Run#54 Apr 29: Port Moody Inlet 5K – my final training run?

Port Moody Inlet - shoreline trail

Port Moody Inlet – shoreline trail

I had planned to run my penultimate training run this morning, but it may well have been my last training run before I run my half marathon on Sunday.

I say this because I am not sure whether I will run my last scheduled run on Wednesday. The groin strain that has been bothering me for the past two weeks on my long runs re-appeared this morning after I had completed just 4K of running.

This morning’s run started out fine. I parked my car at the Rocky Point parking lot, planning to run the shoreline trail that goes around the Port Moody inlet to Orchard Park.

I wanted to run two great short runs during my last week of training and this is definitely my absolute favourite 5K run in the Tri-Cities area.

The weather was sunny but windy and surprisingly cool but I went with just a tee shirt anyway and it turned out to be a good choice. Once I had run the first kilometer, I was not cold at all and the fresh sharp wind off the water was quite exhilarating!

I ran at a good steady pace for the entire run and even managed to come back from Orchard Park a little faster than I went out, although I was not consciously trying to go fast at all.

Port Moody Inlet trail

Port Moody Inlet trail

I was actually trying hard to go at a conservative pace because of the groin pain that I had experienced on my last 3 long runs. Unfortunately, at about the 4K mark, I began to notice a slight groin pain on my left side, yet again. Naturally, I ran quite cautiously for the last 1K back to my car.

Although the pain did go away immediately after I stopped running, I was now quite certain that I had strained a groin muscle. As I stretched out after my run, I felt some concern given that I am now less than a week away from running the BMO Vancouver Half Marathon.

Given my symptoms it would seem to be a mild strain at this time. I decided to go on the web and find some good stretches for a groin muscle strain. I also planned to ice the groin area up to 3 times a day starting today. Brrr!

My plan for the week would be to see how I feel each day and assess the benefits and risks of doing my last scheduled training run, just to stay loose. I also gave myself permission to choose not to run if I felt that it would adversely impact my injury and the race on Sunday.

I could go to the pool and swim on Wednesday instead of running, I thought. That should not strain my groin muscle and it would give me a good workout. I could even enjoy some well-earned relaxation time in the steam room afterwards.

Port Moody Inlet trail

Port Moody Inlet trail

My intuition at that moment was that this was probably my last training run and that I would not run again before my half marathon race. However, I will continue to listen to my body and do what I need to do this week to enable me to have a positive half marathon race on Sunday.

I must remember that I have 4 months of solid training behind me and I do not have to train any more at this time. The work is already done!

As I drove away towards Caffe Divano for a well-earned latte, I was now at peace with my situation.

My plan for the week would be to simply listen to my body, take good care of myself and then to look forward to having a great MBO Vancouver Half Marathon experience along with my fellow runners on Sunday morning.

Sounds like a good plan!

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Run#53 Apr 26: Hyde Creek & Pitt River 14K – my last long training run!

PoCo Trail - Pitt River dyke

PoCo Trail – Pitt River dyke

It feels very good to have now completed my last scheduled long training run, prior to my running the BMO Vancouver Half Marathon next Sunday, May 5th.

I could not make up my mind where to run first thing this morning, which is not unusual for me. Then I remembered how much I enjoyed my Hyde Creek & Pitt River 10K run on the dyke last week. So I decided to run an extended version of the same run again this morning.

If you are a runner and live within travelling distance of this Port Coquitlam trail, you should consider trying it. It’s definitely worth the drive!

I arrived at the Hyde Creek Rec. Centre excited about the fact that I was about to do my last long training run after 4 months of training. It’s quite a milestone for me.

Clear and sunny, the weather was near perfect for running. The river and mountain scenery would be spectacular as I ran along the Pitt River dyke.

I arrived at the car park and prepared myself for the run. First, I set my Strava Run app on my iPhone and then I put on some music for the run.

I had pondered what to play as I drove to the trail and decided that I would first listen to my ‘musica intima 20’ album. As you know, their music is very special to me. I have listened to them often on my training runs over the past 4 months.

PoCo Trail - Hyde Creek

PoCo Trail – Hyde Creek

Musica intima’s rich vocal chords and harmonies sooth my body, mind and spirit. They have contributed greatly to my rehabilitation and have played a huge part in my healing process. Thank you musica intima!

Maybe it was because I was now familiar with the trail. Perhaps it’s because I am now in good physical condition compared to where I was 4 months ago. Whatever the reason, the first 2K along Hyde Creek passed by quickly and I felt great by the time I reached the road that led to the dyke.

Soon I was breathing in the fresh air that comes off the Pitt River and enjoying the scenery that seemed even more beautiful than when I saw it last. The tall dark mountains towered over the blueberry fields in the valley and the river was wide, strong, ever flowing and rich in silt with the spring run-off.

As I continued along the dyke by the river towards Pitt Lake, I became mesmerized with the beauty of the scenery. The mountains grew even taller and the river wider.

The wildlife on this run is equally impressive. On my run last week, I saw eagles soaring in the sky and there were two perched high in a tall tree by the dyke. There are many species of waterfowl on the river and I can only imagine the numerous butterflies and bumblebees when the wild flowers are in bloom.

This area is notorious for black bear sightings, especially when the blueberry bushes are ripe in the fall. It’s still early in the year, so although they are around, I was not concerned about running right into a bear this morning!

As I passed the 5K mark where I turned around last week, I saw what I thought was an abandoned house ahead of me, just off to the side of the dyke.

PoCo Trail - Pitt River dyke

PoCo Trail – Pitt River dyke

Then, as I got closer, I noticed two trucks parked outside the house and also two large dogs that had spotted me and were running towards the entrance to the property, barking loudly.

Despite it’s shabby looks, I guess that the house is occupied, I thought. I do hope that those two dogs do not decide to pursue me on the dyke. They look quite mean.

I like dogs and most dogs take to me, but I was not relishing a confrontation with these two ferocious animals. I knew that there was no chance of outrunning them!

As I slowly jogged by the house, I was extremely thankful to see that the property was fully fenced. There was a large ‘Beware of Dog’ sign on the gate. No kidding!

The path got much narrower after the house and I soon reached an intersection. The path going off to my left was a paved path that went down alongside one of the large blueberry fields and then on to Minnekhada Regional Park.

There were two bear signs posted, warning people about the many black bears that frequent this area that was right next to the blueberry fields.

The trail that continued straight ahead by the river seemed to come to an end at a rock face about half a kilometer ahead.

I had ran about 6.5K at this time, so I decided to go straight ahead and stay with the river. If I turned at the rock face, that would give me the 14K long run that I was planning for my last long run today.

PoCo Trail

PoCo Trail

Of course, my decision to run straight ahead had nothing at all to do with bears!

Once I reached the rock face and the end of the trail, I briefly stopped to catch my breath and have a much-needed drink of water.

I was enjoying the sounds of ‘musica intima 20’ so much that I decided to play their ‘INTO LIGHT’ album for my return journey. It seemed the perfect choice given this most special occasion, my last long training run.

I slowly and quite deliberately started retracing my steps back along the narrow path on the dyke by the river. I wanted to be in the moment for the rest of my run.

Running in nature while listening to beautiful music has been an integral part of my therapy and rehabilitation during my 4 months of half marathon training.

However, running rehabilitation has been an invaluable part of my overall brain injury, concussion and tinnitus recovery effort for over 1½ year now, ever since I was first introduced to the ‘running rehabilitation program’ that was developed by the University of Buffalo Concussion Clinic.

I am so thankful to Dr. Lindberg and physiotherapist Anne Tulloch at the Coquitlam Concussion Clinic for recommended this program to me back in the fall of 2011.

PoCo Trail - Pitt River dyke

PoCo Trail – Pitt River dyke

Running rehabilitation changed my life and running is once again a part of my life. There is no doubt that running will always be an integral part of my ongoing health and wellbeing for as long as I can run. Hopefully, that will be for a long time!

Around the 8K point on my return journey along the dyke, I stopped and walked while I had a sip of water and then continued. Shortly afterwards, my meditative run was interrupted by a now familiar pain in my left groin area.

I had now experienced the same groin pain at the very end of my last two long runs. It was just a slight pain that came on at the end of my runs. I had simply stopped running and then the pain went away immediately.

This was clearly a different situation. I still had 6K still to run and I knew intuitively that if I just kept running with the pain that I would sustain an injury.

‘What to do’, I thought. ‘What shall I do if this happens during my half-marathon race’ I was starting to get a little concerned as I pondered my options.

I decided that I needed to experiment and try to find a solution that would work for today and possibly for the race. So I decided to stop running and immediately stretching out the groin area and then continue running and just see what happens. So that’s what I did.

PoCo Trail - Pitt River dyke

PoCo Trail – Pitt River dyke

Once I started running again, I was pleased to note that the groin pain had gone and I was pain free again. However, after a while it came back so I had to repeat the process several more times on my journey back to the Hyde Creek parking lot.

I have to say that the last 6K of my run this morning was a little preoccupied with groin pain concerns. However, it did not take too much away from the enjoyment of my last long training run.

As I completed my stretches at the car, the groin pain subsided but it was still a little tender when I had finished.

I contemplate my situation as I drove to go to meet my wife Marjory for lunch. She was watching on of her senior students play at the piano festival at a near by Port Coquitlam church.

Overcoming injury is a part of running much as overcoming problems is a part of life. Experiential learning is usually the best way to understand how to try and prevent them from happening and manage them when they do happen. Knowledge and acceptance is key to one’s inner peace and tranquility, while running and living.

Blueberry fields

Blueberry fields

I know that I will go through moments of concern between now and race day over my groin pain and how it will impact my last week of training and also my half-marathon race on May 5th.

However, I also know that those concerns will be tempered with an abundance of philosophy and positive thoughts about having completed my 4-month training program and then having completing the race.

I am once again reminded that life is my teacher and that my journey is ongoing!

Run#52 Apr 24: Mundy Park 4K – one step back!

Mundy Park Trail

Mundy Park Trail

Today’s 4K run in Mundy Park was unfortunately not one of my best, which was disappointing given the great sense of optimism I felt on Monday.

It has been a case of ‘two steps forward, one step back’ this week, just when I thought that I was ‘out of the woods’, so to speak!

One reason for some of my problems today was simply lack of sleep. I got to bed late last night after finishing my last blog and responding to all of my backlogged email.

Consequently, I had a foggy head and ringing in my ears when I first woke up, and it stayed with me for quite a while.

I had originally planned do an 8K run today but I realized first thing this morning that I would probably run out of time.

Mundy Park Trail

Mundy Park Trail

My wife Marjory reminded me that we had to leave the house at about 10:15AM to get our daughter to her piano festival.

I dropped my son at school and headed straight to Mundy Park.

It’s a beautiful trail and it’s the also the closest running trail to our home. Running there would enable me to maximize the length of my run that morning.

Given my headache and tinnitus, I did not feel good right from the start of my run. I was still trying to work out a way to fit in my 8K as I made my way down the trail.

First thing was to try and map out a 10K route in my mind.

Mundy Lake Trail

Mundy Lake Trail

Mundy Park has the Perimeter Trail that follows the edge of the park all the way round.

Then it has several trails that cross the width of the park. I first thought that I would run figure eights on the park trails and monitor my distance on my Strata Run app.

My plan would have worked but for some reason I did not stick to it, probably because I was not feeling well. Instead of staying with my original plan, I stared meandering from this trail to that trail and ended up back on Perimeter Trail going in the opposite direction from when I started.

By the time I run around the west side of the park and was headed up Heart Attack Hill, I was resigned to the fact that I would only be able to get in a 5K run.

Frankly, I was not happy about it at all.

Old Logging Trail

Old Logging Trail

About half way down the south side of the trail, I saw the Interlaken Trail junction ahead. I turned left onto Interlaken and took a sharp right onto Old Logging Trail.

This is much more interesting, I said, as I ran down a long flight of steps that led to Lakeside Trail that circled Mundy Lake.

Soon after this interesting interlude, I was back on Perimeter Trail and then I headed up the last hill towards my car in the lot.

As I stretched out at the end of my run, I was feeling quite stressed and a bit down about the fact that my run did not go well. It’s interesting that after my daughter played well in her piano festival later that morning, I felt much better and was less concerned about my run.

As I sit here in my red chair writing my blog, I realize that this has been a stressful week for our family. Both kids were performing in the piano festival and they also presenting their French speeches at school.

I have concluded that high stress and a lack of sleep likely caused the headaches and tinnitus that then negatively impacted my run.

Mundy Lake

Mundy Lake

This Friday morning, I am scheduled to do my last long training run before my BMO Vancouver Half Marathon race on May 5th.

I am hoping that I have a good one!

Given that the stress levels around the house this week have subsided, all I need to do is get two good nights sleep before Friday and I should be okay. Sounds good!

Run#51 Apr 22: Burnaby Lake / Piper Spit 7K – Just 5 training runs to go!

Burnaby Lake

Burnaby Lake

With just 5 more training runs to go before I run my BMO Vancouver Half Marathon, I have to admit that I am now getting quite excited about race day!

My dedication and commitment to training over the past 4 months is now paying off. I am well prepared for my 21K race on May 5th.

I really didn’t know where I would run when I headed out this morning, which is not unusual for me lately. However, my intuition served me well.

I parked my car off the Caribou Road and planned to run the Burnaby Lake north trail up to Piper Spit and back, which would be about a 5K run.

Burnaby Lake trail

Burnaby Lake trail

The weather this morning was perfect for running. The sky was blue and sunny and the temperature was warm but still comfortable for running.

Having now run many training runs over 10K, I have to say that my 5K short runs now really do feel short.

It felt like no time at all had passed when I turned a corner on the trail and saw Piper Spit.

It was so beautiful on the trail this morning, that I was compelled to just keep going beyond my planned turn-around point.

I ran for another kilometer or so. Then I  saw a spot by the lake that looked like the right place to stop. I decided to take a rest and take in the lake view.

Burnaby Lake - kayaker

Burnaby Lake – kayaker

I spotted a kayaker that was fast approaching along the shoreline.

As he passed by, he waved and said hi. After we had both marvelled at the weather, he asked me if I had run the Sun Run 10K race this past Sunday.

I explained to him briefly that I was saving all my strength for the half marathon. He seemed to understand and smiled as he paddled off down the lake.

About a decade or so ago, I went on a 21-day Outward Bound kayaking trip up in the Broughton Archipelago area off northern Vancouver Island.

It was an amazing trip. I really enjoyed traveling by kayaking and being on the water. The whole experience gave me a different perspective on life.

Piper Spit

Piper Spit

I really should take the kids kayaking this summer, I thought.

Then I headed back down the trail and was soon back at Piper Spit again.

My goodness, it’s busy, I thought. There were lots of children feeding the ducks and the geese. Their parents were watching attentively.

I was very careful when weaving my way through the kids, as I walked out to the end of the boardwalk and then on my way back to the trail.

It was just a short 2.5K run from Piper back to the car. I was running so well that it felt like it went by in a flash.

The sun was warm on my back as I stretched out by my car, I reflected on my run and how I was feeling at that moment.

Burnaby Lake trail

Burnaby Lake trail

I decide that today’s run felt better than it has felt for a long time .

My pace was solid and steady and my breathing was easy. I did not sense any headache and tinnitus symptoms.

Wow – my goodness. I actually feel healthy and fit again.

I just hope that this feeling lasts a long time, this time!

Run#50 Apr 19: Burrard to Stanley Park 16K – just two weeks to go!

English bay

English Bay

The seawall around Stanley Park in Vancouver has got to be one of the most spectacular runs in the world.

When I lived in downtown in the West End about a decade or so ago, I have to admit that I used to prefer to run the Stanley Park trails.

There were no people on the trails and the seawall was seemingly crowded with people, cyclists and in-line skaters, especially at the weekends and all through the summer months.

Now that I live in the suburbs, going down to my old stomping grounds and running around the seawall is a really special treat, and that’s exactly what I needed given the tragic events in Boston over the past week.

Burrard Street Bridge

Burrard Bridge

I headed out around 10:30AM so as to avoid the morning rush hour, which I did. The journey from here in Coquitlam is only about 30 minutes when the traffic is light.

After a brief search for a street parking meter, I decided to park in the lot under the Burrard Bridge, next to the Aquatic Centre.

I set my Strava Run app, then selected Bach’s Goldberg Variations on my iPhone for my listening pleasure, and headed up the path towards Stanley Park.

I estimated that it was about a 3K run from the bridge to Stanley Park and the seawall. Since the seawall is 10K, that would give me a solid long run of 16K while enjoying an infinite number of exquisite views along the way. Perfect!

Sunset Beach

Sunset Beach

In was an especially grey morning and there was a light drizzle coming down as I headed my way up the path, past Sunset Beach and into English Bay.

There was hardly anyone on the path actually, just a few extra keen runners, like myself.

My mind went back to a time when this area used to be my back yard and I would come down to English Bay, just for a short walk and to get a breath of fresh sea air.

Although I look back fondly on my 5 years of peaceful, independent bliss, living down in the West End, I have to say that I have now moved on to a different time and place in my life, both literally and metaphorically.

However, I still enjoy coming back to visit my old neighbourhood very much. It’s therapeutic and relaxing for me. It helps my head actually.

Stanley Park - Rhododendron Gardens

Stanley Park – Rhododendron Gardens

I reached the park and decided to go in the opposite direction around the seawall than I did the last time that I ran it in February.

Variety is after all the spice of life!

As I headed up by Lost Lagoon, I took a small detour from the main path and followed the trail through the rhododendron gardens to see if they were in bloom yet.

My wife Marjory and I used to wheel our son through these gardens often,  in his Bob stroller, when we were living here. He loved to smell the blooms in the garden, especially if they were swarming with bees. We had to watch him carefully around the blooms!

To my delight, there were quite a few blooms out that morning, and they looked exquisite. In about two to three weeks they will look beautiful, I said to myself. We should try and get back down here, maybe after my half marathon race on May 5th.

Stanley Park - Coal Harbour

Stanley Park – Coal Harbour

The drizzle had e stopped, but it was still quite wet and humid as I continued on my way around the seawall. I past the Vancouver Rowing Club looking out over Coal Harbour. What a beautiful spot to row, I thought.

Before long I was around the point, and along the bay to Lumberman’s Arch, where I stopped to drink from the water fountain.

The Strava Run app had been telling me that my pace was very respectable so far; around 6:30 minutes per kilometre. It was not quite the blistering pace that I set on my PoCo trail 10K last Wednesday, but still fast, never the less. Pretty good though, I thought.

Lions Gate Bridge

Lions Gate Bridge

Soon enough, the Lions Gate Bridge was looking down at me.

Once under the bridge, it was on towards Siwash Rock and then to my favourite spot – 3rd beach.

The weather was fast improving, and I noticed a good-sized patch of blue sky on the horizon. It was a welcomed site.

In keeping with the weather, I changed the music to something more upbeat. Off went Bach and on went Rod Stewart’s iconic album for the 70’s, Gasoline Alley. It’s one of my favourite albums and it helps me maintain a good, steady pace.

Siwash Rock came and went, and then I rounded the corner and before me was an intriguing scene. The sun had broken through and the blue sky was abundant.

Stanley Park - 3rd Beach

Stanley Park – 3rd Beach

The warmth of the sun on the wet beach had caused a foggy mist to rise up. The sea breeze coming off the bay was blowing the mist gently over the beach and the seawall where I was about to pass.

Running slowly through the foggy mist, I was reminded of a story recently published in The Sunday Province marathon section.

Appropriately entitled “Running through the Fog’, the story is about my accident, injury and running rehabilitation over the past 2 years. It’s written by written by renowned sports writer Kimiya Shokoohi,

Thank you Kim for writing such a kind, caring, sensitive and accurate story. If you are interested, it can be found in The Province on-line at:

http://www.theprovince.com/sports/Running+through/8008446/story.html

Burrard Bridge from Sunset Beach

Burrard Bridge from Sunset Beach

As my Strava Run app told me that I had completed 15K, I was feeling good. I had managed to maintain a good pace throughout my long run.

As I was passing by Sunset Beach and approaching the Burrard Bridge, I began to experience a slight pain in my left groin area.

It felt the same as the pain that I had felt on my long run last week out at Sasamat Lake that also happened around the 15K point in my run.

I also noticed some chaffing that had occurred around the left groin area and realized why it had happened. I had put on a pair of shorts that I had not worn before. The seam was roughly stitched and that had caused the chaffing.

That was a silly thing to do, I said to myself.

Burrard Street Bridge

Burrard Bridge

I ran on slowly for a while, but I decided to finish my run early, just short of the car.

This was was partly to ease the groin and chaffing pain, but it was primarily to take one last view of the magnificent Burrard Bridge.

As i stood there admiring this art deco masterpiece, a small water taxi came chugging out from under the bridge. It was headed towards the dock at the waters edge. Two seagulls came flying out from under the bridge, screeching and squawking away at each other. Noisy things!

I walked over to my car and stretched but for a longer time than usual. I made a conscious effort to stretch out my groin, especially on my left side.

Stanley Park - Seawall

Stanley Park – Seawall

Although the groin pain went away as soon as I stopped running, I knew that I would have to take good care of this leading up to my BMO Vancouver Half Marathon race on May 5th.

As for the chaffing, I knew that I need to apply some antibiotic cream over the weekend and lots of Vaseline for next week’s runs.

At this point in my training, I am not going to worry too much about the possibility of a groin problem during my run.

I have decided to simply enjoy my last two weeks of training before the race and to make sure that I stretch out well before and after my training runs.

Stanley Park - Seawall

Stanley Park – Seawall

My four 15K+ long runs are now done and I have 5 scheduled training runs to go before race day.

Additionally, my stress levels are down and my concussion headaches and tinnitus symptoms are not being adversely impacted by my training runs, which is very encouraging!

Although I do have a few aches and pains, there are no major issues.

So at this time, I am pleased to report that all is well and I am very much looking forward to simply enjoying the next two weeks of easier training and then the race day itself.

inuksuk at English bay

Inuksuk at English bay

It’s been a long, hard but enjoyable 4 months of training and I am enjoying the experience and feeling the rehabilitation benefits. It’s satisfying!

My wife Marjory and our two young children are getting excited now too. I printed a copy of the route map for them last night, and I am going to mark down my arrival times at various viewing spots where my family will try to get to on the race day.

My 10 year-old son ran up to me with the route map in his hand this evening, asking me if he could come and watch me. Of course, I said.

He is SO excited!

Run#49 Apr 17: PoCo Trail 10K – running faster & tragedy in Boston

PoCo Trail - Pitt River

PoCo Trail – Pitt River

It’s been a difficult week. My heart and soul reaches out to those impacted by the horrific acts committed at the Boston Marathon.

It’s so unthinkable and beyond my comprehension how anyone could choose to bring such devastation and pain to so many innocent people.

This horrific act has also brought sorrow, heartache and concerns to the global running community.

Crossing the finish line may now be a completely different experience for us all.

Although I know that it will be a different emotional experience when I cross the finish line at the BMO Vancouver Half Marathon on May 5th, my family and I still look forward to celebrating my finishing the race, and the completion of 4 challenging months of running rehabilitation.

We also look forward to sharing our special moment with the thousands of other runners and their families who have also met their goals and have finished their race too!

PoCo Trail - Hyde Creek

PoCo Trail – Hyde Creek

My 10K run today was dedicated to running for the sheer joy of running.

Coincidentally, I ran the fastest 10K that I have run for quite a few years, seemingly without really trying!

During my 5K this past Monday, I concluded that run times are not a major consideration for me, for my training runs or even for my BMO Vancouver Half Marathon.

Although that’s still the case, I have to admit that it felt good to be running relatively fast again this morning.

I headed out for my run a little later that usual this morning. My wife Marjory had a therapeutic massage appointment at 10am in Port Moody.

I dropped her off, and then continued on my way to Hyde Creek Rec. Centre  in Port Coquitlam to run the PoCo Trail.

Hyde Creek

Hyde Creek

I have never run the PoCo Trail before, so I was quite excited at the thought of discovering a new route.

It was about 10:30am as I parked the car in the Hyde Creek Rec Centre parking lot.

I quickly put on some retro sounds and started my Strava Run app on my iPhone, and then headed up the trail at a good pace.

The sun felt warm on my back and the air was fresh and crisp. The gravel trail was soft on the feet and easy on my knees. I was feeing strong, so I increased my stride and took a few deep breaths. Even then, I knew that this would be a fast run.

About 2K down the trail, I took a sharp left turn and ran over a bridge that crossed Hyde Creek. The trail then took me along by a road for about another 500 metres and then it crossed the road. Then I followed the trail along the DeBoville Slough Wetlands dyke.

PoCo Trail - wetlands dyke

PoCo Trail – wetlands dyke

The trail on the dyke was flat and fast. There’s a great sense of wide-open space as the trail soon begins to wind its way along the slough towards the Pitt River.

As I ran along the dyke, I could not help but notice the amazing vistas.

To my right, the slough and the flat wetlands and to my left was a wall of majestic mountains that bordered the fertile fields of the river valley.

As I rounded a bend in the slough, below me across a stream to my left, was row upon row of Blueberry bushes spread across a local grower’s fields.

This would be a good place for some safe family bear spotting in the fall, was my thought.

PoCo Trail - Blueberry fields

PoCo Trail – Blueberry fields

At this time, I was about 4K into my run and becoming aware that this run was gong to be fast.

My Strava Run app had been confirming that my KM times were all below 6 minutes that equates to a 50-something minute 10K.

I was feeling good at this point, and hoping that I had not gone out too fast. I knew from past experience that there’s always a price to pay when you go out too fast.

When my Strava app announced that I had reached the 5K-point, I decided to stop for a moment to admire the view.

I was now standing beside the tranquil Pitt River. The mountains now seemed closer, greener and higher. It was a quiet, beautiful moment.

I slowly retrieved my water bottle from my new Nathan pak and took a much-needed drink of cool water. After a few minutes, now feeling refreshed, I headed back down the dyke.

PoCo Trail - Pitt River

PoCo Trail – Pitt River

I was still feeling mentally strong, but was soon beginning to feel some physical strain, presumably as a result of my fast pace.

By the time I reached the end of the dyke, I had already made a mental note that should take great care not to head out too fast on my BMO Vancouver Half Marathon race.

When I reached the Hyde Creek section of the trail, I was still running fast but I was thinking much more rationally than before.

A 2½-hour half marathon time is more realistic, said my rational self.

PoCo Trail - Hyde Creek

PoCo Trail – Hyde Creek

I know that I do have a competitive side to me, and that’s okay.

Hopefully my rational side will ensure that my competitive side does not adversely impact my rehabilitation program.

As I ran into the Hyde Creek parking lot and reached the end of my run, I was compelled to check my watch for my run time.

Wow – fifty-five minutes.

That’s my fastest 10K time in years!

Run#48 Apr 15: Port Moody 5K – race day goals & expectations

Port Moody inlet

Port Moody inlet

Realistically, my training run times have not really been a high priority item over the past 3½ months of BMO Vancouver Half Marathon training.

Thinking about it, they have not been much of a consideration since my accident and injury 2½ years ago.

For the first year after my accident, my focus was to try and find a way to run again.

Then, after I discovered the University of Buffalo’s concussion rehabilitation program, my focus was to learn to run for 30 minutes at a well-managed pace with minimal adverse impact on my concussion headaches and tinnitus symptoms.

Port Moody inlet trail

Port Moody inlet trail

Now it’s more about learning to run slow and long, while avoiding injury as well as adverse symptoms.

I feel that I am actually doing very well with my training and I am pleased with my progress and being able to do the long runs again.

I have to admit, however, that my competitive spirit is still alive and well and the thought of what time I will do in the half marathon is in my mind quite often.

As I set out on my scheduled 5K short run around the Port Moody inlet this morning, I was asking myself once again what time I might expect or perhaps have as a goal for my upcoming half marathon, now less than two weeks away!

This morning, the weather was perfect for a run and the trail around the Port Moody inlet, from Rocky Point to Old Orchard Park, is one of my most favourite 5K runs.

Port Moody inlet

Port Moody inlet

As I looked around me, the sky was bright blue, the sun was sparkling off the water and there’s still some snow to be seen on the mountain peaks surrounding the inlet.

I was in great spirits as I headed off down the trail. Although I run this route often, I never seem to tire of it. It’s gorgeous for all seasons.

So if I had to estimate a time that it will take me to complete my half marathon, then what would that time estimate be, I wondered.

In the past, estimating a race time and a pace was quite easy to do, because training run times and pace per kilometer were very consistent and predictable.

Now, my run and pace times are all over the map, given my rest and photo-taking breaks!

Port Moody inlet trail

Port Moody inlet trail

About half a kilometer away from my turn-around at Old Orchard Park my Strava Run app announced that I had completed 3K at 8½ minutes per km.

My goodness, I thought. That seems slow, even considering my photo stops. I wonder what my km time would be like if I ran at a good steady pace with no photo stops!

When I reached Old Orchard Park, I stopped for a few moments on the beach and took in the view. The scene across that water was exquisite. I was not feeling thirsty but thought that I should rehydrate anyway.

I took my water bottle out of my new Nathan waist pak and drank the water. It worked very well, just as promised. As you may remember, I purchased this new pak from The Runners Den in Port Moody last Thursday. This was my first pak test run, so to speak, and it passed with flying colours. Thanks again, Runners Den!

Old Orchard Park beach

Old Orchard Park beach

As I was heading off the beach and back onto the trail to run back, a runner came through the park at a moderate pace heading towards Rocky Point, passed by me and went off through the trees along the trail towards Rocky Point.

My old competitive self thought of trying to catch her and then overtake her, but that did not really materialize. I did not really push myself and I took a few more photos along the way. Maybe deep down I knew she was a little too fast for me to catch anyway. Whatever the reason, I did not see her again.

I crossed the Noons Creek Bridge at the end of the inlet and was feeling good about not getting wrapped up in competition again.

Port Moody inlet trail

Port Moody inlet trail

With about 1.5K to go, I was pondering my potential half marathon time again, when a runner came out onto the trail. He was probably in his 20’s, tall and athletic, and running at a moderate pace.

Out of nowhere, my competitive spirit leapt into the forefront of my mind. You’re feeling good, he’s definitely catchable, said the spirit.

You can reel him in no problem; let’s give it a try, let’s see what you can do, let’s go for it!

I seemed to go into autopilot, my pace picked up a little but not much. I could tell from his gait that I was moving a little faster than him and I was slowly gaining but there was not much in it.

When he reached the next boardwalk I was noticeably closer and by the time we were running down the wooden stairs just beyond the boardwalk, I was right on his heels.

I was quite calm yet excited at the same time.

Port Moody inlet trail

Port Moody inlet trail

Hearing my steps behind him, the runner graciously ran on the side of the trail. I said thank you, accelerated just a little and moved ahead of him.

A quiet confidence crept over me as I kept running at a good pace. Just before I ran into Rocky Point Park, my Strava Run app announced that I had now completed 5K and that my last kilometre was completed in 5:38. Wow, I like it, I thought.

Close to the end of my run, I stopped for a moment and took a photo of the inlet and looked around to see how close the runner was to me. He was nowhere to be seen, so I slowly ran back to my little red car in the parking lot.

As I stretched out my legs, I was once again wondered if I should set myself a time objective for the race or not. The answer came calmly and quickly, and it was no.

Port Moody inlet trail

Port Moody inlet trail

Although my brief flirtation with competition was great fun, I do not want it to conflict with my overall objective, which is to rehabilitate through running.

For me, the BMO Vancouver Half Marathon race on May 5th race day will be an opportunity to celebrate the completion of 4 months of training and share that experience with thousands of other fellow runners who have done the same.

It will also be a time for me be thankful for being alive, healthy and able to run again.

Port Moody inlet

Port Moody inlet

I will share this moment with my dear wife Marjory and our two adorable children who are my biggest supporters. They will be cheering me on right to the finish line.

So when Marjory asks me when to look for me at the finish line, I will tell her to be there and look out for me about 2 hours after the start of the race.

What time I actually cross the line remains to be seen, but I suspect that my run time will be about 2 hours 30 minutes. Undoubtedly, this will be my slowest half marathon by far, but it may well be my most satisfying and rewarding race thus far.

My goal is to do my best to finish feeling good and injury free and to enjoy every moment.

As for my actual race time, well, that will take care of itself!