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Busy times, busy times.

In almost simultaneous fashion, our days were brimming with… things. I really hate to say it because even when busy, we pride ourselves on not being very busy, at the busiest of times.

Fear not, we’re on top of the situation and are working to better it – in a relaxed manner of course. We need more time for friends, making silly movies, and of course, running around in the woods. Our apologies to any and all waiting on videos for the Yakima Skyline 50k and Winthrop Road Marathon. Trust that footage looks great and they will be completed shortly.

A quick update on what the summer has in store.

Near on the horizon is Dave’s running of the White River 50 Miler this weekend in Washington. 2 weeks after that I will be running Angel’s Staircase 60k, which Dave will also be filming.

The following weekend we are both very excited to announce we will be filming the legendary Fat Dog 120 mile race, from Keromeos BC to Manning Park! We have been hired to produce a longer film documenting this race. It could very well involve some fastpacking/remote camping on location with our film gear. Stories to follow…

Beyond that it’s the Meet Your Maker 50 mile race for both of us. September 1st, Whistler BC. This promises to be a grueling yet beautiful run, complete with a ride in the peak-to-peak gondola mid-race!

Following that Dave will be in Colorado running UROC 100k, September 28th. Finally, and just added to the list is another 100 Mile run at the Pinhoti 100 in Alabama, November 2-3. I’m registered for this race and I’m patiently waiting for Dave to join the fun! Dave?

Looking back on this list it doesn’t seem like we’re doing a very good job of being less busy, but this is precisely the type of busy we are aiming for!

 

For now I wanted to change pace a bit and show a few still photos from our recent spring/summer adventures.

Chez Project Talaria on Vashon Island

Fueling Up

En Route to Winthrop

Pachena Bay - Pre West Coast Trail

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The camera loves you

Lots of happenings in the land of Project Talaria. We’re happy to report an arrangement with Rainshadow Running that will see us video documenting more of their awesome races in the future! We are very excited to have 3 of our videos featured in this weekend’s Trail Running Film Festival in Troutdale Oregon. They will be premiering our 2013 Orcas Island video as well as the Deception Pass video and of course the cult classic… Roll Out!

Dave will be making his long awaited return to the Ultra-Running scene THIS WEEKEND outside of Portland Oregon at the Gorge Waterfalls 50k. Very excited for him, good luck Dave! I’ll be on the scene as well filming the race. Smile for the camera if you’re running the race.

The Zion 100 draws near, I’ve been training hard and have kept busy running some tune-up races. I’ll give a brief recap of some of the action.

Thanks to Glenn Tachiyama and Chris Thorn for the great photos.

 

Deception PassDeception Pass 50k – December 2012

Coming off abdominal surgery in October I was excited to get back into a trail race. Deception Pass was a new 50k for me and a chance at an early (or late, depending on how you look at it) season effort. I was happy with my training post-surgery and found my fitness to be returning well after the layoff. I went in with the goal of pacing my best 50k to date. I went out quite relaxed and just enjoyed running some gorgeous new trails. The course is very creative with a lot of little ocean front “lollipop” loop sections. the folks at Rainshadow really milked the most out of this beautiful area. Deception Pass is a fairly fast course with really only one steep climb to speak of. There are a lot of rolling sections but most of it is quite run-able. I knew this going in and wanted to save something in my legs for a strong finish. I had a very steady burn of a race with no real dips. Easily my most controlled 50k effort to date. Props to Vancouverite Colin Miller for cruising past me towards the end with a really strong finish. Congrats to Gary Robbins as well, who had quite a comeback party at this race, running strong to a new course record. My time of 4:23 had me in 7th place overall.

I expected nothing less from Rainshadow Running, but I found a great December 50k quite close to home.

 

Orcas IslandOrcas Island 50k – February 2013

As usual… Orcas was awesome! Such a beautiful setting to absolutely thrash one’s body. The course was updated this year with MORE climbing. I find it hard in Victoria to replicate the Orcas climbs (and descents) in training. This is part of why I love running it, a challenge in the truest sense of the word. This course really tears up my quads, but undoubtedly leaves me stronger in the end. I paced a fairly even race, determined to improve on my complete explosion from last year (first 50k. Hard, hard lessons). The famous powerline climb was situated later in the race this year (32k) and it really delivered, slowing the pace of the even the fastest runners to a literal crawl. It’s hard to describe the grade of this climb. At times if feels like you aren’t really moving forward at all, just up, very slowly.

***Let me take a moment to share the most clear-cut lesson I’ve learned so far in my young Ultra-Running career: When someone uses the term “POWERLINE” to describe a climb on a race course, be it in Leadville, Orcas Island or wherever, you take that S*#T seriously***

After this point in the race it’s a bit of a painful blur. Leg cramps were threatening but never fully took hold. I just bared down and closed it out. I’ll never forgive Adam Hewey for blowing my doors off with 1km to go. Just kidding Adam! Impressive race, veteran savvy. Crossing the finish line at Orcas is a wonderful feeling. A very hard earned and honest 50k mountain race. I snuck under the 5hr mark with a 4:57, good enough for 8th overall on the day. I want to take a minute to thank any and all who are involved with this race. Keep doing what you’re doing! It’s a wonderful thing.

 

Dirty Duo 50k – March 2013

Final ultra-distance race before April’s Zion 100. I was excited going in to really push myself and see where my training had taken my fitness. The course was unchanged from last year and I knew it well. I was focused on taking a good bite out of my time from last year. Jeff Hunter, last year’s winner was going to be there again so I knew there would be some solid competition to push against. Last year I went out too hard and blew up around 30k, suffering to the finish. I was a year older and “smarter” but more importantly my body had been through a few battles since then and I knew I was more fit this time round.

Jeff and I started together at a fairly conservative clip. The field separated in a hurry and soon it was just us, with Jeff taking the lead on the first set of climbs and stairs. I was happy to sit back and let my body ease into the race. The course was in great shape, amazingly dry for this time of year in the North Shore Mountains. The day was perfect; cool and sunny. I caught up to Jeff at the first aid station where he stopped to pick up a water bottle. We ran for some time together after that, chatting happily while starting to ramp up the pace. Jeff is a super nice guy and I’m happy to call him a friend. We shared some laughs while pushing the pace through the early km’s. I knew from last year that Jeff is a very talented downhill runner. I consider my self to be a work in progress when it comes to flying down technical descents. The race played out as I thought it might, with Jeff pulling away slightly when things got more technical. I was however matching his pace for the most part while remaining fairly controlled and relaxed. Again I was happy biding my time and keeping him in sight. We hit the first extended climb of the first loop (the course repeats two big loops), I was feeling strong. We both ran the whole climb. After summiting the climb the course heads down “Ned’s Atomic Dustbin”, a steep and technical Mtn Bike descent that goes on for quite some time. I knew Jeff would gap me on this section. I just focused on relaxing and getting down it as fast as possible with minimal effort. By the bottom he was out of sight. I was starting to worry I may never see him again!

The course then heads onto the flat and fast Bridal Path. With my road running background I knew if anywhere, I would have an advantage on these sections. A chance to really open it up and get the legs turning over. On the long straights I could see Jeff in the distance. He hadn’t gained too much on the descent, I took some confidence from this. I started to ramp up the pace and narrowed the gap slightly on this section, again happy to run comfortably and keep him in sight. We completed the first lap like this and started out on the 2nd lap. I was starting to feel really good, and thinking the day might treat me well. I was making up ground on the flats, though Jeff was holding me off well. At one point I looked at my watch and We were running 3:20km pace on the flats. I was careful to dial it back a touch and save something for the 2nd extended climb. We turned left off the trail and after about 3 minutes of climbing Jeff stopped and said “I don’t think this is the course”. I had been completely zoned out, just following along mindlessly. I hadn’t noticed the lack of ribbons. We turned around and headed back down the trail. At the bottom we found that we had indeed gone off course. Completely our fault, the turn we took wasn’t marked at all. We lost 6 minutes through this detour.

PursuitBack on course we ran stride for stride through some awesome flowing trails. The pace was FUN. We came to a bridge with some dogs on it. I remember thinking “I hate wet bridges” and then… WHAM! I’m down. My knee hurt like a _______. I sprung up and kept moving, pretending it didn’t happen. Jeff was very gracious, stopping to make sure I was OK. I assessed the damage while running… no joint or bone pain, it wasn’t structural, just really bloody. Keep running.

Soon after this we hit the base of the 2nd big climb. My knee has numbed up by this point and I was confident it wouldn’t be a problem. I could tell Jeff was moving a little slower on the climb this time around, and it seemed his breathing was a little more laboured than mine. I saw a chance to make a move as I was feeling quite strong. I pushed up the climb without looking back, running the whole thing again. I looked back at the top and couldn’t see him. I dove into the 2nd round of “Ned’s” descent, again just trying to get to the bottom as quickly as I could without crashing into something, like a rock or tree. I kept expecting to be caught on the descent. Looking back near the bottom I still couldn’t see Jeff. I’m a bit of a headcase when racing, and I’ve learned I really don’t like being in the lead, at least not yet I don’t.  At one point I had to give myself a talking to.

“Stop waiting for him to catch you and RUN you idiot!”

I was back on the flats now. From here on out I just hammered as hard as I could. Deciding that if Jeff was going to catch me I was going to make him earn it. The course finishes with some tough shorter climbs and stair sections. Careful to stay upright, I navigated these areas as efficiently as possible. My legs still felt relatively good. I spat out of the trails and knew the finish was close. I was relieved to have some gas left in the legs to finish strong. My time of 3:50 was good enough for the win, with Jeff coming in at 3:57. We both added 6 minutes to our times by going off course. Congrats to Nicola Gildersleeve on a great run, winning the women’s race.

One final note. Jeff told me in the days before that he might not run because of a fall he had taken a few weeks back that had compromised his training. Congrats to him for toeing the line despite the injury and for providing such great company and competition.

 

Comox Valley 1/2 Marathon – March 2013

I have a soft spot for running fast on roads til I want to puke. This race really satisfied. Despite being focused on a completely different type of event, I’ve been maintaining some road speed through my 100 mile training. I’ve had this marked on the calendar for quite some time as my last race effort before Zion. Going in I knew my fitness was headed in the right direction. What better than a road 1/2 marathon (my favourite road distance) to use as a measuring stick?

The day offered cold temps, wind and rain. I started off fast but controlled. Determined to pace a smart race and save some gas for the last 5k. My legs felt good from the start. The course is out-and-back with the first half gaining some elevation and slowing km splits. What goes up must come down however, and the back half of this race is blazing fast. I planned for this going in, relaxing through some slower early km’s knowing I could gain it back later. The plan worked well. My legs and lungs held out and afforded me some strong km splits towards the end of the race. I finished in 1:17:17, good for lucky 13th overall. This was a 2.5 minute 1/2 marathon PB for me. Very happy with the result and even more happy with a strong recovery, getting right back into a solid training week.

 

That concludes my binge race reporting. Sincere thanks to all the volunteers and organizers that make these races possible, your efforts are appreciated.

Good luck to Dave and everyone else running Gorge Waterfalls this weekend. See you on the trails!

 

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Here we go! Let’s wake this website up…

First and most importantly, I want to congratulate Dave and let everyone know he is back running strong and feeling good.

He’s overcome a lot of challenges these last few months. It was inspiring to see his outlook through those times when running wasn’t an option. He stayed calm about it and got the help he needed, educating himself on the causes of the breakdowns in his body. I’ve asked him to write a piece about his experiences with the running injury as I think it would be a very good read. Cmon Dave!

So now that we’re both running strong and healthy, it was only natural to choose a few more long and beautiful footraces to challenge ourselves with. My next big one is a hundred miler on April 19th in Utah. The Zion 100. I knew I wanted to get back on the 100 mile horse sooner than later after my Leadville debacle, this meant an early season race. I also knew I’d like my next 100 miler to be closer to sea-level, so as to eliminate the highly volatile altitude variable. The Zion course looks absolutely breathtaking. Lots of running through desert valleys and on top of mesas. The photos from the course look other-worldly, something like Mars. I’m running 100 miles on Mars. The race is 5 weeks away and I’m very excited to say the least. To go to Mars.

Dave chose a later season 100k race for his next “big one”. Smartly he is giving himself lots of prep time and opportunities to run “shorter” 50k and 50 mile events before tackling 100kms. His race is the Ultra Race of Champions in Vail Colorado. Sept. 28. We ran in this area on our trip to Leadville. The trails are incredible. This race promises to be as scenic as they come. He also gets to toe the line with a who’s who of Ultra Running talent, as UROC is an unofficial world championship race. The best of the best will be there. I think Dave is suicidal a tough SOB tackling another race at high altitude. If anyone can get it done with a smile, it’s Dave.

Soon I will post a recap of some recent 50k winter races that I’ve taken part in. We’ve had a winter full of great people, great running and of course great FOOD. Spring is coming, I think it’s fair to say bring on the sun, singlets and sandals!

We’ve also been doing a lot of filming so look out for more videos emerging from the Project Talaria Laboratories.

That’s all for now. The trails call…

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Yaar, time for an update!

Technically it will be the end of the 2012 running season for me. It feels a whole lot more like the start of my 2013 season however. In one week I’ll be running my 6th ultra distance race, Rainshadow Running’s Deception Pass 50k. Looks to be a beauty of a course. Lots of single track, much of it along the ocean.

It’s been a bit of a strange ride the last few months. I had abdominal surgery in October which sat me down for three weeks of recovery. It’s never easy to stop running entirely but this break was planned, making it a little easier to process. I like to think my legs were due for some “real” time off anyway after my first season of Ultrarunning and the corresponding increase in mileage.

Dave has been having lingering knee issues since dancing with the cruel mistress we call Leadville. After a few tough months I’m so happy to report he’s back out on the trails. After Deception Pass we’re both planning to be at the start line for the February gem that is The Orcas Island 50k.

Last year my focus was running more and being injured less. A simple target. For the most part I accomplished both by including more rest in my schedule while targeting specific hard workouts each week. My game plan for 2013 is similar but with the addition of some distinct phases of training, each with a unique focus. This plan will culminate with my next 100 mile race, The Zion 100, April 19th in Utah.

I’ve never known much about running except that I love it. This ideal has been magical though for me it hasn’t come without its share of injuries. Having never been coached and being late to the running party I feel I’m lacking some fundamental knowledge of physiology, training plans and the like. Lately I’ve trying to fill those gaps by reading books by running legends, attempting to soak up their knowledge en masse. One book that really hit a home run for me was “Daniel’s Running Formula”. I now find myself right in the middle of my first ever “base building” phase. You know what? I love it. I’m more focused on training than ever before. It feels great to have a game plan, believing in the training I’m conducting. An increased understanding has made it easier for me to relax and build slowly, trusting the process.

This week I will again try to perfect the art of the race taper. I’m eager to test myself against what will surely be another tough course courtesy of Rainshadow Running. Dave will be filming all the madness from the sidelines. You know what that means… Another forthcoming  masterpiece from the Project Talaria video labratory!

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Full disclosure. For the last 8 months, Bikram Yoga Saanich has been sponsoring Project Talaria by provoding us with free access to their classes. We approached them with the idea because we see the extreme benefit yoga has to offer runners. They have not required us, nor asked us to write this blog entry.

If running is the Yin, Bikram yoga is definitely the yang. if left unnatended, the sore, locked up, mobility limited body of the high mileage runner can degrade until injury breakdown occurs. Bikram Yoga provides a release, a counterbalance to all those hours of training. What I learned however is that Bikram Yoga is not just this release from the training, it is “training” in itself. Both physical and mental.

It is well documented what Bikram Yoga can do for your body and mind, regardless of who you are. I won’t touch on the fundamentals. I want to write about my personal experience at Bikram Yoga Saanich throughout my training for the Leadville 100 Mile race.

First off, no matter how hard I train and how fit I become, every single time I enter the room for the 1.5hr class it is a very challenging workout. Some days are harder than others, the struggles do change. A common theme remains; it is a tough workout that leaves me drained, but feeling amazing. I love the feeling of laying down in the hot room before class. My body feels great in that moment, as if I’m quenching a thirst. The next 1.5 hrs are all mine, dedicated to increasing mobility and flushing toxins out of my body. The Bikram routine and it’s poses are thorough and well thought-out. The entire body is stretched during the class. One of the greatest benefits I’ve seen from my practice is a clear awarness of the limitations and problem areas of my body. Tight muscle groups are exposed. Imbalances from my left and right sides, previously unknown to me, have become obvious. When stretching, getting massage or using the foam roller outside of the Yoga studio, it is now clear where the problems are and what to focus on.

The combination of the 1.5hr duration and the heat of a Bikram Yoga class make it a challenge to maintain focus. At points it seems you can’t stay in the room any longer. I cherish this feeling as it has a direct connection to endurance running. I believe endurance running to be more of a mental test than a physical one. Ultimiately there is no one but yourself keeping you from dropping out of a race after 100km’s of running (or at 30km into marathon for that matter) This mental toughness is a skill in itself and can be trained. I firmly believe that the focus, the hot, sweaty focus required in the Birkam Yoga class is direct brain training for those tough spots in endurance races.

Shavasana “After the exertions of the practice, Shavasana allows the body a chance to regroup and reset itself”
This pose is referred to as the most important in the entire series. Laying on the floor, it is a calm, motionless relaxation between the more active streching postures. Fresh blood flows to the area stetched by the previous pose. The mind and body are allowed a moment of rest and reprieve.

While laying in Shavasana during a particularily challenging class, a moment of clarity hit me. I realized that a Bikram Yoga class is a microcosm of my entire training routine. While training for Leadville I had a breakthrough with my running schedule. I ran fewer days each week, rested more, yet ran more km’s than ever before while avoiding serious injury. I did this by cutting out “junk miles” and focusing on each workout being challenging and having a direct purpose. After most hard workouts, a day of rest would follow. Run, rest, repeat. Those days of rest often included a Bikram Yoga class. Within those Bikram Yoga classes there were bouts of tough, focused, deep stretching, followed by rest and recovery in the form of the Shavasana pose. Make sense? I realized what had taken me years to figure out in my run training was already embedded into the Bikram Yoga structure. Focused, hard work followed by adequate rest and recovery is the ultimate foundation to physical improvement. This is true in becoming a stronger runner and also true in becoming a more flexible and healthy yoga student. I now know this, and apparently Bikram Choudhury has known this since the 70’s!

While still a novice student at Bikram Yoga, I have no doubt that my continued practice has left me stronger, healthier and more aware than ever before. From a beaten-up runner’s perspective the benefits of Bikram Yoga are quite clear. Being in the studio however, I have seen what the practice can do for people from all walks of life. For first-timer’s, the Bikram Saanich studio is a welcoming environment and a wonderful place to learn the ropes. It’s never too late to start. Your body will thank you!

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Just a quick post about last Sunday’s long run on the trails of Saltspring Island.  Dave is back from Boulder and we’re both excited to get out for some longer weekend runs.  I have hiked many of Saltspring’s trails but never run any real long runs that connect these trail systems together. It was an exciting proposition to see how much of the island we could cover on foot.

This Saltspring morning began like any other for Dave and I, with a bright and early start to our run stop at Saltspring Roasting Company for coffee and delicious treats.

We drove out to Channel Ridge to begin the adventure. The early morning light was amazing and it was shaping up to be a gorgeous day on the trails. We started the run by exploring many of the Channel Ridge trails before connecting into Duck Creek Park off lower Sunset. From there we ran up Vesuvius Bay Rd and down to Quarry Dr which has a trailhead right at the end. We ran the short (but awesome) connector trail from Quarry Dr to Baker Rd.  By this point we were about 2hrs into the run so we decided to stop at the golf course to top up our water supply.  From there it was some road running down Booth Canal Rd. and then out Collins Rd. To the Mt. Erskine trailhead. We ascended Mt. Erskine and were rewarded at the top with some beautiful views. We continued down the backside of Mt. Erskine, eventually linking onto Maxwell Rd. We took the road partway up Maxwell before ducking into some trails to the left.  The Maxwell trails are some of the best I’ve ever run, absolutely amazing scenery and trail running! A quick stop at the lookout on top of Maxwell before descending down the backside into Burgoyne Bay. We continued out Burgoyne Bay Provincial Park and started climbing Mt. Bruce. We reached an amazing vista on the west side of Mt. Bruce where we decided it was time head back to Burgoyne and call it a day. We were both running low on water and fuel by this point. Final tally for the run was approx 5.5 hrs run time and just over 42k in distance with over 6000 ft in elevation gain. We called our emergency medi-vac rescue team (my dad), who graciously picked us up in Burgoyne Bay.

Here is a link to the GPS data from the run:

http://connect.garmin.com/page/activity/activity.faces?activityId=168773329&actionMethod=page%2Factivity%2Factivity.xhtml%3AuserSwitcher.switchSystem&cid=10221878#.T5WHwp6R6D8.email

 

All in all a great day of running on Saltspring. We’re excited to explore more of the island (Mt. Tuam, Musgrave, Isabella, Ruckle) on future runs.

 

 

 

Until next time… Keep fit and have fun!

 

 

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We had a great run up and over Mt. Finlayson and linking onto the Gowlland-Tod trails. There was fresh snow on top of the mountain and on most of the trails surrounding Mt. Finny. Right at the turnaround point we ran into somewhat of a blizzard. This excited us, being the snow deprived southern B.C kids that we are. We were testing out some new fueling on the trail (Larabar). This was mainly due to the recent 2 for 1 sale Thrifty’s was having 😉 The peanut butter flavour really satisfied around the 2:30 mark. Something to chew on was a nice break from the gels. It digested fairly easily and kept us running strong.

We didn’t think things through very well, as descending Mt. Finlayson in snowy conditions after 3+ hrs of running proved a poor choice. I was slipping and sliding all over the place and ended up bashing my shin on a rock somehow. Dave was running behind me unscathed, probably wondering what he was doing running with this yahoo. Perhaps I’m just clumsy. Above are some cell phone photos we snapped on the run as well as a glamour shot of my shin puffed up like a balloon and the bruisy aftermath 1 week later.

Until next time, woo!

 

 

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One look out the window this morning was all it took. I was ready to run. I might eat these words if it keeps up, but snow being such a rarity around here, I love running in it. Everything gets quiet except the crunching under foot. Toque, jacket, tights and gloves were a must to be sure, but when dressed for it it freshens up the same old run.

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