Saturday, April 5, 2014

Around the Bay Recap

The 120th annual Around the Bay Road race too k place on Sunday and I was fortunate enough to pick up a bib, courtesy of Justin from the Running Room. He couldn’t run it and as Joan had already picked a bib herself I thought…

So with a 9:30 am start we could get up a reasonable time (6 am) for a race and drive down to Hamilton for the race. We got there with about an hour to spare and set about getting into Copps Coliseum to keep warm. Although it was milder than previous weeks it was still rather chilly, but sunny. I expected to see lots of familiar faces, but didn’t see anyone until we got into the start corals. We got there a little late and I wished Joan good luck and headed forward in the crowd to try and get a better starting position. The closest I could get was quite a ways behind the 3 hour pace bunny, but as nothing was at stake and I was “just running” this race I stood back and relaxed. I saw Chewy before the start, but that was it.

Soon we started, or at least shuffled towards the start line. It took about 4 minutes to get over the line. My goal was to just run by feel and hopefully get finished in under 2:30. My previous best was the last time I ran it in 2006 and was a 2:07, but those days were long past. Once we were able to actually start running I tried to keep a consistent pace and found myself passing lots of runners and knocking off pace bunnies as I went. Quickly passing the 3 hour bunny, then the 2:55… 2:50 and so on. About 4 k in I passed Steen and then Donna, I looked for others, but wasn’t seeing the runners I was expecting to see. I noticed my pace was steady at about a 4:35 min/k, which is much quicker than I was expecting, but it was feeling good. The first 10k were much different than when I last ran this race, with a few more hills to deal with. After about 13 k or so I came across Jamie Nielsen, who I hadn’t seen in a long while. So we chatted and ran together for the next 5 k or so, also passed Jim, before hitting the Burlington section of the course. I was surprised to come across Chris McPeake at about 18k or so. I was still passing lots of runners, but now the hills in Burlington were starting to slow me down a bit. Although they were probably slowing everyone down at this point. Through the next few k I passed Andre and Terry and then somehow lost Jamie. I was starting to get a little sore as we came across the last aid station before the “hill”. The next downhill helped and high fiving the “little” guy helped, but then the “hill” took a lot out of me. By the time I got to the top my legs were like jelly. I didn’t stop, but kept on going, albeit at a slower pace. 4 k to go and I passed Vince C. from Burlington who I’ve seen in a number of events of the years. I came into Copps and finished in 2:23. Much better than I was expecting and feeling good. Saw a few others after too, Bryan came in not long after me and Jamie.




Joan felt good about her race, she wasn’t racing and just determined to get it done.
All in all it was a good day. The weather cooperated and it wasn’t as windy as predicted.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Around The Bay

Well apparently it has been 8 years since I last ran Around the Bay 30k. I had to look it up and I thought it had been at least 5 years. The last Time I ran it (2006), it was the first year that it finished in Copps Coliseum. I also thought I had run it seven years in a row, but it seems that it was only 6, according to the results at Sportstats.
I had no plan to run it again, but when Joan picked up a race bib from a friend, it became a question of how to get her down to Hamilton for the race. As it turned out the opportunity came about for me to pick up a bib too. So thinking that I would be running at least 30k that day anyway, I figured it would be worth running the race.
The last time I ran it I ran 2:07, still a PB for the distance which will not be in danger of being broken this year, or ever actually. 30k is basically a sprint now, in comparison to the races I normally do and I haven’t run “fast” in a long time.
Still I am looking forward to competing this weekend as “Justin” and looking to at least break 2:30. The silver medal days are past me now.
The course looks to have changed a bit from what I remember. Starting near Copps, it goes north toward the lake instead of going east. Taking Burlington St. out to the east end. Always a great event, hoping the small niggling injuries stay put long enough for me to get it done.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Green Jewel 50k

I think this race was one that wasn't meant to be. Fortunately it did happen for me and ended with a decent result.
The week before was a challenge, with a calf strain on my "last" long run on Saturday I was worried about how that would affect my run. Then the tingling of a sore throat starting mid week, what else could go wrong? We had said that if there was even a hint that the weather would be crappy in Cleveland we wouldn't go after such a lousy winter, but as it happened the forecast was for temperatures above freezing. So we headed down to Cleveland on Friday afternoon.
This would be my 4th Green Jewel in a row. A great early season race to see where your fitness levels are. It would also be Joan's first crack at it. She was injured last year and came along for support the year before.
Its not an easy race, although its all on pavement it is mostly uphill, gradually for the first 38k, then sharply uphill and followed by about 10k of rolling hills and then finishing with 2k down hill. The 10k of rollers usually get me.



We arrived in Cleveland at about 6:00pm with the temperature at a balmy 11C!! woohoo.


We went directly to the Vertical Runner in Brecksville to pick up our race kits and then off to the hotel, a bite to eat and get ready for the morning.
The race doesn't start until 9am, but you have to be at the finish area by 7:30 to get on the buses to get you to the start. This changed from two years ago when the start was delayed as no one was allowed into the finish area until late due to a salamander migration was complete!!
No such troubles any more though.
WE got to the buses and off to the start where it was much cooler than the previous day. The temps were hovering just above freezing and there was ice on the paved trails. The forecast was for it to warm up and then cool down later. With snow possible. Luckily we were able to stay on the bus until just before the start.
Off we went and my plan was to take it easy for the first while as I was still unsure about my calf. The cold that I was battling had also taken hold and was affecting my breathing somewhat, but I couldn't do much about that. About 1.5k in my calf started to bother me a bit more and I started to think that this wasn't going to be a good race if I finished at all. The calf though, didn't get any worse, just some tightness (at least for now).


I was watching my pace and surprisingly Iw as keeping my pace under 5 min/k's (maybe that's not a surprise). The icy sections were tricky and care was needed to get by with out slipping. Just when I though I was doing ok, I went to avoid some ice and my feet went the wrong way and I ended up down on the ground. I quickly picked myself up with the help of another runner. Brushed it off an continued on, but I could feel my right ankle, knee and hip had hit the ground hard and there was some looseness in my ankle that wasn't there before. That was at about 10k. At 12k my left calf cramped badly and I began to think my race was over not even a quarter of the way in. I stopped and walked, walked for about 20 yards and thought I have to try it to see if I can get going again, otherwise I will be done. I slowly started trying to run, it was painful to start, but gradually it just subsided a bit. I backed off the pace to my "goal pace" of 5:20ish and this seemed manageable. I would feel the calf tighten every now and again, but no sharp pains. So I continued on.
I got to half way with no other incidents and my cold didn't seem to be affecting too much either. I passed through half way at about 2:08, which was well ahead of where I though I should be and was on pace to at least set a personal course best (4:31 in 2012). I was feeling very good, but took precautions to walk any steep hills to protect the calf. At the 38k mark is the major hill on the course and although I ran it last year I decided to proceed cautiously and walk it this year. I was starting to unravel a bit here too, my glutes were so tight it was almost painful. I walked past the aid station at the top of the hill to the next stop sign. Once past I ran and continued to run all but the hills. When I was running I was moving well, it was these damn hill stetting in the way. At the same time I was looking forward to them as it was a respite from the running. Somewhere along here with about 10k to go, Laurie Rehbergar passed by in her car to say hi. What I didn't realize initially was the person in the passenger seat waving madly at me was Joan.

She had dropped due to a "broken bum". Her periformis had cramped really badly and caused her enough pain to stop. Unfortunte, but she was smart about it and made the right decision. She still got 25k in.
I continued on and knew as I got closer that my time was liable to be more like 4:40 than 4:30 and as I hit the last 2k downhill stretch I was glad that it was almost over.
I came in at 4:37:52, 9 minutes quicker than last year, so I was happy with that. I will be much happy if one day I can run the entire last 12k strong.



Overall a good day and good to break the string of bad luck with races so far this year.




Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Run the Bruce Adventure



The Challenge -- The Bruce TrailLegally blind runner, Rhonda-Marie Avery is set to run the Bruce Trail end to end (885km) in 20 days starting August 4 2014 in support of Achilles Canada... The Bruce Trail is Canada's longest, oldest footpath measuring some 885km from the north end in Tobermory to the south end in Niagara.  It is small piece of heaven that many are unaware of, that few have ever even set foot upon.  For those who have, they know the magic that the ground there contains.  They have, perhaps, felt the lingering mist on their cheeks in the cool sunrise.  They have heard the water falls and touched the moss trees, stood where bears have crossed and, maybe, spun around, arms wide, staring up through the coloured leaves at noon on a fall day.  This small piece of earth is a welcoming place for hikers and, more recently, for  a few brave ultrarunners.  This challenge is about a journey from the northern tip of the trail to its southern most end.  This journey has been done before, but never quite like this."My name is Rhonda-Marie Avery.  I am legally blind.  And I run. And I bike. And I swim.  A lot.  And I'm on a quest....to be the most powerful verb in my own life.  None of these activities are easy for me to manage without the help of Achilles Canada"This nonprofit organization connects those with disabilities with volunteer guides.  "Over the years, they have helped me to take part in events from 5Km to 100 miles of running, 13km of tethered open water swimming, and 500km of tandem cycling.  Without their involvement, I wouldn't be possible for me to participate to this degree. Oftentimes, for the disabled athlete, getting to the start line is the most difficult task.  As a disable endurance athlete, my goal is always to show up, do my best and put all concepts of my disability aside. I am there to complete an adventure, which regardless of having fewer limitations, perhaps, most would not undertake or would not consider being within my capacity to undertake.  I say BE BRAVE, everyday!  No matter what, do your best and see what you can accomplish"."Let me ask you this; What do you know of disability and sport, or disability in general?  Did you know that apparently 10% of the global population is disabled?  Did you know that the "disabled" are the world largest minority group?  Did you realise, that this is  also the group that any one of us could become a member of at any time?" "When you imagine an olympic swimmer, do they have two arms? Can they hear you cheering them on?  Do you think altering your image of this swimmer changes your thinking....or changes theirs?   Now, what if a disabled swimmer is impeding your exit from the gym change room?  What if a disabled swimmer is stuck at home without a way to get to the gym to train? What if a disabled swimmer is a child lost in their dreams of one day, merely, taking part?..... This is why I am undertaking this journey"  Every day, we are given a choice; not only how we view the world, but also how we let the world view us.  It's time to see "disabled sport" differently, without limits, without boundaries and with all the hope and bravery it deserves, whether a person with challenges wants to simply participate or excel.On August 4 2014, with the help and support of a team of over 50 volunteers, Rhonda-Marie will be starting her quest to run the Bruce Trail from the north end to the south end.  Each day accompanied by two guide runners, they will travel at least the distance of a marathon (42.2km).  Each night they will be billeting with a volunteer family who has kindly opened their doors. The goal of this adventure in ultrarunning is to raise awareness for disabled athletes.  The entire journey will take 20 days.  On the last day, August 23, 2014, please come join in to walk the final 5km of the Bruce Trail and to complete the quest.  In this way, together, we can all help create a space for openness for the involvement of all people, disabled or not.You can follow along in a number of ways;The Envisions Blog

Envisions On The Bruce Blog

Twitter

http://twitter.com/envisions2014

@envsions2014Facebook"Envisions ... Rhonda-Marie ... Bruce Trail... Totally Awesome!" Please go investigate the Bruce Trail's webpage... find out how there membership works. Also, find out how, through your help, they secure access to private portions of land that the trail runs through, as this trail is not eclusively on publicly owned land.

The Bruce Trail

Please check out Achilles Canada, this empowering  organization that enables disabled athletes to take part.

Achilles Canada

Achilles Canada is directly sponsoring this run. Please show your support and donate here today.  In the meantime, now you know the challenge.  Please follow along as we attempt to make some changes to the way the world thinks about "disabilty" and "sport".We need your help to make this happen!!  We will be uploading videos as the campaign continues.

Envisions YouTube Channel

As we travel through this Bruce Adventure, a Feature Documentary is being filmed;

8% No Limits Feature Documentary

Friday, February 28, 2014

No Snowshoe Marathon

Well this year is off to a good start race wise, a DNF at Croom Zoom 50k in Florida and a DNS at the Snowshoe Marathon in Vermont. It looks like the Snowshoe event just wasn’t meant to be. Although I really didn’t have my heart in it, as we got closer I was definitely starting to look forward to it. As luck would have it though, a number of things mounted up to scuttle the whole thing. Number one was our Daughter in Law Johanna was admitted to hospital with complications to her pregnancy yesterday. We were not sure what was going on at first and we still planned on going, but then it sounded more serious and likely that she might have to deliver early… Trip off! This was the same day we were going to leave, so rather than leave and have to return we thought it best to stay. It wouldn’t have been a good trip if she had given birth while we were away or have us worrying the whole time either. The other problem was the weather, the cold and very windy conditions along with what turned out to be hours of snow squalls made travel from Barrie near impossible late yesterday. So we stayed home and watched the wind howl and snow blow around outside while we snuggled in and watched a movie.
As for Johanna? Turns out all was ok, at least according to the hospital and she is being released today. She had a fall last week which they believe caused her to have some bleeding and the contractions she was feeling was merely false labour. A night in hospital and lots of rest seem to have done the trick. Fingers crossed that the hospital is correct and all IS ok.
So after a week of tapering it’s time to get back on the horse and run. Although next week is taper week too as we have the Green Jewel again. My 4th year in a row at this event. This also has been up in the air due to concerns about racing in the freezing cold, but it looks like the weather is becoming a bit more favourable in Cleveland with a daytime high of nearly 8C. So at the moment with the forecast the way it is, we are going. Joan is concerned about completing a 50k at this time in her training, but I’ve told her she is very capable of getting it done and if the conditons are good it will be worth it.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Taper Time Again etc....

Its taper week, and where some people dread the lack of running during a taper, I look forward to it. With 3 of the past 4 weeks with mileage over 100k I feel like I could use a break anyway. I peaked out last week at 111k. So now all we have to do is look forward to this weekend and running with snowshoes on for a marathon, or in Joan’s case a half marathon. No mean feat regardless of the distance, especially since the weather is to continue with the polar vortex type weather in and through the weekend. Other than that the training has been going well, as can be noted by the mileage. What has helped a lot though was the new treadmill. I will say Joan broke the old one, but only because she was on it when it stopped working. It could have been ready to go due to all the indoor activity lately.
We did some research and after shopping around picked up an AFG 5.1T treadmill from the Treadmill Factory. They impressed with their knowledge and the lack of a hard sell. What we weren’t expecting was how heavy the new one would be. Me and Billy had a real struggle getting the new one into the basement after removing the old one with ease.
So on Thursday we will off to Montreal after work to stop at Kate and Gary’s before heading to Vermont with them on Friday. Saturday is race day and hopefully we should be finished in time to head back to work on Monday! The course is a 6.5 mile loop that is basically one big hill…. up and down the other side. 4 times! From what I’ve read it’s the going down that will be the challenge. Trying to make it down in one piece.

After the snowshoe race we are supposed to be going to Cleveland the following weekend to do the Green Jewel 50k, my 4th year in a row for this well run race. The only unfortunate part is that it is all on pavement. At the moment we are approaching this race with the thought that if the weather is still freezing cold, we may not go at all. The Green Jewel tends to be a cold race when it is above 0 C, so if it is a lot colder it will feel miserable. We still hope to go and do it.


Another race that has just recently popped up on my radar is the Wall Ultra which takes place in northern England and follows the path of Hadrian’s Wall from Carlisle to Newcastle/Gateshead. So it would be a return home for me in some respects having been born and grown up for a few teenage years near the finish in South Shields. The Wall Ultra is 69 miles and looking at the website looks great and well organized. For those unfamiliar with Hadrian’s Wall, it was a wall built 2000 years ago by Romans to keep the Picts (Scots) out of England. My old friend Paul’s son Chris is planning on doing it this year, so I look forward to his report on what it is like. Since posting on FB about the possibility of doing this race to other expat friends have piped in about going too, Gary in Montreal and Dave in Cleveland. So right now it looks like 2016 may have to be the year for this race as Joan has plans for next year, also over the pond. Hopefully I can stay healthy and will still be running for another couple of years.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Updates

I'm going to try and see if I can start making at least weekly updates. Haven't had that much success in the past, but lets see where this goes.

Last night got in a nice and COLD 30k run, most of it at a nice a slow pace as I ran most of 25k of it with Rhonda and Joan. See Rhonda is legally blind and Joan has been acting as her guide and training together as Rhonda prepares for her run along the entire Bruce Trail in August. An amazing feat for anyone let alone a blind runner. So Joan has been spending a to of time training with and learning how to guide. Last night I took advantage of them going out on a night run, ran down to Rhonda's and then ran 25k with them. Rhonda finds it much easier to run in the dark. Her vision is better with no lights and we went to the 1st line of Oro where it gets "really" dark.
It seas supposed to be about -10C, which is not bad compared to what it has been, but it felt bitterly cold at times. I think I under dressed. Overall it was a good run and was definitely glad to get that run in with a significant snowfall due today. So I may get a Dreadmill run in this afternoon and then another long run tomorrow. I'll play it by ear for the distance tomorrow, it might depend on the road conditions.
I've been dealing with a couple of minor injuries lately and the ankle/lower right leg issue is still a bit of a pain. Rhonda is also my RMT and has been doing wonders to get it better, but it still can be a nagging pain.

With the snowshoe marathon coming up in 4 weeks, I've only been on snowshoes twice this year so thesis going to be interesting. It looks like I may just wing it and see what happens. Its not an important race for me, just something a little different and also something to gauge my fitness level.
After our Florida trip, my fitness level (i.e. weight) was at an level that it hasn't seen in many years. Also coming back injured didn't help and then there has been the weather!!!
Did a 9 day cleanse which got me backdown to a decent weight, still hove "normal", but at least more manageable. Now I just have to get my mileage up, which it looks like I'm getting there this week. I hate the treadmill, but it has been a bit of a godsend this past few weeks and I will rely on it on those days where I just can't get outside, whether its my softness as I get older or just my give shit meter is at an all time low!!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

6 Weeks or so to the SnowShoe Marathon

Yep, only about 6 weeks to go until I'll be racing on snowshoes for the marathon distance. To say I'm not looking forward to this is a bit of understatement. Maybe "not looking forward to it" are the wrong words... Should be very apprehensive. First time on snowshoes this year was last Sunday. While enjoyable it was only a stroll in the woods.



Looks like Joan has it mastered though. It was her second time on snowshoes this year!



I have a sore ankle and the snowshoeing seemed to aggravate it somewhat so I was a little on edge going down hill. I did try a little running in them and it felt good, but I will need a lot of practice. Just not sure whether I have time for "a lot" of practice. The weather isn't helping either. Too damn cold to run or snowshoe it seems. I might have to bite the bullet and just go out in the cold. This polar vortex thing is getting to be a pain in the ass. Although I missed the first one earlier this month when we were in Florida.
Signed up for O24 today too. Looking forward to running a lot further this year. Hopefully the body holds together to get those extra miles in this year.
Off to a rough start so far this year with pulled calf, sore ankle, knee. Old age is a bitch isn't it.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Year Ahead

Well I have posted the races that I have committed too on the left for this year, not necessarily paid for yet, but race I plan on doing for sure. There will probably be a few more local ones too, like Creemore and maybe sulphur Springs 50 miler.
The big races are The Bear 100 and Vermont. Vermont is a redemption race, unfinished business after not finishing in 2012. The Bear being my main goal race. I'll also be running the Harricana race in Quebec which is really interesting. A good warm up for the Bear.
I'm a little concerned about the Snowshoe marathon in March, as I have never raced on snowshoes. But whatever happens, happens. Back to the Green Jewel again for the 4th year running. Always a good warm up for the year ahead.
Let the games begin!!!