Archive for September, 2010

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Next Up, Victoria Marathon

The Finish is Near

Victoria Marathon Finish 2009

They say you should write about what you know.  Well, one of the things I sort of think I know is the Good Life Fitness Victoria Marathon.  Since 2000 this will be my 4th running of this event.  However, I have also done the half marathon four times in that same period.  So, it is kind of a Fall tradition to be in Victoria on Thanksgiving weekend and to run either the Full or Half Marathon.  Seems to be a pattern there.  Another pattern is that it has become a family tradition with one or both of our daughters running as well – this year it is all three of us.

Also, a good many of the original contributors to Running in the Zone have a direct or pretty close association with the event, including Rob Reid, Steve King and Evan Fagan.  It was at Victoria that the book was launched in 2005, when more than half of the contributors were present to meet fellow runners and participate in one of the three events on offer: Full Marathon, Half Marathon and 8K.  Over the years, five of those contributors have grabbed a total of 12 age class records: Herb Phillips, Diane Palmason, Maurice Tarrant, Jack Miller and Bob Dolphin.  Herb, Bob and Maurice are returning this year for another shot.  The 70-74 marathon men need to watch out as Herb just joined their ranks.  And then there is Bob.  It is hard to keep an accurate account on his marathon total – it changes so regularly, but it seems that it should be at least #472 and probably not more than 480!  Five Hundred is looking pretty good now, ’cause Bob will just be 81 a few days prior to Victoria.

At time of writing, events were filling fast with the Half almost at its registration cap.  You won’t find too many events as well organized and the weekend offers an Expo, speakers, pasta dinner, course tours and all the things you might expect.  Behind Rob Reid is a hard working team that goes with little rest leading up to and over that weekend.  With the early start for marathon walkers, you will find many of them on the streets near the BC Legislature, late into the night getting everything ready for the morning.

A big feature of the race is co-editor, Steve King who spends a long day at the microphone welcoming runners, walkers and wheelchair athletes to the finish in each of the events.  It is a thrill for most people when they hear him call their name and give congratulations, and if there is time, maybe a surprising amount of personal history – “This is Mary Smith’s first marathon and she has done a great job clearly beating her predicted finishing time – Well Done, Mary!”  (Or something like that.)  Steve knows everything about the elite runners and leaves little doubt about the event winners as they finish, but just as importantly, Steve never leaves the microphone until the final competitor crosses the line.  I guess that is simply because he knows his welcome message is of far greater importance to that finisher than it is to the winner.

So, that is a sample of what to expect in Victoria on race weekend.  Oh, and a route that will rival any for beauty.  I will be out on the marathon course again, searching for minutes and seconds I think I may have lost there last year.  I don’t expect to be winning anything more than the victory of a personal accomplishment, just like so many of my fellow competitors.

If you have been waiting for some reason, maybe it is time to decide and sign yourself up for a great experience.  If it is for the Half Marathon, my advice is Do It Now.  I just checked and there seem to be not much more than 100 slots remaining.

See you at the finish!

Blame it on Moe “The Eagle”


Trail running, that is.  If  you check out the previously posted Table of Contents for Running in the Zone, you will see a piece by Moe Beaulieu, entitled “Persistence or Non-Existence”.  It is an unabashed account of why you should throw away your street racing flats, get a good sturdy pair of trail shoes and really get to understand what running is all about.

It took me quite a while to buy into this.  In fact, I can’t say that it was a total buy-in even at that.  First, I did not discard the racing flats.  Of course I’ve never considered myself fast enough to need a pair of those anyway.  I did buy a pair of trail shoes though, and a nifty hydration pack.  Then, for me, I did the unthinkable.  I signed up for my first solo trail race (27km).  I have done some trail relay legs at STORMY (Squamish), but the longest of those was just 10km.

Mt Frosty From Lightning Lake

In the spirit of “full disclosure” I have to say that had it not been the Frosty Mountain Trail Race, this post would never have been made.  (Because I would still have not done my first solo trail race.)  I imagine we all have special places in our personal history and Mount Frosty in Manning Park, BC is one of mine.

I had hiked it several times using various routes.  The first time was some 46 years back and in the company of a couple of crazy friends, we just bush-whacked our way up to the very peak, where I assume my name remains safely in a coffee tin wedged under a stone cairn built by earlier hikers.  Since then I have been up and down a couple of times from Lightning Lake and once up that way and then down over what is known as “Windy Joe”.  

The Frosty Mountain Trail Race is relatively new and still developing.  At present it consists of a 50K ultra, a 27K “endurance” event and a 13K around the lakes trail.

As I have yet to be convinced that I need to run anything longer than a marathon, especially when it involves running up and over mountains, I don’t have a lot to say about the 50K.  And, because I am something close to a trail “virgin” the reader may want to consider my commentary in context.

I love Frosty and from the first time they announced the event, I wanted to do it, but until this year it wasn’t possible.  I so love this area that I had been telling my friend and former trainer (former, because we recently moved), that she just had to get up there and hike the mountain.  Anjulie Latta is both a runner and avid hiker, so it seemed pretty natural that she should take on this challenge.  She thought so too, and we agreed to do this together as a first solo trail race. 

The organizer of this event is Gottfried Grosser and I will say that if you see his name attached to a trail race, you can be pretty sure no effort has been spared to make it a top quality event.

I don’t intend to give a blow by blow description start to finish but will try to give a first-timer’s impression of trail running.

I am told Frosty is relatively non-technical.  The worst of it is right at the top where you must climb up through craggy rock and then down again through similar terrain.  Although care must be taken, it seemed the down side was less challenging than the up.  Altitude gain is about 3800 ft.

The first thing a newby has to learn is that trails are different.  As with any race, the object of the exercise is to get from Point A to Point B as quickly as you can.  As a road racer, the term “run” as associated with a race suggested to me that I should do just that, run.  With trails, you run as much as you can, but sometimes you just can’t.  Logically that isn’t hard to understand, but if your head is telling you, “this is a race and I should be running”, you can get yourself in trouble mentally and physically, and pretty fast. 

After my very first STORMY Relay I remember being so glad that I got shifted at the last minute to Leg #1.  Why?   The first part runs along streets or a wide and relatively flat trail.  So, run we did.  Then, with about 3-4km to go the route dodges into the woods and all the easy, flat, fast stuff comes to an abrupt halt.  Had it not been Leg #1 and lots of other runners around, I would have probably thought I was supposed to find some way to actually run several almost straight up or straight down segments.  But, right there in front of me people started walking and clambering and scrambling.  Not a runner in sight.  That was when I understood, on trails “Run” is just a figure of speech. 

At Frosty I think I learned a lot about the mentality of trail racing.  In a lot of ways it is no different than road racing.  You have to keep going when the challenges begin to hit you, particularly as the distance starts to get up there.  And, unless you have done an event a number of times there is a certain “mystery” to the route and therefore uncertainty.  This was put into perfect context by my young running partner who, never having seen Frosty before, wondered aloud (and I have since concluded, rhetorically), “does this bleeping trail ever stop going up?”  I soon realized that when such questions are asked, it is probably best not to try to respond logically, or at all.  Having hiked Frosty several times, I felt I had some understanding of the route, but we were going up over Windy Joe and I had only come down that way.  I also realized that when I had done that route some 21 years earlier, we had taken a not recommended route down to a little lake on the south side of the peak, then cut cross-slope to pick up the Windy Joe trail well below the top.  When Anjulie expressed a heartfelt opinion that I had lied about what we should expect, particularly regarding distance and severity of incline, it seemed pointless to suggest that I had mis-spoken more than lied.  The lesson here, other than just keep your mouth shut?  If you haven’t been somewhere in over 20 years don’t tell yourself or anyone else that you know what is coming. 

It is also important to define what you are actually doing.  For both of us this was a first solo trail race and over a spectacular route.  We agreed before we even started that it was to be an experience as much as a competitive event, and that we would do it in tandem.  And, to be fair, despite my attempts at humor at Ms Latta’s expense, we even agreed we would not despair should we be last, as that was an important job that somebody has to do in every race.  As it turned out, we were not last.  Close though!

Another observation from this race and my three times at STORMY is that unless you want to draw attention to yourself as the newby you are, color coordinated running outfits may not be the best choice!  Trail runners are nothing if not practical in their choice of attire.  Functional is the order of the day; coordination would be a matter of coincidence rather than planning, as near as I can see.  That said, we looked good!  If necessary, it would make up for possibly being last.

Newbies on the Top

Another thing I learned was that if you are going to take a GPS device like a Garmin to record your effort, DO remember to turn off the “Auto-Pause” feature that is so helpful when running city streets.  I knew the GPS would give us a nifty map of what we had done, including elevation profiles and pace (“pace” being just for amusement).  Nearing the pinnacle of our route I wanted to consider what our finish might be, given that we would make good time on the downward section.  Surprisingly, the display hadn’t changed since the last time I looked.  That was confusing.  It wasn’t loss of power.  I thought it might be loss of satellite coverage but that seemed impossible, out in the open as we were.  I  left it running, even though it seemed to be doing nothing.  Finally, we gained the high point and stopped for a breather, a snack and some pictures, then started to pick our way down.  I looked at the display – no change.   I wondered if I could have stopped it and forgotten (altitude, you know) to restart. I poked a couple of buttons and saw the “auto-paused” message flash on the screen.  A few moments later we were on even enough ground to actually start moving forward and lo and behold, the device started recording distance and time!  Aaaargh!  We had been moving forward so little that it concluded we were stopped.  AUTOPAUSE – activate.  We were making decent verticle ascent and descent, but that didn’t impress the sensors in my Garmin.  Had I not had the pause function activated, slow as it might have been, our forward progress would have been tracked.  Lesson learned.

I have to say I have a lot of friends who have become trail runners and love it.  I guess Moe is not entirely to blame for bumping me off the fence and into the woods.  I have had great support and advice from these friends re trail running and must thank all of them for helping me prepare.

As mentioned earlier, as we started the down, the weather became quite nice

All downhill from here
Can’t be far to the Finish now

 and although tired and a bit sore, running was pretty pleasant.  This lasted for about 250 metres somewhere around 20km into the run, when having lost concentration, I caught my toe on a root and crashed back to reality and the ground.    I have learned after many such falls (caused usually, but not this time, by my well documented wonky left leg) to drop my shoulder and roll, which tends to minimize serious injury.  Thankfully, there was a bit of dirt and a couple of scrapes but no real injury.  Anjulie may have been more worried than I was, but it may have been partly because she thought she might have to pack me the rest of the way down!  As an aside, I must say that I began seeing Anjulie in her capacity as a trainer, to correct the problems with my less functional leg, (that leg being my primary reason to avoid trails and tripping hazards).  Were it not for her expert assistance I wouldn’t be running anything by now, let alone over a mountain!  My contribution to her has been introducing her to new challenges and “coaching” her about running longer distances.  She calls me her “Running Dad”, so humor aside I guess she was truly concerned for my well-being.  Up I got and on we went. 

Apparently, no longer worried about my health, it was only a bit later that my words were again brought back to me as ‘lies, filthy lies’ – specifically, my pre-race declaration of how “user friendly” the downhill part of this trail was.  I truly believed that,  but over the 20 years since I was last on those trails many feet and years of weather seem to have exposed a lot of roots and rocks and to narrow the trail.  It is not awful, but not how I remember either. 

Wild-life is a trail running reality.  Although I tend to prefer deer and bunnies, it was not lost on either of us that there were quite a few signs around saying: “Caution, Bears Sighted in Area”.  Still, there is strength in numbers and almost a hundred people huffing and puffing through the woods aren’t likely to “surprise” too many creatures.  However, challenging trail races have a tendency to “thin out” a crowd.  As we bounded down the mountain toward the finish it was just the two of us.  We knew there was one person a bit ahead and hoped there were a few behind, but nobody was actually within view.  So, with the exception of the odd comment as noted, we were pretty quiet and except for each other, alone.  Now running at a goodly pace (OK, goodly in our minds), it was startling to see this large black furry beast emerge on the trail not 50 metres ahead, and us “closing fast”.  Anulie was in the lead but I was close behind.  We saw the beast at the same moment and both thought: “BEAR!!!!!!!”  It wasn’t.  It was probably (didn’t stop to check pedigrees) a large Newfie dog.  He was very friendly and happily hiking just ahead of his human (who we had not yet seen).  But, it could have been the real McCoy.  Note to self: this isn’t a neighbourhood park. 

As you near Lightning Lake, the forest thickens and it is hard to know just where you are.  Suddenly, just ahead we could see the flat area at the end of the lake and the nearby FINISH.  That was where my wife, Judi, ever the

Dan and Judi Post Frosty
Dan and Judi Post Frosty

willing volunteer was working at an aid station meant much more for those doing the 50km run than for us just about to finish our 27km stint.  We both stopped long enough to give her a big hug and headed for the finish. 

Anjulie and I had spoken of finishing right together but I knew in my heart that my “Running Daughter” had waited for me on this run and deserved to at least cross in front of me.  That seemed a pure and unselfish thought until she quite correctly pointed out: “Oh yeah!  That will look great.  Can’t even beat some guy old enough to be her father, by more than a few steps (I’m actually older than her father)!  Oh no!  We are finishing right together, just like we agreed.”  And we did; hand in hand – arms raised in our own personal triumph of just having done this thing.  It was a fitting end to a great day.

Post Script: Runners are generally supportive of each other, but because you are so “out there” much of the time on the trails, you must look out for each other even more.  When push comes to shove, the race takes second, maybe last place.  While Anjulie and I had indeed looked out for one another (smart-alec remarks notwithstanding), there was an unfortunate and very pointed example of how this mutual care and concern really works.

Unknown to us until we finished, an experienced trail running friend had slipped and was badly cut near the top of the “Frosty section” of the 50km race.  Several people just gave up their race times to help him back to the Start/Finish area from where he was taken for medical attention (17 stitches worth).  On the trails you count on your fellow participants and it is clearly a great and wonderful part of this community of athletes.

Looking Forward, Looking Back


Just a day or so ago I bit the bullet and signed up for the Goodlife Fitness Victoria Marathon.  Why is that news?  Well it is the tenth anniversary of another Victoria Marathon I did, and that marathon was, to me, a bit of a personal miracle.  I will let the following post tell the story.  I wrote it shortly after running that marathon.

I debated whether or not to publish it here, but we do put this blog out to the “seasoned” athletes among us and I am pretty sure I am not alone when it comes to the kind of challenge described.  I actually laughed at some of the things I said at the time, such as “an old guy of 55”.  Seems so young now!  Everything is relative I guess. 

There is another significance to it as well.  Although co-editor, Steve King, and I had known each other from times well before the events of the following story, we had not seen each other in years (as I lived a long way away from 1990 and on).  It was at this event, which Steve announced in his remarkable and unmistakable way, that we reconnected.  And, truth be told, may well have been the beginnings and stirrings of what became Running in the Zone – both the book and now the blog!  Finally, it was at the Victoria Marathon in 2005 that we launched the book.  The more I think of it and in light of the foregoing, I suppose the question of why this is news, is pretty easy to answer!

So here it is, exactly as I wrote it at the time:


I floated in a warm darkness until a sharp pain in my lower back forced me into awareness.  A female voice asked if I was in pain. I must have said yes. I felt a small prick in my upper thigh and heard the voice say, “You can have as much of this as you need.”  The dark closed in again.  I had been waiting for months to have this back surgery done and even as the mist of the anesthetic was still swirling in my head, I knew things felt better.  Not great, yet, but better.

Running had been an important part of my life for years.  I was no Olympian, just a 45 year old guy with an athletic background and a love of distance running.  When my back went I had achieved performances of which I was personally proud, regularly setting new PR’s for everything from 5K’s to marathons.  I wasn’t even the fastest guy in my age group, but since I was only running against me, I “won” almost every time.  Sometime in 1989 my back began to hurt and finally about October the disk ruptured. May, 1990 I went “under the knife”.  That is where my story begins – in a hospital bed in North Vancouver, B.C.

One of my most cherished accomplishments was running the 1988 Vancouver Marathon.  I had trained hard, run well (3:25) and finished right on schedule according to my own training and game plan.  I had seldom felt so good about anything.  I wanted that feeling again.  So, there in the hospital, I decided I would run another marathon.  When, where and how fast didn’t matter.

Atop a cliff in Victoria, on New Year’s Eve, greeting the Millennium with my wife and our good friends of 35 years, I resolved this would be the year I did my next marathon.  Ironically, there was more to the moment than I realized.  Although I was thinking of an encore at the Vancouver Marathon it turned out to be the Royal Victoria.  That course passes a few meters from where we were standing in the chilling cold of a December gale blowing off the Straights of Juan de Fuca. 

Our daughter, Janna, decided to do Victoria with me.  The whole family arranged to be there including my father-in-law from Ottawa and our older daughter from Toronto.  Our son was already studying in Victoria. Having our own cheering section was a key part of the whole experience.  We were there and we were really going to do it!

Race morning the anticipation grew as we awaited the start.  Then, the wheelchair athletes were gone.  I hugged Janna.  The gun went!  We were off!  Just 42.2 km to go! 

More accurately, the gun went and we stood there.  With 2700 people it takes a little time to get started.  At 1 km we were over a minute behind my projected time, but into a good stride, making everything up by 10km.  That was my first mistake.  At 5 km our cheering section and “official” photographers were there to speed us on, video running, shutters clicking! How different from my solitary training runs!

The weather was perfect.  At half way I was well ahead of schedule, even with an unplanned potty stop. I should mention that having gotten into the thrill of it, my goal had somehow gone from just finishing to doing 4 hours or less.  By 35 km, the wheels were coming off my wagon.  Actually, they didn’t come off; they seized up.  Lactic acid was building up rapidly.  Walking became essential.  I ran the flats and down-hills, saving brisk walking for the up-hills.  I focused on the few meters in front of me. The spectators cheered us on.  Quitting wasn’t a consideration.

RVM Finish 2000

A few steps to go - RVM 2000

Two kilometers – a mile- a kilometer!  I had done it!  Nothing would stop me now!  Suddenly, the lactic acid was gone.  I picked up my pace.  200 meters!  I kept my eyes glued on the finish line.  100 meters!  My time was not going to be under 4 hours, but it wasn’t so bad for an old guy of 55 with a wonky back.  As I crossed the line I remembered: “run and smile for the camera”.  Someone put a finisher’s medal around my neck.  Pride swelled over me, followed by an instant realization that the lactic acid in my legs hadn’t gone anywhere.  I was walking now.  There was no further need to run.  I had just finished the marathon I promised myself in a hospital bed 10 years before.

My wife was there with hugs and kisses.  Janna had broken 4 hours with a time of 3:58:53.  I was as happy for her as I was for myself.  Soon our other kids, our friends and my father-in-law joined us.

Then came one of the most amazing things of the whole marathon: Our older daughter said she was so inspired she wanted to do one too!  Know what?  Victoria couldn’t have been all that hard, because as I lay prostrate on the lawn of the B.C. Legislature, 20 minutes after finishing, trying to stretch the stiffness out of my legs, I heard myself say, “Sure, when?”

[Ed Note: She (Danielle) did her marathon about a year later in Toronto, but without me as I was temporarily living pretty much on the other side of the world.

And, for some years now Victoria, half or full marathons have become a family event with at least two of the three of Danielle, Janna and me participating.  2010 will see both of them doing the Half and me the Full, and once again the cheer team of wife, Judi and son Cam, will be there to encourage us and bring us home to the finish.  I include this because I am very proud of it, but also because it fits with one of the “goals” discussed in a recent post – making a family event out of something like this race weekend.]

Are You Ready to Go Sub-2:00:00?


I’ve done it lots of times.  Of course I was running the Half Marathon, not the “full Monty”.  But, you knew the question had to come up when the standard dropped below 2:04 for the marathon.

I guess that nobody reading this blog is in that league, but maybe there is something to learn for everyone.  Technique is technique.  That is the thrust of the link below.  We all want to get to that next level or some personal goal we have established.  I know that enjoyment of running is NOT linked to competitiveness for everyone, but it is for some, maybe a lot of us, even if the competition is just with our last best time.

At RITZ the Blog we do not endorse things like this video, but we do offer them up for readers to consider.  Steve says we need to share this with you!  Are you ready for a new PB?  Maybe this is the way to achieve it.

Sub 2 Hour Marathon on YouTube

Sub-2:00?  That reminds me of a quote from Sir Roger Bannister upon breaking the four minute mile, and which we used to open “The Competition Zone” in Running in the Zone.  Here is what he said:

“Doctors and scientists said that breaking the four-minute mile was impossible, that one would die in the attempt.  Thus, when I got up from the track after collapsing at the finish line, I figured I was dead.” 

Is it possible to go under two hours?  I don’t know, but it is going to be fun watching to see.

RITZ Contributor Sites and Blogs


Some Running in the Zone: A Handbook for Seasoned Athletes original contributors maintain their own online presences through web sites and blogs.  Here are some of the links where you can find them.

Bart Yasso 

Joe Henderson

Roger Robinson

Steve King

Steve King Event Services

Many others are associated with something where they are heavily involved such as a specific race or commercial venture.  And, most of our contributors can be found as the subject of various news articles by just doing a basic web search.  For now, I have not included those as links preferring to list the sites where you can interact directly with each person.  I am going to keep checking with our RITZ folk until I am sure I have everyone listed here, complete with handy-dandy direct link.

Goal Setting for Personal Reward


When I first drafted this article I included a number of personal examples for the purpose of illustration.  I changed my mind and decided to keep it “short and sweet” and hope we can get into a discussion of these ideas for running goals.

Not everyone needs goals for running (except maybe starting and finishing) and a goal need have nothing to do with winning.  That said, a lot of us do seem to need/like/enjoy goals and benefit from them.  We just seem more motivated when there is something to achieve even if it is just a personal intent.  Not surprisingly, the first goal that may pop to mind is winning something or at least realizing a new Personal Best. 

Here are some expanded ideas on what goal setting can be, beyond wins and PB’s.  For the ‘Seasoned’ athlete these are particularly applicable, but they can apply to anyone.

A Personal Best.  OK, I started it, so let’s get this one out of the way.  This one is pretty obvious and always attractive to the competitive minded.  A PB is just that, the best you have ever done.  Period.

However, there is a point beyond which, regardless of your skill level, you may not reasonably expect to see unqualified PB’s.   That is when some of us become satisfied with age division wins and/or with the “qualified PB”. 

What is a qualified PB?  Well, it could be a recent, age graded or age division best. 

When you run over a long period of time, you may not always be competing and there could be a significant break such that recent results can’t be directly compared to what you did before.  How do you compare under such circumstances?  You may be running “better” as a 50 year-old than you were in your 30’s.

I suppose you could recognize your very best times as PR’s (Personal Records) and other remarkable performances as qualified PB’s, based on whatever criteria seem appropriate. 

Age Grading has already been a topic of this blog, but briefly, there are well accepted models of age adjusted performance that allow any runner to compare performances over time. With this tool you can compare your time today to your time 10 years ago, or compare your percentage performance against your world age standard.  Are you improving your percentage? Is there a PB kind of performance shown in such results?

In terms of Goal Setting, you can set out to improve your age adjusted time or % Performance.  Many, including me, find this a satisfying way of fighting the clock or calendar and from time to time scoring up a very personal “win”. 

The Running Clinic as a Goal

Whether you are setting out for your very first 5k or to do an event like the Vancouver Sun Run, or your first marathon, it is often wise and very helpful to join a clinic that will help you prepare.  Joining and completing such a clinic which may be offered by community groups, running clubs or running stores, becomes a goal in itself.  Some may do the training clinic just to get ready while others may do so to improve times or achieve a particular result.  Regardless, the clinic is a Goal in and of itself, pure and simple.  Your race is another goal.

Now, let us look at some other goals, maybe not quite so performance based.

New Distance or Event Type.

This one is pretty obvious.  If you have never done a 10K, Half Marathon, Marathon, Ultra, Relay, Team Event, Trail Race or Triathlon – there is your goal.  JUST DO IT! Time doesn’t matter. 

A great thing about a new event is you are assured a PB!  Bonus!  (Not that we care!)  My current running club has lately become a hotbed of trail and ultra runners.  I am about to join them on the trails for my first solo trail race.  New PB coming up!

Unique Events or Destination Events

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder so this is pretty much up to you.  Want to marathon in Maui?  OK.  (There are actually a couple.  But take it from me, unless you are fast enough to finish early, it is going to get hot when the sun comes up!)  This is the “Destination Marathon” type of goal.  Obviously, it doesn’t have to be a marathon – any (running) excuse will do.  For links to these kinds of races and some of the big ones listed below try Marathon Guide (for marathons and halfs) or similar sites such as Run the Planet (for a range of distances).

What about a series of events over a period of time?  Nobody is saying you have to run them at any particular pace, the goal is to do X events in Y time. Or, what about one in every State of the US, or Province of Canada? 

A great goal is to run one or more of the big marathons of the world, London, New York, Rome, Paris, Berlin, Chicago.  Don’t forget Boston.  Of course, there is the little matter of qualifying, which is naturally a goal in itself.

If BIG is your thrill, then what about events like the Vancouver Sun Run (Vancouver, BC), the Blooms Day Run (Spokane, WA) or the Peachtree Road Race 10K (Atlanta, GA)?  All of these races boast over 50,000 entrants.  For many, just doing the event is the goal and the achievement.

Most areas have running series.  You could compete within the series for your best placing or vow to do ALL the races, or both.

What about a really different experience, say the Marathon du Medoc in France?  This is one rolling party with wine stations in place of water (I’m told they DO have water, if you insist) and paté instead of gels!  People wear crazy costumes and have a wonderful time.  Now there is a goal for you!  Of course, the question when it comes to Medoc is how to train?  You will run 26.2 miles and drink wine, eat pate, cheeses and I am told, raw oysters, and finish it all in 6:30 if you want official recognition for your effort!  Do you train by running or by eating and drinking?  

Here is a goal that doesn’t involve a marathon, and different too.  How about running a race in the style of the ancient Olympians?  Huh?  Naked – au naturel!  Not everyone’s cup of tea I will admit, but both yours truly and Bart Yasso, one of the RITZ contributors and “Chief Running Officer” for Runners World, have done it.  In Bart’s case it is a published fact – he tells the story in his book, “My Life on the Run”.  

I have a personal goal to run in every country I visit.  You could say race, but sometimes if you aren’t there long, it is hard to find a race that works.  I like to travel and have had the good fortune to be able to do so.  I am up to 19-20 countries in North America, Europe, Asia and Australia where I have run and three where I have raced (Canada, USA and Belgium).  Gotta work on that racing stat!     

Giving Back and Contributing to the Sport.

This goal has many applications as described by a couple of the RITZ contributors in the book.  You can volunteer to work on events or become an official in a running organization.  You can step up as a leader in your running club or local sport association.  Take on being a clinic leader to help others achieve their own goals. You could set your sights on getting certified as a course measurer. 

Little more needs to be said about contributing, not because the concept of goals in this realm isn’t important, but rather because it is clear that the potentials are pretty limitless.

A Few Less Traditional, But Still Important Goals

It is easy to get caught up in the “Boston Qualifier” kind of goal, but keeping running fun is even more important in my opinion.  Keeping it a happy and healthy part of your life is a goal we can all strive for and be pleased to achieve.

As one of those still trying for the elusive (well, for some of us) Boston Qualifier, I am also looking ahead to my personal running goals and possible changes.  As much as I really want to run Boston, even more I want to keep running for as long as I possibly can and to enjoy it at a fundamental level.  I only race every so often. I run all the time.  The former is fun, but for me the latter is essential.  So, if and when it comes to it, I will stop racing in order to keep running. 

What about running with your kids or parent?  I’ve had the pleasure of running with all three of our kids.  Quite by accident, I ran a half marathon with our oldest daughter when I was twice her age (28 and 56 – and it was actually on her birthday).  A little less by accident, I also ran a half with our next daughter when I was 62 and she was 31.  Unfortunately for our son (or maybe for me), that now leaves him facing the “Lad and Dad Half Marathon Challenge” when he is 33 and I am 66.  He says he will do it.  Hopefully, in just over a year from now, we can make that happen!  Does anybody else care?  Not likely, but this is a personal goal and the whole thing is up to you and whoever else is involved.

What about a family relay team for an event like Hood to Coast? 

Goals keep us going.  It really doesn’t much matter what your goal is as long as it means something to you.  So, go ahead and pick something that appeals to you or that may be personally challenging and GO FOR IT!

Running Resource Links


Found here are links to sites that can benefit most runners looking for information on running in general or for specific events in specific areas.  We intend to continue to add to the list over time and welcome suggestions.  We will continue to stress links specific to the Seasoned Athlete but will not be restricting ourselves to that kind of site.  We are not opposed to sites that may be commercial in nature, but have no intention of creating links to sites that do not offer a general benefit to readers.  As we have no control over the content of any of these sites we offer the links only as an aid and  cannot endorse any content, or the continuing availability of the link.

We intend to try to keep this as simple as possible, so unlike some of the events we have discussed, there will be virtually no explanation of the sites which we are listing.  Hopefully all the information you need will be in the link title.  Also, some sites offer more than one feature or resource (for example, BC Athletics offers an extensive list of events in BC), but we want to keep the list short and will not use multiple entries. 


Age Grading Calculator

Friendfit (formerly “”)

Map My Run


World Masters Athletics


BC Athletics

BC Athletics Blog

Sport Med BC

International Event Listings and Resources

Marathon Guide

Cool Running

Run the Planet

Age Grading Tool


For “Seasoned” athletes age grading is a means to compare current results with past results and give context to performances over time.  There are a few of these available, but the one I personally use is the model developed by Howard Grubb, the “WMA age grading Caculator – 2006“.  I won’t get into the technology, as that is well covered elsewhere, including at this link.  I will address the more general question of why you would consider age grading at all.

After many years and much data, we have progressed from static tables where you would find your closest approximation, to “calculators”.  The model is seamless.  You can enter your age as a part year and still get an age graded equivalent time and percentage performance.  Strictly speaking, that isn’t the way most races do it – they use “age on race day” in whole years.  However, for personal estimation of progress against your own goals, I believe that if you wish to enter your age as 65.5 or 48.3 then go right ahead.  The same is true for unusual distances, like relay legs which never seem to be exact race distances like 5K, 10K etc.  The calculator doesn’t care.  Put in exact age and distance and you will get your result.

I use the logic that I might run one race right after my birthday, and another just before my next.  Using “age on day of race” your age is the same, yet you may be almost a year older.  In your younger years, it makes little difference, but as you start hitting the 60’s, well…..  I sometimes tell my friends that after about sixty, you start aging in “dog years”!  Well, it seems that way.

It is no secret that as we age, raw times begin to fade.  At first it is subtle, but eventually, unless you switch to an entirely new event, the PB becomes a thing of the past.  For some, that is an issue and a concern.  That was one of the reasons we first wrote “Running in the Zone”.  Most of us aren’t, and never were, super athletes, so running has to be fun and enjoyable.  For competitive types, I suppose that is why they invented age divisions.  You may not be able to win the race, but you can win your division.  But, even that doesn’t much help most runners.

Age grading allows you to compare your performance with your younger self and earlier performances.  Done properly, you should apply the age grading factor to both events, assuming that the earlier/younger result came after you were about 35.  Prior to that, age grading has little or no impact.

There are two grading factors to consider.  The first and most obvious is the adjusted time.  For example, let’s say you are 50 and have just run a 3:45 marathon.  Gender is important too.  You have to enter that fact into the calculator, so we will say the mythical marathoner is male.  And, for the sake of simplicity, we’ll say he ran the marathon to celebrate his birthday as he turned the big Five-O.  The adjusted time is 3:21:32.   Well, that is nice, but how does he use it to monitor progress?

Our boy likes these “birthday challenges”.  It turns out he also ran a marathon on his 40th birthday, just to celebrate and see.  Naturally, he was a bit quicker over the course (fortunately, the same one, and a similar weather day too).  He recorded a time of 3:26:30.  Clearly, those 10 years took their toll (18:30 worth).  Or did they?  When you age grade his result for his 40th Birthday Marathon, the adjusted time turns out to be……..wait for it………. 3:21:31!  In other words, in his competition with the calendar and the clock, age grading shows he held his own for those 10 years.  Pretty good birthday present, eh?

OK, I fudged the numbers to get the result.  I could just as easily have given him a time of 3:42 on his 50th and then age-grading would have shown 3:18:52.  Nice!  Not only that, but it really happens.  These times are far from unusual.

Those who have run races with Age Graded results will probably not recognize this model, but rather the “Percent Performance” format used by most events.  This is simply a comparative result against the world age standard.  You can also compare those year to year.  In my example this value comes out the same at 61.98%.  That is not a given, as it is totally dependent upon the world standard for the age.  For this specific example, the world standard for age 40 is 2:08:00, while for age 50 is 2:19:50.

Percent Performance gives the competitive runner a way to compare to others within an event, and again, with his or her own historical record.  As a personal example, I have struggled with some physical limitations having to do with a 20 year-old injury to my back and have recently taken aggressive steps to correct some related issues.  It pleases me greatly to note that between 2007 and 2010, my yearly best performances from 5K to marathon have slowly improved from an average of about 58% to about 62%.  I’m not getting older, I’m getting better!

These are far from stellar performances in the greater scheme of things, but that is not the point.  This tells me how I am doing relative to my own efforts and my personal limitations.  For most people that is what counts.  Without age grading, I would be faced with more than an hour’s difference between my best and latest marathons.  Over some twenty-two years that is not surprising but it is a lot of time and without the AG tool, I would have no way to objectively compare.

So, if you aren’t an absolute purist, and aren’t already into age-grading, give it a consideration.  If you aren’t competitive in spirit, then you don’t need this, don’t belong here (in this article), and probably stopped reading long ago.  For everyone else, give it a try and enjoy a new perspective on your running!

Running in the Zone Table of Contents


This blog is based on the book, Running in the Zone: A Handbook for Seasoned Athletes and we regularly mention contributors to the book.  However, if you don’t already have a copy, well, you might not know a) WHO all these contributors are and b) WHAT they actually contributed!  So, here is a look at the actual Table of Contents and what our original group of contributors thought they should share.






INTRODUCTION – Dan Cumming and Steve King

Running in the Zone a poem by Steve King



The Seasoned Runner as Hero                            Roger Robinson



Inspiration and Determination – A First Hand Account

of the Terry Fox Story                                             Doug Alward

Will Power Can Make Things Happen                    Wally Hild

The Ancient Marathoner (Jack Foster)                    Joe Henderson

Trying Harder (Emil Zatopek)                                 Richard Benyo

Running: Reflections and Revelations                    Laurelee Welder

To Run or Jog                                                         Neville Flanagan



Persistence or Non-Existence                                  Moe Beaulieu           

A Friend for Life                                                     Jane Ballantyne

Goal Setting and Adjusting Expectations                Bob Dolphin



Putting Your Heart and Soul Into Running for the

Most Mileage Possible                                            Rob Reid

Time and Knowledge: The Experienced

Athlete’s Gift to the Community                           Evan Fagan



Meditation for Runners                                           Dan Cumming

Running for FUN in Retirement

(Fitness/Understanding/Nutrition)                         Maurice Tarrant

Age Group Athletes and the Search

for Fitness, Enjoyment and Better Health               Lorne Smith



Competing at the Top                                             Paula Fudge

A Question of Retiring at 65                                   Herb Phillips

The Competitive 50+ Runner:

Setting Goals, Training and Racing                        Jack Miller

How to be a Faster Master                                     Bart Yasso

Aging Slower Than Your Competition                     Earl Fee



Attitude and Energy                                               Steve King

Motivation: You’re in Charge                                  Lynn Kanuka

Back on the Wagon                                                Don Kardong

Being the Best Runner You Can Be

at Your Present Age                                                Diane Palmason

They Call Me Marathon Mae                                   Mae Palm

The Race                                                                Bernd Heinrich 



Age Class Tables

Web Sites


 So, there you have it.  Every contributor had something valuable to say whether they were Olympians like Kanuka and Kardong or world record holders like Fudge and Heinrich, or professional writers like Henderson, Yasso, Robinson and Benyo OR simply avid runners (of course that would be all of us).  Now, when these folk are referenced in other posts, readers can at least see what the original input was to Running in the Zone.