Portrait of a woodpecker

Pileated woodpecker

Pileated woodpecker

Perhaps it is a sign that fall is coming– there seems to be more woodpecker activity than usual around our house: Northern Flickers, Downy and Hairy woodpeckers, and Red-breasted sapsuckers. Often they are either just out of range for a good photo, or else I can’t get my camera out in time.

But yesterday I was lucky to get some good shots of a male Pileated as he hunted for insects in some rotting logs. You can tell it’s a male by the band of red along his jaw. We also saw his mate and heard them both chattering as they flew around. This handsome fellow was quite bold and not even my rambunctious almost six- year-old grandson could put him off his meal. We were only about 10 metres away from the woodpecker when I took his picture with a 400 mm zoom.

Posted in Photoblog

Light as a feather

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Pond weed with feather

I often sit by our pond with my camera and watch for wildlife. This morning I tried without success (yet) to photograph fish. Herons have visited regularly over the summer but there are still lots of small fish swimming in the shallows. By the time I post a fish picture, I’ll make sure I know what kind of fish they are.

Even though I didn’t get a fish, I like my photo of the day.  The morning light made the pond weed glow and the delicate white feather made a lovely contrast.

Posted in Photoblog

When worlds collide

Although I always prefer to photograph wildlife in their natural environment, the occasional closer encounter can’t always be avoided. (No animals were harmed for these photos)

These little brown bats (Myotis lucifugus) are adorable. We often find them spending the day inside our patio umbrellas.

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Pacific chorus frogs (Pseudacris regilla ) are heard more often than they are seen but we sometimes find them in the most unexpected places. This little guy was enjoying hanging out between the deck boards.

Hanging out

Sometimes he would climb out of the crack but seemed reluctant to leave it.

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Posted in Photoblog

Back on track

The week ended much better than it had started and, touch wood, I seem to be back on track. New Salomon trail running shoes felt fantastic on my island runs. The Sense 4 Ultras, made especially for soft wet ground, are my first pair of Salomons and I like them a lot. They are light, fit well, have a low heel drop, and an ingenious quick lacing system. Oh yes, and I love that they are red.

Salomon S-Lab Sense 4 Ultra

Salomon S-Lab Sense 4 Ultra

As well as running twice on our usual Crippen Park trails last week, my husband, a daughter, and I hiked the mysterious Mid-island trail. This trail is not included in the recently published Bowen trail guide and staff at the Bowen visitor centre had never heard of it. The trails on Bowen are not well-marked and some have conflicting signage but I think we’ve finally figured out the Handloggers’ Half Marathon route, which includes the Mid-island trail. Before running/racing the course in September, we wanted to hike Handloggers first.  On previous attempts we’ve made some wrong turns but we’ve sorted it out now.

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Ironic Bowen Island trail signage

On Sunday, we went to Vancouver for a long run on the seawall. Waiting for the ferry in Snug Cove I noticed another direction sign which also made me smile:

Very Bowen

Very Bowen

Our long run on Vancouver’s seawall was perfectly timed to take in the Hare Krishna festival. At 24K I turned onto Beach Avenue and found myself running next to the parade. The Hare Krishna chanting gave me a boost and I finished my run with energy to spare.

Hare Krishna parade

Hare Krishna parade

At Ceperley Park there were Hare Krishna displays and vegetarian food. I made a slight detour for some quick snaps and nostalgia.

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I’ve been an on and off again vegetarian since the 70s and have even given up meat for years at a time. Currently I’m trending vegetarian again. I don’t eat meat very often but I’m married to a meat-lover so it is hard to avoid, and I’m rather conflicted about the whole business. Fortunately my husband likes my vegetarian cooking as well but I like to tease him with this sort of thing:

Hare Krishna poster

Hare Krishna poster

And now another week begins. This week I’m supposed to run 67K. But this week I’m going to be balancing all that yang activity with some yin. On the recommendation of my massage therapist I’ve registered for yin yoga. I’m also going to reduce yang by cutting out the competitive speed interval sessions, and doing more gentle trail running.

Posted in Running, Training

Ramping up

Up and down

Up and down

The post-ultra reverse taper seemed to be going OK. After Comrades this is what I did:

  • Week 1-2 –no running for 12 days, then a couple of very easy short runs.
  • Week 3 –16K easy
  • Week 4– 28K easy
  • Week 5– 45K, and I picked up the pace for a couple of the runs.
  • Week 6 –32K for the week including some speed intervals
  • Week 7 –46K, including the 10K Summerfast race. My 50 minute time at Summerfast made me think it was all systems go.

Then last week, eight weeks since Comrades, I resumed interval training with my Tuesday night group. It was fun to be back running the seawall, I felt fast and it was such a beautiful evening. My last mile took 7:05.

Later that week things went downhill. I came down with a bad case of the plods– my scheduled tempo run on Thursday was a disaster and I finished the week with a super slow 20K trail run, checking my watch every 5 minutes and wishing it would be over.

What happened? Did I not allow enough recovery after Comrades? Was it a mistake to run a 10K race and then do intervals the week after? Probably it was all of the above. Even though my total weekly distance wasn’t excessive, the speedwork had really beaten me up. The reality is that for us oldsters, recovery times are much longer.

In the meantime I’d read a few scary stories about overtraining syndrome. (OTS)  I’m not at that stage but I’ve been warned and I will be more careful. I Run Far has some good advice on recovering from Ultra Marathons and how not to overdo things.

I took an extra couple of rest days this week. I’m going to replace one of my running days with biking, and do more yoga, stretching, and walking. And I’ve decided to scratch the Eastside 10K in September off my race list this year. I don’t want to risk another bad training week a month before the Victoria Marathon.

Hopefully I’ll finish this week back on track.

Posted in Running, Training