Monday, October 31, 2016

2016 Year in Review

Well, it's been a couple of weeks since my last blog post, and this one will be my last as the designated blogger for October. I have really enjoyed writing the blog, and I was hoping on writing a few more entries than I ultimately ending up writing. That is due in part to the fact that I was away on my honeymoon this past week! I did much more eating than running on my vacation, although I did get in one brief 4 km run. So, this post won't be including any training recaps or fun race stories. Instead, I'm going to do a review of my 2016 running season, discussing my goals, my training, and my results.

As I mentioned in my running backstory post earlier this month, I came into 2016 feeling unsatisfied with my results in 2015. I had decided to take a step back from my other sports, and I was hopeful that that would allow me to dedicate some more time to proper running training and allow me to improve my times. Heading into the 2016 season, I had 5 races/distances that I wanted to improve on. Here they are, with my PB at the start of the 2016 season and my goal time for the 2016 season:

Pre-2016 PB 2016 Goal
5 km 22:47 21:30
8 km 38:21 35:20
10 km 48:07 45:00
Tely 10 80:04 75:00
C2C 1:56:29 1:50:00

My primary focus for the year was the Tely, and I used a tool called Craig's Running Calculator at to determine my other goals from there. Obviously trying to lower my Tely time by 5 minutes was ambitious, but I was confident that if I trained hard enough that goal was within reach.

When I began running in early January, I didn't have any real specifics as to how much I planned to run, and my approach at that point was to do a steady run on the treadmill twice a week and do weight training the other two days. This was the base of my training from early January right through to the Boston Pizza Flat Out 5k in early April. I would run a 4 mile run on Tuesday and a 3 mile run on Thursday, with strength training Monday and Wednesday. I started at a pace of 6.9 mph (5:26/km) and rampped up by 0.2 mph each week, topping out at 8.1 mph (4:38/km). I ran the Flat Out in a time of 23:31, which I felt was a decent time for an early season 5 km on a wet, cold day. My goal for the year was a 21:30 5 km, but the plan all along was to aim for that at the Five and Dime in September.

After the race, I had a good conversation with Marc about training approaches to improve your times. He mentioned that he had a spreadsheet that someone had given him, that had originally come from Derrick Roul. It outlined a 12 week interval training program, and would give you suggested training paces based on your goal time for a given distance. This sounded like a great tool, so I got Marc to send it to me and began my interval training. The great thing about the program was that it called for interval running on Tuesday and Thursday and a long run on Sunday, so this allowed me to keep up my twice weekly weight training as well. 

Since the 12 week window for the Tely didn't start until early May, I spent the 3 weeks leading up to that time as a trial run. I entered a 72 minute Tely goal time into the spreadsheet, thinking it would be good to push harder than my goal, and then did my best to run the speeds and distances that were suggested. Bad idea! The Tuesday workouts were short intervals (less than 400 m), and I was able to push through those, but the Thursday workouts were long intervals (800-1600 m), and they were killer. I found myself completing half or less of the suggested number of intervals. Some quick internet research, and a chat with Marc, confirmed that while it is a good idea to run a little faster than your current pace when trying to improve, pushing too hard is counter-productive and can lead to injury. Lesson learned.

The beginning of May came and I settled into the 12 week program, using my goal time of 75 minutes to set the pace. All of these interval runs were done on the treadmill, as I prefer the consistency of the pace and distance when doing these workouts. I got outside for a couple of 10 km runs on my own in early May, my first long runs of the year, but then I got sick the 3rd week of May and missed a full week of training. I'm pretty sure the cold was brought on in part by fatigue, as I was now doing 2 hard interval workouts, 2 strength workouts, and a long run each week. I decided at this point to cut out the weight training for the remainder of the running season, which I think was a very wise decision.

While the interval training was a change in my training routine, the change that occurred at the beginning of June was actually the biggest of the year for me: I went for a run with some of the guys from PRC. Up to this point, in my nearly 3 years of running, including training for 3 Tely 10s, 3 C2Cs, and a marathon, I had done every single training run by myself. From 20 minute light jogs on a treadmill up to 3 hour, 32 km long runs around Mount Pearl, every step I had taken in training was taken solo. Now, I think there are benefits to be had from running alone, and I will likely write a post of my thoughts on that someday. But having made the switch to running my long runs with the group this year, I can definitely say the benefits of group running are greater.

So, June brought a few training runs with the guys, and it also brought my second race of the year, the 10 km at the Uniform Services Run. I hadn't run this one before, and speaking with Marc beforehand he said it wasn't a great course for a PB. My plan was to push for my 2016 10 km goal at the Turkey Tea in October, and after talking to Marc I knew aiming for 45:00 at the USR wasn't a good idea. I still decided to go for my old PB of 48:07, and I ended up crossing the finish line at 47:59 on my watch, with an official time of 48:07. Given it was still early in the year and a difficult course, I was happy with that result.

Heading into July, I was feeling good about where my fitness level was heading into the Tely. I got a long run in with Andrew G and Todd on Canada Day, and then I ran 35:26 at the Mews 8 km, which was only 6 seconds off my goal for the year. At this point, I was cautiously optimistic about my chances for a sub 75 minute Tely. To be honest, I felt on the right day I could potentially push closer to 72 than 75. Unfortunately, as anyone who ran the race knows, July 24, 2016 was definitely NOT the right day. The race started out great, and I passed through 8 km right around my Mews time of 35:26 (4:26/km). But then it got hot. Really hot. I passed through 10 km at 45:23, which meant I had slowed to a 5:00/km pace between 8 and 10 km. If I could manage to keep that pace, I'd be right around 75 minutes. But the heat, combined with the fact that the last 6 km includes the toughest stretch of the course, meant that it wasn't in the cards. I crossed the finish line with a chip time of 76:20. Now, I was proud of the fact that I had dropped my PB in the race by 3:44. I know that is something to be proud of. But the Tely was my goal for the year, and I REALLY wanted to crack 75. So this one stung.

I went to the PRC Tely After Party, and my race was quickly put in perspective. I'm actually probably lucky no one smacked me upside the head. "You are disappointed with a near 4:00 PB in today's conditions?!!" After I heard that two or three times, I figured I needed to re-calibrate. Thankfully, Andrew G was there to help. We had run side by side for most of the long runs I had done with the group up to that point, and his words of congratulations and support were exactly what I needed. He knew how much I wanted to hit my time, but he also made it clear to me that the time is only part of the story. He knew how hard I'd trained, he knew where my fitness was, and he assured me that on a better day, I would have killed 75 minutes. I know I've praised Andrew up a few times in my blogs already, and anyone who knows him knows he deserves every word of it. But of all the things he did to help me become a better runner this year, that talk was probably the most important. It helped reset my mind and reset my focus for the races yet to come.

Throughout August and into early September, I restarted the interval training, and increased my speeds to be based on a 72 minute Tely instead of a 75 minute. I also took advantage of the fact that most of my running group (Andrew/Marc/Kiley/Todd) were training for either the full or half marathon at Maritime Race Weekend. I would usually meet up with them 1/3 or 1/2 way through their long runs, provide them with a pit stop, and then join in for the remainder. This provided the dual benefit of getting my distance runs in on some great routes designed by the guys, and also further opportunities to glean as much wisdom as possible from the guys. Early September brought the 5 km at the Five and Dime, and while I didn't hit my goal of 21:30, I came awfully close with a 21:41. That set the stage for a strong finish to the season, which I won't hit in detail as it's been covered in my previous blogs.

In the end, I ran 7 races in 2016, and I came away with a PB in all but the first one. I didn't hit all my goals, but by the end of the year I had dropped my 5 km PB by over a minute, my 8 km by almost 3 minutes, my 10 km by over 4:30, my Tely by 3:44, and my C2C by a whopping 15:15.

Pre-2016 PB 2016 Goal 2016 Time
5 km 22:47 21:30 21:41
8 km 38:21 35:20 35:26
10 km 48:07 45:00 43:24
Tely 10 80:04 75:00 76:20
C2C 1:56:29 1:50:00 1:41:14

I can be overly hard on myself when I don't hit a goal sometimes, as I mentioned about the Tely above. But it is hard not to look at those results and be proud. I pushed myself to improve, and the results are right there. The improvement is inarguable. And ending the year on the high of that C2C result makes me hungry to get back on the roads in 2017 and push those times down even further.

As I've outlined in this blog, I made two big changes to my training this year that I feel led to these improvements. The first was the interval training. I had dabbled with it in the past, but this year I put in close to 6 months of training where I did 2 sets of intervals each week. They say if you want to run fast, you need to train fast. For me, that seemed to work.

The second, and more important, change was to start training with a group. I said above I feel proud looking at those results; I also feel grateful. Those times are mine, but I didn't get them all on my own. I learned so much running with our group this year. Every single person in our crew helped me at some point this year. I want to thank the core group of Andrew G/Marc/Todd/Steve/Kiley/Neal, each of whom I ran with at least 5 times throughout the year. The conversations were unique depending on who I was running with, but there was always something there I could use. My goal at the start of the year was to push myself as far as I could; in the end you helped push me further.

There were also many people who joined us at different times (Chris/Dan/Ed...), but I won't try to list them all as I'll likely forget someone. But thanks to you all. And thanks to others in the club for words of wisdom shared over coffee, or post race. I mentioned before that I was fortunate enough to have runners in my family, and that helped a great deal starting out. Being immersed in a running community has added to that greatly, and I feel very lucky for that.

And before I finish, on the subject of gratitude, I need to thank the most important person in all of this: my beautiful wife. We have two young kids, and on many of the Saturday mornings that I would leave at 6:30 and come home 4 hours later, she was the one at home keeping them busy. And she never once complained, she was always supportive, and even though she's not a runner, she listened to all kinds of running talk from me this year. And as you've all seen from my blogs, I can go on, and on, and on! So thank you hun, for being there for me through it all, and for giving me the opportunity to do something I love.

Well, that's it. I'm pretty sure the total amount of words I've written in October is much higher than any month since I left school. But it's been a lot of fun. The experience of breaking this all down has been truly enjoyable, and I thank anyone who has taken the time to read them. I hope you've enjoyed them as well.

Cheers and Thanks for Reading,


Monday, October 17, 2016

Cape to Cabot Recap

As I sat down to write this entry, I found myself with so much to say that I actually had a hard time starting. Before I get into a recap of my own race from yesterday, I want to start by acknowledging others.

By my count, there were 34 PRC runners who completed the race yesterday. Congrats to each and every one of you, especially those who completed the race for the first time. The C2C is a difficult challenge, and not one to be taken likely. Knowing that you were able to set this goal, train, and complete it is something to be extremely proud of.

And while this is a PRC blog with an obvious focus on our runners, I want to send those same congrats out to any other C2C runners who may stumble across this blog. You are all awesome!

To the cheerleaders who were on the course yesterday, in spite of the wind and cold, thank you so much. As I mentioned in my pre-race blog, I was running the race along with 3 other family members, and we had one crew at the end of Maddox Cove Road and another at the bottom of Shea Heights, and they all congregated at the top of Signal Hill to cheer us across the finish. Having such strong family support means so much.

And in case it wasn't already 100% clear, the presence of a clan of PRCers who weren't running the race but came out to support those of us who were confirmed what an amazing club this is, and I'm very happy to be a part of it.

Final thanks go out to the volunteers who helped make everything run smoothly yesterday. The C2C is always a well organized race, and it wouldn't be possible for us to enjoy it without the hard work of all the volunteers. I look forward to this race every year, so thank you all for making it possible.


My C2C day got off to a fortuitous start, as I woke on my own at about 5:35 AM, only to check my phone and realize I had accidentally set my alarm for 5:45 PM. Oops! With that bullet dodged, I grabbed a quick banana and some gatorade, double-checked to ensure I had all my gear, and walked down the road to head to the start line with my father. When I got there, I found out he had only just woken up; turned out his alarm had also been set for PM! Luckily, we were still able to leave at our scheduled time of 6:25 AM, and we got to the parking lot, met my two uncles, and hopped on the bus for Cape Spear.

The drive out to Cape Spear was a little delayed, as we got on the bus that stopped at the Marriott. Once we got everyone on-board, we had an uneventful trip to the start line. After our arrival, I hopped right off the bus and headed to the rocks in the middle of the parking lot, in hopes that I would meet some of the guys there for a warm-up. Thankfully, Marc showed up not long after, and we headed out for a quick 2 km. The warm-up was good, although it was a stark reminder of how brisk and cold the wind can be at the bottom of the first hill. I actually had to lean into it a little bit on the way back to keep my balance!

With our warm-up complete, we still had about 15-20 minutes until start time. I made a quick stop to empty my bladder, dropped my equipment on the bus back to Signal Hill, met up with the PRC crew for a group selfie, and then headed to the start line. I managed to get near the front with Marc/Keith/Kiley/Andrew G, and after the annual singing of the Ode and the firing of the rifle, we were off.

And boy were we off! The goal I had set for myself coming into the race was to break 1:50:00, which would be 6:30 better than my PB. I wanted to allow a good buffer heading into Signal Hill, so I planned for 1:37:00 for the first 18.4 km, or a pace of 5:16/km. When we hit the 1 km mark at the start of the first climb, my watch beeped and I looked down to see a time of 4:14. Definitely faster than I had planned, but at least I had 62 seconds banked for later. :)

Since Andrew G already had a sub 1:50:00 under his belt, and since he had already helped drag me to two PBs this year, my plan was to follow him for as long as I could. In particular, Andrew is stronger than I am on the climbs, so I figured if I could keep close to him going up the hills that would bode well for me. This worked great on the first climb, and I reached the 2 km mark feeling good, and still 28 seconds ahead of pace.

I fooled up my plan on the first downhill, because while Andrew is wise enough to slow down, I tend to just let my legs go! I passed him about half way down the hill, and as we started the 2nd climb, I patiently waited for him to pass me so I could start following him again. I'm sure he and I will have a good chat about how close he got next time we are on the roads, but just know that however close you were Andrew, you were mentally pushing me up that hill! And it worked, as I reached the 5 km water table having clocked off a 5:00 and 5:24, and I now had 98 seconds in the bank. Similar to the Turkey Tea last week, I was now starting to wonder if I should re-calibrate my goal. I decided not to at this point, because in my 3 previous C2C's I have taken multiple walking breaks on the climb from Maddox Cove Road to Shea Heights, so I was wary of how much time I would give back there.

I reached the 7 km mark and the end of Maddox Cove Road, and got my annual energy boost in the form of my little cheerleaders. My daughter and my two nieces were waiting there, with handmade signs they had created to cheer us on. So after a quick detour for some hugs, kisses, and high fives, I moved on to my nemesis. I didn't really have a plan for if/when I would walk on this hill this year; my goal was just to push it as hard as I could, knowing that the race gets easier for a while after that. As I was just getting into the climb, I got passed by a couple of runners, and in the end this ended up helping immensely.

One of the runners who passed me was Melinda Saunders from ANE. Now, I will state up front that I don't personally know Melinda, and I only learned her name last week. The reason for that is we ran close together for the majority of the Turkey Tea, until she passed me at the very end, and she is easy to pick out due to the Newfoundland flag buff she was wearing. When she passed me going up the hill yesterday, I thought to myself, "We ran at pretty much the same pace last weekend. She seems to be going strong right now. I'm going to try to stay with her." So Melinda, if you happen to be reading this, thank you! After 3 previous C2C's, I can finally say I made the trek from Cape Spear to Shea Heights without walking. In fact, my times for the 3 kilometers up that hill were 5:31, 5:43, and 5:29, which was very surprising. That put me at the halfway point with 101 seconds in the bank, and at that point I decided to switch my goal from 1:50:00 to 1:45:00. I didn't have the energy to re-calibrate my pace for the next 8.5 km, but I figured if I just kept pushing I'd pick up the necessary time.

The next 4 km, through Shea Heights and down to Southside Road felt really comfortable, especially in comparison to the hills that came before. I ran all 4 at a sub 5:00 pace, finishing up with a 4:02 km down the hill. By then, I was almost 5 minutes ahead of my goal pace, and as nothing was hurting too much I felt pretty confident I could push for the 1:45:00. I saw Kiley crossing the bridge just as I was hitting the bottom of the hill, and then I saw Marc and Steve on the way out Southside Road. Seeing the guys from my running group going strong gave me a push, and then when I made the turn and quickly saw Keith, Andrew, and Ed on my way out I realized I had to keep pushing or they were all going to catch me!

As I started running on Water Street, Mark Didham pulled up on his bike for a brief chat, which was a nice diversion. Shortly after that, I caught up with Steve, and after a few words of encouragement back and forth he told me to go ahead and he'd chase me. I hope I was able to provide some motivation Steve! I continued along Harbour Drive, where some slight discomfort started in my hips, but I was able to get to the 18 km mark with an additional 100 seconds banked from the bottom of the hill coming out of Shea Heights. I passed the start of the Munn Mile at 1:30:39, meaning that even if I took the whole 13 minutes I allotted for Signal Hill I would still make it in under 1:45:00.

After the obligatory run up Temperance Street, where I was able to pass a few runners, I buckled in for the final climb. I made it almost to the Battery before my first walk of the race, and I decided I'd walk for 30 seconds, and then run until I felt I needed another break. As I've already made clear, I find it better to use other runners as motivation, so I tried my best not to let the people I passed on Temperance Street catch up. Anything to keep me going at this point! In total, I think I walked 4 or 5 times on Signal Hill, and I even did a little dance and a spin while passing the band across from the Interpretation Centre. :)

I got to the final turn right around 1:40:00, and then took my triumphant run to the finish line. I passed Pam and Scott Collins along the way and got a couple of high fives, and then I ran down to meet my daughter and nieces right by the finish. I stopped briefly to see them, and then got yelled at because I was costing myself time! Hahaha

In the end, I crossed the finish line at 1:41:14, beating my goal by 8:46, and my previous PB by 15:15. To say I was happy with that result would be an understatement, and to be able to share it with family and friends made it even better. I was met first by Kiley and Marc, who both absolutely crushed it. Then I got to greet Steve, Andrew, Keith, and Ed in quick succession, all of whom ran fantastic races. Most of us have run a number of group runs together this year, so it was great to see everyone have so much success. I was also able to stick around to see Neal finish just under his goal time, but unfortunately I had to leave with the kids before Todd and his daughter finished. I got to see Shelley as I was walking down Signal Hill, and the picture of her and Andrew at the finish line was amazing to see. I wish I could have been there!

Well, I guess that's about it. It was a great day, and while I singled out a lot of the group that I run with in the last paragraph, I reiterate my earlier congratulations to all runners, especially the PRCers, who ran the race yesterday. I'm sure there are lots of aches and pains today, but those will diminish with time. The feeling of achievement you have will last forever.

Cheers and Thanks for reading,


Saturday, October 15, 2016

Thoughts on a Running Off-season, plus Cape to Cabot Pre-race Musings

With the Cape to Cabot taking place tomorrow, I find myself at the end of another race season. This is my 4th year running, and I have finished my season with the C2C every year. To be more accurate, every year prior to this one I have stopped running completely after the C2C, picking up again sometime in the new year. I have yet to run a single kilometer between the third Sunday in October and New Years.

There are a few main reasons why I do this. For one, I am not a cold weather runner. I also like to be able to get a few months of dedicated strength training in, as I find that is beneficial to both my overall health and my running. And finally, I just like a little mental break. I've always played sports that are broken up by season, so staying focused on running year-round seems a little draining at times.

In previous years, I haven't really given this much thought. Most of my running training was targeted at specific races, and I really didn't feel like I'd be losing much by stopping for a few months. This year is different. I have focused in a lot more with my training, and by doing so I've been able to greatly improve my times. So my concern at this point is that if I take a full two month plus hiatus, I'll be losing everything I've gained and starting back from scratch in January.

So, I'd like to hear some thoughts from others as to how they handle their running "off-season". I know for a lot of people they simply keep running, but with less mileage. That doesn't work great for me, as I only run 3-4 times a week for a total of 25-30 km as it is. And maybe the answer is that I've just got to suck it up and keep running! But I'm interested in getting some feedback from others, and hopefully this can generate some good discussion.


As I'm finishing this post, there is about 13 hours until the start of this year's C2C. This is my favourite race on the calendar every year, and it's always one I look forward to. I'll never forget the first year I ran it, when my daughter was only 4 years old. She's always been a big fan of both Cape Spear and Signal Hill, and so she thought it was so cool that I was running from one to the other. I think she was even giddier than I was to get her hands on the medal that first year! She's 7 now, and this will be her 4th year in a row heading out to the end of Maddox Cove Road to cheer me on, and then heading up to Signal Hill for the finish. She even stood there in the rain during Gonzalo in 2014! So this has always been a family event for us, and it was made even more special last year when my dad ran the race as well. We were able to get a picture at Cabot Tower last year with me, my dad, and his two brothers all having finished the race, and the hope is to get that same picture, commemorating the same accomplishment, tomorrow.

I'll quickly review my personal goals for tomorrow. As I said last week,I go into every race with three goals. Number 1 for tomorrow is to break 1:50:00. Number 2 is to break my two year slide in this race and set a new PB, as my fastest time is still the first year I ran the C2C (1:56:29). And the final goal, as it always is for this race, is just to finish. I will never feel disappointment at completing the C2C, no matter what my time is.

In closing, I'd like to wish everyone else who is running tomorrow good luck. Since this is my 4th C2C, I guess I'm a bit of a veteran of the race, so I'll give as much wisdom as I can, which probably isn't much!

- Dress warmly, as it'll be cool at the start. A winter's hat and a pair of gloves are likely a good idea for the first half of the race.

- Remember your training. This race can beat you down in places. My personal nemesis is the climb from Maddox Cove Road to the top of Shea Heights. But if you start to get down, remember all the miles you've run and the hills you've climbed, and know that you can do this.

- Forget your time. I think this is the most important one for this race, especially for first timers. It's a challenging course, and time wise it can really only compare with itself. So try your best to enjoy the run, take in the scenery, and appreciate the accomplishment you are getting as a reward for all your training, completing the hardest race in Eastern North America!

I think that's about as much wisdom as I have. I hope everyone can get a good night's rest tonight, and I look forward to seeing all the PRCers out on the course tomorrow morning, whether you are running, volunteering, or cheering us on.

Cheers and Thanks for reading,


Monday, October 10, 2016

Training Recap: October 3-9

Well, yesterday was the 15th annual Turkey Tea race held by the New World Running Club, and we couldn't have asked for a much better day for it. Conditions were great for running, with the temperature right around 8-9 degrees at race start and a typical brisk fall wind. Thankfully, the wind was at our back for the majority of the race, so it made for a very fast day. I'll do a quick recap of my training for the week, and then give a detailed review of my race.

Weekly Summary (October 3-9)

Monday: Off

Tuesday: 6 x 1 min hard/1 min easy @ 9.5/7.1 mph [3:57/km / 5:17/km] with 9 min jog @ 7.1 mph [5:17/km]  (Workout total: 5.1 km, 26:00, 5:06/km pace)

Wednesday: 7.2 km, 36:21, 5:02/km pace  (Atlantic Place to Southside Trail return)

Thursday: 5.25 km, 28:20, 5:23/km pace (Atlantic Place to Signal Hill return)

Friday: Off

Saturday: Off

Sunday: 10.03 km, 43:24, 4:19/km pace (Turkey Tea Race)

Total: 27.6 km

This fall, I have been trying to serve two masters in a way with my training. After the Tely, I usually shift to Cape to Cabot training for the fall season. This year, I also wanted to try my best to peak for the Turkey Tea in hopes of significantly lowering my PB at 10 km. For that reason, this week served sort of like a taper week.

On Tuesday, I did a very brief interval workout on the treadmill, alternating between 1 minute fast and 1 minute jogging. I threw in some jogging at the end just to get a little more distance. This run is a little different than most of my intervals, as I usually take rest periods in between the intervals. I was pleased with this run, as I felt comfortable at the faster pace, and I didn't really struggle too much with the lack of rest.

Wednesday was just a nice, comfortable run. I planned on running 7 km, but my watch seemed to be a little off on the way out, so the total ended up be a little more. I've run 3.5 km out on this trail close to a dozen times this year, and on Wednesday I ended up at least 200 m further up before my watch said I had hit 3.5 km. This is one reason I like running intervals on a treadmill, as there is always some uncertainty in distances when using a GPS watch.

Thursday was a nice quick run up and down Signal Hill. I usually do this one 4 or 5 times throughout the fall as C2C training. When I run this route, I check my time from the bottom of Temperance Street to the corner of the parking lot at the top of the hill. This isn't the full Munn Mile from the C2C, but it's about 1.5 km. This week, I made that climb in 9:48, which is the first time I have ever done it in less than 10 minutes. Hopefully that bodes well for the race next weekend!

With those training runs down, it was time for the Turkey Tea on Sunday morning. Anyone who read my blog on Saturday knows that my primary goal for this race was 45 minutes. Well, I blew that time out of the water, finishing with a gun time of 43:26 and a chip time of 43:24. As I previously mentioned, I tend to have three goals in place when I enter a race, and I try to have the 1st one as a real stretch goal. In fact, this was my 19th race over the last 4 years, and I think this was only the 2nd time I have beaten my primary goal. So, while it may look like I was sandbagging with the prediction, I assure you I was quite surprised to surpass my goal by such a wide margin. The question then becomes, why was I able to do that?

I think there were a number of factors that contributed to it. As I stated above, conditions were great for a fast race. I also got a good 2 km warm-up in with Marc and Todd before the race, and that is something I need to work into my regular pre-race routine; I do usually warm-up, but I tend to go shorter than that when I'm on my own.

Once the race started, I think having a number of PRCers around and in front of me helped keep me on pace and push me. I didn't see Marc for long, as he took off and crushed it with a PB of 41:02. But for the first kilometer or so I was running right with Randy and Todd, and we had Andrew G, Steve, and Keith just ahead of us. We all spread out a little over the next few km, but by the time we hit the 4 km mark, I had Andrew, Steve, Keith, and Randy ahead of me in that order. My race plan was to run the first 2 km under pace and the next 2 (uphill) km over pace, with my total being right on pace at 4 km (goal pace was 4:30/km). When I passed the 4 km mark feeling good and with 21 seconds in the bank from my goal pace, I decided I would push as hard as I could to stay with or catch the guys over the last 6 km. Obviously we were all running our own race, but as someone who has played competitive sports their whole life, I find having someone to chase after makes running a race just that little bit easier!

I'm back there somewhere, with Steve/Keith/Randy pushing me along!
(Photo credit: Biped Sports)

I rolled through the next 2 km at 4:20 and 4:18, so now I had 43 seconds in the bank with 4 km to go. At this point, I re-calibrated my goal and decided 44:00 was achievable. I still hadn't caught anybody, but I was closing in on Randy and Steve a little. The next 2 km came in at 4:13 and 4:22, and I managed to catch up with Randy and Steve, who both ran great races and finished very shortly after me. I now had over a minute in the bank, and I was giving serious consideration to trying to run the last 2 km @ 4:00/km for a 43:00. This was probably a little over amibitious, but I knew that even if I blew up and had to slow down, I still had a big buffer to hit my goal. Thankfully, Andrew was still about 100 m in front of me, so trying to chase him down would give me the extra push I would need to give it a shot.

I cranked out the 9th kilometer at 4:05, and I managed to close the gap between me and Andrew to about 50 meters. Unfortunately, I pushed too hard. With 700 meters to go, I got a stitch. This is the first time this has ever happened to me in a race, and obviously I was disappointed when it happened. Looking back, I'm ok with it though. I have always said that I struggle to push myself hard enough in races. I always feel like I leave something on the table. Well, yesterday was the opposite. I pushed myself a little too hard on that 9th kilometer, and while it may have been smarter and more productive to run a slightly slower pace for the last 2 km, I am satisfied with the fact that I pushed it that hard, and I will take that lesson into future races.

This is what I look like running with a stitch. :)
(Photo credit: Shelley Gosse)

Even with the stitch, I managed to run the last kilometer in 4:19 (plus an additional 6 seconds for the extra .03 according to my watch!). That wasn't enough to catch Andrew, who absolutely killed it yesterday with a PB of 42:55. I have run a great deal with Andrew this year, and I couldn't be happier to see the results he is putting up. This PB yesterday comes just 3 weeks after taking almost a half hour off his marathon PB. I'm also thankful that he was in front of me, because trying to catch him helped push me to my result. I love that part of running. You can be running trying to catch your buddy, a little friendly competition, but at the end of the day not only do you end up pushing each other to be better, but you are just as happy for their success as you are for your own.

So, that was my race. I know I already mentioned that Marc/Andrew/Randy/Steve had great races yesterday, but I want to give a quick shout-out to the other PRCers who ran, although I'll offer apologies in advance if I miss anyone. Congrats to Keith/Todd/Sam/Ron/Amanda/Jennifer/Colleen/ Tina B/Tina S/Darlene/Sara/Cheryl. There were a lot of fantastic times run by the club yesterday, and as always everyone was there supporting each other. And that includes some cheerleaders along the course, including Renee/Shelley/Sharon/Chris/Carol Ann/Gina/Coreen/Lisa and probably others that I missed. One thing that you can always be sure of with PRC is that you will hear a friendly voice more than once as you run your race! :)

Well, that ended up being longer than expected, but I've already warned you all that brevity is not my thing. Best of luck to everyone finishing up there C2C training this week, and I'm planning to have a post mid-week discussing the idea of a running "off-season", and I'm hoping it'll generate some good discussion.

Cheers and Thanks for reading,


Saturday, October 8, 2016

My Running Story, Plus Some Turkey (Tea) Talk

One of the things I really enjoy about running is hearing the back story of how/why/when people got into running. I find it fascinating to listen to these stories, in large part due to the diverse nature of the sport. The fact that people of all different backgrounds and abilities can come together and enjoy this activity together is fantastic. So in this entry, I will tell the story of my journey with running to the start of 2016, and at the end I'll talk a little about the Turkey Tea 10km race which is taking place tomorrow morning.

Throughout my entire life, sports have played a major role. I have competed at various levels in baseball, softball, basketball, touch football, and soccer. While I have had a decent amount of success during my time competing, I was admittedly never the most skilled athlete. In fact, the one "skill" that allowed me to hold my own was that I was fast. So whatever sport I played, the role that I gravitated towards was always one that required speed. In theory, that sounds like a perfect base for a runner. The reality is slightly different.

The problem is, my speed is very much short distance speed; I can run fast for very short periods of time. I did compete in cross-country from grade 7 all the way through grade 12, however it was mainly to keep myself in shape for the other sports I competed in. Our training basically consisted of just going for a run, with very little structure or planning. I actually found an old cross-country result of mine on the NLAA website. This is from the 1997 NLAA Provincial Age Class Championships, which means I was 15 years old:

It might be hard to see, but that's me, finishing 30th out of 37th runners, with a time of 19:33 for 4km. So cross-country obviously wasn't my forte, although it is pretty cool to see that I'm faster now over that distance than I was then!

Once I graduated high school, I pretty much stopped running. Every now and then I would go out for a short run, just 4 or 5 km, but never anything consistent. In 2007, I briefly started to train for the Tely using the training program outlined in the paper. Unfortunately, I didn't take the time to pick out proper running shoes, and after a couple of training runs my feet were hurting so much that I just decided to stop and focus back on my other sports.

Jump ahead to 2013, and that is where my distance running "career" really began. In the beginning, I drew inspiration from some of my family members. My sister, who was never overly into sports, had taken up running that spring as part of a commitment to a healthier lifestyle, and she was planning to run her first Tely. In late June, I traveled to Ontario to visit my Aunt and Uncle, and as avid runners they were planning a trip home to run the Tely that year as well. Being around a bunch of people who were so enthusiastic about the race got me thinking about running it, but could I really do it on 3.5 weeks of training?

The answer to that question is likely that I shouldn't have, but I decided to try. I flew home from Ontario on July 1, went to the Running Room on July 3 and bought a pair of shoes, and did my first training run on July 4. That was the first time since high school I ran more than 5 km. So over the next two weeks, I slowly built my distance, but I still wasn't sure I could actually run 16 km. Luckily, Tely registration was open until the Monday before the race that year. So the Sunday before, I decided to run the course and see if I could do it. I went slow and steady, and managed to finish it, so that night I registered for the race. The next Sunday, on July 28, I completed my first Tely 10!

Now, obviously, I wouldn't recommend my approach to anyone new starting out. I had a number of positive factors in my favour. I was relatively young (31 at the time), quite active from other sports, and I had experienced runners in my family who I could turn to for advice. Even with all that, I still probably put myself at risk for injury by pushing it so far, so fast. But once I did it, I was hooked. After a brief chat with uncle Keith about what I should do next, I decided to register for the Cape to Cabot. Why not jump in with both feet, right?

After a more proper training program of 2.5 months, I completed my first Cape to Cabot in October 2013. While I was on the bus heading to Cape Spear, I sat with Marc and had a chat about running and what his future plans were. He noted that he was planning to go to Ottawa the next spring with some members of PRC to run the Ottawa Marathon, and he said I should think about it. After completing a Tely 10 and a Cape to Cabot in my first 4 months of running, a marathon seemed like a logical next step. So over Christmas of that year, I made the decision to run the 2014 Ottawa Marathon, registered and booked my hotel, and started planning for the long months of training ahead.

My daughter and I after C2C 2013

Since I stopped running after the Cape to Cabot in October, I had to build up almost from scratch when I started training for the marathon in January. I didn't do as good a job of recording my runs back then, but from what I have recorded I ran about 550 km over the next four months, which seemed like a lot at the time. It was enough to get me to the finish line in just under 4 hours, but it was a struggle at the end! I followed the 3:45 pace bunny for the first 28 km, and then he had to drop out due to injury. As my watch had chosen not to work that morning, I was then left to run the last third of the race with no concept of my pace, which was not something I was accustomed to at all. I made it to about 36 km, and then had to alternate walking and running for the last 6 km. At the end of the day, it wasn't perfect, but I was still elated to have accomplished such a difficult feat.

Celebrating with PRCers in Ottawa!

With that marathon finished, I had now completed a Tely 10, a Cape to Cabot, and a marathon within 11 months of starting to run. While I was very happy with what I had done, I think I had also probably burned myself out on running a little bit. I was still playing basketball and football at that time, and so while I continued to compete in races for the rest of 2014, my training was never really where it should have been. This continued into 2015, where I only completed the Tely 10 and the Cape to Cabot. In fact, when I did the Tely in 2015 I had yet to run past 10 km that year.

After running slower than my PBs in both races in 2015, I decided that I wasn't enjoying running under the current circumstances. I am a competitive person, even if it's just competing against my past self. I realized that as the years went on, trying to improve my running times while still playing high impact sports like football and basketball just wasn't going to work out. Since the schedule for running was much more conducive to life with young kids at home, I decided that 2016 would be a year where I would step back a little from my other sports and dedicate more effort to running. That plan was only accelerated when I tore my rotator cuff during my last football game of the 2015 season!

So that covers my running story from the start to the end of 2015. I obviously glossed over a lot of details in this post, so feel free to comment with any questions. I plan to write a separate post covering 2016, as I'd like to talk in a bit more detail about how I changed up my training, and the results that I was able to achieve by doing so.


I promised some Turkey Tea talk above, but this has been a long post so I'll keep it brief. The Turkey Tea is a fast race, with only the 3rd and 4th kilometers being uphill, and the race overall being a big net downhill. I've run this race twice before, with my best time of 48:07 coming the first time I ran it in 2013. That actually stood as my 10 km PB up until June of this year, when I squeaked just below it with a 48:00 at the USR. So that is my current 10 km race PB, but my Garmin lists my best 10 km split as the first 10 km of this year's Tely, with a time of 45:24.

When I go into races, I like to have 3 goals, kind of my own personal gold, silver, and bronze medals. For tomorrow, I'm going to set 45:00 as my number 1, the 10 km Tely split of 45:24 as number 2, and 46:00 as number 3. Be sure to check back in for my training recap on Monday to see how I was able to do!

Cheers and Thanks for reading,


Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Traning Recap: September 26-October 2

I will acknowledge up front that this post may not be for everyone. I am pretty detailed in how I document my training, and me giving a breakdown of that detail may put some people to sleep. So if you fit into that category, you can safely skip these entries. For those who do have some interest, hopefully they will provide some insight and maybe even generate some discussion.

Weekly Summary (September 26-October 2)

Monday: Off

Tuesday: 3 x 4 x 500 m @ 9.3 mph [4:02/km] with 1 min off/3 min jog @ 7.1 mph [5:17/km]  (Workout total: 7.9 km, 35:55, 4:32/km pace)

Wednesday: 7 km, 33:13, 4:44/km pace  (Atlantic Place to Southside Trail return)

Thursday: 1 x 1600 m / 1 x 1200 m / 1 x 400 m @ 9.0 mph [4:10/km] with 4:20 / 3:00 jog @ 7.1 mph [5:17/km]  (Workout total: 5.2 km, 25:37, 4:55/km pace)

Friday: Off

Saturday: Off

Sunday: 14.21 km, 1:28:40, 6:14/km pace  (Tim's to Cape Spear with the group)

Total: 34.3 km

First things first, I don't run near as much as a lot of runners. During the week, I run over lunch hour, which limits the duration of my workouts. I always plan to take Monday and Friday off, and most weekends I only get one run in. So 4 days is usually my goal for the week, and I end up with 3 more often than not. That 34.3 km total is actually tied for my second most in a week this year. Given that, I have tried to really focus on the quality of my runs this year. That is where the interval workouts come in.

I realize for some, those Tuesday and Thursday recaps may look like gibberish. I know when I first started reading running recaps I couldn't figure them out, and it seems like no one uses the same format. So let me try to make some sense of them.

My Tuesday workout was 3 sets of 4 intervals of 500 m (meters) each. Whenever you see a speed given in mph (miles per hour), that means I'm on the treadmill*. The 1 min off/3 min jog describes my rest periods. So in between each of the 4 intervals, I rest for 1 minute. In between each set of 4 intervals, I jog for 3 minutes.

(*I run on the treadmill WAY more than most runners, but that will be the subject of a post on its own!)

So that workout was, in order:

5 minute warm-up / 4 x 500 m interval with 1 minute rest between intervals / 3 minute jog / 4 x 500 m interval with 1 minute rest / 3 minute jog / 4 x 500 m interval with 1 minute rest / 3 minute cool down.

[Note that the total time/distance listed at the end of the recap doesn't include the rest periods or the cool down; just the warm-up and the actual intervals/jogging]

Phew! When you write it all out like that, it makes it obvious why having shorthand notation to summarize it is useful. Some people would argue that tracking that level of detail is unnecessary, and they aren't wrong. It's a personal preference. For me, I find it beneficial to be able to look back and see what paces I was running, and in particular to note when I am not able to complete a run as expected. That occurred during the Thursday workout, as discussed below.

The Wednesday run was a quick out and back recovery run after the Tuesday workout. I've actually started running these without monitoring my pace the last few months. Running with Andrew G throughout the summer has helped teach me to enjoy running without focusing quite as much on my time/pace. My Wednesday run has become my weekly opportunity to just go run for a half hour or so on my own. This particular one ended up being a little quick, as I had a slightly faster runner just ahead of me on the way back and I started settling into his pace. He didn't know I was chasing him, but he certainly helped push me to a good run!

I won't breakdown the Thursday workout in too much detail, as hopefully (wishfully?) my description above will allow others to decipher it. I will comment though that the plan for this workout was to do 2 x 1600 m intervals. It was meant to be a short workout, as my original plan to run up Signal Hill was cancelled due to torrential rain. Unfortunately, this was my first attempt at a longer interval since before the Tely, and I wasn't able to complete the second one. In order to still run the same total distance, I broke it into two smaller intervals. While it's never fun when you don't accomplish your goal in a training run, it is always important to listen to your body and know your limits. Pushing yourself in training will definitely improve your running and your times, but pushing to the point of injury is obviously counter-productive. I find that having the information as to when and how I've pushed myself to the limit is very beneficial in setting and altering my training program. That is one of the main reasons I have taken such care in documenting my runs this year.

Sunday morning was my weekly run with the group. I've had it said to me by some in the club that I run with the "fast" PRC group, although I'm admittedly one of the slowest in our crew. This week we had Andrew G / Kiley / Marc / Steve / Ed / John / Neal in the crew starting at Tim's on Water West and running to Cape Spear, and Todd and Sharon did the last 10-11 km of the run as well. It was a beautiful morning for a run, and we passed a number of runners, including some fellow PRCers, running in the opposite direction.

As I was out enjoying some refreshments late Friday night, I wasn't feeling terribly great at the start of this run. Thankfully, Neal and I settled into a nice comfortable pace at the back of the group. After just under 90 minutes of good conversation, some swearing on the hills, and a couple of much needed energy cubes from Neal, we made it to Cape Spear. As can be seen from the picture below (photo credit: Andrew G), the conditions were near perfect. Needless to say, a few wishes were made that we will see similar conditions in two weeks time!

With that complete, we got to the best part of every long run, and headed back to Coffee Matters for another half hour or so of great conversation with lots of laughs. You never know what will be said during our chats, and obviously the details won't be shared here, but yesterday included tales of a bee in a motorcycle helmet and a driverless car, amongst other fun stories. There might have even been a good "knock, knock" joke for your kids, but that one will have to be saved for another day, hey guys? :)

Beauty day for a run with this crew!

I'll sign-off now, and yes, I do realize this is an extremely long post; brevity has never been a strong suit of mine. So if you plan to read my posts, be prepared!

Cheers and Thanks for reading,


Monday, October 3, 2016

A Quick Hello

To anyone who is reading this, welcome to my first blog post! My name is Ryan Glynn, and I have been an official member of the Paradise Running Club since July 2014, although 2016 was actually the first year that I started participating in any of the club runs. So hopefully by writing this blog I will introduce myself more properly to those who know me mainly as the nephew of club co-founder Keith Glynn. :)

When Renee asked for a volunteer to write the blog for October, I thought it would be a good opportunity to document what will be a busy running month for me, and also to share some of my background in running. So my goal is to write 9 or 10 of these, covering my training for the month, the goals and results I have in the two races I plan to run (Turkey Tea 10km and Cape to Cabot), as well as some miscellaneous running topics that I think I may have some interesting thoughts on. Having read some of the past blogs, I can't promise my writing style and humour will live up the high bar that's been set, but I will try my best!

I'm going to clue up this entry now. I have a training recap for the past week mostly written up, but in the interest of keeping this intro short I'll post that in a separate post, likely this evening.

Cheers and Thanks for reading,