Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Weekend at Blue Mountain

Being a fan of HIMYM, I tried to think of a witty title that was a pun on Weekend at Barney’s but I couldn’t. Weekend at Bluie’s? Nobody calls it Bluie’s though, that’s just stupid. You’re going to have to settle for an unimaginative title here. 

I briefly mentioned in my training recap on Monday that Alison and I went to Blue Mountain, about a 2.5 hour drive north of Toronto. 

What were we doing there? Alison very generously arranged this as a birthday getaway. I love my wife, she’s my best friend and soulmate in every way, and marriage to me is all about sharing these experiences and life’s adventures together! 

It’s not even a special milestone age, I only turned 34. But traveling has been slim for us this year, and this is probably going to be the last weekend getaway we do for the year…so we lapped it up. 

Actually, probably a lot less relaxing than most couples do - a 6 mile hilly trail run on Saturday, and a 12.5 mile road & trails combination run on Sunday (again with the hills). 😝 I was super relieved that my hamstring was better for some longer runs this weekend!

I don’t normally do these HRG style photo bombardment blog posts, but let’s mix it up a little bit. Here we go…


Our digs for the weekend. A cottage within a village… we don’t do too remote ;)


We under-utilized this balcony and hammock, this 30 second period was the only time we went on it the whole weekend.


Birthday dinner! I was in the mood for anything, which is rare, usually I’m set on eating one thing for my birthday. Seafood and steak grill it was!


Are these the gates of hell? Almost at the top after about 3km of constant climbing. 


Once up top, it was a series of rolling hills like this. I remember this segment of the ECSON 10k race!


We contoured down a ski run for about 2km to the bottom (can you see Alison?). I’ll go into more of this in another blog post actually, a downhill running tip I got from Orienteering.


That stake I’m holding struck fear into the heart of every bear. First run collage.


Saturday night was more of a bar, more our kind of usual style. Burgers and garlic flatbread.



…the ice cream that put us over the edge.


Killer gradient! The rare time that you’d go UP a black run.


Sweaty selfie! We were both kind of exhausted here. 

Next time we go back there it should be snowing. 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

So I’ve always been a runner who needs a little bit of anti-pronation in their shoe, or so I thought.

I was initially hesitant to try Nike Lunarlons for this reason, but bought a pair of LunarGlide 4 in NY in May. Tried them as a recovery shoe for a few weeks and liked them.

After that I just wore them as a casual shoe to work…until this morning’s run when I remembered how good they were.

Enter this afternoon at the Sportchek sale I bought Flyknit and LunarGlide 6 - going to try them as a race shoe and recovery shoe! 😀✊

Monday, August 25, 2014

Training update: week 34, 2014

I’m getting back into the groove of training. Now I’m back to where I was in the last week of July, before I pulled this hamstring. 

41.6 miles (67 km) for last week. 


Dailymile log from late July to now. Actually the week of 18km is not accurate, because that was a session on the bike. The rest is running!




Recovery run - 3.2 miles (5.15 km).


Trail run - 4.6 miles (7.41 km) in High Park.


Easy run - 5.35 (8.6 km).


Steady state run - 3.1 miles (5 km).

Free tune up race for the Ajax 21k in September! Would’ve loved to race this, but no. 


She’s as energetic and nice in real life as she is on Instagram and Twitter - Alison and I finally got to meet Heather! 


Recovery run - 7 miles (11.33 km) for my birthday!


Trail run - 6 miles (9.6 km)

All of the hills at Blue Mountain! Alison and I did a simulated course of the North Face ECSON 10k that I raced in July. We wanted to reconquer it…by that we meant taking selfies runfies along the way. 


Long run - 12.45 miles (20 km).

Again we attacked the hills of Blue Mountain! :) Only this time more road.



2 days of conquering this.


You could look at it anyway you want it.

  • You could look at it like it took me 3 weeks to accomplish running a 40 mile week again.
  • Or you could look at it like it took me just a week off running to start running again.  

Why the jump from 33km to double the mileage of 67km the next week? Because given the little time off I had, once I was confident I was running pain free, I could resume my rough base mileage. 

But I don’t think I’m out of the woods yet. I’d like to string together a month of 40-50 mile weeks before I can say that I’ve “resumed” regular training. 

Although I finished off the weekend with what Alison and I dubbed as a hill bootcamp on Blue Mountain, I class this as strength training and I was careful to watch my speed. No speed work yet, probably not for another 2-3 weeks still. 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Anonymous said: Hi, I was just wondering why people cut out carbs in their diets when they try to lose weight? Is it because it can break down into sugars or what?


From what I have learned over the years (nutrition courses in college and through my own journey), cutting down carbs is often done because you’re essentially replacing those carbs with protein and fat. Carbs fill you up quick, but then many of us have probably noticed that we are hungry just a short time later. Good calories from protein and fat versus all of the sugars (like you said) and starches from carbs are going to keep us full for a longer period of time. Thus, we end up eating less overall and feel more satisfied. 

A lot of the times carbs have wrongly been demonized though, where as really it’s portion control (excessive carbs) that people get wrong. 

Also, there’s never a distinction between High GI and Low GI carbs in America. That’s like trying to lump running and cross fit together, and merely calling it “sport” every single time. 

Low GI carbs are whole wheats, bananas, brown rice, etc. These foods fill you up for longer than fluffy white bread, donuts, sugars (High GI), and are essential to giving you energy and helping your recovery for endurance sports. Otherwise your training is going to suffer - your training will be a waste of time without low GI carbs, you might as well sit on the couch.

The complex thing is how to adjust your carb intake according to your exercise output, which could vary on a week by week basis.

It’s not a case of “no carbs” vs “all the carbs”, we need to shift our thinking into “how much carbs?” and how much low GI carbs?”.

The app and running landscape

It’s Thursday and I may as well participate in Thinking Out Loud again this week, seeing as I really enjoyed the format last week and I have a host of different things on my mind. 


App defects - last night I had to have the awkward discussion with someone that the FitFriend app is only supported for the more current iPhone 5 and 5S models at the moment. This person had an iPhone 4S and the app gave GPS inconsistencies when in the background state, affecting their time and distance. 

I feel like a failure, I feel shit. Even though I know that I dropped support for the iPhone 4S for a good reason - that if I focused on the different hardware capabilities for older models, I wouldn’t get anything else done this year.

I can’t spread my wings that far yet. I’m a startup of 1, 2 when counting my wife’s support whenever she can. Once I’m in a position to work on this full-time then things will change.

For now, since I can’t restrict Apple in making FitFriend available to older devices, I’m going to have to publicize it more. So I’ll expand on this in another blog post. 


Pace groups - I haven’t really talked about running pace groups on the blog, but I’ve been talking about it quite a lot in person this year. Part of me thinks that it’s a cultural thing. 

For outsiders of Toronto, let me explain - there’s a very run group centric culture here. Noticeable to someone like me who’s done the bulk of their training independently before moving here in 2010. 

Group running makes it easier to get motivated, if you need that, and it’s also a great way for outsiders to meet new people and make new friends. I’ve actually only met just a small amount of asshats. The overwhelming majority of people have been great! One of them being my wife :D

The drawback of run groups I feel though, are that some people are too reliant on training at a pace, or running with particular people at their perceived pace. Not in a clique way, but in a way that they might freak out if they’re running alone. 

How is that good for your training if you’re not comfortable with running alone?

Since being in Toronto, I’ve increasingly become of the mindset that there are 2 types of people who run:

  1. Those who train to train!
  2. Those who train to race!

Racing is all that matters to me. Training is just a means to an end - so I’m going to have as much fun in training as I can, train logically, and save the emotions & ego for race day. 


Strava adoption - there has been more talk recently on Twitter and other social media about Dailymile just keeping the lights on. Bugs and visual defects not being fixed in over a year, a dead blog, etc. People are saying they’re migrating to Strava. 

Why they’re choosing Strava over RunKeeper though, I don’t know? Not that I think that RunKeeper is necessarily better, I actually think that they’re pretty much the same.

Maybe it’s something to do with being a group think species. Or maybe it’s some feature of Strava that I’m overlooking.

Either way, it doesn’t matter so much to me. The FitFriend app is a training tool, not a social workout network (social workout network? Ugh, can someone please invent a better term for what I mean here?). It syncs to social workout networks after the workout is done. Right now that’s Dailymile and RunKeeper, but I’ve been thinking of integrating in Strava for a while now…

As always, it’s time vs priority. I’m close to being convinced that it’s now priority. 


We’re going back to Blue Mountain this weekend - the place that destroyed my legs in the North Face race

Blue Mountain back in July. Only runners would go to a ski mountain twice in the summer.

I’m hoping that after coming back from injury, my legs will warm up to this strength training dreamboat of a hill. Call it a strength training bootcamp if you will ha! 

Lot’s of pain, food, altitude coming up. But I’m looking forward to putting in some long gruelling miles, and I’ll continue to back off the speed until I feel that this hamstring is strong enough. 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Training recap: week 33, 2014

Ok so I haven’t done a training recap in a couple of weeks, due to this hamstring injury

But it’s worth mentioning my week last week because I ended up stringing a few runs together. I’d call it a week of test runs, rather than regular training. 

Originally I was mentally preparing myself for 2-4 weeks of no running. But it ended up being 7 days.

Then I ran 500 metres on day 8. I submitted this ridiculous jaunt to my training log and it spat it back out and laughed at me, but I didn’t care. It was a triumphant 500 metres!

Then came 1 mile. Then rest. Then 2 miles, 3 miles, 5 miles.


Best time to run through a theme park - when it’s closed!


33km / 20.5 miles in total.

On Saturday I wouldn’t have normally jumped to 9.5 miles, but Alison and I were registered for a race and I decided to treat it as my long run.



Saturday’s run and beers with coach.

To be honest, I’m going to be nervous about training in the next few weeks until I hit 45-50 mile (70-80km) weeks again. 

Very on edge here. Logically I have no reason to be, I feel great. It can all get taken away so easily though.

Monday, August 18, 2014 Saturday, August 16, 2014

A midsummer night’s race tradition

A Midsummer Night’s Run is a strange race for me. 

It’s a race that I’ve never actually…raced. It’s a race that I’ll be doing for the 3rd time tonight. But I’ve never taken it seriously. 

Mostly because I’ve always had some kind of injury that’s been timed around this race.

Held on the east waterfront of Toronto, the organizers promote the fact that a lot of people wear fairy costumes for it (although that’s kind of getting synonymous with a lot of running events in general now). As it loosely follows the theme of the hilarious Shakespeare play, you guessed it, A Midsummer Night’s Dream.


Somebody be photobombing my post-race shot. 2011.

Unofficially, it’s known for 3 other things:

  1. A rare evening race for Toronto, ensuring that it’s nearly always humid.
  2. Almost a 100% guarantee that there will be a thunderstorm, either during the race or in post-race celebrations. Bringing me to…
  3. Beer on the baseball field post-race. The real field of dreams, Kevin Costner. 

Bottom line - it’s fun and brutal at the same time!


Post-race festivities in the baseball field in 2011.

Previously (in 2011, 2012) I’ve treated the 15km just as a long run after coming back from some kind of injury (usually of the ITB or shin variety). There’s also a 30km run for the ridiculously uninjured among us, I am not holding my breath that I’ll ever be able to do that ha!

But even running it at a mild long run pace has sapped me of energy. The time of day always makes me feel heavy and bloated, no matter what I seem to eat/not eat.

I don’t know why I go back for more. I don’t classify myself as a social runner, but if I was honest I’m probably drawn to the social aspect of this run for some reason. Maybe it’s for nostalgic purposes, as the first time I went it was with Alison, about a month into our dating history.


Alison and I at the finish in 2012, more comfortable with couple photo taking.

Anyway, at least this year I’m coming into it after only having 1 week off from a light hamstring tear.

But again I won’t be racing it, and again I’m looking forward to it! See you out there for a beer in the rain :)

Thursday, August 14, 2014

I rarely look back

Except occasionally.

I seemed to have developed a predominately forward outlook when I was 18, working as a pizza chef at Ayers Rock resort (wtf was I doing in the desert at 18?).

My sous chef would regularly drill it inside my head to ignore my mistakes - many stupid, careless, mistakes of an uncoordinated 18 year old trying to cook - and concentrate all of my energies in finding a solution instead. 

That seems to have worked.

As I always instinctively gravitate to finding a solution whenever I fuck up, instead of dwelling on it. It also helped in leaps and bounds in snapping me out of a depression rut I had fallen into in my mid-teen years. 

A forward outlook has also helped in adapting to new environments. One of them being when I moved to Canada in 2010. 

Sometimes I have trouble remembering my past now. I can’t even tell stories properly, because I block out so much of my past due to looking forward so much. Except for right now.

Right now I’m missing my Grandma. 

I don’t really get nostalgic much, and therefore I don’t get homesick much either. I don’t know why I’m getting this brief feeling of homesickness now, maybe it’s because of the recent Robin Williams tributes. 

But it does happen occasionally, and right now I miss my Grandma for some reason. My Nana, who I said goodbye to in 2011 over the phone. On the other side of the world.

I don’t know where I’m going with this…let’s file this under thinking out loud or something.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

A week of doing nothing & DC

This would usually be my weekly training recap. If I actually did any training last week. 

Pulling my hamstring for the first time was enough to scare me into sitting out for the whole week. 

I increased my strength training and iced my hamstring 2-3 times a day every day last week, and on Wednesday I saw the PT.

On Friday Alison and I left the hustle and bustle of the city…for another city. We flew to DC and stayed right near Capitol Hill.

Are we political? No. Are we history buffs? No (although put said history in a movie format and I will eat that stuff right up! Hello Gangs Of New York).

Are we runners? Watch out DC! :) 

That’s all we pretty much love to do on holidays - run, drink coffee, drink beer, taste food, chat to & watch locals.


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