Thursday, April 28, 2011

When the going gets tough

Hello my faithful group of fitness enthusiasts.
It's time for a bit of a personal blog entry.  I was feeling a little blah-say yesterday and because of my current lack of work I have copious amounts of time to reflect on my life.  Today I will share some of these reflections with you.  I am currently in a transitional period in my life.  I have come to the end of my season of full  time work at Sigge's.  This is always an exciting but also very challenging time for me. For one thing it gives me an immense sense of freedom but on the other hand, I am confined by my lack of income.  As you all may know, I own and operate a mobile Thai Massage business here in Vancouver.  This is a time where I seriously vamp up my marketing and push hard to get my name out there and gain new clients.  Last year was my first year here in Vancouver doing this.  It was a very difficult and somewhat depressing summer.  After weeks on end of hand delivering flyers and posting ads and posters and dropping off cards, I would have not one call.  Since then I have made a lot of new friends and contacts and there are some very exciting things on the horizon for Mind Body Mobile Thai Massage.  I plan on bringing my massage to the beaches of this fine city this summer and capitalizing on the vast amount of clients looking to relax even more as they enjoy the beautiful beaches of Vancouver.  This may be an idea that solidifies next summer as it will take some capitol to purchase a tent and a wireless Visa terminal.  So far I have a small client base.  I am looking forward to building that to a level where it starts working for itself.  Once people realize how effective my Thai massage is they will spread the good word to their friends and then business will really take off.  I am also getting a new number from my school which will be fully recognized by insurance companies here in the province of BC.  This is exciting because it means that people won't have to pay for the full amount of their massages if they have a health plan through their work. I'm hoping that this summer gives me enough growth to sustain myself fully by next year.  I plan on working at least one more season at Sigge's as I really enjoy letting them take the reigns for a few months so I can have a steady income.  Not to mention they are very kind and great to work for as they let me work my racing and training schedule into my work schedule.  So there goes my rant about work.

The next thing that has been on my mind has been my running career. (If you can call it that)  I some times wonder why I wasn't given the gift of some other sport which would pay me millions of dollars per year.  I feel like I have to sell my soul just to get a new pair of running shoes!  I have been trying pretty darn hard to train and excel at this sport in hopes of getting some company to recognize me. My first sponsor Monavie was a great experience but as it now seems has turned out to be a bit of a flop.  They were overly kind and supportive in the beginning and helped me out with running equipment and sent me lots of their wonderful products every month.  I really benefited from drinking that juice and having them supply me with my racing kit made it much easier for me to perform to my fullest without having the burden of the costs involved in constantly wearing through my equipment.  As time went on, their level of support completely dropped out from under me and communications ceased.  I think they were hoping that I was going to become a Monavie sales rep.  I did try to sell their product and attended several of their functions.  The feedback I received was that their product was rather expensive for the average person.  I am now certain that they are no longer supporting me as it has been a few months since I've received any product and I had no reply for my request for equipment assistance.  I did get official confirmation from Icebreaker that I am officially a sponsored Icebreaker athlete.  They were kind enough to send me a running singlet and shorts with a pair of socks.  I have sent them an email asking what kind of help they are willing to provide as my sponsor but to no prevail.  What the hell is wrong with these big companies?? I worship Icebreaker and have spent a lot of my own money and time trying to make them look good.  You think the least they could do to show some appreciation is reply to my god damn emails!  I try to be respectful and professional all the time but why is it that us runners are constantly getting the cold shoulders from these million dollar companies?  Throw me a friggin bone here please.  I may be a little assuming, but I have seen how well some of my running colleges have been taken care of by their sponsors.  I am fully attempting to make running my full time job, but currently it's a full time job trying to get any help from these large companies.  It seems as though they are only interested in runners who are setting world records and running on an international level.  They give you a morsel of hope and you get excited and therein promote them to no end and then what? No reply, no reply! Is that any way to treat your athletes?  In my opinion, the local age groupers and runners who are consistently at the top of their field and winning local races are viewed highly in the community and therefore should be well taken care of.  There are masses of runners who do this recreationally and support the industry by buying up all of the running products these companies have to offer.  The few at the top deserve support if needed in order to excel. At my current income I am a starving athlete and it still is my passion and my only real focus in life. I work so that I can eat well, have a roof over my head and support myself with the products I need to run competitively.  Recently I have been let down by the running community.  I am not talking about the local runners, but the companies who pretend to be there for us.  I understand fully the dynamics of the politics involved between local running stores and shoe companies, but seriously, have these reps or executives ever put there ass on the line for the sake of the sport, the brand or self excellence?  If they could see past the dollar signs and realize their support would directly create sales then we would have a system that works to create world class athletes.  I'm pretty sure Asics and Icebreaker aren't wondering if they will be able to scrape together enough money to pay rent or where their next meal will come from so why not give back to the community that supports you?

Ugggghhhh if that rant hasn't tired you out it sure has me.  So when the going gets tough, the tough pull up their compression socks and dig deep to keep their heads above the raging waters of this stormy sea called life.  So back into the depths of this raging water I will plunge until someone notices my flailing arms and comes to my aid.  I'm not one to say "I can't" do this on my own, but I haven't been blessed with a sheltered life and haven't always made the best choices.  My choices now are to hold my head high and put in a whole hearted effort and present to the world that it can be done even if only by one man.  Perseverance will put me on top at some point and I will not stop trying until I am.  The frustrations of life can often get oneself down but I am glad to have outlets which enable me the strength needed to continue.  I was turned down for my request at getting travel assistance and accommodation at the TC 10k in Victoria. Therefore I will not be going. No fault but my own for leaving it fairly late. I was also turned down a complementary entry to this years BMO 8k race which I placed second in last year.  This was an upset to me because I had left plenty of time for that request.  Out of sheer rage I payed the outrageous price of $47.04 so that I can claim my victory and when I get up on stage to collect my puny trophy and my zero dollars prize money I will certainly ask for my money back.  I am pissed off that the largest marathon in Canada can not take the time or energy to accommodate a local elite.  I am certainly no superstar, but I try very hard and wear my heart on my sleeve asking only  for little in return.  As I read in the Canadian Running Magazine this month on how the Vancouver Marathon was started, it was never originally about making money but for the love of the sport.  I understand there are massive costs involved to organize and put on a race of this size, but between the three races their costs are more than covered.  If not why don't you just ask BMO to print some money and send over a couple wheelbarrows full? Lord knows I could sure use a couple bucks.  For the rest of you starving athletes out there, keep your head up, there is light at the end of the tunnel.  This sport has grown triumphantly over the years and I am certain that we will one day get a slice of the growing pie.  After all without us as one of the key ingredients, the pie would be nothing but a circus with no direction. Or is it already? We shall see.  Thanks for letting me get that off my chest.  I will be back in a few days to report the BMO experience.  Until then I wish all who are running their spring marathons the best of luck and the elites at the TC 10k smokin' fast times.

Things I hate: Empty promises             
Things I love: The constant ability to improve.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Vancouver Sun Run

It is time again to recount the craziness of this year's Vancouver Sun Run.  Being one of the largest 10k races in the world, it surely attracts the masses and an elite field which would humble even some of the fastest runners in Canada.  Actually, there were a couple of Canada's fastest runners present.  It's been an exciting scene for Canadian runners this year myself included.  I have had such a busy spring season with a more than usual amount of racing.  I was feeling a little worn down after doing four races in four weeks. Setting PB's at all of them certainly keeps me hungry for more.

 As I got to the bus stop I noticed almost everyone on the streets were runners.  They were all clad in there sparkly white runners and fancy running clothes.  I was worried that the bus at my stop wouldn't come as frequently as the main bus from the next stop up. Also, the people at my regular stop said the last bus was full!  I continued to the bigger stop at Arbutus and once again saw a group of runners.  It was really neat to see how many people lined the roads in anticipation of this event.  The bus steadily got fuller and fuller until we were packed in like sardine's in a can.  We transferred at Cambie to take the Canada Line to Waterfront, a route I had not explored yet.  The skytrain was even more busy and it felt like I was in a Tokyo trainstation.  As we poured out of the station and into the streets, you could feel the excitement all around as people prepared themselves for an arduous journey.  Weather a first timer or an elite, I'm sure everyone could feel the excitement.  I ran through the masses and away from the chaotic mess that most people have to endure to run this race.  Found myself running the opposite way that most people were going and I knew I would soon be amongst familiar faces.  I approached the fenced off area and could see the gazelles and stallions doing their pre race warm up routines.  I flashed my blue bib and was allowed into the elite area.  I ran towards the gear check van and prepared for my warm up.  Needless to say everyone was there and looking sporty and fast in all their updated team jerseys and new racing flats and compression socks.  I did a few strides and dynamic movements, but most of my warm up was spent slapping high fives and saying hello to everyone and wishing them all success.  Even though there are a lot of people directly competing against me, I really hope that we all do well today.  The last two years I have done this race I was freaking out with anxiety and throwing up at this point.  This year I wanted to take a more relaxed approach and have a good time with it. Since last years disaster at this race, I have spent a lot of time controlling my thoughts as I approach one of these serious races.  It's all about having a relaxed mind and a positive attitude.  The last few races I put no pressure on myself and came out with amazing results.  I want to do the same here.  I know that there are a lot of people who do not run that will be watching and I always want to impress them by hitting my mark.

The organisers were now bringing the starting tape closer to the line urging all the runners to file into their place at the start line.  A final few words of encouragement to the runners around me and it was time for the count down.  I could see the line of photographers and the boom cranes as well as the helicopter hovering above.  If I stuck my hand out it would be directly above the start line.  Even though I was tightly packed about three deep I still had to wait a few seconds before actually moving from my space after the gun went off.  I could feel the wave of runners surge for the front as we leapt out and down West Georgia.  It's always a bit of a gong show at the start of this race and the past two years have seen me caught right up in it.  This year, I knew more about the racers around me and about a half a kilometre into the race I realised I was exactly where I wanted to be.  Right in the chase group behind Graeme Wilson and very close to Dylan Gant.  I also planned on keeping Craig Odermatt in sight as I knew he would pump out a great time.  I'm pretty sure Dylan will be going for BC team selection this year and I really wanted to beat him again.  We flew down the hill at a sub three minute pace and I tried to stay relaxed and keep my form in check.  As we rounded the bend onto Denman, I noticed Jason Loutit pull out of the race. "How odd" I thought," that such a great runner can be so inconsistent." I focused ahead and knew I would soon get the mile review from Coach Hill.  I was right behind Dylan now and I'm not sure where Graeme is.  I can see Drew ahead and can now hear Coach.  "Stay relaxed!" and "Lower your arms!" were my words of encouragement as well as my mile time of about 5:00.  He was not scolding me so I knew I was playing by the rules thus far.  It was now into the first uphill as we entered Stanley Park and really where the men are separated from the boys.  I had started to lose grip on the rope between Gant and I and was feeling comfortable with my pacing.  I knew I could keep the rope between him and I tight as we chased down Nicholson.  Dillan must have had his eyes on the chase group ahead because he was pushing very hard and snapped the line between us.  By the time we were on Beach going through English Bay I was all by myself.  I guess that makes me somewhat of a man and somewhat of a boy.  Next year I will run with the men.  I watched the group ahead of me and focused on keeping the gap the same.  I knew they were too far to close the gap, and I desperately wanted to be there with them.  There was no one behind or close enough in front of me to work with so I was on my own once again to battle this tough course.  I was feeling pretty good going into the steep hill just before 5k and kept my composure all the way up.  Coach yelled out 16:00 flat as I crossed the half way mark and I knew I had some time to make up on the downside of Burrard bridge.  I knew I would be suffering slightly after cresting the hill, but had trained a lot on this hill and knew it wouldn't be long before my legs came back strong.  As I neared the bottom of the bridge I could hear several footsteps closing in on me.  I was wondering if it were Drew as he was the last person I saw behind me before the bridge.  There were multiple footsteps getting ever closer as I peered back to see a chase group with heat seekers locked right on me.  I was somewhat relieved to be swallowed up by this group of runners as I was tired of working alone and really do enjoy a good draft when I can get one.  I needed a break anyhow to allow me to recover.  We wrestled for position through the seventh kilometre and finally settled into a tight pack of about six or seven runners.  I recognized Tim Smith from some earlier races this year and knew he was in good shape because of his recent track work.  He looked calm and collected as usual and was just what I needed to keep me on pace and mentally focused.  I knew that if I could stick with him and this group I would certainly have my 10k record in hand.  I was suffering pretty bad before 8k and was now feeling settled and ready for the final thousand meters to the finish.  We passed the 9k mark and rounded the bend toward the climb of the Cambie street bridge.  We were still tightly knit as Tim made his move on the steep part of the hill.  No one responded and I thought I had what it took to hold him so I chased after him and kept on his heels.  We now had a slight lead on the rest of our group and I knew we could ride this in together.  As we peaked the bridge the finish was almost within sight.  Unfortunately I did not have the strength to overcome the fatigue of that hill climb and faded pretty hard.  The chase group once again gobbled me up and I felt a disgusting feeling of defeat as they spat me out on their way by.  I had just lost at least five or six positions overall and knew that my original goal of beating the 32:00 mark was also gone. I heard my coach yelling from the sidelines and found one more gear for the last 200 metres.  Absolutely spent and wobbly legged as I crossed the line, I was still able to pull off a 28 second PB making it five for five with a time of 32:35 and an overall placing of 35th.  I really hate this race so far, but I learn so much each year from it.  These lessons learned are always very hard.  It seems as in life, my running lessons come without ease as well.  "Why do I do this to myself?" and  "Thank god that's over!" are just some of the thought s going through my head at this moment.  I stop to congratulate Tim on an outstanding race and follow up with a few pictures.  I was elated to see I had crossed the line ahead of fellow team mate Jay MacDonald.  It was the first time I had ever beat him  I know he has had a long difficult road to recovery from a terrible Plantar faciitis injury and he could potentially whoop me in the next one, but I'll take it when I can get it so it softened the blow a bit for me.  I guess I am a little impatient when it comes to taking time of my records.  I am a little upset that I am nearing 30 and my times are not lower.  I feel like I could be so much faster if I stuck to my guns in high school rather than drinking and partying.  I had planned on doing the BMO 8k if I had a good race here at the Sun Run so that I can improve on my speed and cheer on my team mates who are running the marathon.  I was not perfectly happy with my result and know that I am capable of going faster very soon.  I will now vamp up my training and head to Victoria for the TC 10k for another shot at getting closer to 32:00.  Not sure after that performance if I can break 32 until later this season, but one thing is for sure, I will give it my best shot.  I had a lovely warm down run with Nathan Killam around to Athlete's Village and back.  We talked about how the race went and how lucky we have been with the weather at all the events we have raced this spring.  I retrieved my belongings from the elite bag check area which was nice as all the top performers from today's race were lounging around in the warm sunshine reflecting on what had just happened.  I went over to congratulate all the Kenyan runners who were enjoying a conversation in their first language.  It must be hard for some of them to fit in with people that aspire to be as fast as them with a language barrier.  I always try to make them feel welcome and shake their hands.  I have become fond of one Kenyan runner from Lethbridge AB., Willy Kimosop.  I met him last year at The Harry's Spring Run Off.  He is always very friendly and always smiling.  I know he's had trouble with injury lately and his living arrangements in Lethbridge are less than favourable for him as it's mega cold there.  It would be great to see him with VFAC after he completes his schooling.  We've recently had another Kenyan join the speedy Blue Train this year.  He ran a 31:30, milliseconds behind Gant. I look forward to chasing him down at practice and gaining from his speed.  I also hope that I can run with Jay more now that he's back and improve fast enough for him to have someone to battle with during practice.

All in all a great day at the races followed up by a group lunch at the New Oxford House in Yaletown.  Delicious food and great beer. Mmmmm beer. Now if only I can get away from these beer cravings while the sun is out.  I should be able to lose some more weight as I increase my mileage. I am running about 9 pounds heavy right now.  I tell people that and they almost get upset with me.  I know one may look better with a bit of meat on their bones, but it is true that to be an elite, you really must (as a male) keep your body fat percentage between 5 and 8%.  I don't know what I'm at now, But I am looking forward to getting back to my lean mean self again. Round two of the 2011 season is now beginning.  I felt revved up until the last race, but wasn't overly motivated for this one.  I feel as though I paid for that during this race.  I give myself a 90-92% grade on my performance in this race.  I hope to vamp that up to 100% this weekend at the TC 10k.  I have written my application for elite status and am hoping for the best.  I can really use the help getting there and if they give me a room too, It will be much easier for me to perform well.  Happy training until then and all the best to anyone running the BMO Vancouver Marathon. Especially my team mates and training partner Drew Nicholson.  I know he's been stomping his training and I want him to succeed this time at the marathon.  It will really help him to relax during races if he pulls this one off.  Go get em!! Chase those numbers!  

Graeme Wilson and Tim Smith
Things I hate: Resisting temptations
Things I love: Taking time to reward myself between events.  Beach days!!
Drew Nicholson

Nathan Killam and Yannick Le Carre

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Fools Run AKA BC Half Marathon Championships

Alright!! I'm finally seeing some light at the end of this blogging tunnel.  After all that racing and all of those solid results, it makes it very easy to pump these out.  Now that I have had a lovely bike ride to MEC and back and recovered and washed my sandwich board for my Mobile Thai Massage business, I'm ready to write again.  I can't believe how much snow is still on the local mountains.  What a pristine scene here in Vancouver today! Shorts and a T-shirt and blossoms and flowers galore but still crazy good ski conditions.  I don't ever need to remind myself why I moved here from Onterrible. I was certainly meant to live here, where my soul is one with the land, sea and sky.  I am one week away from being laid off from my seasonal job at Sigge's Sport Villa and I am very excited to be vamping up my own business again.  I feel more focused than ever before to make this an even more successful venture.  This summer will be a great time for me to train, work as my own boss and grow my business locally.  I will have a new website up within the next month for that but anyone who is interested can contact me for more information. I have room to do massage here at home but mostly I visit people in their homes. I bring my mat and bedding as my massage is done on the floor and do either 90 minute or 120 minute treatments at a dollar per minute. Mention my blog and get $20 off your first treatment.  If you compare my rates to local rates you will notice how fair they are.  I was trained and certified in Chiang Mai, Thailand, but am covered by most insurance companies here in BC as my school ITM is internationally acclaimed and I am fully certified.  I take my massage very seriously and do not do any forced adjustments.

That was a bit off track from the topic at hand, but as you can tell I am very excited to be free from the rigours of full time work.  I can not wait to be able to train to my full potential and rest when I need it.  If you think I've improved recently, just wait till this year has ended. Next season and from now on, there is a new David Palermo in these running shoes!  

The logistics of this years race were alleviated greatly by Teresa Nightingale the race director.  She had offered me a complementary entry based on current and past performances.  Also she had billeted me accommodation.  This was new to me. I had spent the last two years at this race paying for a lovely bed and breakfast at the finish line (with a sweet woman who would prepare breakfast and have it ready for me when I finished) in Davis Bay and splitting the cost (giving my $100 winners check) with my girlfriend at the time.  This time I was all alone to find my way.  It was important to me to be there the night before in order to get the leg up on the competition by having a full nights rest and no stress on race morning.  Teresa had sent out an email to her running group on the Sunshine coast asking if anyone would put me up as I had asked her if I may crash at her place having known her for a few years. Teresa and her husband Larry would be rising very early being the race directors and would have probably woken me, defeating the purpose of my Saturday evening arrival.  Luckily for me, Shaunna and her husband Mike were kind enough to answer the call.  I just love how "small town" The Sunshine Coast is, it reminds me of back home in the village I grew up in where everyone knows everyone and it would certainly be a pleasure to put up an out-of-towner needing room and board for a competition.  Shaunna is part of Teresa's running group and was going to be running the event herself so she was able to offer me a ride from the ferry and to the race in the morning.  Their house was a master piece and certainly trumped the B&B I had stayed at the previous two years.  Immaculately built and decorated, with a stunning property that overlooked the ocean.  The house was nothing compared to how kind and generous these two were.  Their dog was a sweet heart and a reflection of the care they put into their daily lifestyles.  They showed me to my room and allowed me use of their computer to check and update  Facebook status to let everyone know I was safe and sound.  Afterwards we enjoyed a glass of wine (Coaches orders and also a great sedative to ensure a solid nights sleep in a foreign place) and got to know one another.  Fantastic hosts and not at all uninteresting!  Before bed, they even offered me up a second pillow which was ergonomically correct (which was the only thing I didn't pack) which meant I had the exact sleeping arrangements as home.  The only difference being that their guest bed was bigger and way comfier than mine.

The last hour of sleep was spent dreaming about missing the start of the BMO Vancouver Half Marathon. (Which I'm not even running)  I awoke in a panic with that dream fresh in my mind only to realize that I had woke up 12 minutes before my alarm.  No big deal, I'll just have more time to get ready and I had a great sleep.  With the pre race food/drink into me we set off for the race start.  I love being an hour early so that I have plenty of time to pick up my race package and use the washroom and warm up before the masses arrive off the ferry.  The weather was unbelievably good again for the fourth consecutive week of racing.  The weather predictions were correct, who could have figured?? That never happens here.  I was stoked to see all my team mates and a few runners whom I hadn't see for a while.  I was feeling very good this morning.  The race start had a slight change from last year and had us going down hill with more turns and ups and downs than I would have preferred.  I would have much preferred the original start from the last two years but it didn't seem to have any ill effect.  There were no surprise superstars on the start line which made me very happy because I knew I had a chance for victory on this one.  My goal, pre race was to hang on to Gramps (Kevin O'Connor) for the whole race as I know we train at the same intensity.  He is the experienced veteran racer who never ceases to amaze any runner.  I know my improvements will one day, If not today catch up to the 'ole vet with severe determination, as I know he races with nothing but.  Through the first couple of kilometres I asked him if he'd like to work together or whether he'd like to do his own thing to which his reply was "I'm OK like this."  At that point I knew it was every man for himself.  We passed by the coach and support team (Chris, Drew's dad, Coach and Rick Horne the club's Photographer and veteran runner) with approval.  Things were going smoothly so far.  Drew was out front and setting a great sub 3:20 pace as the first few kilometres were downhill.  As we turned the first corner and made the slight uphill to flat, the race was finally on.  I felt KO (Kevin, AKA Gramps) surge along the flat section testing our might.  I hung tight as Nicholson seem to swagger forward and back and I could hear his breathing start to labour.  As we turned the next corner and approached the first real hill KO and I pushed up and through the hill as Coach Hill shouted words of encouragement from the side of the road.  I always love it when Coach is on course because I trust him with my life and the guy knows running times and his athletes better than anyone.  One last push until we get to the flat highway and we can finally relax for the second time (and probably the last time) this race.  Or so I thought.  I knew we would have to push through some pain in order to keep the pace and recover into the flat section. As soon as we got to the highway Kevin put the hammer down and took off.  I tried to stay with him but knew if I did I'd surely blow up on the hills to come.  "That Bastard!" I thought as he pulled away from me.  I thought doubtfully as I know this man knows what he's doing, "Perhaps I can close the gap on the upcoming hills because of his push now."  I kept my push forward and focused on form and technique.  I knew he was a strong fighter but I wanted this win as I had competed here for the last 3 years in a row and this was the best shot I've had since.  As I watched my team mate/nemesis pull away in awe I wondered how an old guy like that can keep getting so much better as much as this young guy??? I think of O'Connor in the highest regard and now know what my father had to do at his age to set all his records.  This man was fighting for his life and had pretty much just won the race. The invisible rope between us had snapped when we hit the highway and all I could do was fight my own battle against those hills and kilometres to fend off the warriors behind me.  I kept myself strong physically and mentally as I suffered on some of the monster hills that this beautiful course has to offer.  When I wasn't getting torn up on the down hills and beaten on the up hills, I spent the rest of the time giving myself pep talks as to why I was meant to do this.  The odd cheering family at the side of the road was enough to hold myself together.  My coach and crew was assuring me at half way that I was on point and made the rest of the hills a bit better as I climbed up from the ocean back to the highway.  It was great to feel myself recover and feel strong again as the last climb was behind me.  Honks from the passing cars made me feel appreciated and I dug deep to push my pace below 3:20 to make up for those painfully slow up hills.  I passed through the 20k mark and pushed the envelope a little more as O'Connor had disappeared from my sight on the straight away.  I know he had won and this was now a battle against me and the clock.  The final bridge was filled with cheers and I could see coach again.  I saw the clock and was surprised as to how little I had left in the tank for my finishing sprint.  I was (despite the Lack of gusto) pouring it all on at the end as I usually do.  Elated to be at the end of this challenging journey, I knew my goal of breaking my old time of 1:12:40 was now a certainty as I crossed the line in 1:11:30.  I had now accomplished something I may never do again nor had done thus far in my running career.  I had just set my fourth personal best in four weeks!  My legs almost buckled under me as I crossed the line and I was reminded of the 2010 Victoria Marathon.  I was satisfied by my efforts as I know I hadn't a shred left to give.  (sort of like writing this blog)  I was rewarded my finisher's medal and and inhaled some water as I joined my team mate and race victor KO. he was currently being interviewed by the local cable TV company but as elated as I was I had to congratulate him.  Sorry if I interrupted there 'ole Gramps.  I love you and the drive you give me to push harder even though I'm already pushing my hardest.  After a soak in the ocean (or acid bath as it felt at that temperature) I changed into some warm Icebreaker clothing and headed off for some food at the awards ceremony.

It was a successful day for the Vancouver Falcons as we dominated the podium once again.  I was once again in two weeks, the silver medallist in a BC championship race! Some fabulous unique prizes and cash and cheques were awarded.  Lots of great draw prizes and great memories were given out to all competitors to make this day one heck of a great time.  A big hats off to all the volunteers and especially the race directors for putting on an event which unbelievably gets better and better every year.  I can't wait to show up next year and celebrate this race's 35th anniversary with a hopeful win. Haha, fourth time is a charm right?? OK maybe not but I'm still gonna try.  Post drinks and dinner with the team were fantastic as well as we had all worked hard and a lot of us had exceeded our PB expectations and were ready to celebrate.  Next Up, the Vancouver Sun Run and the BC 10k Championships where I will certainly set a new 10k PB.  I'm looking to go sub 32:00 so send me some good energy and I'll keep you all posted on time from now on! Happy training you fitness fanatics! Stay awesome. I may just catch the sunset if I rush down to Kits beach woot woot!! (Damn, still have to edit this before I publish it, never mind.) Oh well there will be many beautiful sunsets to look forward to on the West Coast of Canada this summer. Hope you'll join me for some at Wreck beach.

Things I hate: Filling my sun soaked (or lack thereof) day off with 8 hours of writing.
Things I love: Gettin' er done!! And setting the bar higher and higher.

Dave Reed Spring Classic BC 5k Championship

Today's race was certainly a special one for me and all my team mates.  As you all must know, I am part of one of the best (or in my opinion it is the best) running clubs in the Lower Mainland, The Vancouver Falcons Athletic Club or more commonly known as VFAC.  In order to stay alive and support the many elite athletes and superior coaching, we rely on two races that we as a team volunteer and organize.  In the past few years,  the first of the two races, The Dave Reed Memorial 5k (a race named after a team member who passed away who was the epitome of the sport) was selected to become the BC 5k Championships.  For the last couple of years I volunteered to do as much as I could to help out with our club races.  It takes a lot of people and organization to make these events a success.  To be a part of our running club, it is mandatory that you volunteer or get someone to volunteer in place of yourself if you have hopes of racing.  Regularly I would not have run this race, but this time I really needed the points for the BC Timex Road Race Series. After his performance at the First half, Drew Nicholson was ahead of me for points and I knew he had plans of racing this one.  He is one of my main competitors when it comes to racing in the series so I had to defend my spot.  I really want to make it onto the BC team this year and every race I hope for better results.  The faster I get, the more points I score.  There were some mixed feelings about my late decision to enter this race as a competitor and not a volunteer but I was able to bring two volunteers in place of myself.  I felt a bit of shame for leaving my team to put it on by themselves, but I figure I do a lot of work as the club's secretary and over did it as a volunteer at last year's races.  That was my guilt free attempt to race this one.  We have a great group of people and they ended up managing extremely well to put on a flawless event.  

The temperature was mild with no wind and no clouds just like the weather at last weekend's Harry's Spring Run Off 8k where I set my second PB in two weeks of 25:49.  It was feeling like a perfect day to go 3 for 3 in the means of setting personal bests.  At the starting line I only noticed a few contenders on the provincial scene which may give me a run for the money including last year's winner Matt Clout.  I think his name is so fitting of this sport as he dominates the shorter distances and therefore has a lot of clout when it comes to competing.  Haha sorry, I know I'm a cheese ball but couldn't resist that one lol.  Perhaps it's the second coffee I've drank to keep me focused on writing three in a row.  Back to the task at hand.  There was the usual hyping up of all the front liners as we cheered and got ready to rock. Some were quiet and focused, but for me and a few of my running friends at the front it was all about slapping hands and wishing good luck to one another.  I have finally lost all the nerves involved with being in the start of the big races.  It was a major obstacle I had to overcome.  I love being relaxed at the front and rubbing shoulders with guys who have been smoking me for years and now are within my reach.  I feel important up front and finally a sense of belonging comes over me as the gun goes off.  I watch as all the young guns tear ahead, and I now know my threshold when climbing the first hill as how not to go too fast out of the start.  The first section starts with some ups and downs and there is nudging and shuffling for position.  I have to make sure to get in with the right crowd because it won't be long before the young guns lose steam and by the second and third kilometre we are filing into our finishing positions(almost).  There are some early pushes from some young triathletes who's efforts are futile against the strong pack of at least six runners by now which I have set the pace and was trading back and forth for the lead.  I had to cut one runner off as I always take the shortest line through the corners and around the course and am now very dominant with my running style.  I won't let many get in my way and if that means kicking heels and cutting off, that's what has to be done.  I am not rude, however and did apologize and if I do ever kick heels, it usually means you have dropped the pace.  Sorry about that!  I was feeling very comfortable and consistent with my effort going into the lighthouse at Brockton Point.  As we blasted through and flew out onto the other side, there was a small descent of a couple meters and we were in the last kilometre of the race.  There were two contenders left with me, one who had pushed a bit early and I was sure with this other guy we would be able to catch him.  The guy I was with pushed by in front of me.  They were both tall and it seemed as though their legs carried them more efficiently than my short ones.  I had the heart to make up for their strength and length and pushed to be right on the heels of this triathlete.  We were closing the gap on the runner who pushed ahead and as we matched him, he blew up and damn near stopped.  That was nice, but the battle was still on for me and Simon Witfield's protege.  He was strong and had obviously been doing his speed work as there were many surges within surges happening in the last 300 meters.  I put every last ounce of fuel on the fire which was now blazing inside my legs and lungs but to no prevail.  I was unable to close the one second gap between myself and this gutsy competitor before we crossed the line.  I knew it was a battle for second place overall which was huge for me at this calibre of a race.  In the end, I still ended up on the podium.  I saw the clock and was ecstatic to have made such an improvement over my most recent 5k PB 2 weeks ago at the St. Patty's Day 5k going from 15:49 to 15:39. Luckily this guy wasn't a member of BC Athletics so to the victor (me) go the spoils of being rewarded the silver medal and $100 at the BC 5k Championships!!  That makes it three PBs in three weeks of races.  Next up is the Fool's Run AKA the BC Half Marathon Championships where I hope to make it 4 for 4. Stay tuned runners!!
Things I hate: Feeling like there are no more gears to shift in to.
Things I love: Watching the seconds fly off my personal bests.

The first Half Half marathon

Hello my fellow runners and readers,
I am sorry not to have updated my blog in so long, but I have been so very busy with training and working.  I am lucky to have three days off from work in a row which I can now sit down and spend a full day of writing.  It's been a fantastic start to the 2011 running season!  I am so lucky to be in Vancouver and surrounded by so many talented and driven athletes.  I will be posting all missing blogs today so I hope you're craving a good read because I know I owe it to all of you.  So here we go!

The runner on the right was more experienced than the younger UBC but both gave a solid effort
First race since the Icebreaker 8k was the inaugural First Half Half Marathon.  It was my first time running this course and I must say despite the outcome, I really enjoyed the course.  My training up to this point was bang on  so I was expecting some good results from this race.  There were some big guns out for this year's race including our now home town Canadian superstar Dylan Wykes, David Jackson and Jerry Ziak.  I knew with them on board and with fellow team mates Graeme Wilson and Drew Nicholson running in great form that there would certainly be some fast times out there on this flat and fast course.  The air was cool and brisk and there was no rain or sun and some pretty windy spots out around the park, but all in all great conditions for racing in mid February. From the first mile I felt very comfortable.  I watched Nicholson and Wilson pull ahead with Stan Jang, VFAC's newest speedster.  On a side note: I chased Stan down one day on the seawall as he and I were doing our long easy runs.(if you could call it that at his and my pace)  I really had to speed up to catch him and knew that he was good when I finally caught him.  He was currently not with a team but with his talent I knew I must recruit him.  I invited him to come out and at the next practice he was there. Since then he hasn't missed one and has become an integral part of the speed involved in our workouts.  Any ways, back to the race.  I watched them slowly pull away and wondered how and why all of them could be running so fast after the first mile.  I figured they were just caught up in the excitement (except for Wilson as I know he doesn't get excited even when he wins.) and that I would catch up to them when the start line adrenaline wore off.  I fell in with a couple of younger runners from UBC and felt strangely relaxed as I looked at my Garmin and it said 3:13/km.  My watch was telling me that I was under pace and running a 3:17/km mfor some time after that. Coach Hill had prescribed me a slower start pace which by now I was sure I was on point for.  I figured I must be in good shape because I thought I was on pace.  I decided to ignore the fact that the group I should have been running with was pulling away as I figured I was running my own race and to not push beyond Coach's orders.  This continued until we got to around the 7km mark where team mate Kevin O'Connor was running along side me as we entered Stanley Park.  He was not racing but there for support.  He told me that I should be pushing ahead now as he knew I was running too slow and was certainly in the wrong group.  I said to myself "What the heck are you talking about?, I'm right on pace."  at that moment, I had a more thorough look at my Garmin and realized what he was talking about. The whole time I had been watching my average pace rather than my actual pace and because of the speedy start, it made it look like I was running faster than I was. At that moment I realized I had made a huge mistake and that was the reason I felt so damn comfortable up to this point.  It really did feel like I was out for a Sunday morning long run.  I knew the next few kilometres were going to be very windy and was reluctant to leave the draft of these two runners.  At the same time, if I stayed with them I knew the race would certainly be lost.  I left them as if they were standing still and plowed through the head wind as if my life depended on it.  Half out of desperation and half out of anger as I should have just listened to my body and not my stupid Garmin. The next 5ks were run at a ridiculous 3:15 pace in hopes of making up some ground.  I was able to claw back two positions and get some ground on the third man ahead of me.  As I neared second beach I could hear footsteps closing in behind me.  It was those damned youngsters again!! I thought they were history.  Before I hit the pool, those two young UBC runners had worked together to close the gap and I felt demoralized as they were now very close to catching back up to me.  I hate to be chased as it makes me tired, but they were two and I was all by myself.  I looked at my watch and realised my efforts were in vain.  There was no way I was going to make up the time I needed to break last falls half marathon PB.  I decided to sit in and let them give me a draft as we rounded lost lagoon so that I could save some energy to outrun them into the finish.  By this time we had caught up to and swallowed up the older runner ahead of us and now had a pack of four running around the lagoon.  I was feeling very fresh at this point and felt as thought I could have surged and dropped them.  I picked it up a little and could tell the younger runner out of the two UBC guys was fading hard and fast and his technique was falling apart.  It wasn't long before we were only two along English Bay beach. UBC V.S. VFAC!  There was a small hill out of the beach back to Pacific Avenue which we both dug deep to get up.  As we hit the road I dropped the hammer and the UBC runner didn't respond and I knew I had what it took to continue this pace to the finish.  Little did I know, in my fuzzy tired runner's brain, I forgot the steep and short last hill within the last km before the finish.  Luckily my team mate Enej was at the top yelling so I was able to keep on rolling over the top without slowing down.  The finishing crowds were large and loud so it was easy to keep the finish line sprint on. I was pleased that even with my lousy start that I was able to get in under 1:13.  Good enough for 8th overall and third in my age group.  I was quite displeased with myself on this one and would beat myself up over it for the next few days. Unbeknownst to me the stellar next few weeks of racing I had ahead.  One thing I can say about this race is that I was super glad to see Drew Nicholson hold on to Graeme Wilson so tightly. What a stellar performance by him as I know he has had a lot of trouble recovering from injury and sickness. Welcome back Drew, I look forward to chasing you down some more.  A special congrats go out to Dylan Wykes who slaughtered the course record and I hope will certainly make the Canadian Olympic team this year for London 2012.  He's such a nice guy and has worked very hard for a long time.  I'd be proud to have him represent this country. He's certainly one of my idols.

Things I hate: Screwing up my pacing
Things I love: Knowing that my team mates are always there for me.

Dylan Wykes setting a new course record for the overall win.
Drew Nicholson realizing his accomplishment with 25 meters to go!