Sunday May 5th: BMO Vancouver Half Marathon 21K – my awesome race day experience!

Almost there!

John at 20.5K – almost there!

My alarm went off bright and early at 4:30AM this morning. I had a good sleep and was feeling very enthusiastic about my race day.

Having worked so hard for 4 months, I was glad that my race day had finally arrived.

I checked the weather on my iPhone first thing. It was already 14C, which was awesome news!

That meant that I would not have to worry about what to wear. Running shorts and a tee shirt were the order of the day.

My wife Marjory rose early with me, but the children were slow to rise. They were going to come with me in the car right down to the start line at Queen Elizabeth Park in Vancouver.

Surprisingly, there were no early sky trains scheduled from where we live to the marathon this year.  So I really appreciated being dropped off right outside QEP!

First, I had a nice warm shower to loosen up my muscles. Then I enjoyed a small bowl of cereal and a cup of tea for my light breakfast. The kids enjoyed a little extra time in bed and they had muffins for their breakfast in the car on the drive down. This helped make the early morning easier for everyone.

We left our home in Coquitlam for the race around 5:30AM and it only took us around 30 minutes to reach the Queen Elizabeth Park. Traffic was pretty light at that time of the morning.

At the start line - ready to go

At the start line – ready to go

We pulled up outside QEP, I gave everyone a kiss and a hug and they all wished me good luck. Then I left and joined a long and seemingly endless stream of runners headed to the start line.

I had some friendly chats with quite a few runners before the start. Everyone was in great spirits and especially happy with the nice weather.

One of the runners graciously agreed to take some photos of yours truly, and I did the same in return for him. It was lots of fun!

The cheerful ‘runners banter’ about training and the upcoming run was suddenly interrupted with the opening lines of  O Canada.

I love singing our national anthem and so I did just that. It was a stirring moment for everyone.

The sun had been up for some time when the race finally started at around 7:15am. I was around the midpoint in the pack of runners waiting to file under the official start line.

I have to admit that I did not actually hear the starting gun or horn, but everyone in front of me shuffled forward and I just shuffled along with them. Eventually, we passed the official start line and I turned on the timer on my watch. It was now official, I was off and running!

We initially headed up a bit of an incline to get out of the park, but then it was a long and steady downhill all the way down Cambie Street to the Cambie Bridge.

Vancouver skyline from Cambie Street

Vancouver skyline from Cambie Street

The first 3K or so down Cambie was absolutely exhilarating. We were all treated to a spectacular view of the Vancouver skyline that got larger and grander as we approached the bridge. It felt great to be running downhill but I took great care not to go too fast.

I was feeing terrific at this time and so was everyone around me!

There were a few runners that got caught up in the moment and went  flying down the hill. I was actually quite concerned for them and hoped that they would be okay later in the race.

Once over the bridge, we soon found ourselves running through historic Chinatown, which is always interesting. To our great surprise, we were all treated to a group of Indian ladies dancing to a Bollywood number on the sidewalk. Not exactly what we expected in the middle of Chinatown, but superb none the less!

Just as we reached the top of the Homer Street hill, there was a great brass band playing a very ‘brassy’ military number. I loved it, so I stopped to take a photo of the band. The conductor gave me a smile and then he motioned for me to come over to him. I was most intrigued.

Then I smiled a broad smile. You’re asking ME to conduct the band! How did you know that it would be a dream come true for me to conduct your brass band. Yes, I would love to, I thought, as I nodded my head. Thank you so much!

Strike up the band!

Strike up the band!

As he handed me the baton, he then gestured for me to hand my iPhone over to him.

You want to take a photo of me conducting? Wow – how neat, I thought.

I then began to swish that baton like I was born to conduct. The band seemed to appreciate the moment and my enthusiasm for conducting. They were terrific!

Not bad, I thought. In fact, this is going quite well!

What a great 60 seconds or so I had conducting the band. Many of the runners let out huge cheers as they went by the scene. It was such a wonderful impromptu moment; I will treasure the memory always

My thanks go out to that very special brass band conductor!

I motioned a fond farewell to the band and I continued my run down Homer until it turned Mainland signifying that we were now running through Yaletown.

Yaletown

Trendy Yaletown

As I ran down those cobbled streets past the many fine restaurants and bars, my mind briefly took me back to a time gone by when I used to live in the heart of Yaletown in a rather luxurious apartment .

I used to frequent many of these fine establishments at the time. The Century Grill was my favourite spot at the time. I had my fair share of oysters on the half shell during my time.

Those were the days, I thought. Lots of fun and great memories, but I’m quite glad to have moved on.

Once out of trendy Yaletown, we turned onto Pacific Boulevard and travelled up a short but steep hill. Fortunately, we were soon going downhill again under the Granville Street Bridge. Then we took a sharp right and followed Beach Avenue until we found ourselves running by English Bay.

The water on the bay was sparkling in the sunlight. The view was beautiful, but not as beautiful as the sight that I was about to see.

As I looked forward down the road, there standing by the roadside, bearing huge smiles and cheering, was my dear wife Marjory and our two children, Ian and Megan.

My cheering section - Marjory, Ian and Megan

My cheering section – Marjory, Ian and Megan

It was quite a moment. We had a quick hi and how are you. The I got some big hugs and kisses. They said that they would see me again at the finish and wished me good luck. Then I was off and on my way again.

It was around this time that I became aware of some pain around my left groin area. It was the same pain that I had experienced periodically over the past three weeks on my long training runs

I was still determined to remain optimistic that this injury would not get worse and that my race would go well.

Never the less, I did take the Extra Strength Advil that was in my waist pack and swallowed it with some water from my hydration bottle.

My optimism was rewarded because the pain did not get any worse and was not much of a factor in my race at all, thank goodness.

Soon we left Beach Avenue and English Bay and headed into Stanley Park, the jewel of Vancouver.  My journey though the park was both spectacular and demanding, especially around the 17K mark.

It's a little warm out here!

It’s a little warm out here!

Although I was quite confident that I would get to the finish line, a general body fatigue was now setting in.

I had now been running for over 2 hours and longer than I had run during my entire 4 months of training. In fact, it was now my longest run since I ran my last full marathon about 8 years ago, right here in Vancouver.

I managed to run the last three kilometers but did take a few short walking breaks along the way. I was totally okay with this. Time was not a major factor.

By now I was quite warm and had sweat running into my eyes so I took the time to rinse my eyes and my forehead with water at each of the remaining  water station.

About 500M from the finish line, I saw Marjory and the kids standing by the fence that now lined the road. What a site for sore sweaty eyes.

I stopped for more kisses and hugs. Marjory took a few photos. Then I ran on slowly and deliberately towards the finish line.

I glanced to the side of me as I ran, and there were Ian and Megan running with me. It was a touching moment.

I’m sure that they would have run right to the finish line with me but for the security fences around the finish.

Crossing the finish line was an emotional moment for me. It was not my longest race and it was far from my fastest.

However, it was my most satisfying and fulfilling race.

Mission accomplished!

I did it!

Finishing the half marathon felt like a tremendous achievement for me. It’s my first race since my accident and injury in October of 2010 and finishing the race marks the completion of four long, and sometimes challenging, months of training and running rehabilitation.

Although I was physically tired, at that moment, I felt strong mentally and fulfilled spiritually.

After spending about an hour cheering on lots of other runners as they approached the finish line, we decided to go for lunch at The White Spot, which was just across the other side of Georgia Street.

Fortunately we got a table right on the deck so we were able to continue to watch the marathoners as they ran up Georgia from the park towards the finish line. It was a lovely lunch!

Just before we left to head home, I found myself alone with some time to contemplate.

These were my innermost thoughts in that special moment.

First, I gave thanks for the most amazing half marathon race day and also for my past 4 months of training and running rehabilitation. It has been awesome!

Although I may not understand the real purpose of this experience right now, I know that I will understand it at some point in the future.

Time to relax and celebrate!

Time to relax and celebrate!

I acknowledged that I must continue to be patient and accept what is and what will be. Then, when the fog clears a little more, I should be ready to take on the next challenge on my path to wellness – the next piece of the puzzle, so to speak.

I also reminded myself that I should not try to find that next piece of the puzzle.  It will find me!

When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.

I enjoyed my moment alone. Then my family rejoined me, and we decided it was now time for us to go home and enjoy the rest of the day!

And now it’s time for me to bring this story to a close.

Thank you for being a part of my journey thus far. I hope that my story has been of interest to you and also helpful if you or someone close to you is personally living with concussion.

As for the future, I am planning to blog on a different topic soon. Please see below for more information. I have also posted a few more race photos too. I hope that you enjoy them.

Bye for now, and I will look out for you on the trails.

Namaste.

John

———–

For those of you that might be interested, I hope to soon be blogging on another personal area of experience and interest – Chronic Pain Self-Management.

Currently a volunteer Program Leader with the University of Victoria’s Centre on Aging,  I regularly facilitate 6-week Chronic Pain Self-Management Program workshops. Held in various locations across BC, this workshop is available free of charge to adults living with chronic pain issues.

For more information on the University of Victoria’s  Centre on Aging and our complete Self-Management Workshop offerings, follow this link to our website:

http://www.selfmanagementbc.ca

Thank you!

———–

Here are some more photos from the BMO Vancouver Half Marathon.

'Boston strong' in Vancouver

‘Boston strong’ in Vancouver

Almost home!

Almost home!

It's a walk in the park

A stroll in the park

The beat goes on

And the beat goes on

Underneath the arches in Chinatown

Underneath the arches in Chinatown

The quiet before the storm

A quiet moment before the start

Running in the city

Running in the city

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May 3rd: Final training week and my BMO Vancouver Half Marathon on Sunday!

Canada Place - Vancouver Convention Centre

Canada Place – Vancouver Convention Centre

The reality of running my BMO Vancouver Half Marathon Run this coming Sunday really hit home when I picked up my race package at the Vancouver Convention Centre at Canada Place in downtown Vancouver this morning.

The convention centre was packed with hundreds of other runners who were all, like myself, quite excited and full of anticipation. I treated myself to a bright yellow singlet, a stylish red tee shirt and some new socks for race day.

Strictly speaking, one should not wear anything new on race day. However, my current socks are worn out and I also need a bright running shirt so that my wife Marjory and our two children can find me among the thousands of runners that will be out on the course on Sunday morning.

Mundy Park - off trail path

Mundy Park – off trail pathway

This final training week before the run has been comparatively restful and relaxing, but not without some concern.

As I suspected at the time, my 5K run last Monday did turn out to be my last training run.

Having experienced some groin pain and then after much deliberation, I decided not to run again until race day. I did not want to risk further injury and thought it wise to give the groin more time to heal.

In the meantime, I have been stretching, icing and then applying heat to the affected area. Hopefully, this will avert or at least minimize any problems during the race.

Wednesday was a beautiful day, so I decided to go for a walk and explore the less-travelled paths off the main trails among the woods of Mundy Park.

Judging by the tire marks in the muddy parts of the trail, it has to be the local mountain bikers that frequented these trails rather than runners and walkers.

Walking rather than running that morning turned out to be quite exhilarating and refreshing. There were times when I did not really know exactly where I was or which was I was headed but that just made it more fun.

Moving along the path at a slower pace also afforded me the opportunity to reflect, contemplate and give thanks for an incredibly satisfying and enjoyable 4 months of running.

Statistically, over the last 4 months I ran a total of 55 training runs and 403K. My four longest training runs ranged from 14-17K and most recently I have been running at a 6 minute per km pace.

Sasamat Lake

Sasamat Lake

Comparatively, before I started my half marathon training, I was only able to run for a maximum of 30 minutes at about an 8 minute per km pace maximum.

That’s quite a performance improvement, I think.  I am most pleased with my progress as well as my hard work and determination!

Equally important, I feel that I have managed my training well and have progress without adversely impacting my concussion and tinnitus symptoms.

Although I still experience daily headaches and tinnitus symptoms, they do seem much less severe now than they were before I started my training.

I firmly believe that my training program has increases my endorphin levels, which has helped reduce my stress levels and consequently my stress-related  concussion and tinnitus symptoms. The fog is gradually clearing!

I do not think that I would have been able to achieve this without the self-management knowledge that I gained from the University of Buffalo Concussion Clinic’s ‘running rehabilitation’ program that I followed for about 6 months last year. The program was recommended to me by my psychologist and physiotherapist at the Coquitlam Concussion Clinic.  Thank you so much!

Throughout this final week of training, I have had the opportunity to reflect on all of the beautiful trails that I have run over the past four months.

There’s Port Moody Inlet, Mundy Park and Burnaby Lake and others that I have run many times and will always enjoy. Then there’s the many new running trails that I discovered, such as the Pitt River Dyke and the Sasamat Lake trail. I enjoyed them immensely and will undoubtedly run them all again in the future.

Stanley Park seawall - 3rd Beach

Stanley Park seawall – 3rd Beach

Highlights of my training included the opportunity to revisit runs that have run many times in the past but not for some time.

A prime example would be our very own world-class iconic run – the Vancouver seawall around Stanley Park. It’s one of the most beautiful runs on the planet!

Over the past few days, I have been looking forward to my half marathon race on Sunday morning.

Although I still have some concerns about my left groin pain, I have now rested it for 5 days, so hopefully it will not be a problem on race day.

I am therefore feeling confident that I will have a good race. I have worked very hard over the last 4 months and have prepared well.

Now all I need to do for the rest of the week is to stay positive, eat healthy, drink lots of water, rest and relax, and get two really good night’s sleep!

On Sunday morning, our family plan is to rise around 4:30AM. It’s supposed to be warm and dry, so I will dress in shorts and my new tee shirt or singlet for my run. I will enjoy a light breakfast, and then we will head off in the car, and drop me at the Canada Line.

PoCo Trail - Pitt River Dyke

PoCo Trail – Pitt River Dyke

While Marjory and the children find a restaurant and have their breakfast and then find a spectator cheering spot on the race course, I will be riding the Canada Line train down to Queen Elizabeth Park and the start of the race.

I’m hoping to arrive at QEP at around 6:15AM so that I have sufficient time to stretch, prepare mentally, soak up the atmosphere and be ‘ready to go’ at the start line for the 7AM starting gun.

My heart is racing a little faster just thinking and writing about race day. I still have two sleeps to go!

If you live in the Vancouver area, be sure to come to the race and cheer everyone on. It’s a great spectator experience; I am sure that you will have a terrific time.

Finally, I want to take this opportunity to give all of my fellow runners my sincere best wishes and lots of good energy for a great race day on Sunday.

I’m looking forward to seeing all of the cheers and smiles, and to saying hello to some of you.

Good luck and God speed everyone!

John - good luck everyone!

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!

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!