An easy week


Last week my coach gave me an easy week, relatively speaking of course. I only ran 68K including two runs on the Stanley Park seawall- a tempo on Tuesday and 5K intervals on Friday. Both run in pouring rain.

Ferry to Vancouver in the rain

Ferry to Vancouver in the rain

Fortunately there was a break in the rain on Sunday morning and I had a wonderful 30K long run with one of my step-daughters and a friend. Both of these ladies are training for the Vancouver Marathon. Although they are much faster than me, they are not yet as used to longer runs. We ran part of the marathon route and they kept me going at a nice steady pace, faster than I would usually go, but still within my aerobic zone. By the end though I may have been pulling them along. Our average kilometre pace for the morning was 5:50 and it was my fastest training long run in decades.

I usually try and take at least one Instagram photo during my long runs. Here are a couple taken from where we ran along the beaches heading towards Vancouver. It was a grey day but at least it wasn’t raining.

Running to Vancouver

Running to Vancouver

Jericho Beach

Jericho Beach

Shoe shopping

New Balance Fresh Foam Zante

New Balance Fresh Foam Zante

This week I also did some running shoe shopping. My favourite shoes so far this year have been the New Balance 1400s for speed work, and New Balance 890s for long road runs. But both pairs are approaching 600 kms and have to be replaced.

Even though the 1400s have worked well for me, they have a high 11 mm heel drop and I was looking for an alternative racer, something less than 11 mm, but not as minimal as the NB Minimus. This year, starting with my Saucony Kinvaras, I had transitioned to lower drop shoes. I got quite excited when the shoe sales person showed me a new New Balance. These Fresh Foam Zantes have a 6 mm heel drop.  Competitor magazine says they are the road shoe of the year. They felt light and comfortable when I tried them on. I even like the vivid violet –Well at least they aren’t pink.

Unfortunately the store hadn’t yet received the women’s New Balance 890 v5,  and I didn’t have time to start visiting other stores. I’ll have to wait until next week. The 890s are my long run shoes. The new version 5 are the shoes I plan to wear for Comrades. Coincidently they are the official Comrades shoe.

Still I was trying to keep an open mind before making a final decision. I had read such good things about Adidas. A few of the top marathoners like them, and my coach wore Adidas for Comrades. I had hoped that there may be a pair suitable for me and I planned to try some out in the store. But it was a case of dislike at first sight. I could tell just by looking at them that they would be too narrow for me. So no more looking around for something better. I’ve committed to New Balance 890s for the big day.


This being a lighter running week I seemed to have more mental energy for sewing and I began a new project, a dress for our trip to South Africa. I’ve also been thinking of experimenting with sewing running clothes and my internet research turned up a couple of interesting blogs by sewers who run:  Scruffy Badger Time, and Fehr trade who also creates and sells patterns for running wear.

So far I’ve bought a running skirt pattern from Jalie Patterns, a Quebec based company. Interesting to have discovered a Quebec based pattern company through a UK blog.

Ten weeks until Comrades and this is going to be a heavy training week– 95K total distance, including back to back 42K and 20K runs this weekend. This is getting serious.

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Beyond reason

Another week, another 82K, including a 37K Saturday run on steep hills. Eleven weeks to go.

Reason is, and only ought to be, the slave of passions, and can never pretend to any other office than to serve and obey them. – David Hume

Posted in Running

12 Weeks until Comrades

I created a new page ( see top menu) where I’ll post a table of each week’s training as I complete it. The tables include total elevation and distance run since January 1. I’m not sure yet how far over 1,000 kms I’ll get before May 31st. The range for achieving my Comrades goal seems to be between 1,000 and 1,450 kms.

The plan is to alternate relatively easy and relatively hard weeks. The longer weekend back-to-back runs ease up one week and then jump ahead the next. There is no easing up on the quality mid-week runs. And there is no respite from the hills.

Being both female and older, I have the disadvantage of relatively less strength in relation to speed. In other words, even if I can run a standard marathon as fast as a hypothetical younger male he will have the advantage on a hilly course. The rule of thumb that says you can estimate your Comrades time to be around 2.5 times marathon time may not hold up for me – unless I do everything I can to improve my strength and prepare for the hills.

On the positive side, being a women gives one a relative advantage in endurance events. Something about how we metabolize fat. Being older even has some compensations. Endurance declines relatively less (compared to speed) with age and older runners are likely to be more sensible when it comes to pacing (critical for Comrades).

The week just finished was an easier week. Only four days of running and 72 total kms. Amazing how the body can continue to adapt. Next weekend will be the start of much longer back-to-back runs.

I just have to try and stop myself from getting too training-obsessed.

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Trying to love hills

Today, a short long run– just 30K. This is supposed to be an easier week. But coach said to include at least 500 metres of total elevation in today’s long run. She says not to worry about pace– to train properly for the Comrades’ hills, you need a lot of hill practice.

So I got out the map and looked for a new hilly route. There is no shortage of hills on this island but I like to add some variety. Figured I’d do some loops around Cape Roger Curtis for a change of scenery. The Cape on Bowen is ideal for hill training. Not only is it very hilly but it has lovely new paved roads and it is is virtually deserted.

Took an Instagram for my running photo collection:

Cape Roger Curtis light

Cape Roger Curtis light

It was a beautiful spring day, running conditions were ideal and I ended up running 988 metres of total elevation– twice as much as I needed to have run. That figure is cumulative elevation. So lots of downs along with the ups. The downs are important for strengthening the quads in preparation for Comrades’ downhills. Even though it is the up route this year, there is lots of downhill too. I checked out the Comrades up run on someone’s Strava record from 2011. Even though the maximum elevation of the route is about 900 metres, the cumulative elevation over the 87 K is 2,010 metres. So I’d say that my run today with 988 metres over 30 K was good training. I just hope I can manage tomorrow’s run. The hamstrings are starting to fell a bit delicate.

Yes, I am starting to love the hills. Having seen the Comrades route last October, and felt the fear, I have to believe that training on my beautiful local hills will give me my best chance against Comrades annihilation.

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Canadian Comrades

Canadian ComradesAndrea Moritz (center) Canada’s official Comrades Marathon ambassador, brought the spirit of Comrades to Vancouver this weekend. Andrea, visiting from Ottawa, organized a get together for aspiring Comrades and Comrades veterans. It was great to meet new running friends and to experience the wonderful comaraderie associated with this great ultra race. The BC Comrades contingent is seems to be few in number but there are a total of 61 Canadians registered this year.

Susan Hui, second from right and Andrea have run three and four Comrades respectively. Note Susan’s Canadian Comrades team shirt from last year. The Canadian team’s shirt for this year also looks amazing and I love that it includes a polar bear.

Comrades may be the Ultimate human race but it seems like no one is satisfied doing it just once. I’ve now been warned that once will not be enough and this could be the beginning of a never-ending race.

Andrea and Susan shared lots of useful information and advice, and told some amazing stories about their experiences. As if I wasn’t excited enough already.

Mervyn, above right, an ex-South African and I, both novices, are the only ones from the group above planning to run Comrades 2015. Unfortunately, for various reasons, the others can’t be there this year, but I don’t doubt that I’ll be seeing them all again.

shirtAndrea brought some beautiful Comrades supporter technical shirts for us from the 2014 race. I think these shirts are similar to the finisher shirts. New Balance is a big Comrades sponsor and they do make nice shirts. I haven’t earned the right to wear a Comrades supporter shirt just yet. I’ll wait until I’ve distributed the Comrades Marathon brochures Andrea gave me, to various running stores in town. Although the regular registration period closed in November, there is an entry substitution period coming up in April.

Oh yes, Andrea also brought some other fun Comrades gifts- stickers and beadwork in the colours of the South African flag. I plan to wear the little bead necklace when I’m training to remind me of why I am running. Not that I need a reminder.

My selfie attempt was a failure but the effort was nicely captured by Pat Cheung (left in the photo above):

Photo by Pat Cheung

Photo by Pat Cheung

And so with just 13 weeks to go- here is what my training looked like last week.

Feb 23-March 1Training SummaryElevation metresAvg PaceTotal Kms
MondayGym- 1 hour strength, core, dynamic stretch, balance,
Tuesday Hill intervals on treadmill- 4%, 6%, 8%, 10% grades7:1210
WednesdayRecovery run Gym 20 min416:146
ThursdayTempo, including 14K @5:16 pace1105:3118
FridayGym 20 min
SaturdayHilly road- practicing some Comrades elevation8786:2535
SundayRecovery trail run1917:2010
Week totals1,22079
Total Year-to-date5,742511

The highlights of the week were my tempo run in Tofino and my long Bowen Island run where I managed to cover 35 kms including 878 metres of elevation. I felt good and strong at the time but by Sunday’s 10K I was tired. Sunday’s run, the second and shorter of key back-to-back runs, is going to start getting longer now. Running on tired legs is the point.

I’m resting today after some gym work and hoping I’ll be recovered enough to start the process all over again on Tuesday.

Posted in Running Tagged |