February 28, 2011

Fig & almond bread w. chocolate chunks

That's one good-looking loaf of bread
I'm not much of a baker but do love making my own bread.

Here's my new recipe for a wickedly delicious and healthy multigrain bread with figs, almonds and dark chocolate.

(Warning: the result can be very yummy!)

Robin Hood Multigrain (2 cups)
Fleischmann's instant yeast (1 sachet dissolved in warm water)
one egg
blanched almonds, sliced
honey (one spoon)
margarine (one spoon)
ground chilli (half a tablespoon)
a healthy dash of Scotch
chunks of dark chocolate (plenty)
dash of milk
dash of water

Rub olive oil on sides and bottom of (glass) oven dish. Ladle mixture into the dish.
Stick in preheated oven (350C).
Use chopstick after 45mins or so to test if cooked.
Serve plain, or with butter, or goat's cheese and/or jam.

February 27, 2011

Baking your own fruit & nut bread

Last night I tried to bake fruit and nut bread. I used to do this regularly while living in Australia, and those always turned out very well. I haven't done any baking since Tim and I moved to Canada in late 2007. I didn't use a recipe back then, and last night I didn't either.

My return to baking is inspired by wanting to bring something homemade to a Girl's Night on Monday evening at the house of my enterprising friend Wanda Doyle, a talented painter of oil and acrylic canvases that are in high demand. Check her work here. Wanda and I met through VISUALS, a Squamish-based group of visual artists which I joined in early 2009.

One of my paintings (sold)
I did a lot of painting from 2005 until 2010, see some of my works here. Wanda was VISUALS' president at the time, and her energy and drive took the group to the next level. She immediately roped me in to join the board as the PR director, and I ended up coordinating two of the group's four art shows in 2009. Here, under the heading Visual Art. are some articles I wrote to help promote the artists and the group.

Wanda and I hit it off immediately, and she invited me on an art-related trip to Vancouver where we checked out galleries and shopped for some arts supplies. I also met Michiko Splinter, who I've written about before on this site, through this group. A talented and lifelong painter who only works in oils, Michiko shared her knowledge on hanging two of the art shows I coordinated. We found we had a lot to talk, and laugh, about as Michiko and I did a trip to a couple of local galleries.

When Wanda next suggested I join her for the day in Whistler where she was preparing her works for an art walk during the Olympics, I suggested Michiko might come along too. It was so much fun that those have since turned into regular  "girly art" trips. More recently, Polish-born weaver Gosia joined us, as did my sister Angelique when she visited me in November.

Writing and publishing have been taking all my energy and focus, and I have done very little to no painting. But my office still has two desks: one for writing, and a higher one for painting which is stocked with acrylic paints and other materials. I'd like to return to painting again soon, as I really miss it.

Back to the baking, I'd like to bring my bread to Monday's party. Wanda, who usually comes up with a suggestion for our girly art trips, also organized this Monday night for which she has invited 10 women and asked:

"While it will be mostly a mingle with appetizers potluck, I'd also like us each to take a few minutes to introduce ourselves to the group and share one of our passions or interests.  If possible, bring something to show or tell us a short story about it. Our second short exercise will be to share a goal you've set for this year. With so many brilliant women in the room, we may be able to offer some support if you need it!"

Now, to the bread: it looks stunning, and the consistency is beautiful too (even if I do say so myself): it could have more flavour though so I'll bake another one today and just add a whole lot more of everything, plus some honey.

The ingredients I used:

A Chilean Leyda 2009 Pinot Noir (for the cook, not the bread)

Robin Hood all purpose flour (about two cups)
Fleischmann's instant yeast (dissolve 1 package in a cup of warm water)
A spoon of margarine/butter
A spoon of Bad Girl Chocolate's Hazelnut-Chocolate spread
Almond slivers
A good sprinkling of port (Whiskers Blake Tawny)
1 egg
Ground ginger
A dash of milk

Mix well in a bowl. Then use olive oil to cover the bottom and sides of a glass oven dish, and stick it in the preheated oven. I used 350 degrees C. Leave it in there for a while: I didn't time it, just kept an eye on it and once it started to look somewhat done used a wood chopstick to test if the inside was ready (if nothing sticks to the chopstick, it should be done).

You can add walnuts, dates, apricots. When baking another one later today, I'll add a good dollop of honey as mentioned. And I may use the chocolate spread to glaze the top once it is finished. I may also use cinnamin instead of ginger, and keep you posted.

February 26, 2011

Looking for a 100km ultra?

In the preparations for the release of my book A Hundred Reasons to Run 100km next month, I created a page for it and thought it would be neat to include a list of 100km races worldwide. As I type, I know there's one happening in Centennial Park in Sydney, Australia, aptly named the Centennial Park Ultra.

The course consists of a relatively flat 3.8km lap that I only know too well, as I did a lot of my training (running and cycling) there from late 2000 until late 2007. My former triathlon coach who had us training there is running the 50km event. 

In compiling my list, I looked at various websites including ULTRAmarathonRunning.com, Ultrasignup.com and UltraRunning.com. You'll find the list of 100km races around the world here.


As an author I'm always very grateful when a reader not only enjoys my books but also takes the time to let me know they did. I received this note from Marlene G, who wrote about Running Shoes Are a Girl's Best Friend:

Hi Margreet, I'm about 1/2 way through your book and it's so inspirational to me, I have been running for a little over a year, and have lost about 50 lbs from running, I still have many more lbs to lose. Reading your book gives me the inspiration I need to keep going and verification that I am finally on my right track with running. Thanks so much for writing this book. Take care. Marlene G

I'm so glad to hear she's found a connection with running, which is allowing her to transform her life. 

February 25, 2011

The power of optimism

In Leslie Beck's Longevity Diet, Leslie Beck writes, "Being optimistic is a choice you make and it's a choice that can help you live a longer, healthier life. If negative thinking tends to pervade your outlook, there are ways to help you start seeing the glass half full. Even optimists need to make an effort every so often to reframe their outlook."

Her key tips for creating and/or maintaining an optimistic frame of mind are: 
- Use positive self-talk
- Live for the day
- Smile more often
- Surround yourself with positive people
- Put yourself first
- Give back to others.

Generally I'm an optimistic person. And if I'm in a down mood, a run always cheers me up. However, I also can be a worrier, with a tendency to assume the worst. 

As I'm about to release my fifth book, A Hundred Reasons to Run 100km, I feel particularly vulnerable and stressed. No doubt the mental exhaustion of having worked so hard and intense on this book, which I conceived, wrote (and rewrote several times), before doing all the hard work involved in its independent publication, has played a role. 

Being tired doesn't spur optimism. I think about all the negative possibilities: are the people who have so far told me they like/love my book about ultrarunning being sincere, or are they just being nice as they don't want to hurt my feelings? What if the people I've sent it to for review don't like it? What if it doesn't sell? What if people judge me a poor writer? 

There's no reason to think like that. Instead, I could be considering: What if everyone loves it? What if it becomes a bestseller?

As I'm impatiently waiting for the final proof copy of this book to arrive by mail (for a final check of the paperback before its release next month), I've had time to regroup. And I'm involved in the editing and publishing of two books, each by first-time authors, which has been very exciting. 

One book is nearly done. The other has a tight deadline and is progressing well. They're both written by people who are knowledgable and passionate about their topics, and I'm happy to share what I've learned about authorship and publishing in the past three years.

I absolutely love being an author, and being an independent one at that. Yes it can be nervewracking but today I choose to be positive!

February 22, 2011

"So, did you win?"

"So, did you win?"

This was the question a colleague used to ask me every time he heard I'd done a race on the weekend. I was a runner venturing into triathlon then, slowly stepping up from the sprint, to the Olympic, half Ironman and eventually on to Ironman distance.

With two marathons under my belt by then, a 4:18 and 4:46, I certainly wasn't winning anything. But that wasn't the point: preparing for, and running, a marathon was accomplisment enough. Besides, I enjoyed it: my rewards were an increasing level of fitness, new experiences and a sense of athletic achievement.

My colleague, an inactive middle-aged man, was never interested in hearing about my races, nor how much fun they were. His question was always "So, did you win?" It implied: you don't win, so why bother?

To me it's right up there with the statement runners hear so often (I know I have): But running is so boooring! I've lost count of the number of times people have told me this. It's your prerogative to find running boring but please don't tell that it is as a matter of fact. 

When someone tells me that running is tedious, I don't try to convince them otherwise unless they insist. People should do as they please. However, I'll get into a discussion when pressed. 

A year ago I was working at Whistler Olympic Park as a reporter for the Olympic News Service where I met many other journalists including a European sports reporter, a supernice and helpful guy and we shared a few good laughs. 

When he heard I was a runner, he surprised me by saying that running was boring and an activity that involved absolutely no skills. A big fan of basketball, he said that was so much fun because he could work on improving his game by shooting hoops. (Now that sounds exciting eh?)

As a longtime runner, I begged to differ. Running certainly involves skills, physical and mental ones. And, as timing would have it, I was just editing an excellent article by ironguides coach Alan "Woody" Woodward titled Speed: a key skill for every endurance athlete (Part 1) and (Part 2)

Like with every skill, developing proficiency as a runner takes time and effort, particularly when it comes to your speed. (My marathon times, for example, developed from 4:18 in 1999, to 3:24 in 2003, to 3:07 in 2008). The more consistent you can be with your running, the better it is. To stay consistent with your running, it's crucial to stay healthy and avoid injuries. So make sure you take care of yourself by training wisely.

This season I joined the Titans Tuesday Run sessions, led by the knowledgeable and inspiring Roger Shirt, who has raced every distance from 5km up to ultramarathons and has a 10km PB in the 33 minutes. His Tuesday sessions include four monthly 5km time trials during the 16-week program. 

Time trials are a great way to both develop and measure the progress in our skills as a runner. The clock, while the most concrete, is only one of the ways to judge how you're doing.

Running speed is personal and relative. It's only one aspect of running but one that can really guide your training. It's about having fun, and exploring. It's about patience and consistency.

It's about effort and attitude, rather than time on the clock, though the clock is of course the way to measure our progress.

A few things to consider if you're new to time trials:

How did you feel in the effort? Did you feel like you had something left when you finished? Or did you feel like you ran out of energy way before the end?

Did you run a negative split, i.e. did you run the second half of your run faster than the first half? It's better to start a little bit easier than a little bit too fast. So use that first kilometre to find and settle into your pace.

How do you feel about the time trial? Are you excited and positive? Perhaps a little nervous? A big part of running, especially in sessions where we push ourselves, is our inner dialogue. In other words, what do you think as you start your time trial? 

If you haven't been aware of your thoughts, try to be. It makes a huge difference if you're positive and encouraging yourself, rather than negative. I always talk to myself (not out loud, though) in speed workouts and races, especially when it gets hard. It really helps to focus. 

In a big effort, remind yourself to stay relaxed. Check yourself from top to toe as you run: make a conscious effort to relax your face, your jaw, your shoulders, and your stride. Focus on your breathing. Use it to relax your body and maintain your rhythm.

The great thing about Roger's Tuesday Run sessions is that they draw about 25 runners of varying experience, and therefore speed. When running in a group, it's very important to remind yourself that everyone is different. 

Some runners have lots of experience, others are novice. Some people have an endurance background, others start from scratch. Some have been training consistently for years, others have been more haphazard. We cannot change our genetic makeup, of course a big factor in athletic ability, but we can commit to getting faster if we're so inclined. It's one of the many great things to enjoy about running.

Always focus on your personal goals. Celebrate each improvement, every second, and every lesson learnt. Use other runners to help motivate you. Try to catch them, if it suits your pace, not because it's about beating them but because it's about trying to get the most out of yourself. Perhaps this person will hear you coming, and speed up too. You may both win as a result.  

Try to learn from each time trial. Always focus on something positive, even if you feel your time didn't reflect it. Learn from the things you were not happy with, but don't beat yourself up over it. 

It takes courage to run 5km, or whatever distance, as fast as you can. Showing up for such a challenge is the victory. You win. And, with sessions like these, who could possibly say that running is boring?

Recently, I had an email from that journalist I met at the Olympics, reminding me about our discussion on running. He wrote: I think my general point was to convince you that running is boring and a sport for the retarded. As it turns out, I started running some weeks after my return from Canada and didn’t stop since. And the worst thing about it: I enjoy it and miss it if I don’t have the time to go for at least 1 hour in [his local park].

It wasn't my goal to convince him to take up running (well, maybe a little bit) but I'm very glad he's found out for himself.

February 19, 2011

Art by Michiko: After the Rain & Others

Michiko Splinter moved to Canada from her native Japan in 2005. While she's been painting since the age of 12, she never painted landscapes. Now in Squamish, her new environment inspires her to paint what she sees on her daily walks (in which she's recently also added stretches of running).

Michiko has also been experimenting with abstract work where her love for colour really shines.

After a lifetime of painting, she's never been more focused on her art than now and has even been able to speed up the process. She's completed four oil paintings in the past four months.

"It's getting really fast. 'Fast' doesn't mean 'better' but I like it. I used to need at least three months for finishing one painting. Well, I sometimes paint two together now, so that's another reason to finish them faster," says Michiko.

I'm a big fan of her work. Here are her latest paintings.

After the Rain by Michiko Splinter (oil on canvas 16x20)

Porteau Cove by Michiko Splinter (oil on canvas 18x22)

Planet by Michiko Splinter (oil on canvas 20x24)
Sunset from my Window by Michiko Splinter (oil on canvas 18x24)

February 18, 2011

Technology's role in your training

Guest post by Scott Jones, Head Coach of Boulder-based IMJ Coaching and 2010 Ironman Canada age group champion:

I have had some fantastic conversations with a few of my athletes on the role of heart rate meters (HRMs), power meters, pacing, and perceived exertion.  In one of these conversations, the question was basically, “Darn it, Scott—why won’t you just give me a number on my heart rate, a number on my power meter and I will race on that number.” 

Wow, if only racing were that easy. If that really worked, and was the most effective way to secure my absolute best effort, I would be on that program for sure.

The bad news, in my opinion, is it just isn’t that simple. Heart rate monitors, GPS devices and power meters all absolutely have their place in our sport.  They are data sources on performance that we can use both in our training and our racing.  What they are not, are sole race guidance that we can just plug in a number and stick to that number.

First, let us talk about heart rate monitors.  HRMs can be a useful and sometimes invaluable tool for our training and racing—as long as we know what we are looking at when we see those numbers.  If you have properly done some of your field tests, as well as know where your lactate threshold truly lies in terms of heart rate for both the bike and the run, the HRM can provide very useful feedback to your current effort.

What one has to remember is that there are a lot of things that factor into heart rate: heat, fatigue, hydration/dehydration and taper all have a vital role in what your heart rate monitor is reporting back to you.  This data taken in concert with pace, watts or, most importantly, perceived exertion can be absolutely invaluable information for you to know how things are going. 

It is critical that you treat this information as one data point among a few others, rather than the sole determinant of where you are in your effort, be it in training, or most importantly, in a race.
Bottom line: heart rate is a data point, not gospel.

So let us now talk about GPS devices. As far as tools for training and racing go, I would classify the Garmin, or other GPS devices, as a key piece of equipment for me on the run.  Knowing my pacing guidelines based on recent prior races or field tests is crucial. I say again, on recent races or field tests. 

For me to go out and use pacing guidance based on the data I have from last year’s training would not be as useful.  Last year was last year.  We need to make sure we link our data to what we are capable of now.  If you are coached by me, this is why you hear me say all the time as you head off to a race, bring me back some data! 

So how do you use this pacing guidance from your GPS device in a race? You know where you should be on race day.  In your training you know what pace you have been able to own. To go out and race at a pace that is nowhere near that will certainly raise issues for you during the day.  Using your pace guidelines along with heart rate and perceived exertion (how you feel) is the key to the castle.

Again, bottom line: pace is a data point, not gospel.

Power meters. Ah, power meters. Get talking about power meters on the bike and some dudes start to salivate. They love them that much—especially those types of cats who love logarithms, the backside of cable boxes and stereos, or any other contraption that takes hours to program and tweak.  I dismissed power meters for years as a tool for the pocket-protector types out there, but have become a believer. 

A properly calibrated power meter on your bike, alongside really good training and field test data—all together now: recent field test data—can be a little like cheating in some race scenarios. In 2005, I was riding along with a buddy of mine a week or so before Kona when he looked at me and said “Jonser, save it for race day, bro!” 

I had no idea what he was talking about.  He told me I was going way too hard.  I said, "How can that be?" My heart rate was hovering around 116 beats per minute.  He told me that I was driving in excess of 260 watts.  I was well rested on fresh, tapered legs and had no idea I was pushing that hard because I was so used to training tired.  That is the magic of a power meter.  It can save you from doing really stupid things. 

Here is the catch: it can also prevent you from going at a rate you are truly capable of if you are driving solely by the numbers.  One of my favorite athletes, Shawn, used to always drive around in races at 180-190 watts and would have bike splits that, while respectable, were not truly to the level of which he was capable. 

Getting him to race the race a little more, instead of just hawking watts, helped him to see he was stronger than he thought. He then started seeing watts well into the 200s during his bike splits.

So the bottom line with power meters: superb data points if used correctly, but not gospel! 

There it is folks: we have some wonderful tools out there that can really help us hold ourselves accountable, but just watching numbers is not racing.  You should absolutely use those tools in your training and racing, but, when racing, there is still no substitute for sticking your chin in your chest and going for it.

We use data points from the tools we talked about to keep ourselves in check and to prevent us from doing something that would shipwreck our effort.  Numbers will always be useful, but using those in concert with how we are feeling on race day and listening to our body will be the determinant for the kind of result we are able to achieve. 

Train with joy or not at all!

Head Coach, IMJ Coaching

February 15, 2011

Powered From Within in Top 4 Kindle tri books

Click on the image to see a larger version
My book Powered From Within: Stories About Running & Triathlon is currently ranked 4th in Amazon's Kindle books on triathlon. Very cool!

Talk at West Vancouver Library

March 23 in West Vancouver
The West Vancouver Memorial Library is hosting me on March 23 for a talk about Running Shoes Are a Girl's Best Friend as part of their Authors at the Library Partnership Program.

"Whether you're looking to start running or are curious about trying an ultra, Running Shoes Are a Girl's Best Friend author Margreet Dietz shares stories and experiences that will inspire anyone. She's a 3:07 marathoner, five-time Ironman triathlon finisher and recently ran 50-mile and 100km races."

Running Shoes Are a Girl's Best Friend contains the inspiring stories of 53 women who run, and advice by two superb coaches.

More details about the event are on this Facebook page.

Hope to see you there!

A list of the latest running books

It's been a great year for new books on running. With that in mind, I thought I'd create a list on Amazon with the titles released in 2010 and those in 2011. It wasn't hard to reach the maximum listmania number of 40. As an author set to release my next title on (ultra)running later this month, it's encouraging and intimidating!

Here's the list

February 13, 2011

First Half Vancouver race report

This is an awesome race that draws a great crowd of runners of all levels. The volunteers are absolutely awesome, cheering and smiling. The weather was perfect - dry and around 10 degrees, a nice surprise since we left Squamish at 6:30am in pouring rain.

I didn't sleep well the night before, waking up at midnight. My mind was superactive, thinking about two friends who'd run into a couple of cougars that day on the trails I use a lot for running and walking with our dog Luka. One of the runners carried an airhorn and the noise chased the big cats away after an encounter that was way too close for comfort. She said that in her 13 years of running on the Squamish trails she'd never come across a cougar before.

Other things on my mind were my new book A Hundred Reasons to Run 100km and the work left to do on it (it's very close to done) and an interview I'd done about my books, running and writing earlier in the day with fellow authors Sue and Andrew O'Brien (Couple on the Run) as part of their book launch. I'll post a link when it's available. 

I'm not sure when I fell asleep but when the alarm rung it woke me from a nightmare where I'd missed the start of the half marathon. I often have this dream before a race and just can't seem to make it to the start in time: I'm always a kilometre or two away when the gun goes off.

Then my nightmare almost came true when our car wouldn't start. After repeated efforts, we called our friend Volker who was also racing and was hitching a ride with us. He said he'd come pick us up instead. It was 6:20am. I asked Tim to try to start the car one more time, as Luka was coming too. And for some reason, it did start now.

We called Volker back quickly, and then drove off to get him. Pfew.

We were at the race start an hour later, with an hour to spare until the gun. Perfect. Tim dropped us off and found a place to park the car while Volker and I picked up our race packages. We did a 10-minute warm-up of easy jogging and four strides, and re-familiarized ourselves with the hill we'd have to climb within the last kilometre from the finish.

Volker and I ran together for most of the first half. Despite my good intentions to start easy, see my previous post, I began at a pace that felt comfortable but turned out to be faster than the planned 6:50/mile for the first few. It felt good, however, and I got into a nice rhythm.

The weather was much warmer than expected and I was hot after a mile. We ran by the start area again so I peeled off my long-sleeve shirt from under my short-sleeve Running Shoes Are a Girl's Best Friend one and handed it to Tim when I passed him again, without barely breaking my stride. The (fleece) gloves came off, too.
By the third mile, I'd found a pace that was closer to the original plan and felt comfortable. It was a good rhythm and my breathing felt good, too. Volker pulled away from me somewhere before the 10km mark and I let him go. (He'd run about 2-3 minutes quicker in a 10km in August 2010, and his PBs are faster than mine so I knew I had to run my own race.)

I glanced at my watch at the halfway mark and saw 43 minutes, but didn't notice the seconds. Perfect. On track for a PB. I was running with a few other people at this point, and they had a great pace that was challenging but seemed manageable. "Stick with the train" was the sentence that I repeated in my head I don't know how many times.

Meanwhile, I was taking in the gorgeous views that running the perimeter of Stanley Park offers. A stunning day. However, by 11 miles I slowed. I lost about 15 seconds in a mile. Two women ran past me. I cheered them on and focused on staying calm and running the best pace I could. Two miles to go, which include a couple uphills that sapped my energy.

I tried to focus on the downhill that came with it and tried to maintain my effort as best I could. I knew I was slowing but I forced myself not to think about that. Maintain effort. Another woman passed me. Then it was time for that final uphill with a kilometre to go. I aimed to run up it as efficiently as possible, and thought about the flat and the finish that followed.

When I survived the hill, I focused on surviving to the finish. I was running with another woman, and I think we drew energy from each other. Almost done, I thought. Just maintain. Then, on my left, I noticed another woman coming up behind me. I couldn't help myself and sped up. I bolted and ran as hard as I could for the finish. The time on the clock was 90:00:00.

I couldn't believe it. All that hard work? My net time was 89:46, as I had started a few rows back. Oh well. I was disappointed as I thought I was in 88-minute shape. However, two years ago I'd run this race in 89:39, which came a month after I ran a 40:39 10km. My most recent 10km time is 41:00 on a flat 10km in early August. Since then, the only other race I've done was the Haney to Harrison 100km.

My splits were as follows: 12:52 for the first 2 miles (average 6:26 per mile), then 6:43, 6.49, 6.49, 6.46, 6.44, 6.42, 6.49, 6.52, 7.03. Then I ran the final 2.1 miles in 15:34, or about 7:22 per mile. Whoops, not quite a negative split. I've been pretty stuffed for the rest the day, and have taken advantage of our couch!

My loyal spectators Tim and Luka were tired too, though Triathlete Tim hit the pool and the treadmill in the afternoon. He's got a few triathlons, mainly half Ironmans, and a marathon on his schedule this year.

Our friend Volker, jetlagged and all from a three-week overseas work trip, finished more than a minute ahead of me, in a solid 88:29. Nice work! Check out his cool blog "Squamish to Kona".

It's great motivation to sink my teeth into training for the Vancouver Marathon on May 1. Check out the results here, with a superb course record by Dylan Wykes and a fantastic run by Ellie Greenwood.

February 12, 2011

Preparing for a half marathon

Tomorrow I'm racing the 'First Half' half marathon in Vancouver. I thought I'd write down some of the things you may want to do or plan the day before a race.

Picking up your race package.
Check the times, dates and place to do this. The First Half encourages runners to pick it up before race day and that makes for a much more relaxed routine on race morning. However, since I don't live in Vancouver, I've chosen to take the option of picking it up on race morning. I'll make sure to be well on time to do that.

Planning your pace. 
My plan for this race is to go as fast as I can, and hopefully go faster than I did in my most recent one, or even set a PB. The last half marathon I ran was the Scotiabank Half Marathon in June, where I ran 88:30. My PB is 88:13, which I ran in April 2008. My training has been going very well and I did a comfortable 5km time trial two weeks ago in 19:34.

It's always a good idea to check whether your event has kilometre or mile markers, and at which intervals. The First Half is marked at every mile and at halfway. I usually think in kilometre pace, so I make sure to convert this to my mile pace, with the help of a pace calculator such as Merv's.

Make sure you don't get carried away at the start, which is hard when everyone's excited and raring to go. It's so easy to run too fast in that first kilometre, and it always catches up with you later in the race.

I'll aim to run my first mile in 6:50-6:55 (which is slightly slower than my most recent half marathon pace), and that for the first 5km to ease into the race. If I feel good in the second half, I hope to dial it up a notch. I'd love to end up with an average mile pace of 6:42. That would be a PB, of just under 88 minutes. We'll just have to see how the legs go.

Race nutrition
Of course I'll put everything ready tonight so I don't need to think about it early tomorrow morning. I'll have an energy bar or two for breakfast, a coffee and a bottle of water. I'll also bring 2 or 3 energy gels in the race and take a sip of water at every aid station.

The weather's forecast to be cool and rainy. I'll wear three-quarter tights with knee-high compression socks, and a long-sleeve shirt. I'll use relatively new shoes, the New Balance REVlite which I love. Gloves for sure. Wish I had a waterproof pair but fleece will have to do.

Given the wet and cool weather forecast, make sure you have some dry clothing to change into as soon as you finish. My partner Tim will come, so I'll give him my clothes (in a waterproof bag).

If you drive to the start, make sure you plan your parking spot, even if you have a friend or family member drive the car for you. Tim will drop me and a friend, who's carpooling with us from Squamish, off so we can pick up our race package. Arrange a meeting place if you want to see each other before the race start, and agree on a spot near the finish for afterward.

Bring a positive and excited frame of mind to the race. Enjoy!

February 10, 2011

Three 50-milers in the Sea to Sky Corridor

Just recently BC Athletics announced more details about the Whistler 50 Relay and Ultra event that is replacing the Haney to Harrison 100km Relay and Ultra. It will be a 50-miler, consisting of four 20km loops on paved and hardpacked surface.

I've been told it will be a fairly fast course. Details available so far are here

That means there will be three 50-milers to run in the Sea to Sky Corridor this year. You can start off with the Tenderfoot Boogie, a very scenic and tough trail run. This race made its debut last year. While I didn't do it then, I'm signed up for 2011.

It's two weeks after the Vancouver Marathon, which I'm racing too, so that will be an interesting change from my usual marathon recovery process. The Tenderfoot Boogie also offers a 50km, a 28km, and a three-person relay. More details here

On August 7, it's time for the 11th annual edition of STORMY, the Squamish Test of Running Metal, Yeah! I did this 50-miler held on scenic trails around Squamish for the first time last year, in fact it was my first 50-miler, and absolutely loved this race and highly recommend it. Given that it starts and finishes within a couple of kilometres from my front door, I'm keen to be at the startline again.

You can do it solo or as a relay. Details here

And then, on November 5, there is the new Whistler 50 Relay and Ultra. Tempting for sure...

February 08, 2011

Writer's Digest International Book Awards

Last year I submitted my books for the 18th Annual Writer's Digest International Self-Published Books Awards. Here's what the (anonymous) judges had to say:

For Running Shoes Are a Girl's Best Friend: "The best part of the ... book is the passion (the author) had in writing these stories. She has taken her own life experiences, placed them in a book and guides the reader through with stories that have touched her life. It is the author's desire to help readers develop a positive mental attitude needed to exercise."

 "The book is filled with other individual stories and insight to draw the reader into taking better care of their body. Some of the stories will help the reader to find the courage and strength to overcome adversity in their daily life."

On Powered From Within: Stories About Running & Triathlon: "I love to read books about running - in fact, I just finished Haruki Murakami's What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, which I recommend - and this one was no exception."

"The author's style is breezy and accessible, what you'd expect from a veteran journalist, and running enthusiasts at all levels no doubt will find much motivation in these stories."

"The book's front cover is well designed and eye-catching ..."

On A Work in Progress: Exercises in Writing, the judge said:
"First, off I'd like to say it was a pleasure to read two entries by Dietz this year. It may seem obvious but as a reviewer, having multiple works by a single author to compare and contrast makes for interesting work. It also opens tunnels of insight that may be helpful to both parties involved.

"By way of comparison, then, I believe A Work in Progress is the stronger of the two pieces. Its crossover appeal alone—existing as a book about both writing and running (here I should again invoke [Haruki] Murakami [What I Talk About When I Talk About Running]—enlarges its potential audience and affords the author a chance to explore her own process, a chance I feel is pretty significant.

"She does a great job of it, too, at times overtly and other times almost subversively. The format of this one, textually and physically, also rises above the other. It's material I can consult linearly or, more delightfully, in single scoops, and it fits in my pocket so I can carry it to a favorite reflection spot."

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