Friday, May 28, 2010

Still Winter...?

It's not that bad, but there was still snow on the ground earlier this morning after yesterday's snowfall.

I redid the route that I ran on Wednesday, except this time I cut off the loop around the zoo. That seemed to extend the run without adding much too the hill work. Running from Nose Creek through the zoo parking lot is a pretty gentle slope, and not much of a climb.

Only a couple of pairs of geese were on the path this time, although they were pretty aggressive about protecting the little ones. It's the only time they hiss at me. It's also that time of year when they leave a mess all over the trail in some places, so that a run becomes a bit of a dance.

I did all right on the hills. They aren't all that long, but they're a little steep, which I'm hoping is enough preparation for the next weekend. I'm pretty sure I won't be running on anything nearly as steep.

I over dressed again too. It's a little cool, but not cold enough to sustain snow, which is what I dressed for.

Today's run:
Distance: 10.83 Time: 1:07:42
Average speed: 6.15 min/km. (9.60 kph)

Shoes: New Balance 769 (Yellow 2).
Weather: Fog and 4C.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

I'm Back!

Been gone for a couple of weeks, but now I'm back, and I need to start getting into shape for the next big race, which is, um... 4 days away? Sheesh.

Anyway, I did do hills again. This time I stayed on the north side of the river instead of crossing over and running through the East Village. In doing so and trying to cut down my running distance by maybe half a kilometre, I almost got taken out by a goose.

They're back, though they never really left. However they've been messing up the sidewalks and trails in places, so running suddenly becomes an ankle strengthening exercise. Past Centre Street, a pair on the side of the path started hissing at me before I even got close. I ignored them, but as I ran past I was startled byt the goslings hiding in the grass as they suddenly started down the slope to the river.

At the Langevin bridge, a group of school kids were stopped underneath, watching a goose standing on the pier holding the north end of the bridge up. Of course the thing was spooked, being only a couple of feet above the heads of the kids, and decided to make a dash for the river. And of course, just as I was running past. I'm sure that it would have taken me out if I hadn't ducked.

After that, the run was pretty dull. The dinosaurs at the zoo were roaring again, and at the far end a small herd of mule deer lounged in an enclosure. What I thought were bison the last time I went by turned out to be musk ox. This time they were close to the fence and looking my way.

Under Memorial along Nose Creek, then up through the zoo parking lots, the first hill. Down St.George's Drive, then up the path to the top of Tom Campbell's Hill, the second hill. Down Thompson Street, and winding around to 2nd Avenue, 11A Street and climbing a narrow steep path to Drury Avenue, the third hill.

Drury Avenue down to 4th Avenue, then up 4th Street to 7th Avenue, the fourth hill. 7th to Edmonton Trail then 3rd Street, then up 2nd Avenue, the fifth hill. 2nd Avenue, to Samis Road, then across Centre Street and up Nony's Awful Little Hill, the sixth hill.

Down The Path Under The Stairs, then along the path behind Sunnyside, and up one of the new paths slashed across the bluff to the end of 4th Street (West), the seventh hill. then down the path from there to almost the trail behind Sunnyside, and up the next new path to near the end of 7A Street, the eighth hill.

I hope a couple more times of that is enough preparation to survive BJR.

Anyway, not a bad run given I've been slacking for two weeks.
L n K

Today's run:
Distance: 12.76 Time: 1:21:01
Average speed: 6.21 min/km. (9.45 kph)

Shoes: New Balance 769 (Blue).
Weather: Cloudy and 13C.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Change Up

So, looking ahead to what I've got myself into for the Banff Jasper Relay, I thought maybe it's time to change things around a little. It's a little late to be training for hills, but better late than never.

Back in 2005, when I first moved into the area north of downtown, I was training for the Calgary Marathon, and had figured up a route that would take me up and down the bluff in Bridgeland, on the east side of Centre Street. So I thought I'd try and retrace that route.

A gorgeous day, and I should have been out in the morning, but I've had a lot of little tasks to take care of lately. Anyway, midafternoon was a fine time to run. I did waffle on whether to go that route as I ran down The Path and across the bridge to Prince's Island. I probably should have stayed to the north side of the river, but part of the waffling was that I could head west as usual.

But I went east.

Not far past the Centre Street bridge, I ran into the ongoing construction. They have the river path blocked and most of that area is a parking lot for construction materials and equipment, but there is a sidewalk along Riverfront Avenue now.

At the Langevin bridge, the connection to 4th Street is gone, moved farther east. All the East Village development is changing the arrangement and look of the area. It's still empty, but now it looks like it's being built instead of being abandoned to the drug users and homeless.

The river side is all fenced off, so I followed the edge of it along Riverfront Avenue, on new paving stone sidewalks, past the Simmons mattress building, one of the few buildings left in the area. Looks like it's being used as a project office for the redevelopment.

I found a path between fencing into the park behind Fort Calgary, where a new water feature has been built, and then was able to get to the old suspension bridge to St. Patricks Island. The east end of the island is the zoo, of course, but the west end was once a picnic area, left to become overgrown and unused in the time I've lived here. Even there, though, there's been some cleaning up, with the wild bush removed and new benches installed.

At the zoo parking lot, where Zoo Road skirts the zoo from Memorial Drive and crosses the river to Inglewood, I sprinted across the street. City workers had the access gate into the zoo open, and I could see one of the tigers lounging in his cage just on the other side. Big stripey orange on green spring grass.

At the other end of the short bridge across the part of the river that makes St. Patrick's Island an island, I got on the river path again. Between the path and Memorial Drive, is the dinosaur park part of the zoo, and they've installed some Animatronic versions of the old standbys. The tail of ankylosaur was slowly thrashing in the air just across the fence as I first approached, and near the bridge from the main gate to the island part of the zoo, there was a carnivore of some kind roaring at something. Probably a tyrannosaur.

On the other side of that bridge, is the North American exhibits, though the fence and trees and bush screened that from the river path. I did see some bison lounging at the very end though, as the path turned northward to follow Nose Creek, along the Deerfoot Trail.

More construction; the zoo is building something there, so lots of dust being raised. Crossing under Memorial Drive, I was going to run up the road through the Zoo parking lot but all of that has been rebuilt, so the road actually goes farther north. I just ran over a berm and found myself in the huge new bus stop. It was deserted, too late in the day for school tours, I guess.

The hill climb through the zoo parking lot isn't particularly steep, and it's rather long. Not much challenge. At the top, I came out along side St. George's Drive and follewed it down the hill. I crossed there and began the steep climb up to Tom Campbells Hill Park.

This is the start of the winding through Bridgeland. Tom Campbells Hill marks the east end of the bluff, so as I come out the park gate and on the street, I'm immediately running downhill on Thomson Avenue, which switchbacks onto another street, which switchbacks again onto yet another street that ends up curving into 2nd Avenue. Fairly steep but not too bad.

A block down 2nd Avenue past a school, 11A Avenue runs uphill a block, ending in a steep path that climbs up to a cul-de-sac, on which I again descend. I could have gone further uphill here, to another street just above, and I'll keep that in mind for next time.

At 10th Street I climbed upward a block, then followed the long descending curve of Drury Avenue as it follows the face of the bluff. It joins up with 5th Avenue and 8th Street, then another three blocks east, then south a block to 4th Avenue. Whew!

At 4th Street, I charged up the hill again. 4th Street is ridiculously steep. The sidewalk becomes a stairway for a bit, then a sidewalk again before disappearing all together. It's also a ridiculously narrow street, with barely room for one car after all the parking on either side. Must be tricky parking on such a slope.

At the top of this, at 7th Avenue, it's a couple of blocks to Edmonton Trail, and past my favourite diner. I started the descent down Edmonton Trail, then kept to the right and followed 3rd Street rather than Edmonton Trail's curve eastward. Over the hump in the middle of all the hill side condos and down hill again, to 2nd Avenue.

2nd Avenue is insanely steep, one of those streets where you wonder what the heck somebody was thinking when they built it. The sidewalks are stairways, and at some point long before I moved here, both ends of the block between 3rd Street and 2nd Street were blocked off. I even wonder how they managed to pave such a slope. But it's a great climb.

At the top, it's another block to Samis road, which descends steeply to the top of the Centre Street bridge. And after sprinting across Centre Street, I was chugging up Nony's Awful Little Hill.

Next time I'll continue down The Path again, and up and down the new trails slashed across the face of the bluff above Sunnyside, but for this run I needed to get home and showered as I was meeting friends in a short while.

In all I climbed the bluff six times along this route, after rounding the east end of the zoo. Judging by the burn in my legs, I got a bit of a workout.
L n K

Yesterday's run:
Distance: 12.07 Time: 1:13:37
Average speed: 6.05 min/km. (9.84 kph)

Shoes: New Balance 769 (Blue).
Weather: Cloudy and 13C.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Mothers Day Run

My big decision was how to get there. I mean, it's close enough to walk, about 2 km to the start and finish lines. Would I be up to walking home after? And if the weather were to be icky, would I have to deal with a coat, or could I manage without?

I hopped in the car about an hour before. I figured if I got there early enough, I could get into one of the big parkades along 10th Avenue. But of course, the route went down 10th Avenue, and it also was on 1st Street SE and 5th Street SW, so all access to those parkades was blocked by the time I got downtown. Probably had been since the wee hours.

I drove away from the area, and every parking spot was taken. I still had plenty of time before the start, so I went home. And then I did what I should have done from the start, and treated it like a usual Sunday run.

So I went home, pinned my number to my vest, and strapped the timing chip on my shoe. Then out the door and down to the bluff, along the bluff to Centre Street. I ran along Centre all the way to the Calgary Tower, where the start line was. And still had fifteen minutes to wait before the start. It took about 12 minutes to cover the 2 km.

By the time I got down there, it had started to rain, just a light drizzle. There was a bit of a breeze, but it was screened by all the people around. I paced a little around the crowd, stretching calves at the curb.

About five minutes to start, I got into a place between the 5 min/km and 6 min/km pace signs and bounced a little to the music while an aerobics instructor type tried to lead the crowd through some warm up moves. By then the rain had turned to snow, and I think people just wanted to get going.

The wheelchair racers left first, and five minutes later the rest of us got the starting gun. Of course there was the usual surge forward a few paces, and wait, until those in front were able to funnel through the start, and then I covered the 15 metres or so to the start line, and off we went.

Down 9th Avenue, it was pretty crowded. This is a big race and there are a lot of people around. Traffic wasn't too constrictive though, and I was making pretty good time.

I noticed about then that with all the highrise buildings around, I'd lost contact with the GPS system. The darn thing said my pace was over twenty minutes.

At 5th Street we turned south, and the crowd filled the four lanes, even were up on the sidewalks in places. It was a bit of a blur.

I had intended to hold back some, not be so fast, and just enjoy the run, but I guess I'm naturally competitive, cuz I found I was pushing hard, and dodging around slower runners. For the most part there was room to maneuver but occasionally I would get boxed in by runners.

I remember crossing 17th Avenue, and then we were into a narrower stretch of street. I don't think it's narrower, but it always feels so when I drive that way. Most of my attention was on moving forward, and passing and going around others. They had split the road with 10 km runners on the right and 5 km runners on the left. At 25th Street, the 5 km runners went east and the crowd thinned a little.

On Elbow drive we crossed to the far side of the road, letting traffic have the western side. I tried to stay to the middle of the street as much as possible. The chambre of the curb lane was pretty sloped and I find that if I run on such sideways slopes for any length of time, my knees and ankles begin to complain.

It's a lovely part of the city, very nice to run through, but my attention was still on traffic. This is one busy and crowded race.

Just across the Elbow, we turned left onto Landsdowne Avenue, then Centre Boulevard, and on to 42 Avenue through Stanley Park. A total blur. I'm getting the street names from my map book cuz I don't know that part of town at all. At one point there was a walkway from 42nd Avenue onto 1A Street, with one of those posts in the middle that is supposed to prevent people from shortcutting by driving down the sidewalk. Wonder if anyone hit it?

This stretch was all up and down. Not big hills, but they pulled at the calves going up. At first they slowed me down a lot. At 34th Avenue, we went left, a long gentle climb. I felt much stronger on the uphill side and pushed quite hard up the three blocks or so to the top. We were on the left, and those ahead of us were coming back on the right.

Somewhere up near end of the street we reversed directions, and headed down the hill again, this time all the way to Mission Road, where we turned a hairpin corner to continue down hill toward 4th Street. More blur and surrounded by people. On the bridge over the Elbow, just before 26th Avenue, and older couple were walking against the runners, along the edge. Taking the chance to walk on the street instead of the narrow walkway on the bridge.

At 25th Street, we met the tide of humanity coming from 5th Street on the 5 km route. By now most of the 5 km runners were long past, but there are a huge number of people who walk the route. They were kept to the left side of 4th street, while us runners were on the right again.

About now I was having fun cruizing along near the pylons in the center of the street. 4th has that steep chambre toward the gutters too, and I needed the flatter terrain toward the centre of the street. Others were doing the same, so there was some dodging around each other.

Turned right at 11th Avenue and went for a block. Unexpectedly for me, we turned left at 2nd Street, and then right onto 10th Avenue, and then we were running past all those parkades that I thought I'd be able to get into.

We ran a few blocks to McLeod Trail northbound, around the corner and then under the tracks toward Olympic Plaza. Halfway out of the underpass on the far side were the mats that are placed at the finish line, so I started my final sprint. I crossed that line quite decisively. Except it was the finish line for the 5 km, I think. Nobody was slowing down.

I kept going with the rest, and then right in front of City Hall was the real finish line. The track narrowed quite a bit, so with dodging the suddenly crowded field, my crossing of the line wasn't quite so definitive.

I walked with the crowd down the street, past tables full of fruit and drinks. I grabbed a banana and wolfed it down, chugged a chocolate milk, and then looped back for another banana and chocolate milk. I wandered a while, looking for the volunteers who snip the zip strap holding the timer chip on my shoe laces, but finally asked someone where they were. Apparently we get to keep the chip.

At that point, I was cooling down and feeling a bit of a chill. So I shuffled through the crowd to its edge, crossed the C-Train track and ran through the downtown to the Centre Street bridge. Going uphill on it, I could feel the wind. I wasn't warming up much form my exertion, and even Nony's Awful Little Hill didn't warm me up much.

The Garmin said I'd run over 13 km, but given that it was 2 km to the start, that the race was 10 km, and the finish line was a couple of blocks farther from home than the start, I don't believe it. It was probably more like 15 km.

I don't know exactly when I crossed the start after the gun went off, but when I crossed the finish line, the clock was at 52:23. So my race time is probably around 50 minutes.

It was fun though, even with the rain and snow.

Ah. The official results are already posted:
My official time is 51:23 for a pace of 5:09.
I was 503rd out of 2284, 375th out of 1008 males, 39th out of 151 in my age group.

Pretty darn good finish!
L n K

As for the whole run, I'll post the bogus results:
Today's run:
Distance: 13.71 Time: 1:23:59
Average speed: 6.07 min/km. (9.79 kph)

Shoes: New Balance 769 (Blue).
Today's earworm: Wish you were here.
Weather: Light snow and 1C.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Dodging the Weather

It wasn't all that nice out last night, still occasionally snowing or raining, and windy. Plus tired and not feeling well. So I wimped out. Hate when I do that.

So this morning, I was determined to make up for that and get out first thing. I'm glad I waited, cuz it's a gorgeous morning. It was still a tad chilly, but no wind and the clouds were just starting to move in.

I remember looking up at a few indistinct puffy blobs floating in from the south as I descended The Path, and then noticing how the sky was full of them by the time I finished. I'm still tired I guess. It was one of those runs were my attention was pulled inward and I run on autopilot.

I did vow to tackle The Path as aggressively as possible. It's fairly steep and a good 250 metres long. Some belated hill training...

I've signed up for the Banff Jasper Relay through the company I work with, and a couple of days ago, they emailed everyone on the team to send in our top three preferences as to which leg we wanted to run. I've always been game to give any position a shot, and I said so after listing the three legs that I thought I'd enjoy most.

Yesterday I learned I have been assigned the the section called Big Bend. The route descriptions rate each leg as easy, moderate or hard, and this one is the only one rated very hard.

Starting at an altitude of 5500 feet above sea level, I will climb up to about 6700 feet over the first six kilometres. The next three kilometres are virtually flat, another couple of hundred feet upward on the next kilometre, and then a steady drop to about 6400 feet by the end at 15.7 kilometres. Ain't gonna be setting any speed records, but I will finish.

However, it is a rather scenic stretch, as I will end just past the Columbia Ice Fields.
L n K

Today's run:
Distance: 10.17 Time: 59:47
Average speed: 5:52 min/km. (10.21 kph)

Shoes: New Balance 769 (Blue).
Today's earworm: Always.
Weather: Sunny and 1C.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Another Brush with a Lingering Winter

Man, snow comes and it goes. At least all the snow we got in the last 24 hours melted pretty much on contact. I didn't hear of any problems outside of the city either. It was just a cold windy grey day.

But not so cold I couldn't run. In fact it was quite decent for running.

I got home later than usual from work, but managed to get changed and out the door again before 6:00. The wind wasn't too bad in the neighbourhood, but as I approached the bluff it got stronger in the more open terrain.

Down The Path, across Memorial and on to the path. Quiet out there tonight. There weren't a lot of people out on the north side at least. The detour around the bridge construction is all fences now, and the temporary bridge they're building is almost all the way across.

The path under the Louise Bridge is also blocked, with all the work they're doing there. And I have no idea what it's all for, but I suppose it'll reveal itself eventually.

Straight run all the way to Crowchild, and just across that, on the south side of the river is when I started to run into some traffic. Not the usual herd of cyclists, though there were enough of those. There were lots of runners out, and it may be because of the time. By then, I suppose everyone has had a chance out for their runs.

Because of the construction, the promenade is blocked with temporary fences, and foot traffic is detoured out to 1st Avenue. There are more fences now, plus newly planted hedges and a strip of sidewalk, to direct people to the street and not trample the lawn.

More unremarkable running until The Stairs. I bounded up the two flights to the landing that meets The Path, and found myself in a big crowd of runners. They had set a pace slightly faster than I usually run it, and I enjoyed pushing to stay with them. At the top, the crowd thinned and then stopped at the top of The Stairs, so I had to thread may way through.

After that, just a push to the end.
L n K

Today's run:
Distance: 10.11 Time: 59:01
Average speed: 5:50 min/km. (10.28 kph)

Shoes: New Balance 769 (Blue).
Today's earworm: Longing.
Weather: Light snow and 1C.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Motivation Vacation

It's been hard to get my backside out there and running this past week. The weather has been pretty ugly, but I've run in worse weather. I think I used that as an excuse to dodge doing the real work of getting out there and running.

Today was quite nice, just a little bit cool, perfect to run in. I got a bit of an early start too, early enough to get just ahead of all the running groups starting out from Eau Claire. Aside from those crowds, there were lots out taking advantage of the weather.

Running through the Lawrey Gardens was pretty quiet. There were a few people but not like the other side of the river. The gates are still across the path beside the Douglas fir forest, and the little trails around the ends are getting pretty well pounded down.

The ice has been removed at the natural springs, so it's all bare wet pavement. It's still pretty thick on the side, so it's a bit like running down a shallow trench. Even so, things are greening up nicely along the river bank.

I feel the tightness in the hips. It wasn't too bad on the outbound part of the run. After crossing the river at Edworthy, as usual I picked up the pace a little, and then I started to feel it. It didn't seem to slow me down much, or mess up my pace, but there was a definite ache, which lingers as I write this.

There's lots of construction now. There's the Peace Bridge, which has all the redirection in place and a temporary path that runs right against the curb of Memorial Drive. Before that is all the construction at the old Parks office, and even further west, probably about where 12th Street would be, if it was allowed to join Memorial. No indication as to what they are doing there, just lots of temporary fencing around much manly digging and dirt moving.

I got to the bottom of The Stairs and considered changing the routine. Instead of pushing up The Path Under The Stairs, I decided to forge west on the path that circles around Sunnyside along the bottom of the bluff.

They built some nice paths that slash across the face of the bluff, so I took the first one that climbs diagonally toward the top of the bluff between 4th and 5th Streets. And where it joins another path that slashes the other way to meet the end of 4th Street, I followed it downward again. Near the bottom another path slashed upward again to meet the top near 7A Street.

Then I followed the top of the bluff back to 4th Street where I usually head northward and homeward. These trails are for the most part not as steep as The Path, but it added at least a kilometre to my run. A kinder, gentler bit of hill work to finish off.
(L n K)

Today's run:
Distance: 17.39 Time: 1:38:29
Average speed: 5:39 min/km. (10.59 kph)
Rest distance: 1.00 km. Rest time: 10:00.
Total distance: 18.39 km. Total time: 1:48:29.

Shoes: New Balance 769 (Blue).
Weather: Partly cloudy and 5C, rising to 9C.