almost no fight in me, as I watched singlets turn into shoes as people ran up and past me. I couldn't dance my way along the "ridge" trail, instead, I clumsily moved forward and resorted to a fatigue induced over-abundance of caution on this technical stretch and I really didn't appreciate the views like I should have. But I did religiously suck back gel after gel, washing them down with water and chasing with the odd salt tablet. I really wasn't racing at this point, I just wanted to make sure that I didn't have a total melt down.

After about hour of this lull, running through a mud puddle and being surprised that there was a rather large lake to my left, I realized that I was feeling much better and my stride started to feel lighter. I was still careful not to press too hard, since I still felt on edge, so I continued to be methodical with taking in food, but as I entered the Chin Scrapper hill, a section that I knew would either "kiss or kill" my reserves, I happily realized that I was climbing alright and I found myself able to run up the hill.

Finding some pop on Chin scrapper (Glenn Tachyama)

Once at the top, I knew it was mostly downhill, or flat, home, and I was able to find a comfortable rhythm and surprised myself with some turnover in my legs. I did have a lighter moment through here, when I filled my water bottle with Coke at an aide station, only to realize that it wasn't de-fizzed as a stream of warm sticky liquid started spraying out of my bottle. With my water bottle continuing to fizzle, I locked into a rather monotonous but steady running rhythm and I let the miles tick by.

With about 3 or 4 kilometers to go, I could see fellow Canuck Oliver Utting up the trail. I figured that since I could now see him, that I was moving faster than him, but he had quite a gap on me and, with my legs' approval, I set about seeing how close I could get to him. I ended up having a bit of a battle with him and Joe Grant over the last 800 meters, as we all came to within a few seconds of each other, but we held our respective positions. I finished 8th in 3:54:47 (the results are wrong, Ollie held me off, but I believe the splits are accurate).


The Canuck crew (photo by Mom)

The main positives from the race are that I got in another hard 4 hour effort, for my 3rd ultra finish. It was great to see the level of fitness that I need to be at in order to be competitive at the race. I experienced and was able to pull myself out of a low, something that I think will serve me well as I move into longer races. I was reminded how much the first quarter of the race can come back to kick you in the ass later in the day (a lesson which seems to lack stickiness in my memory). I felt reassuringly strong at the end and, most importantly, I was reminded of how much I do enjoy the challenges of racing. We all train hard and it's great to put it on the line and to be able to test myself against other, equally passionate and committed people on a wonderful course. A huge thanks to Krissy and her team for putting on the race.

I really enjoyed catching up with friends and meeting new people at the event and all in all, it was a decent start to 2011. Lots of races to come!


"Oil the Machine" Team with Erasmus Udo

Friday, March 18, 2011

Commitment

This story of Jake & Zane Robertson from NZ who left their family and moved to Kenya 4 years ago when they were 17 to follow their dream of making it as runners is, as Rappstar would say, BAMF!
These are two focused, competitive and seriously ambitious sounding kids. I look forward to following their progress (there's a thread about them over at letsrun.com where I saw the link to the video).

Jake and Zane Robertson from Losse Veter on Vimeo.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

7 Systems-a bit humbling

It's quite humbling to see my name alongside these other much more accomplished athletes on the team. So a huge thanks to 7 Systems for their continued support and amazing product. ***FYI I bribed my way onto the team by making one of the founders a best man at my wedding, he had no choice!

Press Release- 7SYSTEMS Announces 2011 Pro Team


March 8, 2011, TORONTO, ON: 7SYSTEMS, the endurance sport supplement chosen by Olympians and recreational athletes all over Canada, announces their 2011 Pro Team. The entire 2010 team has returned and is being joined by three of Canada’s most outstanding athletes; Annamay Pierse the current world record holder for 200m breastroke, Reid Coolsaet one of Canada’s top marathon runners and Max Plaxton a multiple national champion mountain biker.

“We’re really excited about adding to our 7SYSTEMS’ Pro Team,” said Jasper Blake, 7SYSTEMS founder and Pro Ironman™ Triathlete. ”It is especially gratifying to see the high level of awareness and interest from many of Canada’s top endurance athletes competing at the Olympic level. We are excited to have the addition of our first swimmer; we think it demonstrates the versatility of our product and the breadth of support that it provides to all kinds of athletes.”

The 7SYSTEMS Pro Team does not compete as one complete team but rather represents 7SYSTEMS as they compete in their events on the world stage. 7SYSTEMS does not pay any athletes any money at all to endorse 7SYSTEMS. They all use it because it works.

New Team Members

Annamay Pierse is a member of Canada’s national swim team and the current world record holder for the women’s 200m breaststroke. Annamay was a member of the 2008 Canadian Olympic team in Beijing and is currently preparing for London in 2012.

Reid Coolsaet has been running cross-country ever since the sixth grade and hasn’t missed a single season. He is the 2005 national champion in the 5000m and participated at both the 2006 Commonwealth Games and 2006 IAAF World Cross Country Championships. Coolsaet just ran 2:11:23, the fastest time ever run by a Canadian on Canadian soil, at the 2011 Scotiabank Toronto Marathon. This time is 6 seconds faster than the Canadian Olympic marathon standard. Reid's blog here

Max Plaxton may currently be Canada’s top male mountain biker and is a London 2012 hopeful. Max is a professional mountain biker, five-time National Champion and two-time World Champion in the relay event. He currently is one of four team members in USA factory team Specialized/Sho-air which is a professional cross-country mountain bike team. Look up his profile at: http://iamspecialized.com/xc-mtb/rider/max-plaxton


Returning Athletes from 2010

Jasper Blake www.jasper.is

Professional Triathlete, Ironman Champion

Mike Neill www.mikeneill.com

Professional Triathlete, Owner/Head coach Human Powered Racing

Simon Whitfield www.simonwhitfield.com

Multiple Olympic Medalist Triathlete

Adam Van Koueverden www.vankayak.com

Multiple Olympic Medalist, World Champion Kayaker

Lauren Groves/Campbell www.laurengroves.com, Lauren Groves blogspot

2008 Beijing Olympian Triathlete

Adam Campbell

Top Canadian Runner

Ray Zahab www.rayzahab.com

Ultra distance running legend

Malcolm Howard http://malcolmhoward.ca/

World champion, Olympic Champion Rower

Kyle Jones www.kylejones.ca

Canadian Short Course Triathlon Team

Erinne Willock Profile for Erinne Willock

Professional Road Cyclist, 2008 Beijing Olympian

Megan Brown Profile of Megan Brown

Top Canadian Runner

7SYSTEMS works with individuals not only as company ambassadors but as athletes who are committed to using the product and sharing the benefits with others. Last year there were hundreds of applicants and the team was picked on the basis of podium finishes, amazing athletic feats and strength of character.

More information on the 7SYSTEMS 2010 Pro Team can be found at www.7systems.ca.

About 7SYTEMS


7SYSTEMS endurance sport supplement contains over 60 key ingredients. Tested by high performance athletes, 7SYSTEMS endurance sport supplement is being credited by many athletes as a factor in their success. However, not only is it important to have an ‘edge’ in today’s competitive environment, it is important that the ‘edge’ is permitted. The manufacturer has guaranteed that 7SYSTEMS endurance sport supplement is produced in a facility that does not handle any of the raw compounds on the WADA banned substance list.

7SYSTEMS endurance sports supplement is manufactured by Douglas Laboratories, a well know and respected company that meets or exceeds Health Canada’s Good Manufacturing Practices in its operations and is one of only a few ISO certified nutritional supplement manufacturers in North America. Independent studies have shown Douglas Laboratories supplements to be among the top three in absorbability when compared to other products on the market.

For more information and research notes please visit: www.7SYSTEMS.ca

For More Information:

Stacie Smith

Smith Communications

Stacie@smithcommunications.ca

(416) 910-8112

Muddy days

Shoulder seasons are always a bit awkward and we seem to be half-way between winter and spring at the moment. What this means is cool drizzly unpredictable air, muddy trails and the hopeless task of trying to keep my shoes dry for as long as possible on my runs.
I start my outings by jumping the various muddy obstacles and skirting the hard edges of the trail, before I inevitably slip, or land short and hear the familiar, but dreaded, plopping sound of the thick, cold, wet mud enveloping my feet, often past my ankle line. Once this happens, I move along awkwardly, frustrated with the extra weight of mud and water on my shoes, and I begin to feel the cold dampness slowly creep its way through my socks as my toes start to go numb. I soon find myself lugging dirty, heavy shoes on unresponsive feet, around and the only solution is to run some of the mud off and try to get some circulation to my frozen extremities, so the pace quickens a bit.
I actually feel a childish enjoyment running through mud and puddles and I should submit earlier on and just hit the first wet patch I see, but I also don't like being cold and I enjoy the challenge of keeping my feet warm and dry for as long as possible, so until the air warms up, I'll keep skirting & jumping:

(Image from Craig Thompson's Blankets)

Friday, March 4, 2011

Play + running=better trail running

From the ages of about 8-14 I was a crappy skateboarder. Despite my lack of skills, due mostly to my dislike of falling on hard surfaces, I couldn't go by a bench, a wall, a gap, or any sort of ramp, without picturing myself pulling off an awe inspiring, loopy, flippy trick, well beyond my skill or courage levels, on it. The urban world was transformed into a launch pad for my imaginary skateboarding prowess.
This world view of picturing my surroundings as a playground now helps my trail running. While I don't have a set circuit, I do often go out and play around on rocks, roots, stumps, ledges, fences, walls and I sometimes slackline. It's not a conscious training idea, it's just playing outside, but I do think it keeps my agility and core strength up.
It won't shock anyone when I say that trail running requires more non-linear athleticism and engages more muscle groups than traditional road running/marathon training, however the ability to move efficiently and smoothly in a "natural" environment is foreign to a lot of people. Many of us grew up and developed our movement skills in fairly safe and predictable environments, and even more of us learned our running patterns with good footing and steady surfaces, so challenging our sense of balance is important when we take our game off-road. Of course, specificity is key and running on uneven surfaces develops this skill set, but if you want to become a good/better trail runner, get out on technical circuits, the more challenging the better. Start out slowly and as your comfort level improves, start to pick up speed and/or pick increasingly challenging routes and you'll quickly find yourself dancing along and down rock and root strewn trails, even if you are landlocked on pavement for most of your runs.
If you can't get on trails, think like a young skateboarder and be creative with your urban environment. The video below is of a neat "agility parkour" route in Canmore, it may give you some ideas of surfaces to play/train on. I'm a big fan of heading down to the beach and running along the stumps and rocks that we have on our rugged, sandless coast, but I also often play around in our local park, walking along ledges, jumping chain link fences etc...training doesn't have to be dull and monotonous, engaging your sense of play is why so many of us get into trail running, so do just that, get out there and play during your urban runs. Not only will you never look at the world around you the same way, you'll also become a better trail runner!

Agility Parkour from Sebastian Pachmayr on Vimeo.