Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Navy Trident Duathlon (Triathlon for some) 2011 - Race 4

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So Race 4 of my season came up this past weekend. I decided to Do the Du at the Navy Trident's Triathlon/ Duathlon event on May 29th. I have done this event twice before and always enjoyed it. Okay, so maybe I don't enjoy getting up at 5am to drive get to the event by 6:30am, but the actual event has been fun. And not to disappoint, once again it was also foggy / wet out, though at least wind free this year.

I was really looking forward to this years event, as well, because I have been running pain free on a great knee / leg combo as I have mentioned in other posts. So nothing mentally or physically slowing me down. And the field was a decent size this year as well. 24 people signed up for the Duathlon, which normally is seen as the sad afterthought to the great and mighty Triathlon. So to have a decent percentage of the total people signed up doing the Du, that  was great. And some really strong competitors as well, also great to see.

The course was slightly different this year, but still 3/20/3 for the distances. I (being #63 in this race as is still evidenced by the marker on my leg - really sturdy marker it seems),  lined up and was off with the whistle (or horn or some sort of sound device). It was a fast start and I felt great on just out of bed / Redbull legs. I managed a strong first run coming in 4th overall with a time of 12:51 for a 4:17 pace. Now that to me seems slow, and I always wonder about the distances on this course being odd for the run as I managed a 3:50 pace over 4 km at the last Duathlon. But it matters not as everyone runs the same distance. And coming in ahead of some great fast guys like Kurt was very moral boosting. 

Now the bike leg starts by going right up a nice steep hill, which I don't mind as it helps get the blood headed right to the legs. As it was the year before, the bike course was almost too foggy to find, but I still managed. I did a little off course excursion, nothing huge, but found my way back. Apparently a few others did as well, but them's the breaks. The main portion of the course is 3 loops on the main runway of the airport and it is dead flat. Normally it is also a nasty headwind and great tailwind combo, but as I mentioned, in the early portion of the event, the wind was quite dead. I did get passed by a couple of guys on the bike but held a decent pace and didn't completely kill my legs. When I came back to the dismount line, and back out of T2 I managed a time of 32:57 for the bike portion and T1 combined (a listed avg speed of 36.4, slightly higher on my bike computer which didn't have to change its shoes and put on its helmet) for the 7th fastest time of this leg of the journey.

Finally the dreaded second run on dead legs. Well the legs felt fine, worn a bit, but okay. I picked a decent pace and headed off. I did have to stop for a quick shoe tightening, but other than that was solid and steady. This was the same as the first run (2 laps for a 3K total). And this course was almost dead flat but for one nice hill. I love hills, but they will take their toll when you are tired. Still I think I kept fairly steady for a 14:41 time with a 4:54 pace (this of course also includes T2 time). sadly I wasn't able to hold my place and fell down one in the rankings with about 1K to go. I was passed by Jimi Owen and tried to hold on, which I did until the very end. With the finish line being  2 90 degree corners and a tight sidealk run, I let up just slightly before the second turn as I didn't have enough to "fight" for that kind of finish and Jimi was just running stronger. 

All in all I managed what I wanted. Top 10? Check, 8th place overall. Top 3 Age Group? Check, 2 out of 4. And sub one hour? Checkish sort off. Well I managed 1 hour and 29 seconds. I can't be upset with that.

Lessons learned? Sunglasses in thick fog = no vision. Giant bowl of cereal 1 hour before event? Not a great idea. Pressed for time? Redbull is quicker than coffee, though not nearly as enjoyable. Coffee came after the event. 
Next up? Lawrencetown Duathlon. Be there people!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Bluenose Half Marathon - Race 3, 2011

Well I started training for extra running this winter. I reported on my increased base training, my inclusion of the long slow run and just more running in general. I did this mostly so that I could get to be a fitter runner, so that my running off the bike in duathlons would be stronger, so that I could hold my pace longer. But also I wanted to compete in my first half marathon.

I chose the Bluenose half as it was early in the season, really close to home, and heck it is a reasonably priced race. I had previously run the Bluenose 10K twice but needed a new challenge and a full marathon just wasn't what i wanted (training time ect... being too much for me).

Well training hadn't gone as well as I had hoped up until this point with a few "injuries" setting me back, so my original goal of a 1:40 time was up in the air. By race morning I had decided that following the 1:45 pace bunny would be a good idea, and possibly if I felt good enough I could try to forge out on my own at some point in the race.

Race morning arrived, I had all my race kit ready to go and of course the weather said to me that my choices may not have been a great idea. It was cold, foggy, windy, typical Bluenose I guess. Still I stuck with shorts, a bike jersey (much to Andrew Dacanay's disgust), and removable sleeves. Seriously I like running in bike jerseys. They are snug, have a zipper to open up when it gets hot, and most of all they have rear pockets. So much nicer to hold gels and food. I also chose my tried and true Brooks Dyads shoes. They have been with me for a year and were at the end of their life, but they deserved to see me through my first half. Now they are retired from running.

Well I lined up right with the two 1:45 pace bunnies and we took off right at 9:25. The early pace was erratic as we weaved through a sea of runners, but as we went past the first few km signs the overall pace was dead on 5 min per km. It felt decent so I stayed right with them.

I had 2 gels in my pockets just in case I needed them, and the rest of the plan was to take a drink at every water stop we came across. The first one was a mere 1 km into the race, but I still grabbed a drink. It is funny to jostle through a group of people to get to the right side of the road, but I managed. And I continued this practice right through to the end of the race, only avoiding the final stop (which was only about 1km or so from the end so seemed a bit silly to stop at). I also had a gel at 30 minutes and again at 1 hour. Nutrition wise I was right on.

As usual I didn't really know the course. I rarely like to know these things,it makes the run more interesting. But I had heard there was some sort of great hill in Point Pleasant Park. This would have been just past the half way point, so I was keeping my pace until at least that point. The "hill" came and I was quite disappointed. I love hills. That was a series of bumps with flat spots along the way. If it weren't for the tree branches hanging into the way that needed avoiding, I wouldn't have had much to do going up it. In fact that hardest part of the journey for me was the downhills, which were steep but short. Oh well.

By the 14th km mark (or there about), I found myself constantly pulling ahead of the pace bunnies without much work, so I figured it was time to leave the group. They had done a great job, we were right on a 5 min pace still at 1:10. So I slowly increase my pace and started to pick off a few people in front of me. This continued right until the end. Of course it was a mix of people now, both marathon and half marathon people. It felt great to pick up the pace and my legs and knees felt fine.

The rest of the race was me continually increasing my pace and picking off a few people along the way. I guess that the "easy" first 14Km really helped, as I usually kill myself at the beginning of a race, slow down int he last third, then eventually get a bit of steam back. This time it was all increase for the last third. Kind of fun actually.

The final turn down to Brunswick and the last couple of km's was fast for me. I don't have a fancy Garmin watch or anything but I know my pace was getting below 4 min per km pace. You know that pace where you have the choice to breath or swallow and lactic acid build up just keeps happening. I was there. It was great. I crossed the line at 1:42:24 (chip time or 1:42:36 gun time). I ended up 195th overall out of 1767 (I think) people in the half, and 55 out of 208 in my category. Most important, my knees never hurt, second most important I was pretty darn close to what I hoped to achieve. And I know that with a little more training I can get that time down quite a bit more.

So I awake the next morning to various aches. In the past this would be a real assortment of muscles that hurt and would be really uneven over my body. Thanks to the work down by Dr Jason Gray at Kinetesis Sports, everything hurts all nice and even, and I know helped keep me injury free for the duration. Also thanks to those Pace Bunnies (Charles Paradis and Renee MacDonald) for their great work for the first two 3rds of my half.

And it was also great seeing all the people I have come to know through running and multisport following the race. It is good to see everyone so happy to have finished and competed in these events. Makes finishing even better.

Now it is on to the rest of the multisport season. I have duatlons, and couple of triathlons on the radar this year, and maybe a couple of century rides as well. It is certainly a busy month ahead, a month of fun.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Race 2: 2011 Du It For Shelter

Well here we go. Second race of the season is done. First Duathlon, and a proper good one at that. The Du It For Shelter, is a 4K run, 24K bike ride, 4K run, and since it is generally flat (as flat as bike ride get around here in Nova Scotia), it is an all out hammer fest (well for me anyway).

The weather held up, it was cool with a light breeze, but no rain (for once this month). We lined up for the stat at 9AM, and I was happy not to have a painful knee this year (thanks to ART - look into you people with aches). Look for me in the picture above, I swear I am there.

My plan, as usual was to stick as close to the leaders as possible on the first run, push through the bike, and hang on for dear life in the second run. Well it turns out my half marathon training this year has really helped my short distance speed and endurance. Last year I ran about a 16:38 or so in the first run which was slightly shorter than this years run. This year I ran a 15:23 with some life left in me. I passed quite a few guys who last year could easily outpaced me. This was the 7th fastest time of the first run out of 58 people and only 50 seconds slower than the fastest run (good job Matthew White).

Coming into T1 I had a decent cushion but there was no time for rest. I knew that a few fast riders were behind me.

Transition this year was new and all on paved surfaces. It was quite a long run to the mount line as well. Definitely more suited to those that leave their shoes clipped to the bike and not to me (see me running in my Look cleats - ouch). T1 took me about 1:30 or so (it wasn't timed but I had a rough guess from my watch).

But off I took, starting my Gatorade nourishment from the start. I decided for this short of a race the little bit of fluid and food I needed would come in the sugary form of my favorite sports beverage.

I forgot my bike computer, sadly, so I just decided to ride by feeling. I kept a decent cadence, probably around 85 or so. It took Kurt Stevenson probably about 10 minutes or so to catch and pass me. Then I was passed by a few other rides (darn those speedy Tri bikes). Still I decided not to push things too crazy as I had to get back and keep a decent run time. On the way back I could afford to push slightly harder, even with the slight headwind. I was passed by 2 riders. I eventually took one back and kept fairly close to the other (not in a drafting kind of way though)

As you can see the other rider was pretty much on me by the time we got back to the line

Coming into T2, my legs were wobbly, but I figured I could get the feeling back easily enough.

Here I motion to Stacy to keep my medal warm for my return

Coming out of T2 my time for the bike portion was 42:19, which was about where I figured I would be at fitness wise (take that first T1 time off to get the actual bike ride time). Here I passed the 2 guys that had been close to me on the bike. One of them (I assume Alex Russell?) caught shortly into the run, but no one else did.

My usual cramps seemed to be held back. Sure there were some aches, some pains, some tired, but it was all good. I was easily able to keep a decent stride and cadence on the run.
Coming back to the finish I started to pick up the pace. It was hard to hear if anyone was behind me, and I didn't dare look back, and I was not going to get passed at this point. And as usual there is always room for a flashy sprint across the line to get my Popsicle stick. And I was proud to see it say #11 on it (though as I later found out it does not count as a double win). This was up from my 17th place finish last year and far better times. My final run including T2 time was 17:59. Now this was actually slightly slower than last years final run time, but with transition moved, it meant a much great distance. According to my watch this was close to a 2 minute T2, so I was in fact far faster than last year overall.

Next up for me is the Bluenose Half Marathon. Then back to the world of Duathlons. A racing season, it is so nice to be back.