Currie Barracks – Running Photo Essay

Date: May 16th, 2014

Run distance: 11 km

Part of my run involved running through the section of Currie Barracks that is still intact.  Some of this land has already been redeveloped into homes, some of it has been temporarily repurposed (i.e different types of businesses, including a private school) but the rest of it is slated to be redeveloped into a new inner city housing community.

The history of the Currie Barracks dates back to 1933, when the Canadian Army opened  this base.  It is my understanding that it became a major military center over the years housing thousands of army personnel.  It was closed in 1999 and within a couple of short years, everything still standing will be torn done in place of fancy new modern dwellings.

Currie Barracks, guessing this was a whse dock

Currie Barracks, guessing this was a whse dock

 

Looking south towards MRU

Looking south towards MRU. I believe there were homes here at one point, most of them have been relocated and updated in Garrison Woods community. Within a couple of years this land will no longer be empty.

Old weigh scale in one of the Warehouse facility side rooms

Old weigh scale in one of the Warehouse facility side rooms

Currie Barracks C3

Currie Barracks C3

Currie Barracks, guessing this was a whse dock

Currie Barracks, guessing this was a whse dock

Currie Barracks, guessing this was a whse dock

Currie Barracks, guessing this was a whse dock

 

 

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Scarboro – Killarney Photo Run Essay

Date: May 13th, 2014

Distance: 9 km

I have decided it might be a neat experience to capture different images on my run as I become familiar with the streets of Calgary. The city is still going through a huge change as post-war time bungalows are being torn down in favour of large, modern homes.  I am drawn to the smaller cottage style homes and feel that my 1200 square foot bungalow is a mansion in comparison. It also fascinates me that large families probably occupied these small homes and rather successfully and now we are drawn to build big homes for smaller families.  At a price – financially and emotionally.

Steps leading up to Sunalta neighborhood

Steps leading up to Sunalta neighborhood

House in Sunalta, Calgary (Single home)

House in Sunalta, Calgary (Single home)

House in Sunalta, Calgary (Single home)

House in Sunalta, Calgary (Single home)

House in Killarney, Calgary (Single home)

House in Killarney, Calgary (Single home)

House in Killarney, Calgary (Single home)

House in Killarney, Calgary (Single home)

House in Killarney, Calgary (Single home)

House in Killarney, Calgary (Single home)

House in Killarney, Calgary (Semi-detached home) Estimated value: $1 million +  each

House in Killarney, Calgary (Semi-detached home)
Estimated value: $1 million + each

House in Killarney, Calgary (Single home)

House in Killarney, Calgary (Single home)

Thanks for the Memories!

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Dear Winter,

We shared some good times together in the last few months, here in Calgary.  You allowed us to go skating countless times, London enjoyed playing outdoor hockey because of you, and we even had the chance to go cross country skiing, downhill skiing and sledding.  Not to mention the picturesque backdrops you provided us during my runs and walks along the Glenmore Reservoir; which allowed us to capture these photos. Although I was fully committed to this relationship these past few months, I think we now need to see different seasons. Really it is not you but me.  Maybe we can get together again next November if you are free and pick up where we left off.

All the best,

xoxo

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Rock the House 10k Race Report

Picture is from the Rock the House web-site.

Picture is from the Rock the House web-site.

First off I didn’t get my goal time of 55 minutes, instead it was 57:08. There were certainly some learning lessons to be had with this race and some things that I just had to accept and literally run with.

Here are some lessons learned…

1)  Don’t have coffee on race morning.  Usually I don’t but the race didn’t start until 10.15 am and I thought there would be plenty of time to deal with the direutic affects. Well let’s just say I ended up going to the bathroom before we left, as soon as we got to the venue which was only 15 minutes away and then had to line up for the porta potties at the last minute. I literally made it to the start line with one minute to spare.

2)  Don’t do a stair workout two days before a race.  The last time I did stairs, I wasn’t sore the next day and so I thought that would be the case this time round.   Well… let’s just say my calves were screaming at me yesterday morning. However, I don’t think they impacted my performance other than my shins were a little tighter than normal for the first 3 km.

3) Don’t weigh yourself the morning of a race when you are not pleased with your weight to begin with.  I don’t know why but I stepped on the scale yesterday morning and to my shock/horror and disappointment I managed to gain 3 pounds overnight. I know this isn’t real weight gain but nevertheless boy did it play on my psyche thinking that the extra weight on top of what I am already trying to lose is literally going to weigh me down on the course.

Having said all that my lungs were tight from the moment I got up and I knew from the first morning breath it was going to be a ? on whether I could even pull an hour.  Unfortunately a bad head cold has gone through the house and somehow I am the only one that has managed to avoid getting “it”.  Usually I am the first one and get hit hard and it always goes to the chest for me given my asthma. I wasn’t sure if I was now getting this cold that I so carefully avoided up to this point.  So far I am still in fighting mode and would like to keep it that way until it gives up and moves on.

Putting time goals aside this was an awesome 10k course.  For the 10k event, you had to do 2 loops of 5k. I am not a big fan of doing anything twice –  running wise but I didn’t mind this course at all.  Maybe it had to do with the amazing entertainment en route – bands/singers/performers.  I could be wrong but I think they had someone set up every kilometer or less.  Plus the course had some great downhill portions that allowed you to make up some time with only one doable hill and I can’t forget mentioning the volunteers.   They were amazing in how they provided everyone with endless support and encouragement.  I am also grateful to have my family at the finish line cheering me in!

The only negative thing about the event was the start corral. Rock the House was sporting a 5k and 10k event with a mix of 1400+ runners/walkers/strollers/jogging strollers and a unicycle so I am told and everyone was mixed up in the staring corral. I was no more than 15 feet from the front and it took me almost 800 meters to get myself around people that really should not have been at the very front of the corral.  My only recommendation would be to either encourage better placement by time expectations, stagger the 5k and 10k slightly, or mini-wave starts.

I also have been very spoiled in getting medals with other events and to my disappointment only the kids doing the 1k got a medal. Their medal was en par with medals I have acquired in the past and I would have loved to snag one. I know it is silly to complain about this but for me it is a great physical memory of each event.

Overall, it was a great family event with bouncy castles/face painting/balloons and lots of freebies – McDonald’s food of course given this event is to fund-raise for the Ronald McDonald house but the healthy stuff, Cobbs bread, Marble ice cream, and lots of other little things.

Toronto 10k Race Recap

tys10klogoYesterday I ran the Toronto Yonge Street 10k race and I believe the Running Gods took pity on me and decided to help me out.  As I have mentioned before I took the fall off from running and then started back up in February co-instructing a small 10k running clinic group. The clinic was only 10 weeks in length and called for no speed work, although we fit in one speed work-out a couple of weeks ago.  I ran 3x max per week with an average mileage of 25km and our average pace was a lot slower than my usual past training of about 6:15-6:30/km for most runs. Having said that I really enjoyed the process especially since it involved providing guidance to 3 clinic members who were training for their first 10k race.

Regardless of what training I did or didn’t do, I was going to give this race everything I had and see where the chips fall but wouldn’t you know it I got sick a week ago with a terrible head cold that is still with me.  I ran on Wednesday despite the cold and felt like someone who smoked a couple of packs a day.   We were all suffering from something so our pace was brutally slow and I didn’t know what to expect for this upcoming race. Even leading up to Race Day I found walking up the stairs left me winded so I resigned to the fact that this race might be a PW (Personal Worst).

On Race Day, four of us drove down together and arrived a little early but found warm relief in the Running Room as it was only 0 degrees celsius out at the time.   Although I wasn’t at my best I wanted to do an easy 2k before hand to work out stiff muscles and get everything flowing so I would have some chance of finding some running groove, no matter how slow of a pace that might be, during the race. I try to do a pre-race run whenever possible but not every race is conducive for this depending on how things are organized and the number of people in the race and the need to get into your corral extra early, etc.  The times that I can do this though I find I almost always have a better race and yesterday was no exception.

When I embarked on this pre-race warm-up with one of my friends I felt horrible and wondered if I should start back at the last corral and just take it real easy. I would be lying to say I didn’t feel deflated and frustrated that once again one of my races would be hampered due to illness.  Given that I was with my clinic group member I had to suck up the pity party and try to set a good example and continued to line up with everyone in the same corral.

Despite not feeling great, when I first crossed the start line I set a 1 hour goal not knowing how realistic even that might be and made a conscious effort of taking it easy the first couple of kilometers and then going from there.  Much to my surprise and delight the first two kilometers felt like a walk in the park and by the 2k mark my time was 11:10.  I thought my watch was wrong and checked in with how I was feeling which was great.  I honestly didn’t know what to make of this change in body/breathing/everything and decided to literally run with it as long as my body would keep up and that it did. By the 5k mark I set a new finishing time of 55 minutes.

In the end I finished in 53:52, definitely not a PB. I truly believe that the running gods were with me yesterday morning and envisioned one on each foot carrying some of the weight forward with each step.  I honestly felt awesome the entire run but then reality hit when I stopped after the finish line. My lungs seized and felt like they were on fire. I have asthma and worried that it would get worse and my head cold would turn into something more sinister but eventually my lungs loosened up and that feeling was a distant memory. I honestly don’t know how I managed this time given everything but I will take it and use that as motivation to improve it further in a healthy state.

Anyway the medal was great and overall the race was well organized. There were only a couple of bands en route so I relied on my ipod to keep me entertained and motivated throughout. The other helpful thing I did was carry my own water. Most people relied on the water stations which I find can really take you out of your running groove and sometimes it can get a little dicey knocking into people so I made a point of simply taking a sip every kilometer marking.

 

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Stretching is Yoga as much as Jogging is Running

mh295Most people that I know who run refer to themselves as runners and would feel slighted for anyone to refer to what they do as merely jogging. Similarly anyone who actively maintains a yoga practice would be offended should someone refer to their activity as simply stretching.   With this comparison made there is no question there is a difference between Stretching and Yoga.

I am sure many runners can relate to this scene….you finish your run with your running friends or running group and some of you might go to the nearest curb and start stretching your calves out or against the nearest wall, or maybe even hold onto the nearest wall and proceed to stretch your quads, often maintaining full conversation with your running comrades.  Depending on where you are at,  some might even go to the ground or floor and do some other common stretches that focus on the hip flexors, calves, quads and hamstrings.  Most people will fly through several stretches within a short amount of time and whenever there is a group involved, the talking most likely continues.   I would guess that most people have the same objective in mind when they stretch and that is to lengthen the muscles that were involved with running as running shortens them.   There are no issues with this objective and for some people (limited small percentage) this typical stretching routine might be all that is needed to avoid injury but for most others it is not sufficient or does not give you the full potential of your performance capability.

Let’s take an example…tight hip flexors from running.   If you were just going to stretch out the hip flexors, most likely you would do pigeon pose, butterfly or cobbler’s pose and/or any figure 4 variation.  Over time you  might experience a release in your hip flexors from doing these poses as stretches but  it is unlikely you are going to really make a long term impact unless you take a more global view of your body.  For your hip flexors might have become tight due to issues elsewhere in the body, such as your arches of your feet, your calves or even hamstrings and by practicing a holistic form of yoga will most likely address multiple areas of the body and not only provide relief to your hip flexors but also address other areas of the body through strength and balance work.

So although stretching is a component of yoga, yoga goes well behind this single and narrow focus to combine increasing flexibility (stretching), with balance and strength through a mind-body connection that is united through breath work.   Now not every yoga pose or even every yoga class addresses all holistic angles but within many yoga classes you do get more comprehensive conditioning that brings all elements into play and ultimately benefits your overall running performance.

As a runner, how can Yoga improve my performance?

IMG_5836Obviously I am a big advocate of incorporating yoga into one’s fitness or lifestyle regime in general because of the holistic benefits it can offer the mind, body and spirit but I know there are still a lot of people out there that are not completely convinced.  I have one friend who is much younger than I, 30 to be exact, who has not been bitten by the yoga bug despite being a hard-core athlete and the benefits it can bestow her.  In the past she predominantly was a high performing runner, qualifying for Boston at 29 years old, which is no easy feat and has since embarked into the triathlon world and is now currently training for an Ironman.  Needless to say her schedule is pretty full trying to fit in the base training for the three sports but in her case I would view yoga on the same plane as eating vegetables.  You may not like the taste of them but you know they are good for you so you eat them regardless for the nutritional value, and likewise with yoga, it is very essential that a session or two be worked into your weekly schedule for you really can’t afford not to neglect what yoga can do for an individual, especially a  hard-core athlete.

Training for a triathlon which involves 3 different sports – swimming, running and biking, inherently provides excellent cross-training benefits and in some ways can prevent some injuries that might otherwise surface if one was just focusing on one sport, like running.  For the purpose of this post I will gear my argument to my sole sport running friends with the hopes of having them add some yoga into their fitness routine.

With most of my running friends, running is so tightly integrated into who they are and what they do now that I am sure when some of them get side lined with an injury they go through a cycle of grief and depression as if they have lost a valuable friend.   This begs another line of discussion but let’s leave this topic alone for now.  So think about it, runners pound the pavement over and over, one foot in front of the other where the force of each foot is said to be about 3-4x their weight, with each foot strike involving compaction and contraction of muscles.  Without stating the obvious there are no counter muscle movements happening to lengthen these muscles during the act of running and thus it is quite common that prolonged running tightens up specific muscles and without doing anything to counter this occurrence (i.e. regular and consistent stretching/yoga of specific muscles) it can increase the chance of injury.  The potential for injury further increases when you start running or get into endurance mileage (half marathons and up) with existing imbalances within the body, such as tight hips, calves, weak ankles or asymmetry from one side to the other.

I challenge any runner reading my post who rarely stretches or does yoga and come into a butterfly pose – simply sit on your bum and pull your soles of your feet together as close into your groin area  as possible without rounding the back. Gently lower your knees towards the ground – don’t force them.   Notice how comfortable this pose feels, does your groin muscles feel tight? Is one knee higher than the other or closer to the ground then the other? Do you feel like your shoulders are rounding or that your back is rounding because your pelvis seems to be tilting back?

A simple pose like this can speak volumes to what muscle(s) might be extra tight, where there might be asymmetry within the body or misalignment.  In any case too much tension, misalignment or asymmetry might be causing the body to overcompensate while running and over time increase your risk for injury.

By practicing yoga on a regular basis,  it gives you great insight to where you might have such  imbalances within the body and allow you to focus on building the necessary strength or flexibility within the muscles to withstand the repetitive pounding on the pavement.   In the end yoga will allow many runners to have longer running careers with fewer injuries.  Hopefully you will find incorporating yoga into your practice is more analogous of eating sin-free chocolate as opposed to eating brussel sprouts.

CompleteYogaWorld