Thursday, January 31, 2019

Running in Ecuador - Very Funny!

Greetings for the far south.  Actually, Ecuador is in northern South America, if you will pardon the oxymoron.  Lee Anne and I are currently in Cuenca, which is slightly south of the equator.  I had better quit before this gets too confusing.

Running at 2500 meters is not entirely easy.  From one perspective, it should be easy.  Cuenca is not overly hilly and with temperatures in the mid 20's, we are running in shorts and a T-shirt.  A significant difference from running in Creemore, with 3 layers of clothes and questionable traction.  For fun, let's introduce some variables that are not readily available in Creemore, in January.  The previously mentioned altitude is a big factor.  Until acclimatized, walking up one flight of stairs leaves you gasping for air.  Even gentle uphill slopes take on epic proportions when combined with the altitude.  Toss in humidity and a sun that is directly overhead, and suddenly running becomes "Real Tough".  How tough?  We went out for our long run.  For Lee Anne, this is 4 - 5 hours.  She managed 3.5 hours.  For me, let's just say that after 2.5 hours, I was starting to tremble.

Hiking can also be a challenge.  The Cajas national park is way up there.  The road reaches over 4,300 meters and at points we were looking down on the road.  The park is incredibly beautiful and I will include pictures when I post from home.  Currently I am in an internet cafe and the Spanish spellcheck indicates that every word is mispelled.  I've never seen so many red squiggly underlines!

Well, that's about it for now.  We will be in Cuenca until February 5, then down to Vilcabamba until we head back to Creemore on February 14.


Sunday, January 6, 2019

2019? Already?

The start of a new year is a good time to reflect on the previous year and strategize for the next.  The underlying context is that as we age, we use our experience base to determine a more fulfilling future.

Unless, of course, you are a trail or ultra running.  The adage which usually refers to insanity seems to be a more apt expression:  insanity is performing the same function over and over and expecting a different result.  I thought about this at length during the Stride Inside 6 hour indoor track race, held last Saturday, January 5, 2019.  I ran around the 215 meter track 113 times.  Each lap, I was expecting my running to improve...  Quite the opposite occurred!

At just over 24K in 6 hour race, my race was not overly stellar.  I have trouble running on concrete and although the track included a rubberized surface, my knees were not happy.  Lee Ann and I also fought a bout of the flu for 2 weeks prior to the race.  Lee Anne ran a fever for 4 days whereas I "only" had sinus congestion and a scratchy throat.  I had the flu shot about 2 weeks prior to feeling sick, so perhaps it mitigated the worst of the flu.  I was also (obviously) out of shape and opting for the 3 hour distance would have been a wiser move.  Due to fatigue, aching knees and cramping, I pulled the plug at 3.5 hours.


I am running much slower at 60 than I did at 50.  Not just a little slower, but a significant drop in training and race pace.  In my 40's, I typically placed above mid-pack, sometimes placing in the top 5 of my age category.  Now I page to the bottom of the results to look for mine.  There are a few reasons for this, but the end result is that I am unable to put in any speed training.  I will attempt to address this again, in 2019.

I actually enjoy looking at the OUTRace Series metrics.  I'm not sure why I did not notice this until recently, but there is a considerable difference between the ultra and trail series.  An example is the number of people in my age category (male 50+) who ran more than 2 races in 2018:

OUS (Ultra):  19 people ran more than 2 races
OTS (Trail):  3 people ran more than 2 races

So, although very slow, if I ran 4 or more trail races, I could be on the male 50+ podium.  Hmm...

I have a great idea!  I'm going to run more of the races in the Ontario Trail Series!

I also want to attempt some of the series races that I have yet to attend.  It helps in my capacity as OUTRace coordinator to know more about all of the races.  This year I am not being forced into running a marathon, but I did not escape unscathed from those negotiations...  I am already signed up for my least favourite race:  Around the Bay 30K.  Why is it my least favourite?  Back in the days when I was an ultra snob (okay, I still am, but now I am a semi-retired ultra snob) I was convinced to run ATB as a training run for the upcoming ultra season.  As it was "only" 30K, I didn't bother to check the weather forecast and showed up on race day wearing cotton sweat pants.  The race started in snow but quickly changed to teeming rain.  I was forced to run with one hand holding up my soggy cotton pants.  Can you say embarrased?

2019 races

These are the races I hope to run in 2019.  The plans for some of these are fairly concrete (I am signed up for Pick Your Poison, which is poised to sell out soon) but others are currently wishful thinking and other plans (yes, I actually have some non-race plans) may interfere with the list:

January 5:  Stride Inside 6 hour (done)
March 25:  Around the bay 30K
April 13:    OUTRace Spring Warm-up (39K?)
April 27:    Pick Your Poison 25K
May 11:     Seaton Soaker 25K
June 15:     Niagara Ultra 50K
June 22:     Pure Grit 30K
July 15:      Massey Marathon 21.1K
August 17: Iroquoia TT 34K
Sept. 21:    Kingston 6 hour
Oct. 12:     Sticks 'n Stones 25K
Nov. 17:    Fat Ass Trail Run 25K

If I realize the above plan, I will have completed 6 races in the Trail series.  I am not happy with the grouping in June (50K, then a 30K the next week), but Niagara and Kingston are the 2 most likely ultra attempts for us, as Lee Anne prefers road races.  There is talk of other races, such as a small (10K?) one in Ecuador in January or February, a duathlon in Ottawa in September and perhaps a race in Quebec over the summer.  So many races, so little time!

Another "plan" for 2019 is to revert back to posting to this blog on a more regular basis.  Monthly, or after each race, whichever comes first.