Archive for March, 2012

The BMO Vancouver Half Marathon


Oh, and if you insist, the Full Marathon, which by the way, has sold out.   However, I have restricted myself to the half for this time around.  This will be my seventh appearance.   I have done the full marathon on two distinctly different courses (1988, then 2004, 2006 and 2008).  As for the Half, this new 2012 route will at least be two courses, but maybe three.

Little Mountain Little League 1955

I am very excited to be giving the new Half Marathon route a try in its very first year, at least partly because I grew up in the neighbourhood near the start.  I played Little League Baseball and watched a good many Vancouver Mounties (Triple A) baseball games, right beside the start line! My home was near 21st and Cambie Street (somewhere approaching Mile 1) and we will run pretty much right past my Elementary School, Edith Cavell, not to mention the site of the grocery store where I had my first paying job (stocking shelves).  All of this before we are much more than nicely warmed up!

Cambie Bridge and BC Place 1984

I am particularly looking forward to seeing Downtown Vancouver spread out in front of us as we enjoy the downward pitch of the first 5km or so.  This route covers some of the oldest, most historic areas of Vancouver, although I must say they may have changed just a little since I was a kid!  And, for the most part, changed for the better.  The photo to the left is of the old swing-span bridge and well before False Creek development of recent years!  The current bridge is under construction, just to the left of the photo and everything along False Creek is industrial.  The photo below was taken today from the same location, but from street level, with the ‘new’ bridge at the left of the picture.  Hard to find those old landmarks like the old Vancouver Sun Building (at the right of BC Place). And, there is a new roof on BC Place, and all those condo’s and….. well, you had just better come see for yourself.

Cambie Street - March 2012

Once we make our way from the East side of downtown to the West side, and along English Bay I will be running territory well known from my recent running days, living just beside Granville Island and using the various Seawall paths around False Creek, English Bay and Stanley Park as my regular running/training route.

Spring Running in Vancouver

If the event organizers can arrange the kind of day that May 6th can be, this is going to be an amazing and frankly, breath-taking route.

As reported earlier, I have found myself involved in a challenge race with two other fellows who won’t even be in Vancouver.  Both will be three time-zones East!  We met through the Reggae Marathon, Half Marathon and 10K and without repeating things written just a short while back, we are doing the Reggae Runners Half Marathon Challenge.  We will do three different half marathons in three different cities but all on the same day.  Because Larry Savitch (LSFitness) is a mere stripling of 46 and Chris Morales (That Runnin’ Guy) is just 54, while I am now 67, all results will be age graded and the best graded time will win.  If I do it right in this day of on-line results reporting, I may just have the advantage of knowing what the other two did before I even start!  That may or may not be a good thing and technology notwithstanding, I may not avail myself of the information until I’m done.  Whatever, it is all for fun and so very far from serious, not that you could tell from the trash talking going on at the Reggae Runners Half Marathon Challenge page on Facebook.  Well, it WAS for fun until PUMA put up a shiny new pair of Faas 500’s to the winner.  We are super pleased that one of the Reggae Marathon’s main sponsors has seen fit to support our little adventure this way.

A big reason for mentioning the Challenge is that it is one of those things that you can do to make running fun and has the nice little wrinkle of being possible in an on-line universe in which we can do it, as if we were right in the same place doing the same event.  What are these three half marathons?  Well, obviously, I am doing the BMO Vancouver (Half) Marathon.  Chris is doing the Goodlife Fitness Toronto (Half) Marathon and Larry is doing the New Jersey (Half) Marathon.  As Larry recently said, “I expect to finish in the Top 3”.  Me too!

For my part, I will be multi-tasking, not that it takes much extra energy on my part.  Vancouver has a Team Challenge and I am a duly registered member of Run for Change.  I have talked about this project/organization before and will certainly do so again.  Under the guidance of Benji Chu and his dedicated group of volunteers, Run for Change is a small, but growing group of budding runners from shelters and recovery programs who have committed to a personal challenge of life-style change.  Some have graduated through the annual 5K fun run (3rd Annual Run for Change 5K Fun Run – Aug 18, 2012), the Vancouver Sun Run, and will now be tackling the half marathon. Among the BMO Vancouver Marathon Team will be some of the volunteers and supporters who are running the half or even full marathon.

The BMO Vancouver Half Marathon is shaping up to be a great personal adventure.  I guess it would be good if I got out there right now and did some training!  If anyone has suddenly been motivated to register for the Half, better get moving.  I understand that as of today the event is 90% sold out.



Doing what?  Publishing an overview of their training plan/secrets for the Reggae Runners Half Marathon Challenge (RRHMC), of course.  It is actually Chris Morales’ (That Runnin’ Guy) fault.  He started it.  But now, Larry Savitch (LSFitness) has shared his secret plan, so I guess I had better be fair and reveal mine.  Of course this could be my plan, or it might not.

OK, it is.

Larry is the young’un in the group at 46, almost 47 on May 6, our day of race.  Chris Morales is 54 and I am 67.  Hardly sounds fair, does it?  It wouldn’t be if we weren’t using age-grading to even things out. Chris seems to have come out first with the scariest plan.  I counted up a routine involving 6 days a week!  Larry and I seem to work on a bit lighter schedule of 3-4 days a week, trying as much as possible not to run back to back days.  Now that doesn’t mean you can’t throw in some gym time, of course.

Some while ago I learned that I can run four days a week, varying from long slow runs to some, and I do mean some, speed work.  Where I live, hill workouts are infinitely possible, but I almost can’t go for a run without having a hill workout and since my half marathon route (BMO Vancouver (Half) Marathon) is mostly down or flat, I will concentrate more effort on speed if I do anything more intense than endurance runs.

There is a school of thought that as a person gets older, more endurance and less intensity is the key to healthy long-term running.  I spent the last year beating back what was really a minor injury.  I definitely have no intention of returning to that situation even if it means being third out of three in our RRHMC. That must be a sign of maturity, don’t you think?  I guess that is the first element of my plan.

1.  Train smart and safe.

I have superimposed another training priority on the RRHMC which is that it is actually a step along the way to a marathon I intend to run on June 10 (Winthrop Marathon).  So, there not being enough time between May 6 and June 10 to ramp up from half marathon ready to marathon ready, my training plan will have a double focus and my LSD runs will be much longer than the other boys!  Just had to say that so nobody thinks I’m showing off or something.  Therefore, because I am actually training toward a marathon:

2. LSD’s will be much longer and much slower than you might imagine (current LSD is already well over the half marathon distance and there is still almost 7 weeks to go).

3. Non-LSD’s will tend to be 10-15km and run at marathon race pace

4. Once per week, there will be some form of speedier workout of the sort 5-8km at 10K race pace or even 3km at 5K race pace.

 That is three days per week right there.  As the races get closer, I may add one more day of moderate distance and very easy pace.  The whole emphasis will be time on the feet and/or distance, with endurance as the primary factor.

Race specific training is important, so I will be seeking out long steady downhill terrain because the first almost 5km of my half marathon is down and virtually ALL of the Winthrop Marathon is down sloping.  Everyone thinks that a downhill race must be ideal, but steady downhill running puts unique stresses on the legs and can turn out NOT to be near as much fun as you might think!

So that is it!  My secret plan is no longer secret.  Come follow us on Facebook at the Reggae Runners Half Marathon Challenge and give encouragement.  Witty comments are welcome, especially if they involve poking Chris or Larry!

As Larry said: “Game ON!”


Dan - Reggae 10K - 2011

Reggae 10K - Dec 2011

Hang around a running blog long enough and somebody is going to challenge somebody to something! 


Chris Morales

Chris "That Runnin Guy" Morales

Well, a few days ago That Runnin’ Guy (Chris Morales) posted that he had just come back from an LSD training session in preparation for the Goodlife Fitness Toronto Half Marathon on May 6.  On the very first bounce, Larry Savitch (LSFitness) came back with his reveal that he was running a half on the very same day in New Jersey, the Long Branch Half Marathon.  Not to be outdone, I was on there in a thrice to say I would be running my very own half marathon at the BMO Vancouver (Half) Marathon.  Nothing unusual about three runners doing a half marathon, but we will all be doing them on MAY 6, 2012.  The other interesting thing is that the three of us only know one another through the Reggae Marathon, Half Marathon & 10K where Chris is the chief blogger and where Larry and I have both been contributors.  All three of us ran something at the last Reggae Marathon in December of 2011, and made personal contact with each other, me for the first time.  Chris introduced our “event” today on his blog: The Reggae Runners Half Marathon Challenge.

Larry and Karen in Negril

Well, wouldn’t you know it, before you could say “Runners to your marks”, somebody had thrown out a challenge.  I think it might have been me.  Umm.  It was me.  BUT, only if we used age-graded results ‘cause that Larry, well he’s 21 years younger than me.  Chris is kind of in the middle, but still closer to Larry than me.  Still, after a little research (which I really should have done BEFORE I threw out the challenge) it turns out that our times, upon age-grading, would make for a fair fight.

It turned out that while Larry and Chris were right on it, neither had really much heard of the magic of age-grading.  I provided a quick lesson and all agreed it would be a great and fun way for us boys to be boys. 

“I can run faster than you!” 

“No you can’t” 

Yes I can!!!!” 

WELL, I can run faster than BOTH of you!

See, I can pretty much tell you that Larry will have the fastest time, Chris will be next and I will be last. BUT……………………. once you apply the age-grading calculator things even out a bit.  It appears that doing something resembling our recent personal bests potentially makes us pretty close.  Each of us will have to train and race hard in order to be the winner.  Everything going well, it actually could be ME! (It WILL be me, but please don’t tell the other guys.  They think they’ve got me beat from the word ‘Go’.)

We have agreed that we will all blog about it individually and that we will take it over to the Reggae Marathon Blog from time to time, just for fun!  (And, because that is the thing that brings us together, other than running itself.)  We will also be found yapping and snapping about it on Facebook. 

The rules are pretty simple

We will all run a half marathon (21.1km for the purpose of the calculator).

Our input time will be our chip time.

Because the age-grading calculator works from an equation, we will each use our age to two decimal places, so we can properly recognize that Larry will be almost a year older than his day of race age in simple years.  (I don’t want any whining after the fact that he was almost a year older than his nominal age and therefore not treated fairly!)

When the smoke clears, the guy with the fastest age adjusted time is the winner.

As I already noted, it could actually be any one of us that hits the best age-graded time.  I have written about this subject before, this being a blog for “seasoned athletes”.  All three of us are old enough to qualify, too.  Larry is the youngest but he is currently the same age as the two youngest contributors to Running in the Zone, at time of writing.  I promised as my part of this challenge, to provide a quick overview of age-grading for any followers who want to better understand what we are going to do, and maybe explore how age-grading could fit into his/her own running.  So, here goes.

People run.

When people are young, they tend to run fast(er).

People age.

When people get older, they tend to run slower.

Some time ago this little truth was examined in detail and it was found that if you sampled enough runners and their performances at various distances, you could create a set of equations that reasonably related times done at one age with times at another.  There are a bunch of assumptions behind the math that none of us needs to really worry about.  I have used the system for years and am satisfied that it works pretty well.  So are a lot of sport bodies and races, because a good many events now have an age-graded result table.  The particular AGE GRADING system I like (and the one we will use) is the one found at the World Masters Association web site and developed by Howard Grubb.

You input the event (distance), your age (as noted, it can be decimalized) and your time.  You hit “Age Grade” and as if by magic, you will find a whole range of information, including an adjusted time and a percent performance value against the standard for your age.  You can actually use this particular calculator as a predictor for other distances, by simply changing ONLY the event distance and then hitting “Result”.  The assumption is that your % Performance will be constant, and out pops an adjusted (projected) time for the new event.  There is another rather important assumption, too – that you have actually trained for the projected event.  For example, you can enter a 5K result and then project to a marathon finish, but if you don’t train for a marathon, well I think most people will know what is going to happen!

The purists still aren’t 100% sure about this, but it works well enough to give recognition to the performances of outstanding older runners who just can’t record raw times like they might have when they were 32-35 years of age.   Curious age to pick, eh?  Well not really, because the age-grading sort of takes us all back to a mythical athlete of about that age.  You can put your info in at any age, but only after around 35 does the ‘needle’ start to move.  The older you get, the more it moves.

I have found that over a good many years, even though my raw times have slowly eroded, my adjusted times compare very well (when not injured, when properly trained and not in some weird situation involving extreme heat or mountains).  I seem to be holding my own.  This is where I like the % Performance value.  When running well, I tend always to be in the low to middle 60% range.  I was when I could run a 3:25 marathon and was in 2010 when I notched one just over an hour slower.  But, I was 43 the first time and 65 the second.  And right there friends, is why our little challenge should work so nicely.  Larry is 46 and I am 67, so we are just adding a couple of years to each end of my well-tested range.

Let the training (and blogging) BEGIN!