Running down the truth

An American runner named Kip Litton apparently can’t get enough of cheating in marathons.

He was caught by multiple people and kept on cheating.  An awesome story, I wish I knew how he did it.

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Course Management – Vancouver Sun Run

Dear Vancouver Sun Run,

I am writing with the hope that race organizers will take action on a course condition that is becoming increasingly dangerous during the Sun Run.  I am referring to the large groups of walkers that skip the race order and start their excursion ahead of the tens of thousands of people who participate as runners.

During today’s race the green group (50 to 60 min pace) had to dodge large groups of registered walkers wearing white and purple bibs throughout the first 5km of the race.  With big crowds and limited visibility when one person swerves to dodge a group of walkers it puts everyone running around them at risk.     With 50 thousand runners these early walkers are a real hazard on the course and they should be treated as such.

In addition to being dangerous, these groups slow the pace down which is unfair.  If a participant trained to run fast and is registered in the right race group, they shouldn’t be forced to contend with walkers who simply choose to ignore the order of the event.

As a long time race participant I have seen this condition become increasingly pervasive and today was by far the worst in my 15 years of Vancouver Sun Runs.

So I have two suggestions:

  1. Police the course.  Every race official and volunteer should be trained to proactively keep early walkers off the course.  This is a no brainer.
  2. Better signs and race information.  From registration right through to the finish line, team and individual participants should be repeatedly exposed to safety policy.  I am sure officials can reduce the risk to runners by making better use of the multiple media resources deployed by the race.

In closing, I want to make it clear that I don’t want to belittle the participation of walkers.  It is wonderful to see people getting out and enjoying our city on foot.  However the race is set up with stages and groups for a reason.  If people are ignoring the rules, the rules need to be enforced.

Thanks in advance for considering my recommendations.  I look forward to a safer course next year.

Best regards,

Chris Witney
Richmond BC

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Half Way – Less is more

“It is the perfect distance” – That is what the woman at the race packet pick up counter said.

“It is just a much more pleasant experience” – That is what the race veteran said in line at Starbucks

“You can really race, which is nice” – That is what the young guy said to his buddy as they headed for the start.

“It’s only half way” – Is what I was thinking.

Up until last Sunday I always considered the Half Marathon as incomplete.  After running Vancouver’s “First Half”  I realize the distance’s branding is unfair.  The word “half” devalues the challenge. Completing “half” of something is a cop out – running 21.1 KM is not a cop out.

I signed up for the race on a whim, thinking that I would use it as one of my long runs in training for a full marathon.  Then something unusual happened, I started cross training for an hour a day instead of running.   I wasn’t worried about the Half Marathon, after all, it was only half way – and so I decided I just had to stay in shape.

With a mix of random P90X workouts and Steve Nash Club boot camp classes I got hooked on a mix of daily strength and high intensity cardio workouts.  I proboably should have been running, but I wasn’t.  In the three months before the race I didn’t run anything but very short treadmill sessions and the odd 8 KM jog with my dog.  I was still getting into good shape and training or no training, I was experienced enough to pull a 21 KM run out of the bag.

With two weeks left before the race I decided to go out for a long run and so I ran 16KM.  In the first 8Km I was plagued with shin splint pain, which isn’t unusual for me but the second half was strong, which is unusual – I felt better running at a race pace than I had in a long time.  When I got home I wasn’t burnt out and I wasn’t sore the next day.

In the first 10 KM of the actual race I felt so good I realized  I could set a personal best (PB) and I was right; 21.1KM in 1:56.16.  This is 6 minutes faster than the first half of my 2005 marathon – I logged well over 1200KM of running to train for that race and let me tell you, it sucked.  Yesterday I had one of the most enjoyable races in memory and I logged less than 150KM of running.

Stepping down the distance and focusing on a well rounded and holistic training program (P90X workouts are great)  has been a game changer for me.  I’m still considering (and dreading) running my 7th full marathon, but for now, less is more.

Half way really is the perfect distance.

This was my buddy Michele's first race (ever). She set the pace and I tried to keep up. Way to go MG!


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Waste Not – My 2012 Resolutions

My 2012 resolutions are all about changing wasteful habits.

The first habit I will  change is my tendency to drink coffee from single-use cups.

For the past 6 months I noticed my Starbucks habit has caused me a little bit of nagging guilt.  One cup, one lid and one sleeve – for one drink.  Each time I go to recycle or trash the cup I think, “This is crazy.  There is better technology”.  It is not that hard to carry a stainless steel coffee cup to Starbucks- so I’m going to change.

The second habit I will to change is buying bottled water.

I am totally against buying bottled water, and yet I do it all the time.  This resolution is less about the single-use container and more about the fact that I have access to very clean, high quality, and fresh tasting water every where I go.  Paying $2 for a bottle of Dasani when water of equal or better quality comes from the tap is crazy, there is better technology.  Bottled water is a massive scam designed by brilliant marketers and we shouldn’t be fooled – so I’m going to change.

“No need to boil, filter, or treat in any way, our water is as good as it gets.”  – Metro Vancouver Water Authority

Last but not least, my third and final resolution is to turn off lights when no one is in the room.  This is a no brainer and all it takes is just a little bit of diligence.  Currently I fail at this all the time and I think wasting energy is so stupid – so I’m going to change.

There you go –  3 super easy things I will change in 2012.  Feel free to join me.

Happy New Year!


More on Water:

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Sugar Sugar – The Paleo Diet

For the past three weeks I have been experimenting with the Paleo Diet and so far so good.   I haven’t been perfect, I’ve had a few beer, but there has been a major change what I have been eating.

What compelled me to the Paleo diet was the notion of  cutting my intake of processed sugars.  I was fairly aware that sugars were hidden in the majority of packaged foods but it wasn’t until I really tried to avoid sugar that I realized just how common it is.

I recommend trying this diet for a week.   You’ll be amazed at how much of the food in the grocery store is dependant on bankrupt carbs, processed ingredients and refined sugars.  When you start the diet the hardest part isn’t changing what you eat, its finding unprocessed food to eat.  It’s a little scary that finding “simple food” is hard to do.

As for the “diet” part, after three weeks I have lost 6 pounds.   To compare, last year when I was training for the Vancouver Marathon I logged 30+ miles of running a week for 5 months and after 5oo miles and I only lost 4 pounds.

For more info on Paleo Diet…

Interesting articles on sugar in our food…

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And after all that training

Feeling unhappy after running a less than satisfactory marathon?  Get over it.

The mental damage that comes from holding on to a bad race can be harder to recover from than shin splints, stress fractures or the dreaded IT band syndrome.

Pissed off at the Finish

After months of rigorous preparation a bad race performance becomes hard to forgive.   But it’s important to remember that running a marathon is a MONSTER of a challenge.  Don’t be disappointed in yourself.   And before you link poor performance to the quality or quantity of your training, recognize that runners at every level of the sport have bad race days.  Why?  Because training for and running 42.2 KM is really HARD.

Did the race organizers screw up and totally ruin your run to glory?  Races are tough to manage and sometimes things go terribly wrong.   When this happens, craft a letter to the event team.  It is important they get the feedback and you get a formal apology.    Also, take the time to share your experience online as event reviews help other runners make better decisions.   If a race appears to have a repeatedly bad reputation, don’t register.

Did God decide to rain on your parade?  I know the feeling.   I ran in 2007’s Honolulu Marathon and a brutal tropical rain storm made it a horrid event.  My only regret is that I actually ran the whole race.  If the weather is something you’re not ready for, don’t run.   If you did run, and the race sucked, blame God.

Regardless of your circumstance, three days is the longest you should spend bemoaning an unpleasant race experience.  But for three days you are entitled to complain about whatever you want.  It can be the weather, the race organizers, the crowds or the irrevocable failure to achieve your goal time.  More than three days of negative reflection and you’re risking mental injury.  Bitch and complain till your heart’s content, but get it all out and do it quickly.

Tips for moving on.

  • Get better.  If you’re bad race manifested itself in the form of an injury you have to let yourself heal.  But don’t let this take you out of the game.  Focus on the recovery, build a plan and do what you can.  If you can swim, the pool is great option.
  • Go for a run.   If  your last memory of running is an unpleasant one, get out and go for a quick 5 km run.  This really helps to flush the cerebral toilet
  • Sign up for another race.    Setting a new goal is powerful way to reset your relationship with running.   It doesn’t have to be a marathon.


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