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!