Saturday, September 30, 2006

The Harvest Half Marathon

Man, what an incredible morning! It's a gorgeous fall day, and it's just perfect for running a half marathon.

I was at the MidSun Community Association by a quarter to seven. It was dark, but beginning to lighten along the east horizon. And chilly. The sky was clear and sparkling. I finished the dregs of my Starbucks, climbed out of the car, and began stripping off my jacket and warmups. I managed to get my racing bib on, after dropping a safety pin. It was very dark in the parking lot and it took a while to find it.

Then it was inside to see what was up, use the washroom, then outside to run around a little, use the washroom, do some stretching, use the washroom.

At five minutes to race time, we all gathered in the cul-de-sac out front. The clock counted to zero, and someone came through the crowd yelling out instructions and stuff - no sound system here.

After a little bit, the crowd in front started moving, and we shuffled out onto westbound Midlake Boulevard, then northward on Bannister Road. Bannister drops toward Fish Creek Park and under Macleod Trail, then turns into Shawnee Gate as it climbs back up on the other side. But then we turned west on Shawnee Drive, still climbing. At the top we headed north again, and descended into Fish Creek Park.

I haven't run in Fish Creek since Tru and I did a short run last spring. It's absolutely beautiful down there, as all the cottonwoods are turning golden, and losing leaves, so there are mounds of them to run through.

The trail continued east and at the far end of the Greenfield picnic area was the first water stop. Two and a half years ago, this is where I would start those forty minute, three km runs that were mostly walking, and painful. Today, I breezed through the area in fifteen minutes or so.

Another water stop at Bow Bottom Trail and then we met the river, and followed it north. A short distance past the Bankside picnic area, we were directed off the paved path, down into the river's gully on a shale path that took us back toward Bow Bottom.

Then south to Lake Sikome. The route went all the way almost to the south end of the lake, before doubling back to the road up to Sun Valley Boulevard. I knew this hill was coming and I was wondering how I'd do on it. I can't say that it was my best hill climb, but I still was pretty aggressive in tackling it.

The turn onto Sun Valley marked the 18 km point, and then it was straight running, west to Midlake Boulevard. And a short distance up that, we followed a green belt that ran south and west of Lake Midnapore. I knew we were close, but there's no sign of the finish, until we came around a berm, right at the 21 km marker. So a hundred metre sprint across the finish line.

As I came up on the line, I glanced at the clock overhead. 1:50 and some seconds. Someone handed me a water bottle, which I guzzled on the way into the building, to stock up on bagels, cookies, muffins, bananas and orange juice. And in a few short minutes, someone came in with a handful of papers that she taped up on the wall.

I was 118th across the finish line, 34th (I think) in my age division, and my chip time was 1:50:03 - 10 minutes and 5 seconds faster than the Calgary Half back in July. I'm very happy with that. I'll post the official stats later, when they post them.

I'm especially happy with the results because I've been fighting off a cold for the past few days. I fully expected to wake up this morning trying to hack up a lung. But for now, it's staying up in the sinuses and flirting with the throat.

But here are the GPS results:

Today's run:
Distance: 19.87 km. Time: 1:39:16. Average speed: 12.0 kph.
Rest distance: 1.45 km. Rest time: 11:00.
Total distance: 21.32 km. Total time: 1:50:16.

Shoes: Saucony Grid Phoenix (Blue)

Weather: Clear and 5C to start, but by the end, sunny and 16C.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

A Run in the Fall

I got out for a short run at lunch today, just down to 14th Street and back. It's a perfect fall day, and the running is marvelous. There are lots of people out on the paths, but it's not crowded. Leaves everywhere, and the trees are becoming pretty colourful.

Usually when I run the 14th Street loop, I'm just under 5 km, so I thought I'd try to run it out at least that far. But I got to 4.96 km, and the buildings downtown kinda closed in so the GPS lost its way. Maybe next time I'll detour around Prince's Island, to add a couple hundred metres.

Today's run:
Distance: 4.96 km. Time: 28:22. Average speed: 10.5 kph.

Shoes: Saucony Grid Phoenix (Yellow)

Weather: Mainly sunny and 19C. They were predicting 40 kph winds this morning, but those never materialized.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

I Needed the Break

After a crazy-busy morning, it was good to get the heck out and run. I was supposed to meet Chris and Mike, but I got held up at work, having to deal with some things before I could go. So I started out from Sein Lok Park rather than go to the Y to try and meet them.

Once I got out there, I decided on the reverse 14th Street loop in case I could meet up with people. And I had energy to burn. I was pushing pretty hard along Memorial Drive. Just before 14th Street, I did meet Chris and Mike. They had just met on the 14th Street bridge, and were heading east along Memorial, so I joined them.

After running hard in the first half, it was nice to slow down and visit. When we got to the suspension bridge to Prince's Island, we walked as Chris finds it's bouncing to be hard on the knees when running. After that we stayed left and came up on the east side of Eau Claire, where Mike left us, and Chris and I continued on to Bow Valley Square.

Today's run:
Distance: 5.60 km. Time: 30:38. Average speed: 11.0 kph.

Shoes: Saucony Grid Phoenix (Yellow)

Weather: Cloudy and 12C, although there were rain showers in the area.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

A Perfect Fall Morning

Another wonderful morning and a another great run. And the old body was totally up for it. It's getting so that I wonder when the crash will come.

I was off toward the river under sunny, clear skies. The air is very clear this morning and the mountains on the western horizon are big and snowy. It's probably the best seeing and the most spectacular view from the bluff that I've experienced.

Off down The Path Under The Stairs and across the suspension bridge to Prince's Island. West along the promenade, after puzzling over the big start/finish banner in front of the Eau Claire Y. Turns out today is the AIDS Walk for Life which begins at noon.

I pushed on toward the west, and just before crossing under Crowchild, Jeff caught up with me. We ran together and chatted about running. He's training for the Okanagan marathon coming up in a couple of weeks. Good running and good company.

At Edworthy, we crossed the bridge to the north side of the river, and he went left, while I went right (to that year-round washroom - sheesh!) Anyway, the run back toward the downtown was fun and fast.

I hit The Path Under The Stairs at full stride, and managed to blast up it in less that two minutes. I felt it in the lungs at the top, but still had lots of gas in the tank to push hard over the last bit to home.

A stellar run and a marvelous morning.

Today's run:
Distance: 16.48 km. Time: 1:24:54. Average speed: 11.4 kph.
Rest distance: 950.1 m. Rest time: 9:00.
Total distance: 17.14 km. Total time: 1:33:54.

Shoes: Saucony Grid Phoenix (Blue)

Weather: Sunny and 10C to start, rocketing up to 17C by the end.

Friday, September 22, 2006

It's Friday again!

I live for Fridays...

Running solo today, so I thought I'd mix it up a little. This time I headed east and crossed the river at Edmonton Trail. Then west from there, into the wind - the curse of the prairies. I went all the way to 14th Street, which made for a pretty decent distance. I crossed back to the south side, and headed back to Eau Claire.

At the C-Train bridge, I caught up with Carla and Peter-Mark running the other way. They had just picked up their kits for tomorrow's Melissa's Road Race. And I got to ask Peter-Mark how the Regina Marathon went. He ran respectable 4:31.

Today was another great run in a whole string of runs. I'm looking forward to the energy continuing.

Today's run:
Distance: 6.97 km. Time: 37:45. Average speed: 11.1 kph.

Shoes: Saucony Grid Phoenix (Yellow)

Weather: Cloudy and 7C, and that 35 - 45 kph wind is still blowing from the northwest.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Cold, Wet Run

But not all that bad really, except for the wind. It started to rain just as we started out, so our timing was impeccable.

I met Byron and Chris at the Y and we started off going west into the wind. We crossed the river at 14th Street, and came back east, then up and across to Prince's Island by the suspension bridge.

I haven't run with Chris since April, and it was good to have her along. It was a little cold and wet, but we all needed to be out there.

Today's run:
Distance: 4.99 km. Time: 29:01. Average speed: 10.3 kph.

Shoes: Saucony Grid Phoenix (Yellow)

Weather: Light rain and 7C, with northwest winds blowing from 30 to 50 kph.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Fall Will Be Here Soon

There's something cool about running in the fall, with the leaves turning and the freshness in the air. Cool enough for an extra t-shirt over the dri-fit one.

I was going to run with Byron at lunch, but he bailed on me, because of the onset of a possible cold. I turned right at the promenade and headed east. I was originally planning to run the short zoo, but instead did the long zoo, down to the 12th Street bridge.

It was a pretty uneventful run, but it felt good all the way. I had good time and good speed, and felt strong. In fact, I felt like I had the lung capacity to push a lot harder.

Today's run:
Distance: 7.64 km. Time: 40:56. Average speed: 11.2 kph.

Shoes: Saucony Grid Phoenix (Yellow)

Weather: Fog and 5C, but that's at the airport. It looked only cloudy in the downtown area.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

The Sun Just Might Be Coming Back

After a string of cold rainy days, we should get some clearing today. It's still chilly out, so I got the tights out for the first time this season. But it was another fantastic run. Lots of people out, lots of energy and I felt great through the whole thing.

I ran the usual route, down The Path Under The Stairs, across Prince's Island to the south side of the river, and westward along the promenade. There were a lot of runners out to begin with, despite the cold wind blowing in from the north. Once I passed Crowchild, the crowd thinned a little.

The whole run on the south side was smooth, strong and pain free. I had great speed, too, and my timing at the track crossings was perfect in that I didn't have to wait for that pesky freight train.

At Edworthy, I crossed to the north, and after a quick stop (the reason I run this route is the all season washrooms there), continued along the north side of the river toward the downtown, still strong and feeling great. Once I crossed under Crowchild, the crowds seemed to thin out considerably.

At the 10th Street bridge, was a water table, and looking across the river, there was a sizeable crowd heading west on the south side. I checked the Calgary Road Runners' web site later, and discovered that it was the Terry Fox Run. I think next year, we'll have to get a team together for that one.

Back to the foot bridge to Prince's Island, and to The Path Under The Stairs. I had plenty of energy to power up The Path, and still had lots of energy and wind at the top for the sprint over the last kilometre home.

Today's run:
Distance: 16.48 km. Time: 1:25:20. Average speed: 11.6 kph.
Rest distance: 908.8 m. Rest time: 9:00.
Total distance: 17.38 km. Total time: 1:34:20.

Shoes: Saucony Grid Phoenix (Blue)

Weather: Partly cloudy and 1C at the start, but not changing much, to cloudy and 2C at the finish. The wind stayed the whole run, at 40 kph from the north, gusting to 50 kph.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Not Quite So Wet Today

But it's colder, a little, I think. The rain isn't coming down as hard as it was yesterday, and I remembered my windbreaker, too. Now I have to find my running gloves.

Byron came out for another run today, after taking yesterday off. We started at the Y, and ran the 14th Street loop. Even though it wasn't raining as hard today, there were a lot less people out. I don't think it was any colder, but maybe a little windier. Who knows?

We had a pretty good run, though. I managed to keep my feet much drier today, and the insoles in my shoes behaved much better today. I used cotton socks, too, in case the synthetics I was wearing yesterday were a factor, but I never got to test that.

No GPS again today. I forgot to take it home last night to charge it, so I just used the distance posted at the Y for that route, and guesstimated our time. So....

Today's run (all numbers estimated again):
Distance: 4.98 km. Time: 30:00. Average speed: 10.0 kph.

Shoes: Saucony Grid Phoenix (Yellow)

Weather: Light rain and 7C

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

It's Pouring Rain, I Got Really Wet, And I'm Still Cold

So much for the nice fall weather. Today it's raining and cold, but I still wanted to get out and run. I forgot my windbreaker, too, which made it a little more of a challenge. Still, once I got going, I wasn't too cold.

I ran down to the 14th Street bridge and back, and most surprising, met a lot of other runners out pounding the pavement, or splashing in the puddles as it may be. There were even six guys playing rugby on the grass. That would have been too slippery for me.

I had a little trouble with the shoes, too. For most of the run they were OK, but then the right insole started to bunch up under the arch of my foot. I stopped once and got it flattened out, but it lasted about three paces before it started to bunch up again. Hopefully, they won't do that when they're dry again. Right now I have them, and all my other gear, arranged on the floor in front of a fan. That breeze is probably why I still feel chilled.

Most of the run was pretty driven. I guess I had a pretty stressful morning, so I had some tension to burn off. My GPS said I was over 12 kph for the first ten minutes or so. Then the battery died. I guess I forgot to turn it off yesterday.

Anyway, I'll estimate 11.5 kph for the whole run

Today's run (all numbers estimated):
Distance: 4.84 km. Time: 25:15. Average speed: 11.5 kph.

Shoes: Saucony Grid Phoenix (Yellow)

Weather: Rain and 7C.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

I Was Cookin'!

Oh, man, what a great run. Fast and fun, with lots of energy. I really enjoy the distance runs lately.

I had a little motivation today, to get out and done early. Tru was volunteering at Spruce Meadows this morning in the Molson Cup. She suggested I come down after it was done, and she would give me the insider tour.

Anyway, I headed out the usual way, down The Path Under The Stairs and across the foot bridge at Prince's Island, to the promenade near Eau Claire. From there I was off to the west again, to Edworthy Park - the usual route. Across the river again there, and back along Parkdale Boulevard/Memorial Drive, and then up The Path. I felt really good, really strong, and I was (for me) just smokin' along the paths.

Today's run:
Distance: 16.22 km. Time: 1:23:20. Average speed: 11.7 kph.
Rest distance: 1.03 km. Rest time: 9:00.
Total distance: 17.25 km. Total time: 1:32:20.

Shoes: Saucony Grid Phoenix (Blue)

Weather: Mostly cloudy and 15C to start, but sunny and 19C at the end.

By the way, Spruce Meadows was awesome! Tru is very knowledgeable about the sport of show jumping through her children's involvement in it, and it was great to learn about it through her. Her volunteering also gives her a little inside knowledge about the personalities, both horse and human, that blanket the place. Way too fun! And way too much sun - I'm glowing a little (oops).

Friday, September 08, 2006

First Friday of the School Year

Another beautiful day. I don't think I've seen a cloud for a week. And of course, that gets a lot of people out on the paths.

I did a repeat of the last run up to the point where I caught up with Carla and Peter-Mark. This time I continued past the foot bridge to Prince's Island, and went down to the C-Train bridge.

It was a good, fast-feeling run. I've been mostly like that this summer, except for a few times. I think it means I'm still improving.

Today's run:
Distance: 7.68 km. Time: 41:48. Average speed: 11.0 kph.

Shoes: Saucony Grid Phoenix (Yellow)

Weather: Sunny and 19C.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Back to Noon Hours

I haven't done a noon hour run for far too long, so I was ready to correct that today. I got out on the paths, and headed east for a run along the short zoo route. It's really nice out, too, and I felt really good.

On the north side of the river just as I passed under Edmonton Trail, I caught up with Carla and Peter-Mark. I hadn't seen either of them for awhile, so ended up running with them and catching up. Peter-Mark is taking it easy running-wise this week, as he's running the Regina Marathon this upcoming weekend - his third marathon this year.

After we crossed the foot bridge onto Prince's Island we slowed to a walk, and continued the visit until we got to our respective office buildings. Nice run, and even met Chris, out for a really late lunch run.

Today's run:
Distance: 5.39 km. Time: 34:50. Average speed: 9.3 kph.

Shoes: Saucony Grid Phoenix (Yellow)

Weather: Sunny and 24C.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

That's More Like It!

What a fun morning! Everything feels great, and I think I'm back on track. I got a great start, good stretching and warm up, and the run was just fun. Lots and lot of people out, so the paths were full of energy.

This morning I stuck to the north side of the river to start, and headed all the way to Edworthy. While there was never any kind of traffic jam, there were a lot of people out, and it seemed like everyone was glad to be out there. No "serious" runners, if ya catch my drift.

At Edworthy it was the usual, cross to the south and head back. The traffic really thinned out, because the path was supposedly closed. But there were enough people who had gone around the barriers to keep it from feeling lonely.

On the way down to the river I took The Path Under The Stairs, but the way back was by the Centre Street bridge, mostly to add to the distance. Even so I had good speed and felt pretty strong all the way through. Much, much better than I was earlier in the week.

Today's run:
Distance: 16.50 km. Time: 1:30:26. Average speed: 11.0 kph.
Rest distance: 1.05 km. Rest time: 10:00.
Total distance: 17.55 km. Total time: 1:40:26.

Shoes: Saucony Grid Phoenix (Blue)

Weather: Sunny and 17C to start, but quickly heating up to 25C by the time I climbed Nony's Awful Little Hill.

Friday, September 01, 2006

The End of a Tough Week

It's been tough for everything, and nothing really stands out. Just kind of a bleah week all over. And not just me either. I've heard comments from friends, and a couple have come down with some kind of viral infection. Bleah, bleah, bleah... Maybe it's some kind of end-of-summer thing.

Anyway, a hard, slow, painful run to Crowchild tonight. For the last twenty minutes I was resorting to the self talk I usually use at about the 35 km mark: "just to that fence... just to that sign...," just to the next marker, what ever it was.

The paths were nearly deserted. That's typical for a Friday before Labour Day weekend, I suppose. I was OK out bound, sort of, all the way to Crowchild. Crossing to the south side of the river and heading back, I was feeling heavy and a little tired. The little dip under 14th Street seemed hard going down, and the climb out too, even though it was all of fifteen steps or so.

Then just trudging, slogging to 10th Street, where I seriously considered walking the rest of the way. But I kept at it, somehow. At The Path, I just put my head down and kept moving, hoping I would eventually find myself at the top. After that, I felt like I had very little left.

So what the heck is up with all that? Tomorrow is a day off, and wI'll see what Sunday morning is like.

Today's run:
Distance: 9.88 km. Time: 57:50. Average speed: 10.3 kph.

Weather: Sunny and 20C.