Run 623: The “Why did I run?” run

Run 623
Average pace: 6:08/km
Location: Burnaby Lake (CCW)
Start: 3:55 pm
Distance: 5.04 km
Time: 30:57
Weather: Sunny, hot
Temp: 30ºC
Humidity: 36%
Wind: light to moderate
BPM: 155
Weight: 164.8 pounds
Total distance to date: 4695 km
Devices: Apple Watch Series 2, iPhone 8
Shoes: Saucony Switchback ISO (50 km)

I did not plan to run today, but I ended up running, even though it was kind of nutty to do so. Let me explain.

On Friday I planned to run, but slept in and then deferred to Saturday, as I did not want to run later Friday when it would be too hot. Remember the “too hot” part.

Later Friday I developed a pain in my abdomen reminiscent of “men of your age” infections of yore. Saturday morning, instead of running, I went to my favorite nearby walk-in clinic. Except they wouldn’t see me until noon, so I went back at noon. The diagnosis was vague and uncertain, though I had sugar in my urine, so the diabetes alarm was raised once again (this has happened throughout my entire life–so far each actual test has come back negative). The doctor gave me a bunch of other tests to take, similar to the ones my own doctor wanted me to take, but which I had been putting off, because I’ve been kind of lazy during vacation. She also suggested I drink lots of water and drink Metamucil, to prevent blockage/infection, though I assured her I was pretty regular already.

Sunday morning (today) Jeff drove me to a LifeLabs that was open on the weekend and they took more pee and also blood. The blood removal was the most efficient I’ve ever seen. It was kind of eerie.

After this, we went out for breakfast at IHOP (mmm, blueberry pancakes), then came home. I opted out of going to the Pride parade because the thought of sitting/standing ion place for hours on end did not seem enticing. Jeff ended up going off (unplanned) to watch it on his own.

It was very hot today. By mid-afternoon it was up to 30ºC. I decided if I couldn’t run, I’d at least walk, so I put on my running clothes (they are much more comfortable for warm weather) and set off to walk to the lake and back (around 8 km total). When I got to the lake, I decided to keep going, so I did that. When I got to Still Creek, I contemplated doing a run to finish off the loop around the lake. Remember, now:

  • it’s 30ºC
  • I had blood taken just hours earlier
  • I have abdominal pain

There was no good reason to run. None. But I had already missed two potential run days and didn’t want to miss another, so I made an agreement with myself to only run for as long as it was comfortable. If there was any pain/aches/fainting, etc. I would stop. And so I sent off doing what was essentially the reverse of my usual 5K clockwise circuit.

The first km was relatively zippy, considering the heat, coming in at 5:28/km. This changed and by the third km I was firmly in “Why am I doing this?” territory, with my pace way down to 6:39. I rallied and came back to 6:12 before wrapping up with 6:23 for the final stretch. This was one of those runs where I really wanted it to end.

Despite how I felt, I was fairly confident once I made it past the halfway mark that I would be able to finish. Fortunately, the Avalon trail was in shade at this time of day, probably the only thing that kept me going to the finish.

My mouth was very dry. Like, it was the Sahara in my mouth. To paraphrase America, the heat was hot. The humidity was high enough to make the air feel like a furnace, but not high enough to keep my mouth moist.

And yet the most interesting stat from the run was my BPM–a mere 155. This means that both my mind and body were being sensible. As I slowed, I did not push to maintain an unsustainable pace. I fell back into a slower, but steady pace and kept to that. I didn’t over-exert. I was smart! This is one of the few times I checked my BPM mid-run, too. If it had been crazy-high, I would have stopped, but it was pretty steady in the 150s throughout.

And the abdominal pain, though still there, is now a much more muted kind of ache, so it didn’t present an issue. Really, the only issue was the weather itself. And my decision to run in it. :P

Run 618: Post-camping, with fewer people

Run 618
Average pace: 5:54/km
Location: Burnaby Lake (CW)
Start: 1:27 pm
Distance: 5.03 km
Time: 29:42
Weather: Sunny
Temp: 26ºC
Humidity: 40%
Wind: light
BPM: 161
Weight: 165.2 pounds
Total distance to date: 4670 km
Devices: Apple Watch Series 2, iPhone 8
Shoes: Saucony Switchback ISO (25 km)

On the first full day back from camping, I did some tidying up, put away the clean dishes, swept and then looked around and thought, “What can I do on this beautiful sunny day that involves being outside and such?” and lo the answer came. Run!

Because I am still on vacation, I can not only do lake runs for every run, I can do them during the week, when there are fewer people, so just after 12:30 this afternoon, I set out to do just that.

Arriving at the lake, I saw that my usual way in was now blocked off due to construction at the dam, as expected, so I went the short length up the road and came in through Avalon Avenue. Because I was already on the south side and didn’t know the state of the side trails, I opted to go clockwise for the heck of it.

It was quite warm, but not quite Africa hot. The humidity level was just high enough to keep my mouth from badly drying out, but not so high that I sweated profusely. I set off, hoping that with a week off, I’d at least beat the 6:00 minute mark for my pace. I did that and was only two seconds slower than my previous lake run, coming in at 5:54/km vs. 5:52/km. Not bad, considering I felt pretty out of gas for the last two km.

Although I experienced no issues other than being a bit tired toward the end, I did experience some after the run, namely a weird sort of cramp/gas that kept me from doing much post-run running along the trail on the way out. It wasn’t terrible or anything, but it was mildly annoying.

Around the 4K mark, when I noted that I was feeling a bit tuckered, I did a quick checklist and found that not only were my knees not hurting, I wasn’t feeling them at all. I don’t mean they were suddenly and alarmingly paralyzed, but that they were not sore, aching, cranky or anything other than just knees. It’s been quite awhile since the knees have felt so nothing on a run, and it is probably the highlight of today’s run.

Another highlight was the delightful lack of people as it was early afternoon on a weekday.

It turned out that the Spruce Loop is officially closed for maintenance and the tracks of the machinery taking gravel to it were all over the main trail leading up to it. In some places the machinery had so badly damaged the main trail they may need to do work on it when they are finished on the Spruce Loop. It seemed a bit like curing one patient by taking the medicine away from another. Here’s hoping they have enough medicine (gravel) to go around. The initial work on the Spruce Loop looks promising, though, so it should be quite an improvement when it’s done.

I should note here that the new Saucony shoes are still working well, though it seems they are almost as adept at scooping gravel as my Cascadias. This seems to happen more when I’m walking than running, so maybe I’m walking wrong. I don’t know. I also think I had the laces dialed in a bit too tight this time or my feet were retaining water or something, because the tops of my feet were getting just ever-so-slightly sore by the end.

Also, I have to be fair and say the left foot was hurting a bit for the run. I don’t consider it an issue, per se, as it was already hurting and I don’t think the run had any effect on it, it just underlined it. And it didn’t bother me so much as provide a background irritation.

My next run should be Wednesday. The weather is supposed to be 23ºC (nice) and light rain (less nice), so it seems the inconsistent July weather will be back after two days of actual summer-like weather. At least I won’t have to worry about getting a sunburn.

Run 590: I feel sweaty, so very sweaty!

Run 590
Average pace: 5:47/km
Location: Brunette River trail
Start: 7:15 pm
Distance: 5:03 km
Time: 29:11
Weather: Hazy sun
Temp: 27-25ºC
Humidity: 51%
Wind: light
BPM: 166
Weight: 161.9 pounds
Total distance to date: 4530 km
Devices: Apple Watch, iPhone 8

The last few days the Lower Mainland has been blanketed with a thick haze from the many forest fires burning elsewhere. This exact same thing happened last year and just as it was back then, it makes for very humid, sticky runs. It was 27ºC, already on the warm side, though the sun itself was not hitting most of the trail. The parts where it was it painted the area with an otherworldly light, making it feel like I was jogging on an alien planet.

But one where you can still sweat, which I did. A lot.

My goal was the same as it’s been on recent runs–come in under 6:00/km and I did, ending with an average pace of 5:47/km. It’s better than recent runs at the lake, but slower than runs at the river, due to the mugginess leeching my will to move.

Other than the sticky conditions, the run went well. The knees were doing their thing, which is to say I could feel them, but they didn’t really slow me. At this point I’m almost used to how they feel. Almost.

The ickiest point was having a group of cyclists go flying by, kicking up a bunch of dust into the already particulate-rich air. And because there was little wind, I got to run through all of it. I mean, it wasn’t Shanghai-level air pollution, but it wasn’t great, either.

Also, there was a guy standing under the overpass next to a bike. He was wearing jeans and had a very dark tan, which I could see because he was shirtless. Not sexy, just shirtless. He was there the whole time. One pass he was talking into his phone, another drinking from a coffee mug, and yet another contemplating where his shirt had gone, perhaps. It was a bit odd. I didn’t make eye contact.

Other than that, the run went well, hothouse conditions notwithstanding. Onward to Thursday!

Run 588: The fastest run ever! (since April 14th)

Run 588
Average pace: 5:59/km
Location: Burnaby Lake (CCW)
Start: 10:29 am
Distance: 5:03 km
Time: 30:07
Weather: Sunny
Temp: 24-28ºC
Humidity: 49%
Wind: light to moderate
BPM: 162
Weight: 162.6 pounds
Total distance to date: 4520 km
Devices: Apple Watch, iPhone 8

Do you know what happened on April 14, 2018? Well, you can assume a few things, like the sun rose, there was no nuclear war and so on, but in general you probably don’t remember a lot of specific details of that day.

That day was the last time I jogged at Burnaby Lake and had an average pace below 6:00/km–until today.

My pace today was…5:59/km. Yes, I beat the six minute mark by precisely one second, which could be a rounding error. But I’m taking it.

For this run I decided to start at the official 0K marker, run CCW over the dam and skip the side trails. I would be running only on the main, official Burnaby Lake Loop, to see how accurate the GPS on the phone really is. As it turns out, it was off even by the 1K mark. By the time I hit the 5K marker I was showing a distance of 4.82 km. Not catastrophically off, but not exactly super-precise, either. I had to run well past the marker to hit 5K, but at least I did so before hitting the next corner and getting back out into the cruel and unforgiving sun.

I also skipped the sun block and amazingly didn’t get burned. Because that already happened weeks ago, mainly.

I felt fine for most of the run, despite the heat, though it was easily the sweatiest run to date in terms of flicking it away from the sides of my eyes. I also did a lot of running after finishing the official 5K on the way out and maintained a good pace for those stretches, too.

The trail was a bit congested in weird ways, with long stretches featuring few, if any people, then I’d suddenly find myself approaching a couple from behind while another person walked toward them, and a runner or two behind that walker, all converging for the same spot at the same time. Thanks to dexterity, timing and luck, collisions were avoided.

The only real downside came after, with the knees feeling the most sore they’ve been in weeks, but I’ve been subjecting them the past week to daily 5K walks, a post-work run and today’s run, so this is not unexpected. It’s not horrible, just a nuisance. For now, at least.

Overall, it was a relief to finally break the 6:00/km mark again and the increased activity is definitely leading to improved stamina, as I’m no longer thinking, “Why won’t this run end?” on the 5Ks now. I’m not sure when I’ll try a 10K, but possibly sometime in August.

Run 587: It only feels like 29ºC

Run 587
Average pace: 5:55/km
Location: Brunette River trail
Start: 6:34 pm
Distance: 5:04 km
Time: 30:50
Weather: Sunny
Temp: 31ºC
Humidity: 38%
Wind: light to moderate
BPM: 162
Weight: 163.3 pounds
Total distance to date: 4515 km
Devices: Apple Watch, iPhone 8

For the first time in a long time I actually ran after dinner. Yay!

In the middle of an Africa hot heatwave. Maybe not the best timing, but…

It went possibly better than expected. I sweated a lot but it was just humid enough to keep the dreaded dry mouth™ under control. I experienced a few moments of pushing too hard (for the weather) after the 4K mark, but it subsided quickly, and the knees were actually not feeling too bad at all.

Most of the river trail after 6 p.m. is under the shade of the tree canopy, which made a huge difference, too.

I also managed to stay under the six minute mark at 5:55/km, which pleases me greatly, the way catnip pleases a cat. Well, maybe not that much. Still, it was nice.

No real issues to report, except it was muggy and hot, starting at 31ºC and dropping a negligible one degree. Weather Underground said it “feels like 29ºC”, which is also negligible. :P

BPM was actually down slightly–could it be more regular runs are actually starting to get me back into shape a little? Possibly.

If I stick to the schedule I should run again on Thursday, with the weather about the same. If my results hold up to tonight’s, that’ll be good enough for me.

Run 584: 22 days off and I can still run, hooray

Run 584
Average pace: 6:12/km
Location: Burnaby Lake (CCW)
Start: 11:21 am
Distance: 5:04 km
Time: 31:18
Weather: Sunny
Temp: 24-28ºC
Humidity: 50%
Wind: light
BPM: 167
Weight: 162.6 pounds
Total distance to date: 4500 km
Devices: Apple Watch, iPhone 8

I hit a new milestone today, or, I suppose, a kilometerstone, passing 4,500 km officially run. It’s actually more than that, but I wasn’t really tracking much (or at all) in the early days. 4,500 km is enough to pretty much go from the west coast of Canada to the east coast, depending on where exactly you start and stop. It did take me nine years to reach this, so jogging may not be the most practical way (for me) to cross the country.

My last run was 22 days ago, on June 22, and with the return of warm, sunny weather, my goal today was to simply finish and not feel horrible after. Mission accomplished!

While the pace of 6:12/km is certainly not blazingly fast, it *is* ten seconds better than my previous run at the lake, which is kind of impressive given that happened 27 days ago. I actually did not feel bad and managed to pick up the pace in the last km, too. I did feel the knees, but they were no better or worse than the last half dozen runs or so. I was surprised my stamina held up as the temperature climbed from 24ºC to 28ºC during the run. Equally surprising was the minimal sweating, perhaps due to the humidity hovering around 50%, coupled with a light and refreshing breeze. For an Africa hot run, it was pretty tolerable.

Also, a few new things on the trail since my last run. The UH OH BEARS sign is out again for the season, and the stretch of trail from the western boardwalk to the area resurfaced last year has also been resurfaced, with one small section still waiting its top coat of compressed gravel/dirt. This was a pleasant surprise, though it did mean the one unique corner on a hill was smoothed out. It was also fun to cut in short when going counter-clockwise, but now it’s just a regular corner.

The Cottonwood Trail remains as rooty as ever, but they are running out of sections to resurface, so it may get done in the next year or so, if they stick to the same rough schedule.

Overall, this was a pleasant return and went much better than it might have, given the conditions and the time between runs. Now to build on this without my knees collapsing.

The best part actually came after I finished the run. There was a woman jogging ahead of me, but her pace was what one might describe as languid, so languid that I actually caught up and passed her–while walking. That’s definitely a first. Shortly after passing her I turned a corner and saw the poopmonsters were again cluttering up the trail at the north end of the sports fields. I eased up to let the “jogger” go first and draw their fire. It turned out that not much of anything happened. You can see one goose in particular still flapping its wings in umbrage in this shot as she passes by, but the rest just went about with their usual goose-standing, goose-grooming and, of course, goose-stepping:

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 532: It’s not the humidity, it’s the bug you just swallowed

Run 532
Average pace: 5:40/km
Location: Burnaby Lake (CCW)
Start: 9:45 am
Distance: 10.02 km
Time: 56:50
Weather: Sunny
Temp: 24-26ºC
Humidity: 55%
Wind: light
BPM: 160
Weight: 156.8 pounds
Total distance to date: 4144 km
Devices: Apple Watch, iPhone

It’s Labor Day so I went out and labored on a 10K run.

It was warmer than yesterday but my early start saved me from having to run in 30ºC+ temperatures. It was 24ºC at the start and 26ºC by the end of the run. It was also more humid so the sunny stretches found me sweating like some kind of machine designed for maximum sweating.

I didn’t experience any issues on this run, I was just generally a little slower, given the extra heat and humidity. My pace was 5:40/km, four seconds off Saturday, but consistent with the yuckier conditions.

The trail was fairly busy but unlike the last run there were no near-collisions. On the Cottonwood Trail I was humming along and doing fine in the shade of the canopy. The long version of “Disco Inferno” had just started playing (that song is long enough to last several km of running) when I felt a sudden catch in my throat. While grooving out I had swallowed a bug. Knowing a coughing fit was bound to ensue, I summoned up as much saliva as I could (sort of ew, sorry) and swallowed hard, twice. Better to just down the thing that try to spit it back out.

This did not work. Instead I started hacking fiercely and, strangely, I actually did manage to spit the bug out and was immediately fine after that.

I am uncertain if the bug survived. Sorry, bug!

The run went otherwise without incident, though the conditions were definitely eating away at my strength. I’ve been running just long enough in more seasonal temperatures that this Africa hot-stuff is throwing me off. It’s expected to last a few more days then the possibility of actual precipitation is in the forecast. I’m not running tomorrow and have a bike ride planned for Wednesday so my next run will likely be Thursday after work. The current forecast is calling for a pleasant high of 23ºC and cloudy skies. Good running weather!

Run 531: Long weekend EVERYONE GO TO THE LAKE

Run 531
Average pace: 5:36/km
Location: Burnaby Lake (CW)
Start: 9:39 am
Distance: 10.04 km
Time: 56:14
Weather: Sunny
Temp: 20-25ºC
Humidity: 48%
Wind: light
BPM: 155
Weight: 156 pounds
Total distance to date: 4134 km
Devices: Apple Watch, iPhone

Given the forecast (Africa hot) I thought it might be prudent to start the run earlier in the morning and to run clockwise, as there is less canopy in the first half of the loop when running this way, meaning I would face it while it was a little cooler.

I was wise to follow this plan. It was already 20ºC when I started out and was up to 25ºC by the end of the run less than an hour later. You feel a five-degree change in temperature.

Fortunately, the humidity was low so it remained tolerable (though I did experience some dry mouth, something that hasn’t happened much this sticky, sweaty summer). I initially tried to moderate my pace after a week off from running 10Ks and indeed, I felt a stitch in my lower-left abdomen around the 8K mark. I eased up a bit and it went away fairly quickly.

I also had a weird déjà vu moment as I ran down the part of the Conifer Loop with the tree root that tripped me up last summer. At around 10:10 a.m. the sun was still low enough in the sky that it was slanting through the trees in such a way that it created a flickering effect in my peripheral vision. This, combined with the trail being cast in a dappled combination of bright and dark areas made it difficult to see what was actually coming up even right in front of me. It’s quite possible that if I was running on the same side of the trail as the tree root that I might have tripped on it again, even knowing where it was.

I did not run on the same side of the trail.

I ended up with a pace of 5:36/km, a little slower than my previous 10K, but consistent with the higher temperatures.

This is the Labour Day long weekend and it turns out that this year a lot of people wanted to spend the first morning of it at the lake, as the trail was replete with pedestrians, joggers and one horse.

But no cyclists, hooray!

However, the most annoying moment came when I approached the second boardwalk. The boardwalks only allow for two people to comfortably walk/jog beside each other and because they are elevated, it’s not possible to duck out of someone’s way. I got onto the boardwalk, which in the clockwise direction, has a corner right at the start, and was immediately confronted by a pair of joggers moving fairly swiftly. The one to my immediate left did nothing to make room for me. I had to nearly stop so I could shift and get out of the way to keep from falling off the boardwalk.

That jogger was:

  • selfish
  • careless
  • going to get attacked by a rabid goose, if there is such a thing as karma

Really, the pair should have been moving slower and running single file. It’s just common sense given the conditions imposed by the boardwalk. Anyway, it was weird to be annoyed by another jogger instead of a cyclist.

Despite the near-collision, it was still a good run overall and the new shoes were problem-free, so yay.

Run 519: Smoke, construction, heat, humidity and poop

Run 519
Average pace: 5:41/km
Location: Burnaby Lake (CW)
Start: 10:14 am
Distance: 10.02 km
Time: 57:18
Weather: Smoke haze, sun
Temp: 23-25ºC
Humidity: 58%
Wind: light
BPM: 152
Weight: 159.0 pounds
Total distance to date: 4033 km
Devices: Apple Watch, iPhone

The run conditions were almost identical to Monday’s yet I definitely felt I had more spring in my step for the first km, as evidenced by my 5:11/km pace. That ended quickly, as further evidenced by the second km pace being 5:42/km. The last three km felt much like a slog and while my eyes didn’t burn quite the same as they did two days ago, by the time I approached the 9K mark I was ready for the run to be over.

Let me back up and set up another complication that made the desire to stop running even stronger.

Before leaving I went to the bathroom. I mean, I physically went into the bathroom, but nothing happened. My bowels remained silent and unmoved. Fine. I’d have one more chance when I got to the lake. I got to the lake and contemplated the Johnny Potty or whatever it’s called. I looked at the name but all I can recall now is the word Johnny. I like to think it is really called Johnny Potty and is named after someone who is legally known as Johnny Potty.

This time the bowel stirred, slightly. It may have been the heat. The temperature on the walk to the lake shot up from 19ºC to 23ºC and then up to 25ºC during the run. But again, no action in the ol’ “gotta go” department so I headed off and again, it was fine.

As I passed the 9K mark (meaning I had a little over five minutes to go) it suddenly became very much not fine. I had to go like I had never gone before. The urge was more than that, it was a command, a command delivered with great authority, a command you could not ignore. But I had to finish the run. Running, as I mentioned before on this blog, is about the worst thing you can do if you want to quiet a nascent bowel movement. Because you are agitating all your innards, see?

In the end (ho ho) I made it but it was an extremely close thing. Also, the Johnny Potty was a literal sweatbox. But at least there was toilet paper and hand sanitizer. The day was so humid the sanitizer would not dry on my hands until I had nearly exited the park.

Oh, and I did a 10K run, too.

After the speedy start I settled into a pace close to my overall average of 5:41/km for most of the run and it wasn’t too bad. I still sweated buckets and never exactly tore up the trail, but it was no worse than other recent runs.

Speaking of torn-up trails, today was the first weekday run that wasn’t also a holiday so I figured the crews would be out resurfacing the trail and they were. The shovel and little tractor/hopper that was getting filled with gravel were in the parking lot, so I knew I wouldn’t encounter them on the trail. I did come across a putt-putt car that took up most of the width of the trail not far into the South Shore segment. Ahead of it a guy was using one of those vibrating devices that has a belt that magically flattens and compresses the fresh gravel. I had to actually stop running to navigate around. Before I encountered him I came across several hundred meters of fresh gravel piled high along the middle of the trail. This stuff is basically impossible to run on, so you stick to the edges, but the edges are mushy and uneven so the whole thing is a bit of a trial. I nearly twisted a foot but I got through without face-planting.

The road construction crew at the rowing pavilion parking lot were out but no heavy equipment was in operation so I skittered across without having to worry about being crushed under a steamroller. One of the road workers even nodded to me as I ran by. He was kind of cute. He was probably nodding as if to say, “You can do it, just a little farther before you poop your shorts!”

The athletic fields were again covered in geese, all of them standing around or pecking at the grass. All except one, which was sitting there, in defiance of the others. When I looked straight at this one goose it immediately stood and started pecking the ground, as if I had caught it slacking off. “That’s right, poopmonster, get busy!” I pretended to shout at it.

Near the 3K signpost I passed a group of about six police and at least one park worker, all of them standing in a circle and discussing something. It seemed like a peculiar place for a discussion so there must have been shenanigans at play. This was possibly corroborated when I emerged from the Spruce Loop and noticed a sawhorse across the main trail with a “Trail Closed – Detour” sign on it.

I still don’t know what actually happened. But something!

It was not long after this that The Bowel Incident occurred. The bowel km was also the slowest, for reasons I hope are obvious.

When I got home all sweaty and stinky I wanted nothing more than to have a nice shower or a bath with invigorating Epsom salts. But thanks to a power outage last night we had no hot water. I ended up soaking in the hot tub at the Canada Games Pool with Jeff and having a shower there, which turned out to be perfectly decent. I always feel a little naughty dunking the Apple Watch into the water but the reality is it probably needed a good cleaning.

Overall I’m pleased that I turned in a decent pace given the ongoing terrible conditions (current forecast says the weather will change by the weekend) and basically everything else about the run other than the pace also being terrible.

Run 516: 4,000 km! Also: super hot and yucky

Run 516
Average pace: 5:30/km
Location: Brunette River trail
Start: 6:45 pm
Distance: 5.02 km
Time: 27:39
Weather: Smoke haze, sun
Temp: 29ºC
Humidity: 40%
Wind: light
BPM: 152
Weight: 159.6 pounds
Total distance to date: 4003 km
Devices: Apple Watch, iPhone

While walking to the river trail for tonight’s run I made the call to do a shorter 5K run because:

  1. it felt even hotter than on Tuesday
  2. the air quality was worse
  3. there was little in the way of a breeze
  4. the air quality was worse–did I mention that? It was bad. The fine particulate matter they keep talking about was a lot more tangible.

So I ran 5K and turned in an average pace of 5:30/km, which is not that zippy for 5K but pretty decent given the conditions. The air was thick, soupy and slightly stinky. It felt warmer even though officially it was 29ºC again. I sweated profusely.

Other than a moment or two when a cramp threatened but didn’t materialize, I experienced no complications. It was just kind of a gross, unpleasant experience. I saw no other runners, so apparently some other joggers have had enough of this weather.

We’re in the middle of a record-breaking heatwave and it’s hot enough that they’ve doubled the number of fire warning signs on the trail (the bonus sign is on the bottom):

fire danger and more fire danger
Fire danger plus more fire danger

I did not see any briquette barbecues during my run. I’m a little surprised I haven’t seen anyone smoking, though. Fire bans is usually when the smokers show up.

Oh, and I hit a major milestone–or is it kilometerstone?–tonight, passing the 4,000 km mark in total distance. I’ve been running for eight years now, so it averages out to about 500 km per year. Not too shabby. My best year was significantly higher than that–980 km–but I don’t think that will happen again. In 2012 I was on fire instead of all the forests.

This was the last run before I start my vacation so I now have the luxury of doing each run in the morning when it will be mercifully cooler, if still hazy and yucky. Cooler and yucky is still better than hotter and yucky, so I’ll take it.


Stop smoking

Specifically, I’d like the air to stop smoking. Yesterday was weird with an orange haze and the air having a thick, soupy quality thanks to that good old fine particulate matter blowing in from forest fires in the Interior.

Today the haze descended to ground level so it not only blotted out the blue sky, it created a thin, fog-like layer everywhere you looked. And unlike yesterday the smell of the smoke has become tangible. It’s like being on the periphery of a magic campfire where no matter where you move, the campfire is always the same distance away.

Anyway, it’s gross and unlikely to change soon due to a very strong ridge of high pressure. It’s also bad because, well, lots of forest on fire.

But there is no mistaking it’s definitely summer.