Monday, November 13, 2023

August 2023

Well as we continue to catch up on how 2023 has been going we hit August. The month kicked off with the Natal Day Race in Dartmouth. Once again I chose the 6 Mile option, which is a three lap event. A perfect weather day was ours for the start. I had been lucky enough to secure an elite start Bib which allowed me to start up front. Ultimately my goal was to pace myself well and not really race others, but being able to run with the fast group for as long as possible certainly would be a benefit. 

From the start we took off at a decent pace. The course has a slight downhill start, then a climb, log downhill run, and finally a big up hill finish. I held back a bit on Lap 1, got up to pace buy the end and held through Lap 2, which brought me right on the tail of some other 6 Mile runners for Lap 3. I passed 4 others on that lap, and held on for a fourth in Age Group finish and the same avg pace as the previous year of 3:37 min/km. That was good in that last year they shortened the lap length due to some road construction. 

The Natal Day race was the only official race I did in August, focusing instead on a Provincial Tour of parkruns on my way to reach the 100 run milestone before the end of the year. From the Truro Victoria Park parkrun's 50th event:

To the brand new Tatamagouche Butter Trail parkrun  (with some fellow Chain of Lakes parkrunners):

To our favourite Halifax Chain of Lakes parkrun:

Outside of parkrunning this month, I started to really ramp up the long runs as I started to aim for a Fall long race. I really wanted to push my limits this month and see how the body would hold up. Turns out, not too bad. 


Friday, October 20, 2023

July 2023

So June 2023 had some odd weather with a severe drought and forest fires to start the Summer, then passive rains. Those rains continued all Summer long it seemed. But we still got some good sporting in! Here's some highlights.

Luckily the month started with the parkrun Canada Day run. We wore our red and had a blast on our favourite local 5K run. 

I got a new pair of the latest On Running Cloud Stratus. This is one of their more cushioned long distance shoes. First off, I love a good white shoe, so Yes on the looks. Coming from the Cloud Go, the Stratus was a heavier shoe, but is designed so well, you don't really notice it while running. I find the cushioning softer than the Go (which to be fair is still one of my favorites). The Stratus would go on to be my main Summer shoe for long runs and it served me well. I never felt too beat up after 30+ km runs.

We had a family trip to Colorado. I'll say that running there can be tough coming from sea level, but I do tend to adapt pretty quickly. You just need to hold back on the top end effort a little bit.  But while I do get my runs in, I have to get some hikes in as well as the views are amazing.  

A nice ridge line near Loveland, Colorado.

A great, no amazing view from Pike's Peak.  Also, I was amazed at how altitude from sea level to say 1500m is tough, but then stepping it up to 4300m is another thing altogether. I even took an O2 saturation reading and my levels dropped with from 90 at 1500m to 82 at 4300. I did a little breathing work and managed to get it back up, but it would certainly take some time to adapt to that on a consistent basis. 

Coming back from Colorado, I decided to start to ramp up my long runs. With no concrete Fall racing plans, I thought that having a good strong base of distance and hills would allow me more options. I could go long, or cut back and use that endurance to try out some faster short racing again. Getting back into the 30+ km running range after a year away from that went really well, even with the spike in humidity we got all Summer long.

I had been noticing this list of parkrunners with the most first finishes and saw that I was working my way up the list. So I kept working at it and by the end of July, I took over the top spot. This list is more about consistency than anything else. Obviously to get into the top end of it you have to run parkrun a lot, and generally push yourself to your best each weekend. It doesn't mean I get a first finish every time, far from it. But I do show up a lot. 

Monday, August 7, 2023

Hey It's June 2023

 So how was June of 2023? Well, if we don't talk about the weather in Nova Scotia, it was not too bad. 

I switched up training to get ready for the Baddeck Duathlon, my first multisport event in a number of years. To be fair, I decided to go back and race this event because the people who host it do a great job, and it was going to be great to see some fellow multisport racers again. 

First though I was back for another crack at the Bridgewater Tire Trot. 

This is a 5K race on a crusher dust trail that has been happening for a few years now. Initially it was postponed due to extreme dry conditions and local forest fires. Luckily, a little rain made it possible to hold the event. 

This is probably the oddest 5K race I run, the trail always seems to be confusing as to if you are running a slight incline or a slight decline. It shifts a lot as it follows a river. Add in a lot of tree cover which can make GPS signals spotty and you just have to be ready to run what ya brung. 

With a tight first few corners before the transition to crusher dust, and an unfortunate trail gate that couldn't be opened before the race, I knew that a fast start was definitely needed. 

So off I went, pushed by a few other fast runners to go hard. I made it through the obstacles in first, then had the opportunity to define the pace. My next goal was to hit sub 18 minutes. Slight uphill and crusher dust are certainly not the best conditions for this, and with GPS iffy as I mentioned, I had to do the math while running. It hit the 1 km return mark needing a 3:45 km with the worst of the uphill to come. I managed a 3:41 and crossed the line in 17:55 and 1st overall. 

This was my fourth win in a row at this event, and while those wins won't last forever, it was pretty nice. It was also great seeing a huge turnout from my run club the BLT Runners. 

Back at multisport with the Baddeck Duathlon. This event was last held in 2019 and I had a blast doing it. I knew my bike riding capabilities were not where they were once, but still it was a great excuse to visit Cape Breton and get away for a few days. 

It was the same race as previous years. A tough gravel road run with massive climbing and a crazy decent to finish, then rolling constant hills on the bike, only to go back up the hill for one final run. 

Off we went. My goal here was clear, lead the first run. I knew the better bikers would over take me soon enough so I just wanted to keep my little piece of glory on that first run. 

I pushed hard on those hills, just holding back enough to be able to get through transition 1 and onto the bike in one piece.

I was a little rusty on transitions, but I got out onto the bike in relative ease and peddled away.

I was passed by the riders over the course of the next 22 km but felt good in my effort. I kept the speed up around 32 km/hr. The rust really showed though and a little bad luck. We all had to stop at a stop sign and put a foot down. I forgot to gear down as I should have, so getting started again was tough and I definitely lost some time there. The course also has one way bridges and the biggest one was unfortunately in use when I got there, so another short wait. I doubt it would have changed the results much, with maybe a slightly faster finishing time. 

I started the final run in 5th place and finished there, with a solid effort, though I was definitely more gassed from the bike ride than I used to be, and couldn't quite muster a full out hard effort on that run. 

Following the duathlon, we headed to the Highlands for some awesome hiking, even though it rained like crazy. Lexie joined us for turned out to be an excellent hiker.

The month ended with a nice birthday hike. I have often gone for a big bike ride or epic trail run, but this time I went for a speed hike. 15 km with a stop enroute to brew some hiking coffee and sit and sip and ponder things. It was a nice way to end the month. 

Monday, June 5, 2023

The Days of May 2023

Well May has come and gone and I finally had the chance to throw down some racing. In fact, the month was full. So let's go picture heavy and word light as we catch up with things. 

First up was the Club Dog Runnin' Spring Rust Buster Canicross race. There were two races on the day for me as I got to run with two incredible dogs that I borrowed from club members. The first race was the 3 km Standard race. 

Canicross races are run on trails ranging from crusher dust to single track, with canitrail being a little rougher trails.  The Oakfield Park trails are a little mix of some crusher dust and some more gnarly trails with lots of elevation change, sharp turns and lose footing. Now attach a dog to you, run way faster than you can on your own and have fun! 

Phoebe and I got to start first in race the 3 km standard. Phoebe is perfectly fine not chasing another dog (some dogs really like that to give them a boost). She's on the smaller side compared to some dogs I run with, but dang is she strong. She took off and we quickly settled into a fast but manageable 3:15ish min/km pace. My legs were feeling it by the end of kilometer 1, but we kept it up. A quick slow down to visit another dog that was just out for a walk, a few trips to the ditch to check out a puddle, were the only issue. All of those were dealt with so quickly though. 

The final kilometer is definitely the toughest on this course and we held our pace finishing strong with a tight bungee lead. As the races are usually time trial efforts, we had to wait until the end to see our placing and we won. I broke 10 minutes on a super tough course and I was super happy.

This year I opted to also race the 1 km sprint race. I had the chance to race with Kona, who I have run before. Brother to Phoebe!  Kona is a little bigger with an extra bit of strength. While we had run some training races before, I hadn't unleashed Kona's full potential before, so this was going to be crazy fun. The scary part was going to be a little section of the course where we had to traverse a small detour due to the trail being blocked. 

Kona wasted no time when given the chance. We started this race in third and he does not like to be behind another dog.  Now I didn't know what our chances of catching the other runners ahead of us were since it was such a short race.  The detour was probably the only time we slowed on course, and only because I made sure we did.

We did catch second place about 600m into the race and Kona made sure we passed quickly. While we didn't manage to catch first place, we did end up making up enough time to win this race as well, though only by a few seconds. Our 2:56 finishing time didn't tell the whole story as we spent a lot of time in the 2:30 min/km range to make up for our slow down. 

Lexie and I picked up our prizes since she is easier to carry than the Kona and Phoebe. Huge thanks to Club DogRunnin and MAHDS. If you want to run with your dog, check out

The next weekend I had no time to rest! This was Fredericton race weekend, but before we went headed to the race I managed to get a parkrun in!

Then off to Fredericton for the 10 km. Craig was racing the Half Marathon so I travelled up with him. The weather was less than perfect, being really cold and with a strong wind.  I didn't get a lot of pictures of the event, but it is a mass start race with the 10, half and full marathon runners starting by race pace.  The race itself is pretty simple. You run though the city, cross a bridge, do a little tour of the other side of the river, then head on back. At a certain point the half and full runners split off. The conditions were tougher than I hoped for and while I could see the runners ahead of me, I mostly ran solo. 

The wind was really noticeable in the last few kilometers, especially crossing the second bridge. It was also at this point I noticed that 10km had come and gone and the end of the race was not yet here. I did my best to keep the top 3 runners in sight and finally came across the finish line.

The race ended up being 600m long due to a misplaced turn around cone. That and the high winds pretty much threw away my time goal. I did finish strong, but ultimately I don't know how close to my time goal I could have been, as I usually save a little extra effort, but to be honest, when the finish was no where and the 10km mark was coming up, I slowed a bit and just lost the mental oomph. Alas, it is what it is.

Another weekend and another race. Weekend 3 saw the Bluenose Marathon Weekend come to Halifax. I had not planned on running but ended up entering the 10km. I knew that my legs were pretty tired by this point with little recovery, but it was going to be nice to at least run through Halifax with some of the fast guys.  

First up though, a 5km parkrun! 

I didn't go into this parkrun with any sort of goal, I just wanted a nice run with some fun people. I chose to run with the leaders and just let them dictate the pace. I stuck with one runner until close to the end and the big 2.5km hill finally took its toll on him. Excellent effort though as I tried to pace him up the hill for as long as possible. 

I finished the parkrun with a 18:30 in what I hoped would be close to my goal pace for the Bluenose 10km.

The Bluenose this year was going to be extra tough. A slight down hill through town and across the bridge (sounds like Freddy). The big difference to Fredericton is that the bridge in Halifax is incredibly steep to allow huge ships to pass under it. Add to the this that each side of the bridge has a super steep hill to take you up to city level. 

I made it to the bridge in 8th place and on pace, even holding pace up over Nantucket on the Dartmouth side.  By this point, I had moved into 7th place overall and held that for the rest of the race. Coming back to the bridge, we were all hit with a huge head wind, which made the climb over to the Halifax side that much harder.


The On CloudBoom Echo were really fun shoes to take on this journey. 

The cheers from people I knew on the side lines was really appreciated. I was certainly feeling that kilometer worth of super steep climb. I came through the finish in 37 minutes. Slower than I hoped, but hey, this was not a flat easy race, so add in tired legs and I am okay with that.

Lots of friends from my run club were present to race or pace different events. And hey, we beat the rain! 

10km runners. 

A little bling shot, including the Age Group award I won, which was  great hand made wine mug from Peter Eastwood. I use it for espressos. 

The final weekend came and while there was no official race, I had one more parkrun to do and this time I wanted to try and achieve my goal of a sub 18 min 5km run each month. So off I went, running pretty hard down and while not killing it on the up hill, I help on for a decent 17:37 finish. 

So I needed some down time following this month. The old man legs were feeling it. The lungs on the other hand were perfectly fine. 

Monday, January 16, 2023

Let's Get 2023 Started Right - Pick and Shovel 10(.5)km Trail Race - 2023

 So other than some fun times at parkrun, the last time I raced and gave a good effort was way back in Oct at the Valley Harvest 10km road race.  Following that I had an opportunity to race the first ever All Out Racing 10km Trail race in November, but alas had to travel. From all accounts it was a great race. 

Come forward to January 2023 and race two for All Out Racing was here. The goal of All Out Racing is fun inclusive events. So often trail races are only Ultra Distance event, with even races in the 20km plus distance being tough for seasoned veterans. While we have had some fun shorter distance trail races locally, they certainly are not the norm, which often excludes runners that do not dedicate their lives to the woods and long weeks on their feet. 10km is a great opportunity for those that aren't normally "trail runners" to come on out and have some fun, whether they are roadies, weekend warriors or just new to running. 

The January race was called the Pick and Shovel Showdown and it included 2 races to choose from. All runners started together and did a 10(.5 ish) km race from start to finish. For some we gave it our all and called it a day, but for others their day was just getting started and the event then turned into an 8 hour endurance run. At this point runners would go back on course doing laps until the 8 hour mark. Most laps would win. If there was a tie, then the winner would be the one who did the first 10km race the fastest. Fun (if you like long). So this was a combo of endurance and speed, while laps style trail races are often mostly endurance based with the person last standing taking the win. 

Anyway, back to my race, the 10km one. 

So the day started with rain. Hold on, the day before started with rain and it did not stop (in fact it is still going on for a fourth day now). Luckily it wasn't cold rain, getting as high as 12C that day. For those doing the 10km, this was annoying but not the worst thing. It certainly sucked more for the endurance racers. 

I got up and got to the race venue early as I usually do and got checked it. Super easy process, the guys had everything well laid out and ready to go. I also had time to consider my race outfit as I basically filled my car with options. 

Over the next 1.5 hours the racers came through and picked up their kit and then we were beckoned outside for a race brief.

We all pretended to try and stay dry for those moments and then off to the start line, where we were not held long before we were off and running.

The course started on a gravel road which climbed quickly, then a fast decent to a turn onto a rough section of double track. This popped out onto a gravel road again before once more zipping into some single track. This was close to 0.5 km in length and plenty of time to get the field spread out, so the single track section didn't really bottle neck too badly.  The single track had huge puddles, the kind that eat your momentum. If your feet were not wet yet, they were now. 

I was running in the third position at this point and hanging with the top two runners. We popped out of the wood, ran across a small field and then onto the main loop.

MacDonald Sport Park (the name of the venue) is a fairly wide gravely / crusher dust trail system. It doesn't get a ton of maintenance and therefore the trail, while not technical, is quite rough with some roots and larger rocks. The hills often contain loose gavel as well. 

By the second kilometer, I was over taken and fell to fifth, with the top two guys kicking it up even further and pulling away.  I was then side by side with some other runners, going back and fourth with a few guys over the next kilometer. 

That first section of trail is predominantly down, which means we need to go back up. The far side of the loop is hills. Steep, short, power hills. I have run in here a lot, both solo and with canicross dogs. I know how to accept the hard pounding of the down hills and took advantage of that. With the mud, slippery rocks and deep puddles, I drew upon a lot of experience and pushed hard top pull away on the descents. Soon I was back into a solo fifth position with a small gap. 

This lasted for a bit but then Colleen Wilson pulled along side. Her climbing strength was awesome and we ran side by side through deep puddles and heavy mud and slippery rocks until about the 6th kilometer and which point she started to pull away. 

My goal was to worry about me though and what I had in the old man legs. As I started lap 2 I knew I had to take advantage of the downhill section to gain as much of a gap advantage as possible, so I held the effort.

My breathing training was coming into its won as well. I was getting good deep breaths and feeling as strong as I could, thanks to Gilles and O2Max for that.

I was able to keep Colleen in my view and a couple of other runners just slightly ahead until we started to go into the twisty hilly section. 

Finally, the big hills were done and I pulled back to the field area for a final time with some cheerful volunteers pushing me along. Only about 800m to go! 

This was now about me. I had glanced back and no one was in sight, and I knew I couldn't catch the runners ahead, but I wanted to run as strong as possible so pushed harder through the single track, the gravel road and then the double track sections, finally climbing up the road toward the finish until the sharp descent to the line. 

Cheering volunteers were there and the top 5 other finishers. A couple guys ahead went back out as they were doing laps at this point, while four of us caught our breath then went out for a nice cool down run and a chat. 

My official time was 45:40 and it was tough. It was definitely a course suited to strong cross country runners, able to dig through puddles and mud and short choppy hills. Four people ahead (at least) were people with decent or exceptional cross country records so it makes a lot of sense. 

I chose my On Running Cloudventure Peak and Darn Tough Nordic socks to keep my feet happy. Of my 8 pair of trail shoes then had a good level of aggression while still some comfort. And I always choose longer socks for trail running, especially in mud/water/snow with wool socks or wool blends being key for me. 

It was great chatting with many runners, chatting with fellow BLT Runners Nicole and Jacquelynn (really stepping out of their comfort zones on races like this).

So again a big shout out to AO Racing with Jason and Peter and the great group of volunteers. The race went off so well, and I look forward to future races with them, either running or helping out. If you are in Nova Scotia or willing to travel, add their races to your bucket list and follow them on Facebook and Instagram

Shout out to their event sponsors: Aerobics First, Sportwheels, 5K Cafe, On Running, Smartwool, Buff, and 3 Mile Outfitters.