Monday, December 29, 2014

It's Been So Long, What's Up?

Well here we are closing in on the end of 2014. It has been a pretty good year sports wise for me, and so many other part timers that I have had the fortune to share my limited knowledge with.  I think come the new year I may do a blog post on my equipment choices for triathlon, maybe. But for now I figure a quick update on the happenings of now.

After my rest month of November, I started back into training. Last year I started a 24 week training plan that took me to the Bluenose Half Marathon and a new PB. While that was great, it was very run focused and left me a little off when it came to Triathlons and Duathlons. So this year a more balanced training plan was needed.

To start I have really been good about getting into the pool at least twice a week. I have also been very good about forming a swim plan and sticking to it. While my speed hasn't been coming up, it has been getting good and steady and my endurance has been creeping forward. That is great and thanks to my new swim watch I think I can make some real progress in this area (more on that in a future blog post).

My cycling has been coming along as well. Sure I am continuing my cycling commuting during the winter, but thanks t the great weather we are having, I have continued to get out, especially on the weekends for long more sustained rides. And when  I can't get out I have done some very nice harder short sessions on the indoor trainer.  The indoor trainer rides have been done using heart rate, as I frequently talk about. And thanks to a lap top and some good videos, I can actually stand sitting and riding the trainer for more than 10 minutes (ha ha).  I think as the winter goes along and gets less fun for outdoor riding, I will be hitting Kinesic Sport Lab for some of their awesome indoor Computer Trainer sessions.

Now last year I broke my run training into 4 specific periods of training, each with a specific focus. I also took to running 5 days a week. Now, don't get me wrong, that worked wonderfully and got me to new levels of running, but I think this year I will be refining that even more.

For starters I will be cutting back to 4 specific runs a week. This allows me to be fresher on the bike and swim sessions and get more out of them. It also allows me to go harder on the hard run days and still have good recovery time. And of course, I am not just a runner, but a multisport athlete, I I know I can't neglect the other aspects of racing.

The 4 phases of training will also see some alterations. For one thing, I found the 6 weeks blocks too long and by the end I was mentally not excited about the work. Perhaps if I was running in a group setting that might be different, but as I do most of my training solo, I decided to alter my sessions into 3 week blocks. Three weeks are a minimum to allow the body to adapt, so I can't go less than that.

To start I just finished off the first 3 week block of base training. Four runs a week at 7.5 km a run. All of this was done at Zone 2 or easy pace and I certainly saw my pace start to creep back to were it should be by the end of week two, which was actually much quicker than last year.

The first week of the second block has begun as well. I am adding the long run back in now, though as usual, all new things are added in cautiously to avoid injury. So my long run is currently 10 km. And finally I am already adding in a little bit of speed work. Not too much to start though.

I am adding in my interval / core training session to start. 30 minutes which consists of warm up, intervals interspersed with core exercises and a cool down.  I wanted to add some strength training earlier this year, and the intervals are helping to push that anaerobic barrier a little earlier as well, which should help with some of the mid winter races. Those intervals are done at Zone 5 intensity. No threshold work yet, though.

Anyway, enough rambling. I hope your training has started and remember there is great help out there if you feel stuck in a rut, are constantly getting injured or want to take things to the next level. So don't be afraid to reach for it.  Til next year!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

What the heck happened to November?

Well here it is and we are in December already. So what the heck happened to November anyway? Well it does seem like it flew by really fast and while I was busy, it wasn't so much a sporty kind of busy, so here's a quick recap.

The last 2 years now I have made an effort to use November as a rest month. No structured training, limited to no running, and work on any ailments. Seems simple enough. That of course also mean no racing!

So in the month of November I think I ran twice for a total of 10 km, and frankly I did that because I wanted to try out a new shoe. I did stick to my regular cycling commuting and managed to add in some nice lazy bike rides both with my wife and solo, on the weekends. That was nice. Swimming? Yup, I did that, and in fact actually started to build back up my pool time in anticipation of an extra push this winter to prep for a few more sprint triathlons in 2015.

November is also a great time to work on some physio and getting my body stronger, so that I can hit the ground running, literally, in December as I make my push for another strong Spring and early Summer season. This was curtailed a bit due to a fall off my bike on an icy morning which may have lead to a mild wrist sprain. Now that it is better I am back on track though.

Oh and I managed some bike maintenance. Some bikes get prepped for their winter nap, other get ready to take full advantage of the less than stellar weather. Headsets are cleaned and greased, chains, derailleurs, cassettes are all shiny. A nice coat of wax to finish it all off of course.

But November is really Movember for me. I spend the month growing and grooming my awesome moustache and prepare for the great and exciting Halifax 6K Movember Trail Run. My buddy Mike and I have been putting this on for three years now and it is always fun. Great sponsors jump on board, the weather never cooperates and we get a great turn out. For the first time ever we actually sold out with 100 online registrants (we accepted a couple of walk ups as well). We raised a great bunch of money for the Movember Charity as well.

So all in all, a busy month, a relaxing month, a spill and fall on the ice month, and now it is great to get back to hitting the pavement with my feet under me (ha ha). Talk to ya soon.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Another Double Race Weekend - Oct 2014

Well the running season, for me, is coming to an end and what better way to celebrate than a double race weekend!

Things started out on Saturday with a local 5K put on to honor our local running club's 1 year anniversary. Courtney did most of the leg work organizing this event and things went off really well. There is a bit of joke because everyone got bib numbers in their race kit but me, though I did get pins for my non bib number. I had thought about just pinning on of the discount flyers to myself instead, but we did find me a number in the end.

This race was self timed, as it was more of a celebration of the group and an exercise in getting out and enjoying the day.Most of us have running watches of some kind anyway, so we know what's up.

 Some shiny exciting medals to commemorate the day

We all lined up at the super fancy start line, and after a nice speech by Courtney and our local MLA, we were off.

The race course was pretty straight forward. Up and over the big hill and onto the rails to trails. It was an out and back so getting lost would be very hard. Lots of volunteers guided us just in case.

I took off at a moderately hard pace, quickly took over first place and never looked back. I generally don't look back, it is too scary to do so.

At the turn around I had built a small lead over second place, but never rest on your lead as you don't know what can happen. So I kept pace as best as I could and got to greet all the other runners on my way back which was nice. It was also nice to see my wife pushing her limits to try and get a PB time for a 5K.

I didn't know if I had enough oompf this day to get close to 18 min, and as it turns out I was right, I didn't. But I did come flying home at a very nice 18:52.

Apparently I came home fast enough that we needed to retake my finish line photo

A great event, a nice end of season win and cake! Thanks Timberlea Tundra Pounders and Courtney.

So a win, then a rest and back at it on Sunday morning. This time the MEC Shuie Half marathon. Yup, a half marathon to follow my 5K race and to end the season for me. Why the Half and not choose the 5 or 10 K that day? Well, Why not. I had only raced 1 half this year, with the other being a pace bunny type deal. So I wanted to grab another sub 1:30 half marathon, on arguably one of the hardest courses in town.

The weather was perfect to start. The rain was holding off (again), the air was cool, and the wind was not strong. All good things for this race.

Now the Shubie Fall race is often more of a cross country event than trail run or regular road race. It is very hilly, it is primarily on crusher dust trails, but there are other sections as well. The trail is covered in wet leaves and this day there were large puddles and huge wash out areas (especially some of the down hills).  

This year we had a 10 minute headstart before the 5 and 10 k runners. That was nice as it avoided the bottleneck at he start of the race. I also decided to hold back a bit at the start and not try to hold a hard pace as I remembered that the back half of the race was extra tough. We began and I fell into second place quickly as the leader took off like a flash. I figured he was either incredibly fast or was going to burn himself out. Either way, I knew I could hold that pace.

The course was tricky, especially at corners, with the wet leaves. We climbed and descended hills, and avoided dogs (well almost avoided).   I help my place well enough at the start, but by the half way point David H. passed me. I thought I might be able to hold onto his pace and did manage to for quite some time, but eventually fell back by a bit. 

Still in second at this point, but not for long

We came upon the water/gel station and I hoped a little sugar would boost my spirits. It did but couldn't compensate for the pounding my quads were taking. From this point on, David and I kept getting closer then pulling apart. When you are running solo, it is often hard to hold a pace, and Shubie's hills don't help.

5K to go and somehow I look happy again

With 5K to go, we looped back to the start/finish line and got a few cheers. Again I was pulling David back to me, but not nearly fast enough, and I didn't know how much he was holding back anyway. I knew at this point I had a decent lead over 4th place and was hitting pace for a decent time, so I aimed at being as steady as I could. I managed to run into a walker, as he couldn't decide which side of the path to go to and kept stepping n front of me, but I didn't slow me down that much.

Finally the last half a kilometer loomed. It was up another big hill, then a series of tight turns. I was very happy to see the finish line at that point and found a little extra speed to grab a 3rd place overall. That means I medaled in all the MEC races I enter this season. Phew. 

A great finish to the season with 2 races and 2 podiums. And while they were not my fastest races of the year, considering that I had let up on training the past few weeks (work, life etc...) I was very happy with the results. All in all a great season with a solid training plan and no major injuries. What more could one ask for.

I'll do a full season summary soon enough. For now, rest and onto the Movmeber  6K Trail run that I and my partner Mike host each year. The RD hat is a fun one for sure. And there are still plenty of awesome races out there as well. If your legs need a challenge, Fall running can be awesome. Check this event out if you really want to try some fun and basic Cross Country running locally in Halifax. Back to Basics Cross Country Running Series.  

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Valley Harvest Half - Pace Bunny Time 2014

So wow, this is a late update. But hey, its free to read right? Sorry, things got busy so I'm trying to fit blogging into life (get it?).

Anyway, 2 weeks ago now was my last race. Well it wasn't a race as much as a challenge. This was the Valley Harvest Race and I chose to enter the half marathon as a pace bunny this year. First I didn't feel like I wanted to gut out another fats half marathon and second I liked the price of entry (free).

So entering as a Pace Bunny means that I am responsible for setting a pretty decent pace and sticking with it in order to cross the finish line at a set time. In my case it was a 1:40 half marathon.  I wear big pink ears and if anyone wants to finish at that time or beat that time, they always have me to set their sights on.

Sure in this day and age of Garmins and GPS watches, it is fairly easy to set a pace and stick with it. But mentally there is nothing quite like having a person lead you around and take care of you. I have found pace bunnies handy in the past.

So I volunteered for a 1:40 because it is slower than my PBs at that distance (1:23) but also fast enough for me to enjoy the run.

So we lined up at the start, I chatted with a few people and go them ready and then off we went. It took about half a kilometer to find some quality open space and settle into my average pace of 4:44 min/km, at which point I started to have some chats with people around me and guide them through the first bit of the race. Some would leave me, others would stay with and some would fall back.
Here I am surrounded by those who love me, or hate me

By a little past the halfway mark, I lost most of my followers. Now I didn't want to have this happen, but the steady pace I was holding was just a tad too much I guess, especially as we traveled through the back hills. And at certain points I was quite alone.

Sometimes a person would run and pass me and proclaim they were going to beat me, and I was happy for them. A few didn't make it, but many did!

15km in and still smiling

Soon we were running back through the town of Wolfville and towards the track. I started catching one guy who wanted to beat me and as we ran the last half kilometer, I knew he had to pick up the pace to get a good finish. So I ran behind him and yelled until he did. Good on him.

All in all a fun day out with great weather. My wife also got the half marathon demon off her back and got the finish she had been hoping for the past 2 years. Will I pace bunny again. Sure thing and the Half Marathon is a great distance to do it at. Should you do it? Certainly, if A) you have had some personal success at the distance and B) Can run a pretty steady pace.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Riverport Duathlon 2014

Well the Duathlon season came to an end recently with ever magical Riverport Duathlon. As always Riverport offers 2 flat fast 4 km runs with an epic 28 km bike ride separating them. The ride is rollers with an epic (that's a lot of epicness Ian)  climb part way in, Grimm Road. Conquer the Grimm and you may win.

So a big storm was supposed to blow in during the race. As usual for Riverport, the weather can be anything, and it is usually not what you expect. On the drive to the race that morning there were patches of rain and wind, but nothing too crazy, yet.

Come race time we lined up for the start and the wind was beginning to howl, but again no real rain to be seen. I looked around and there were plenty of fast feet to be seen. This one was going to be rough.

Twas a dark and storm day and yet I wear my sunglasses

The pace started fast. I tucked in behind a few guys and instantly regretted wearing my lucky hat as the wind was really whipping around good.

I had to start passing people though, so as not too lose contact with the larger group. I knew I could in no way hang with the top guys that showed up, but I wanted to stay as close as I could.

At the turn around I was feeling good and decided not to burn up my legs too badly before the bike. With the final few hundred meters left of the first 4 km I decided I wanted to at least grab a good time for the run and beat Greg to at least one point. Run one was done in 14:04 for an average pace of 3:31 min/km. Not too bad.

Onto the bike as quick as possible (28 second turn around, nice) and I was off. It quickly became apparent that this was going to be a fun ride. Within a kilometer I was maxed out of gears and going about 45 km up hills. Uh oh. The wind was really picking up. I was now at a big disadvantage on my bike. Most of the faster riders have bigger gears and during this type of weather that can make a huge difference. Still I was really happy that I wasn't getting passed by many riders until much further into the race compared to previous years. Some more winter work and who knows how the bike will progress.

After Grimm, we hot the head wind. Ugh. There were gusts that were blowing me around. That top gear was no longer needed and we even had some rain start to fall. Fall is a nice word, it was more like big rain drops being thrown at us. Luckily, the rain was minor and the heavy stuff didn't start coming down during the race.

I finally found the end of the ride and the head wind after 47:57 for an average speed of 35 km/hr. That was 1 km/hr faster than last year, and while the tail wind helped this year, the head wind taketh away.

I was now behind a few riders. I had hoped to be able to keep up with Kevin a little better this year, and while it took him longer to pass me on the bike, he was no where to be seen as I got off my bike.

But a super quick (quickest of the day) 16 second transition to the run surly didn't hurt things as I headed out to hunt down anyone I could.

I found my running legs fast enough. I really wanted to keep my pace sub 4 min and was able to easily enough. And soon I found Kevin. The question was, did I have enough time chase him down with such a short run? I kept my pace steady as I was gaining on him and I didn't know if he was out of steam or just holding station. Eventually with 1 kilometer to go I caught up and passed him. I dared a look back with a few hundred meters to go just in case, but I was clear.

And I crossed the finish line with a second run of 15:24 for a 3:51 min/km pace and an overall time of 1:18:07. That was good enough for tenth place overall, and 3rd in my age group. That was hard fought and a great race. It put me 3rd on the qualification list for the World Duathlon championships as well.

And with that and my beating Kevin, I was able to hold onto the point championship lead and for the second year in a row was the overall point champion in the Duathlon series. And it was fun.

Big thanks as always for Jeff Zahavich for helping me with my run speed and overall aerobic fitness. And as usual my guys at Sportwheels for keeping my bike going strong and Aerobics First for keeping my feet well covered.

Next season will be fun!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Sept 27-28, 2014 a Weekend of Running

Well it was a busy weekend for me. Two events on consecutive days and two great days of weather.

The first event was held on Saturday and was the Rum Runners Relay, which I have blogged about before. A team of 10 runners run 10 different legs from Prospect to Lunenburg in Nova Scotia. That is about 100 km. This year I was slated to run Leg 4, which is considered quite difficult due to its length of 17.1 km. As I had just been doing all of my marathon training this year, I figured it was as good a time as any to tackle this beast.

The day started early as I had to show up for Leg 1 to help out Mike, our first runner and drive his vehicle. It certainly was dark and chilly at the race start.

Yup it was that dark at good old 6:30 am

Mike ran well, as did all of the members of the Fundulators. We even had a win on Leg 5 with our last minute replacement.

See how happy I am before I had to run

Leg 4 is one leg that attracts a lot of the fast runners. The terrain isn't especially hard, mostly rolling hills with no epic climbs. But the day was really hot and even by 10:10am the heat was in the high 20's C. I started out running with the front of the pack, but within the first kilometer things had sorted themselves out. I was placed in about 7th at this point and was running quite well. I hit the 10 km mark at 38:50, which isn't my fastest 10k ever, but quite good. But then the wheels started to fall off. I managed to hold my pace but it felt hard. I was hot, and my breathing was laboured. But it was 17 km, and I knew I could make it through that easily enough.

At least I looked good while running

With about 5 km to go, I was passed. I stayed with Matt for some time, but eventually he pulled away from me. My pace dropped slightly and I had to look back. No one was behind me, so I felt comfortable holding my pace as best as I could.

Eventually I saw the finish line in the distance and managed a small pickup of speed. I cruised in at 1:08:15 for a 3:59 min/km pace. Whew.  Then it was straight into the ocean for me for a cool down.

I later checked my Garmin and found that my heart rate averaged 179 for the race. Yikes, that was a bit high and explains why I felt so bad on the run. That is essentially my threshold, or heart rate I can hold for 1 hour. Ouch, I guess that sun was working its magic on me.

This was the first year I stayed for the entire RRR, and boy was I ever tired from that. Up at 5, in bed by 10:30. And then it was up at 6 the next morning for race number 2.

Sunday was race 4 of the MEC race series. I missed race 3 sadly, but had 2 2nd place finishes in the other 2 races. Originally I had signed up to run the 15 km race, but after the way I felt waking up, I decided I should drop down to the 10 km (I didn't think I had enough oomph for a really tough 5 km either). 10 seemed like the smart choice.

It took about an hour to get to the race site, so I had to leave early and while it was chilly at the start I knew it would be warm like Saturday. 

It is a mixed start for the MEC races, with the colour on the bib dictating the distance. I started up front and quickly started running side by side with another guy (Chad was his name). I swear his bib was a 5K bib, so I tucked up behind him and let him pace the race to start. After a kilometer another runner popped through into first and I saw his bib was a 15 km one. His pace seemed doable and I didn't feel like pushing the first 5 too much. As we reached the 5 km turn around, I noticed that Chad didn't turn off and I got  slightly confused. Now I didn't know what distance he was running and I didn't feel like I wanted to have a duel this day. But we reached the 10 km turn around and only I made the turn. Whew.

I was also quite alone at this point and it was another 1 minute or so before I started to see more runners coming along. So I knew that if I maintained this pace I should be able to take the win. I cruised along listening to my tunes as as the last kilometer came into view, Supertramp's Long Way Home started to play. I laughed as this happened  during my marathon as well at the end. At this point I wanted to really take the short way home. 

As I came through the last half a kilometer I picked up my pace, pulling out a 3:40 over the last kilometer on average and passed the clock at 40 minutes. Not my fastest (even for the weekend) but it was what the legs had left in them. My average heart rate was 167, so much better than the previous day and more in keeping with a 10 km race.

I was told that the Bib of the Beast devoured all souls. Perhaps that is my magic to winning?

Regardless, a great weekend even if I feel like a truck ran me over. I was just not ready for the heat of the Fall I guess and pushed my heart rate limits a little too far trying to maintain a pace.

Where I found this leaping ability after the second race I'll never know

Monday, September 15, 2014

And That My Friends Was The Marathon (In the Zone) - Maritime Race Weekend

So this weekend was D Day. Maritime Race Weekend in Eastern Passage, Nova Scotia. A pirate themed extravaganza. A double race under the setting and rising sun. And my marathon debut.

So this whole summer I stopped racing and set about building my training from earlier in the season to be able to tackle my first marathon. And it seems like forever, though it was really just 12 weeks.

As I previously blogged my training schedule, I won't really go over it much, but suffice it to say I stuck to my plan pretty well over the summer. I limited my weekly mileage, I upped my weekly strength and "prehab" training, and focused on staying as healthy as possible. I didn't just want to complete a marathon, I wanted to see what I had in me at this time, without going over board. I am sure with addition time and more training and no life I could have eked out even more, but that wasn't the point. I wanted to have some fun this summer.

So the weekend started with a 5 km Sunset race. I wasn't completely sold on the idea of running a hard 5 km run the night before my marathon, but I figured I would use it as a bit of a shake down to keep my legs loose. I lined up early by the under 20 min pace sign and made no effort to stop those that felt the need to squeeze in front of me prior to the start. I was after all going to take it easy on this run.

I took off with the pack and we held a decent pace for the first kilometer. I was passed by a few people but held my line and pace and slowly moved ahead of them. I didn't need to surge at all. My legs felt great and free. Eventually I moved into the lead by the 1.5 km mark and held that for quite some time before being passed before the turn around. Still, there were some fast people behind me that were not running the full the next day and I fully expected them to eventually surge past me.

We passed the 3 km sign and I was still holding second place, with 1st pulling away. I had plenty of speed left, but decided to just hold what I was doing. I had no idea what that pace was but it felt good (the glare of the setting sun made it too hard to check my Garmin).

As we approached the final 180 turn to the finish I dared a glance back and saw Ray was not too far behind and with only a few hundred meters to go, I decided to push a bit and claimed second place overall, with an easy for me 18:06. I highly look forward to see what I might be able to pull off on a stand alone 5 km later on this season. Looks like my distance work didn't kill off my speed work, one check for my training.

Quickly to home and to bed for me. And oddly enough I slept rather well. Good thing, as I was back up at 5 am to get my food into me and into the car. For the last 6 weeks I have eaten the same food before every long run, 2 slices of homemade bread, toasted with 1 banana and all natural peanut butter. This is washed down with a blended drink of 1 half a beet, 1/2 cup orange juice and 1/2 cup water. Stick to what you know.

Skipping ahead and it is race time as we all line up by the pace we are running the various races (5, 10, 1/2 and full all start together). I lined up at the border of the sub 3 hour and 3 hour marathon. My plan was to ease into the first half and see how I felt after that. The weather was perfect, sunny, with a bit of chill in the air and slight breeze.

And then we were off. I started easy and carefully thread my way through the first few turns of the run, trying to not get involved with any 10k or 5k runners. Then as we hit the open road I started to slowly pick up my pace until I hit a good speed. My Garmin was showing Pace, Heart Rate, Time and AVG Pace. The goal was to keep my heart rate below 160 at all times, to keep my avg pace below 4:20, and to take a gel at 1 hour intervals.

We hit the first hill around 4 km in, I slowed slightly to keep my heart rate down, then picked up the pace again at the top. At this point the 10 km runners and 5 km runners had left us, and it was just full and half marathoners.

At each water stop I grabbed a glass of Gatorade, took a good mouthful and carried on. At all times I was checking posture  and heart rate, knowing full well that the first half could be run very fast, but I needed to add another half after that. Slowly the leaders pulled away but I was still hanging out with a group. That thinned a bit more as we approached the split and suddenly it was myself, one guy behind and 2 guys a bit further up.  I hit the half way mark at 1:30, on target for a 3 hour full, though I knew that ultimately the time I ran would depend on a few other factors. Still I was happy and felt strong.

Oddly enough, I expected the next 6-7 kilometers to feel easy, as it was a crusher dust trail that is relatively flat, exactly what I do a lot of training on. But for some reason I has issues keeping my speed up and felt like I really had to push through. Some levity soon approached though, as every full marathon runner had a custom sign made to cheer them on. Mine asked what Zone I was in. "Three" I yelled.

Eventually back to the road we were, and my legs picked right back up all springy and light. Whew. But within 4 km at about the 33 km mark, I hit a decent hill that again sapped my life. In order to keep my heart rate low, I slowed right down to a 5 min/ km pace. But I knew this brief rest would be worth it in the long run. Life came back again as I crested the hill, though I would have to watch my heart rate on a few other hills as well.

Though I was obviously getting tired at about the 35 km mark, I was happy to notice my posture was still feeling great. I had no specific aches or pains, other than a bit of a blister on one toe (I knew that was coming but it didn't affect my gait). All that prehab I did was surely very helpful in taking care of my weak spots, so I am very glad I spent the time with my Physiotherapist earlier in the year.  And as we approached about 37-38 km in I actually passed another marathoner who had passed me quite a long time before but was now looking decidedly bent over.

And now the hardest part of the race, the big Caldwell downhill. What I didn't need at this point was a controlled decent, but alas it was there. I survived and the final few kilometers were mine to bask in.

It was essentially downhill but only slightly. I was tired and just accepting the pace in my legs at this point, though again, not hurting in anyway. I crossed the finish line at 3:02:09 and was perfectly happy with that result. Sure it wasn't a "3 hour marathon" but it was darn close, it was my first, and I walked away from it feeling physically good. And while it is a Boston Qualifying result, I won't be exercising that option. I was 8th overall and 1st out of 14 in my age group.

And I won jam, twice. Age group winners get jam. I got it for the 5 km and the marathon.

This marathon experiment was a good one with a good result. My training plan turned out to be what I needed to get to the end healthy and happy. Oh and my average heart rate was 157, only 2 beats out of Zone 2, so just perfect. Big thanks to Jeff Zahavich and Kinesic Sport Lab for that.

Now some rest, some cycling and back at it. But now with more speed.

Monday, August 18, 2014

How's That Marathon Training Going Ian?

Last year I signed up for and started to train for the Iceland Marathon. Sadly a combination of things lead to an injury that lead to me dropping down to the Half Marathon. I had a great time racing regardless, but was left with some unfinished business.

Bring on 2014 and the Maritime Race Weekend Marathon. A local event that is now on its third year, this race has gotten some good reviews so it seemed like a good choice at redemption.

Last time I attempted to training for distance, while competing at shorter distance events. This lead to my hip giving up and a summer of rehab. This year I hit the prehab early, and saved the heavy endurance work for after the Spring racing season.

So how are things going? Well I guess I can say. As usual I have kept up with my heart rate based zone training, aiming to do a significant portion of my "runs" in Zone 2. Wait, why did I put "runs" in quotes? Well I have a reason for that.

Over the past couple of years I have noticed one big thing. When I start to get to really high weekly run numbers, I start to get injured. Ah, so it is easy, just keep the numbers low then. Well sure, you can say that, but I am training for a marathon now and not a shorter speed event. So I do actually need to keep the numbers moderately high to let my body build up the tolerance it will need to race at that distance.

How do I accomplish this? Well, in comes cycling. I have been using the bike as the basis for a huge part of my Zone 2 work. With the bike I can get my heart rate high, but keep the fatigue and damage to my muscles low. So I get a workout and recovery all at the same time.  This has allowed me to focus my run sessions on some key items over these 8 weeks, so lets look at those.

Key workout 1, the Long Run. Can't lose this fella. This run of course helps build the physical and mental stamina needed to actually finish the darn race. There are a variety of thoughts on how to do these runs, but in my case I run based on time and heart rate. I started with a 1 hour and 45 minute run and just completed a 3 hour run (well 2:53) this past weekend and made it to 38 kilometers. Now this is quite far of a long run for most people training for the marathon, but I was looking at time on feet, and I made it through, uninjured and "happy." I also knew that I had planned for enough time to recover before the marathon itself with 3 weeks.

Key workout 2, The Tempo Run. Also called a threshold run, for me this is a low Zone 4 effort which puts me slightly above the pace I want to run the marathon at. Zone 4 effort is about the maximum you can hold for 1 hour. Each week my tempo effort increases by 1 kilometer and now I am at 10 km. This workout will push my endurance and speed. It should also help the marathon pace feel not so horrible. I do this run on the road, meaning it includes hills as well.

Key workout 3, Interval and Strength. I combine a session of speed and strength once a week. In this workout I run intervals and between sets I do a variety of strength focused exercises. These will help my core muscle groups stay strong and help prevent injuries as I work to run further and faster. In my case what I am looking for in these workouts is to build good running form, so I make sure to do my intervals at a maximum "run" and not a "sprint". Sure there are many other benefits as well, like anerobic endurance, but those are less useful in a marathon.  

Key Workout 4, The Talk. What now? Yeah, I like to get one run in a week between 7.5 and 10 km where I work through the race mentally. This is a Zone 2 run, and while it adds a little mileage to my week (which is good) it is specifically designed to let me do mental checklists and let my mind wander a bit.

So the rest of my week is cycling, some swimming and a few sessions of prehab. So far I have survived my longest run ever (and the longest run in my training) injury free. I have survived humidity, heat, dehydration, and waking up early. Now I get to see the fruits of my hard work come together as I begin what is actually a moderately long taper, but one with purpose. As my overall distance drops on my long run, I will now increase speed and intensity with a final half marathon length run the week before at marathon pace.

Will this all workout? We'll see.    

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Marathon Prep - Its Prehab Time

So I sit here writing on a laptop outside of a very fancy grocery store in Seattle where I have just finished dinner. This is week 2 of my 2 week work trip and this is right in the middle of my training for the September Marathon Race Weekend marathon.

So what better topic to write about than prehab. What's that Ian? Don't you mean rehab? Nope.

So I have certainly been through my fair share of rehab as I have taken to sports in my adult life. ITBS, Glutes, Peronial, lower back, calf strain, etc.... You name it, I have been through it. And I have always had great help from the local support community in Halifax. But then, my races and training have been shorter in distance and the type of things where I could in the past gut out the pain just a little bit. But with my first marathon coming up (last years was aborted sadly), I knew that gutting things out and dealing with the pain later would be of no help. You can't cheat a marathon I say.

So in anticipation of the marathon, I visited a few of my favorite sport professionals to get myself ready. Luke at Aerobics First of course helped me get the right shoes picked out, and for this race it will be the NB 890v4. Jeff Zahavich at Kinesic Sport Lab has helped me with my lactate testing and establishing my heart rate zones for training. He also has helped me develop my training plan. But first and foremost, Anita at Beaverbank Physio helped me find my main weaknesses.

In the Spring we did a pre assessment, before I ever got too far into training.At that point Anita found a few spots that we should work on. Again, if I were racing shorter distances, these weaknesses weren't that bad, but they were definitely the kind that would start to show up as my training mileage kicked it up a notch.

In my case it was mostly 2 issues which I have been working on. My left hip/glute area are weaker than my right. And of course due to the kinetic chain, this transfers some issues down my left leg, notably my left ankle is very flexible, maybe a little too much. The other issue is that my right ankle is extremely tight.

So I have an odd assortment of things to do for my prehab (see, I'm not really injured yet, so it is pre rehab - oh now it makes sense). I am doing quite a bit of strength training on my left side (and some on my right of course) all while working on flexibility on my right.

But I don't have time to fit all of this in and get in my runs as well!! Sure you do. Likely 15-30 minutes a day can help prevent issues that may lead to you not running for days at a time, if not weeks. And maybe a longer session once a week if needed can also be a good thing, depending on your problems.

You can't do your best at running if you can't get through training with off time, so seriously consider getting some sort of physio style assessment and plan put together. And don't just join any old gym and go through the motions. If you want coaching, find a coach that understands runners and can get you through a weekly strength session that is designed to work the area where we get hurt the most.

Okay, it is getting dark, so back to the hotel for me. Oh and travel is no reason to lay off the training. This is day 6 for me, and I have been on the treadmill every night (8-10 km each time) followed by 15 minutes of prehab. And all I had to pack was my running gear and a cool little physio band, because, well I have a workout all planned using just that little band. It is working well. The bands are cheap at you favorite running stores so you have no excuse not to have one.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Ingonish Olympic Triathlon 2014 - The Good, The Bad, The Ugly (Toe)

So this past weekend was the Ingonish Triathlon, held in lovely Cape Breton. I have been going to this Triathlon for 4 years now and it has always been fun. this year I decided that I would step up a distance and go for my first Olympic length tri, which is listed as 1.5km/40km/10km. In this case the bike ride is actually 43 km due to finding a reasonable spot for the turn around. So a slightly longer ride over very hilly terrain? Sounds great!

Anyway, this year I did a lot more swimming in the pool to get ready for this event, though I knew my swim was still going to be slow. I really need to get in the pool even more and in the lakes when possible and try to get this swimming thing under control. Still this was going to be mostly for fun, to learn pacing and experience the longer distance, with a greater push towards next years racing.

So the lake was cold in Ingonish. Yup cold. Here we are the end of June and this year it was 17C (maybe) and the air temperature race morning was 10C (maybe). Brrr. And I don't do cold water well.

With setup complete and the race brief given, we were allowed a small prerace swim warmup. I got in the water and tried to get warm, but it wasn't working. Still, I knew I just had to stick to the plan of taking my time at the start of the race and getting into a groove.

As the race started, we all began the wade out to deeper water (in this lake that is actually quite a walk). As I started to try and swim, I instantly had my breath taken away when my face hit the water. I knew I had to get moving to build up some heat, so I resorted to the breast stroke for a bit, occasionally putting my face in the water. Eventually by the first buoy, I got a hold of my breathing, got comfortable and was capable of doing the front crawl. Unfortunately, the main group was quite far ahead of me, so at this point it was a solo effort.

Really, once I got into a rhythm, it wasn't too bad. My swim is slow to begin with, but the wetsuit helped me a bit and things were going fine.

This swim course is a two loop course, so you come back to the start and go around the first buoy. As the water is very shallow, you generally stand up and run around, and as I did, my foot went into a rut in the sand and I tripped. My feet were crazy numb though, so it just felt like I scraped it or something. Carry on I said.

Eventually I got out of the water quite near the back of the field in 34th place, all alone pretty much and saw the clock read 35 minutes. Sigh. I think most of that was the incredibly slow start, so in that case I guess the part I actually swam wasn't too bad. I just need to figure out how to warm up quicker at the start or something.

Off to the bike, which for this race includes a 300m run on a gravel path. Luckily my feet were very numb. Unfortunately my hands were also very numb, so getting into my cycling gear was tricky. I did and passed a few people in transition and off I went (just imagine a nice bike picture here).

All along the bike ride I did my best to keep my heart rate under control. I wanted to keep things in the low 140`s on average. On shorter sprint distance rides, it isn`t hard to ride a little aggressively, as the 20km distance is much easier to recover from for the run. But this distance meant I needed to be smart.

I started to pass a lot of riders on the way out and after the turn around passed a few more. I had tried to take count of where I might be, but alas, I was so far back that I lost count. As well, my feet were still incredibly numb. I was hoping I might get feeling back in them prior to the run, but that didn`t seem to be happening.

On the way back I was starting to intermingle with the Sprint distance triathlon cyclists, so any attempt on my part to keep track of my position had gone. Also my bike computer momentarily stopped working, though I knew the course well enough to know where I was.

As I came into the dismount line, I was just catching another rider, so I had to sit up a bit. That wasn't bad as it gave my legs that little rest they needed to come back to life for the run. Officially I am listed as having done the ride in 1:20:30 at 31.3kph, though this included the long run from the swim, and my fumbly switch to bike gear. My computer listed the ride as closer to 33kph and a ride of about 1:17. Ideally I wanted to keep the ride around 1:15 but I was also quite sure I didn't want to over extend myself, and there were a few moments were I had to slow due to road conditions. So ultimately I am not too unhappy with the result. It was the 10th fastest bike of the day.

My dismount went well, my T2 went well, and I was off running.

I immediately passed a couple of runners and settled into a pace. My aim was a sub 40 minute run. Again though, this course is not designed for PBs anywhere. The 10km run course is a 2 loop affair, with a series of quick steep ups and downs and next to no flats. So it is hard to get a decent groove going. Still I knew I could make up a little more time on people as we all run the same course.

The weather was starting to heat up a bit and it was getting quite warm. And after lap one, I finally started to feel my feet. My left foot felt really bad though in the toes and I thought, hmmm, what did I do during that swim? After another short bit, my foot just down right hurt. Momentum though carried me on.

With 2 km to go I had another couple of people to pass and they had slowed quite a bit. I picked up my pace in this downhill section as good as I could and passed them. Hitting the final few hundred meters I gave it my all and ran hard to the end.

I hit the finish line at 2:37:47. Dang, not the 2:30 I had hoped for, but with that disaster of a swim, I guess it wasn't all bad. I did check my Garmin though and it was 40:50 for the final hilly 10km run. Not the sub 40 I wanted but a decent run regardless, and the 6th fastest of the day for an average pace of 4:05. It looks like I took about 40 seconds to do my second transition, which is not too bad either for this course.

Following the run, I went back to my bike and finally took off my shoes. Blood was covering my right foot. I had sliced open my toe during that swim. Ouch. It was also black with a bruise and at first I wondered if I broke it. But it didn't seem like it after I cleaned it up. Still, ouch.

So while everything didn't go as planned, I took home some valuable experience racing longer. My pacing was decent on the bike, allowing for me to have a great run (minus the foot issue). Basing my pacing on heart rate turned out to be a valuable experience, so a big thanks to Coach Jeff at Kinesic Sport Lab. I also know I need more work on not only the swim itself, but dealing with cold water.

I ended up 3rd in my age group, which is funny as I always end up 3rd in my age group in Ingonish. I also got to get away to a great area of the world for the weekend and do some nice hiking as well.

Monday, June 16, 2014

2014 Greenwood Duathlon: Win #2 for the Year

So another weekend, another Duathlon. This time it was the Airforce Du in Greenwood, NS. This event is 3K / 20K / 5K in length. It is also flat and fast and one of the few events where I wish I didn't have my compact crankset on my bike. Oh well, you ride what you bring.

The day prior to the event I woke up with a horrible head cold and spent the day in a zombie like state. I was not impressed. I then followed that up with a relatively sleepless night, yay. But I got up, had the car packed and was on the road at 7:15am.

I couldn't fathom making coffee in the morning, so I drank a vile of Red Bull on the ride down as my caffeine replacement. Mmmm, sort of. It was cold and wet and my taste buds didn't really work, so hey. Also on the ride down we would go through periodic bouts of rain and fog. So far so good!

I arrived, checked in and set up. The it was on to race briefing with the knowledgeable Andrew presiding.

While the du crowd was bigger than last year, it is still on the smaller side. That's too bad as it is such a fun event. That doesn't mean you don't give it all you got though. And regardless of my sort of cold, I was going to push for some speed today.

A slight alteration of the course for us in the du meant we started over on the other side of transition. Not a big deal, and actually shaved a couple of corners off the course without changing the distance. So that was nice.

I started with a pace that was a bit too fast, but that old adrenaline really does make you feel pretty good at the start of a race. By 1/2 a km in I slowed the pace down a little, but still passed the 1km mark in 3:24, weee. By the end of the first 3km run I had slowed things down to an average pace of 3:34 min/km for a 10:40 time and was in first place.

 The ground was still a bit damp at this point and the air humid

The twisty turny into T1 bit

So into T1 and to the bike. The beauty of the duathlon of course is that you just pop off your shoes, put on your helmet, grab your bike and go.

Off to the mount line and on to the bike course we go!

No change from previous years, the bike course at Greenwood is flat. A slight dip on the back section exists but it is nothing to write home about. You do three loops before finishing for a roughly 20km course. This year there was  great tail wind on the way out. Speeds were easily topping 40km/hr on the flat and for once I really wished I had bigger gears to work with. I maxed out the speed on the bike. Coming back the headwind and slight uphill equaled about 5 km/hr less in speed but still it was good.

I managed to not only stay in the lead, but my lead grew a little and by the end of the bike I had a 2 minute lead on Alan in second place. I managed the fastest bike ride for the duathlon in 34:03 for an average of 35.2 km/hr which included T2, so that made me pretty happy.

Off the bike, to the rack and on with my sneakers for the final run. The run through transition was a bit wet so I got to start the second run in wet feet, blah.

My pace start out quite nicely at sub 4 min/km. After the little dip in the run course I slowed a bit for a few minutes but found the oomph to pick it back up. Then sometime after the 1 km mark, a stone got lodged in my shoe in the tread and made a horrible tap shoe click for the rest of my 5 km run. Yes, I could have stopped to remove it but it wasn't causing pain, and I am really bad at judging distances, so Alan didn't look all that far behind to me.

The second run is much more ziggy and zaggy, cutting through little neighbourhoods and side streets. That makes it hard to see where your competitors are. Also there are other races going on at the same time, so you come across people that you don't really know. At one point I had a small child on an electric dirt bike driving in front of me. He was just fast enough to stay ahead, but I was afraid he might crash, the way he was driving. He didn't, though I think he may have knocked over some of the cones that lined the route.

By the time I hit the last kilometer, I was pretty sure I had the win, but I kept the speed up, aiming for a sub 20 minute final run.  I hit the finish line at 19:30 for second run pace of 3:65 min/km and a final time of 1:04:42.

It was great to win this event for the second year in a row. Chris puts on a  good show, and it isn't easy to organize an event with so many people starting and finishing at the same time. It was also good to win a nice bottle of rum from Ironworks.

The bike felt great again and once again this years training work with Jeff Z at Kinesic Sport Lab has been great. Last year I found the speed, this year I have also found the smarts when it comes to racing and training together. Now I am much better at not pushing the training when the conditions just aren't right and it is keeping me overall much healthier.

Next event, Ingonish and an Olympic Tri, my first one.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Duathlon #3 for 2014 - Win #1: Navy Trident Duathlon

Well from the title of this blog post you can see that I won this last duathlon. So I guess we can end the post there. Well, lets continue on a bit anyway and live through the glorious moments of my win (lol).

The navy Trident Duathlon is held at the same time and place as the Navy Trident Triathlon, at Shearwater in Halifax, a navy airfield. The race is a Sprint distance of 5km/20km/3km (ish). The runs take place on a mostly flat trail which is 90% crusher dust and the bike ride is held on the runway of the airport.

23 competitors lined up for this event and I had been toying with the front end of this field for a long time. Last year I came in second, in what was a break through year for me. This year I was attempting the win.

With a few new faces, we started with our regular race brief (don't draft, go there not there etc...). Andrew did his usual bang up job.

The weather was also quite nice for a change. Sun, sun, sun. A novelty for an early morning race in Shearwater. A cool breeze also meant that the heat was kept at bay. Wow, it couldn't get much better.

Other than a few faces, I wasn't too sure about a few of my competitors. But this was a Sprint race, so that meant go hard, then pick up the pace. Anything less than your fastest wasn't going to win. I also knew that I had to get a good lead to start this thing as running has become my strong suit in these races, and though my bike isn't bad, it is an area I can do a little more work in.

We lined up, and pretty quickly, we were off. I tore off a a pretty quick pace, knowing that I would have to slow down to something a little more sustainable for the rest of the 5km. But I also knew I needed a lead and I could hear some heavy breathing right behind me.

I guess from this photo it was Gregory who was on my tail nice a close. I held my quick pace for as long as I could comfortably breath and slowly things around me fell silent. I crossed the first kilometer in 3:26. So yeah, pretty quick for me. Eventually I settled into a nice 3:42 min/km pace. The course, while seemingly flat, is actually a gradual hill all the way out and a nice decline back. That is quite nice as you get a speed boost coming into T1. I finished the run in 19:32 for the fastest time, though the course was long at 5.26km. So I would have clocked an 18:30 5km with a decent bit of energy left. Nice. At this point I had a good 1 minute lead over Alan in second place.

Then quickly out of my shoes, into my helmet and grab the bike. Off to the mount line and onto the bike course!

A 1 minute lead wouldn't last long with fast cyclists behind me. The first bit of the course is the hill (a steep one) followed by a twisty section to get to the runway. I got through all of that and went to town. Head down, legs pushing I was staying at around 35 km/hr in this section. By the end of the first lap I could see that Gregory had over taken Alan on the bike and was really pushing hard. I still had a nice lead though and knew that i just had to stay ahead for as long as possible.

Finally by the end of lap 2 Gregory had caught up to me. Luckily I managed to still maintain a decent gap to him and didn't fall off as much as I had thought I would. I think he had made extra time up on my on the twisty section, more so than the runway, as when we left to head back to transition, he pulled a much larger gap out.

As I approached the downhill section, I pet off a little anyway to rest my legs. I pulled out of my shoes earlier than normal, pedaled softly as I hit 60km/hr  and glided toward the dismount line. I slowed down a bit, then popped off the bike and ran it to the rack. My time and speed (including T1) was 37:19 for 32.2 km/hr avg.

At this point Gregory had already started the run and was off. That 2 minute gap it turns out I had to him had disappeared. He did a great job on the bike. But on went my running shoes and I was off.

With only 3 km to go, there was no time for a rest. Instead I pushed through the tired and caught up with the leader and with less than half a kilometer retook the lead. No time to rest yet either though as you never know what kind of finishing kick people have. I needed a decent gap to feel safe. So I pushed.

By now I realized how uncomfortable my shoes were without socks as I had never worn them without before. Ouch. Later I would see the blisters and tears in my feet.

I rounded the turn around sign and headed for home. I had a good lead now and just tried to keep my breathing as calm as possible. While not as fast as the first run pace wise, the second run felt good and fast nonetheless. As I approached the final few hundred meters I looked back and saw I was free. I cross the finish line in 1:11:14 for the win. My final run done in 14:25 which included T2 This run was about 0.53 km long and I ran a pace of 3:55 for a run time of 13:49 without T2. That was a solid pace and would have given me the sub 12 min 3 km that I wanted.

So a win for me, hooray! I am back in the thick of things again. Next up will be the Greenwood Duathlon in a couple of weeks.

Thanks again to Jeff Z at Kinesic Sport Lab  for giving me the engine to make these lungs and legs work so well, and the the gang at Sportwheels for keeping my bike working smoothly.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Bluenose 2014 - Half Marathon

Ah is it that time of year again? Yup, this weekend was the Halifax Bluenose Marathon, a tradition in the area for the last 11 years. My wife and I picked up our race kit early on Friday and puttered away the weekend in anticipation of our races (we each ran the half marathon). Pepto Pink shirts this year, and unlike last time, I sized down to get one that actually fit!

So I have been training for this race since December. And I am very glad I started early. Training went very well early on, then occasionally a snag would hit but I would carry right on. In my last 6 week training block, however, things went a bit crazy. I pulled a muscle in my back and couldn't run much. Then recovered but had a persistent leg ache. Nothing that stopped me from running, but something annoying enough to hold me back a bit. And finally I had 2 other races scheduled int he weeks leading up, which really limited my last few long runs. Sigh.

Still, I knew my training went well. I knew I had a good shot at my goal of a sub 1:25 half on a very demanding course. Last year I race a 1:26 and change and I knew I was fitter. Still once you start getting at the faster end of things, the gain don't come easily. But like last year I put my faith in my training system which was developed with heavy input and help from Kinesic Sport Lab and Jeff Zahavich. We use a heart rate based training model, which of course I have blogged about numerous times before. It helps really focus my training and helps prevent injury while training (I of course can injury myself at many other times in my life, ha ha).

Deep down I would have loved to also make up some spots and place in the top 10 for this race, but all those hopes were dashed when the former marathon champ  dropped down to the half and a really fast Kenyan runner popped in as well. All of a sudden slew of really fast guys appeared for a great race. Well, there was always my goal.

The weather turned out to be great. We were a little unsure the day before with a variety of reports and everything from cold to warm to sun to clouds to rain. In the end, the sun was out for the majority of my race with a few cloudy patches to cool things down. Very nice.

I took my place near the front of the race, which is a nice place to start. And very quickly, we were off.

At this point I was still on pace with the Kenyan John. At this point.

I knew that I had to try and avoid the usual start of race crazy pace that I typically have. This was going to be a good strong and smart run on my part. I was basing my pace on the earlier Back to Basics 8 miler I did. In that race I managed a 3:55 pace, and while only 13 km, it was a solid starting point for this half marathon.

Well no sooner did we get around the second corner did I look down at my Garmin and see a pace somewhere near the 3:11 min/km mark. Oh my! By the time I was past Citadel High, I was slowing steadily down but still at a 3:29 pace. It took until I was past the Commons where I was finally slowed enough and now at a 3:53 min/km pace. That would do for now I though, as the leaders were blocks ahead of me and pulling away. Whew!

So it was now stick to the plan and race my race. My Garmin was set to pace and average pace. As I don't stare at it all the time, it is nice to know if my average pace is slipping. Luckily I seemed pretty good as I was passing the early kilometer markers. And pretty soon things started to spread out at the front of the field. A few people passed me, and I passed a few, but eventually I was pretty much alone.

So lonely

I was grabbing a Gatorade on the way by each water stop. For a half I don't really need any food or water, but I do like that little blast of sugar to keep my brain active, and to keep my mouth from drying out. I do wish the cups weren't so full as I probably take in maybe a small sip each time. Seems like a waste, but oh well.

Pace was still good and soon I was approaching the 10km mark. I glanced down, saw that I had about 100-200 meters to go and the time on my watch looked good. So I picked up the pace temporarily, and crossed at sub 39 minutes, 38:47. My first sub 39 minute 10km and right in the middle of the half. Not bad. 

But now the real race began. After the half way point the Bluenose Half Marathon is pretty much up hill. I knew I couldn't push too hard too early on or I would burn myself out. I was zipping through the park and hit the dreaded Serpentine hill. As I started up, I changed to a slightly slower cadence, and used some bigger muscles to power up it. I passed another runner at this point who was struggling. As I hit the top I too was passed. I looked down and saw my pace had slowed far more than I hoped and picked it back up. This new runner was fresher though and even though we ran together for a bit, he eventually too off.

A few more hills and I was approaching the 17km mark. I now was really feeling those lack of long runs over the last few weeks. The first 16 km were easy, now it was just remembering to use good form and not let any little doubts creep into my mind.

You don't realize just how much of a hill South Park is until you start to run up it. And every year I forget that it is in fact actually a decent continuous climb. Followed closely by another climb before a really steep descent towards the finish line. Regardless, everyone else has to run it.

On South Park the runner ahead of me had about a 30 second lead. I never once looked back to see what was going on, after all this was a race against the clock and there was still a decent bit of race to go.

As I turned to corner onto Cogswell, I felt pretty good. I just needed my quads to hold out a little longer. As I approached the halfway point down the hill, a car blew through the intersection almost hitting the nice police officer. As he turned to deal with that situation, another car came through. Oh my I thought. Luckily it all cleared up but I am glad I was 10 seconds faster this year.

It was nice that the downhill section here was separated from the 10K finishers this year. Last year I ran smack into a huge crowd of 10 K runners who were over joyed to be finishing, but not necessarily looking for fast runners barreling down upon them. I loved the luxury of the wide lane I had to myself.

I turned the corner and one more up hill to face as Barrington loomed. But I pushed hard and with 100 meters to go, I dared to glance at my watch and just saw 1:23 on the timer. I pushed and pushed harder and crossed the line in 1:23:52, far better than the 1:25 I had suspected I could run.

A hearty High Five to Myles is as good a finish line picture as I have

So all in all, a pretty good race. A Half Marathon PB by almost 3 minutes. Great weather. Didn't kill myself (though my calves hurt a bit today). Enjoyable finish. What could be better?

Well I lost a bit more time in Point Pleasant Park than I had hoped for. The lack of long runs, as I mentioned, really killed that endurance at the end. So that bodes well for future races were I actually get myself together better.

My heart rate was on par with last years race and I managed close to 7 second a kilometer faster this year, with a sub 4 minute average. My recovery is quite quick as well, which is a great thing. The pictures of my form that I have seen show that my core work is coming along well also. Could Ian run a sub 1:20? I'm not so sure but it is nice to think about.  First things first some Duathlons in June though.

Again a huge thanks to Jeff Zahavich and Kinesic Sport Lab for the help in getting a much more powerful engine in a smart and sustainable way (ie way fewer injuries), Anita Connors for all the physio help and getting me  balanced out, and Luke and the gang at Aerobics First  for taking the time to make sure I got the right pair of ultra fast shoes on my feet with a great fit. 

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Du # 2 - The Cyclesmith Duathlon 2014

Another week, another duathlon. A run, bike, run event of epic proportions. Okay, let's not go crazy.

Like last year, the Cyclesmith Duathlon was split into 2 separate races, the Olympic distance and the Sprint Distance. And again I opted for the Sprint distance. If I was focusing solely on racing duathlons I might opt for the Olympic distance, but with a Half marathon the next weekend, I decided the recovery time would be too great. So for me, the Sprint distance event with its 5km/20km/2.5km distances seemed perfect.

This year the race was held much earlier than last. And unfortunately the weather out at Lawrencetown Beach was not going to be friendly to us. Well the forecast said a brief early morning shower then gradually climbing temps. In fact what we got was heavy fog, chilly temps that dropped even more as the race start approached and finally rain within minutes of the start. Oh well.

I knew that this week I had to push the first run. I am not nearly as strong as Kevin Besner on the bike, so I would need a decent lead, unlike the week before.

So with some quickly added arm warmers and light gloves I took to the start line. A little friendly banter and we were off.

I started out a little on the fast side at well under a 3 min/km pace. As I knew that was crazy, I started to ease back a bit, but I also wanted to keep the pace as high as I could for as long as I could to keep ahead of my competitors.

I reached the turn around and headed back with a bit of a lead. IT was hurting a bit, but I pushed as best as I could and crossed the line at 17:41. The first run may have been a bit short, but I think I still pulled off a PB with a sub 18 min 5km. I was first at this point. Then to the bike.

Quickly on with the helmet, I rushed to the mount line and popped onto my bike and off I went. This is a hilly course, but I pushed through as fast as I could doing my best to stay ahead of Kevin. But while the run course was a little short, the bike was a little long at closer to 22km rather than 20. I had hoped to make it to the turn around point still in the lead but alas Kevin passed me just past the 8km point, and while I pushed to stay with him, he built a decent lead heading into the final run.

I hit T2 while Kevin was off and running. My combined time for T1/Bike/T2 was 37:59. Not bad, but not good enough it would seem.

Bike racked, helmet off, fancy running shoes on and off I ran. But teh bike course and first run had taken its toll. While my initial pace was decent at sub 4 min/km, I quickly start to slow down and while I was catching Kevin a bit, sadly I wasn't catching him fast enough. And with only 2.5km to work with, I was now relegated to second place. But don't rest yet Ian, there are other racers!

So I pushed through, and crossed the line at 1:05:31. Kevin beat me by just over 1 minute. I held second place with more than a 2 minute gap. My second run was 9:47. So I did manage to hold a sub 4 min paced run afterall.
Okay, so we apparently had to stage a photo finish as I ran too quickly for the camera.

Second place this year. I had hoped for the win, but the faster man took that prize. I am happy to see my run speed growing, but my cycling speed seems to not be growing as much. But these are the trade offs right. The ability to get faster comes through hard work and it is best to focus that hard work. Still, a good race, regardless of the weather.

Oh and the food at the end? Yum.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Let the Du's Begin! Benny Bulldog Duathlon 2014

I love me a good Duathlon. Some may see them as races for triathletes that can't or don't swim. But that saddens me. These are there own awesome form of multisport. Running, then switching to the bike, then switching back to the run again. Whew, makes me tired just typing it down. These events take a lot of grunt, grit, endurance and hatred of your legs. Anyway, the first Du of the season has just passed by, the 4th almost annual Benny Bulldog Sprint Duathlon, a fundraiser for a local girls running group called Girls Gone Gazelle.

This year do to road conditions, the bike portion was cut down from 28ish km to 24.5ish km. in length. The runs stayed the same at 4ish km in length of pretty flat crusher dust trail.

So I awoke to see a sort of decent sky. The forecast had been mentioning rain leading up to the event and I was not looking forward to that. It was still chilly and I had packed my bag the night before with about 40 versions of my duathlon outfit. I really had no idea what I was going to wear, but I would be there early enough to make any changes I had to.

I racked my bike, and chatted with many of the familiar faces. I opted for a shoes premounted to the bike kind of race. So those were in place. And I decided now was the time to try out the new New Balance 1400's in race conditions. So light, so fast, so yellow.

Not my actual shoe

I also had put in place my new Xtenex laces. With only one real run in them, it was interested to see how well they would hold up. (Hint: they held up fine).

A mere moments from race start and the sun started to break. I decided to keep my arm warmers on at this point, though I opted to remove my gloves. Luckily I was wearing a bike jersey, so I placed them in my back pockets, just in case the bike ride was going to be frigid. 

 The 49 of us hardy competitors lined up for some last minute instructions. Garmins and Polars were beeping as they locked into satellites. Then we were off.

I had been fighting a pulled muscle in my back over the last 2 weeks that had lead to not a whole lot of training runs. And the morning off, there was still a bit of a twinge. I had no real idea how well things would hold up. I also had no idea, 1: What my speed would be like, 2: What my endurance would be like. But I did know that there was a lot of fast people around me, both runners and cyclists. I knew that to be even considered in contention I would ave to push hard in the first run. So I did.

As one runner took off way in the distance, I quickly settled in second spot. My sense of pace was off so I had to rely on my Garmin to help me a bit. It was obliging. My pacing was a bit all over the map (well within 10 seconds here or there), but I held position.

I came into T1 still in second place with a run time of 15:17 for the 4km run. That felt nice. And it wasn't a maximum effort either, which is also good to know.  One of these Benny's I'll dip below 15 minutes on that first run.

Helmet on, arm warmers ripped off, bike in hand I ran to the mount line. Quickly up on the bike I went and off I rode.

The first place rider was way ahead and I couldn't even see him at this point. But I rode on, pushing the pace as best as I could.

Within a few minutes I was passed for second though as Kevin Besner rode by. Turns out he was on my tail in the first run (good for him, that was fast), and I would never pass him back (well I should have put spoiler alert there, sorry). After a few more kilometers, I was passed by another rider, Nick. He was flying on that bike.

So here I was in fourth, not at the turn around for the bike and I dared a look back. No one there. Whew. And I could finally see another rider up ahead. It was Graeme, the uber fast runner. I was reeling him in. With about 2 km before the turn around I passed him to take back third place. I made the turn and was headed back.

With about 5 km to go, I was caught by another rider. This time, though, I knew I would be able to stay with this guy. I watched as he was pushing really hard to stay ahead of me, his legs shaking a bit. Our pace was still fine and at the top end of my comfortably hard zone, so I stayed put. He pulled away slightly as we headed to T2.

 Not my actual bike

I flew off the bike, ran into tranisiton, and made a very quick change. Those Xtenex laces I mentioned made slipping back into my shoes a breeze. Then I was off.

Within the first 0.5 km I passed the third place guy and took off. I pushed as best as I could and right before the turn around saw first and second running back. That kind of lead was not going to be over come on my legs, as the lack of endurance from my lay off was starting to set in.

As I made the turn around I came across 4th and 5th place. Graeme was making some good headway with his uber speed and I realized I need to push as hard as I could. Finally with less than 1 km to go I looked back and Graeme was closing in. I found that tiny bit extra in the legs and ran across the finish line in third.

I'd lie about my time, but uh.....

Seven seconds ahead of 4th place at the end. Whew.

A good race overall. Not unhappy with my placing. Glad to know some speed is still in the legs, now to get some endurance back. And speaking of backs, mine is doing much better. Which is also very nice.

By the end I had the second fastest runs in both legs and the 4th fastest bike leg. Against this tough group, that is pretty nice.

Huge thanks to Luke and Andrew at Aerobics First for humouring me while we tried on 10 pairs of shoes to find the right ones. Those NB 1400's are very fast.

Huge thanks to Sheldon  at Sportwheels for helping me get my bike all tuned up and ready to race. 

Thursday is massage day to get any lingering kinks out of the system. 

Oh and the Friday before the race, I donated plasma. It really should have no affect on your fitness level for more than a few hours. So if you are on the fence and worried it might affect race performance, it really doesn't (while blood does which is different). 

Hopefully we raised some good funds for Girls Gone Gazelle.