Thursday, September 23, 2010

Cross country season Is here!

Hello peeps and folks,
I hope every one is feeling as good as I am these days.  Last year I had a horrible entry into the fall season due mostly to a plague of sickness that hung on up to mid December.  This year I am stocked up with nutrients and am watching my health like a hawk!  I am determined to have a strong off season with plenty of quality workouts and lots of cross country skiing.  I got my job back at Sigge's on West 4th and Arbutus this season so I will devote more time into reforming my technique to become a better and more efficient skate skier.  I'm certain there will be a few loppets and perhaps even one of the 50k ski races.  I'm so excited for the cool rainy weather and the snow!! I can't wait for this time of year and no longer have to because it's definitely here.  I will enjoy slipping into a new pair of running tights when it gets colder or even just the long sleeve shirt with a reflective vest.  Don't forget to brighten up your outfits now that our sunsets are so much earlier and sunrises later.
Reflective clothing

Last weekend was the first race of the 2010 Lower Mainland Cross Country Series.  The venue for this year's Pine Tree Classic was Mundy Park in Coquitlam.  I had never been to Mundy Park before so I was excited to be running on some new trails.  I was car pooling with a couple of my team mates from Vancouver which is always nice because I just sit back and enjoy my pre race goodies.  For me this is usually something like a Lara or Cliff Bar and my Vega Sport drink.  If I'm feeling like I need a bit more, I'll have some greens powder with orange juice and some Vega Sport.  BAM!! Talk about fuel for the fire.  This mix actually puts out the fire and allows for quicker recovery during workouts.  I was able to have some organic oats, flax and pumpkin seed oatmeal as the race didn't start until 10am.  I have been forcing myself to eat at early times which I am not used to before my long runs and races in order to prepare for the marathon. I'd like to have fuel in the tank before the run.  I have been experimenting with different types of foods and the sustained energie they give me for training and living optimally.  The above mentioned items have all faired well with my sensitive digestive system. (especially during intense workouts) As for fluids, I usually start my day with a large glass of water (at times with fresh lemon) I have been able to avoid coffee lately until noon. But the MonaVie EMV about 45 mins before any activity and some Vega Sport if I'm going the distance or need some extra boosters.  I know this doesn't seem like much on the day of, but I prepare my body days in advance of an event by loading it up with essential nutrients.  That way, I don't waist my energy on race day by trying to digest all of what I need while I'm running.  It will be in storage and I can call upon it when I need it.

Gramps for the win!
Third Overall 
So let's get back to the race here.  It's raining cats and dogs when we arrive.  We get registered and get our race numbers and prepare for warm up to commence in about a half hour.  It's always nice to mingle pre race with all the other runners.  I knew that VFAC would have a strong presence today but I had no I dea we would be as strong as we were.  I have yet to get any results from Phoenix running club, but I will update more specifically later on the VFAC website.  We had a lot of men out to make up a solid fast blue train and The two women that did show up did very well!  It was an interesting start. there was a lot of bumping and elbows flying.  I was getting trapped inside a pack when I decided I had to make a move.  At the same time all of this was happening, I had to reset my watch because I hadn't cleared my last workout off the screen and restart it.  I figure this took at least ten seconds for me to reset my watch.  By that time,  the pack was one third of the way around the beginning lap of the soccer field.  I surged hard and pushed my way around the outside towards the heels of Kevin and Tristan who had just made their way out of the pack.  I could hear Drew right over my Right shoulder.  There was a young UBC runner who managed to keep the pace up for the first km or so. As we approached the deeper part of the forest, Tristan and Kevin surged again and I went with them.  I shoved past the young UBC runner and felt no response from him or Drew.  I focused my eyes over the shoulder of Kev and dug in to hold on to their forward momentum.  I pretended I was at practice and just tried to relax into my groove.  The ground underfoot was very soft and forgiving for the most part.  I did not know what the course had in store and was certain that there must be at least one bugger of a hill for us to scramble our way up.  I did know that there were two loops, so whatever I did encounter, I could look forward to doing twice.  I recall approaching the top of a large downhill and thinking "Here we go!".  I could see Tristan and Kevin take flight ahead of me and knew I must implement my technique in order to keep up to them on this downhill.  I resisted the temptation to slow myself down and and swooped down the hill after them.  Regardless of what I do, I can always learn how to be more efficient on the down hills because this is where they broke away from me.  Up ahead was the big hill of the loop.  It was not too bad and I really enjoy hills.  I'm going to be the hill master after this cross country race and ski season! I dug in and pushed through the hill until I was recovered.  This took me a good while because of the pace those guys were pushing for the first lap.  I was recovered before the second loop started and Could not see or hear anyone behind me.  I knew I was safe, but I wanted to keep the pressure on the two leaders and keep them in my sight as best as I could because it was closer to catch them then it would be to get caught.  There is always a chance that some one bonks and you may pass them in the last 100m and that's enough to keep me pushing the limit.  Second lap was smooth and my breathing was deep.  At times I realised how much I seemed to be hyperventilating, especially atop that hill.  A few calming words and a few deep breathes get me back on track and running smoothly.  I focus on form and technique during this lap as I've settled comfortably into a good pace.  I am trying to lengthen my stride angle and lower my bounce.  It seems to be helping me to go a bit faster but is definitely easier to practice on the road or the track.  It was fun doing a hot lap coming into the finish, but the sharp corner before the loop is sketchy.  I felt amazing in my last few kilometres and really seemed like I was just warming up.  I'm sure that has to do with my marathon training. I came in third place and Kevin eventually caught up to and passed Tristan half way through the second lap on the big hill.  Drew came in shortly after me to round out the open men's podium.  There were so many strong finishes From the VFAC crew with about three people out sprinting their opponents within meters from the finish line.  I can see the strength and speed training shining in all of them and I have watched everyone from my team improve so much this year.  It's a great time for our team, everyone has worked very hard this season and look so healthy.  I am confident we will have great potential in the team competition of the cross country series this year.  I will not be able to be at any more of these races until after Victoria Marathon (Yaaay! only 16 Days left!!!)  I will However be completing the mandatory 5 races in order to qualify for series points and prizing.  Congrats to Theresa and Kevin the Master and overall winners of the day!  Keep on running and you'll just get faster like these two!!  Also a shout out to the only two VFAC ladies Emily and Rebecca.  I hope that you two will have a lot more support out there at the next few races!! C'mon you girls, represent!!! Pep talk to follow this evening at practice!

As for the rest of my world, there is still a lot on the go. I am moving on the 1st of October and have yet to find a place which suits me.  I am optimistic still but if all else fails, will have to live with a friend until I can find something appropriate.  Work has picked up for the season and I will be very busy this winter.  The rain has started to fall and I am ready for this winter to be a productive time.  That's about all I have in my writing repertoire for today.  Check back for more exciting info and news as we get closer to the marathon times.  On that note, one last shout out before I get ready for practice.  Sending all those athletes especially Katherine Moore our best wishes for great performances in Toronto Marathon.  Also Best wishes for a speedy recovery to Marilyn Arsenault who was training for this event and got injured.

Things I hate: Renters looking for female room mates only.  Are men that bad??
Things I love: Embracing the new seasons.

Pinetree Classic 2010 - David Palermo

Pinetree Classic 2010 - Lap 1

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Running Smart

Hello Rain City Runners and Global readers.
I have been waiting patiently for the day to come where I can cancel my day because it's stunning outside and head down to the beach and unroll my blanket for one last lounge in the sun. The dark nights draw near and fall has claimed hold to this time and settled until winter wanders in to ring in the new year. For many this time can mean any variety of events are about to take place. Instinctively, especially being born and raised in the harsher Ontario climate, I usually take this time to hunker down, find more work, and generally slack off quite a bit in terms of training. This year will be different. I made a commitment to myself and to running on January 4th 2009. I promised to give it everything I've got because running is something I can naturally do well and I really wanted to make my Father proud of me. After so many years of tormenting the poor guy, I figured it was the least I could do to smarten my act up and do well by my parents. Not to mention, I really enjoy competing and now that I have some direction in my life, my true desire for self improvement has greatly increased. Sometimes this desire can be an overpowering experience.

When I first started training, I had my Nike plus wrist band with the compatible Nike shoes and a burning desire to kick some ass. (primarily my own) Other than that, I had the knowledge I gained from my high school cross country running experience. Our team coach was obviously at the school for the football and rugby team and didn't really know the first thing about running. Not that I would have cared or listened to him with my know it all at 16 attitude.
My father was and still is (at the age of 63 next month) an amazing runner and at times would try to offer me help. I needed to move across the country and become serious about running before I would realise how valuable his help would have been. So in any event, I came out of the running box blazing. I was running every day. Rain or shine, ice and sleet couldn't stop me. I was setting records and competing on-line with Nike plus users from around the world. It was so much fun. I was still naive and only just starting to research about proper diet and living choices. My massage business was making me learn more and more about the body each day as well. I could feel myself getting faster and fitter. I remember being out on a long run with some local runners from the White Rock area when my right knee got injured. More specifically my Lateral Collateral Ligament had a slight tear in it from over use. What this means is that I hadn't given myself adequate time between workouts for recovery and also that my muscles and tendons were not yet strong enough to be doing such a heavy workload this early in my running career. This injury plagued me for a couple weeks before I was able to research how that tendon works and what was causing the extra stress on it. It turns out that most injuries of this type are directly related to muscle imbalances or an increased workload. More often in women than men for some reason. For me, my outer quad was stronger than my inner quad and that was creating an uneven pull on my knee and eventually led to a small tear in the LCL. Ligaments and tendons are some of the most difficult injuries to repair as they take so much time and attention. I have found a wonderful website here which lists the 5 most common running injuries, why they occur and how to cure/prevent them. I seriously recommend this site for any runner. It is this type of awareness and strengthening which will keep you running safely and injury free. There is no happier runner than a healthy runner.

It is now 24 days and 20 hours until the The Royal Victoria Marathon. My training has been going very well and I am on my last heavy week of training before it's taper time. My next long run will be my longest run ever at 38km. I am looking forward to my long runs now that I have a few great routes and know that my body will put up with the long distance. I have learned how to nourish myself along the way by choosing a bar and fluid which agrees with my stomach and will give me the sustained energy I need to complete the last part of my workout with quality. I have been doing a lot of reading and listening to a lot of talented and accomplished runners talk about their marathon training and experiences. I have found a common topic always arising. This being that the last few miles of the marathon is what makes or breaks a persons goals. I have been giving the last third of my workouts and quarter of my long runs a bit more effort than the rest to train my body to perform better even or especially when it's tired. I'm hoping this will enable me to push through any of the pain I'm told to expect by then. Another thing which enables me to do this is focus. Yesterday I had one of my longest and fastest tempo runs since I started training. I did 21.5km in 1:15. In order to reach my goal in Victoria, I will have to perform this feat twice. I am nervous thinking about it, but certainly up for the challenge. I know I have given my body all the right tools it needs to perform this task efficiently. Efficiency is key over this distance. I focus 85% of my thoughts in the last part of my run on form and technique. This is what enables me to run smoothly and pain free. I know there will be pain in the marathon, but I am now able to relax, embrace and refine in order to make it tolerable.

I have been hearing and feeling a lot more support between team members recently as we all endure the extreme highs and lows of marathon preparation. One of these things which has really helped me to dig deeper or hang in there has been from dear ole' Gramps. This wise and talented member of our team has sparked inspiration and desire into us all this season by his undying efforts to improve and his dedication to our team. It seems as though no matter what life throws his way, he still manages to be at all the practices and has remaines injury free. If our team had a captain, This man would be voted in unanimously. One thing Gramps often says is "We are VFAC!" When he says that, I think of all of the hard work we all put in out on the trails and track, and all of the times that we keel over gasping for air. I also think of the genuine quality of the people who make up our team. This instantly makes me feel very strong and the feeling of belonging that I get as a VFAC member is a proud one. To all who are lining up this fall on the front lines to battle the marathon, half or 8k, (whether Victoria, Toronto or other) remember who you are and know that we are VFAC and are all in this together as friends, team mates and runners.

Things I hate: Bad energy at home
Things I love: Embracing the challenge

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Twenty Something

Hello Runners and Readers,

I haven't really gone into any personal depth with my blogs yet, but I will attempt a brief account of what's been going on in my head lately. Now that the weather is cooling off I will try to be more focused and spend more time trying to be creative and self improving. I am enjoying this outlet as it can allow the freedom of thought. Thought is something that many people may take for granted. I on the other hand have been having a very challenging time lately putting mine and keeping my thoughts together. My mind seems to wander so easily when I try to focus on something. Is this lack of focus caused by a lack of direction or drive? I find that hard to believe because I have put so much energy and effort into all that I strive to be. At times I wonder if others have the same difficulties as I do whilst they carry out their seemingly effortless(or so they make it look) tasks in their lives. Perhaps this is the norm for a twenty something trying desperately to succeed and make a name for himself in this fine city. I know for certain that everything is going to be alright, but still I worry. I understand that things take time and still I am impatient. I am ready to be stable and I want to be financially secure as well. I want to live in a clean, quiet and new place. I get frustrated when I try very hard at marketing my massage business and find myself two weeks into September with no work. I remember when I was starting Mind Body Thai Massage in White Rock with my partner at the time Terii. We had months just like this in the beginning too. Twice I had to take another job so that the business would survive and now it is thriving! I certainly hope that my efforts of self employment are not in vain and most of the time trust that they are not. However, we are but human and self doubt often accompanies hard times. Times like these are when I choose to look up and pull myself up even when the weight of the world itself threatens to crush me back down if I try again. Some past experiences have told me I'll fail, but more of those experiences have taught me to succeed and to stand up under the weight and pressures of the world around me. At times I give myself pep talks of why I need to keep going and how to do so. It's
things like this which bring my spirit to the point of invincibility.

I am not a religious person. I believe and live my life by karma and universal energies. I do however believe in angels. I have been blessed to be surrounded by many angels in human form. When my spirit breaks or gets weak, my angels always know and come to my aid. I have always been afraid to ask for help or assistance in my life as I always thought it may show weakness. Recently in my life I have been learning how to accept the kind advice or assistance from my guardian angels and it has been heaven sent. It allows me to keep my mind focussed in the right direction and on the right energy to proceed in a comfortable state. I know life can be stressful and I am glad to have so many wonderful people and friends here with me who can make this journey a great experience. I may be a great distance from the family and friends I grew up with, but my new family of friends will keep me strong on a daily basis so that I may become the best I can be. I hope I am able to be that angel figure for my friends and therein fill there life with happiness and love.
Just a short entry for today. I now feel much better and I hope there are some twen
ty somethings out there who can relate to this and see that they are not alone. Open your eyes, minds, hearts and arms and we will all get what we want out of life! Happy training. Just a note to all who are training for a marathon right now, please be extra aware of your bodies right now. If there is any pain address it immediately. Be aware of your diet and give your bodies the extra nutrients they need for a speedy recovery.

Things I hate: Being impatient and doubtful
Things I love: All of my angels

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Catching up

Hello my dear friends and fellow runners,
My gosh how the summer flies by! I know it's been a long while since you've heard anything from me. I do have a few good excuses. I find it very hard to hunker down and focus on the computer when it's so darn gorgeous outside. For the last couple of weeks a lot of people (myself included) have been in denial about the changing season. The last couple of days were a good reminder of what to expect for the next few months. We must cherish all of our remaining sunny days when we can. That's exactly what I've been doing. We live in such a beautiful place and so many people do not afford themselves the luxury of actually LIVING while they are here. I could certainly die tomorrow knowing that my life was LIVED and find peace in the fact that yes, I may have been able to squeeze one more beach day in there, but Fall is here and the show (and my blog) must go on. So here we are, the leaves are changing, the kids are going back to school and the days are becoming cooler and shorter. This can mean so many different things for so many different people but to me it signifies a season of reflection, growth and preparation.

Let us reflect on the season which has passed. The Lower Mainland Road Race Series has come to an end. This year the level of competition which competed compared to last year was much stronger. It was very nice to see these races growing and more talented athletes entering them. Sure for me this meant more 4th place finishes than I would have preferred, but the benefits which I acquired from running amongst such strong people is money in the bank for next season. I managed to capture the silver medal for my age group in the series. Down one spot on the podium from last year even though I have gotten much faster. All in all, a great series.

I will now speak of why this time of year signifies growth and preparation. Earlier this season I committed to the Victoria Marathon. This season has been a huge growth period for me. I have never completed a full marathon before and it has been looming over my head for some time. It would seem that to become an accomplished road runner one must master all distances. I am comfortable with the records I have set for myself for this year so far. I have a very specific goal at Victoria and fully intend on reaching my potential for my debut marathon. I am looking to cross the finish line in a time of 2:30-2:35. I'm not sure that I can go any faster than that at this time, but If I go any slower, something will have gone wrong. I understand that the marathon is a new beast, something of a monster which can eat runners as snacks as they cross the 20 mile mark. I will not become this monsters lunch. I must run a religious first three quarters and hit all my splits. I will not get sucked into a negative split vortex during the first half because I feel good. I have had so much great advice from so many runners and the one thing that remains the same between all of them is that the race doesn't really start until the 20th mile or the last quarter of the race. After that point, it's all about survival. The only way to survive is to ration your supplies and energy. If you burn all your fuel up before you go the distance, you will not make it to the finish line. Well this all seems pretty obvious right? Wrong. Just when you think you understand and have tamed the beast that is marathon it may still bite back. As much as I've been learning to be calm and collected before a race, I'm not sure I'll be able to stop my armour from rattling as I step up to conquer this beast. I have begun to embrace my longer training runs and still find it hard to believe how people such as Mike Palichuck or Ellie Greenwood can excel at such a tedious sport. It's one thing to run a race, It's another thing to race a race. To race a race for two and a half hours is something I am scared and excited for. I know I am ready mentally and physically. I just need to keep doing what I'm doing and safeguard my immune system from sickness and protect my body from injury. I have found that with this extra workload my immune system has been on edge. I have been battling a mildly sore throat and cold sores for some time now. Eating well is difficult on such a shoestring budget, but I have managed to remain healthy this season and will do everything in my power to remain that way. This race is going to be the icing on my running resume cake. I am serious about getting an Asics sponsorship next season and if I can do well at Victoria, they will certainly take me seriously. It's that time of year when the reps are accepting applications from the local elites and I am now ready with a winning arsenal of results. I am excited to be an ambassador for this brand and will work tirelessly to make them look as good as they make me. It has been a blessing to Have MonaVie sponsor me this year. I have been given some of the tools I need to become a better athlete. Their active juice blend really helps with my recovery time and makes me feel great. They have also purchased an entire race uniform from Forerunners and Asics and allowed me to custom design it. Once it is ready, I will have some photos done and post an entire blog about MonaVie.

This season has been very productive for me and I am very satisfied to be moving up the ranks as a runner. I look forward to the up and coming Lower Mainland Cross country series as I haven't raced cross country since high school. This will surely give me some good strength to begin the 2011 season with. Hopefully I don't lose too much speed when I go home and visit my family and friends for Christmas. I'm sure the runs will be minimal by then and the beers and scotch will be plenty. That's my mental break for the year. That is a little ways off right now so I must stay focused and finish out this year with some more solid performances. I'm off to do my tempo run now. 19 of 22km @ 3:35/km. Happy tempo Tuesday and Happy training everyone!!

Things I hate: The transition from hot and sunny to Cold and rainy.
Things I love: I love seeing results.