Handloggers’ Half Marathon

Last year, during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic the Handloggers’ Half went virtual. This past Labour Day weekend the Half came back in person with a field of about 60 runners (half or less of the previous in person runs).

The Handloggers’ Half is a nice, rough, trail run that includes about 775m elevation gain.

With one exception I’ve run this race every year since 2017. My fastest time was about 2hrs 25mins. This year wasn’t a particularly fast time, it was in fact the slowest men’s time of the race at 3:13:22.

Ten days later still feeling it in the legs, but just the same it’s a run I love to do. ūüôā

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Running Plan

My current running plan is an eight week cycle that involves 6 weeks of 60km/wk average plus two rest weeks of 40-50km/wk. This has been working fairly well over the past half year or so.

In the year leading up to the pandemic my weekly run totals had fallen to between 18 and 30 km/wk. Prior to that I had been averaging around 70+km/wk and that volume contributed to increased injuries and for a while I became worried that my running was coming to an end.

Staring near the beginning of the pandemic I shifted my weekly runs up to about 35km/wk. Last September I I began to shift up to my current 60km/wk for six weeks followed by two weeks 40-50km taper.  This mode has been working out well.

Part of ensuring sustainability in running I made a point to moderate my pace when I started to increase the volume in September. My initial target was around 6:30min/km and take rest intervals every couple of kilometres. Toward the middle of winter I started pushing up my pace up a little and also increased the length of the running intervals (a short rest every 3 to 4km). I am now targeting my pace to between 5:45min/km to 6:15min/km.

At the same time I’ve kept my regular morning walks in play (25-30km/wk). This brisk walking component is a key, I would suggest to overall health. It’s also great to greet the mornings with a walk through one’s community!

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Mountain Runs

Running mountain trails can be a lot of fun. I regularly try to get in at least one run a week on a trail. This past weekend (March 14, 2021) I did one of my favourite runs on Bowen Island That takes a person up the north west side of Mount Gardner and then crosses from the north tot he south peak and then down the southerly trail to connect with the Handloggers’ Trail.

The first 5 km involves an elevation gain of about 575m. The biggest gains are kilometre 2 with about 200m elevation gain and then kilometres 4 & 5 with about 150m gain each.¬† Even on my best days my ‘run’ is more fast walk and hurried trot than actually running and some of the sections are practically vertical. But it is, as trail runs go, a fairly good technical run with short patches of scramble on the top sections of the run.

Going down from the south peak of Mount Gardner toward Bowen Bay is a more technical trail with the run going over on consolidated rough rocks and through runoff ditches that essentially comprise the trail. The descent is shorter on the south than the northerly ascent, with most of the elevation lost in the first 1.5 kilometres off the south peak.

This time of year the trail  can go from running water to snow. On this run it was raining with strong south east winds. The lower levels of the trail were running with water while the upper levels (above about 600m elevation) were snow and ice. Making the run across the top of Mount Gardner rather slow and slippery for this run.


The total distance, start to finish was about 10km. The average pace was just under 11 minutes a kilometre, so more like a quick trot than a run, but worth it all the same!

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Sun Run – 10k

Today was my 7th Sun Run since 2011.

I used to act as team support for my partner and son and then I was finally convinced to do the run my self. My 2011 time was nothing to boast about (except for the fact that I did it) with a time of 1:16:32 and the illustrious category rank of 1086/1509!

The Sun Run is not really a place for PB’ing (unless one is an elite runner). My own PB was 43:04 in the Cunningham 10k, October 2014. My best Sun Run time was 44:15 (also in 2014).

Since then I have been slowly slowing down :). This year’s time of 53:49 was within my goal target (52-55). The morning was cool, but sunny. A great day for a run. But storm clouds moved in as the race progressed. I felt quite pleased that I ran fast enough to miss the rain and hailstorm that drenched the runners starting around 10:30 or so!

Firmly sardined in the green coral.
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Five years later: Victoria again!

In about one month I’ll be running the Victoria Marathon again. ¬†This will be my fifth marathon. ¬†Since I returned to running I’ve covered a lot of miles. Most of them in Vancouver (see heat map below). But in a lot of other places as well. It’s been a lot of fun. Some pain (a few pulled muscles here and there). A lot of hard work. A handful of races. Overall I’m enjoying it. ¬†ūüôā¬†Heat map all time

Victoria in 2012 was my first marathon. ¬†It’s nice to come back in 2017 for my fifth marathon. For the past several years I’ve focussed on half marathons, 10k and 5k races. Late last spring I decided it was time to do at least one more marathon but this time, rather than shoot for BQT I’d just aim for around 4 hours and see what happens. ¬†My training has focussed more on endurance than speed this time round. ¬†We’ll have to see how it goes.

But before Victoria I’m doing another half marathon. ¬†This one is on Bowen Island and is called the Handlogger’s Half Marathon. ¬†It’s a trail run with a fair bit of elevation gain and (to be honest) some rather terrible sections. The sections of the route that I have walked and/or run are all pretty mountainous, narrow, trails. ¬†By all accounts is a small friendly field.

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Back on track

The 2015 Fall Classic snuck in between rainstorms.  We had a great morning around 7C with a light breeze.

With this run I seem to be back on track. ¬†The 1:50:16 time was by no means a record for me (far from it, PB is 1:37:59 on the First Half, 2014). ¬†Falling off of my Oct 2014 10k PB ¬†(0:43:04) and then a solid 2014 Fall Classic (1:39:39) I didn’t give my self enough time to recover and by January found myself at a very reduced training level. Having worked myself back to where all is recovered I’m set to slowly ramp up on the training toward the 2016 First Half.

Ultimately the goal is to run for life, not a particular record. But, honestly, we all like to set goals that are just a little beyond our reach. ¬†Mine had been a several year hunt for a BQT (sub 3:30:00 42.2k). ¬†I’m thinking that I might target the next age group QT: 3:40:00 or even give it a bit to go for the next age category of 3:55:00 ūüėČ In terms of my next half my target is 1:40:00 – 1:45:00.

¬†On the road again … ¬†

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Mid-year Review

Six months into 2015. ¬†Two half marathons, one full marathon, one five k race. ¬†The new year began with having to scale back on the volume of running as I allowed my body to catch up to my training. ¬†An early January training run turned into the start of a series of physio appointments and worries about injury. ¬†While nothing was specifically wrong I came to the realization that I needed to slow down the training pace and restructure my training a bit. ¬†Essentially hip flexors and lower abdominal muscles were telling me: “slow down!”

The first run after cutting back was the First Half where I clocked in one of my slowest times ever: 1:55:19. ¬†Only to be topped last week during my heatwave ScotiaHalf time of 1:58:37. ¬†The First Half was physically painful as I essentially limped over the final km of the run. ¬†The ScotiaHalf was excruciating due to the heat. As it turned out by the end of June all the aches and pains of early January were gone but now the cardio was below par. The unseasonably hot and humid Vancouver temperature (around 28C by the end of the race at 9:30 am) had some impact, but I can‚Äôt place all the blame on the weather. ūüôā

Sprinting across Burrard Bridge.

Sprinting across Burrard Bridge.

Meanwhile I managed to have a great Canada Day Run here at UBC.  My 5km time was a personal course PB at 21:34 (15th place overall, 1/13 in age category), about 50 seconds off my 5km BP of 20:41.

Now it’s time to start building back. ¬†My next two goal runs are the Fall Classic in November and the First Half early in 2016.

Half Year Running Totals, Jan. 1 – June 30, 2015.

  • Total km = 1129.
  • Median distance = 8km.
  • 122 individual runs.
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New Year’s Eve running wrap up

Running to the finish, BMO 2014

Running to the finish, BMO 2014

2014 came to a close with a great 9.7km run through Pacific Spirit Park at UBC. A modest fun run to cap a great year of running. ¬†This year I put in 3,536km with 325 individual runs (last year was slightly more at 3,574km and 328 runs). ¬†Running races is fun, but to be honest it’s the regular runs that I do along the year with family, friends, and collegupges that are the most engaging.¬† Also nice are the runs that I manage to do while travelling for work or for pleasure.

This year I’ve been able to run in the following locales: Albuquerque, Calvert Island (Haika Institute), ¬†Juneau, Lach Klan, Osaka Japan, Prince Rupert, Portland, and Washington D.C.. It’s a fun way to get to know a new place or to reconnect to a place one has visited before: seeing a place from the vantage of a run transform a location and always serves up surprises.

I’ve also added four personal bests this year. ¬†Three overall PB’s and one race PB. ¬†I’ve shifted my times for the full marathon to (finally!) under four hours: 3:59:15 (BMO May 2014). ¬†The First Half ¬†(Feb. 2014) brought my half marathon time to 1:37:59. ¬†I pushed into new territory with my 10km time at the fall Rock & Roll ¬†(Oct. 2014)with a 0:43:04 time. ¬†Earlier in the year I set a personal best in the SunRun with a 0:44:15 time.

My goals for the coming year are fairly modest. ¬†While I do plan on running the May Vancouver Marathon again, this year I am looking to simply meet or modestly beat last year’s time. ¬†For the half marathon I’m currently training for the First Half in February again. ¬†If I can run between 1:36:00 & 1:37:30 I will be pleased. ¬†My primary goal, however, is just to keep running and aim for accumulating 4,000km total distance in 2015!

Happy New Year!

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1391: days on the run!

1,391. The number of days running since the end of what I jokingly refer to as my two decade anomaly. That is, the decades of my 30’s and 40’s when my focus and life shifted toward career and children and my weight drifted up and my fitness fell down.

I’ve recently skimmed a book, Go Wild, that describes very closely the approach that I gravitated to almost naturally once I said no sugar (not an absolute ban, but a general rule). ¬†As Ratey and Manning point out weight falls away once one cuts out sugar. ¬†Sugar and many of the processed foods that we eat today are in fact little more than recycled waste from the industrial agriculture industry. ¬†But. My point in cutting sugar really wasn’t to drop my weight – that was a happy unintended consequence. ¬† My point was to deal with the headaches and assorted pains and discomforts that comes from consuming an industrial poison.

People ask me if my running doesn’t cause my knees to hurt. ¬†That misses the point. ¬†My knees have never hurt so much as when I was eating industrial processed foods. ¬†Running takes me into a new domain of health and wellbeing. ¬†Earlier on in my renewed exploration of running I read Born to Run. A page turner first person account of discovering long distance running and an informative handbook rolled into one enjoyable read. Here was described an account of running without injury and at near elite levels. We are born, evolved, to run. ¬†Any other conclusion is one rooted in corporate ad campaigns and disinformation.



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Four years later!

Four years back on the running path.  I jokingly refer to my 30s and 40s as my two decade anomaly.

Since August I’ve chalked up two more half marathon personal bests with my First Half run in February taking my time down to 1:37:59 (chip time), 26/118 in age division and 364/1930 overall and my Fall Classic run of 1:38:43. I ran the Skagit Flats Marathon, enjoyed it thoroughly, but still managed not to cross the 4 hour barrier (4:10:32): next time!¬† The next big race on the schedule is the Vancouver Marathon.¬† Last year I ran it 4:03:30 (my current marathon PB).¬† While I would like to run close to 3:30:00, I will be pleased to cross the 4 hour mark and bring my result into a sub-4 time, 3:45:00 would make my day. ūüôā

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