Age of Sail Marathon

20 08 2011





Age of Sail


Its been a while since ive blogged.  The fact is I haven’t done much interesting in running.  I had 1 amazing run down in Scottsdale AZ a few weeks back but other than that ive been in full business development mode.  

Ive been doing a bit of running..mostly without a watch or a scheduled distance….just running.

The problem with that is I was supposed to be training for “ The Age of Sail” marathon in Port Graville,  Nove Scotia.    Port Graville is a very small town in NS, over looking theBay of Fundy.  Its where my Mom, and her mom, and her mom are from.  We summered there as kids so its special to me.   The brooks and rivers still run clear and are full of brook trout.  The people are still friendly and not suspicious or paranoid.  The air is clear and clean.   I love the place !!!!

So after my 100 Miler in early May, my body decided it had enough running for a bit.  I continued to try and train for Canadian Death Race including a hilly 50 km run in CreemoreOntarioin June.  After Creemore I realized I wasn’t having fun with my workload and the state of my body and dropped out of The Death Race.  I thought, “ok ill do some speed work and rock out the Age of Sail”, …………………hmmmmmmmmm.

Life being what it is I ended up running maybe 8-10 times in the 6 weeks after Creemore so needless to say I was worried early this week about running aMarathon.  

The thing is after the 100 miler I know I can run a Marathon on any given Sunday………..but its about how badly I want to suffer after…………..The past week ive been in NS with my kids and because I had such a heavy workload and wanted to have fun with them I was working from 7 AM until 11 AM and then from 9 pm until 3 AM……daily………not so healthy!

A few nights ago I decided to run the half marathon instead of the full.  Not my style to downsize but a good decision.

After a fun filled week with the kids, my sister Ava and I loaded the SUV, and packed in a few kids and headed out toParsboro,NS.

We used to do that trek every summer in the mid 70’s, so it was a bit nostalgic to be trucking along in a car jammed to the roof with squealing kids.

The weather was gorgeous, so I had the pedal down to get there and get the kids to the beach after 4 rainy days in a row inHalifax.

Got there we did. 

What an amazing day.  Blue sky, warm….the idealic summer day.  

The kids and I went straight to the beach where we promptly settled in and built a large dam on a small brook.  Collected clay from the river which they turned into bowls, flew a kite and of course made a bonfire. 

Im not sure I have enjoyed an afternoon more in my life!

My siblings and mother showed up at dinner with a picnic of Spaghetti……my first campfire beach spaghetti.  Home made strawberry shortcakes.

We had an early night and I left the kids with my mom to get a good nights sleep at the Parsboro mansion B and B

Next day I was up early and drove to the starting line and collected my kids who were adorned with Volunteer shirts.

My sister Ava, gave a quick run down of the rules, and a bit of inspiration, my daughter Elyse blew a whistle and off we went.

The group was halves and full marathons together so it went out fast.

I settled in to an easy pace and set out to enjoy myself.   

The run starts at the bottom of a 750 meter hill which has 400 feet of elevation so that gets the blood moving.  As you round the first big turn and start downhill at 4 km you have an incredible view of the Bay of Fundy andCapeSplit

At 6 km there is a spring gurgling out of the side of a mountain which I have stopped to get fresh water from since I was a kid.  It is the coldest most delicious water I have ever had and I was looking forward to this part of the run for a long time.   It was already plenty hot out so I dunked my head under and filled my bottle.  It was worth the couple of minutes lost……..a couple runners passed and looked at me a bit oodly.  

  There were plenty of well manned aid stations but I am so used to carrying a bottle from distance training that I do so even on short runs.  I always have a blend of carbo and electrolytes. 

The aid stations were so helpful and friendly, with bananas, oranges energy drinks, water that it was hard for me not to stop and have a chat…..i wasn’t in a hurry but I still wanted to finish before it got much hotter.

At the turn around I had only 5 people ahead of me for the half…….the full runners carried on for a longer out and back.

I thought ……briefly…….i could suck it up and catch the lead pack……NO.

I was out for a nice run that wouldn’t punish my body, as I had to fly to TO and work all-night that night!  Just to prove that point to myself I jumped into the field beside the road and scooped a handful of blueberries from the literal carpet of blue around my feet.

Anti oxidants! 

The whole run was a bit surreal in that it was a story book summer day with blue skies and fluffy white clouds.   You expected to see a red fox running through a field at any moment.      Very few cars passing and wide graded shoulders on the road.

   At 16 km my tendon in the right foot was screaming and causing my stride to have a slight limp. Apparantly im still not fully healed.

 I was extremely glad at that point I didn’t run the full.

I found the 4 hills coming back to be tough but manageable……like the switch backs in Old Mill, or Maple inDartmouth……..

I had way to much energy left I thought guiltily as I made the final 400 meter surge at the finish to a leisurely pace of 1 hour 55min. hmmmm perhaps I shouldn’t have stopped at the spring or picked blueberries during a race. Lol  Yeah right!  That’s what makes these types of small Marathons.

My daughter hung my beautiful “ Age of Sail” medal around my neck.  The medal has a picture of the Tall Ships from the age of sail.

My mother had already shown me a path down to the icy cold spring feed river below where I went and “iced” on a rock for 20 minutes.  Sitting there on that rock in the red river, listening to the crowd cheer for people as they crossed the finish line and the kids trying to fish for trout on the river, I thought this is the kind of marathon I like!

When all the runners came in we assembled in the fire hall for big bowls of fish chowder, or seafood chowder, or corn chowder with home made biscuits, rolls, and pies of all flavours and types.

It was hard for me to leave that perfect day and drive back to the airport and the hectic life I lead

…I cant wait to train next year properly and return…….


Death Race Quest is Dead!!!!!!!!!!!! Creemore 50km

3 07 2011

Thats it thats all.   I simpily cannot continue to run on these feet!   They are shot.  Caput.   My right ankle is permanently swollen.  Right shin muscle in a constant state of tightness.  Left Planteur screaming, left big toe tendon angry, right big toe is at the point where i may cut it off to get rid of the pain!

PK and i went out to Creemore yesterday morning bright and early.   I broke all the rules of pre-race prep that i usually adhere to.   Late night the night before.  An un healthy meal ( no pasta!!!), only a banana for breakfast.  up at 4 AM and drove out to the race site.

An almost perfect morning with promises of a hot day.

An extremely well organized race with a small group of about 200 of the usual suspects.

the 50 KMs set off at 8 AM and after runnin g about 8 km, i found myself thinking….”im not up for running 5 hours through the woods today!”……………i settled into an easy pace in the middle of the pack and enjoyed the scenery.  A very beautiful setting along the river.   After several fairly decent hills, we came to a sign saying first hill!  WTF?   ok so this is a hill.  1.8 km of climb up 400 meters of vertical to the top of the Niagra Escarpment………..a decent hill.  A few more of these big hills with corresponding decents.   I noticed i made a few small gains on others on the up hills, but passed many on the down hills where i would hit speeds of 3:25 min/km………..apparantly my down hill running has improved considerably.

At 15 km i just wasnt in it mentally.  PK was running a 25 km ( hes a bit smarter than me apparantly) which started at 9 AM.  I found myself thinking…”i’ll just run a loop of 25km and call it a day”    well of course i came in decently strong with a 4:26 km at number 23, and i knew without serious injury i wouldnt intentionally DNF, but it felt good to pretend i would for a few moments. 

With one lap down it was time to go at this thing and finish up.   I had a good strong start of the secound lap and passed several other runners.  I ran most of the up hills and all the down hills as i knew no matter what i could muscle through another 20 km or so.  

The heat and humidity had built up now and was becoming a factor.  Also my skipping breakfast was starting to take its toll.   Id been sucking back a Hammer Gel, every 30 minutes and drinking Carbo Pro and Heed religiously but i was feeling weak.  Starting to “bonk” from lack of glycogen.   with all the hill running id been averaging a heart rate of about 148 which was a bit high and realized id better slow it down a bit.

heat in the open corn field and up on the 3 km stretch of un shaded gravel road was getting quite extreme.  Id estimate it was 38 C with the humidex and i was really suffering at 44 km.  I was putting ice cubes under my hat at each aid station with was helping a bit, but i was definately suffering.  My right foot was in quite considerable pain from the injured tendons ( from the Sulphur 100 miler last month) and badly swollen.  I was starting to favor it considerably and that was really messing with my stride which in turn was having a bad effect on the right hip flexor.

Even though it was “cool” to be out with all these other runners and doing a 50km trail race, i cannot say i was enjoying myself.   In fact this was a whole lot like a job i had to get done…another task on the never ending list of many.  

I stumbled in at 5 hours and 39 minutes…slow but in a decent palcement on this hilly course.

At this exact moment i knew i was finished with running Ultras for this year/summer………………………..thats it!   No Death RACE

I realized i just dont have the desire, hunger, mental fortitude left to go up to Alberta and run through the mountains all day and night!   

The Creemore vertical challange had 5800 feet of climb and decent in 50km, where the CDR has 19000 feet in 126!!!!!!   The longest climb on Creemore was about 1.8 km, where the longest climb on CDR is about 6 km up leg 2!!!!!

Im done!  Packing it in for another year.  I will do some nice early morning 6-10 km runs and swim the rest of the summer.

My feet are going on vacation!          

i started the running for a hobby which would promote good health but on top of my insane work schedule im becoming un healthy, burnt out and exhausted.

I must tell anyone in Ontario who is contmplating CDR to go out and do the Creemore vertical.  Its the only local race which even gives you an INKLING of what it will be like in Grande Cashe.

Good luck  to all you Death Racers and part of me will wish im there…..that part will NOT be my feet!

1 week after

4 06 2011


So last week at this time i was at 16 km into the first loop of 8 loopsof 20.2 km.  What was i thinking at that time?  Nothing.  I was running through the forest in the early morning fog, admiring the scenery and taking in my surroundings.   For the past 24 hours i had mentally retreated to NOW…..somehow i had been able to slow my busy mind and be only in the present.  i had no thoughts of the past, my work, or any stressor.  i didnt for a moment contemplate the task ahead of completing 100 miles.

I was hoping I would be able to compartmentalize like this but wasnt sure i could.

The day was foggy and wet.  The trail was awash with water and mud.

Read the rest of this entry »

Age of Sail Marathon – 2011

19 05 2011

So IF i survive next weekend at Sulphur 100 miles then i will hopefully survive training two more monthes for Death race, and then the following week i ll stumble along this scenic Nova Scotia marathon route with my sister Ava.

These types of Marathons are so much fun as they arent crowdeed and you can rack up a great pace if looking for a PR.

Come join us!

Red Rock Canyon

28 02 2011

Funny how we change and morph through life into who we are………i think no matter how we act or where we live or what we do we always will become who we are supposed to be or who we were all along……………………………i was born in Montreal but grew up in a small town in South Shore Nova Scotia.  

We speant our days hiking, fishing hunting, running through the woods.  we lived on the edge of a woods that went for miles.

Some how i became a city boy, and lost all of that love for nature and tried to be a differant person……………..after years of that ACT, i am slowly returning to who i am.   I absolutely LOVE being in the woods, or dessert, or anywhere in nature….

Today i landed in Vegas at noon.   There was a point in my life that i would have had a few drinks on the plane and probably went from the check in at the hotel to the bar…………………….today flying in i could see Red Rock Canyon.  I knew that this was only 20 miles from the STRIP.  I knew i had to get there.   I rented a small crappy car ( the old days i would have rented a Ferrari or Porsche) and got a map and headed out there.  I was there by 230 pm.

Im trying to behave and follow a very carefully crafted training regim this year so i have a hope of arriving at the starting line of the CDR without an injury…..BUT…………today was supposed to be a very easy 20 km on flat terrain……instead it turned into a 25 km run up the side of a canyon and down the other…….OMG….at times in the beginning i kept thinking…”man my legs are sore and tired” “perhaps i should run 8 km or so and turn back!”  Yeah right!   Not exactly my personality

I couldnt stop thinking of Badwater and the incrediable hardship the runners endure to finish that monster…..i thought man if i cant handle a little run like this i dont even deserve to think of a run like that.

yesterday i put in a fairly fast 43 km and my legs are a bit tired after getting up at 430 and flying down here.   As i ran it got easier and easier as the beauty was so amazing i stopped thinking of my legs.  I had an ipod with some new songs that i never switched on once…..i just listened to my breathing and my foot steps and ran in solitude….perfect.  Occassionally the scream of a hawk.   A bike passing me on a down hill.

I was a bit nervous about how long it would take as the climb up the 1800 feet or so over the first 5 miles took longer than i thought.  Coming down was much faster than i thought and was able to throw a few sub 7 minute miles in there!   At 19 km i was definately feeling some fatigue and was glad to catch a runner coming off a side trail and join him.  Mark McCallum a super cool guy from Australia, running in a pair of homemade sandels.  His stride was perfect.  We ran together chatting easily at a 5:05 per km pace and in no time i was back to the car.   What a great run.   

i know now that the person Stefan, needs to have time in the wilderness……solitude……quiet and calm nature surrounding me. 

Yesterday and today total 69 km of good running.  I am NOT a great runner, nor will i ever be an elite runner, but i can run!  I love to run and the further from civalization the better.

Not sure where the next part of my life will take me but i can bet it will have alot of time speant in nature…………..

The days you dont want to run!

30 06 2010


Woodstock New Brunswick

The days you don’t want to!

Everyone has up days and down days… im always surprised when my body revolts and legs don’t feel like running.  Today was one such day.

Huge weekend of running.  From Friday to Sunday over 100 km.

 On Sunday night as I finished my final 10 of a 21 I turned up the heat and let it rip for a 46 minute 10km.  

( let it rip is relative!)

It was pouring rain and a thunder-storm had started and I felt great.  I was on a high.  A few emails to a running friend Michael and I couldn’t wait for my next run.  I was a bit tired Monday but not too sore.  Monday I ended up getting 3.5 hours sleep and on the private jet to Florenceville NB.  Tuesday I arrived at 9 and straight into the kitchen for R and D until 5.   at 5 I drove to my hotel and scouted around the immediate area for trails.

I was successful at finding the Meduxnekeag nature Trail so I quickly changed and grabbed some water ( 2 litres) and was off for what I expected to be an awesome run.

Well I started down the trail only to find out my legs wanted to quit!

First of all I had forgotten to pack socks so I had dress socks on and as a result I had to lace up the Brooks very tightly which in turn causes my shins to feel tight. ( blood circulation?)

My calves were so tight.  I would run about 400 meters and have to walk………………….now this is where you want to quit.  Your mind starts telling you…”you don’t need this,”  “ you must need a break”  “ you can make up these miles tomorrow”…………………………instead I always tell myself give it 20 minutes…………….the good part of an out and back is if you give it 20 minutes you end up with a 40 minute run ( crawl, hobble, hop, walk, hike)

The trail was quite beautiful in a woodsy sort of way.  I had a handful of wild strawberries which nourished my mind as I contemplated how most of the world doesn’t know what a strawberry REALLY tastes like.  I was also distracted by looking for chanterelle mushrooms along the trail.  I’m quite a forager!

At 20 minutes I had improved only slightly, but I said another 20 minutes…… the 5 km mark ( 32 minutes of hike/run) suddenly I was able to run a full 2 km without needing a walk……… the turn around I felt great and legs were not tight.   My time sucked but Tuesdays a recovery run for me anyway.   On the way back I settled into a nice medium pace and cruised back.

I must admit I was thrilled to see the car!  At first I was berating myself for my poor run.  Then I realized that I did a 22 km run even though I really didn’t want to.  I realized that my running discipline was on auto pilot and probably this run was better for me (mentally) then a “good” run would have been.  Training the body to push past the minds complaints is a huge part of the Ultra runners arsenal.  Some say it is more important than the physical.

On the 125 km run in July there will be many times my mind says “STOP!”………………………Im back in Toronto now.  I have hill training tomorrow. Its Canada day so I ll take the day off from work.

Im looking forward to my next run!

Coastal Trail California

19 06 2010




Running the Coastal Trail, Muir Beach, San Francisco, California


Id been thinking about this day ever since I heard I was heading down here to work a couple weeks back.  When I got the call that id be down here doing a culinary demonstration for a large Retail customer, the first thought that went through my mind is “Great, its hilly there!”

So my first run in the foot hills in San Ramon was a hard hilly run but I knew it was only a warm up……with the excitement of almost tripping over Rattle Snakes behind me I worked the show on wed.   It was a long show in a small confined space on asphalt.   My feet and Achilles were killing me from standing on one spot for so long.   I started to be concerned about my run for Thursday.    As soon as the show was over I got back to the hotel and went for a swim…more to stretch and soak my sore feet then anything.   I could feel a bit of lactic acid in the quads from the heavy down hill pounding on Wed but nothing serious.

I got to bed early wed and woke at 4:30 AM without an alarm.  I was showered and in the car by 5:15.

It was about an hours drive to San Francisco and across the Golden Gate Bridge.  I was getting excited.   I had a full 3 litre Hydration back pack, a 600 ml handheld and a fuel belt with a 500 ml and 2 small 200 ml protein drinks.   I had several gel packs; some walnuts (of course), dried apricots and pretzels.  I also had a snickers bar stash!  I was good to go.   I didn’t have a set distance in mind but today was supposed to be a 10 km hill day.  (Tuesday was supposed to be an easy recovery run!)  

When I arrived at the visitors information center in Salusito at the entrance to the National park or M Heights I could immediately see I was definitely going to get in some hills.

One lesson I didn’t seem to learn is that the weather is very different in San Francisco area from place to place and time of day.   I really wasn’t dressed warm enough.  Thankfully I had a long sleeve shirt (all be it a thin one) stashed in my pack from another time.

I got set to go and consulted some maps.   I played around with my new Video camera a bit and almost tossed it over the edge of the cliff…….I pocketed my Black berry for a camera and hit the trail at 7 AM.

It was so scenic and beautiful, that I stopped and started several times before I got going……………….I was at Sea Level, running along the Rodeo Beach,  watching the surfers as I started to climb up the Coastal Trail into the hills.    This is Dean Karnazes territory.   A Face book Friend Michael Wentz had told me about this spot and I was hopeful it would be challenging.    I wasn’t too far along when I took a wrong turn and was shortly running through Sage Brush, and thistles which was tearing my shins to pieces.  I had to back track.  I met a young Aussie guy running hard up the mountain and he had no water with him…..crazy…what do some people think.

I was only about 4 km in and my legs and lungs were working hard.  I had already seen at least 20 small rabbits, bob white quail, 10-15 deer, and a few mice… snakes!

The trail was a switchback and single track and I climbed and climbed.   My pace was pitifully slow but I really didn’t care, I was just out for a run.

After climbing for 6 km I cam to a fork in the path and selected the one which seemed to cut back to the water.  I was now realizing that I was glad I had brought so much to drink as I was already through a litre or so.  The trail I selected started off good but after a bit got very very steep down hill over loose baseball size rocks.  It was also VERY narrow single track.  Now I was focusing on the ground in front of me not for snakes but for where to place my feet.   I slowed the pace down.  Wouldn’t do to break an ankle here……a long way out and its only 43 days to Death Race.    I didn’t like this down hill trail as it was so grown over and my ankles and legs were bloody from the thistles.  I surprised several deer and a Bob Cat………saw a lot of Scat of mountain Lion and Coyote……………………sun was up, sky was blue, ocean was turquoise below me 800 feet or so………………WOW!

I ran over to another trail I could see in the distance and found other runners there every so often……….at one point I wondered if I was having hallucinations as every 10 -15 minutes a beautiful blond woman would run by me at a hard pace………………not the same woman but several different woman………………..I must be in California!!!!

At the beach and trail head I turned back.  I was thinking to myself this is going to be one hell of a climb back up and sure enough it was.    Elevation was only 850-900 feet but it was steep and the climb up was only over 1.5 km so it was hard.   I was surprised that my calves were feeling it so much.  My Calves are huge and strong and I seldom feel a workout in them.  

This is the run I was looking for.  It was hard and hilly.  I was thinking a bit negative about the death Race I must admit…….I mean I had only been running (hiking and crawling) for about 2 hours and I could feel my legs complaining………I had only exchanged about 1500 feet instead of the DR’s 15000 feet and I was tired…….I will need to do exactly this at this pace for 18 plus hours to complete the DR!!!!!!!  Oh MY GOD!!!!!  Had to think about something else……

I met my Aussie acquaintance again on the way down.  He had finished his run and was hiking with his girlfriend back up the trail…….still he had no water!   Crazy!……I gave him a bit of a lecture on safety and then threw him my new un opened 500 ml of water.  I was on my way back down with 6 km to go and felt confident.

I decided to open it up a bit on the way back down on the smooth surfaces and hit speeds of 3;00 minutes per km……so I was ripping it up pretty good.  My toes were hammering into the front of my shoes and my quads were on fire.  I will feel them tomorrow!

Im quite happy to see the car after 20 km round trip!    I am pretty spent.   I mean yes I have lot more in me but im feeling this 2 hour 45 minute run!

On one hand im pleased with my speed for running this hilly country but on the other I am quite intimidated that after months of trying I haven’t run anything REMOTELY close to what kind of hills I will encounter in Grand Cache Alberta in July.

Well I can rest easy knowing I have trained as much as I can possibly train and have done what I scheduled my self to do and then some.  So if I come up short it sure as hell won’t be because I didn’t work hard.

What an amazing run.  I will dream of this until I can do it again.    Im thinking I need to come back and camp here and run all day and swim and surf all afternoon!

I guess that will be NEXT time.

What a run.  The kind of run which makes me happy im a runner!

Go Death Racer!!!!!!