In terms of big things, 2014 was pretty subdued for me, and the second half of the year was downright sparse. That can often be a good thing. Without further adieu then, a general inventory of my year, with a hint of planning for the next one.
Going back to January, I was fresh off a lovely expensive gift, courtesy the Surrey RCMP on Christmas Eve 2013. I waited until the last opportunity I could do so, and registered my dispute in late January. As of this writing, it’s a year and seven days since the ticket and over eleven months since the dispute was registered. Still no news on a court date.
I started my planned year of racing with the Vancouver Chilly Chase in mid-January, ostensibly a warmup for the First Half, so run at a fairly conservative pace due to having eased back into slightly higher mileage. As I gave my Achilles a pretty good tweak and didn’t end up doing the First Half, I wished I’d pushed the Chilly Chase a little harder, but still I got 9th overall and had a good run.
Also in late January, was our adoption of Brody, the rescue dog. I’ll be doing an update when we hit his one-year anniversary with us, but you can read all about the experience as of last May.
I planned out my 2014 racing season in early February, something I’m still working through for 2015 at the moment. As I said, the First Half never materialized and February was very uneventful overall. By March, the Achilles was good and I ran the Dirty Duo 15k, coming in 3rd overall, again in a small field. I was starting to feel good with my running again, after a spotty few years.
The good running feeling kind of took a little setback when I ran the St. Patrick’s Day 5k. I took off a little too fast for my fitness at the time, and on a surprisingly challenging course, faded way more than I should have by the end. Who drops 20+ seconds per km over 5k? Apparently, me. The three sub-4 splits were fine, but the two 4+ ones, not so much.
As I hit April, it was time for the annual, very low key Pacific Populaire 100k road cycling ride. It’s a good warmup to see where your early season cycling fitness is at, and it’s well-placed as a gauge, particularly in light of my being registered for the 270k Victoria Granfondo, two and a half months later. I was pretty pleased with this ride in 3:20, or just a hair over 30k/hr for the event.
Also, for a reason which escapes me now, I decided to do (as I’ve said more than once before) one final Vancouver Sun Run. I just don’t enjoy that large a crowd. My time was nothing special and I really do now know that I’ve run it for the last time.
For the most part, my planned races/events came to an abrupt halt as of May, when I’d intended to do the Iron Knee and possibly work my way back to fall marathon or ultra status. As I just can’t give up things I like that easily, after a few years sprinkled with several groin pulls of varying severity, torn knee cartilage and foot nerve damage, the way I was feeling convinced me to try to play another season or two of ultimate frisbee, after a couple spotty years. Things started well enough, but I started experiencing pretty intense pain in my forefoot, when I was pushing off to cut. It was so painful when I started having the issue that I figured it might well be a stress fracture. It impacted my running too, as it more presented as discomfort which got worse the longer I ran. I figured it made more sense to try to maintain some running and bail on racing.
The one exception was the Victoria Granfondo, which would be the second longest single day of riding I’d done. You can read all about the somewhat gnarly details if you want. It was a great, challenging day in the saddle, albeit a little slower than I wanted. I didn’t do enough big climbs in preparation, but had done a fair bit of medium-long riding, including a one-day trip to the island totalling 220km in the saddle.
June also had a challenge of the dog near-poisoning variety. My son was staying with us after a six-month contract playing bass on a cruise ship. Having acquired some pure cocoa beans from some third world port-of-call, he left a significant quantity in his partially zipped suitcase on the floor in our basement. One afternoon at work, I received a frantic cell phone call from him, saying that Brody’d gotten into his stash and downed every last bean.
A very long story short, after meeting him at the vet, several hours of work to induce vomiting and an overnight stay, totalling many frazzled nerves and $400, Brody was actually fine. Almost none of the beans came up the front path, but the entire quantity was evacuated via the other path. He’d swallowed them whole, as he tries to do with everything he eats, and out they came the next night in our bathroom.
I’d been struggling with how to write up a retrospective of our previous dog’s life and in July, was finally able to pull together some photo galleries and a few words. This was a dog we’d had for roughly eleven years, from the age of fourteen weeks. Putting her down due to bone cancer was truly one of the toughest things we’d had to experience. I felt pretty good about the post, which captured her pretty well.
We also had a family wedding and reunion of sorts in BC’s interior, attending my cousin’s wedding in Vernon and then a family gathering on the river in Kamloops at my second cousin’s house around the Canada Day long weekend. It was great connecting with three generations on my mom’s side of my family. While we’re only a few hours apart, we haven’t been that good at regular visits, so these things once in a while are really nice and very important.
Sometime in the summer I also started seeing Damien Moroney, a physiotherapist at Fortius Centre. I was hoping he’d be able to help keep my healthy, but usually tight, left groin stronger/looser and also give me some ideas for my ongoing forefoot tightness. While it was subsiding a bit, two months on and I still was having sensations that were keeping me away from ultimate and no answers after some podiatry investigations, including an x-ray. What Damian did do for me, however, was begin small and help me gain a sense of just how bad my balance and stability was. Over the second half of the year, I’d see him every few weeks and dial up the hip/core regimen, resulting in much improved stability and pretty solid base running.
Normally, I wouldn’t mention a birthday at all, since I couldn’t care less about them and don’t generally celebrate much. However, I guess it was a milestone of sorts to hit the big 5-0 in October. I spent enough on new carbon bike wheels and replacing my Garmin 405 with a 610, so no gifts for me. Not that we generally buy much on our birthdays anyway.
At the moment …
As I said earlier, the latter part of the year was pretty sparse for big happenings. We continued to see massive improvements with Brody, so much so that as of this writing, his many fear-based aggressions are completely gone. You never know when some little thing you don’t understand will trigger new issues, but he’s now a relaxed, goofy, playful and happy boy. We’re probably almost as ga-ga for him now as we were for his predecessor, Darby. He had another little adventure with Christmas chocolate and gingerbread this past weekend, but was absolutely fine once again. Not even a vet stay this time, just a middle-of-the-night waiting room stop and $37.
I also eventually went to my family doctor and had a bone scan done on my forefoot. There was no stress fracture, and in truth the discomfort wasn’t that severe, but as there was significant light-up in the area, the guess is I may have very early signs of arthritis. In truth, the discomfort is almost completely gone now, with only the slightest of sensations. As I hit the end of 2014, I’m back to 20k+ longer runs on the weekends and using a fairly specific training approach focused on pacing and distance, as opposed to volume and effort, and it seems to be working very well. I’m not at the volume I want, but the last four weeks are averaging 35-40k of running and just a hair over 60k of cycling. I’d prefer my winter base to be a tad higher, but I’m feeling really good right now.
While I didn’t have any huge breaks in running, the foot and a couple minor hamstring and calf tweaks did force me to miss a few weeks. As such my numbers for the year, below, aren’t too bad. I’d like them to be higher, but since I lost a ton of training time in 2013, this is certainly a happy improvement. Actually, more than triple.
Run: 144 runs for a weekly average of 27.8kms | (2013 = 8)
Bike: 129 rides for a weekly average of 99.6kms | (2013 = 33)
As I wasn’t doing much resistance, core or the like for the first half of the year, 60 hours isn’t too bad.
I don’t make resolutions, as I find they’re too easy to break. Rather, I prefer to simply think of plans and goals. In no particular order, a small bullet list of changes I hope to make in the upcoming year:
- Mornings – I’ve begun to improve a little bit lately and, if I could consistently get out of bed by 6am or shortly after, everything from productivity, to training, to bike commuting will improve.
- Volunteer – I used to do a fair bit in a variety of areas and that’s waned in recent years, with the exception of leading a SportMedBC running clinic in early 2012, and the fundraising/riding associated with Ride2Survive later that year. I’ve already begun rectifying this by helping out with an upcoming half marathon clinic starting in mid-January. More to come.
- Read – Lately I’ve been only really reading things related to work. I just finished my first book in a while this past weekend and I’m beginning to try to read more, hopefully getting to the point where I’ll always have a book going and read most nights before bed. That will undoubtedly help the desire to get out of bed earlier, too.
- Train – If all goes well, I really will see that return to longer distance events, which will necessitate more consistent training. If I can look at my numbers this time next year and perhaps average closer to 40-50k of running and 120-150k of cycling per week, I’ll be happy.
- Renovate – Something we’ve been trying to get to for some time is actually finally in the research and shopping phase. With any luck, our house will have fresh new baths, kitchen, flooring and interior paint.