Thursday, December 25, 2014

Always Have a Plan

Okay, here was the plan:

Wednesday December 17 (incidentally, I was 56.5 on that date):

Move couch.

Thursday December 18, 2014 until April, 2015:

Increase my running speed, stamina and distance until I am a "running force".  A running force is one of those runners who seemingly effortlessly cruises through a 50K or 50M to an age category podium finish.  In my case, it would be in the geezer category, but that suits me perfectly!  A non - "running force" finishes an ultra with these words:  "Blospertoto werkolominy", which is what you say when you are desperately trying to avoid puking and falling down.  A running force says:  "Golly gee that was tough!", and it is apparent that they can easily knock off another 20K.

So, the plan was set, I had cleared my schedule, allowing me to focus on "the official ramp-up".  Pending future derailments (maple syrup season, Spring Warm-up (oops!  more on that in a later blog entry) and the Spanish Inquisition) would have to be dealt with in due time, but NOTHING could stop the ramp.

Or so I thought...

After a full year of demolishing a house, then building a new one, I had become stronger, faster, higher.  I lifted plywood, lumber, heavy objects with a smile.  Four of us lifted three 43 foot 2X8 LVL (laminate veneer lumber) beams to the roof peak.  That would be 16 feet above the second floor.

A week ago, I lifted a couch with my son-in-law Daryl.  Yes, it was a pull-out couch (has a bed in it), but I doubt it weighed more than 150 pounds.  While holding the couch, I shifted the weight to my left hand, in order to get a better grip with my right hand.  The twisting motion, while bending down, resulted in something popping in my back and shooting pains travelling down my left leg to my toes.

I have had major back problems for 30 years.  I have a bulging disk that puts pressure on my sciatic nerve.  Very painful!  The last major episode was 20 years ago, while skiing out west.  It took 6 months before it was better...  All year I have been extremely careful to avoid stressing my back.  Now, simply walking will start my left leg twitching for hours.

So much for the ramp-up!

Yesterday, in a "Damn The Torpedoes" mood, I went for a run.  The sensible components in my brain (they are highly atrophied) dictated a slow and short run.  The DTT components elected to run the Ganaraska trail, in 6 inches of snow.  I know, less intelligent than almost anything you can think of, but it is completely unfair to put a major trail at the end of my driveway.  The cost was considerable, but staying awake most of the night with intermittent pain was an acceptable trade-off.  Running 4K on a trail in late December near Creemore was fantastic!

2014 in Review

I have (as intimated above) big plans for 2015, that will have to wait for an early 2015 blog entry.  Reflecting on 2014 will help put my aspirations into perspective.  In 2014, newly retired and with a significant construction project on the go, I decided to channel much of my running energy into supporting my wife Lee Anne.  Lee Anne turned 60 in November 2013 and we decided to make an attempt on a Canadian age category record.  It did not turn out according to plan, but she has learned a lot, which will help in the future.


Pick Your Poison 25K,  3 Days at the Fair 12 hour, Niagara 50K, Limberlost 28K and Canlake 50K.  2014 was a lighter race schedule than in most years.

Crew:  3 Days at the Fair, Pinecreek Challenge, Icarus Florida Ultrafest (crewed Lee Anne)
Volunteer:  Dirty Girls, Run for the Toad
Organize:  Creemore Vertical Challenge, Creemore Copper Kettle Dash

My running did not meet expectations in 2014.  Perhaps I should rephrase this as training did not meet expectations.  It is difficult to put in adequate mileage when most days you are working construction and driving for 4 hours.  I was badly under-trained for the Canlake 50K, which is apparent in my PW time of 7:01:21.

However, runners are nothing if they are not optimists!  I have unrealistic expectations that the weight loss alone (I went from circa 200 pounds to 180) will shave an hour off my 50K time.  I just finished the book "What Makes Olga Run", which is inspirational for older athletes.  A recommended read for anyone north of 50.


Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Exercise Room: Complete! Short Update on Creemore Vertical Challenge

Anyone who has undertaken a construction project knows that "completion" is a relative term.  My definition is that a project is complete, once I am tired of saying that it is "almost complete"...

Running has taken a back seat to the project for much too long, so another reason to call it complete.  Sure, the trim needs a final coat of paint and the exercise room couch is still in Toronto, but the tools are put away (I take them out several times a day to "complete" something else) and I haven't been to Hamilton Brothers in 7 hours!  Hamilton Brothers is quite unique.  It is a company that has been in business since circa 1850 and (to put it mildly) is well represented in the town of Glen Huron.  Not having heard of Glen Huron does not automatically make you urban-centric (Toronto / other), but you need to immerse yourself in the GH culture at least once, to be considered well-rounded.  There is an apple store.  I could describe it until the cows come home, but it would be better for you to experience it first hand.  Butter tarts that should have WHMIS labels.  Many varieties of apples.  "Many" is the term I use when "several hundred" sounds like a patent exaggeration.  Buying apples in Giffens ( ) is a bit like buying coffee in an uber-exotic New York Coffee Emporium.  Be warned.  Back to Hamilton Brothers.

I estimate there are 7 town lots in Glen Huron that are covered in building materials.  HB has huge hangers for fiberglass insulation.  They own about half the town (this might be underestimated).  Of interest is that one of their churches (it might be a house) has green number 1.  Enough said!  They sell re-sawn 1 X 12 pine for about $0.92 per foot, but don't quote me on the price.  I think the reason some of their lumber is inexpensive is because they own a water powered feed mill and a water powered saw mill.  Yes, they own a lake, dam and water powered businesses.  Who doesn't?  You can buy maple syrup production equipment, seed potatoes and Christmas trees.  Their selection makes Walmart look meagre.

Creemore Vertical Challenge:  Update

CVC lost money in 2014.  Normally this would not be such a bad thing, but I retired in May, 2014 and guess what?  I can no longer afford to plough a few grand into the race.  Cancelling CVC was not my first option.  There must be some way of holding the race, yet not killing the bank account.  The CVC also takes an enormous amount of work and energy.  I need to find methods that reduce the workload, yet do not make a large impact on the quality of the race.  Many people run Creemore because it is unlike the big races, yet still offers value.  What to do?

As a sidebar, there has been a huge outpouring of support, suggestions and offers for help, to keep CVC going.  It was inspiring to realize how much the race means to others, not just me.  The support meant a lot when I crunched the numbers and made the decision to keep CVC going.  Many thanks!

There are many reasons behind the changes.  Not all reasons are apparent in the changes, but here are a few:

1.  Keep CVC as a challenging race with unique swag and prizes.  There will be 60 prizes for the 3 races (25K, 50K and 75K) to be spread amongst a capped field of 250.  Hint:  If you are over 50 and female, consider the 75K!

2.  Generate a profit, to benefit the Canadian Ultra teams.  It may seem strange or unfair to take a portion of the entry fees from 25K runners and hand it over to the ultra team, but the reality is that the Canadian Ultra teams have little support from any sources.  The federal government is about the only other source.  I hope that the 25K runners realize that should they have the temerity to enter an ultra race, Creemore is a logical option.  They know the course, they understand the risk and they get so much more for their money.  Yes, pain and suffering is bountiful at CVC!

3.  Provide the runners with a serious challenge, followed by a social event.  Many first-time runners, after cursing me for the course, have declared the post-race event as one of the best they have experienced.  Some mentioned that at other races, they normally leave shortly after their race is complete.  At Creemore, they stick around and socialize with the other runners.  I'm sure the river, pizza and Creemore Springs beer has nothing to do with this!

4.  Reduce the workload on the RD (me).  This is unfortunate and could be viewed as a down-side, but it is very difficult to ask friends, fellow runners and family to drop everything they are doing and help me for the week leading up to race day.  I have been very lucky to have some friends, such as Henri and Diane, Everhard and Ken help me for a good chunk of the preceding week, but the reality is that there are not a lot of people who can take a week off work to help with preparations.

CVC Changes:  Here we go!

Date:  Now in early August.  Saturday, August 8, 2015

I thank Diane Chesla (Laura Secord, Chocolate race, Dirty Girls) profusely for providing a date that does not conflict with the new North Face race in Blue Mountain, or the chronic near-conflict with Limberlost.  When it was apparent that early July held too many conflicts, I realized that holding CVC during the summer months was paramount.  CVC would lose a considerable amount of its appeal if it was held in the Spring or Fall, where sitting in the river would not be pleasant.  Early August is ideal.

Distances:  25K, 50K and (new!) 75K

The reasoning here is that I need to draw back some people who have "been there, done that" with regard to CVC.  With the new North Face race, the 50K numbers dropped from 105 (2013) to 66 (2014).  Ouch!  Although a big component was the saturated ultra market, I am hoping that part of the reason is that some of the seasoned ultra runners are looking for a bigger challenge.  Can you say 3 times up O2?  Very good!  Breath deep!

In a perverse logic, I am also hoping to entice some of the 25K runners to view the 50K as a "middle" distance.  I know, good luck with that!

The 75K (starts at 6:00 AM) will have the most difficult cut-off, at 12 hours.  The 50K cut-off (since the aid stations will be open longer) can be made more reasonable at 8.5 hours.  The logic here is to provide slower runners with an ultra (50K), yet avoid signing up for a race that would be difficult to complete before dark.  I would prefer not to have exhausted runners on country roads after 6:00 PM.

No Camping.  Alas, this is part of the give and take.  I need to shut everything down by 9:00 PM Friday evening in order to be ready for registration at 5:00 AM on Saturday morning.  I will contact the tent park in New Lowell (very close to Creemore) to see about setting up a special deal.  I have some trepidation that Saturday will be a LONG day.  If we have insufficient volunteers to run the aid stations, then post-race clean-up will suffer.

Price Increase.

In 2013, I vowed that I would do everything in my power to avoid a price increase.  So much for vows!  I am a little upset that marathons have crept over the $100 mark.  Why?  It is a relatively short racing event, typically over in about 6 hours.  50K's, although only 7.8K longer, usually last quite a few hours longer.  I had hoped to keep CVC under the $75 mark, for the 50K.

The reality is that everything is becoming more expensive.  New in 2014 was chip timing (which off-loaded a tremendous amount of work from me, figuring out the age category winners) but it comes at a price.  For 2015, I will need police for 8 hours (possibly 12) instead of 4.

Oh well, I didn't want to increase entry fees, but the $10 increase is hopefully not too painful:

25K:  $70,  50K:  $80 and 75K:  $90

There will still be a small jug of maple syrup for the first 100 who sign up for the race!

As in every year, there are more changes.  I will add "WRONG WAY" signs directly after turns on the roads.  I need to start thinking of what the 75K runners will need, as opposed to "only" running 50K.  I also have to plead with the land owners to allow crazy runners access to their trails from 6 AM until 6 PM.  I need to be nice to Lee Anne (wife, potter, boss) as the number of prizes has increased.  Also, you 325 taps:  Please  don't fail me in 2015!