Run 617: Trail work, ho!

Run 617
Average pace: 5:52/km
Location: Burnaby Lake (CCW)
Start: 10:57 am
Distance: 5.03 km
Time: 29:31
Weather: Intermittent sun
Temp: 18ºC
Humidity: 73%
Wind: light
BPM: 161
Weight: 167.3 pounds
Total distance to date: 4665 km
Devices: Apple Watch Series 2, iPhone 8
Shoes: Saucony Switchback ISO (20 km)

This was my first run at the lake with the new shoes and they were fine. My pace was slower–which I expected in switching back to the lake–and I chalk that up to being a bit tired by week’s end, the somewhat more technical aspect of the lake trail and the much higher humidity. I sweated early, often and copiously.

The dam area is filled with a lot more equipment as they start work on repairing and replacing the gates, but fortunately the top of the dam will stay open during the three month project. The equipment is neatly tucked out of the way for now, so it also didn’t interfere with the start of the run, which began at the official 0K marker, since I had to use the Jiffy John® first.

As I passed the picnic area I spied large piles of gravel, in two distinct varieties. At first I thought it had to do with the dam project–which makes no sense, really, so I blame that on runner’s brain–then put it out of my mind as I focused on where my feet were going.

The explanation for the piles o’ gravel became clear as I hot the Spruce Loop. The trail had obviously been gone over with equipment and some fresh dirt/gravel had been smooshed about in spots, perhaps in an attempt to smooth out holes, but the actual effect was to make the trail a lot trickier to run on, because it was now lumpy and covered in soft patches your feet could slide around in. A good test for the new shoes.

This continued on through the Conifer Loop and even onto the main trail. There’s a huge pipe just short of the 3K marker that is almost completely exposed. When I’m running I have to time my jump over it–yes, it’s that big. But today it was completely covered in the fine gravel that serves as the top layer when trails are resurfaced. It’s the darker stuff in the above photo.

All of this means they are in the beginning stages of finally resurfacing the side trail, which have long needed some love, and it looks like they are getting close to the Cottonwood Trail, which is currently the worst part of the main loop, festooned with numerous exposed tree roots. Even if they just do the side trails, it will be a great improvement, so yay for that.

The run itself started with me matching the overall pace of 5:52/km during the first km. While a full 10 seconds slower than the previous river trail run, it still handily beat my last lake run a few weeks back, when I came in at 6:11/km. I clearly flagged in the second km. My BPM was was hitting around 169 at that point, but it dropped after and came out to 161 overall, a little higher, but still well within the comfortable range.

There were no issues in terms of cramps or other discomfort, other than just feeling the humidity sucking the life force from me. I did pick up the pace toward the end and finished before the 5K marker, always a nice psychological victory. The walk out of the lake I found myself running more than walking (my average pace was 8:27/km, which is impossible for a walking pace unless I find a way to grow my legs to be twice as tall as they are now), even getting as low as 6:24/km at one point, nearly matching a slower run pace).

Overall, a decent effort. It’ll be interesting to see how the next lake run goes, especially if humidity is lower and the side trails are freshly resurfaced.

A somewhat labored Labor Day run

Run 348
Average pace: 5:21/km
Location: Burnaby Lake (CW)
Ran Spruce and Conifer Loops
Distance: 10.04 km
Weather: Cloudy with some sun, humid
Temp: 19-21ºC (felt like 24ºC)
Wind: light
Calories burned: 771
Total distance to date: 2927

Today’s run was disappointing in one way and nicely rewarding in another.

The disappointment came in a slower pace, 5:21/km vs. Saturday’s 5:18/km. I attribute most of this to it being noticeably more humid. The temperature was a bit warmer but it felt warmer and muggier. Looking at my time I clearly started sagging, though during the run it didn’t feel that bad. The foot also began to hurt, but not as much as Saturday. I think I’ve been crunching it in unfavorable ways when sitting at the computer. I need to get slippers or something so I can’t do that.

The other thing of note is how crowded the trail was. Starting out at the dam I saw more people than I think I did on my entire run done at the same time on Saturday. Apparently the thing to do on a statutory holiday is go to the lake and walk or jog. I’m pretty sure I’ve written about this very thing before. It’s weird.

Also, in addition to the usual bear signs:

Bear in area sign
Here be bears (maybe).

A new one was added, warning “Bear sighted in area”, along with a number to call, presumably so they can send someone over to murder the bear that was sighted. I don’t know if they actually murder them, maybe they tranq them and relocate them but shooting things dead seems to be the popular solution these days so that’s what I’m assuming.

Anyway, it adds a little spice to the jog to know an actual bear has been spotted on your route. It won’t be long before the bears head off to hibernate and the signs come down, though, to be replaced with “Yeti in area” signs.

The rewarding part of today’s run was the total distance for the year to date. At 438.7 km I have now passed my run total for all of 2013 (!) with four months to go. In 2013 I ran 436.1 km. Mind you, my average pace in 2013 was 5:08 and this year it’s 5:16 so…eh, you take what you can get.

Another warm ‘n muggy run with another bonus coyote sighting

Run 344
Average pace: 5:18/km
Location: Burnaby Lake (CCW)
Ran Spruce and Conifer Loops
Distance: 10.03 km
Weather: Sunny, very humid
Temp: 18-24ºC
Wind: nil
Calories burned: 772
Total distance to date: 2887

Conditions were nearly identical today vs. Friday except it was sunny, which meant it warmed up more over the course of the run. Humidity was very high again, starting around 85% and I sweated copiously as I am wont to do in these conditions.

I didn’t wilt quite as much, though, and managed to shave off two seconds, making my average pace a slow-but-still-improved 5:18/km. Another nice aspect was no weird pain or other glitches. I did begin flagging around the 8K mark but picked up nicely in the last km, finishing strongly. Weirdly, my third km was my fastest at 5:10 vs. 5:12 for both the first and second km. If it hadn’t been so muggy I probably could have turned in a much better time but alas.

After the run I saw what I’m pretty sure was the same coyote in the same spot along the Brunette River trail. He was on the other side of the fence this time and saw my approach so nimbly bounded…a short distance back. Then he turned and watched, with his head sticking up above the wild grass, as I walked back. Then he disappeared off into his coyote house or whatever it is they live in. He seems to have taken up residence, which is odd given the location is fairly well-traveled by walkers, joggers, park workers and CN employees. Maybe he wants to be adopted.

The silly humid mid-August run

Run 343
Average pace: 5:20/km
Location: Burnaby Lake (CW)
Ran Spruce and Conifer Loops
Distance: 10.03 km
Weather: Cloudy, very humid
Temp: 18-21ºC
Wind: nil
Calories burned: 771
Total distance to date: 2877

The threat of rain loomed over today’s run but as I headed out the sky brightened and the sun even made a brief appearance midway through the run. That was probably the highlight.

I noticed immediately upon stepping outside at 8 a.m. that it was a tad muggy. It turned out the humidity was over 80%. Today was a textbook example of the olde expression “it’s the heat, not the humidity” as the temperature for the run was a perfectly reasonable 18-21ºC.

For the first km it was fine and without the sky dumping great amounts of water on me, my pace was actually two seconds faster–5:04 vs 5:06/km. My fate was written in the next split, though, when my pace drooped an impressive 5%, to 5:17/km, five seconds slower than the previous run’s split. This doomed me to an overall slower average pace of 5:20/km, a disappointing way to end the week but considering I was jogging through liquid air, perhaps not too bad.

I had an amazing four separate encounters with one of those two-seater vehicles the park workers tool around the trails in. I passed it near the start of the run as the woman was placing back a pole she had removed to give the vehicle access to the Avalon Trail. Shortly after doing this she caught up to me, I moved aside and let her pass.

A km or two later and she came rolling up behind me again, having ventured off to the Freeway Trail before looping back to the trail I was on. I again let her pass as running ahead of her would have required bionic legs or something. Weirdly the third time she managed to be ahead of me but the fourth time I again managed to come out ahead of her and this time was headed toward the second boardwalk. I assumed she would not try to bring the vehicle on it, as it’s not really designed for vehicles. It still felt like a low-rent version of Duel.

Other than the stupid amount if humidity, the only other things of note on the run were:

  • my left foot was feeling a bit sore beforehand but still held up. I could feel it but I don’t think it slowed me down.
  • my right ankle mysteriously twinged with pain two separate times, each time lasting perhaps 30 seconds or so. I was fine before and after and there is no pain at all now in the ankle. It reminded me of the equally mysterious knee pain I felt for one run in the summer of 2012. It’s like the body randomly picks some part to briefly remind you that you’re getting older and are fallible or something. Stupid body.

Having seen my times go the wrong way this week, I am hoping next week is a) drier and b) drier.

 

The waiting out the rain run

Run 328
Average pace: 5:13/km

Location: Burnaby Lake (CCW)
Ran Spruce and Conifer Loops and Piper Mill Trail
Distance: 10.03 km
Weather: Partly sunny, humid
Temp: 20-22ºC
Wind: nil to light
Calories burned: 772
Total distance to date: 2773

Last July we officially went the entire month without any precipitation. This year we have gone several days without any actual sunshine.

Today was looking to be another one of those days and I held off on my run, waiting for the showers to stop. While I’m fine with getting caught in the rain mid-jog, it’s still difficult to motivate myself to get started when I know I’ll be soaked before I even start my run.

Around 2 p.m. I decided to head out regardless of the weather and it had mercy on me, as the showers stopped and remained stopped for the rest of the day. It was even occasionally sunny at the lake, not to mention humid as all get-out. To give an idea of how humidity affects you, I was sweating more today with the temperature ranging from 20-22ºC than I did when the temperature was 28-33ºC.

I had probably slept funny and could feel my right hip a bit before heading out and my left foot, though not actually hurting, was also there, so to speak. These things did not fill me with confidence. Indeed, the first km my whole body felt janky and I thought I’d run only 5K. I pressed on and found my pace and decided I’d at least match the 6K of my previous effort.

In the end I managed to get in 10K, not quite a full loop around the lake. My left foot started hurting at the 10K mark and the shoelace on my right shoe came untied at the same time. It seemed as close to a sign to stop as I was going to get. I credit the lace for coming loose but not actually coming fully untied for two entire kilometers, at least.

My overall pace was slower primarily due to the humidity but I’m mostly fine with it, as it’s miles ahead of my last 10K+ run (average pace 5:35/km on a 10K run on June 25) and about the same as my last more reasonable 10K+ effort (5:12/km on an 11K run on June 15; it was also much cooler on that run).

I should have fancy new inserts ready for my shoes by my next run. We’ll see if they make me run not unlike greased lightning, should greased lightning suddenly acquire feet and legs and anything else that might be needed to allow it to run.

The kind of tired of the humidity run

Average pace: 5:20/km
Location: Burnaby Lake (CCW)
Ran Piper Mill Trail, Conifer and Spruce Loops
Distance: 11.05 km
Weather: Partly sunny
Temp: 22-26ºC (felt like 23-28)
Wind: nil to light
Calories burned: 799
Total distance to date: 2449 km

What better way to celebrate Labor Day than to labor through a run? I started out later than usual, not leaving until around 11:30 and despite showers earlier in the morning it had cleared enough to convince hordes of people to head on down to the lake for a holiday stroll/jog.

I did indeed wear my new New Balance MT110s after using a second holder to move the Nike+sensor over to it. The results were mixed. On the one hand, I don’t feel the switch back to a minimalist shoe had any major effect on the run and yet my left foot was quite sore at the end, enough that I didn’t even entertain the idea of walking back, instead heading straight to the Production Way SkyTrain station.

However, my left foot was feeling a bit sore even before heading out, so I suspect the result may have been the same. I’m undecided on whether to switch back to the Nikes for my next run, which will probably be only 5K.

My time on the run was bad. After a lousy 5:16/km pace on Saturday, I was that much worse today, coming in at a pokey 5:20/km. The first km tells the story:

Saturday: 4:41
Monday: 4:57

Sixteen seconds is a dramatic difference. I started out like a tortoise and although I actually started to close the gap I still fell short. Why? Possibly the left foot, though it only really hurt after the run was over. Possibly the new shoes, though they actually felt fine to me. Possibly the stupidly high humidity.

Yes, that was the likely culprit. The humidity started out near 80% and though it dropped, it remained near 60% at the end of the run. That, combined with the sharp rise in temperature, generally being warmer and a breeze that was either minimal or non-existent made for rather unpleasant running conditions. I almost long for the days when it took several minutes just for my hands to warm up. Almost.

My only feeble hope at this point is that I can actually break the 5:00 minute mark on a 5K, though at this point even that may be beyond my reach.

This summer has kind of sucked for running.

UPDATE: The morning after the run and for the first time in quite awhile my calves are actually a bit sore. This is likely due to only running once for each of two weeks then doing two in three days. In other words I am falling out of shape. This may also have contributed to my lousy pace, though I’m still laying most of the blame for that on the Amazon-like humidity.

The rush hour run

Average pace: 5:16/km
Location: Burnaby Lake (CW)
Ran Piper Mill Trail, Conifer and Spruce Loops
Distance: 11.32 km
Weather: Sunny
Temp: 19-24ºC
Wind: light
Calories burned: 818
Total distance to date: 2438 km

I pretty much hated everything about today’s run.

After a week of cooler, cloudy weather with showers tossed in, the weather strangely turned summer-like for the long weekend. I decided to head out relatively early to beat the heat.

The temperature matched my last run a week ago (more on that gap later), starting at 19ºC and rising to 24ºC. You notice that kind of rise. It also started out and stayed humid, which was the real problem. I started out not exactly fast but moving along crisply and felt light on my feet–a good thing. It was pleasant. As the temperature rose the effect of the humidity also rose and I began to flag.

I picked up the pace by the end but it was too late. I braced myself for the overall average: 5:16/km, a full four seconds slower than my last run. Bleah.

I’m going out again in two days and plan on breaking in my new MY110s (2013 edition). They’re a full size bigger than my last pair (9s instead of 8s) and I’m hoping the extra roominess will make my toes happier.

The gap in the run doesn’t have a good reason to go with it like “I was abducted by aliens and only just returned to the planet” or “I was rescuing orphans caught in a typhoon”. I was just indolent and unmotivated. This summer has been hard for running (I’ll expand on that later in a separate post).

The rush hour part was due to the number of people on the trail, quite a few more than I’ve seen recently. I chalk this up to it being a sunny Saturday and will probably stick to Sundays in the future, although as we enter Fall and the weather changes crowds of people on the trail probably won’t be a problem.

The actual run went okay for the most part. My left foot began to feel a bit sore toward the end and once more I skipped the walk back. This concerns me but it’s not affecting the runs yet. Bollocks was about the same as always, needing some time to warm up and then fine until my pace flagged. When my stride becomes more plodding the tendon definitely feels it a lot more. It doesn’t feel like it’s ever slowing me down but I do wonder. I haven’t been able to break five minutes on a 10K+ run in quite awhile and did it regularly last year so obviously something has changed.

Anyway, none of the geese chased or bit me so there’s that.

The return to humidity run

Average pace: 5:14/km
Location: Burnaby Lake (CCW)
Ran Piper Mill Trail and Conifer Loops
Distance: 10.03 km
Weather: Cloudy, a few sprinkles, humid
Temp: 22-25ºC (felt like 24-26)
Wind: nil to light
Calories burned: 725
Total distance to date: 2415 km

I was bad this week. I kept putting off runs after work due to lack of motivation and a few days of distinctly un-summerlike weather. And so it was that five days passed after my quite decent previous run.

I set out today a few minutes past noon with the temperature already climbing above the average but with the sky overcast and threatening showers. The tone was set a mere two blocks out as I started to sweat from the humid conditions.

Along the river trail I noted two changes. The tipped-over port-0-potty has been removed, likely until next summer (if it returns at all) and a crew had been by to fill the majority of potholes, no small task since there are approximately five million of them. This time they put a little more effort into the job as they used a crushed gravel mix that had a cement-like solidity. Each hole was filled to just overflowing then tamped down firmly. This compares to the previous job, where loose gravel was poured into the holes to less than full, so that any vehicle that passed over a pothole would shoot the loose gravel out from under its tires.

I started out the run trying to repeat last time with a brisk initial pace and was mostly successful, coming in at 4:39/km vs. 4:37/km five days prior. That two second difference became three on the second km. Not great and a sure sign this run would be slower but if I could keep it up for just a few more km…but the bottom fell out on the third km. Last Sunday I was at 14:21 but today I was a pokey 14:32, 11 seconds off. And I had eight km to go. Blargh.

The rest of the run was a variety show of weather–mostly clouds but occasional sun, a few sprinkles, no wind for the most part but an occasional breeze, including an especially welcome one that came just before I reached the Deer Lake Brook bridge. By this point my head and body both felt like they were starting to overheat from a combination of the rising temperature, high humidity and still air. I contemplated ending the run earlier about four times.

In the end I pushed on to the 10K mark and stopped there, walking the last km, mostly along the Avalon Trail. I knew my time would be mediocre at best and feared that adding another km would make it that much worse (it probably wouldn’t have but tell that to a heat-addled brain 10 km in).

My average pace ended up at 5:14/km, not quite the disaster of my 5:19/km pace a week and a half ago but still a letdown from last Sunday.

My next run will probably be a 5K in a few days.

The left foot behaved, though it started getting a little sore on the walk back. Bollocks* started stiff, loosened up, then started to mildly ache again for the last few km, possibly due to my sluggish pace, which seems to be harder on it. I don’t think it affected my time.

* my new official term for my right Achilles tendon until I come up with something better

The hopefully not de-motivational half-run

Average pace: 5:01/km
Location: Burnaby Lake (CCW)
Ran Piper Mill Trail and Conifer Loops
Distance: 5.5 km
Weather: Sunny, humid
Temp: 22-23ºC
Wind: light
Calories burned: 399
Total distance to date: 2394 km

I was not looking forward to today’s run after the last two dismal outings but off I went just before noon under cloudy skies. It was still humid despite not being as warm and even before leaving the river trail I had started to sweat. This did not fill me with confidence.

I started out and hit all the early points where I wanted to (the most obvious one is hitting the 2K mark before reaching the bridge over Eagle Creek near Piper Spit) but around 4 km in I was feeling tired and the motivation to continue was waning. It didn’t help that the sun had come out, which made it hotter but did nothing to alleviate the humidity.

I made a vow to keep on and do the full run if I hit the 5K mark before or as I was crossing the bridge at Still Creek, the unofficial halfway point. I trod across the bridge and my iPod continued to pipe music into my ears but the Nike announcer lady remained silent. She then announced the 5K mark about three seconds after I had crossed the bridge, presenting me with a conundrum. Since I was so close, should I muster on and see if I could improve on my miserable pace from Tuesday or pack it in, settle for at least having a decent pace now and try to follow-up again tomorrow?

Feeling a smidgen of guilt over quitting, I pressed on for another half km, through the exposed section along the athletic fields, reaching the shaded area at the east end. And it was there that I decided to bail. The rest of the run along the southern side of the lake is generally more challenging with lots of small hills, twists and several areas where you are fully exposed to the elements and I feared the worst.

In the end I managed 5.5 km and an average pace of 5:01/km. Though that’s a full 17 seconds better than Tuesday’s run, it’s only six seconds better than my pace at the 5K mark on Tuesday (5:10 vs. 5:16). Given that the back half of the run is slower, I was probably heading to an overall pace of around 5:14/km. Better than Tuesday but still pretty mediocre. So on the one hand, I feel wimpy having ended the run early, but on the other I’m glad that I get at least a minor psychological boost by finishing with a pace that at least hints at being able to get under five minutes again.

I tentatively plan on doing another run tomorrow, length to be determined.

UPDATE: It’s Sunday morning around 11 a.m. and it is actually showering. How weird. I’m undecided on whether I am willing to run in the rain or not. There’s a novelty aspect to it after such a long dry spell but at the same time it’s running in the rain which is overall kind of yucky.

The Return from Lethargy run

Average pace: 5:13/km
Location: Burnaby Lake (CCW)
Ran Piper Mill Trail and Conifer Loops
Distance: 11.02 km
Weather: Cloudy, humid
Temp: 18-19ºC
Wind: none to light
Calories burned: 798
Total distance to date: 2377 km

For reasons I can’t entirely explain I got really lazy after the last run and kept putting off the next, to the point where I’d gone the entire work week without running at all, five days in total.

Come Saturday morning I rectified this by heading out shortly after 11 a.m., weighing on whether conditions and the time-off would favor or hinder me.

Weather-wise, a low pressure system finally bumped up against the high pressure ridge and dropped the temperature down from an average of about 25ºC down to 18ºC. The cooler temperature should definitely work in my favor. Also in the plus column would be the cloudy sky, with nary a bit of sun to beat down on me. On the negative side there was no wind at all and humidity was high — 75%.

As it turned out, that humidity and still air took its toll, making the last few km of the run in particular a real slog. The first part my right Achilles tendon felt very stiff and sore as it worked out its kinks and it really didn’t start to feel okay until the last few km, when I had no energy left to run. :P

In the end I matched my previous pace exactly, coming in again at 5:13/km. I suppose holding steady under the conditions could be considered a quasi-victory of sorts.

The trail showed little sign of the few showers we’d seen after the month-long dry spell, though the work on the trail along the athletic field is now complete. The fencing is still gone (permanently?) and the freshly gravel-covered section is now at least twice as wide as it was before right up to the corner where it abruptly shrinks back to its original width. The gravel has been pressed nice and firm, so it’s already fine for running on.

I plan on taking a more normal two days off before the next run. Hopefully the conditions will be decent and the foot will be flexible enough to not give me much trouble.

It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity run

Distance: 11.29 km
Weather: Overcast, light drizzle
Temp: 19ºC
Wind: none
Calories burned: 789
Average pace: 5:10/km
Total distance to date: 901 km

Today I completed the third part of my Burnaby Lake loop trilogy after a couple of days’ rest and achieved two new milestones (or kilometerstones as we call them in Canada):

  • I officially passed 900 km on the Nike+
  • Had my longest run to date at 11.29 km

The conditions were a fair bit different for today’s run vs. that of Thursday. To wit:

  • I ran in the early afternoon (1 p.m.) instead of the evening
  • I ran on only one meal instead of three
  • There was absolutely no wind at all
  • It was extremely humid
  • The slugs had mysteriously vanished
  • I ran past a horse

The run was much harder than the previous one and at times I really felt myself laboring to continue but I pressed on and even ran an extra (but short) leg just to make sure it would be my longest run to date, if not the quickest.

I still finished the 10K portion with a second best-ever pace of 5:09/km and an overall pace of 5:10 (or 5:11 depending on which part of Nike+ you believe), so my performance was still good despite the struggle. My shins are feeling a bit tender now but I am unsure if it’s due to the intensity of the runs or if they’re getting hurt. I’ll know better tomorrow on my day off.

One of the important things here, I think, is to not run after just a single meal (breakfast). After the run my caloric intake for the day is actually negative as I burn off all the calories from breakfast and then some. This would be handy if I was trying to lose weight, but I’m not. I’ll also keep in mind the conditions at Burnaby Lake for future runs there. There was a heavy rain yesterday and today the air was thick, warm and heavy — very unappealing for a run. I sweated not unlike the proverbial pig.

Interestingly, I had a rare instance of my second km being faster than my first. No idea how that happened.

Chart (blue indicates the run was done clockwise):

km Jul 17 Jul 14 Jul 11 Jul 9 Jul 6 Jul 4 Jul 1 Jun 28 Jun 26
1 km 4:56 4:45 4:54 4:58 5:08 4:58 5:04 4:58 4:59
2 km 4:54 4:47 4:56 4:58 5:11 5:02 5:06 5:03 5:05
3 km 4:56 4:51 4:58 5:03 5:14 5:08 5:07 5:05 5:10
4 km 4:58 4:54 5:01 5:07 5:17 5:12 5:09 5:08 5:13
5 km 5:00 4:54 5:03 5:10 5:20 5:14 5:11 5:11 5:15
6 km 5:02 4:59 5:03 5:12 5:22 5:15 5:12 5:13 5:19
7 km 5:04 5:00 5:04 5:15 5:25 5:17 5:14 5:15 5:21
8 km 5:06 5:02 5:06 5:17 5:27 5:19 5:16 5:16 5:23
9 km 5:08 5:04 5:08 5:19 5:30 5:21 5:17 5:18 5:25
10 km 5:09 5:06 5:10 5:20 5:31 5:21 5:17 5:19 5:27
11 km 5:10 5:01 4:59 5:19