Friday, 27 March 2015

Hey 1st Time Boston Marathon Runners!

Wow, been a long time since I've blogged about anything.. Such is life when you have a young one (20 months old) and an IOs game on the shelves of the app store. (Monkey Feet)

I was speaking with a friend today about Boston Marathon 2015. It made me realize how much research and looking around for advice I did before race day. I dropped some advice to her, I thought it was worthwhile sharing. Here goes:

 Boston hills are more so deceiving than they are really tough hills. Because many are so slight. So you have to be really be responsible and relaxed.
I urge you for the 1st Five kilometres to hold back on the throttle (it's a slight downhill for about 5km) and try and keep your planned race pace. Then after 5km- try and maintain a comfortable pace. If it's your planned pace:awesome. If it's not: roll with it. You've got a long ride left. You may do great the first half, but Boston is a pain because of that second half. That's why heartbreak sucks. Everyone has an issue with heartbreak hill. Not because it's the worst hill ever, but because it's at a point in the race where most runners are feeling the hurt. It's that point where there are a series of hills at the end that take a lot from you physically and mentally.

My 3rd race in Beantown, I came in completely relaxed, and settled into a really comfortable pace. I didn't force "the training/planned pace" just what I felt I could run 42km comfortable at.
                                         ~   Because you can always force the pace
                                              and feel totally deflated by 20-30km,
                                               or you can feel relaxed/comfortable
                                       and start that fight through the last 5-10km.
                                   Because you will have to fight. Just when is the question.~

             And.. that is why the marathon is awesome. Because you always do battle (I'm excited just talking about it.) And you will definitely do battle in Boston. If you hold out and stay relaxed and comfortable for the race. This is what you trained for!  I guarantee you that you can hold off the fight and enjoy the course with Boston college, Wellesley college and all of the fans a lot more, and smile a lot more when you cross that line, no matter what the time. If you're smiling and high fiving fans at 20km. I promise you will have a better race.

Have a great race out there. It's such an awesome experience. So different from any other race I've run. Enjoy every minute. I'll be thinking of you on race day! Dusty

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

2014 Spartan Beast: Mont Ste Marie

When I first ran the Spartan Beast back in 2012, I was pissed at the course. I had no idea that it would be so long and treacherous. This year, I knew what I was getting into & I vowed to myself that I would be ready.

For those that don't know my style. I typically keep a pretty good base. It allows me to have an easy build, come race time. Since my Achilles injury back in March, I was fairly non committal. No watch, no real fluent schedule. But this was pretty much my steez heading into this race: 
Tuesday: 8-10km trail run
Friday: Bike to work and back (40km)
Saturday: Beatdown hill workout in Gatineau for 6 weeks- approx 15-18km

I liked this schedule, and I felt pretty legit coming into spartan. By that I mean, I was nervous as hell -This race did kick my butt the 1st time. 

Anyways....shall we....

Warm up climb - 9am
The spartan speech, the gong..and go. Straight up a mountain for 20 minutes. My training mate and I tried to get ahead in the front of the elite crowd before the gong went off- with no luck. We spent the climb passing a ton of peeps, and trying to keep a normal breathing rythym. What a climb!

As we crest the top of the hill, we begin a descent. This is my gravy, my flow state and where I feel most confident when trail racing. Confident and nervous at the same time. It's definitely a high you can't get everyday- Should nothing bad happen... More on that later.

Obstacles to boot
After all of the climbing, it's not so bad to have a few obstacles in the way. They really help on the getting back the breath part. We jump under a net for 20 metres. Then we carry a sand bag for a 3 minute loop and next we come up to our first wall hop and down to the front of the mountain where the crowd is.
There's a rope climb at the bottom of the mountain, where we must ring the bell at the top. We're about 5km in at this point. Next we must pull a propane tank attached to a rope up to the top about 20 metres. Then back up the mountain under barbed wire. We climb for another 5 minutes straight up, then take a left at the 1/2 point of the mountain and over a wall to descend towards the bottom again. Once we reach the bottom, there's a rolling monkey bar. Looks easy, fairly difficult though, especially when they're wet from the rain. I fell off and had to do 30 burpies, pretty brutal! Then a horizontal wall climb, and back up the mountain. 3 mins running, I realize I've lost my Garmin watch. Major bummer, but.. what can I really do at this point?

1/2 way there 
I hit the 1/2 way point of the mountain again and there's a monkey bar to climb. It's about 10 metre climb to ring the bell. I almost fell before the guy behind me fell and was told to do 30 burpies. Not doing that again!
Next we had to climb over a big upside down V, again about 20 metres high, it had grid rope on each side. After that, we continued through a wall course of about 4-5 walls. Then we descended for a bit and back to a big climb of almost 30 minutes. Once at the top there was a big concrete ball to carry from about 10 feet, then 5 burpies and 10 feet back. We've reached around the 10KM mark now. 11KM to go.

What Goes Up, Must Come Down

After all that climbing, we finally get a break and can start a good descent. The nice thing in a race like this is that you can cover a lot of distance very quickly on the downhill. Today, I'm going a little bit fast and not being overly cautious. There are points where I'm grabbing the long grass and jumping into it to try and slow myself down a bit. I'm just not applying any brakes in hopes of making up some time. Stupid is as stupid does though. I pass some Spartan Volunteers who say "slow down bud, you'll hurt yourself" and I continue to fly until I reach the bottom more shallow part of the slope and catch my tow on a stump. This sends me on a somersault in the air, when I come down I crack my right shoulder blade on a rock and continue running. It took all of 2 seconds, I'm not even sure anyone saw it, but I was wincing with pain.


I now had a difficult decision to make, continue or drop. We had this saying in training. "It's not about how hard it is, it's about not being a little b***h" I guess my mind was made up already. I folded my arm in and decided to continue as best I could do without any "obstacles" in the way.

Next Up

With one arm left, I was deemed to fail. It finally happened at 19KM on an inverted wall. I tried 4 times, but couldn't make it. I'd never DNF'd, but I guess there had to be a day where it would happened. As sad as it was, I learned a bit... It sucked being on pace for around a 3hr finish.

Here's what  I managed broken
Ammo Box Carry - 2 arms , 3 minute course
Water Bag Carry- Left arm. 2 Minute course 
Bucket Carry through the lake- 3 minute swim/sand walk
Deck Post Chain Pull- 4 minute swamp walk 

It seems I've met my match with the Spartan Race. It was very tough to drop for the first time in my racing career. But in the end, there's always next year. I think I'll return again and try to best my times of this year, in hopes of a good trail season. Getting tired of the road!

BTW.. I'd give this race a 4/5 for the course. Changed since 2012, less arduous. More water stops, tougher obstacles.

Here's to you and not falling down the side of a mountain!


Thursday, 29 May 2014

For: Athletes Looking to Improve & Perform Optimally

I've been running for a long time now and I'm happy to say I'm still learning. Most recently I've been biohacking a lot and am testing a very new controversial method of training. Trust me, I'm not rock solid on anything when it comes to training. I'm willing to test and try about any new technique for running that sounds like a good experiment. i.e. Barefoot Running=awesome. 
 I think it's important to never think you know everything, no matter how long you've been doing something, to be willing to learn new things in anything you do, and most importantly to perform optimally. It keeps us motivated and coming back for more! So...what's this training method you ask?

No more gluten & sugar. Cut back on the running and get faster!

Say what? True. 

Here's what I'm learning....

 So basically, your body naturally produces glycogen. But many of us endurance runners feel the need to constantly carbo-load to fill our glycogen stores for the long runs- even though glycogen pretty much restores naturally. In addition to eating what we feel like, because we're runners. Fact is: that if you barely had any carbs, you'd be alright. (Unless you're tapping those stores daily) In fact you might perform better. This is because many of our bodies have been trained as "sugar burners."
How to Qualify as a sugar burner. You just have to eat (wheat, gluten, sugar, many fruits, pretty much any counter sweets and bars)

What have I been doing to become a fat burner? I eat more fat of course!
I cut bread and all sweets. Other than one cheat day on the weekend.
I feel great. Because instead of burning sugar, I'm burning key tones.(Fat) you're body functions much better when it's burning fat. Also, your stomach has a tough time digesting gluten and sugar as well. So eat more good fat to burn more fat. Usually a ratio of 70% fat to 30% carbs should do it. We're not talking bad fat and bad carbs though... follow me?

When we burn fat, we're not constantly hungry. We can actually function in a compressed eating window, with no issues. (example: 16 hours fasting, 8 hours eating) Because... our brain isn't telling the gut it "need more sugar!" (Equivalent to what morphine addicts go through) ahhh.,.the beauty of being ketogenic.

For those looking to burn weight. This may be a good idea....When you're body is looking for food energy in Ketogenisis, it says. "Hey, maybe I'll burn this excess fat." For those who aren't looking to burn fat, it's about functioning completely;optimally. Mark Sissons of Primal Blueprint says "when elite athletes start experimenting with ketogenisis, I have no doubt we'll start to see some record breaking performances"

What's good fat? 
Avocados, olive oil, grassfed butter, grassfed meat, cocunut oil/milk,Almonds, Pumpkin Seeds, Greek Yogurt.etc.
What's good Carbs?
 Sweet Potatoes, rice, vegetables, Some fruit:cranberries,raspberries, etc.

There's been way too many examples in this past 6 month experiment to ever turn back. 
Example 1: Dr. Terry Wahls. Author of the "The Wahls Protocol" and a victim of progressive multiple sclerosis used to be electric wheelchair bound. With a high fat, low carb', vegetable heavy diet, she's now biking 18 miles. Wtf? Is society eating backwards? I'm convinced.(YouTube:"minding your mitochondria")

Look, I'm not the intense version of this eating regimen. I'm the heavy healthy, sometimes eat un-healthy version. I love food, and wine. There are times when you gotta eat, and you gotta drink. But 90% of the time, I want to perform optimally.

When it comes to less training is more method of thinking. There's a theory that 80% of high endurance runners train too much. Leading to chronic cardio and bad internal health. Everyone says knees and joints. I read more about heart and Achilles. When we're constantly training these long long distances, much of the time we're over stressing everything we can't see. (Can Running Shorten Your Life) We train all of this long long distance, but we're just re-enforcing what our bodies are already good at. If we stuck to more speed (twice/week) and some race pace, with a few big runs that are really ez heading into an event. We may just perform better. (See: Chapter 1&2: Ben Greenfield: Mastering Endurance)

Yeah, I didn't believe this bit either. I love training and "Sunday Rundays." Huge proponent of the long run for success.

I used to stress over long runs, and lose it to not get them done. Mind you, after a 16-20 week marathon training program I'm toasted. Usually many of us come into our races with hot spots, or arising issues somewhere.

I ran Boston 2014. I injured my Achilles. What an injury! I was signed up for the Ottawa marathon 5 weeks later, I couldn't train though, because I couldn't run. I managed 4 painful runs in. Though I stayed eating low carb, high fat. I just wanted to feel 60-70% coming into the race.
End Result: I did a lot less training and managed to pull out a 2:56 marathon. My 3rd best time out of 12 marathons. What a statement. Not saying it was easy. But have i bought in? Yup!

Now I'm parroting a lot of what I hear. But I'm also practicing what I preach. It's working. I've spent a lot of time looking into this stuff, and still have a lot to learn. But I'm a changed athlete and now truly truly believe that diet really is the most important part of fitness, with a lot less training.

Here's to you and performing optimally!


My teachers: (by order of significance)

Mark Sissons: The Primal Blueprint+podcast
Neil Rosenthal: Solefit Ottawa: Dude is a Beast. 
Ben Greenfield: Ben Greenfield Fitness Poscast+ Beyond Training Book
Dr.Terry Wahls: The Wahl's Protocol+podcast guest+
Joe Rogan: podcast (joe rogan experience)
Dave Asprey: (bulletproof coffee)
Robb Wolf: Podcast
JJ Virgin: the virgin diet

Thursday, 15 May 2014

My Training For Next Week's Marathon Just Started

There's something about the Ottawa Marathon that keeps me giddy like a schoolboy about racing. Perhaps it's because it's my main marathon, my longtime bq race, my first marathon, or maybe it's because it's my hometown course. It's certainly the course I feel most comfortable on, I know it like so many of my routine training routes.

I keep pushing and trying to learn how to be the best of me. I ran the Boston Marathon on Easter Weekend, I had one last workout prior to the race. I may have pushed myself right to the edge.
Vibrams, warm day. AND a "Hells Ya, I'm confident for Beantown" workout. 10 minutes 1/2 pace (3:40) 5 minutes 10k pace (3:30) 2.5 minutes 5k pace (3:17-3:20) and 20 minutes marathon pace (3:45-3:55) yeah...I had never finished it before that day. I was proud, confident and hurting good.

Turns out the workout was great for my confidence and bad for my Achilles. I managed Boston and have been off my legs ever since. 3 weeks. That's was until 2 days ago when my treatment on the calf started to work.(straight leg stretch, art, the stick, roller, self massage)
It's like staring at a dripping tap waiting for this thing to loosen up, losing my mind. But I'm finally lacing up, full addict style.

I'm so grateful to be able to run. I missed it. I haven't had an injury in a long time that's forced me to sit it out so long.

Now I take the chance on Ottawa. How can I not? I'm super competitive, I've run it since 06' and how would I feel if I stayed at home and let the race happen without me. I'm about 65-70% right now. I'm hopeful that will get me through.

Mentally once that race starts, I'm Carey Price. (See 2014 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs Montreal Canadiens beat Boston Bruins) just hoping I can stay that long for 26.2 miles. Ha ha ha! 

Let ya know how it goes. Wish me luck!

Here's to you and Carey Price.


Monday, 21 April 2014

My Boston Monday, April 21st, 2014

It's  not often you get to see a city rise to the occasion in the wake of a tragedy like Boston has this past year. Today's marathon was a grande conclusion to this chapter in the cities history. I'm so grateful and humbled to have been part of Boston 2014. I shivered multiple times as the crowd cheered continuously from Hopkington to Boston. The people of Boston were #strong and proud, and showed the world the passion they have for their city. 

My run went well. Coming to Boston for the third time, I felt comfortable in aiming for a 2:55. I settled into a nice pace to begin and honed into the atmosphere. The sun was shining and the runners were focused. It was tough to navigate through the many racers ahead of me. That's the disadvantage of a big race like Boston. It's very hard to get ahead for the first 10km.
 Thick crowd of runners, people peeing on the side of the course fr the first 5K, water stations on both sides of the roads, amazing fans, the smell of beer.

This is Boston...

I hit 20KM, feeling confident. This is where my decision making went to crap. I decided I'd bump up my pacing to 3:45/km, and that ended quickly. By 25KM I was hurtin and fell back on the pace. The fight begins...

Hard part about a marathon is that at some point you're going to hurt, mentally and physically. When that is, is up
to you. It's "the fight" or the "holding on" portion of a marathon. At 25KM I started my fight and by 35KM I was toast. My calf was giving out and my mental attitude was done.

Good attitude: "feeling great. I may be able to do better than I thought. I can hold on. Maybe I can catch that person"

Bad attitude:"I just want this to be over. I don't care about pace or time. I just want it to end."

After the fun of Wellesly College girls (screaming, funny signs) the cheering of Boston College and too many amazing crowds to mention. The Citgo sign appeared and the last few tough KMS came to an end.

Tough race, but very glad to come in under 3:00 with 2:53. I would do things differently next time, and there's still a lot of room for improvement. But I'm really so grateful to be part of today.

Best signs:
"Free beer, and cigarettes"
"Help me get to 100 kisses-tally chart"
"Slap this sign for power"
"Hurry up, the Kenyans are drinking your beer"

Maybe they weren't the best, but they were the only ones I can remember!

Here's to you and the city of Boston! #Boston Strong


Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Around The Bay 2014

It's been a longtime since I've blogged....

With the cold of winter, it's been a lot of behind the scenes running and not as much racing. It's been the nitty gritty part of training that no one wants to hear about. Comprised of cold days, 10 pounds of gear and general bitterness for the environment around me. Now that it's nearly over, we're back into race season and the fun begins. 

I signed up for Around the Bay with a few reasons in mind: I have family near Hamilton, and after arriving back to Ottawa from China a day before ATB 2013, I bombed the race and it was time for some "race revenge". 1:59:59 was the goal. It was that time or less so I could take home that gold medal. With that, I'll give you the run down of the 120th Anniversary of the oldest race in North America. 

 Why I Enjoy This Race ►►►►

Challenging rolling hills  I had to really fight to hold onto my pace and maintain the time goal, as the hills slowed down my pace considerably. 
Great Competition  As the oldest race in North America, there was a lot of tough competition which makes this race very enticing, you get pushed to bring out your best. (About 6500 participants)

Great Boston Prep Course  I'll be heading to Boston in a few short weeks. This was a nice test to see where my fitness was at after a long winter of training. 

Stadium Finish  It's so awesome to finish in a stadium, it makes for such an adventurous end to a long 30KM journey. The stadium is full of cheering fans, what more could you ask for?

Medal Incentives  Aim for a time and get the medal to match it.

Medal    Men Women
Gold Under 2 hrs Under 2:15
Silver 2 hrs to 2:15 2:15 to 2:30
Bronze over 2:15 over 2:30

ATB things to think about  ►►►►

Bring a GPS   If you're not a resident of GTA, or Hamilton/Burlington, it can be a tough place to navigate and the highways are whacky. I recommend saving yourself the stress of guessing.

Factory Central  Only downfall to this years' course that I don't remember of last year, was that they take you through the factory portion of town. I assume because it was easy for road closures, but it was gross air quality all the same. 

Dress Properly This race is one of the trickiest races I've had to dress for. Much of the time it feels cold in the morning, and the bay brings in cold air on the course. I would under dress rather than overdress though. That was the biggest complaint I heard on race day. "Frig, I wore way too much gear" 

Race Pick Up/Day Parking I hate paying for parking in a place that's obviously charging because of an event where they can take advantage of people. Last year I paid a ton for parking, and lined up a long time waiting to pay. This year I parked 1KM down the road off of Pearl St. and saved money & stress. When the race ended I cheered on finishing participants on the way to the car, and was close enough to the hwy to easily get away from the road closures. 

I've left this blog more as a review than a race report. Partly because my race went really well. I don't have too many criticisms to talk about. I went in to the run thinking I would be a bit slower based on winter training, and I was happy to see my legs came through. I had a bit of trouble running against the wind, and cramped up a bit at times, but I was able to work on breathing quite a bit and come through it which was a major positive. I love that no matter how fast you are, there's always room for improvement.

I really enjoyed this run. Here's my Rating:
Course ★★★★ 4/5  Fun and Challenging. From rolling hills to wind chills, you have to earn this one.

City  ★★★ 3/5 As an Outsider, I don't find it overly attractive. But it's close to Toronto & Niagara which is a +.

Expo  ★★★★ 4/5   In a stadium, lots of washrooms, easy to navigate and lots of places to sit down and hangout. It's also the start of the race so you know where to go in the morning and can scout the area.

Gear ★★★★★ 5/5 Some of the best SWAG in the game. Around the Bay usually has great shirts with your race kit, made by New Balance. They're one race that hasn't cheaped out on poorly designed shirts.

 Overall ★★★★ 4/5 Love the gear, love the incentive to medal, and the challenging course. A race that you want to return to, always deserves a 4.

Here's to you and enjoying those challenges!
Gold Medal

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Tuning In To Your Body

I was intrigued while listening to Lanni Marchant's interview on the IRun Show after her Canadian Record breaking run in Toronto last weekend. She spoke of surging from her training mate Krista Duchene at 30/32KM. They both had a great interview about beating the 28 year old Canadian marathon record. (Lanni's Interview)
As I resonate about my racing experiences, I recollect those late surges, fast starts, and blow ups. 
I'm able to think about all of those questions that must pass through a runners mind when they're toeing the line contemplating their plan. What finish time is too slow or fast? How fast do I start? How do I break the race down?
Besides the many uncontrollable things about a race. (I.e. stomach, cramping, ceasing, weather, etc.) There are a lot of things that are completely in your control. Like pace, training, nutrition, mental fortitude among other things. 

Every runner comes into a race with a plan, be it big or small. It could be "I just want to finish" or “I want to achieve a personal best." I think the number one thing that determines how this plan will unravel is how well that runner knows their body. This comes through training, and tuning in. When I enter a race I'm on the “I want to achieve a personal best" most occasions. I'm the guy who can't just run, and I usually go all out. I think this is part of being 1 of 6 brothers while growing up, I'm inherently competitive. 

In my experience, if I've done the hard work. Be it, speed, tempo, long runs, and I like to include some hills in there. I've only got to worry about tuning in. It allows me to understand where the limits are. I can begin a race and push for a couple of km above race pace, then settle in. From there I can hang around race pace and gauge how my body feels in terms of maybe dropping the hammer the last few kilometers, or staying with the runner that just passed me to see if I can re-pass them later in the game. That's why it's so important to learn your limits. It will allow you to know when you may have a little more or the opposite, when you just can't do it. It will be the difference between a mediocre race, a blow up, or a PB.  

KEYS to mental Tuning: 

1) Training You only get better the more you work at it! I like speed and pace work to mock racing. 

2) Blow up Workout/Race It sucks, worst possible thing. I've been in races where I had to grit out the last 20 even 30KM after blowing up... it's debilitating. The amount you learn from it invaluable. You'll get much better at understanding where you're at physically, and at gritting it out those last few. You'll know how far you can push, because you've been to the bottom.   

3) Time More experiences, the more races, the more pace workouts, all in good time.

4) Right Side of the Bed Some days are better than others. I think everyone can have a sh*tty day. From NHL players to Haile Gebrselassie to you and me my friend.  

Here's to you and tuning in!