Thursday, October 24, 2013

gotta get stronger, let's plank!

Almost two weeks ago I got my ass handed to me at the Grizzly Ultra in Canmore, AB. At the 8K mark the lead group pulled away from me at which was already a stupid fast pace. As I watched Duncan Marsden gliding ahead I noticed how there was a certain togetherness to his stride which made running look almost easy. So I conclude, after comparing my running stride with his: Duncan looked strong, myself more wibbly and nonlinear.

Now to say I don't have an efficient stride would be wrong. I've had a good race season with a number of wins and increasingly faster times, but if I want to take my running to the next level I have to locate my weaknesses and address them. If I had a coach (which I don't because I have control issues) I'm sure this hypothetical coach would have a number of solutions to my number of hangups. Since I'm flying solo I will just have to go at it using trial and error.

The off season is the perfect time to improve your weaknesses. So the first one I'd like to take a stab at is my core strength; being that I have no core strength. On top of my regular strength workouts, my core workout currently consists of randomly hitting the ground and planking for a minute or two and...well...that's about it. My buddy Caroline Toppazzini is doing the 30 day plank challenge. So I plan to follow suit, but being that I'm bat shit crazy, I'm going to double the time spent planking. Basically topping out at 10 minutes on the 30th day....GULP! The goal is to develop significant strength in my core, hoping that by next year I can keep pace with the stone cold killers in the lead pack of a redlining 50K. In the meantime if it so happens I look better with my shirt off, I may just do as Justin Bieber does and randomly lose my shirt in public places.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Grizzly Ultra 50K

photo by Phil Villeneuve
      On October 13th I laced up for one last race for what has been a long, exhausting racing season. The Grizzly Ultra is a technical 50K race at the Canmore Nordic Center in Kananaskis country. Before the race started I knew it was going to be a tough race. Firstly I'm not strong at the 50K distance. Secondly, I heard it would be a super fast lead group, enticing me to go out with them at the start which would certainly increase the suck factor later in the race.

     Once the race started that is what exactly happened. The lead group consisting of Jakub Sumbera, Duncan Marsden, Francois Leboeuf, Tyson Smith, Andy Reed, Devin Featherstone and myself pushed the pace, which is easy to do on the first 26K. The first half of the course consists of rolling hills on a double track course. At the 10K mark I glanced at my GPS that read 40:20. Careful Dave, that's a crazy fast start, so I decided to drop the pace and fall back of the now lead group of 3-

At finish line
4 guys. Still feeling comfortable I continued with my moderate pace knowing the course was going to get far more technical with bigger climbs in the second half. Curious to see how my pace was, I looked at my watch at 21K, 1:29:30!!! Shut the front door! Backing off my pace once again I found myself running a consistent pace going into leg 3 and the beginning of the technical single track. My body felt good addressing the rooty climbs and tricky descents. Upon completion of the third leg with only 12K left to go, I noticed Andy Reed about 1-2 minutes back. Knowing that he noticed me, he was going to pick up the pace to catch me. So I would have to do the same to make sure that didn't happen. The fourth leg really left me hurting. When I left to do the fifth and final leg I saw Andy coming in from his fourth. Now only 1 minute up on Andy I had to somehow convince my exhausted and beaten body to have one final strong push. As tired as I felt and probably looked, Andy informed me after the race that he didn't feel any better. The final leg was a suffer-fest but all the hurt disappeared quickly when I saw my three kids, wife and mom at the finish line. 

Adele, Sam, and Julia
My time was 4:19:27 which was good for a sixth place finish. As for all the crazy fast horses, Jakub Sumbera won and set a CR in a time of 3:45:39. WHAT?!? Duncan Marsden captured second in 3:52:28 and Francois Leboeuf snagged third in 3:54:18. Three runners all breaking the old CR held by Phil Villeneuve and all coming in under 4 hours!!!

Overall, the race went well for a 50K. Legs felt good, fueling was okay and venue was awesome. I would totally come back and do this race again...if they bumped it to 100K!

Lt: Me, Ctr: Jakub Sumbera, Rt: Duncan Marsden


Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Tried and True Granola Bar

It's a weekly routine of mine to preheat the oven and mix up a batch of my oh-so-yummy granola bars. With a ton of nutrients and good fats, I find it's the perfect snack to have in your bag whenever the hunger strikes.  Not having these on hand leaves the door open to buy the readily available crap that is everywhere.

1 1/2 cup quick oats
1 cup almonds
1 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup flax seeds or chia seeds
1/2 cup hemp seed
3/4 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup liquid honey

Combine. Pour on parchment paper on cookie sheet. Press firmly. Bake 17-19 min. @ 350. Let cool then cut into 16 bars.

Whether I'm trying to fulfill my nutritional needs while training, recovering from a race or loading for an ultra, these bars pack a punch in a small very tasty square. Check the nutritional value:
242 calories, 14 g fat, 1.5 g sat. fat, 25 g carbs, 4.5 g fibre, and 7 g protein.


Sweet mother, I'm getting hungry just writing this!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

MitoCanada, Running on Empty 2013

A big thank you to all my friends who donated to this awesome cause!!!

MitoCanada's Running On Empty was a perfect event for trail runners and mountain bikers to loop a fun, yet technical single track course all the way making new friends, chatting with old friends and bumping shoulders with all different abilities. Enjoying the beautiful day was only part of the experience. The other was raising funds and awareness for MitoCanada.  Please, please, please visit the link provided to find out more about this amazing foundation.

The first thing I noticed at the Nordic Center in Canmore AB (the replacment course due to the June floods) was that everyone, long time friends and complete strangers were all smiling ear to ear. To be clear, this is not a race but a personal challenge to complete as many laps as you can either solo or on a team. I decided that I would relax, run a reasonable pace and run alongside as many runners as I could. The day started with me running two 8.5K laps with a new friend and ultra juggernaut Andy Reed. We shared stories, laughs and he told me about his incredible 24th place finish at this years Leadville 100M. The rest of the day was spent  meeting and making a long list of new friends.

My only regret on the day was not running a lap with Blaine.  I heard about Blaine and his family's story in March of 2011 when my son Sam ended up in the hospital with flacid paralysis. A biopsy was performed to test for mitochondrial disease. Not knowing what mitochondrial is, I did what every parent seems to do: I went home and Googled it. The first thing to pop up was a video about Evan Penny, Blaine and Sarah's son. Immediatly I felt peace. The way the Penny family goes about their life and challenges is truly inspirational. The biopsy came back 3 months later and was negative. Currently Sam's disorder is undiagnosed and continues to be researched. He continues to suffer a form of ataxia (lack of balance and coordination).  All who meet the Penny family are lucky to see that they are the epitomy of strength and positivity.

Next year may shift back to the original course of West Bragg Creek out to Canmore all throughout Kananaskis country, picking up runners as we trek along. I totally recommend this event for anyone wanting to meet like minded people, enjoy Kananaskis trails, and want to raise awareness and funds for the best foundation around.

Remember to check out their site!