Friday, February 29, 2008


I’ve done two sessions of Fartlek on this training cycle. I just love that word, Fartlek. As I type this I find myself amused at the little red squiggle that means it won’t pass through spell check unabated. Fartlek is a Swedish word for speed play. Part of me wants to ask which syllable is speed and which is play. But I digress.

I am currently doing 5 intervals of two on and two off, meaning two minutes on at whatever pace I can hold comfortably knowing that I’ve got 4 more intervals to go and about 4 miles of total distance to cover.

I’ve never really understood how some of these articles can say 85% of your lactate threshold or 65% or whatever. Just as bad are the articles and books that say to run your 10K pace or your 5K pace I think that is way too technical. I think that you should run bearing in mind you have that many intervals and that distance to cover so go as hard as you can without having to walk on the off’s. Run like Hell and don’t walk!

Put it this way, any 5K or 10K road race you are going to enter will invariably be planned on a fairly flat course. A ‘fast’ course will also have some fairly long straight stretches with few turns to slow you down. All this planning in an effort to get the runners a personal record in ideal conditions. Now let’s for arguments sake say that you ran an 8:00 per mile pace. Is this what you call your 10K pace?

Now let’s take that 8:00 minute pace and turn it into real life Fartlek. You can plan your training runs to be as flat as race courses but that hardly happens. It usually ends up being a route with a less traffic, some nice scenery, and no loose dogs. My particular routes tend to have a few hills in them.

Needless to say when it’s two on and two off you can not control when or if the two’s coincide with a steep uphill, downhill, flat section or any combination of the aforementioned. Trying to hold that 8:00 minute pace becomes a whole lot harder.

This is speed play folks, the key word being play. The reason I enjoy Fartlek aside from the giggle I get when I say Fartlek is that is like playing and it isn’t as serious as a track workout. Run like Hell and never walk that’s the game.

My Season Plans

For what ever the reasons I can slowly see my season coming to an end before it even starts. It sounds ominous because it is only February and I’m planning my race season that may never be. This was the year that I wanted to do my first ultramarathon. I’ve trained hard in the early months of January or February. I’ve got my mileage up to a good base and have begun my speed work. My long runs are hitting 20+ so I’m probably the fittest I’ve been since my last marathon three years ago. So what going wrong?

To answer that question it’s more of a what’s going right question instead. My family is adopting a little girl from Ethiopia. The time line for adoption is vague at best. Each part of the process as a rule has to be complete before the next step can begin. It’s 2 weeks to 6 months for this and 6 to 12 weeks for that. If you total them all up it could be either really short or really long. I’m guessing somewhere in the middle which is like the fall. At this point my wife and I travel to Ethiopia and pick up our daughter. The exact date or even an approximate date is way to sketchy to call right now. The travel date could actually “pop up” things may align perfectly and we get a travel date with less than a month’s notice. If I were to schedule or plan for a race in the fall it would be a gamble. I wouldn’t want to be 12 weeks into a 16 week program to find that I won’t be there for it.

So because my fitness is good right now I wanted to do an spring race or even an ultra. I normally do the Spring Ahead Half but this year I won some sales award and my wife and I are flying to Boca Raton for that weekend. Looking at the local Ultra Schedule I came up with the following excuses for not entering.

Dirty Duo – is this weekend. My fitness is good but not great.
Diez Vista Ultra –April 6th. Same weekend as Boca and sold out.
Elk Beaver Lake Ultra – In May is on Vancouver Island. A return ferry ride for a family of five ($170) plus kenneling cost for two dogs ($32/day). Hotel cost $125. I could go cheap. Go by myself and walk on ($20). Camp $10 but still to leave my wife and kids for a weekend would not go over well.
Knee Knackering Trail Run –Sold out
Scorched Sole Ultra – June 7th- I thought heavily about this one. It’s in Kelowna about 2 ½ hours away. I had frequent traveler miles for a free hotel stay. Then the family wanted to go to Seattle for Spring Break and that ate up the traveler miles. And my sons may tentatively have a swim meet that weekend. Crap!

My last hope is STORMY! No really that’s the name of the race STORMY. Squamish Test of Real Mettle Yeah or something like that. It’s on August 9th which is the week after Regionals. It is also a week after our anniversary, the week before my wife’s birthday and four days before mine.

Now all I have to do is ask my wife for her support. I’ve got to get all my ducks in a row before I ask because I’m sure she’ll pull out all stops. I could camp in Alice Lake Provincial Park or the family could stay in Whistler and I could drive down. Or we could all stay in a hotel in Squamish. But once again there is the cost $125/night for a hotel, $32/day for a kennel but at least no ferry ride. It is all the way into August too. That is six months away. It could be close to travel date.

The race calendar after that is the season finale Walk in the Park in Kamloops on August 31st my son’s birthday. That is followed by the Endurance Challenge in Bellingham just after Labour Day. But like I said before our travel date could ‘pop up’ and I don’t want to be in the middle of training when we have to go suddenly.

So there you have it the BC Ultra Calendar as I see it or don’t see it. Of course there is also some races in Washington State which I would have to travel to.

Monday, February 18, 2008

It's All Good

I went for my long run Saturday. I was still feeling a little under the weather trying to beat this cold. I did 4 miles on Friday and 13 miles on Saturday. On Sunday, true to my word I re-tested my calibration. I warmed with about a mile run out to the track. I set my Nike+ for 2.00 km which is 5 laps of a 400 meter track and off I went.

I was almost bang on for the 2000 meters. In fact I was probably out by about a step. I felt relieved to know my mileage was not fraudulent after all.

I was feeling good about the mileage calibration being accurate. So I decided to lay it on the line and do an all out mile according to my calibration verified Nike+. Okay this was a mistake. First of all I didn’t dog the 2km that I ran around the track. Second I didn’t dress the part as I was wearing a jacket, Dri-Fit long sleeve, and running pants. So with about a minutes rest I gave it all.

You know the funny thing about looking at those squiggly graphs after you download you data is that it is so accurate of your second by second paces. That is exactly what my graph looked like to a squiggly line. Not some undulating wave with an overall increasing trend. I’m talking about peak-valley-peak-valley and so on. I could feel my self waning as the laps progressed.

But yet here is the next conundrum, when my Nike+ voice lady came on to say, “Half way point I had completed two full laps plus I was already on the bend. Hmm! When she came on to say “Congratulations you’ve completed blah blah blah” I was standing at the corner of the football field’s end zone. Hmm! So I paced it back to the start and came up with 114 paces. With an average pace of about 3 feet give or take I was at least 300 feet past the 1600 meter mark.

One mile is not 1600 meters but its close. I believe it is 13 meters longer which is about 40 feet not 300.

So what does this tell you? Obviously my stride opens up on short sprints as do most peoples. This is probably why Nike+ doesn’t list a one miler as one of the preset distances.

I know I’m dwelling way too much on this. In fact I got a post from SLB+ a man of infinite miles and a lot of wisdom who said “Don’t let it chew you up”, and if I wanted real accuracy to go with a GPS like Garmin or Suunto. Thanks SLB+

P.S. In any case Joan Benoit Samuelson gave the congrats at the end of my mile+ too. Sweet!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Am I a Mileage Fraud?

I think I’m a little anal retentive when it comes to mileage. When I first got my new Nike+ I was sure to calibrate it. I wanted every mile to be earned. Out to the track I went. The local track is is your basic 400 meter oval and I went for the requisite 400m trip around. I was sure to warm up first because I wanted my stride to be natural. I went for a lap, pressed stop and I got an error message. I did this several times with the preset 400m distance to no avail. Finally I punched in a custom distance of 0.4 km and off I went. By now I had run about 3 miles before I finished my calibration for 400m but I got it done.

Now some 25 runs later and about a 160 plus miles later, I find myself stuck in a winter wonderland of Kelowna. The sidewalks were covered in ice and so I retreated to the treadmill. I start my Nike+ and the treadmill at roughly the same time. After the first mile on my iPod the treadmill says 0.95 miles. WTF At first I thought maybe I didn’t start them at the same time after all. So I kept going fully expecting the two mile mark to come in at the 1.95 miles (taking into account my starting error). Much to my chagrin it came in at 1.90 mile, once again a full 0.05 miles off.

Needless to say after 5 miles on the Nike+, the treadmill was reading 4.75 miles. WTF! Is all my mileage off by 5%. Am I a mileage fraud? I’m going to re-test my mileage on a track. Maybe the treadmill needs calibrating. I’m going to run 2000 meters on the track which is exactly 5 laps. I’ll see exactly what the Nike+ reads and if it is still under I’ll re-calibrate at a longer distance like 2000 meters. If it is close or over then I’ll leave it. Oh the horror of being a Mileage Fraud.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Running Friends

I don’t have running friends. I am trying to establish running friends in the blogosphere. I would then have virtual friends. I have some friends but they don’t run. I don’t have a lot of friends. If you go by Facebook I’m still in the double digits. Actually I’m less than 50 on Facebook. That’s fine by me.

Some of my friends are starting to run. I think the greatest source of pride amongst friends occurs when you are recognized by what you do. For example if you were a car enthusiast and a friend made a point of telling you he just went to the car show. Naah bad example.

Let me tell you my story anyway. My friend Kevin (not his real name) is not a runner. I’m not sure why he started running he just did. I think he’s going to run the Sun Run which is one of the largest 10K’s in Canada if not North America. But he came up to me and told me he ran two miles on the treadmill. He said it with pride and I was proud of him and I told him so. Okay . . .I’m looking at what I just wrote and it sounds kind of stupid but you would have to understand Kevin. He never initiates conversation with anyone but when he does it is because he has something to say. He doesn’t babble and he’s not a chit chat kind of person. So for him to actually come out and tell me that he ran two miles was obviously a point of pride.

I think my pride stems from him identifying me as runner and thinking enough of me to share his pride. That’s cool.

A similar occurrence happens with another friend of mine, Norm (not his real name either). Norm is now a bona fide runner. He wasn’t always he was more of a cyclist. Then one day he decided to run on the track (which he told me about right away. . . cool). For the first few months he ran in these old run down cross trainer thingy’s. And then one day he made the leap to bona fide runner by buying real $150 running shoes. Now I knew he was serious. Today, he always make a point of discussing his runs with me. He’s been very consistent with his runs. I think he runs a couple of times a week possibly as much as four but he’s getting up there and that is really cool.

One day I’d like to run with them. I ask to go with them or invite them to go with me but just haven’t hooked up yet. Maybe they are intimidated maybe it is something else. Maybe one day. Until that day I will have my virtual friends.


It’s been a whirlwind past two weeks both personally and meteorologically. In the past two weeks we took it upon ourselves to decorate our little girls room in a weekend which I blogged about in our other blog. I think I’ve run about 50 miles in the past ten days which to some isn’t a lot but it’s good for me.

The Saturday before last weekend I ran 14. I ran in Cincinnati last Monday and Tuesday. 10 miles Monday and 3 miles Tuesday. I didn’t run Wednesday or Thursday. I ran 4 on Friday. I ran 12 on Saturday in the snow and rested on Sunday after the snow. I ran 4 today.

Funny thing is I just checked my Nike+ on my iPod and I am missing some workouts. I seem to have lost Monday’s run and Friday’s run and Saturday’s run. I am pretty sure I have synced my iPod. I hate when I sync my iPod and the iPod freezes or iTunes freezes. It is only since installing Nike+ that this has happened. I know they downloaded because they are on the Nikeplus site.