Monday, November 28, 2016

Cyclocross Action - Time to Get Real

Finally, I had a moment to take a break this month for just plain old fun. Painful, nasty, messy fun.

The final race of the local cyclocross series was taking place and I had a free day. Of course being my first proper race it just had to be the worst kind of day, or in cyclocross world, an awesome day.

The temperature was freezing (as in zero), it was snowing, then raining, then snowing and the wind was extremely gusty. As the ground wasn't frozen due to the nice day we had the day before, that also meant the ground was actually muddy. But I had been waiting all season to finally get a chance to race and couldn't pass things up.

I had prepped my bike the night before, finally mounting my new Clement tires, and adding a little extra lube to the chain and pedals. When I awoke the next morning I knew I was in for a treat.

I arrived on site and was happy to see quite a few other racers. I paid my entry fee and got my bike and myself ready.  I took 2 practice laps and then headed back to the car for final prep. Soon we were all on the line to start.
  
There I am, way at the back

Soon we were off, though in cyclocross that isn't always as explosive as it sounds. We were on slush and snow and mud and going slightly uphill, so it took a bit to get the confusion going. Still I managed to get on and start riding and not get too caught up in others.

I passed a few riders initially and then settled into a pack.


And then the crappy thing happened. I stumbled getting off my bike due to a chain reaction back up and my chain came off. It only took a few second to get it back on, but I lost a few places I had worked to get. So back at it I went.


The rest of the race was circuits of the crazy muddy mess, which included quite a few dismounts for obstacles, or treacherous downhill corners. I passed a few more people, fell off once going around a corner, cut my leg (just a little) and generally couldn't breathe a lot.  The only thing I hated was that my pedals filled with snow and that froze to ice and I could get clipped in. So on the bumpy course it was hard to maintain total control and often I couldn't really pedal as hard as I wanted to.

Finally I passed the start finish line and was told, final lap. I pushed hard to pass a couple of more riders and finally brought it home. I manged to get 7 laps compared to the leaders 8 laps which was fine in my book. I finished 8th out of 13 in my age group and 35th our of 46 for men. It took me a little more than 50 minutes (45 minutes plus a lap) to complete the journey.

Then the aftermath!

Still smiling

That's why I couldn't clip in


It is amazing what a bucket of hot water will do to help this situation

So what a baptism by fire. I loved it and can't wait to get some more riding in soon and some racing next season. Many parts of me are tired and sore now, but it was totally worth it.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

MEC Race 5, 2016 - Shubie Park 5 km

My final race of the year as far as running goes, and truthfully had I not paid for this in advance I probably would have stopped at my last race. I have the end of a cold and I am still rehabbing my IT Band issues. Luckily the cold is mostly gone and the IT Band has been behaving well. I have even managed a few pain free runs over the last week and a half, though still some tightness. But the physio and work I am doing is making things progress really well and I knew I wouldn't hurt myself by dropping down and doing the 5 km race today.


Yesterday was windy, warm and really wet, and I opted not to run the annual BLT 5K fun run to save my knee. Instead I was the bike marshal and had a blast cheering others on. This day was a bit drier but so much cooler and very windy. I knew the cooler temps were going to be great during the run, but they always suck at the start.

Eventually the half marathon was off and we lined up for the 5 and 10 km race. Having not run hard or fast for any distance in awhile I didn't know how well my lungs would be able to survive this race, but hey, what better way to find out, ha ha.

Soon we were off and I quickly tucked in behind Drew, knowing he was probably going to take the lead. I didn't think I would be able to hang with him too long, but getting dragged to a bit of a lead over the rest of the runners in the first kilometer would be handy.

At about 1 kilometer in a new player passed us both and I fell to third. My breathing was getting worse, but I was able to manage it. Looking back into my Garmin data I see that my average heart rate was 173, which explains the breathing. That is mid Zone 4 for me.  Regardless of the breathing my hip and knee were feeling just fine at this point, though I knew the big downhill was coming.



Kilometer 2 through the turn around turned out to be a crazy mess. An entire area was flooded out so that meant running uphill through a nice little river. Nothing feels better than soaked feet. 

I hit the turn around still in third, right behind Drew and had a hint of a lead over 4th place. No time to rest now!

I managed to keep on Drew until about the last 500 m of the race. He had a little kick left and started to pick up speed.  I managed to hold my pace as we approached the finish line.


I crossed the line a few seconds behind Drew for third place in a time of 18:47. It was a tough run, but I made it through. No pain in the knee or hip either. And as I type this many hours later, all is good. So I am definitely on the mend.  It was nice to finish the season with another medal, even if I wasn't at my best I still had a little oomph in the engine.


It was also a privilege as well to cheer on my fellow run club members, a few of whom we got to snap some finish line shots with.  And that banana was great. Thanks also to Christine from MEC for putting on a great race series.



Monday, October 3, 2016

Riverport Duathlon 2016

Another week and another trip down the south shore of Nova Scotia. This time to Riverport for the season ending duathlon. I do love this race, rain or shine, though shine is so much nicer. This day was, rain though. And a cold rain it was.

I arrived early and got myself setup. I knew that my knee was feeling much better from the weekend before, but I doubted it was up to a full on challenge this day. I figured I could get a decent first run and probably get through the bike ride no problem but it would be the second run that would likely get me.

Due to the weather I opted to dress warmly, and due to the knee I thought I might as well wear the heavier shoes with a little more support in them. I doubted this would make a huge difference, but still, any little extra bit might help.

After the race briefing we were lined up and then we were off on the first 4 km run. 

This run is really flat, which would help my knee. I quickly secured myself a spot in the top 3, though the top 2 runners went out much faster than I would be able to sustain. Still I was happy when I cross the first kilometer at 3:21 minutes. My knee felt fine and I was able to hold the pace. But as the first stint wore on, my overall lack of fitness was obvious. Not having done any real training in the last 5 weeks was starting to take it toll. With 1 kilometer to go I was passed and fell to fourth. Still I was happy to finish in 14 minutes heading into transition 1. Then it was a quick change of shoes, don the helmet and off on the bike. 


Again, no biking except for some easy rides in 5 weeks and I knew I would be sunk here. I pushed hard but was soon passed by a few riders. This is a 28 kilometer course with loads of hills, and the deep puddles were hiding some mean pot holes. So it was a bit of  a fun ride. The rain was cold and my feet were feeling it, I should have covered the vents in my shoes.  By the end of the ride I had fallen to 12th, then to add insult to injury (ha ha) I got stuck behind a slow moving car coming into town. I dismounted and headed to transition 2. The bike took me 49 minutes.


This was it make or break time. Normally I could count on at least a burst of run speed to help me claw back a few positions at this point. My feet were frozen and soaked, but that usually isn't an issue on such a short run. But then at the 200m mark, my knee seized up. I started slowing down. My normally nice gait became a hobble and I was passed by a few more runners. I didn't give up as I knew this was not a permanent type issue that was being made worse. 


I made it to the finish line still holding onto 16th place overall, and still managed an 18:20 final run for 1:23 time overall. As I finished and stopped my leg decided it didn't want to hold me up any longer, but I managed to get inside to get it rested before the drive home. Luckily I brought warm dry clothes, and the Riverport Duathlon committee did a great job of providing some hot food for us.

I hated to not be able to give this race my best as it is one of my favorites and it is the last of the year.  What has been a season of highs and lows continued and with one race left in two weeks, I am totally excited about having a rest and getting my full strength back.  For now, back to physio.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Rum Runners, MEC and Bare All for the Barre - Whew, 2016

So finally getting around to writing up last weekend's crazy fullness. Three events, three different results.

The first thing that happened was Rum Runners Relay. This is a 110km 10 leg relay race along Nova Scotia's South Shore to Lunenburg. This year I had to switch teams as my regular team wasn't running. Now I was on Oxford @ 8's team Classic Rummies. This team included some really great local runners and even 800m specialist and Olympian Geoff Harris.

My leg this year was Leg 2. A mere 2 km from my front door, this was a great chance to run a familiar route that I have gone over many times. It is 8.3km long and for the most part flat.  I met with my team mates for the first time and got bibbed up (I actually wore 2 of our team bibs in case the next leg's runner couldn't find our captain).

Now I must say I was still a little nervous as my knee and IT band aren't great. I had rested it all week and did my physio, but went in with a big question mark.

From the start my plan was to head out and try to hang with the top guys and see how things went. Immediately a group of three of us broke clear and took off. The pace wasn't too bad, my knee felt fine (a little stiff) so I decided to hang in there. Eventually the second place runner started to drift back and when the gap to the leader hit about 10 feet I decided I better bridge that gap. By 2 km it was a two person battle. Not wanting to push my knee any harder than I had to, I decided to hang with the leader. I knew nothing about him as a racer but he was running fine and not breathing heavy so a challenge early on didn't seem like a good idea. And truthfully a second place finish considering my problems would have been just fine.

We stayed that way until about the 7.5 km mark. The pace had started to drift lower a bit and soon the finish line was in sight off in the distance. Not wanting to hit an all out sprint near the line, I decided to pick up the pace and see what I could do (also we had a large lead over third by now so it was worth the risk). I pushed off and headed to the finish. I guess ultimately the leader had no gas left in the tank as I surged ahead and took the win. My first at a Rum Runners relay and quite frankly unexpected. I knew I had some speed but a win is awesome. I finished in 30:33 for an average pace of 3:41 min/km. Overall I won by 5 seconds. My team would go on to win one more leg (8 with Geoff Harris) and finish 4th overall. Great stuff and glad I was able to help with that placing.

Sadly I have no pictures.

Event 2 was the MEC race. I had planned on racing the 10km race, but as I arrived my knee was so tight from the day before that I knew that was not going to happen. I dropped down to the 5km race and went out for a warm up. By the end of the warm up I knew that was it. Still, this was the team event and I showed up to support my team, so I walked the 5 km race and finished 44th out of 56 people. A far cry from the day before, but life is highs and lows and I was happy to watch my team mates get great results in their race and really show the BLT Runners colours.


Finally on Sunday night I took part in the 3rd annual and my second Bare All For the Barre fundraiser for Prostate Cancer Canada. Essentially is is a giant Barre class (you'll have to look it up) with hand weights, balls and while normally in a nice dance studio, this time in an open warehouse space. This was 45 minutes are rather fun and totally hard (especially for wounded runners)  barre class. In the end $23,000 was raised for Prostate Cancer Canada Atlantic which is so great and so totally in keeping with my up coming race in November, the Halifax Movember Run. Check out the video and pictures at the Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/bareallforthebarre/?fref=ts . It was great, and the follow up of beer and tacos could not be beat. Please think about joining in next year.

But just a little rest as this coming weekend in the final duathlon of the year in Riverport. Sadly I won't be in top shape, but hopefully the IT Band exercises and stretching will help speed things along and I will be able to complete the race without too much discomfort.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Maritime Race Weekend - Pace Bunny Duty 2016

With so much racing lately, I decided that it was time to scale back and not push it on another weekend. This freed me up to help some fellow runners at Maritime Race Weekend, the site of some former glorious runs.

I opted for the 45 min 10k pace bunny spot this year, rather than the half marathon I have done at other races. Turns out this was a good idea as my knee has been a pick tender since last weekend's triathlon. A 4:30 pace would allow me to run, chat and encourage others.



Unlike other races, this one mixes the 5, 10 , half and full into one start, so I wasn't sure how many 10 k runners were actually running with me. At about 3 km in the 10, half and full turn up a steep little climb. By this point I was left with a handful of people near me and most were in the 10K.

By the top of the hill as we found our turn around and headed back down I was left with Kim and we ran together for the next bit. She was running well and just hoping to keep things in the 45 min zone. I ran and kept her in the right pace zone. Soon though we reached the 6.5 km mark and she obviously had some gas in the tank. I encouraged her to keep the slightly faster pace and off she went. I was a proud bunny. But at this time we passed another woman and she was trying her best but I could see needed that extra bit of encouragement to keep her pace up. With no one else around I managed to run the next 3.5 km with her, gently pushing and pulling her along, keeping the pace up on the slight rises pressing the pace a touch on the downs.

We passed a lot of 5k runners (who did a great job of keeping a path open for faster runners) and soon we were at the finish. I got her to pick it up and soon she crossed the line well ahead of the 45 min on the timer clock. That was great. I held back and popped across the line at 44:53.  All told a great day.

Working on the knee now, hope to have it back to full strength for next weekend with a bunch of activities coming up.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Shubie Dooby Triathlon Sept 2016

Well the final triathlon of the season has come and gone. My third standard distance of the year and I had some high hopes for this one. My swimming had come along, well swimmingly, and the pieces were all in place.

The morning of the race was drizzly and humid, not really a great start, but nothing drastic enough to make changes in my prep.  Sign in, bike racking and then pre race swim all went well.



Race briefing warned us of a few race specifics and soon we were lined up and ready to take off. The water was warm, but it was wetsuit legal and the chop was minimal on the lake.


I went straight into the water and started swimming fairly well. I was not with the fastest swimmers but wasn't too far behind so that felt about right. And that is where "about right" stopped happening in the swim. Sigh.

About 250m in or so I swallowed a big mouthful of water and had to regain my breathing, which wasn't happening. I think the water swallowing coupled with what may have been too fast of a start for me lead to some hyper ventilation so I had to do the breast stroke for a bit to regain my breath. Fair enough. I finally got start back and took off. But my rhythm just didn't seem to come back and my stroke was wrong which lead to me swerving a lot. I just could seem to regain my tracking without sighting every couple of strokes.  I got out and rounded the buoy on the beach to start lap two and again, it started fine but went downhill quickly.


This swim course used 4 buoys instead of the normal 3. I finally got to the first buoy but was fighting for position with someone. During this period I obviously got turned slightly and started sighting off the wrong buoy, which sadly I made it to. Thus I had to turn around and swim back (that is after the kayaker ran into me) and do essentially an extra 300m give or take. Sigh again. The fun thing was continually passing the same people over and over again. I did giggle about that.

Eventually I found the "out" and crossed the timing mat at 31:39 for 46th overall. And while that is totally disappointing, I realize now that my pace was still actually faster than the pace I swam Sprint distance triathlon s at last year, where I didn't go in circles. So at least i know something progressed this year.

As I was running up to transition, the next fun thing was that my wetsuit zipper was jammed stuck. Luckily I found a little help, but it took an extra minute or so to actually just get out of my suit. As a person that prizes quick transition times, that wasn't nice. Eventually I got to the bike, and headed out for the ride.



So compared to the swim the bike went really well. No issues getting on and into my shoes, the roads were in decent condition and the puddles from the rain were sparse. I was amazed that as we turned away from the lake and a little more inland that the fog became a bit of a problem. The humidity meant that foggy glasses were a bit of an issue as well the humidity meant that as the ride progressed, it became much hotter on the body as you couldn't sweat properly.

The bike course was two loops of 20km and by the end of loop one I had worked my way past many other riders. Unfortunately we were now getting intermingled with the Sprint distance triathletes, so I had no idea where I was. And then on lap two I had to deal with a drafter. Ultimately I don't think it cost me any time, but it was annoying. The course was very hilly but I think I handled it well. I was happy to see my cadence was up a little, though I hope to work on it more over the winter as I think my lower cadence is holding me back. I finished the bike with an average speed of 30.5 km/hr for the 12th fastest bike split of the day. Not super fast, but the overall speeds were down due to the twisty hilly nature of the course. There were many 90 and 180 turns.

Coming off the bike I was finally feeling pretty good. I had no idea if my goal of a top 10 could be achieved now, as I had no idea where I was. But I went through transition quickly and onto the even hillier run course.  

I quickly started to pass people but trying to glance at their numbers to see if they were standard or sprint distance was a failure. the swim had washed much of the numbering off of everyone. So I just put my head down (well it stayed up) and picked a pace I knew I coudl work with.

As I glance down at my watch at what was likely about 1 km in, I realized it had switched to run mode but was paused or stopped. Great. So by feel it was going to be.

Passing more people became the norm and then I got to a point where I coudl start to count the people coming back. But alas I lost count, ha ha. Still I knew by the turn around that I was close to the top ten if I could pass a few more people.

After the turn around I passed about 4 more runners before again getting mixed into the sprint distance runners and losing track of things.  So I just kept running as fast as I could muster.


With about 1 km to go my right knee buckled a bit. It didn't hurt, so I kept going. Then it did it again. Great I thought. But it wasn't hurting so I carried on. I did have to slow a tiny bit on the down hill approach to the finish as the extra strain on my knee was a bit worrying and I knew I had enough of a lead.

I crossed the line in 2:30. Not my fastest race of the year, but due to the horrible swim I felt that all things considered it was decent. I had the second fastest run at 40:20, which while I was disappointed to not have broken 40 minutes again wasn't too bad. All I had to run on was feel. I had also worked myself into 10th place overall, so yay!

For everything that went wrong on this race many things went well. But most of all I didn't quite or even stop to mope. I just sucked it up and carried on.  So yeah, just deal with it as best you can and finish the race, then worry about the crying when it is over. But always remember to find at least 1 good for every bad when going over your post race results.

A few running races are to come followed by the Riverport Duathlon. So time to rest up the knee and get back to it.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Baddeck Duathlon, 2016

I was afraid for a moment that the duathlon season in Nova Scotia would be reduced to 2 races this year. Until along came a new duathlon is the hills of Baddeck. So I had to sign up, even with a 3.5 hour drive to get there.

We drove up the night before and stayed with a friend who was conveniently only a couple of kilometers from the race start. This meant sleeping in for once before a race.

For a first year event in the middle of summer there was 39 starters (I think more may have signed up). The race was held on very good quality and incredibly car free secondary roads with the run being on a dirt road.  The distances were 5km, 22km, 2.5km.

After sign in and set up I did a little run warm up, took on a gel and headed to the start line. The Race Director and Head Official gave us some instructions and soon we were off.


  I started up front and went off at what felt like a comfy pace. Soon I was all alone, which surprised me as there were a few fast runners in the crowd. In fact I thought I must have gone way too fast or somehow took a wrong turn. But no, I was just comfortably leading. Then I went around a corner and started to run up a hill. And up. And up. The first kilometer was up, and it was steep. Still, I held my ground and  pace and kept going. At the top was rollers but mostly more up. Finally at the 2.5km mark I hit the turn around and held a small lead. Now to go back down! Unfortunately with the pot holes and loose gravel the going down didn't quite make up for the going up. As I approached the transition to the bike I had a decent lead of about 15 second and finished with a time of 18:32. I am really happy with that as it is better than my last duathlon start this year and a much harder run.

I was on the bike quickly and started out in the lead. I didn't imagine that would last long as there were some bike demons in the group. Still, it took about 7 kilometers to lose the lead, then by 9 kilometers I fell to third.

I figured I would push the bike hard on the race. The course was very smooth pavement, but quite hilly with 238 meters of climbing. There was also a few one way bridges to contend with, but volunteers were there to help out. I passed the first 2 bridges without issue but at the third I had to slow as a car was approaching from the other side. The volunteers did get it stopped so I didn't have to wait long, but it did let Kevin catch me a little faster than I hoped. I had held him off for 16 kilometers but soon fell to fourth place.

I kept Kevin in sight for quite awhile only losing him in the final couple of kilometers. I hit the second transition with a bike time of 40:26 for an average speed of 32.6 km/hr.  More importantly Kevin was only starting the second run as I was putting my bike away.

It quickly got my helmet off and my running shoes on (the fabulous New Balance 1400's) and off i went in pursuit. Soon I found Kevin running up the hill and was reeling him in. By 800m I caught him and passed him and made it to the turn around in third place.  No rest though as I didn't know what sort of speed Kevin might be able to get out of the downhill. Push push push.  But as I closed in on the finish I was clear and crossed the line in 1:09. Third overall, second age group and totally happy.

This was a great race, followed by BBQ and pasta salad, a great bit of ART from Seaside Chiropractic to help speed the recovery and a great bit of draw prizing. And the area allowed for some great sight seeing afterward. I will be back!