Category Archives: Running

On the Run Again

running kms
I’ve started running again. In 2013 I trained intensively between January and April, completed a full marathon in May, and ran infrequently afterwards until IT band issues sidelined me. After two months without any running, everything feels good and I’m looking forward to hitting the road again.

Runs on PlantsMy goal is to run the the BMO Vancouver Half Marathon on May 4 in under 1 hour and 30 minutes. I’m also going to run the Modo Spring 8k on March 23. It should be a good tuneup and I love that Modo is sponsoring it.

Last year I joined a Running Room clinic, but this time I’m doing most of my training on my own. I’m enjoying the flexibility in scheduling when I go running but it is harder getting motivated, especially with all the rain we’ve been having. I don’t want a repeat of the injury problems I had last year (I strained my calf 4 weeks in), so this time I’m being careful to slowly ramp up the intensity and frequency of my workouts. I’m also spending more time stretching and going to yoga once a week.

If you’re on Strava, you can follow my progress here.

Strava’s Crowdsourced Bike and Running Routes

StravaVancouverCyclingHeatmap
Strava is an awesome web app that helps runners and cyclists track their training performance and compare it with friends. I use it to log all my runs and occasionally my bike rides. They’ve taken the GPS data from the millions of trips their users have logged and built a crowdsourced mapping tool. If you’re technically inclined, I highly recommend the engineering blog post that explains how the graph datastore and geospatial index were designed. If you’re not, you can still appreciate the heat maps and route builder tool they provide.

Here are heat maps of the most popular cycling and running routes in Vancouver, compared to the official bike map. It’s interesting to note there are several streets that are popular cycling routes but not official bike routes – like Cornwall, West Point Grey (soon to be a bike route), 16th, Denman, and sections of Cambie and Main Street. The seawall is the most popular route for running, but cycling is only popular on the seawall where there is physical separation with pedestrians.


Strava’s Route Builder application is a worthy competitor to Google Maps. It knows the most popular routes so it often gives better directions than Google Maps for running and cycling. For example, here are the directions for my commute to work. Strava chooses the route I actually take over the Dunsmuir Viaduct while Google is way off. Most of Strava’s cycling data comes from competitive cyclists, not commuters, so the data is a bit skewed. You can really see it in the time it suggests for my commute – 6 minutes. In reality it takes me about 10-12 minutes to bike to work, which is closer to what Google displays.

Update:
Strava has released a heatmap application that does a much better job of showing off the popular running and biking routes.
Strava Heatmap

5km in 17:56

2013-05-26 PMC Annual Science Fair Fun Run 012.jpg No meat athlete
I have no plans to run another marathon anytime soon. I can’t commit to running 3-5 days a week. But it does seem like a shame to stop running when I’m in the best shape of my life. I ran a 5km race last Sunday in 17:56, finishing 5th overall, a huge personal best for me.

Photos by janheuninck and the PMC Science Fair Run.

BMO Vancouver Marathon Completed in 3:27:06

30.5 km and Looking Good
Achievement Unlocked – Ran a Full Marathon

Everything went well today. My fuelling strategy with homemade gels worked well, I kept hydrated, and I ran a good, consistent pace, and I finished faster than 3:30 (my goal).

Finishers Pose No Meat Athlete Runs on Plants
Special thanks to Emily, Joy, Erica, and Marsha for cheering me on at multiple spots along the course. Having friends in the crowd gave me energy boosts when I needed it most. The crowd in general was awesome. Lots of encouraging words, funny signs, and good music. Some guys on Cornwall even started a “No Meat Athlete” chant for me.

3:45 Pace Bunny BMO Marathon Crosses the Burrard Bridge
It was a hard race. I felt really good for the first 19 km, but after the UBC downhill my feet started to ache. The uphill around km 24 up to 4th Avenue was surprisingly hard (harder than the big Camosun hill at km 10). But the absolute hardest section was the last 10 km around Stanley Park at the end of the race, even though it was completely flat. It was lonely and my legs were mush. I saw a lot of people stop to walk. I ran my slowest km splits in there, but I managed to get through it. I felt better when I passed the 9 o’clock gun and there were big crowds to cheer me on and push me through the last 2 km.

The heat really did a lot of people in, but it didn’t bother me too much. There was more shade along the course than I expected.

I was impressed by the number of people running in Vibram FiveFingers, but the most spectacular sight was the guy running completely barefoot. I was close to him for a long stretch in UBC. I think he was trying to run along the white lines in the middle of the road to avoid the hot pavement. Crazy.

My shirt said “Powered by Plants” but it really should have said “Powered by Dates”. My breakfast and energy gels were mostly dates, with some banana, coconut oil and other goodies mixed in. It did the trick and got me through the race. I thought I was drinking enough on course, but I was dehydrated enough at the finish line to drink over a litre of water and coconut water without thinking about it.
Energy Pudding Post Race Facebook Update
Continue reading BMO Vancouver Marathon Completed in 3:27:06

T-10 Days Until the Marathon

Dundarave Run
10 days. That is all that stands between me and my first marathon. What a terrifying thought.

I’m almost ready. Or rather, I’m as ready as I’m going to be. I’ve started tapering now, so the focus is on staying healthy. In some ways it is liberating knowing that it’s too late to improve my fitness levels.

Right now the biggest weakness in my training is my low weekly mileage. The most I ran in any week was 67 km back in January, and that was the week I injured myself. Since then I’ve averaged 40-60 km a week. I wish I had run more, but there was never enough time and I was worried about reinjuring my calf.
Marathon Training Graph

I’m happy with how my workouts have gone. This week I recorded my fastest training times in the 1 km (3:17), 5 km (20:38), and 10 km (42:49) during my tempo and track workouts. So my speed is definitely where it needs to be to run a fast marathon. My worry is with my endurance.

My primary goal for the race is to run in 3:30. My secondary goal is to just finish. I’m going to spend the next 10 days doing some light running, eating good vegan food, and prepping for race day.

Geekathlon 3.0 Birthday Party

Geekathlon 3.0
I celebrated my 30th birthday in style this year, with an all-day party combining my favourite things in life – running, gaming, and eating. I went for a 32 km run in the morning, competed in a Geekathlon in the afternoon, and hosted a dinner party in the evening with loads of yummy vegan food.

Running 30km for 30 years Running Twins
Early in the morning, I went for a 30+ km run. Amazingly, I managed to convince 4 friends to join me. Dan and Katie ran the first 12 km, Owen ran 25, and Dustin ran 32 km with me out to Burnaby Lake and back.

Event 1 - Crokinole Event 2 - Jetpack Joyide Event 3 - Bomberman
Later in the afternoon, I invited my 12 nerdiest friends to compete in a Geekathlon, inspired by Hirtle’s 30th birthday. The round robin tested everyone’s geek-fu, pitting pools of 4 players against each other in bouts of crokinole, Jetpack Joyride (ipad), and Bomberman (xbox). The final event was a 6-player showdown of King of Tokyo with the top 2 players from each pool competing in the A-Final, and the bottom two in the B-Final.

Crokinole Geeks
Katie got a bonus point for the geekiest outfit.
Continue reading Geekathlon 3.0 Birthday Party

Marathon Training – Week 10

UBC Trail Run
I ran for 30 km on Sunday, the farthest I’ve ever run. We went out to UBC, through the trails in Pacific Spirit Park, and back. It took 3 hours. I’ve never run that long before, so I had to figure out what to eat. I wanted something with real food in it, not chemicals, so I made my own homemade power gel. I adapted it from recipes and ideas in the Thrive Diet, combining lots of dates, coconut oil, dulse (seaweed), lemon juice, lemon zest, 1/4 banana, and a chunk of papaya. It looked disgusting, especially when I put it in a ziplock bag, but it tasted good and kept me going for 3 hours. I’ll have to get some GoToobs to pack it into next time so people don’t think I’m crazy.

My energy levels felt good, but my legs were hurting, especially after 20 km. I almost stopped running because my right hip flexor was so sore around km 25. But I mixed in some walking and shortened my stride and that helped enough that I was able to finish. I’m going to start doing exercises to strengthen the hip muscles.

The workouts on Tuesday and Wednesday were in monsoon-like conditions. I think the rain did a number on my phone. It’s been twitchy for a while, but after the rain it was really having problems. I sent it in for repairs, so we’ll see if the rain voids my warranty or not.

Day Distance (km) Workout Time Pace /km
Sunday 30.0 Long 3:01:27 6:02 map
Monday Yoga
Tuesday 12.0 Hills 1:00:00 5:33 map
Wednesday 10.0 Tempo 0:47:30 4:45 map
Thursday Strength
Friday Off
Saturday 5.5 Slow 0:33:06 6:02 map
Running Total 57.5 5:22:03 5:36

10 weeks done, only 7 more until race day. Let’s hope the weather improves. Last weeks results are here.