Well, wasn’t 2020 a bust in so many ways? For me in addition to the pandemic, I hurt my hip in February, possibly related to overdoing it in the previous months (10km/day) and had to slow right down for the rest of the year. So, I was just shy of 1000km for 2020, far far less than expected. And it’s remarkable how quickly one loses fitness and speed with disuse. However, I did reach Ottawa and completed the Ontario stretch, so that’s a milestone.
29 Feb 2020. Past Toronto
Accomplishments for February:
Most distance in a month (and a short one at that) – 260 km.
Fastest 10km – finally managed to do it in under an hour.
Long run of 16 km.
I ran 10 km most days. I think I’ll take it a little easier in March, but add some hill-climbing to build strength and prep the the next half-marathon in May.
In the virtual run, I cleared Toronto without difficulty and am going along the shore of Lake Ontario through little towns established in the mid 1800s. A lot of them look like this:
31 Jan 2020. London, Ont.
Lots of distance in January, several days pretty icy underfoot. The rest very soggy. January broke records for rain. Despite this, I upped daily runs to around 10km most of the time, and ran 29 of 31 days. So total distance for the month was 252 km, which is a personal record. Not sure now if I want to up the daily distance, or maintain 10 km for a while and work on some long runs, hills and speed to mix it up. Goal for Feb: weekly long run of 16 km, and run up Mount Doug at least once – that’s a 1.5km uphill thigh-burning slog.
In virtual-run-land, I’ve gone through some old stomping grounds of Georgetown and Waterloo en route to visit niece in London! So am able to virtual run by things I’ve actually seen and lived near.
I remember this inn as Wheeler’s General Store where the Wheelers sold everything from jawbreakers to hardware. That was before the village was an arty tourist stop.
Here’s what it looked like well before my time:
And here’s the Credit River nearby.
Bye bye 2019!
In 2019 I got back to running, seriously. My good intentions and good start in 2015 dropped a bit in 2016 and kind of went off the rails in 2017 and 2018. This was as I predicted at first – starting is easy, but I need some kind of motivation to maintain. You can clearly see how my efforts slumped over time:
However, I decided to get back to it, and did very well in 2019, with my fastest 5km and half-marathon, and totalled 1800km for the year (which is like Vancouver-Regina, or Toronto-Halifax), far exceeding my original goal of 1200km (2015 total) and did my first month exceeding 200km. Travel in Europe followed by getting sick hit my distance in the summer, but otherwise it was pretty consistent. I’ve also hit the 5000km mark since I started. That’s a few worn-out running shoes!
I was alternating a fast run, long run, intervals, some hills, and recovery runs for a while. For the past several months though I’ve been trying out a different approach – consistency. I started doing 5km daily, then every 10 days or so took a day off and then added a half km. So now I’m up to 8.5km daily on the same route, and intend to keep going to see how far feels good to do consistently. I think I had 10km in mind, but who knows. With this kind of base conditioning, I might be up for another 1/2 marathon in the spring.
In terms of the virtual run, having run across the Lakehead and through cottage country, I’m now approaching the populated and urban south-lands of Ontario – just outside Barrie, pop 153,000 where the weather on 23 Dec was hovering on the freezing mark, and unlike in Victoria, they get to skate on the lakes.
Steady going. Sudbury Ont.
In November, I tried a different approach, since I don’t have a distance race coming up to train for. I had been doing long runs, intervals, and recovery runs, but decided to see what would happen if I just gradually increased distance on the same, fairly flat route. Began doing 5km daily, then every week to 10 days bumped it up 1/2 a km, so by the end of Nov I was up to 7.5 almost every day – took a couple of days off in Nov when I was tired. I also have not been running to any set pace or heart-rate – just doing what feels good. My pace has been generally increasing along with the distance as well, with daily fluctuations. I plan to continue this gradual increase through December. My four-legged running companion is gaining stamina too, as he seems able to keep up with me OK now.
In virtual geography, I’ve now run through Sudbury. It’s a fair-sized city, with 165,000 people, with a big mining history. It used to be known for its impact on acidifying lakes and landscape (in the 1960s they used the area to to test out technology to be used on the moon), but is recognized for the impressive regreening program that it has been carrying out since the 1970s. This could be an example to the world of how to turn an environmental catastrophe around – I recommend this podcast “The Sudbury Effect: Lessons from a regreened city” The Northern Ontario city has the cleanest air of any city in the province now.
Perfect running weather. Spanish, Ont.
October has been perfect – cool, crisp, clear days for the most part; just one day of slogging through a downpour. Overall consistency has been fairly good, 23 days out of 31, and 120km total, improving over August and September.
In the virtual run world, I’m now in tiny Spanish, Ontario, population 712. Here’s a nice photo from Wikipedia. Looks like the right time of year too!
Sault Ste Marie
It’s fall colour time in Northern Ontario! Here’s what it probably looks like around now
After a poor August, I got back on the trails in September and managed 107 km, mostly short runs, getting somewhat reconditioned.
Local folks, the Ojibwe, the indigenous Anishinaabe inhabitants of the area, call this area Baawitigong, meaning “place of the rapids. French colonists referred to the rapids on the river as Les Saults de Ste. Marie. Hence, “the Soo” is really “Saint Mary’s Falls”. It’s been a busy place for 500 years. Now about 73,000 people live there.
31 Aug 2019.
Had been planning tentatively for a marathon in October, and following a training plan. However, international travel followed by weeks of a chest cold put me a couple of months behind schedule, making it not possible. It turned out to be difficult to fit in long training runs when travelling, however nice the surroundings and good the intentions. August was pretty well a write-off, with just 27km for the whole month. The plan is to re-start in September and build up the strength and endurance again.
Gothenburg, Sweden, has great running trails around the city, lots of nature.
Regarding the virtual run, I’m at Batchawana Bay in northern Ontario, and here’s a photo from the web.
Just outside Wawa, Ont. 1000 km year to date.
June 2019 has been a pretty good month for running after a week of recovery from the Oak Bay Half. I exceeded two goals: to improve my 5km time to 29:00, and run 165km (gradually adding distance back). Actually, I did a 27:30 Parkrun and a total of 172km. I was pretty happy with the Parkrun. I’ve started a very structured program (Hal Higdon intermediate 1 marathon) in the last couple of weeks, to increase distance, speed, and endurance, and I can already see that it’s going to be a challenge. I get a lot of encouragement from the Runners Over 50 facebook group – if they can do it, I probably can too. They also have a lot of useful information and advice.
July goals: total distance of 210km, long run of 23km (that will be a record for me), and somehow keep the whole schedule going through an extremely busy three week family trip in Sweden and Germany.
Virtual run is just on the outskirts of Wawa, Ontario. “Little Wawa” as I remember the weather forecasters calling it in my youth. Population 3000. It has a great looking waterfall. The countryside around (on the highway I am virtually running) is the typical endless spruce forest. Wikipedia informs me that “This area was first developed for fur trading. In the late 19th century, both gold and iron ore were found and mined, leading to the region’s rise as the steel industry developed in Sault Ste Marie” (my next stop or at least pass-through).
In May 2019, I did 160km, which was less than the expected 200km, but two things happened. First was overtraining, which left me exhausted and suffering sore arches. So I had to ease up for a few weeks, also to taper for the Oak Bay Half Marathon on May 26, and to recover from the race for a few days. I was so sore.
The Oak Bay half went great – I beat my previous time by about a minute (around 2:17), and was able to keep a good pace throughout. I finished 57th out 62 in my age group, and the fastest guy was about an hour quicker. Whatever, it’s my race against me. Most importantly, unlike the last one (3 years ago) I did not hate the last 7km. Or any of it. No black toes this time. I was super sore with DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) for 2 or 3 days afterward though.
For June I plan to get back into the regular training with hills, intervals, tempo runs and some 10-15km longer runs and consider taking a day off here and there. I have run every day for the past 104 days, at least a little bit. I hope to beat my previous ParkRun time, if I can get up early enough on a Saturday. Why does it have to be at 8:00?
Regarding the virtual run, I’m at Marathon Ontario (pop 3500 or so), which must be some sort of sign. Judging from the town website, it has some beautiful hiking, as well as beaches, fishing etc, on Lake Superior. People there make paper or mine for gold.