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!


Run Forest Run

3 04 2011


There comes a point in training for any distance that you just get tired of the repetitive nature of running.   I think if i worked less or not at all it would always be such a pleasue.  i also find when i run more with friends its far far easier.  I am saying this because todays 32 was a tough job.  Im not saying it sucked im just saying i was spending alot of time counting down mileage.   I felt fairly fine after yesterdays 52…..maybe a bit stupified…………but all in all pretty good.  i was falling asleep at 8PM and finally gave in at 10 pm….diana was up and off to the airport at 530 and the smell of coffee got me up.  We have excellant NSpresso coffee machien and its one of the biggest pleasures in my day.   I didnt have oatmeal, my first mistake, but opted for Ceam of Wheat………….C of W doesnt have the holding power of good ol oatmeal!

Legs werent sore at all, but i felt ???drained??  empty………………I set off at 730 and it was a beautiful day.   I enjoyed the run but it seemed like it was requiring soooo much energy.  By 8 km i was feeling alot better, but from 16-24 i was working.  Patrick met me at 24 and we ran back to his car, walking ALL hills, and i was honestly so glad to be finished running until tuesday.

We met up with the gang of Boston hopefulls at Starbucks and walked down to our all day breakfast spot where i ate the whole menu.    Felt much better after!  All in all a good day.

Dont get me wrong i love running but holy crap, sometimes i get a bit tired of …well…….all the running!

8 weeks…..way to long……..not long enough!

16 weeks remaining

7 02 2011


16 weeks may seem like a long time, BUT when you have a 100 mile run facing you its really not.  I mean i used to get pretty nervous training for a Marathon with 16 weeks to go!   Its all relative BUT………………….same old thing…”am i doing enough?”   ” Am i doing too much too early and risk peaking early and/or getting injured?”…………………..we made a plan when were of sound mind ( because by week 5 or 6 the brain wont be reliable) and we need to adhere to the plan and make adjustments for how the body feels……………..this weekend was a perfect example.

Saturday i was scheduled to run a 28 km at a slow pace and hit my target low heart rate of aprox 140 per minute.   I was feeling extremely strong and found i could run considerably faster then the prescribed pace but still keep my heat rate in that zone.  The geart rate target is far more important than the pace so thats what i did.  i also ended up with a 32 km run instead of 28.

Sunday we were to run 22 km slow on trails.

The trails were so technical with knee deep snow and a completely uneven surface under the snow that i ran the slowest pace in my running life but my heart rate was averaging 135!

Also the run took almost 2 hours so we only did the 14 km as 22 km would have been too much.   The old Stefan would have run the 22km no matter what and possibly pushed it too far.

Today i can see although extremely sore, there arent any injuries.  So it was an awesome workout with 2/3 of the distance.

I guess what im trying to say here is my runs have specific targets and this is what i try and achieve each run.  i no longer get hung up on the exact distance etc.

Having fun training this year.  Listening to my body and hoping this will see me through to the starting line injury free.

16 weeks left to Sulphur Springs

Sunday                          22 km slow turned into 14 km super slow

Monday                        Off

Tuesday                     1.5 km warmup, 12 hills of 750 meters or more on a 8% to 12% grade, 6 km run after

Wed                              Bike 20 km, core training 45 minutes, swim 1.5 km

Thursday                3 km warmup, 15 km tempo run, 2 km cool down

Friday                      off??  swim??  Light gym

Sat                               32 km run medium pace

About 83 km…………….decent week.  mileage is still very managable while working 65 hour work weeks.

Feeling great.   Weight steadily dropping 200-300g a week.

Pushing past the pain

22 01 2011



Break on through to the other side…………………..The Psychological game of Running

I have often heard, and scoffed at, that ultra running is 20% physical and 80% mental.   Although I still don’t agree with this in its entirety, after my Hill Repeats training run on wed evening in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, I can see there is a lot of validity to this statement.  Watching the elite Ultra Trail Runners like Jurek, Tony Krupicka, Zahab, Ulrich, Ferg, Diane van Duren and the list goes on, you can understand there is a lot more going on then just fast strong legs pumping efficiently.  They look like they are “in the zone”.  A peaceful trance like state where the pain can’t get its full grip.

Well I finally experienced a bit of this.  I mean I have had some good hard races where I had a taste of this, but on wed I had the whole deal.  Closest I have had prior to this was when I was looking for a sub 320 marathon in Philadelphia ( ended up bonking at 36 km and finished with a 3:28) but I was hurting from 28 km and just ignored the discomfort.

So back to Wed…………..

First of all the Hill is a monster ( in Eastern Canadian standards!!!) of 680 meters climb at a grade of 12-15  percent. 

As I did my warm up I was already cheating mentally by saying.  “This hill is much bigger then old mill so I don’t need to do all 10” etc.  At any rate after 2 repeats  I was already struggling.   I had worked two back to back 15 hour days in the kitchen.  My legs were tight and tired!

At the top of number 4 I actually threw up from the exertion. My HR was up to 174 at the top of 3 and 4.

At number 5 a young runner ( 22-25 years old in cotton track pants and a hoodie with no water bottles) passed me mid way up the climb……I held on to him as he past and at the top when he was ahead of me he stopped and doubled over to hug his knees!  I turned and ran back down for another…………

At 6 I was definitely done mentally but all the sudden I was thinking of all those elite runners and how they manage after they have nothing left but pain…and thought to myself that ” I’m not actually in any danger of injury, it’s just really tough”. 

Somehow I was able to tell my brain to “shut up”.   I started to think about how strong my legs are now, and how I used to struggle to run one of these without walking, and that the more I struggle now the less I have to on the Death Race!

 I actually increased my pace and focused on my breathing so I was able to actually reduce my HR to 168.  I don’t remember the last 4 hills but I ran them easily without walk breaks and finished for a total of 17 .2 km for 10 hills. 3300 feet of elevation change ( marquis du Sade is 2000 feet). It took 100 minutes or an average pace of 5:48/km !!   Exceptional run!

My pre run meal was a baked sweet potato with a pinch of sea salt and a drizzle of organic honey!  mmmmmmm.  

It was one of the best runs of my life and I discovered the mental possibility to push way past the “pain” and the sub conscious trying to stop me.

So now I have had a glimpse of how to push past the dis-comfort.  I mean I have had small tastes of this before but this was a completely new level.

I finished the last km run from the hill to my brother’s house at 4:45/km.  I felt amazing.  I just sat down on my brothers steps when I arrived…..i was happily tired and contemplative.  I realized afterwards I sat there for 30 minutes!  Haha…I was day dreaming.

This was like that hole in one golf shot that brings you back thinking you are a good golfer or that there is a possibility you might be!

Looking forward to testing this “new” method on my next run

Death Race 2011…………..the run continues

1 12 2010



Well i have been “off” for the past 12 weeks with running 50-70 km a week and not much gym time.   Now my crazy work schedule will ease up to a “normal” 40-50 hour week i will start training in earnest again.  My real training schedule will start first week of January so between now and then i will start to get my long sunday runs up over 30 km.

my training plan and diet will get posted weekly starting January.  I will give updates on my progress towards the goal of my first 100 mile race in May at sulphur Springs where i ran 50 miles last year.  Then i will use that base to focus on specific training for the challanging and extremely “hilly” run in Grande Cache Alberta in July where i MUST conquor the Death Race at any and all costs as it has haunted my thoughts daily since having to quit at 72 km last year with a bad knee injury.  The knee injury took over 10 weeks to heal and even today is still just in the back ground waiting for me to make a “mistake”.

Stay tuned!

Packing……….Death Race 4 days

27 07 2010

scroll to bottom for video link

Here i go!  I have written and revised packing lists several times since about may 1st.  After my 50 Mile Sulphur Springs run with 4 transitions i learned alot.  I also learned that if you arent organized you waste ALOT of time….i was 10 hours and 8 minutes to finish with only 9 hours and 25 of running time!  So each leg is bagged seperately and labeled.  I also have ONLY what i need and exactly that.  Nutrition and hydration are not choises left to the mind which will start to play tricks after about 3.5 hours…………..i have a plan based on my calorie output of 12500-14000 for the race and i am going to take in about 10000.  I wont think about it, ill just eat when scheduled.

seeing as im flying i have all mandatory equipment in a carry on and the first time in my life i ll be wearing jeans and a back up pair of runners on a business class flight!  lol……….oh how we can change!

Ive triple confirmed my accomidations, i have back up everything…………i have laminated maps and check lists……..i guess im ready.

Its been a tough few weeks.  With my injuries keeping me from maintaining a schedule to properly taper.  the good thing is i have never felt so strong and rested!  if the knee holds i am really going to give this hell!

A brief explanation of the course.

Starting gun or cow bell at 800AM sharp.

Leg 1

19 km a fairly easy run in a quad track beside the road, a bit of asphalt and some non technical trails through the forest.   no climbs Im going to take this slow.  i could chew this up in 1 hour 20 minutes but im going to take about 2 hours 10 minutes.  The first leg is not a place to get competitive on a hundred plus km course

Leg 2

27 km  A tough leg……the most technical and muddy, rocky…….2 creek crossings and many sudden drop offs….not to mention a 5000 foot climb up grande Cache mountain….im going to stick to my pace and keep the heart rate as low as possible….thinking around 4 hours 30 minutes.  i could definately do this one faster but id be in trouble later

Leg 3

19 km Fairly easy and fast.  some pavement and dirt road.  wet in areas……no climbs, mostly down hill.  this is where i have to watch myself, if im feeling good here i could do this in 1 hour 40 minutes BUT im not going to.  im looking at 2 hours 30 minutes so im ready for the toughest part

Leg 4

38 km….by far the toughest.  At this point in the race you ll have muscle fatigue no matter who you are.  Dirt trail and hard pack.  A wicked climb and decent twice…5000 feet of elevation change will smash the Quads into a quivering mess.  If the knees bad here it will be phenominal pain.  My original plan was 6 hours but i an honestly say i dont have a clue……i am going to give it about 85% of what ive got in the tank………….if im feeling good i will make up time here. if im suffering bad i ll just focus on survival.  My plan is darkness will fall when i start down the mountain… plan….

Leg 5

Hells Gate!  22km……it will be night………single track trail and hard pack.  Up hill of 800 feet will feel like a mountain.  Completely black out…  there is a river crossing at about 5 km by boat.  this is where you need the coin they give you at the start to “pay the ferry man!”……………..i hear there are roots and stumps for the fianl 10 km and its a bit tough.  Doubt if ill notice by then.  I ll point my nose to home and go through whatever to get there…………

125 KM  Sub 18 hours

so thats the plan.  I have already explained WHY in the previous posting………..if you have never run a distance before or continued to do a physical activity long after you were fatigued then i wont be able to capture this in words for you.  i urge you to tune into the video in a few days.  i will carry the camera and candidly capture the elation and agony that is sure to be heading my way….then i will explain WHY again…………..until then  July 31st/2010…….my 45th birthday will surely be one i remeber forever.

The Taper…………………..Death Race 6 days out

25 07 2010

The Taper

A properly executed taper may be the most important part of race training…….its an illusive beast, seldom yielding to perfect planning…you don’t know if you got it right until race day.   It varies from person to person and depends on so many criteria that it’s difficult to do the math.   With my training I have done a 3 week plan……unfortunately I needed to also recover from a knee issue so it dropped my mileage much quicker than I would have liked.  My plan was ( my coaches plan) to take me from 140 km to 100km to 70 km to 45 km over the 3 week period………………but it went more like 150 km to 35 km to 75 km to 55km.  On the up side of this is with my slow week I hammered the gym.  I have accumulated 12 Gym days in July on top of my running and 10 swim days.  In those Gym days I worked Core as the main focus and on 3 of those days I hammered my Abs with 1000 repetitions of various exercises…………..first time in my life I have a 6 pack.!  The strong core will assist dramatically with keeping a good posture as well as assisting with sudden adjustments when running down hill….and it looks great also!  J

My knee seems to have recovered by 95% but I won’t really know until I put some miles on it.  It’s an issue with really tight IT band and hamstring. Each pulling the knee cap out of line so it tracks a bit crooked and then starts to inflame. Once inflamed its like a hot knife getting jabbed under the cap with each step.  Now although that may sound fun it’s really really tiring mentally.

The other issue with the taper is you begin to question yourself…”did I do enough?”, am I decreasing my level of fitness, will I start to get injuries now, will I weaken mentally………….it has been proven repeatedly by professional athletes that there are significant gains if the taper is done correctly.

This is the first athletic event that I have put 100% of myself into.  I can say with confidence that I have done all I can.  I have completed over 95% of the training I was scheduled to do and only took time off due to injury.  I have controlled my diet and done the cross training.  If I didn’t do something well enough it was sleep.

If I was going to the Death Race to finish in 24 hours I would not even have the slightest doubt in my mind that I would succeed, BUT…………..around about March I could see that my training was taking me to a whole new level.  Running back to back marathons on Saturdays and Sundays with relative ease……completing my first 50 mile race in 10 hours without support and making a bunch of rookie mistakes such as getting lost.   After a few weeks with my coach we decided that my goal would be a sub 18 hour run for the race.  This puts a whole new twist on things.  By increasing speed to manage a sub 18 hour finish I am jeopardizing my entire race.  I could easily burn out at 80 or 90 km and bonk….crash and burn…run out of gas.  I am putting extra burden on my joints and muscles so I may get hurt.

Heres the deal.  My goal was to successfully follow an 18 month training schedule and adhere to it through all the weather and job issues.  This i have done!  Getting to the race was a goal.  Seems rather certain ill do that.  Finishing is no longer a goal.  The goal is to push myself as hard as I can over the course of 125 km and see what happens.

 See what I am truly made of.

 Everyone is different and everyone has trained differently.  My goal is no bigger or more accomplishing than the person who is trying to finish in 24 hours it’s just that I have achieved other great things in my life and I need to push it further.

To run at a pace to make this happen will require constant introspection and a true understanding of my body and mind…mostly my mind.  There are physical limitations such as if I keep my heart rate above 75% for over 2 hours I will burn up my glycogen stores and essentially run out of gas!  These stores cannot be replenished on the run.  They require a 24 hour period to rebuild.  The trick is to try and run at 65% heart rate and burn fat of which we have enough for several days running.  The other part of the equation is to take in calories regularly and try to prolong the deficit.  This is also tricky as after a few hours its difficult to eat and you can become nauseated………………someone once told me an ultra marathon was an eating contest with a run………….hydration is a huge factor….sodium and electrolyte replacement.  All of these things have been tested on my long runs during training.  I will adhere to a carefully laid out plan and adjust as minimally as possible.

No matter how detailed the plan though there is still one factor…the human condition……….we don’t know what we will feel like on race day.  We can try and minimize risk by eating safe and healthy foods and getting sufficient sleep but in the end we can only hope for the best, prepare for the worst and give it our all.

I am as ready as I can be, and I find myself wishing I was just starting to train now in my current physical condition.

I am excited and afraid, confident but not arrogant, calm yet energized, nervous but self assured.  

So this journey of 18 months is now at a close.  The next few days will be a mini journey of emotions and finally the run itself will be a life altering experience.

It doesn’t matter what happens as long as I “fight the good fight”

I will learn what my weaknesses are and hopefully have the strength and tools to overcome them; I have a hunger to reach that humanity inside myself.  I know I can be a better human being than I am and that can only happen if I push past….far past what I believe my limitations are.

What is the limit to the human soul?  I can imagine that we can endure much more severe circumstances than we give ourselves credit for.   If I can strip away the entire protective shell of my being I can uncover my true emotions and destroy or permantly alter all preconceived notions and perceptions of who I am!

If I succeed it will be because I am completely unwilling to give up regardless of the circumstances

This is something much bigger than me….I need to know my insignificance……………..Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional……………..its unlikely it will kill me so if it wont kill me than its not really a big deal to suffer through some pain.

So I will go as hard as I can for as long as I can endure and hope that coincides with the finishing tape………………………I will have a life affirming experience or it will be all for not!

I hope to get my post race blog on here on the early morning of August first.  The videos may be as late as August 3rd if I cannot figure out the technology.  I will be self taping through all stages of the run.

Wish me well and know that this is the happiest I have been in my life and it may only be the beginning