14 Days to Go

Philip HarrisRunningLeave a Comment

It’s been a while since I mentioned running here so I thought I’d rectify that. As of today, there’s two weeks to go before my next race – the Beat the Blerch Marathon in Carnation, Washington. This race is pretty unique in that it’s being organised by Matthew Inman, the artist behind The Oatmeal site. It turns out he is a pretty serious runner and after the success of this comic decided to stage his own race. It sold out in about 20 minutes and although I managed to get an entry, my wife didn’t. But, as she’s injured, she wouldn’t have been able to race anyway. Instead, she’ll be my pit crew. The event was so popular that Inman added another set of races on the Saturday. Hopefully, that will go well and set things up for the Sunday when I’m racing. The race has a bit of an Oatmeal twist to it (as well as some fantastic merchandise). Every race has “aid stations” along the course, usually every mile or two. The stations provide water and nutrition to runners to help them get through the race. Usually, races have specialist gels and drinks and the Blerch races do too. There will also be Nutella … Read More

Nothing to See Here

Philip HarrisChatter, RunningLeave a Comment

What running shoe problem? I don’t have a running shoe problem.   At least I use them for something positive. [Nothing to See Here by Philip Harris first appeared on Solitary Mindset on 25th July 2014]


Philip HarrisRunningLeave a Comment

Four seconds. That’s all I would have had to find somewhere on the Vancouver Marathon course to beat my personal best of 4:18:25 for the full marathon. Dammit. Still, I did cut a generous 19 minutes 26 seconds off of last year’s time. This was the first marathon I’ve run on my own (my wife also ran but she’s a lot quicker than I am and started in a different wave) so I was looking forward to seeing how I fared without anyone else running alongside me. It was a grey, wet day which was actually a lot better than last year when it was fairly warm. It did make the choice of clothing difficult until I remembered I had a very light running waistcoat thingy that I bought at the 2010 Victoria Marathon and have barely worn so I went with that and a short sleeved running shirt. It turned out to be a wise choice, it drizzled most of the race and in places it was pretty cold. The climb up Burrard Bridge was particularly gruesome. Overall the race was good but I decided to try for a four hour pace and it cost me at the end. I hit the halfway mark just under 2 hours and … Read More

Into the Final Week

Philip HarrisRunningLeave a Comment

In seven days time, I will be running the BMO Vancouver Marathon. It will be my fifth marathon and the third time I’ve run the Vancouver course but I have no idea how it’s going to go. I’m confident I’ll finish but beyond that…it’s anyone’s guess. My first Vancouver Marathon was also my first ever marathon and I was woefully unprepared but I knew I was unprepared. I’d injured my foot during training and missed about six weeks of training – the most important six weeks. As a result, the race was tough. By the time I hit the 28km mark I felt pretty ill and the last 10km or so was a nightmare. I ended up finishing in 5 hours 29 minutes. Last year’s Vancouver Marathon was much better, I made it through the training in one piece and despite it being pretty hot I finished in 4 hours 37 minutes. I also ran the Victoria Marathon in 2012 and 2013. My best time so far is 4 hours 18 minutes in that second Victoria marathon. Everything was going well last year, I set a new personal best for the half marathon in November and was looking forward to running the Bahamas Marathon in January. Then I injured … Read More


Philip HarrisRunningLeave a Comment

The recommended preparation for a half-marathon is to rest as much as possible the week before, with just a couple of short, slow runs to keep your fitness ticking over. The advice we’ve been given a couple of times is “Don’t stand when you can lean. Don’t lean when you can sit. Don’t sit when you can lie down.” Nowhere has anyone suggested that two trans-Atlantic flights, a three day conference and four nights of jet lag induced insomnia is a good strategy. So, I wasn’t expecting much at last weekend’s Fall Classic half marathon. I did manage to get out for a 3km run on the Saturday to iron out the kinks and I felt fine but 3km is a lot less than 21km. The weather was great and, keen not to overheat during the race, we decided we should dress pretty lightly for the race on the Sunday. We took it easy the rest of the day, mostly catching up on television and playing Killzone on my new PS4. When the alarm woke me up at 6am on Sunday, I felt terrible. I’d slept well since coming back from Sweden but apparently I still hadn’t quite got back to normal. … Read More


Philip HarrisRunningLeave a Comment

I learned a valuable race-prep lesson on Friday. Take a taxi to the bus station when you’re travelling to Victoria with a heavy suitcase. We didn’t. Instead, we opted for the more ecologically sound choice of public transport. Unfotunately the transport in question was a small bus and as I was trying to drag the suitcase onboard, I strained my back. It was just a slight twinge and I didn’t think much of it at the time but once we got to Victoria, I could feel the ache in my back. Not something you want to happen two days before a marathon. Friday was spent checking into the hotel, picking up our race package and wandering around the expo grabbing free samples. We also picked up a heat pack for my back and I spent the evening wondering whether it would be enough to solve the problem. It wasn’t. Our Saturday morning pre-race jog was fine, but I could feel the tenseness in my back and that was after only 3km. It seemed overly optimistic that I’d be able to complete a full 42.2km marathon. The Victoria Marathon has an excellent speaker programme on the Saturday and after a leisurely … Read More

T Minus Four

Philip HarrisRunningLeave a Comment

Only four sleeps to go until my wife and I run our second Victoria Marathon. Last year, my time was 4:41:24. It was a warm day, I got pretty dehydrated and the last 12km was tough but at the time that was a personal best. I ran slightly quicker at the Vancouver Marathon (4:37:54) this year and I’m hoping I can improve again in Victoria. For this race we’ve been training using the Hansons Marathon Method. It differs from our normal training regime in two important respects. You train six times a week instead of five Although the overall weekly mileage is higher and most of the daily runs are longer than we’re used to, the long runs are shorter (up to 26km rather than 32km). The idea is that by running more you’re training on tired legs and preparing your body for what it’s really going to feel like when you hit the 32km mark on race day We’ve been following the program for eighteen weeks to prepare for the race and subjectively it seems to be working. We run across the Burrard Bridge a lot and over the last couple of weeks that climb has seemed a lot easier. But … Read More

Racing Weight

Philip HarrisRunningLeave a Comment

Today I hit my “racing weight” and by that I mean the completely arbitrary and suspiciously round 160 lbs I picked at the start of our training. One of the things I get asked a lot when I tell people how much running I do is why I’m not “skinny as a rake” or something to that affect. Partly that’s because I don’t have the genetic lottery ticket that fast marathon runners have. The other reason is that even at 60-70km a week of running, it’s very easy to “eat back” the calories you burn on all but the longest runs – particularly if you start using running as an excuse to indulge in baked goods from your favourite coffee store. There’s a shocking amount of calories in baked goods, unfortunately. Although I eat far too much processed food, I do try to give my body the right mix of nutrients after a run – which means some sort of protein shake/bar and some carbs (usually a Mango Magic from Jugo Juice – I’m a sucker for Mango Magic). That replaces a good chunk of the calories I burn on the run. Throw in a meal at a restaurant or a … Read More

Sometimes the Words Just Appear

Philip HarrisRunning, WritingLeave a Comment

Sometimes the words just appear on the page, seemingly from nowhere. Yesterday was one of those days. It started off with our usual long run. We opted for a doozy of a 24km run that travels from downtown Vancouver, up to the forest trails at the University of British Columbia and then down to Spanish Banks for a nice run alongside the ocean. We don’t get to run this route very often because it’s a bit long and it’s tough – there’s a lot of elevation gain (that’s hills to all you non-runners). So it was nice to run it yesterday, at least until the thunderstorm hit. We ended up literally squelching our way over the last couple of km. After lunch at Milestones and some half-hearted napping I decided it was time to try and chip away at The Ghost Smuggler. Because I’m rewriting some old chapters I really need to be working with my master Word document which means sitting in the oven I call an office. The heat had already kicked my butt on Saturday and I’d ended up sitting next to the air conditioner in the living room, working on my new merfolk story. I didn’t want to do … Read More

“In the Flat Fields”

Philip HarrisChatter, Movies, Running, WritingLeave a Comment

It’s been a busy few days. On Thursday and Friday I took part in a two day offsite (basically a really long meeting where we talk about strategic company stuff). It played havoc with my writing schedule but on Thursday evening we were treated to a visit from  retired NHL player, Trevor Linden. Linden played for the Vancouver Canucks and is probably their most loved player. He’s renowned for being an all round great guy and true to form he was very friendly, happily signing autographs and chatting with us after his speech. Saturday was race day. I took part in the 25th Annual Summerfast 10k race around Stanley Park. Ann wasn’t running, she ran a solo race last weekend, so I was on my own for this one. It was a fantastic event with beautiful clear skies and a great atmosphere. There’s a cap of 500 runners for the race so it’s relatively small. I started a little bit too far back in the pack so it was somewhat crowded and the pace was slower than I’d have liked during the early part of the race but from 2km onwards the field had spread out and I was able … Read More