Archive for February, 2013



As most readers know, this blog sprang from the book: Running in the Zone: A Handbook for Seasoned Athletes. Most readers also know that down to the right of the blog page is a link to Trafford Publishing, where it is possible to go purchase one of those old-fashioned hold it in your hand, turn the pages things called A BOOK. Some of you have even done that! We thank you.

More and more often though, I have been asked, “But can’t I get Running in the Zone as an E-Book?”. Well, until just a short while ago, the answer was “No”. I am pleased to say the answer has just become “YES”, and I must add, at quite a bargain, especially when you have to include the various shipping and handling charges for the paper version – and then wait for it to arrive.

So, if you had thought about buying a copy of this book with its 26 outstanding contributors including well known writers and runners such as Bart Yasso, Joe Henderson, Lynn Kanuka,  Roger Robinson, Don Kardong, Rich Benyo, Diane Palmason, Steve King and so, so many more, now is your chance. We covered topics from the how-to of it (Bart), through the long-term magic (Diane) and even the history, both ancient and recent (Roger). Once at the Trafford Publishing site, you can ‘wander around’ through some bits and pieces of preview material before you have to pull your digital trigger on a purchase. Almost like going into a book store and thumbing through a few pages of the paper model. And, if you are the kind of person who just doesn’t think it is a book unless it has paper, and covers and pages, well that option is available at the very same place. The choice is yours.

We are excited to see this option available and hope some of you will be too. One of the great things about the RITZ book is that it is really 26 relatively short and readable pieces by 26 different and authoritative contributors. Everyone was asked to stay to around 2500 to 3000 words, which is kind of what guides most of my blog posts. I’ve tried to stay true to the book format. So, if you like the idea of something with a bit more meat on its bones than the average modern blog piece and yet very consumable in a short time, please do go see what the e-version of Running in the Zone: A Handbook for Seasoned Athletes, looks like. We’ll be glad you did!



Evan Fagan - Runner, Triathlete, Volunteer

Evan Fagan is well known in the triathlon and running worlds. He is now 76! Evan started running in 1986 at age 49 and completed his first marathon in 1988. To date Evan has completed 140 marathons plus two 50km ultra marathons!! Evan completed his first triathlon at age 59 in 1996 and has completed 77 triathlons since then including 3 Ironman events in 2004, 2005 and 2010.( getting a podium spot in third place). Evan has also been a member of Team Canada at three World Age Group Olympic Distance Championships – Cancun in 2002, Hawaii in 2005, and Vancouver in 2008. Evan is one of several authors who contributed chapters in the 2005 book “RUNNING IN THE ZONE, edited by Steve King and Dan Cumming. Evan is also featured in a new book on runners who have completed 100 or more marathons, called, “THE MESSENGERS”, compiled by Malcolm Anderson, and published in 2010. Evan is a valued member of Team West Coast. He joined the Tri-Star’s Training team in 2011. In 2011 Evan took part in the Oliver 1/2 Ironman, placing second. Soon after, he underwent radiation treatment and went on medication for prostate cancer which greatly affected his ability to participate in any events for the next several months. He returned to competition in early 2012 and participated in the Island Road Race Series, finishing fourth in his age category. He also won his age category in the 2012 Triathlon BC Provincial Race Series. While in Hawaii soon after, he won his age category in both the Waikiki Swim Club Biathlon (5 km run followed by a 1 km ocean swim). and the 10 km portion of the Xterra World Championship Trail Run on the island of Oahu. While he would very much like to return to long distance events as he did prior to dealing with prostate cancer, he will probably have to be satisfied with the shorter or middle distance events. He is looking forward to more of the same in 2013.

This biographical overview was prepared for updates on the TriStar website.




Start of 2013 'First Half'

What is a ‘motivated post’?

Actually, I wasn’t going to say anything about the First Half because sometimes I feel I may just write too much about events in which I am directly involved. This was another great First Half and I thought maybe I would just let it stand on its own. Then I started reading other blog posts and FaceBook posts and Tweets from people who did this race and that was where the ‘Motivation‘ came upon me.

I’ve always known the “First Half” has a great reputation in the running community and have in my time been pleased to have been a part of the club and team that brings the race to life each year (well, except 2010 when we wound up head to head with that other athletic event going on in Vancouver in mid-February – but Hey, the First Half is still here and that other event has turned out to be a ‘one-hit’ wonder, at least in Vancouver). To just stop for a serious moment on the 2010 situation with the Winter Olympics in town, we were concerned about what would happen in 2011, after having to skip a year. As many know, I was race director of the First Half for four years (if you count 2010) and while it would never be obvious, I think that as RD, I worked harder NOT putting on that race than I had for the three previous versions that did go as planned. We had nothing to worry about for 2011. The running community was back in force and here we are in 2013 with another great race nicely tucked into the books. And, speaking of ‘books’, Variety – the Children’s Charity has tucked another $50,000 into their books, bringing the total First Half donations to $550,000 since the race started supporting Variety. There are a number of reasons why this is possible, but prime among them is that this is a 100% volunteer operation with the main organization provided by Pacific Road Runners (under the leadership of RD, Nicki Decloux and a very experienced and dedicated main race committee), and the rest by a group of long-term friends who come back year after year to support the race. The other two major components are the super generous sponsors and the faithful and enthusiastic runners who (virtually) line up every year to register for the race way back in November.

Anyway, much of that has been said before, including by me, and while ever so true and important, was not my reason for writing.

I started reading the various messages and blogs about the individual races of specific people. As organizers, it is easy to think of any race as some consolidated thing called THE EVENT. However, from the perspective of the runners there were 1919 ‘First Halfs’ run out there on February 10th. 1919 was the official finisher count according to the results page. As I read the various accounts it became clear in a kind of new way, just how personal the race is. Not just this race, either. And, I mean, I should know this very well because when I am not being the MC for the First Half (my new post race director retirement job on the race team), I myself am a runner and boy do I know the inside perspective of running as an individual competitor. It was a suprise to me nonetheless just how striking the impression was of the individual efforts put in by individual runners when expressed at some length in their own words.

I was going to post links to the specific comments I have seen, but then realized that wouldn’t do much justice to the others out there I missed. Actually, much of what I saw came off the First Half Facebook page, so here is the link to that page, where not only the specific comments I have seen can be found, but likely ones that are still to come as I write this.

The First Half is a very strange race. It is a relatively long race for so early in the season and it is run in February when a good day is still pretty cool. All that said, the First Half produces more than its fair share of PB performances. I guess it is pretty easy to have a PB if it is the first time you have run a given distance. Lord knows, it is the only way I get a PB these days! But, a lot of seasoned runners (both in the meaning of this blog and in terms of just being experienced) report PB’s from the First Half.  This year was certainly no different, and if anything there may have been more than usual. Maybe it is the spectacular route. Keeps everyone totally distracted from what they are doing. Maybe it is the fact that, as several bloggers commented, it is a runnerly race, so maybe people just get pulled along by the subtle competition going on right from the front, all the way to the back. It really is a great running course, being mostly flat. That could help.

It was so much fun up on the stage with co-host Anjulie Latta, watching people return and seeing how ‘up’ they were after their races. I was doing a little walk-about just before we got really going with post-race business and ran into three different people I knew who had just scored a PB. They were all pretty pleased, to say the least.

Guess I shouldn’t be so homed in on the PB performances. One of the bloggers mentioned something we said from the stage about ‘everybody who is out here running is a winner’. That is true. As mentioned early on, every runner is having his or her own very personal race experience. One of the bloggers I read, and who inspired me to go ahead with this post, did not have a PB. That said, it may have been an even better/stronger performance than some of the PB’s because she was working back from serious injury – the can’t run for six months kind of injury. One of my favorite members of the running community did not have a PB, yet set a single age world record. Yes, of course, BJ McHugh. Her time of 2:32 was pretty sparkling for someone who is truly a ‘seasoned athlete’. For those that don’t know, BJ is 85 years old.

I want to keep this short, so will not go on and on about all the individuals that I know had great races. It is only fitting because this post is a celebration and recognition of all those who got out there and did their best. And, because of the things I read in those other postings in this social media world, not just in this one race, the First Half, but in all the races we put ourselves on the line for, with the intention of giving it everything we’ve got. When you toe the line with that in mind, the absolute finish time doesn’t matter. It is truly the ‘doing’ that is remarkable. 

Congratulations to all, and thanks to all you who inspired me to think about this and write this particular posting.



First Half - 2013

How time flies when you’re having fun! It seems just a couple of weeks ago that everyone was talking about the registration date for the “First Half“. (Clue: It wasn’t. It was more like three months.) Now, here we are as the Pacific Road Runners ‘race machine’ stirs to life and race-day preparations begin. The actual race is still 10 days away as I write, but for a lot of the insider committee folk, that isn’t going to seem long enough.

I was reminded of all this by an e-mail this morning from Race Director, Nicki Decloux, in which she outlined for PRR members exactly what will unfold over the next week or so.  In many ways, every race is the same in this regard. As runners I think we sometimes forget what it takes to have a nice neat, well marked course, with plenty of support along the way, with toilets at the start and where we (damn it, there goes my PB!) may need them along the way. And, of course, there is all the timing stuff and post-race fun and food. In a great race all of that is so seamless that it can be hard to recognize how much went into making it seem like ‘nothing’.

According to the e-mail, and not counting all the admin stuff like arranging sponsors and service contracts, finding and assigning volunteers and doing registration, the work starts today. Start being the operative word, because things just keep ramping up from here and don’t really stop until the post-race  ‘break-down’ on Sunday afternoon, notwithstanding that for most participants the race ‘begins’ a week from today at the package pick-up at Forerunners. It always amazes me how it takes several days of fairly intense work to put everything in place and then in about three hours, after happy tired runners head for home, everything is cleaned up, put away, returned or delivered to where it must go.

Lead Pack at 1 Mile

One of the main reasons that the First Half is such a popular event, is exactly what I have been describing. Having had the privilege of being the race director before Nicki, I can tell you that the most common positive feedback comments relate to the fabulous organization and wonderful volunteers. This is not necessarily unique to the First Half. The best events, as appreciated by the participants, all know this is what makes the big impression. Oh sure, the First Half has a great course and features some of Canada’s best runners (always fun for those of us who follow well behind them), and has great post-race food and festivities, but when the rubber (on our shoes) hits the road, it is the net impact of all that preparation and support that we notice and appreciate.

Pacific Road Runners provides the core group of volunteers but it takes so many more people to really make it happen come race weekend. The other key component is the generosity of sponsors, and again this is not necessarily unique to the First Half, but that makes it no less important. The net result of all the volunteer support and sponsorship is a major donation to the First Half charity, Variety, which to date and not counting the 2013 donation has received more than a half a million dollars via the First Half. 

A little aside that may or may not be well known is that most PRR members have not run the First Half, at least not since they joined the club. Why? Because members are expected to be there to make this event happen. In recent years a small internal lottery has allowed a few each year to give it a go, but the bulk of members past and present have not run this race.  I personally, am one of those people. One of these days I’ll have to see if I can rectify that. It won’t be this year though, as I will once again being MC’ing from the stage with trusty co-host, Anjulie Latta. We will be looking forward to welcoming everyone pre-race and to helping with the victory celebration of all our finishers. While I don’t know at this point what the 2013 situation is going to look like, I can say that the First Half will be in it’s 24th running this year and yet it has only ever had seven race directors. It is normal that of the seven, you will find five somewhere around the operation come race day, in active volunteer mode. The other two are kind of excused since they don’t actually live here anymore. It is true of other key players as well, with some of the core volunteers no longer being active club runners, yet showing up year after year to make this event happen.

Needless to say that with a sell-out registration three months ago, a post like this is not about drawing more last minute runners to the event. No, it is really about shining a light on the background of preparation that goes into the First Half. It is about thanking all the selfless people who come along year after year to make this event happen as it does. And, not to put too fine a point on it, to remind those reading this and who will be running the First Half (and for that matter, all the races we enjoy) to give a shout out to those volunteers who will be out there on the route and at the Roundhouse on February 10th making this a great experience for all the participants.

See you bright and early Sunday, February 10!