In order to stay on track with your training program, it is important to manage pain and injury appropriately. It can be difficult to determine when to continue training and when to stop training and seek the advice of a medical professional. Start Line’s ‘Runner’s Tip of the Month’ is to seek the advice of a physiotherapist if you are experiencing any of the following:
1. Pain lasting longer than a few days 2. Pain that is constant, with no relieving factors 3. Pain that is increasing in severity, frequency or size of affected area 4. Pain that has caused you to change your running stride 5. Pain at night that is interfering with sleep 6. Pain that is interfering with your daily routine
Always trust your gut when it comes to your own body!
Check in with your local physiotherapist if you have any questions or concerns related to your running or walking program!
Training should start with some fundamental concepts.
–Be goal oriented, be progressive and be consistent–
Goals in these uncertain times are hard to pin down but we can start with general goals, such as “I want to do a race in June 2021” or “I want to do a virtual triathlon” and start from there.
Training for a goal race should take from 8 to 24 weeks depending on the distance of the race and your base fitness level.
An ironman race would take 12-24 weeks of specific training and a sprint race about 8-12 weeks.
The actual timing of the start of specific training can be set when we find the scheduled race date, then just count back on the calendar the appropriate number of weeks and start your training there.
It is best to have a solid base fitness level at the start of the race specific training block so starting a pre-season training block is wise. If you’re ready, keep reading and let the fun begin.
Most athletes do 2 or 4 days per week of each sport so I will present a 3 day per week training plan for the running part.
In order to know if we are progressing we need to know where we are today, so starting with a test is a good idea. Can you run 5k? Do the test on the same type of surface you plan to train on.
A good test is a 5K time trial and should be done once per month or so in order to measure improvement. The time trial should start with a solid 10 to 15 minute warm-up then a 3-5 minute rest period beforehand then run 5K as consistent as you can, as fast as you feel comfortable. Follow with a 5-10 minute cool down. Ask yourself if you could have run harder? Most people have GPS watches so use this for your distance and timing.
The time you set will be used to plan your training paces so do the best time you can. For beginners a walk – run is good or a 2k time trial, you will be progressing so use this time as your starting point. Figure out what your pace is per km, e.g. did it take 60 minutes to run 5k – pace is 12 min/km or 4:48 (4 min 48 sec) for 400m or did it take 30 minutes to run 5k – pace is 6 min/km or 2:24 (2 min 24 sec) for 400m.
Training Plan: (Can be done on the road, the trail or the track)
The days of the week should be changed to fit your schedule; however, intervals should never be completed on back to back days. The number of intervals should progress by 1 each week until you get to 8 X 400m.
Monday—Intervals: The interval part is a blend of hard efforts and the recovery time between efforts.
Warm up for 10 to 15 minutes then:
To start, do 4 X 400m at your test pace and increase the number of intervals by one ear week. Recover for about 90 secs after each 400m. Slowly increase pace so the last 200m is your 5k pace. Cool down for at least 10 minutes.
Wednesday – fast running (Repeats). Each week add 1 or 2 repeat
Warm up for 10 to 15 minutes then:
4 X 100m very fast. As fast as you can. Recovery should be 2 minutes after each repeat. Start each recovery with walking back to the start and then wait before starting the next repeat. Cool down for at least 10 minutes.
Saturday — Endurance — Run at a comfortable pace, starting at your present fitness level and progressing by 10 or 15 minutes each week until you can do 1 to 2 hours. Every 4 weeks replace this run with a time trial and adjust your interval pace if necessary based on the result.
Keep in mind
Try to hit the calculated times for 400m so you get used to pacing. Use technology if you have it.
Pay attention to your heart rate and your perceived effort. Use technology if you have it.
Pay special attention to your running form. Keep it solid.
We are working on general fitness in preparation for race specific training.
The run is hard all on its own, but is only part of a triathlon and is extra challenging because you’re tired after swimming and biking:)
Coached sessions will begin Tuesday November 3rd and run through till April.
Coach Sheron Chrysler will be Coaching Group Sessions Tuesdays at 8:00AM or 5:30PM at the Cowichan Sportsplex.
$50 for 3 Months $90 for 6 Months or $40 for an 8 session punch card.
In order to participate in coached sessions, you must have completed the waiver and participant agreement.
Monday September 07, 2020 in Duncan BC. What an exciting day it was going to be. I kept waking up worried I’d miss my cell’s alarm ring at 4am. Yes, 4 am. My husband expected I’d be leaving early but “Wow! That’s really early… When’s David (Sykes) planning on starting?” I reply “5 am.” I wondered if David got any sleep. Nevertheless, I arrived at the Chesterfield parking lot at the back of the Sportsplex. No one there. Well, there were two vehicles and it was 4:35 so I guess I’ll wait.
I began to wander around for a bit. Hmmm! The track is sooo dark. My iPhone camera is slow as molasses. I had moved to the other end of that walkway at 4:57am and stood by the gate entrance to the track. I look up and see two figures running towards me. Another Ceevacs runner, John Allen, later told me that he met David and Rob at the Chesterfield parking lot and walkway to the Sportsplex. I must have been alerted by John cheering David as he began his race. Awesome! This is so great.
I hear David say in a surprised voice, “Oh! It’s Ellen.” I snap off a couple of very blurry photos as he passes by 4:57:25. David’s running supported by Rob Grant. Cool! Rob, prior to today has completed 2 marathons and 3 Ironman races. As Rob runs by, he asks if I’m going to run the track with them. “No, I’m walking so David has someone to pass as he makes his way around the track.” As I walk around, I try to find a position to take advantage of what little light there is. I take a photo as David and Rob run by calling out “That’s 5 times around. We’re off Ellen.” It’s 5:15am.
See the map to follow David’s route.
David and Rob are on their way over to the Marchmont/Wharncliffe area and do two laps of the streets following Coach Sheron “Crooked fence” route. They will be coming down Chesterfield, Howard, Heather and Beverly soon. I cross the Trans Canada Hwy and head for Thrifty’s to find a good spot to cheer them on. Oh no! Shocked, I realize I’m in the wrong spot when I see David and Rob do a twisty turn through Thrifty’s parking lot and north onto the TransCanada Highway. At least I have proof that 2 runners were seen running through Thrifty’s parking lot around 6am!
I had plenty of time now to get to my next destination on Canada Avenue just past Sherman (about ½ k on Friendship Trail). However, the sun hadn’t risen, so the light was bad. No pictures were possible as David and Rob come flying off the trail and onto the road. “Looking great, guys!” They are bound for a maze weaving through the streets of Duncan. I found out later from David that Trish Laliberte met them at about the 17k mark, snapped a couple of photos and began running.” Trish is a fierce runner and a massage therapist. David told me he was unaware that Trish would be joining and what a pleasant surprise it was for him.
For now, I head down Canada Avenue towards the Casino (23k for David and Rob), thinking that this wasn’t the best of choices for taking photos. But the other side of the bridge could be good, and the sun will be up by the time they come running over it around 7:15.
As I parked by the bridge next to Boys Rd. a figure goes flying by me. What the heck? There’s Ceevacs marathoner, Angela MacLean from Ladysmith! I jump out of my car and start running after her but loose her as she disappears over the bridge. As I’m about to turn, Angela comes running back and I yell, “They haven’t come by yet!” Angela turns around and heads for the bridge again to meet up with the group at the Casino.
Minutes later, I see David and Angela, Rob clapping and Trish waving as they come off the bridge, running in a tight square formation. Wonderful! David picked his support well, even if it was unintentional. It was quite an experience seeing these 4 athletes running straight at me with David and Angela out front and Trish and Rob behind them with hydration packs on. They look like a solid block running forwards. That changed when they turned onto Boys Rd and had to run in a line stretched out along the narrow side of the road. These runners were moving fast, though it is a bit risky even at 7:10 am but they seemed comfortable.
Jim Ramsey appeared in his car as they were coming over the bridge and watched as they ran down Boys Rd in a line and then changing their formation ever so slightly, running in a larger square formation. Jim is a long-time marathoner, triathlete and Ceevacs member. I actually ran my first Royal Victoria marathon in the same race as Jim in the early 80’s. Jim was just a bit faster than me; maybe 2 hours plus or so. Haha! I finished with a smile though and got my picture in the Times Colonist the next day!
Now David and his crew have run about 25k and they are looking strong and relaxed. These folks are moving fast. Jim has headed down Mission Rd and is waiting for them at Sahilton Road. On Mission Rd., I take a couple of quick artsy shots that show that my photographer skills are sub-standard, and I that I must take some sort of online course. Too bad but no time right now. I have to get to the Old Farm Market where a few people are waiting for David to run by.
Sheron had been taking photos at the Casino and left for the Old Farm Market to run back to meet the group. We passed one another on the road; she to meet David, Rob, Angela and Trish at Sahilton Rd to run an out and back then to the Old Farm Market where I was headed.
Just as Teresa Lewis-Schneider, accomplished marathoner and 2019’s winner of the Lake to Lake 1/2, drives up to the market, parks next to me, jumps out to join David, Trish, and Rob as they run by while Sheron ends her run. Wow! David really does have great support out there. This is so much fun with people taking turns running to support David. The group heads off towards Cow Bay to the Robert Service Memorial Park (33.5k) and prepare to do an out and back to The Old Farm Market. Once again, my prowess as a photographer shines at least catching Teresa’s legs which you will see in David’s Virtual Boston Marathon album! I’m pretty sure Lois is cringing by now!
Susan Marshall, Ceevacs marathoner and husband, Bob arrive, after having gone to the wrong market and are sorry they’ve missed David and crew. Susan asks if Ben and Wendy have come just as they drive up. Sheron calls out “They are a few minutes away” and off Ben and Wendy race towards Cow Bay. Ben Marrs is another experienced marathoner having completed the Lake to Lake in 2019 coming in 7th overall. Wendy Marshall has run in numerous races and having just retired is running like the wind. Yes, Ceevacs runners just keep on coming to support David.
Meanwhile Angela has turned around at the Market to pick up her car and head to the turnaround on Cowichan Bay to give David water and ice. She’d planned for a week. “It’s very nice of her” says Sheron.
By this time, Sheron and I realize we’ve got to get back to the Sportsplex as Sheron’s got some ideas for the finish. When I get there, Sheron’s got the storage unit open and is taking bags out of the trailer. “Can you get the extension cords?” Sheron calls out as I arrive. “All of them?” I ask looking down at the large metal garbage can and Sheron says, “Yes, we may need hundreds of feet.” I wonder “What is she doing?” Can you detect our frenetic energy rising? Well, that’s what was happening! Time is racing by. Its 8:20!
Sheron sets the hose reel on the ground and starts to pull the flags off the hose reel. “They are knotted somewhere. We need to find the knot and take that piece out, so David can run through the ribbon!” Sheron never ceases to amaze me with her creativity. She’s so charged she begins asking me for the time every few minutes. While I take the knots apart, Sheron digs out the Ceevacs Finishers Arch. This is going to be great! But will we have enough time to get this all up and ready before David, Rob and crew enter the track? We don’t even know if he’s finishing at the Sportsplex yet. We begin setting up on the track anyway when Sheron realizes the electricity is not on. We keep assuring each other that things will work out; All will be ready. Sheron runs off to find a Sportsplex staff person who enthusiastically comes to help us out. Thankyou Sportsplex for your support.
We get the Ceevacs Arch blown up by 8:30 and Angela appears out of the blue carrying a sign she’s made at 8:40. This woman seems to be everywhere! It is so nice that everything is coming together! Yay! David’s going to be so amazed. Ceevacs members are appearing from all entrances. This is such a great example of how Ceevacs members support each other. This is actually staggering considering it is the last day of the long weekend. Sheron and I think that Ceevacs have had to social distance and self-isolate for so long that David’s marathon is allowing us to celebrate that we are alive and can begin to make our own dreams come true again. All is ready and just in time as 9:10 is fast approaching.
Sheron is satisfied everything is ready and heads off to meet David at 9:09. Almost immediately Ben and Sheron appear with Rob, Trish, David, Robin and Wendy running down the walkway side by side. Fantastic! What a performance! They look like the Magnificent Seven, strong and ready for anything. These runners have run through several different neighbourhoods back and forth and Robin Taylor, experienced racer and triathlete must have joined as the runners came off the Trans Canada at Trunk Road for the final push towards Chesterfield and the Sportsplex. What an incredible sight watching these seven runners entering from the side of the track. Very inspiring! Sooo moving! I know, I know, I’m getting carried away, but it was pretty exhilarating for those of us watching them arrive with David in the lead.
This normally, ordinary group of runners striding forward with David and Rob as they near the completion of Davids Virtual Boston Marathon is impressive. For those who don’t know, that’s the look of two runners who have run 42.2k and had an incredible support team throughout. Upon entering the track, David, Rob and crew are directed to run the entire track lining them up for a photo shoot.
Trish and Robin run on either side of David and Rob is hidden behind David with his arms stretched out to the sides as if David is flying towards the finish. David runs through the Arch with a huge smile on his face as he breaks through the ribbon held by Ceevacs President Cara and Angela and to the cheers from his Ceevacs friends. What a finish David! What a finish! Congratulations David and Rob and crew!
Finally, Angela meets David at the finishers side of the Arch and hangs her Boston finishers medal around his neck. OMG, this must be such a completing gesture for David to be able to bow and have a Boston finishers medal placed around his neck. His Boston medal had not yet arrived from the Virtual Boston Marathon folks.
It was very powerful to witness the drive and strength over 42.2k that David conveyed. David and Rob stand for a photo op with everyone cheering. They have completed David’s Boston Virtual Marathon in Duncan! What a day to remember!
David checks his watch while chatting with Jim and walks through the crowd of people who have come to share in and celebrate his finish. My eye falls on Rob as he gets up and stands to check his watch and Robin who is quickly circulating amongst the crowd to get signatures on the “Go David Boston Marathon” card” In between Angela and Robin is Jim Ramsey, who cheered for David and his crew at various checkpoints.
Everyone was so excited about so many members from Ceevacs coming together that we had to take a photo. It was great to see David complete his Virtual Boston Marathon. It was also inspiring to see the camaraderie of everyone that I did and didn’t see at the Sportsplex cheering and giving their support to David. In Sheron’s words “I just LOVE our amazing club!”
A surprised but kind Sportsplex user who was walking his dog agreed to photograph the 18 Ceevacs members at the Sportsplex. I’m so glad he knew how to take a photo and did not take our heads off!
Later, David sent me an email after his marathon:
“Just so you know my calves cramped up starting about the 37K mark. This happened about 3 times and on all 3 occasions Trish and Teresa did a rapid massage. Great to have health care professionals running with you. Everyone running at the time was so super supportive. I’m not sure you want to mention this or not but it’s something I won’t forget. Cheers.”
It was a privilege David, really… to be a part of your challenge and success.
When my family began to drive around North Cowichan in March 2020, it didn’t take us long before we would see someone running. When I commented on this, my husband who is not a runner, remarked that “If you wander through the forest long enough you will see a bear!” On one particular drive we saw this solitary soul in the distance, moving along and it was a pleasant surprise when I realized it was Ceevacs marathoner, Angela MacLean running with that familiar graceful but lively stride. After that we would see her again and again running the roads of Chemainus, and Duncan; miles from home. Angela seemed to be everywhere!
In July, my run partner, Janis and I were driving along Somenos Road when I saw Angela again, running in the distance. I asked Janis to stop and we talked briefly with Angela about running and how it was affecting her marriage. Angela had been married one year earlier on July 6, 2019. I asked what she thought about my writing an article for Ceevacs Connect and she was enthusiastic. But, when I messaged her later, Angela responded with this short note.
“I loved the idea (of an article for Ceevacs Connect) when you brought it up for sure! (When we were engaged, my husband couldn’t believe I was planning to go for a morning run on our wedding day, but I run 7 days per week so…) But after thinking about it, I realized that getting married hasn’t affected me as a runner. When I first met my husband I kind of warned him that I do run every day, no matter what, even on holidays…and he’s always been Ok with that. I don’t think that will ever change, unless I get some type of life-altering injury.
“Oh yah?” Angela continues to boggle my mind with the next few comments. “My husband, Elliott said I should write about how moving here from Alberta has changed me as a runner…but it hasn’t other than the fact that it’s way more beautiful here, and I do complain about the hills from time to time But, before March 2020, I was training for Boston and possibly ready to PR (Personal Record) even though it would have been my 30th full marathon…. and thought, maybe all these hills aren’t so bad after all… At any rate, I don’t think I have a very compelling story to tell. I wish I did! I’m sorry!”
At the same time, I had become pre-occupied developing questions for Angela when I received her reply. Now, Angela had really begun to interest me. Why was Angela running in Duncan when she lives in Ladysmith? Running 7 days a week? Thirty marathons? What about injuries? I thought she had plenty to say that might inspire others and replied. “Well you’ve actually begun quite a nice story here. I wonder if I can use some of your messages to pass on to others.” I left her with my questions to ponder. I was looking forward to some motivating and informative answers. By the beginning of August, I was about to give up, when Angela messaged me back in mid-August.
“Sorry I didn’t respond to you sooner. I’ve been thinking a lot about WHY I’ve been running 7 days a week, because the “why” has changed a lot for me. Back in 2009 I broke 1:50 for the first time in a half marathon. I realized that this meant I had a chance to qualify for Boston. I saw a book called “Run Less, Run Faster” with a specific training program to achieve a BQ (Boston Qualifier). The idea was to run only 3 days per week, then cross train the other 4 days, in order to prevent injury. However, the 3 days of running were all speed work. Even the long run was fast! When I look back at my training log from that year, I cannot believe I did my long runs at such a ridiculous pace!
Then, I ended up with a horrible case of ITBS (Iliotibial Band Syndrome) leading up to the Toronto Waterfront Marathon, which was to be my first attempt to BQ. Due to the injury, as well as a very warm day, I ran a 4-hour marathon which missed my BQ by 15 minutes. The race was in September 2009. Once I recovered from the ITBS, I started bringing up my mileage and running every day, with no speed work. I ran the California International Marathon in December that year with a 3:51, then the next month I ran the Phoenix Marathon in 3:44, my first Boston Qualifier!
In 2011, when I trained for my first Boston, I did not take a day off running for the entire 4 months of my training until three days before the race. I maxed out at 120 km per week (tricky while working full time), only doing speed work once every 2 weeks, with some other marathons to use as fast-ish training runs. In that 2011 Boston, I ran a 3:34 which is STILL my PR, felt great the whole time and recovered very quickly. Ever since then, I have found that running every day, with little to no speed work, has produced races I am proud of, and kept me from getting injured EXCEPT when I haven’t followed the 10% rule (very preventable). I have even done a couple of 1:35 half marathons, using this training principle.
Running every day of the week is not a conventional way of training. My own family doctor told me that “people expect way too much from their bodies”. But I couldn’t disagree more. People underestimate their bodies ALL THE TIME. The human body is DESIGNED TO RUN! Even back in 2013/14 when I was recovering from surgeries related to the onset of Crohn’s disease, and thought I might never be able to run farther than 5k again, I gradually increased my mileage as much as my body would allow, and eventually at my next marathon which was Houston in 2015, was able to comfortably qualify for Boston and even ran a negative split. The human body is amazing!! By running every day, I am only training my body to do what it was meant to do. Because of this, although I have no talent for running, I have run 29 marathons and qualified for Boston and have typically recovered very quickly from my races.
I am very seldom not training for a marathon, which is why I just keep running every day, all year long. I’m 45 with a lot of miles in my legs and I feel great; maybe my “luck” will run out some day, but until then, as long as I am very careful about my speed work and change my shoes frequently, I should be able to keep from getting injured.
Since March 2020, running has changed a great deal for me, in terms of motivation, because there are no races. I have been running a lot more from my house in Ladysmith, which is extremely hilly, so not super motivating. My favourite places to run are Chemainus and Cherry Point, but for the first time in 20 years, I have been finding it challenging to run alone. I look forward to running with the Ceevacs even more than I did before. I’ve done some virtual races but really dislike the whole premise, so I run every day generally to prevent gaining weight. I try to find new ways to motivate myself and try to remember what I did for each of my 29 marathons, although some of them were done for fun or to pace a friend. Well, there’s the long answer to your questions!!!”
Angela sent me some of her favourite photos with her email signature that unwittingly told me she was a Runner, Music Teacher and “Dog lover”. I thought, Hmmm… “Angela has a dog?” Well, now I had to know about her dog; Half of the Ceevacs runners have dogs! If they aren’t talking about running, they are telling you their latest crazy dog story. As it turns out Angela has 2 dogs according to Facebook! But we will have to hear that story another time.
It took a bit of cajoling, but I’m happy that Angela’s story has prompted me to look at things a little differently when it comes to my own running and training. For those readers who are unfamiliar with the 10% Run Rule that Angela referred to, here’s the short of it from Amby Burfoot, Runner’s World.
“Be the Tortoise, not the Hare. Increase your weekly and monthly running totals gradually. Use the 10-Percent rule as a general guideline but realize that it might be too aggressive for you – especially if you are injury prone.”
Angela MacLean and Ellen Candlish
Photos 1. Wedding Day July 6th, 2019 in Sooke BC (top) 2. Canada Day 15 km race in Edmonton (top) 3. 1080 Day 10k run in Edmonton 4. Boston Marathon 2017 in finishers cape 5. Angela and Elliott after Boston Marathon 2017 finish 6. Colour Run – Where you get sprayed with paint at various points throughout the race. It was SOOO MUCH FUN!!!! 7. K-100 relay race in Kananaskis 8. Email signature
Thank you, Angela for sharing your story, photos and your time. Ellen
Ellen asked me to write something about the cross country run one can do to include Maple, Prevost and Tzouhalem mountains. I’ve put this together, including personal reminiscences, as a contribution to “Ceevacs Connect”.
As I remember (and the old sometimes forget), for maybe 10 years I usually ran the course every year, initially making a few changes. The route eventually stabilised. I think I last ran the course 3 years ago (2017). I have been torn about whether I will try the course again: If I do, it would certainly be at this time of the year.
Standing in the middle of Chesterfield Sportsplex you can see the three main mountains (Maple, Prevost and Tzouhalem) which surround The Cowichan Valley. We are incredibly fortunate in North Cowichan to have the bulk of these mountains incorporated as working Municipal Forests that have been so well organised for all our interests for many decades. It was just before my 60th when I looked up from the Sportsplex and figured it might be possible to run a loop from our house in Maple Bay to include these three peaks. I had run somewhat on the trails of all three mountains over the previous years, and I guessed that 9 hours would be a good time to aim for. It was on my 60th birthday that I first set off.
I might say at the outset that I am sure anyone who knows these mountains to any extent, likely has a strong sense of the individual character of each mountain. They really are quite different, but I realise our perception of the differences are due in large part to what we ourselves take to the mountain. Still, I will say that I have always felt most at home on Maple Mountain. It has for me a sensation of unfathomable age, and there are nooks and crannies where you could be safe if you were attacked by goblins, for example. It doesn’t really care about you one way or another, but it is in no way unfriendly. I feel very differently about Mt Prevost, which despite all its attraction visually, always makes me uncomfortable. It keeps some nasty secrets and I am happy to get off it. Mt Tzouhalem is more straightforward, is the most spectacular visually, and will adapt itself to humour you.
On my first attempt I set off before 07:00am with a camel back full of Gatorade, a Cliffs Bar and a handful of dates. I’ve always followed this routine, and it has worked well for me. I don’t like running with a camel back, but I can put up with it. In the last 10 years or so I have been lucky enough to have my wife, Laura wave me off and tell me to phone her at work when I get back.
Running along Arbutus Avenue and up Maple Mountain Road, I start on the Maple Mountain’s Blue Trail. The first time I tried this part of the loop, my friend Tammy joined me and that was before she ran away from home to join the RCMP. It was a very cold morning, and we missed the curve in the trail and continued under the power lines getting lost in the heavy broom that had developed. We had to back track. Maintenance under the power lines has made the curve we missed more obvious now, but I always think at that point of the first time I was up here when Tammy had to help me get my frozen fingers back in my gloves, and I’ve always avoided the winter months ever since.
The Pink Trail curves off the Blue to the left just after the power lines: you can access the Pink again when it curves back nearer Crofton almost within view of the Mill where I used to work. This second access is what I used to take, but I’ve found it best to take the first access point, although it is easy to miss.
A straightforward climb, and the Pink connects to Maple Main, where you can turn left for a few hundred meters and arrive at the microwave station where I take my first break to suck Gatorade, munch on some dates and look down into Birds Eye Cove.
I return straight down Maple Main, past the section where I once brought my youngest, Dominic, tobogganing one snowy afternoon when he was young.
I arrive at Osbourne Bay Road. Here I cross and then run along Richards Main directly opposite. The first time I ran this route I didn’t know about a single-track path that runs off to the right a km or so along, but Ceevacs member, Darrell, then Municipal Forester, took time to meet me and show me where the path tees off. It is always pretty overgrown. Once I ran this loop when it was still a little damp out and my legs and shoes were quickly soaked, so I never try the loop now unless its bone dry out, for there is still a long way to go. This path leads through the woods and then an open area of clear-cut where the memorial cross on Mt Prevost is clearly visible dead ahead. Richards Main terminates on Richards Trail.
At Richards Trail I turn right, running to Westholme, left on Westholme, past Bell McKinnon and on to the Island Highway. I cross the highway. There is always lots of traffic, a little surreal after the quiet of the mountains, and the crossing seems exceedingly dangerous.
I run along Somenos, remembering one year when Kelly, another Ceevacs friend drove out to meet me en route. That was close to fenced land to the left which always looks to me like it should be a Kentucky horse farm, oddly placed in the Cowichan Valley.
Kelly and I ran together, turning off Somenos, up Mt Prevost Road and onto Mt Prevost Main. This is a pretty straightforward climb signposted (sort of) to arrive at the top of Mt Prevost. I usually figure I’m now about halfway, and it is usually about 11:30am. Once, the hang gliders were jumping off as I arrived, and it’s a good spot to pause, have a Cliff Bar and look around.
I descend Mt Prevost the same way I came up. I’ve considered, instead, taking one of the many trails that exist, but, as I said, I don’t choose to linger on Mt Prevost. I know some runners prefer uphill to downhill, but by this stage of the run I’ve developed a most pronounced preference for the downhill sections, and I feel I’m somehow getting my own back on that slog uphill by going down the same way.
All good things come to an end, and I have often found that by the time I cross the Lake Cowichan Highway on Somenos, I’m having to walk quite a bit. It is also getting hot at the time of day that I’m out, and I make a note to avoid this run in the height of the summer. One of the first times I ran this course someone was installing posts to build a wooden fence around his garden just by where I had turned off Somenos an hour or two earlier. His fencing had progressed a little by the time I came off Mt Prevost that same trip, and it has stood for many years. But it is now looking pretty tumbled down. So, it passes.
I used to turn left off Somenos, onto the Lake Cowichan Highway and then south on the Island Highway. I don’t dislike heavy traffic on an ordinary run, but I do find the heavy traffic on the Highway disorienting at this stage, and the big trucks keep blowing my hat off, so I stick to Somenos. I turn left at Sherman, right at Canada to Beverly to the roundabout. I don’t know why, but I’ve never much liked running on the new dike. I stick to the road, go across the roundabout at Lakes, up Rosewood and Brier onto Tzouhalem.
Along Tzouhalem for a few km, I turn left through Providence Farm, past the horse barns and the blackberries and start uphill. The first time I ran this I missed the sharp left turn on the main trail and ended up bushwhacking to climb up the cliffs directly under the Cross, an experience I’m not keen to repeat. I spoke to Sheron later who told me to take the sharp left not long after leaving the farm, and this works much better, although it does take you up The Wall on the *Gut Buster. Once when running the Gut Buster, I meet Prairie Inn Harriers’ Carlos, ‘The Jackal’ having stopped up ahead of me to take in the view and chat to whoever choose to join him. I think about it and pass on.
It is a steady climb to the Cross, and then pretty flat along the ridge to the Look Out. If you are up here at the right time of the year you can clearly hear music wafting up from the Folk Festival at Providence Farm.
I descend Mt Tzouhalem on “B”. In earlier days of this run, this section of the mountain hadn’t been clear cut and I knew the way back on the trails that our Ceevacs Monday Mt Tzouhalem group used to run. But after the clear cutting, things changed. The second time I did the loop I had come up “Kingsview instead of through Providence Farm, and I had dropped into Jim M’s house in The Properties for a drink. He joined me for an hour or so, running up and then back down together, but we got a little disoriented when we arrived into the then-new clear cut. It was getting on towards evening and I didn’t want to get off the mountain too far away from Maple Bay, so we had to wander around a bit in that moonscape before descending. As I remember, the old trails had been obliterated. Later, Sheron suggested a **mountain bike path leading off to the right immediately before the clear cut, and I’ve taken that ever since.
After a seemingly endless descent, this path comes out at the top of Nevilane Drive. Then, it is straight down Nevilane Drive and Osprey onto Maple Mountain Road and so home.
Home means lots and lots of hot sweet tea with soft boiled eggs, homemade bread and Marmite and then strawberry jam, a soak in a bath and a nap. Then up for supper with a bottle of wine, and bed.
By the way, I’ve never made that 9 hours, not by quite a long shot, but maybe I should try again. But not in winter, not when it is at all wet underfoot and not in the heat of summer. That means about now…Hmmm…Dragons live forever, but not so little boys…Maybe some things are best left alone.
Thank you, James Griffin for documenting your experience on the Loop.
P.S. from Ellen James continues to run at 73 years old. I asked him what he’s been doing lately, and he said, “A couple of months ago I was following a training programme I had cobbled together for the North Olympic Marathon in Washington State. I maintained the programme up to the date of the planned event in early June, although it was clearly going to be cancelled, or, in any event, I clearly was not going to go there!”
James: “Sheron may be able to draw a good map, I believe. My efforts floundered because many of the trails I couldn’t find on existing maps. They had to be substituted by straight lines, which were both very inaccurate and odd-looking. “
Ellen “For those of you who are not familiar with the Cowichan Valley, Sheron has added a map that shows what James has described to give you a visual sense of The Loop.” Thank you Sheron.
P.S. from Sheron: *GutBuster Trail Series is now the Vancouver Island Trail Series ** The mountain bike path formally named the ‘Muni Trail’ is now called, ‘Bumble Bee’. The top section of the Bumble Bee trail designated for downhill mt bikers.
Photos: – Laura (wife) and I ran the Lock Down Relay from Maple Bay to meet Ellen and Bill on May 30 /20. There were 3 spokes: Maple Bay/Crofton/Chemainus to Mt. Prevost school, the second one from Shawnigan/Mill Bay to Mt Prevost School and the third from was from Lake Cowichan. – The photo was, I believe, taken on the trail between the Cross and the Lookout on Tzouhalem, when I was collecting trail ribbons used to mark the Gutbuster Run (hence the garbage bag!). When running the Loop, this was a very happy stretch for me as I was now confident that I would be finishing. – I was training at the Sportsplex wearing my Edge to Edge t-shirt. – I came in 5th in my age group in the Victoria marathon 2014. – This photo has, as I’m certain you know, Mt Prevost in the background. I always find that (Somenos) dike such a damn slog, and I think it shows, doesn’t it!
Base – Maintain: Usually an easy talk pace. Maintain a consistent volume and frequency prior to BUILD.
• 45 to 60 minutes with 4 to 6 times 50 meters to 100-meter strides worded into the middle of the run • 45 to 60 minutes of hilly run. Run smooth and steady up the hill. A quicker leg turn-over, recover and run easily in between hills • Get out there for a run! 45 to 60 minutes on a flat to moderate surface • 60 to 90-minute run if you are currently running over 60 minutes for your longest run
Build: Increasing distance. What is your goal? 5 km, 10km, 1/2 Marathon. Marathon….?? Work on pacing
• 20 minute warm-up & Cool down – 1 to 2 minutes at 15 km to marathon pace • 60 to 90 minute run with 4 to 6 x 50 meter strides
Peak-Sharpen: Maximum effort in speed and tempo. Maximum build in endurance. Know your goal pace
• 20 minutes warm-up & cool-down/ 5 km dress rehearsal – 10 km pace or fastest pace that you can maintain for 5 km
• 20 minutes warm-up & cool-down/ 20 to 30 at 10 km pace effort , or fastest pace that you can maintain for 20 to 30 minutes
* Above sessions can take place on road, trail or track
When I began writing for Ceevacs Connect and seeking runners who were willing to tell their stories, I had no idea that our blog was reaching so many runners. Then a friend emailed and recommended Nick Versteeg as someone who had an interesting story. I admit, I was a little nervous about interviewing someone I had never met but I was intrigued by what I heard about him; In less than a minute I was put at ease.
Nick Versteeg was born in Holland in 1949. When he came to Canada, he lived in a variety of places but most recently Vancouver, Cowichan Valley, Cowichan Bay and now Victoria. While living in Vancouver Nick was introduced to running by his son who was moving into a third floor, condo where he found out he was “not in such good shape”. Nick kidded him about it and four months later, his son announced that he was running in the Victoria Half Marathon. He invited Nick to watch. Nick’s son called again three months later, saying “You teased me into doing the half marathon” so “I’ve registered us to run in the Victoria Half Marathon next fall!” While Nick had never run before, he was motivated to try. He had 8 months to train. That was 10 years ago.
Nick was hooked and whenever he could, he ran the Victoria Half Marathon and the Vancouver Sun 10km but never trained for them. While living in Glenora, in the Cowichan Valley, Nick enjoyed running the Cowichan Autumn Classic. He liked to “wait for the cookies”. Nick declares “It’s fun to run for a certain time”, but “It’s just great to run.”
In 2019, Nick Versteeg planned to tour Europe for eight months, with his wife, Elly while completing his iBook biography series “From Baker to Filmmaker”. They visited family in Holland, travelled through Portugal and Spain shopping in markets, enjoying the local foods, and visiting museums, art galleries and castles in each country. And of course, Nick ran. He had signed up to run the Toulouse Semi (Half) Marathon in France on Sunday, October 20, 2019. As he finished the 21 km race, he raised the Canadian flag above his head. When he crossed the line, his name was announced, and he was acknowledged as the only Canadian to run the race. His ankles hurt from the cobblestones but otherwise, all was well. (Click on the video attached of Nick’s final 17 seconds before crossing the line).
Shortly after that, Nick and Elly settled in southern France, in Olonzac, known as the “Capital of the Minervois” a wine growing region with a population 1,797; about 400 residents more than Crofton. Olonzac was a friendly village, not far from the beaches of the Mediterranean Sea and the Spanish border with numerous roads that were rarely used; Ideal for runners like Nick. Only 20 minutes from Olonzac was Carcassonne, located on a hill, it is a historic, medieval city, surrounded by double walls 3km in length, with 52 towers spread throughout, and a citadel dating back to the Gallo-Roman times. In 1997, the Carcassonne castle was added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites. Historically, another great place to run!
From Olonzac, Nick travelled by train to his second race late in February 2020. The 28th edition of the Paris Semi Marathon was to be held on Sunday, March 01st. On Friday, he picked up his bib and t-shirt. On Saturday, Nick scouted the route where he would be one of 40,000 runners racing the next day. When Nick arrived home Saturday afternoon, he checked his email and to his surprise, the Paris race had just been cancelled due to COVID. When he told me this, I thought “He just lost the moon!”
Nick and Elly are “pretty pragmatic” people. There were 40,000 people planning to run. Nick had run the Vancouver Sun 10k and was familiar with what it is like running with 50,000 runners.” In this case, it was best not to run that close to people. Yes, he was disappointed but “People’s health is #1.” Instead, Nick ran his own ½ marathon in the rain passing such sites as the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre which were not on the original route. Way to go Nick! Glad you didn’t let that training go to waste. While this was a huge disappointment, Nick later received an email that the race would be held in September. Unfortunately, that’s not happening either. Finally, Nick received the good news that he would get a voucher to enter any certified half marathon in the world. Wow!
Nick and Elly travelled to Mirepoix, France a small town with population of 3,162, just slightly larger than Chemainus. It was a beautiful, quiet rural town with covered walkways and houses painted in pastel colours. It was easy to run in. One week after the COVID announcement, a full lockdown was instituted, which meant when you left home you had to carry a piece of paper with your plan of what you were doing for the next hour. Runners were initially allowed to run where they wanted but were eventually restricted to run no more than 4km from their homes. Nick was lucky to be living in the Pyrenees, where it was a little easier to run than in the city and not so many people! When the Canadian Embassy alerted them to come home asap, they were in the beginning of the 14-day lockdown and felt it was a risk to fly so early in March. The planes were packed; it was chaos. After the 14-day lockdown was extended for another month, Nick and Elly chose to wait a while longer. Finally, they returned home to Victoria and were quarantined for 2 weeks. All has been well since with some incredible memories.
Nick has found running is not only a way to stay in shape, but it is a time when he can think creatively about his work and life. The thought to learn animation developed on one run. Running has inspired many ideas resulting in his making documentaries including productions about the Cowichan Valley such as “Once Upon a Day”, a short video that “showcases the beautiful Cowichan Valley” and “Resilience” a film about the Cowichan River. Nick had young chefs from all over the Canada competing on his show, “The Next Great Chef” which ran on Global for 2 years. While living on his hobby farm “The Laughing Geese”, near Glenora, he supplied the local chefs in Cowichan with produce. I looked up the origin of Mirepoix, France where Nick lived this year and found that mirepoix is a crucial ingredient in French cookery that includes carrots, onions and celery, acting as the base of many recipes. The name is derived from an 18th century Duke of Mirepoix who created the recipe. I wondered if Nick chose to live in Mirepoix because of his interest in food security and sustainability, another subject he is passionate about. You may also remember that last year, Nick introduced “A Just Society”, one of the most challenging of his 40-year career to more than 600 people at the Cowichan Performing Arts Centre.
Nick asserts “You’re never too old to start running. I began to run at 60 and I turn 71 years old in July.” It’s easy to train. “Make it a habit; Decide to get out and run every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.” In many of the places Nick has lived there have been hills and mountains. While running the Sooke 10k last year, he had the opportunity to talk with long time, Ceevacs runner, Hazura who gave Nick some sage advice as he ages. “I can run because I never run hills.” Nick has taken Hazura’s advice to heart and it works for him too.
A friend of Nick’s told me, “He has his best ideas when he is running and had hoped to run the Cowichan Autumn Classic” this fall, which sadly has been cancelled because of COVID. Instead, Nick will continue to enjoy running up and down mountains, along the Galloping Goose, around Happy Valley and other roads on the West Shore and Highlands. Nick states “I love running and plan to run for many more years.”
Thank you, Nick and Elly for sharing your story. Ellen Candlish
Base – Maintain: Usually an easy talk pace. Maintain a consistent volume and frequency prior to BUILD.
* 45 to 60 minutes with 4 to 6 times 50 meters to 100-meter strides worded into the middle of the run * 45 to 60 minutes of hilly run. Run smooth and steady up the hill. A quicker leg turn-over, recover and run easily in between hills * Get out there for a run! 45 to 60 minutes on a flat to moderate surface * 60 to 90-minute run if you are currently running over 60 minutes for your longest run
Build: Increasing distance. What is your goal? 5 km, 10km, 1/2 Marathon. Marathon….?? Work on pacing
* 20 minute warm-up & Cool down – 20 to 40 minutes harder effort at 15 km to marathon pace * 60 to 90 minute run with 4 to 6 x 50m strides
Peak – Sharpen : Maximum effort in speed and tempo. Maximum build in endurance. Know your goal pace
* 20 minutes warm-up & cool-down/ 2 to 3 x 15 minutes at 10 km to marathon pace (current pace that you can maintain, talking is lightly labored)
* Above sessions can take place on rod, trail or track