Monday, December 6, 2010

I am still alive!

Well I figured that I at the very least should add a post to update what has gone on over the last few months. So here is a recap:

Hit 1000km in early September
Ran in Venice
Did two wonderful trail runs in Algonquin Park
Did not run at all in November
Finally got in a 10km run on Dec 5.

So that is it for now. I hope to add a bit of info on the Algonquin Park runs and maybe a bit on the two runs in Venice. I also will get back to regular runs to prepare for a half marathon in February and the Ottawa Race weekend at the end of May where I am already signed up for the marathon. After that I hope to get into some serious training for my first Ultra - I just need to pick which one I want to do. Right now I am thinking of the Vermont 50 in September but might look for one a bit closer to home.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

July: A month of first's

It has been almost a month since my last post. A number of minor accomplishments have occurred since then, so I think this is a good time for an update.

Trail Run
Joanne and I spent a week of our summer vacation in the beautiful Parc national du Mont-Orford. Located in the Province of Quebec’s Eastern Townships, the park offers wonderful hiking and cycling in the summer and amazing cross country and downhill skiing in the winter. The area is part of the Appalachian chain which runs 2400km starting in the north on the Island of Newfoundland and running south Alabama.

My first run was along mostly hard pack (stone) trails and when I was done I knew I was hooked to trail running. The second run and one I want to highlight here was a run along the Mont-Chauve trail. This is essentially a hike up to the summit and back down loop and was easily accessible right from our campsite. The trail is listed as taking a hiker 3.5 to 3.45hrs. (As a comparison, Joanne and I did the trail a few days later and took 3hours to do the loop.) Below is a profile (taken from my Garmin 305) of the elevation of the run as well as a map.

The run stats are as follows:
Distance: 9.84km
Elevation Gain: 350m
Moving time: 1:35:55 (I took a small break on the summit for photos)
Avg Moving Pace 9:44min/km

Overall I felt really good on the run. I decided to do the loop section in a clockwise direction which meant I would be running (or more appropriately scrambling) up the steeper side and have the more gentle part of the loop for the run back. This turned out to be a wise decision and unless you are a part mountain goat I would suggest that the loop should always be run clockwise for safety reasons.

These two photos show first the trail and the view from the summit.

I did not expect to get back to the campground feeling as well as I did. No sore muscles, no cramping. So I think the general view that trail running may be less hard on the body as compared to road running may hold water.

A second memorable trail run during the week occurred when I made an error in route finding and ended up doubling the total distance of the run. My total planned distance had been 8km but when I finally got back to the campsite I had run almost 15km with a total elevation gain of 328m. This run was a combination of 3 trails but the best one was the section on the Sentier du Pekan (formally the ‘z’ trail) This section of the run was through a beautiful pine forest and the heat of the afternoon created the most amazing smell. The following photo (I got to run this twice to set up the shot) shows this part of the run but really doesn’t do the place justice.

The run stats are as follows:
Distance: 14.75km
Elevation Gain: 328m
Moving time: 1:59:12
Avg Moving Pace 8:04min/km

The final bit accomplishment for the month was completing a run of 42.3km on July 25. I felt really good at the end and feel confident that running longer distances will be possible.
The run stats are as follows:
Distance: 42.30km
Elevation Gain: 103m
Moving time: 4:59:16
Avg Moving Pace 7:04min/km

So that is where things are right now. I had a short 12km run on Sunday and because I was feeling a little sore in the achilles on the right foot I decided not to do any runs for the week and give my body a bit of a rest. Since keeping records of my runs (thanks in no small part to the Garmin 305 – March 27, 2010) I have logged 66 runs for a total of 793km or 93hrs 26minutes.

One final item. Joanne and I hiked Les Cretes trail. This is, in my opinion, one of the more challenging day hikes in eastern Canada. I have included the profile below as well as a couple of photos just to give you a taste of this fantastic trail. In total we were out for almost 8 hours with a total elevation gain of 836m. In time I hope to go back and run this same trail!!!

Mt Orford in the distance - our destination for the hike

Joanne and me at pic de l'ours

Friday, July 9, 2010

The Why?

I guess it is only fair to start with the ‘why create this blog’ and ‘what I hope it will accomplish’?
Well first I guess we do things like this as a form of posterity and/or a way to personally account for our actions. I guess in some ways I want to do both. I want to share a record of what will be a long, and not always fun, road and allow this record to be available for others who may want to do something similar (that is how this started but I will get there in a bit). The personal accountability idea is less altruistic. The accountability here is to provide a means of forcing myself to get on with the commitment of undertaking multi day/stage and ultra-marathon events. SO GET ON WITH IT ALREADY!!!!!
The Blog idea came from two inspirations. The first, from blogs created by the Racing the Planet 4 Deserts competitors, the second, and more important, Rich’s Desert Racer ( blog which I have found funny, inspirational and as a source of valuable training information for my own journey into the wonderful world of ultra-running.
The next big thing to get down in this blog is how I got to this point running. I mean who really has their head screwed on properly when they actually want to take part in runs of 50km, 100km, or even more! Well this running thing began years ago as an addition to training for my real love at that time, MtBiking. Then about 10 years ago when I stopped the recreational MtBike racing I kept up with the occasional 5km or 10km run. But I hated it. What was the real value in running anyway. You are out for 30 to 60 minutes, covering a small area and not seeing anything new. Then in February of this year, my wife Joanne (who I will introduce you to shortly) and I decided that we would include morning jogs while we lazed away at an all-inclusive in Cuba. Something happened during these runs. Not sure what it was but I actually began enjoying running. The heat, the dirt road that ran near the resort all added to this feeling of Wow. So on returning from Cuba, I started searching the web for info on new running shoes and other necessities, and quickly came across the wild and wonderful world of the ultra-marathon and in particular the Racing the Planet events ( and the Marathon des Sables ( This further led to info on the Canada Death Race and others, and soon the plan was developed which has now culminated with this blog. I should also point out a few other ‘facts’. In November of 2009, I weighed in at over 230lbs (I had stopped looking at the scale at that point), by the time Cuba rolled around in February 2010, I was down to 215, and as of July 9, I am at 197lbs. So at 45 I expect to be, by summer’s end, in the best shape and my lowest weight in almost 15 years.
From a running standpoint, as I mentioned above, my longest distance had been 10km. Since March 27, 2010, when I purchased a Garmin 305, thanks to the advice of my work colleague Kimberly, an ironman triathlete ( I have logged 650km with an average distance of 11.5km per run and a long run to date of 30.66km. While still a long way off the ultra distances that I hope to achieve, I am certainly on my way.
So that is where we are up to today.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

I really need to come up with a name for this Blog!!!!

The First Blog

Well, if commitment needs to start somewhere I guess this is now it!!!

These blogs are meant to track my progress (struggles, failures, accomplishments,....) as I begin to set out on the path of participating in a number of epic runs, including the Marathon des Sables and the Racing the Planet 4 Deserts Series.

So stay tuned.