Monday, August 27, 2012

A Little Cross Training Can't Hurt - Sort Of

So every now and then you need to take a break from the regular old bike ride then long run on the weekend. Sure those are great and make you stronger and tougher (I guess), but mentally they can get to be a little tedious. Plus inevitably you have a spouse or friend or group of people that just don't either want to do those things with you or else are at different speeds and endurance levels.

So what does this mean? Find a new thing to do. One that compliments your triathlon training goals but gives you a nice metal and physical break. One that may stress slightly different muscle groups. One that includes those others in your life.

So this past weekend I did just that. Saturday my wife and I went on a SCUBA / Snorkel trip out to Sandy Cove. I picked Sandy Cove as it was a great area for novice level shallow diving as my wife snorkels and I dive. Sandy Cove (at least where I was diving) stayed at a nice 30 feet deep max (10 meters or so). It offered great sea creatures to view and a cool reef.

This was a great break from swimming laps or lengths of a lake. Sure my arms did little to propel me along the bottom of the sea, but my legs sure got a great work out, and with flippers it is a slightly different workout than I would get in a pool. And an hour of SCUBA will certainly wear you out for the day.

Then on Sunday rather the the good old long run? Well how about a good old long hard hike. To the Bluff Trail we went!

My wife and I had done the first loop of the Bluff Trail in Timberlea, a few times and loved it. We finally decided to go for the first 2 loops, which meant a 15 km (from the car parking lot) hike on pretty rough terrain. The sun was hot, the clouds were few and a tiny chihuahua named Newt lead our way. Four hours later we were done. This included a few food stops and a  stop to soak our feet in one of the many lakes.

Sure this wasn't a hard or slow paced long run and I could go 15 kms without too much effort. But this was good old roots and stones and hills and trees and jumps and etc....This was a whole new set of stabilizer muscles put into good use. And those muscles help keep the injuries at bay as we get tired on our regular long runs and marathons.

Why did I add sort of to the title? Two blisters on my little toes means it hurt a little bit. But I will recover.

So I was tired physically and mentally after that weekend (yeah I threw in an easy 5 km run Saturday night for good measure). It was a good thing to do. Oh and if you have a dog, it means you get away without walking them for a day or 2 now. Newt is still sleeping this one off.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Dartmouth Natal Day Race 2012 - Back to Backs

So I choose shorter races (generally) due to my love of going all out fast for as long as I can. I find it hard to pace over longer distances and either end up mentally slowing down to a crawl or running out of steam.

What the heck does this have to do with the 6mi  Dartmouth Natal Day Race? Ordinarily nothing. It is a 6mi (just shy of 10K) so right up my alley and a perfect chance to aim for a sub 40 minute run. But this time I was coming off my previous day's Sprint Triathlon race in Bridgetown, where I went (you guessed it) all out for the race. As I mentioned in my previous post it wasn't so much the race itself that wore me out, but the added heat of the day (35C) and the early start and long drive home. All of these things said, "Rest up Ian!" But alas there was no rest for me.

I have never before done the Dartmouth Natal Day Race and I know it has a long and storied history, being 106 years old this year and due to work reasons I may or may not be around here next year. So I couldn't pass up the opportunity to try this out.

Well I felt okay waking up the morning after the Sprint Triathlon and got myself ready to race. I knew there was no way I could give this one 100%, but I still wanted to see what I had left in the tank.

Lining up for this race is rather tricky as this is a 3 lap course and there are 2 races happening at the same time, the 6mi and a 2mi. So the fastest people all line up at the front but you don't want to get in the way of the extra fast 2mi people. Anyway, I lined up near the 7mi / min sign thinking it would be a decent place to start.

I also want to point out that this day could not have been different weather-wise than the day before. It was drizzly, foggy and oh so humid.

The gun went off and I began the run. I was taking it easy for sure at the beginning, just hoping my legs would warm themselves up. Immediately my shins screamed and seized up but I soldiered on through lap one. By lap two things were loosening up and feeling a bit better so I was able to open up my stride a bit more. I wasn't even looking at my Garmin at this point, instead just trying to find a moderately comfortable pace to hold.

By lap three I was up to pace and holding my own. By this lap other than a few strollers and kids finishing the 2mi race / walk, most people were kind of holding station on what would be their finishing place.  But there are always a few people dying at this point in any running race (in the past it was always me), either due to heat, going out too fast or maybe an injury. So I passed a few people.

Going by the water table the final time I heard a voice behind me saying "Thanks for the pull." It was a guy who I had previously passed at the bottom of a small climb who had decided to draft me. That was fine, but my pace was a bit too much for me.

It wasn't too much for another runner though, who decided to tag onto me at that point. I could hear him behind me, but didn't worry too much as his breathing was very laboured. Instead I would slowly start to ramp up my pace just a bit more and he worked hard at staying on me. Unfortunately for him my increasing pace followed by his getting momentarily stuck behind a stroller, meant he fell off my draft and couldn't get back on. With the finish line a mere 1/4 mile away I wasn't about to slow down anyway and kept pushing my pace.

Up Ochterloney Street one last time and towards the finishing chute I ran, picking up steam and passing a few more people, to cross the line 43rd overall out of 420, and a crazy 20th place in my Age Group (darn 30 year old runners seem to flock to events) with a time of 40:10. I was pretty happy considering my slow pace to start and realizing what I may have been able to do with fresh legs.

So back to back races? It can be done easily, but make sure to pick your A race and give that one you best attention. And if you plan on pushing it in both? Well make sure to have a nice soft sofa waiting for you to crash on when you get home.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

2012 Bridgetown Sprint Triathlon

So last weekend was a hot one, especially on Sunday (Aug 5th) and in the Nova Scotia Valley that means extra hot. I think the temperature that day in Bridgetown topped out somewhere around 35C and there was not a cloud in the sky.

I had to get up super early for the close to 2 hour drive to Bridgetown to be there by 7am to check in. Oh man that was rough but I did it. Turns out I was all alone at check in so that wasn't a huge problem getting through the line of 1. I got my chip and body marking (#275) and swim cap and headed to watch the start of the long course triathlon, which had been delayed by a half an hour due to heavy fog. It was here that I learned that the water temperature was going to be too high for a wetsuit. Ugh. As we all know my swimming isn't the greatest and a wetsuit certainly helps keep me a lot closer to the leaders.

This swim is also interesting as it is a river swim and a tidal river at that. So the current could be strong, non existent or backwards. And it is a muddy brown river as well. So all in all a slow swimmers dream (not).

Anyway, the next race off was the Olympic Distance then finally we were up. Now it was just after 9am, I was tired from being up early, a little overwhelmed with no wetsuit and standing in a warm river with a current. Oh well here we go!

The swim was hard. I did stick to the bank (as I was told to) to reduce the effect of the current and it seemed to work. I was swimming pretty much solo to the first buoy when all of a sudden a got a bit punch to the head. This turned me the other way were I received a kick to the side. Wonderful I thought. Around the buoys was a bit of a mess of people and it certainly took me off my pace, but I got around nonetheless. Then it was current surfing to the next set up buoys, which was cruelly past the swim out. Blah.

Finally I got out of the river with a horrible swim time of 19:45 (though the fastest swimmers were in the high 12 minute range, so it was obviously a slower swim). This put me at 43 spot overall. But I don`t worry about those things that this point in a race. I go like a mad fool that is gunning for first.

I was in and out of transition really well in 47 seconds for the 5th fastest T1 of the day. And this was the day I got to use my new Louis Garneau Tri-shoes (thanks Sportwheels for ordering those in). I had practiced a few days with these shoes, doing flying mounts and dismounts and I was ready to try this out in a race. And up on the bike I went, pedaling out of the parking lot we were in and onto the main road, then easily slipping my feet into the shoes and zipping away.

The road was almost entirely flat with little wind in either direction. Being behind like I was and knowing I had a mere 20km to go, I went all out. I passed numerous cyclists on the way to the turnaround. Some were Sprint athletes, other Olympic distance (who did the loop twice).  By the end of the ride I had made my way somewhere into the top 20 with a 4th fastest ride of the day at 33:30 for 20km (avg speed of 35.8).

Now I had done flying dismounts before so I wasn't as scared about this, though it is always a little cause for concern. But I was off the bike and on the long run to T2. And I must say, it was quite long, with the option of running on grass or dirt road. I ended up mostly on the dirt road as I needed to pass others.

I was out of T2 in the 6th fastest time of the day at 36 seconds.

So the run began. I had seriously hoped to do a sub 20 minute 5K to end this race. It was really hot now and even though the run was flat, I was running low on steam.  I managed to start passing a few people. Some were in my race, others not, but I didn't care. the run around couldn't have come soon enough and as I started back I picked up my pace a little bit. I did grab a cup of water from the water stop on the way back, though I could barely get any down without choking.

I think I managed to catch one more person in the final kilometer of the race and then sprinted to the end on a downhill gravel path. Sadly I only managed a 20:17 for the 5k but it was the 4th fastest run of the day and I ended up 13th overall and 2nd in my Age Group. Sometime being the slow swimmer makes for a more interesting day I guess, though I would dearly love to get out of the water a little higher up than 43rd. I guess one day I will get a coach and figure out this swimming thing.