Oh yeah, I just remembered that I have a blog.
Back in June, I lost my healthy balance of work, family and running. I took on some additional responsibilities at work and spent far too much time worrying about my job. My leg took a few weeks to heal after tweaking it at Sulphur Springs and then I never felt like I regained my pre-race fitness. And due to sickness and teething, my youngest son didn’t let us have a solid night of sleep all summer.
Some people stress about finding enough time to train. This year I learned that training is the easy part; the challenge is finding adequate time for recovery. More training requires more rest. And if other aspects of your life are tiring you out, then you probably need to rest even more. You can’t expect to stay healthy and strong if you’re not balancing the stresses in your life with recovery time. At some point you’ll just burn out.
Although I did enter a few races over the summer and fall (see updates below), I had a disappointing season as far as competing is concerned. I didn’t have the same hunger (or even joy) for racing that I had last year. And at some point, I also started to get stressed about running in general. I just felt tired.
So, this fall, I pulled back from structured training. I gave my body and mind some extra time to rest. I ran when and how I wanted. I took days completely off from running when I needed to. And I tried to enjoy every run as much as possible.
As the year comes to a close, I feel like I’ve regained a healthy life balance. My family continues to be my priority, I’m managing my work responsibilities better and I’m back into a solid running routine. And I’m looking forward to getting back into race shape over the next few months. As I return to structured training, I will continue to make rest and recovery a priority. If work or family issues create extra stress for a given day or week, I will adjust my training accordingly.
Given my break from training this fall, it’s not surprising that my running mileage is lower than last year. However, I still managed to log over 5,300 km, which is still fairly decent. And this doesn’t include the many thousands of extra miles spent chasing around my little kids.
Here’s hoping for a solid (and balanced) 2014!
Limberlost Challenge 56K – July
I finished fourth this year at Limberlost. I ran over 20’ slower than last year and had no interest in keeping up with the two people who passed me in the final 3K. I fell twice in the race and my legs cramped up both times. As a July event, the race times at Limberlost are always slow due to the heat, but I think I’m capable of finishing much faster than I have the past two years. I will probably return in 2014 and give it another try. It was great to have my friend Geoff participate in his first trail race at the event and also to see my parents at the finish line.
Squamish 50K – August
Men’s podium at Squamish 50K
Given the lack of vertical climbs in Ontario, my plan for Squamish was to use it as a solid training run for my September race in Haliburton. For the two weeks prior to Squamish, I had a blast running on trails in Vancouver Island and North Van. In particular, I had three solid training runs in Lynne Headwaters that felt fantastic. So, I certainly didn’t arrive on the start line fully rested. I expected to get crushed on the climbs, but I managed them surprisingly well. However, the descents were a complete disaster. I just didn’t have the experience or skill to run most of the long downhill sections. I was grabbing onto trees for support (and at times, for dear life). Although I managed to pick up the pace on the few flat sections, I lost significant time on the descents. Later that night I kept having nightmares about running downhill and tripping on rocks and roots. I finished third officially, but there were two faster runners (including my super-fast Salomon teammate Blaine Penney) that started an hour earlier. The Squamish 50K was the most challenging and beautiful race I’ve ever run. I would love to do this one again.
Haliburton 100 Miler – September
I won this race last year, so my hope was to post a faster time in better weather conditions. However, I struggled early in the race. My body just felt off and I didn’t even try to keep up with Dale, who led the race throughout. At the 40K mark, I just wanted to lie down and sleep. When I passed the aid station at 70K, I said to the volunteers, “I wish I wasn’t in second place right now because all I want to do is quit.” When I hit the 50-mile turnaround, I think only two of the 50-mile racers had finished their race ahead of me and I was still in second place for the 100-miler, so I pushed myself to keep going. I couldn’t understand why people weren’t passing me when I was feeling so lousy. By the time I reached the 92K mark, I saw my wife, Rochelle, at the aid station and told her I was done. As I was still in second place, she tried to encourage me to continue. I spoke to the doctor and nurse at the aid station, described my symptoms, and after they checked out my eyes and abdomen, whisked me into the medical tent. Sometimes you win a race, sometimes you end up in the med tent. It’s more fun to win.
Grizzly 50K – October
This was more of a run-cation than a race for me. After Hali, I took a couple of weeks off from running to recover and then just started back with some easy running. As I had never been to Canmore or Banff, and I needed to get a break from work for a few days, I decided to run the Grizzly 50K. I totally blew up in the race, but it was very beautiful course. I hiked much of the final 10K just to enjoy the amazing scenery. The highlight of the weekend was staying at Chez Phil, going for a fun Canmore trail run with Phil V and Adventure Simon, and hiking in Banff. Hopefully I can return to the area next year with Rochelle.