Run 600: 600th run, 600 people

Run 600
Average pace: 5:54/km
Location: Burnaby Lake (CW)
Start: 12:37 pm
Distance: 5:03 km
Time: 29:43
Weather: Sunny
Temp: 11-12ºC
Humidity: 70%
Wind: light
BPM: 167
Weight: 165.3 pounds
Total distance to date: 4580 km
Devices: Apple Watch, iPhone 8

Today’s run was a milestone, being the 600th run I’ve officially tracked, so hooray for me on sticking with this. This works out to an average of 66.6 runs per year, which is positively devilish. If I break it down further, it’s 5.5 runs per month, which is both less Satanic and also a lot less impressive-sounding. This is because some years I’ve run a lot less due to injuries and/or laziness. If I stick to my usual three-times a week my monthly average would be 12, more than double.

So I’m pretty lazy and prone to injury.

All that said, I was of course concerned how today’s run would go with two weeks off, but the results were pleasant in that they were nearly identical to the last run. My total time was 29:43, only three seconds slower than the run on October 6th. It’s actually a bit eerie how similar they are. In other good news, my BPM was down to 167, back below the 170 threshold. While some abdominal cramps threatened around the midway point, they never fully materialized.

In terms of stamina, then, the run actually went decently. I never felt like I was plodding (or blazing along, of course), and keeping pace with my previous effort is a victory of sorts. Conditions were fine, too, hovering around 12ºC and with a light breeze. I wore a t-shirt so this was the first run in awhile where I didn’t feel overdressed.

But it was crowded as all heck. I keep meaning to start earlier because at mid-morning the trail is relatively deserted, but just a few hours later it’s booming with foot traffic. I compounded matters by running clockwise again. I did this because the proliferation of fallen leaves made the north side of the lake, with its many exposed tree roots, a greater hazard for running. Running clockwise puts me in the same direction as most walkers, meaning they can’t see me coming.

And they couldn’t hear me, either. There were so many people–usually walking in twos, threes, or larger groups–that I settled into a refrain of “On your left!” or occasionally “On your right!” when that seemed easier. And in nearly every instance, the people did not show any sign of hearing me. They would seem startled as I nipped by them. This happened over and over. It was baffling. I even started saying it louder, to no avail. I never screamed it, because I didn’t want to seem rude or suggest people are blithering idiots that need to be screamed at.

There was a kid about 3 or 4 on the second boardwalk, slowly and somewhat randomly walking down the middle, oblivious to everything around him (as an aside, this is probably not the best spot to let a small kid get ahead, because if he goes exploring over the edge, he’s in the swamp). I figured “On your left!” would make no sense to him and tried to think of a phrase that would work as I got nearer. At the last moment I settled on gently but firmly calling, “Look out, kid!” then slowed down further, put out a hand and made sure we would not collide, as his parents fruitlessly called to him from behind.

There were also several cyclists, but my vow to not complain prevents me from saying more. For the best, anyway.

Post-run went well once again and in some ways this is now becoming my favorite part of the outing, because I don’t worry about pace, I just run for as long as I want, then walk for a bit, then run again. It’s unstructured, less demanding and makes the running part feel more fun, somehow.

Here’s to the next 600 runs.

Run 599: A horse, a lot of people, bicycles, poop, fallen branches and a slug (me)

Run 599
Average pace: 5:53/km
Location: Burnaby Lake (CW)
Start: 1:01 pm
Distance: 5:03 km
Time: 29:40
Weather: Sunny
Temp: 13-5ºC
Humidity: 54%
Wind: nil to light
BPM: 174
Weight: 164.2 pounds
Total distance to date: 4575 km
Devices: Apple Watch, iPhone 8

I decided to try something different today and deliberately start slower, to see if I would have more energy for the latter part of the run. This did not work, as my whole run was slow instead. But it did work in one way–the third km, where I normally slow down, was actually my fastest–but it was still slow, just edging the pace of my last run by one second at 5:42/km.

My first km was 5:55/km, which is sort of appalling. and my BPM was still way up, to 174 this time, so I’m essentially achieving the opposite of what any rational person would expect, working harder and achieving less.

The only real plus side is I didn’t experience any actual issues during the run.

The trail was crowded, too. I started by gingerly jogging past a horse on the Avalon Trail. Horses are generally fine, but when you pass by one you realize just how big they are and I’d prefer they remain calm as I go by, given this size. Also on the Avalon Trail was the most horse poop I’ve ever seen. I actually had to navigate it like an obstacle course. It was weird.

And perhaps because it was sunny and I started a bit late, the trail was jammed with people. No real issues encountered, but I had to stay alert to avoid collisions and ensnaring myself in dog leashes (but thanks for leashing your dogs, dog people!)

A parks worker had one of their putt-putt cars on the Cottonwood trail, but I couldn’t quite see what he was doing, as he was behind it. Then I saw a large branch topple horizontally onto the trail. Oh. It may have been broken and become a hazard. He was slicing it up with a chainsaw stick (I’m sure it has an official name, but this is at least accurate regarding its appearance).

Not too far after him I encountered a crusty old man on a bike who was riding more like a 20-something meth addict. I wonder if the parks worker with the chainsaw stick had a word with it. Or cut his tires to ribbons.

The other frustrating part of the run was the GPS in the iPhone. Again, it seemed to be giving inaccurate results. I started well ahead of the 0K marker (which, if you’re running clockwise, is actually the 10.3 km marker, too) and despite taking no shortcuts, still had to run past the 5K marker to actually hit 5K. I had covered nearly 5.4 km at that point, so this is hardly a small discrepancy. It’s bad enough to have a slow run, it’s worse when it gets dragged out unnecessarily. :P

Maybe I really will try with just the watch one of these runs to get a proper comparison. It was so off today I actually had a thought to start looking at a dedicated sport watch again.

Overall, a continuation of a disappointing trend. Hopefully things will improve soon™.

Run 581 and 582: Down, but not out

Run 581
Average pace: 6:15/km
Location: Burnaby Lake (CCW)
Start: 12:40 pm
Distance: 1.98 km
Time: 12:25
Weather: Sunny
Temp: 28ºC
Humidity: 33%
Wind: light to moderate
BPM: 164
Weight: 164 pounds
Total distance to date: 4487 km
Devices: Apple Watch, iPhone 8

Run 582
Average pace: 6:22/km
Location: Burnaby Lake (CCW)
Start: 1:02 pm
Distance: 3:01 km
Time: 19:14
Weather: Sunny
Temp: 28ºC
Humidity: 32%
Wind: light to moderate
BPM: 164
Weight: 164 pounds
Total distance to date: 4490 km
Devices: Apple Watch, iPhone 8

I got started later than expected, but it didn’t look like it would be too hot, as the temperature was around 24ºC when I headed out. I originally planned on running at the river but the lack of shade convinced me to go ahead and do a counter-clockwise circuit on the lake instead. Was this a miscalculation? Read on to see!

By the time I got to the lake the temperature had gone up to 28ºC. This is Africa Hot territory, it’s significantly warmer than the last run (16ºC) and I’d kind of skipped out on the runs during the week, so I was going in with a full week off. Plus I’d walked the lake loop yesterday, which might have left me feeling tired (though I felt fine heading out).

I started off and thought I’d push just a little for the first km, knowing my pace would surely droop after, so it might lift my average time a bit. I averaged 6:04/km, which is already not great. By the time I neared the 2K mark I had crashed out to 6:28/km, which is very bad for less than 2 km of running. I did not feel good. I mulled my options, then decided to call the run there (had I looked at the watch I would have pushed the wee bit to make it an even 2 km because I’m obsessive like that).

I switched to a walk and after about a km I felt recovered enough to start running again. I set a goal of 5 km but would be satisfied by just picking up the remaining 3km of my original 5K.

I definitely felt better hitting the 2K mark this time, but I was exercising a lot of caution. Even then, as I got into the sun-baked stretch leading up the bridge at Deer Lake Brook, I knew I would stop at 3 km. I looked at my watch a lot. I finally hit 3K shortly before the bridge and happily switched over to walking again.

The walk out actually went fairly well.

The factors playing into this stop-start run would seem to be:

  • lack of regular running leading to generally lower stamina level
  • the knees complicating things in their own way
  • significantly hotter weather
  • strong breeze contributing to dry mouth/thirst

On the plus side, I did get in 5K, just not all in one go. I didn’t give up, I regrouped and tried again–and succeeded. My BPM, despite the high temperature, was actually down from last week. If you combine the two times you get an average pace of 6:18/km, which is nearly identical to last week when the weather wasn’t really hot and gross.

On the negative, I felt like I was running on the proverbial empty tank. I was hot and bothered in the not-sexy way. I know I could have kept pushing on the first run and probably made it to 5K, but it would have been a protracted experience of misery. I’m happy to know my limits and work with them.

With Jeff away on dirt bike vacation next week, I have no real reason to not run after dinner, though it looks to still be hot. I ponder my options. Maybe I can carry a watering can and just keep sprinkling water over my head. Or hook up some VR simulation and go for a very convincing facsimile of a run.

Run 579: The longest run ever

Run 579
Average pace: 6:14/km
Location: Burnaby Lake (CW)
Start: 12:36 pm
Distance: 5:03 km
Time: 31:21
Weather: Sun and cloud
Temp: 18-20ºC
Humidity: 44%
Wind: light
BPM: 168
Weight: 163.4 pounds
Total distance to date: 4480 km
Devices: Apple Watch, iPhone 8

Or at least it felt like it.

I headed out again with two full days off, my first back-to-back(ish) runs in a long time. Usually when I do this my pace is faster on the second run because I am a tiny bit more in shape than the previous run.

That did not happen today.

I expected the knees to be sore from the start and they were. In fact, the 4 km walk to the lake seemed to stretch out way beyond 4 km, which was not a good sign. But it was warmer and semi-sunny, so I set off with slow-and-steady being the favored approach.

The first km was actually not that bad. I came in at 5:48/km, which is faster than the previous run. By the second km the wheels were wobbly, slipping to 6:12/km, a fair bit slower than the previous run.

And then the wheels came off. For the third and fourth km, my pace was 6:34 and 6:49/km. By this point my knees actually didn’t feel bad, but my stamina had packed up and left the country. The gas had been siphoned from the tank. Elvis had left the building.

I didn’t just feel slow today, I was slow. I plodded. I thought about pausing the run and walking for awhile. I thought about stopping at the 4K mark. As I neared the last stretch by the athletic fields every step felt like I was getting no closer. I looked at my distance. 4.84 km. Normally that’s a number I laugh at as I sail to the finish. Instead, it felt like it would not move. I keep looking, seeing it go up in horribly small increments. I finally heard the triumphant ding that signaled 5K completed and congratulated myself for still being upright.

My external monologue immediately after (and it was external, between gasps for oxygen) went something like this:

“Fuck.”
“Fuck.”
“Fuck.”
“Fuck, that was hard.”
“Fuck.”

I used my potty mouth quota for the entire month in the space of a few seconds.

In a final irony, the walk back went fairly briskly, with a rare sub-9 minute pace of 8:58/km, so neither knees nor stamina were an issue once I actually finished the run (or perhaps more accurately after the run finished me).

The higher temperature and sun likely played a factor. I sweated a small amount, which is more than I have for most of the spring. Still, the complete bottoming out was weird and a little disturbing. I even ran the “easier” side of the lake, going clockwise. It made no difference.

On the plus side, I didn’t stop early, I never switched to walking, and I actually picked up the pace in the final km, even if I felt a little like barfing those final few steps. On the neutral side my BPM was the same as last time–168–which is higher than I like, but still below the threshold of 170.

I am both curious and terrified at what the next run might be like.

Here are the splits with bonus commentary.

KM Time per km Comment
1 5:48 A decent start. Knees sore.
2 6:12 Getting kind of tired already. Not thinking about knees as much.
3 6:34 It feels like walking except super tiring now.
4 6:49 Please make it stop. Can I stop? I want to stop.
5 5:50 Running faster will make it stop sooner.

Run 577: Sore knees, cramps, so very tired, but no plagues of locusts

Run 577
Average pace: 6:09/km
Location: Burnaby Lake (CW)
Start: 11:21 am
Distance: 5:05 km
Time: 31:11
Weather: Sunny
Temp: 18-20ºC
Humidity: 54%
Wind: light to moderate
BPM: 162
Weight: 165.8 pounds
Total distance to date: 4470 km
Devices: Apple Watch, iPhone 8

Well, I now have two back-to-back runs with a pace of six minutes per km or more. This is not a good thing, but it’s still better than collapsing halfway through the run because my knees exploded and getting carried off by a pack of dingoes.

First, the conditions. It was a lovely summer-like day, with warm temperatures, a light breeze, and clear sky. I actually sweated a little, but it wasn’t too bad, and the air wasn’t super-dry, so I didn’t feel parched. The sun did feel surprisingly toasty when I was out from under the tree canopy, though.

And the trail was not as busy as last Saturday, which was nice. A few unleashed dogs threatened but never quite got underfoot. Overall, a fine day for a jog.

But the walk to the lake left my knees feeling sore, which is not helpful when you are about to start running. My mantra was again to just go through and not push at all, not even for the first km, which is usually easy peasy.

A couple ran past me just before I was to start, so I milled a bit to give them some space. I didn’t want to catch up to them and pass, because that would require accelerating to pass, then running faster long enough to create enough space to keep them from being on my heels. My knees were in no mood for this.

My pace for the first km was a pokey 5:59/km, so I stayed true to my word. The second km was only slightly off because, as feared, I closed the gap on that couple and ended up having to pass them. Surprisingly, my knees were not really any worse for this, but I did begin experiencing some cramps shortly after. Normally cramps are a sign that I’m just plain running too fast, which is currently impossible, so it’s more likely a sign of, “LOL you are SO out of shape, slow down before you rupture something.” And I did slow down.

In fact, my pace for the third km fell through the proverbial floor, dropping a massive 22 seconds. Here are the splits for all five km:

1 km 5:59
2 km 6:02
3 km 6:24
4 km 6:25
5 km 6:07

I did pick up for the final stretch, but was definitely in that “please lord let it be over” state of mind. Well, maybe not that bad, but I was certainly glad to end the running part and go back to the walking part. The walk back was fine, though this time I didn’t have the energy to mix in any running, save for a bit during a few small stretches. Mostly I want to get back and have a nice bubble bath and pretend I had the world’s best knees.

Another positive from the run was a BPM of 162, about the same as the last run and well below the 170 max I try to stay under.

But much like my broken tooth that got infected and forced me to see the dentist instead of pretending they were mythical creatures, I am likely going to have to talk to my (new) doctor about the knees. Perhaps I can be outfitted with bionic replacements or given some miracle cure that will make them feel a hundred years younger. If the actual cure is “find some other exercise that doesn’t involve running” I will be sad and such.

I might try running on Tuesday. A 5K at the river will be a gentler experience and my pace might be better as a result. This could be a pleasant psychological boost. Now I just have to actually do it, instead of simply writing about it yet again.

Run 575: A new bridge, a new stink, knees and bonus running

Run 575
Average pace: 5:49/km
Location: Burnaby Lake (CCW)
Start: 12:15 pm
Distance: 5:03 km
Time: 29:17
Weather: Cloudy, some sun
Temp: 11ºC
Humidity: 64%
Wind: light to moderate
BPM: 167
Weight: 169.1 pounds
Total distance to date: 4460 km
Devices: Apple Watch, iPhone 8

Last week I did an elliptical/treadmill workout at the Canada Games Pool because the weather was poop and I didn’t feel like running in poop. That meant it’s been two weeks since my last outdoor run, so I was curious to see how it would go.

The weather was slightly cooler, but still mild and I ran counter-clockwise, but conditions were otherwise similar.

My average pace turned out to be identical–5:49/km. The knees held up, as before, and my mind was mostly mulling over where that thing called stamina went, as 5 km feels more like 500. Still, I got through without any issues and when I’d walked enough to cool off I began to run/walk the rest of the way to the trail exit, probably adding over 2 km of extra run time. Mt walking pace for the 9 km return trip was exactly 8:00/km, which is basically impossible at an actual walking pace.

The knees felt stiff during the walk back, which had the curious effect of making me want to run, as it was more comfortable.

My BPM was a bit higher at 167 but still below the 170 threshold.

The skunk cabbage has reached its stinky phase. Fortunately it never gets super-stinky, just kind of “yeah, wouldn’t want to be locked in a room with that” stinky.

The new bridge, which was in place but not open for the previous run, was now open and had a nice grippy concrete surface poured on it. The old bridge is mostly dismantled, with only some of the superstructure remaining. The new bridge feels very solid and has a sleek and sexy curve. We’ll see how it fares in slippery conditions.

Overall, I felt better than expected given the time off. I managed to keep to my previous pace, so that’s encouraging.

I make no promises now, but I will try to run before another week has passed.

Run 574: Geese, bikes, deforestation and a new bridge

Run 574
Average pace: 5:49/km
Location: Burnaby Lake (CW)
Start: 1:47 pm
Distance: 5:03 km
Time: 29:20
Weather: Clear, some cloud
Temp: 12-14ºC
Humidity: 40%
Wind: light to moderate
BPM: 163
Weight: 167.1 pounds
Total distance to date: 4455 km
Devices: Apple Watch, iPhone 8

Today’s run can be divided into Good and Bad.

Good:

  • the weather was pleasant and mild, the sun actually felt nice
  • my knees surprisingly didn’t bother me
  • I didn’t experience any other issues, though I could feel a bit of that “not-quite-in-shape” burn
  • two geese standing right next to the trail at an especially narrow point did not react as I passed close by, apart from one shifting slightly. There was no hissing or pecking, from either the geese or myself.
  • the bugs at Deer Lake Brook were gone, possibly having already died from old age
  • the new bridge is in at Still Creek

Bad:

  • I had the first taste of dry mouth for the season, as it was rather breezy
  • my knees actually felt worse on the walk back after the run, though they’re fine now
  • I was surprisingly slow at 5:49/km. I think the weekly pace (ie. running only once per week) is catching up to me. I plan on running on the holiday Monday to start getting into regular runs, totally for real this time.
  • the new bridge at Still Creek is closed, so you still have to use the old one. For now they co-exist peacefully.
  • a weirdly large number of cyclists on the trail getting in the way and such. Also briefly a horse, though the rider stopped just short of moving onto the “no horsey” part of the trail.

Signs of spring were all around, too:

  • the water fountain by the dam was awakened from its winter slumber
  • the “Icy conditions” signs have been removed
  • general increase in green, with trees budding and blooming all over

The skunk cabbage is also on the verge of blossoming, too. This is the time of year when it looks pretty and isn’t stinky.

Pretty before the stink.

Four (!) trees have been cut down since my last run at the lake, including several that had been leaning rather precariously. A fifth that had a large branch angled over the path, requiring you to either duck under or go around has also been amputated. This past winter has probably seen more trees come down (via storm or chainsaw) than in the seven years I’ve been running here.

Overall, I am left a bit nonplussed by the run. I was hoping to get a pace in the 5:30s range, but at least the knees were fine. Well, I shouldn’t say fine. I’ve come to realize that for awhile now (several years, at least) my knees have been very tender whenever I have to use them, like when I kneel on the floor to tie a shoe or scrub something off the kitchen tile. They feel weirdly sensitive. I can replicate this by going into a crouch. I have no idea if running caused this, or if it’s hereditary (my dad had bad knees) but I’ll keep running for as long as I’m able to or possibly get bionic knees.

One other positive was the BPM holding at 163. It’s been remarkably stable, which seems like a good thing. As I get in better shape it should go down. I just need to do more stuff to actually get in better shape. :P

Run 557: Slow, but not as slow

Run 557
Average pace: 5:35/km
Location: Langara Trail
Start: 12:27 pm
Distance: 5.02 km
Time: 28:03
Weather: Sunny
Temp: 7ºC
Humidity: 80%
Wind: light
BPM: 170
Weight: 163.4 pounds
Total distance to date: 4335 km
Devices: Apple Watch, iPhone

For the first time in awhile I actually ran  mid-week, taking advantage of the current dry weather to run the loop around the Langara Golf Course.

The first 500m or so I felt like I was pushing way too hard but this has happened before on this trail and I’m not entirely sure why. It starts on a slight downward slope but I’m not sure that’s it. I felt more or less normal later, though my body is still a bit weirded out by the different dynamics of this trail, with its long downward and upward slopes. I’m tempted to try the Nike Run Club (NRC, nee Nike+) app again to see if I can get a bit more granularity in the post-run stats and see exactly how and where the terrain affects my pace and BPM.

Speaking of BPM, it’s still up there but no better or worse, so in line with my current fitness level, I suppose.

Overall I had no issues apart from a brief sensation of weakness in one leg a little over a km in. It just felt very briefly wobbly, possibly because of the combination of doing two runs close together for the first time in more than a month and the unfamiliar route. It went away quickly and didn’t last.

And I was slow. My last 5K here was 5:20/km, today it was 5:35/km. Ouch.

I expect to be a little sore tomorrow.

Here’s hoping that I regain my stamina reasonably soon if I keep up the regular runs. If nothing else I’m at least moving in the right direction now.

Run 556: Slow

Run 556
Average pace: 5:50/km
Location: Burnaby Lake (CCW)
Start: 11:08 am
Distance: 10.03 km
Time: 58:35
Weather: Sunny
Temp: 6ºC
Humidity: 83%
Wind: light
BPM: 171
Weight: 161.7 pounds
Total distance to date: 4330 km
Devices: Apple Watch, iPhone

This was not a good run. It wasn’t a bad run, either, just thoroughly blah.

One complication–my left hip felt a bit sore for no apparent reason, but it largely worked itself out by the end of the run and was fine on the walk home.

I was expecting a temperature of 1-3ºC but it was actually 6ºC when I started out. Again, the difference in temperature here is quite noticeable so while I was not over-dressed with two layers on top and running pants instead of shorts, a jacket and gloves would have been too much. I passed a number of joggers early on and everyone wearing a jacket either had the jacket fully unzipped the next time I saw them or the jacket was tied around their waists.

I wore my fancy new Under Armor jogging pants that include zippered front pockets and everything and they kept my legs nice and warm on the walk to and from the lake. For the actual run I would have been fine with shorts, especially since it was dry with little wind. I also had fancy new Under Armor underwear to go with the pants and they are thin and silk-like, so they stayed dry and pretty much felt like they weren’t there. Gear-wise, the run was a success.

The walk to the lake was one of the slowest ever at 9:41/km. My usual pace is below 9:00/km. The walk back was a bit better but still slow, while the run itself was a full ten seconds slower than last Saturday’s at 5:50/km. Lowlights included a couple of km where the pace was over 6:00/km. By the third km I was already feeling tired, though I got my second wind and felt decent for the last few km, even if my pace never improved. The cold seemed to keep my BPM up, too. It also doesn’t help that each run I’m getting a little heavier.

Basically I need to eat better and exercise more, just like that doctor told me way back in april of 2008. And I will. I’m taking my running gear to work and will dash around the golf course at lunch instead of dashing food into my face at the cafeteria. It also helps that after next week the cafeteria will be essentially closed for inter-session (no classes, no exams).

Since the weather was nice a lot of people were out, though I didn’t encounter any large roving gangs of walkers. Instead of dodging puddles I dodged people. I think I prefer puddles if I’m honest about it. Puddles don’t make sudden movements.

Overall, a slog but I finished it and to quote Elton John, I’m still standing (though I’m sitting as I write this). I plan on doing more and shorter runs this week, rain or shine (but no snow, please). We’ll see if I start to regain some form before year’s end.

Run 514: The 10K that felt like 100K

Run 514
Average pace: 5:44/km
Location: Burnaby Lake (CCW)
Start: 1:53 pm
Distance: 10.02 km
Time: 57:34
Weather: Sunny
Temp: 24-25ºC
Humidity: 37%
Wind: light to moderate
BPM: 153
Weight: 159.8 pounds
Total distance to date: 3990 km
Devices: Apple Watch, iPhone

I indulged in a bit of a lazy morning and started today’s run early in the afternoon as a consequence. In terms of temperature it wasn’t too bad, only a few degrees hotter than the morning and at 24-25ºC still below the “this is kind of too hot” point. On the northern side of the lake I sweated a bit but didn’t sweat much at all on the southern side. A good breeze helped, too.

For whatever reason, though, I was tired for the whole run. Even the walk to the lake was a bit slower than recent days. Because it was afternoon I choose to go with a steady but slower pace, anyway, but my legs especially just seemed to lack the fuel to carry me much beyond a plodding pace that averaged out to 5:44/km. This isn’t terrible–in fact, it’s about what I would have expected for my first 10K last weekend (where much cooler weather helped), but it was still enough that by the 6K mark I seriously considered calling it. I also mulled pausing the run or walking for a bit.

In the end I turned my mind to other things to distract myself and got through the full 10 km. There was no photo finish. :P

The trail itself is seeing construction/resurfacing along several areas. The rocky section by the 5K marker I complained about previously did indeed turn out to be a base layer that has since been covered over with crushed gravel. It looks like most of that stretch that floods is going to be built up with new material, leaving only a few other small areas that are still affected by heavy rains.

The work on South Shore trail and Avalon trail doesn’t appear to have progressed much, though I’m curious to see how they resurface Avalon. It’s a shared use trail that horses are allowed on and is the only place on the Burnaby Lake Loop with a rock dust surface, which is very fine and maybe better for horses? Most trails feature either crushed gravel or compact dirt. I’m assuming they’ll keep it the same for the horses. Won’t someone think of the horses?

There was a notice posted at several entry points to let people know the Cottonwood trail would be closed for a few weeks to have its footbridge replaced, starting July 31. Indeed, I could see piles of gravel and three steel girders near the bridge as I ran by. Since there’s no detour route on the Cottonwood trail, this means the loop will not be doable for at least two weeks.

Those two weeks exactly coincide with my vacation, when I played on…running the loop. I’ll have to run clockwise to Still Creek and double-back, which will get me 10K. Not as satisfying as a full loop around the lake, but better than a kick in the pants. I’m hoping that, as with the boardwalk replacement in 2012, the time estimate is overly generous and it only takes them a week or so to complete. It’s not a big bridge. I clear it in about four steps.

I wonder if they might target the bridge at Deer Lake Brook. It’s bigger (and has stairs at both ends) and when I ran on it today it felt especially bouncy on the eastern end. It hasn’t felt bouncy before. Bouncy is not a good quality for a bridge to have.

One bonus of heading out later was fewer people out in general (and no cyclists, yay). Still, I’m glad I finished the run, both for the achievement and because finishing meant it was over. This is one of those rare times when my two-day break before the next run will feel truly welcome.

Run 508: A worse 7K (but achievement earned)

Run 508
Average pace: 5:36/km
Location: Burnaby Lake (CCW)
Start: 12:57 p.m.
Distance: 7.03 km
Time: 39:30
Weather: Sunny
Temp: 25ºC
Humidity: 37%
Wind: light to strong
BPM: 164
Weight: 161.3 pounds
Total distance to date: 3940 km
Devices: Apple Watch, iPhone

Good news: I earned the National Park Challenge badge that Apple had set for today. You had to complete a workout that covered at least 5.6 km, the distance between Old Faithful and Mallard Lake in Yellowstone National Park. Completing this meant I had to do more than a 5K run, regardless of how I felt, and I love me some achievements, so…

I got off to a much later start than intended because I slept in till 10 am. To put that in perspective, on a normal Saturday run I would be more than mid-way through the run at 10, not laying in bed. I finally got started on the actual run itself just before 1 p.m. I chose to set a deliberate pace and just get through it nice and steady, as it was warmer (up to 25ºC) and more importantly, it felt a lot warmer than that. Despite a breeze that was at times strong it never felt cool or refreshing, just windy.

Getting to 5K felt a bit like a slog but I pushed past it and entertained thoughts of stopping at 6K, as I’d still meet the challenge. I passed the 6K marker, though, and somehow had enough reserves to complete a full 7K, which made me feel a bit better about feeling a bit worse.

My pace of 5:36/km is seven seconds off my best 7K this year but it actually edges my Burnaby Lake-only runs, so it didn’t turn out as bad as I thought it might. I also kept a fairly decent pace on the walk back over the 7+ km.

Then I had a bath and a nice nap.

The trail was surprisingly sparely-populated despite being a gorgeous Saturday afternoon, but there were people out and aboot, several of whom were rather annoying, each in a different way.

In order:

  • a pair of male cyclists tearing down the trail toward me. I had just come down the bend heading toward the bridge at Still Creek. I called out to the second that bikes were not allowed on the trail. Still Creek, less than 100 meters away, has prominent No Cycling signs so they knew what they were doing. I hope some parks workers caught and fined them (and they were starting work on re-surfacing parts of the South Shore Trail so they were out, too).
  • a wedding party taking pictures on the aforementioned bridge at Still Creek. This is not a big bridge and they were standing in a row across it, completely blocking the way. I stopped and the photographer may some motions to them and I and another person went through, though I’m still not sure if the photographer was just re-arranging people or being nice and letting us pass without having to wait through a full photo shoot. Tip: If you’re taking wedding pictures in a public place, don’t block the only access to get through!
  • as I was nearing the 7K mark and running out of fuel–I did not have a spectacular finish today–a woman ahead of me suddenly started jogging. It turned out she was doing the world’s weirdest set of intervals. She would run maybe a hundred meters–which even at a slow pace is maybe 20 seconds of jogging–then walk for awhile and repeat, over and over. But for the first bit, where I was trying to finish my run, she kept a pace that put her just barely ahead of me and I had no reserves to power past her. It was even more annoying because she would drift from the left to the middle to the right and back as she ran.

I finally did find a reserve and managed to squeeze by her. Despite walking the rest of the way, I almost kept up with her until near the very end, some three km later. She also started out wearing a light jacket. Now, it’s common for joggers to overdress and I’ve done it more than I’d care to admit (though I just admitted it, oops) but picture the conditions today. It was early afternoon in mid-July, it was 25ºC, it was clear with absolutely no chance of precipitation. Running in such conditions makes you sweat quickly. Why would you wear a jacket? Did she really think she would feel cold? Blargh.

I actually met another cycling couple as I was heading out of the park but they seemed nice so I warned them bikes were not allowed and workers were in the park who might potentially fine them. They were apparently confused by a sign at the end of Cariboo Place (the short road that goes from the RV park to Cariboo Road) that seemed to indicate the Central Valley Greenway continues in Burnaby Lake Regional Park, when in fact, it actually continues by turning north and then west down Government Street. Checking the signage on Google Map’s Street View does indeed make it look a bit ambiguous. The sign is at an angle that could be pointing north or across the street, to Burnaby Lake. Once you cross, though, the signs at the lake entrance are unambiguous. There are no less than three saying bikes are not allowed and one provides directions to the actual Greenway route.

The couple seemed appreciative of the help but were still chatting when I left so I have no idea if they ignored everything I said. Hopefully not as they really may have been fined if caught.

Finally, as mentioned, there are signs warning of re-surfacing along the horse trails and South Shore Trail that started on July 10. The trails will stay open but while South Shore needs work–and it would finish what they started a year and a half ago–in my opinion the Cottonwood Trail is in more urgent need of resurfacing. There are long stretches that have a lot of exposed tree roots and every time I jog through there I need to do a little dance to avoid them all. I suppose they’ll get to it eventually.

Overall, a respectable run but nothing fancy. The achievement was decent consolation to the average pace.

Run 503: The triumph of lead legs

Run 503
Average pace: 5:37/km
Location: Brunette River trail and Burnaby Lake (CCW)
Start: 6:26 pm
Distance: 7.03 km
Time: 39:36
Weather: Sunny
Temp: 20ºC
Humidity: 52%
Wind: light
BPM: 158
Weight: 164.1 pounds
Total distance to date: 3909 km
Devices: Apple Watch, iPhone

I had some extra time to run tonight so I decided to do a combined river/lake run for a total of 7K. I hit the 7 km mark at a very convenient point, too, just a few steps off the bridge at Still Creek. That will make it easy peasy to compare future runs of the same distance.

The first leg (ho ho) of the run I felt a bit slow but not too bad (though the first km was a lot better than I’d have guessed at 5:09/km) but once I hit the lake trail my legs once again turned to lead-like things and the slog was on. Fortunately the last few km I got a second wind and felt more peppy. My average pace was 5:37/km, which is actually better than my 5K on Saturday so yay for that. My BPM was lower, too, at 158.

Even the feet were well-behaved, with the right heel pretty much a non-factor. I think it may actually be starting to heal up or something.

The trails were surprisingly quiet, the lake especially, with few pedestrians or runners encountered. It was a little strange, given how pleasant the weather was. But nice.

Overall, I’m pleased with tonight’s run. It could have been faster and I felt like I was struggling at times but I got through, felt fine at the end and bettered my previous (shorter) run.