Sunday, January 13, 2013

2013 - Week One Long Distance Training Complete

Week one of training with my friend Tim for long distance has come and gone in a flash! We ran fairly low distances with rest days in between because we are just beginning to ramp up to further and further distances. The photos below show some shots taken on Saturday's run (and show up again in the video, sorry for the redundancy). I only took photos on Saturday because of low light and poor weather for the other runs earlier in the week.

On Monday I awoke to the sound of rain pounding the window and I knew it would be a wet run. I left my house in the dark at 6:00 AM. I ran the chip trail which wraps around campus and I wasn't surprised to be the only one on the trail. It had been raining all night and the rain quickly collected in puddles in all depressions along the trail because the pore space in the soil couldn't soak up any more water. The trail is a loop, therefore I found myself for about a quarter of the run, running face first into great big drops of rain as the wind drove it almost parallel with the ground. I quickly ran the loop and crossed bridges which spanned swollen creeks dotted with the large stalks of skunk cabbage. My shoes slopped through the puddles; soaked through. One nice thing about getting your feet wet immediately is that you no longer need to worry about keeping your feet dry so from then on you can just focus on running because your shoes aren't going to get any wetter.

Wednesday had much better weather conditions and was almost too warm for tights and I really worked up a sweat quickly. I really pushed on day two for some reason, my body just felt like pushing it. I really hammered the Chip trail running it clockwise, opposite from Monday's run. I find when I run the same loop route multiple times in a week it is very nice mentally and physically to switch the direction of the route. It keeps it fresh, and helps keep you running evenly, and wards off ennui which can accompany any runner who runs the same course often. I finished feeling well tired, and a bit sore from my pace, but I felt I put in a great workout.

Saturday was very cold for Victoria and saw temps below freezing. It was odd seeing frost and snow on the ground. Even the puddles had a thin film of ice. I chose Mt. Tolmie as my destination. This allowed me to run some flats but also work on my up and down hill running. The sky was bright and the colors vibrant. I spent a considerable amount of time filming the colors and setting up shots for my short video. As I was returning from the summit I saw that my SD card was full and that I had not recorded much at all. The many minutes of video I so painstakingly tried to capture was lost. So the video below only shows a minute or two of footage of 15 or so that I captured. Oh well; it also cuts off abruptly, but I couldn't be bothered with fixing it. I will just chalk that up to experience and remember to check my SD card before running in the future. The run was great and I enjoyed the run immensely.

Tim and I are also swapping music for each run. We each suggest a song from our own repertoire to the other and then run with it as our first song of each run. It has been a lot of fun and has made each run exciting as we each get to look forward not only to running the same distance together, at roughly the same time, but also to the same songs! It also allows us to discover new music. I highly recommend it to any runners who like to run with music and want to spice up their training playlist. It is nice to be able to share the fairly solitary pursuit of long distance running with someone else and connect on another level. I think we will keep this up as long as we can!

My video is the first one with Tim's video for the week shown last!

And here is Tim's video for week one. Same training routine just 1000 miles to the southeast!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Mount Douglas Victoria BC Trail Run with photos Jan. 5th

My best friend Tim and I will start to officially train for the 2013 season beginning on Monday. He lives in Utah about 900 miles to the southeast of my current home of Victoria, BC. So to train together we have to rely heavily on the miracle of technology i.e. social networking, YouTube (highdef video conversations), and e-mail. These modern conveniences let us stay connected as we train together and follow each other's progress while also carrying on long distance conversations about this beautiful art we call running. We will also be doing the same training program; one Tim has designed. This program is tailored to help us get back into the groove of running consistently between now and April (get the cobwebs out after the holidays) and then really hone our speed and endurance come the summer so that we will be able to handle whatever running adventure we can get ourselves into. Besides Tim's marathons and RAGNAR races he has planned, we are also looking at our yearly epic trail run to be a beast and I will blog about that in the future!

This past week I have tried to run some slow distance just to wake up my circulatory and respiratory systems while also conjuring up some muscle memory in my legs. I dropped off my Christmas tree at the University Track and donated to the track team to help support track and field athletics (the track team recycles trees to raise money). I then started my run at Mt. Douglas my usual training ground. The weather was perfect 9 degrees Celsius or 48 Fahrenheit; overcast with a bit of sun peaking through now and again. It felt like running in April in Utah but these conditions are quite common this time of year here on the island. I took my time and worked my way up the side of the mountain focusing on taking small steps at a faster cadence and also staying relaxed. The majority of the trails I run on are devoid of my fellow bipedal com padres since the trails I run require you to get muddy and are somewhat technical. I summited the big mountain and snapped a few shots but it was so crowded with others in the observation nest that I quickly dove off the gnarly steep side of Doug in full retreat. after picking my way down the exposed slippery rocks I ran the Km of slight uphill trail towards Little Mt. Doug; stepping in small spaces between roots and rocks. Little Doug is a small blister on the west apron of it's bigger brother. I really like Lil Doug, though much smaller, it also has a lot of personality (the trails do anyways). I chilled on the summit for a few minutes and reveled in the feeling of running free and the nice relatively warm weather. I bounced down the steep rocky face and finished my run on a trail that hugs the base of Big Doug and takes me back to the trail head. I saw that some of the underbrush was starting to already bud. How I love spring on the island! In Utah winter often gives way to summer with an extremely abbreviated spring (often only a week or so) but on the island spring dominates both winter and summer and often seems to make up half the year. I took little easy strides and focused on my form and got excited for this years training with Tim, and I tried to let that small burst of adrenaline at the thought of training with him carry me all the way to the finish extremely quickly. It was another great run and 2013 is turning out to be a great one. I gave this run 7 out of 10 bean burritos (with Serrano peppers, my after run snack).

A Mt. Doug trail running video.

Friday, January 4, 2013

New Years Day run through Thetis Lake Regional Park

For two years in a row I have ran in Thetis Lake Provincial park on New Years. It is a little gem of a park only about 10 minutes from downtown Victoria. This park can be crowded and is a favorite of dog walkers. The secret to avoiding the masses is to run the narrow and muddy trails on the perimeter of the park rather than sticking to the main crushed gravel trail that circumnavigates the lake shore. This is a great solution if you don't mind getting some swamp feet now and then. The weather was chilly 5 Celsius or high 30's Fahrenheit with a hazy sky but also some sun.

I first summited a small hill (Seymour) just to get the blood pumping and get my core temp up. The hill sits on the southeast side of the lake and gives impressive glimpses of Thetis to the west. Running up the south slope of Seymour is one of my favorite trails in the park because it is a vastly different ecosystem with more grass and spaced out garry oaks and fir trees; it reminds me of running in Utah's Uinta mountains or other alpine forests in the Rockies. The summit consists of a faint trail which rolls over the mossy rocks and is dotted by arbutus and douglas fir.

The descent from Seymour is just as spectacular and takes you right down to the lake shore via a swerving length of single-track that cuts through broad-leaved shrubs and Oregon grape. I ran the main trail for a short distance just to get me to the Seaborn trail turnoff which connects to the McKenzie creek trail. Once you veer off the main trail you are back to solitude and complete isolation. Only a few of the hardiest hikers or trail runners venture down these trails because they meander along side the creek in a fairly boggy area. Many portions of the trail consist of roots, mud, and standing water. The ecosystem is one of moss-covered western red cedars, rocks caked with succulent ferns, mossy logs and an overall swampy biota. A little slice of pacific northwest trailrunners paradise.

With limited fitness at the moment I was forced to take things fairly easy so I didn't run to the summit of Stewart mountain but turned back after a few miles on the McKenzie creek trail. I retraced my steps and did the run in reverse and had a thrilling return trip filled with lots of playful running along the creeks and rolling hills in an exhilarating workout. Overall I give this run 3.5 out of 5 wet Brooks Cascadias; high marks indeed for the first run of 2013!