Tuesday, December 29, 2015

How has December Been?

So it has been awhile since the Movember Run. I've taken this month off from putting on events and from competing. That doesn't mean I haven't been busy in the world of athletics though.

I started the month with some clear fitness goals, as December is usually the start of my base training for next season. Knowing that the Holidays will likely get in the way (oh what fun!) of a strict schedule, I opt instead of overall numbers.

My swimming for the month has been about increased effort in the pool. I still don't have a ton of time to get to the pool often, but I can get there twice a week. Last month I work on building up some distance again and got back to 2000m swims, which work for my available time. I have also opted for 2 different workouts with, as I mentioned, increased effort.

Swim set one if a classic Swim, Kick, Pull. I do 100m intervals of each with 10 seconds rest until I hit 2000m. The swim is obvious, the kick is designed to help work on body position and proper kick technique of using those glutes. I also use fins to help strengthen my ankles somewhat and get some flexibility in them. The pull is done using a pull buoy and is designed to help me work on a better arm movement, while not worrying as much on body position. Set two is a 1000m warmup with pull buoy and about just below race pace effort followed by 10x100 on 10 second rest of swim. This is my speed work and has been showing a lot of promise with my average pace hanging well below 2:00min/100m. For me that is a great improvement.

My cycling has been mostly commuting, though I have hit the trainer for a few basement sessions of 1.5 hours. Perfect for Olympic distance training. My focus has been on heart rate training but for Christmas I got a nice Wahoo Fitness sensor which also allows me to track my cadence as well. Since switching to time trialing   I have found my cadence to be a lot lower than when I used to just race bikes. This is probably holding me back a little, so a winter of high cadence work may just be what the doctor ordered!

Running, I set a goal of 4 runs a week with a minimum of 30 km a week. That doesn't seem like much, but again, getting out around the Holidays isn't always easy. My local running group has, however, pout out a Christmas Marathon challenge. Run a marathon's worth of distance from Christmas Eve until New Years Eve. So I took up the change and currently have about 3 km to go. I even managed a nice long run in shorts on Boxing Day for 19 km.

Otherwise, I have been doing some great things in physio and while seeing my new Chiropractor Alan. My shoulder is coming along great and hasn't been hurt yet with my swimming (I am very cautious of that).

With the new year will also come speed skating. Oh where to fit it all in! I'll do my yearly, By the Numbers post soon but there is still some year left, so it will have to wait. I hope you all have been enjoying this great month.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

The 4th Annual Halifax Movember Run

So wow, Movember, I mean November went by really fast it seems. As usual I was busy not racing and preparing to host the 4th Halifax Movember Run. Yup, 4 years in already!

As usual race day morning was rainy.  I think last year's super cold race was the only time we have had sun. But the temperatures were not too bad this year and as it turns out the race was held during the nicest moment of the weekend, with torrential rains pouring down during the rest of the time. Whew.

This year's race was new in that we had two start times. Over the last few years we had allowed people to run with dogs, just asking for them to be mindful of leashes and careful at the start. This year the good folks at Dogrunnin asked for a separate start time as they wanted to make sure some of the dog people could really start fast and get the best time possible. That was not a problem at all. We started the dogs 3 minutes after the people only runners and then adjusted the times after the race. It all worked incredibly well.

Getting volunteers for these events can be tricky. Over the years we have always had a core group of friends turn out, but as usually happens some people commit and can't show up. Well this year we had volunteers organized by OnPoint Volunteers and we couldn't have been happier. They took control of their jobs with very little prompting and set up in the park to help guide the runners. Add to them Nancy from Run NS, who volunteered her time to help with the event timing and wow. What a  great crew.

Thanks to Cyclone Fitness we kept the racers warmed up prior to the start with a little fun as well.

The first race took off with some blazing fast people, including our own Joggler!

Then off zoomed the people and dogs, Canicross style!

And as always we had some great crews show up in costumes!

It was another great year for Movember, as we raised over $3200 for the Charity which helps support men's health in the areas of Prostate Cancer, testicular Cancer, Mental Health, and Physical Inactivity.  The racers all did great with some setting personal bests and other enjoying the day. It was awesome to see many familiar faces pop down for their 4th run, and new faces their for their first (for some it was their actual first event ever!). 

The help and support from our many sponsors always makes this event fun and worth doing. Jav Blend Coffee Roasters, Freemans Little Italy, Auction House, Sportwheels, Ideal Bikes, MEC, Run NS, Kinesic Sport Lab, Seaside Chiropractic, Jollytails, Blue Frog Creations, Cyclone Fitness,  RoadID, Moksha Yoga, Sailor Bups Barbershop and of course two huge supporters in Aerobics First and DogRunnin'.

Towards next year, bigger and better! from Mike Milloy and I, thanks. 

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

The Final Race Weekend of the Season - Another Double Header 2015

Well I am a little late posting this, but I went away on a vacation, and it was wonderful. So better late then never.

It was the weekend of Oct 24 and 25. I was very tired but I had 2 races in 2 days to do and thus would end my wonderful season of racing. I had already accomplished a lot this year, though had also failed to accomplish certain goals. All in all I say I came out with this season being a thumbs up.

First up this weekend was the BLT 5K. I won this last year when it was an untimed fun run. This year it was timed and some big names came out to race. I knew I wasn't going to set a PB here but I thought I could do well.

It was a rather cold morning, perfect for running, horrible for standing around before a race. I knew with Matthew White showing up I wasn't going to win this year, but I wondered just how close to him i could come in this race (he did race a marathon the week before).

As the race started I fell in behind Matthew. The pace seemed fine so I stay with him. I was quite happy to still be there 1.5 km later.

Finally just after the 2 km mark, Matthew pulled enough of a gap that I knew it was over. I hit the turn around and figured I had a good shot at second place, just keep the turn over rate high and push through.

I took one quick look back as I reached the end of the trail and right before I started the final hill climb before the decent to the finish. I was all alone in second. Knowing I had another race the next day I keep a decent pace but didn't push hard to the finish. I crossed the line at 18:01.  Second overall, 1st in Age Group and happy to be done.

The next morning and back at it. This time the MEC Shubie Park Half marathon. A half marathon on twisty crusher dust trails with loads of hills. Probably the toughest one around here. The field for this half isn't huge, as most people opt for the 5 and 10 k option, but there are always some fast people. I have usually finished the race 3rd overall each year, with one second overall male medal.

I knew this was my last race and my legs knew that too. I was tired and sore, but not injured!  At this point I wanted a solid race and hopefully a medal. I tried to hold back at the start but quickly saw a fast pace happening. I eased back a bit and fell into second place.

You know that feeling in a race, where you are done but have to hold it together to the finish. Those races don't always happen to me, but sometimes they do. This was one of those races. Sadly I started to feel that way at about the 2km mark. Only 19km more to go I though! Ahhh.

I held onto second place with Drew in third right behind me. Finally after about 8km or so he decided to pull ahead and off he went. I was fine with that, knowing I really just needed to hang in there.

As I was heading to 6 km to go, I knew where I would finish if I could keep this pace up. I even showed that to Tim who was taking photos.

  I think one of the hard parts of this race is that when you are alone in the woods, you are really alone. I find it easier to run strong when others are around. I found a little oomf as I headed to do the second loop and ran by the finish line area. But then back into the woods, and ugh.  A mean slight but long hill with less than 1 km to go just about had me walking but I pushed through. Then a surge at the end for a strong finish and I cross the line in 1:26:26. Overall a decent time on this course, but I was wiped. A long season finally done.

Now onto Movember. I'll be directing my race again on the 21st to raise money for Movember Canada. Come join us by entering here: https://raceroster.com/events/2015/6069/halifax-movember-run 

This month I'll step back from hard training. All easy stuff just to keep healthy and fit. I start to ramp things back up in December as I plan out next season. Thanks all.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Wintertime is approaching Compurtrainer Time is Coming

The wife and I headed out to Kinesic Sport Lab last night for a Computrainer session. Many of you have heard of Computrainers and many have even ridden them, but for those not in the now here's a brief run down.

A Computrainer is an indoor bike trainer that lets you hook you regular bike up and use it as an indoor exercise bike. That's the simple. But the Computrainer is so much more. With all of its attachments, you get an indoor bike that can be programmed to follow a predetermined course, even following the profile of real bike races or triathlon routes. The trainer itself will adjust to make things easier or more difficult depending on whether or not you are going up or downhill. It can keep track of your cadence, speed, distance, watts and even heart rate if you wear a monitor.

So okay, the Computrainer is a cool tool, but what about a class? Well at Kinesic, they have 8 Computrainers setup and a big overhead projector.  What that means is you get to have fun and compete against other riders. Enter you info into the system and it adjusts to your riding needs. Then go!

Here we are getting set up 

Coach JZ adjusting fans and explaining our route

Our warmup consisted of getting our cadence up, some one legged drills and getting our hearts beating and ready to go for the main event. The main event being a 14.13 km moderately hilly time trial. 

While, yes, the Computrainer is a great tool to get fit and healthy, it is also a must go to tool for training for longer distance triathlons in a cold weather climate. From getting to ride the actual course profile of your upcoming races (it has many to choose from) to learning how to properly pace over the distance, this system offers huge benefits. It also makes you sweat (hence the big fans) and your legs burn, but that's all good.

The four of us in the class last night had a blast. If you haven't tried it and are curious, Kinesic offers drop ins when a class isn't full ahead of time. They also offer 8 weeks courses from base training to FTP from Hell session (if you don't know what FTP is the Coach will explain it in the course he's good like that). 

After the session and you legs are dead an email gets sent to you asap with a ton of awesome info about the ride:

That's the quick summary, the email has a link to way more info. But it gives you a great quick view of the ride.  It also makes it much easier to add to your current logging system for workouts. 

Anyway enough of that. If you live in Halifax, Kinesic is the place to head for a group session. You can buy your own Computrainer as well or other varieties with similar features, though I will attest to the fact that you won't push nearly as hard on the bike alone as you will trying to edge passed the guy riding next to you. Have fun and get ready for winter!

Monday, October 12, 2015

Valley Harvest Half Marathon - Pace Bunny Report 2015

Dark and early we climbed into the car and sped off to Wolfville. Another year and another Valley Harvest Half Marathon pace bunny job for me, another race for Elizabeth.

I arrived in time to grab my sign and line up near the front of the huge group of almost 800 runners. This year I was once again the 1:40 pace bunny, bit now with a new group, White Rabbit Pacing, and this year with a tutu. Heck why not.

As the race started I quickly found a nice pace for my runners, just a little slower than our ultimate pace. Within a few kilometers and some hills we were now averaged out and hanging at about 1 second a kilometer on the fast side. With this race being heavy on the uphill in the first half I wanted my runners to take advantage of fresh legs and then use the big downhills later as a rest. 

I was quite happy that I had a revolving but decent set of runners within site of me at all times. I tried to keep their mind off of the task at hand with loads of commentary and helpful running hints. Maybe it was annoying to some but I did get quite a few thanks afterwards.

I crossed the line at 1:39:32. A tad fast but I dragged many runners in at really close to 1:40.  I really had to hold back at 19km because my legs felt so fresh and some of my runners started to pick up the pace to get done asap. It was great to see them take off though.

At the finish I got to chat with a few runners and friends, drank a little water and then quickly took back off running. I still had to pace Elizabeth to a PB finish.

I ran out and was really pleased to find her well ahead of the 2:30 pace bunny and still running well. I encouraged her and talked her through the final 2 km of her run. She crossed the line at 2:21, some 6 minutes faster than her previous PB. Awesome. 

Now a couple of weeks off before the next race. 

Monday, October 5, 2015

Riverport Duathlon 2015

The final multisport race of the year for me is almost always Riverport. It has been and still is a great venue for a race. Over the years I have been low in the standings, high in the standing and somewhere in between. Come race weekend I am usually tired and worn down and wishing i hadn't signed up. But come race day Riverport always shines (well sometimes it rains).

This Riverport morning was really sunny and cold. The kind of day you can't decide what to wear for the race as you stand in the cold waiting for it to start. Ultimately I slipped on a thin base layer to fight the chill air and a thin pair of gloves as well.  I didn't overheat, so I guess things were fine.

Riverport is a unique distance event at 4km/28km/4km. It is all out all the time and hurts like heck.

We soon lined up for the start and were away.

I was just finally recovered from last weekend's double header of 10 km races. I hadn't even run all week, so I didn't quite know what to expect. I started off easy for me and fell in behind some fast runners. Soon we began to drop some who had over extended themselves a bit (I remember those days). By the turn around I was in 9th place (who there were a lot of fast guys). I passed a couple of more runners and coming into T1 I was in 7th place and felt quite comfortable. I ran a 14:21 for a 3:36 avg pace.

See I still look happy

A quick switch to my bike and I was off (I only had the 8th fastest T1 time at 29 seconds yowza!). 

I hit the bike and pushed hard. I knew there were a load of really great cyclists behind me and I wouldn't be able to hold them off for long. So I gave it good effort. I was passed by a few bikers within the first 3 kilometers, then a couple of more. Of course every time you are passed you have to slow down a bit to avoid drafting, which doesn't help your overall time, but those are the rules. Soon 28 kilometers was done and I came flying into the finish with only the 19th fastest time of the day at 33.4 km/hr. So we know I will be riding a lot this winter to see where I can make up some of that time. 

Into T2 I came. Beauty of a flying dismount, perfect switch into my running shoes and I had the fastest T2 of the day at 23 seconds. So yay, I had the fastest something.

The second run is always hard and having to push extra hard on the bike over extended me. I pushed through the ouch and managed 3:58 avg pace and a 15:49 time over the last 4km. Of course with no one right behind me, it gets mentally hard to push that extra bit. 

I crossed the line at 1:21:12 for 12th place overall and 6th in my age group. Being in your 40's can be tough in triathlon/duathlons. I was amazing to see the fight at the top end of the field. I also enjoyed getting back on the bike again and it gives me something to work on this winter that isn't just running (though I still see improvements there as well). 

Thanks Riverport. Hopefully we will see you again in 2016. 

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Another Double Header - Rum Runners and MEC 2015

Another weekend and another race, or two! Will this madness ever end.

I have done this very weekend  for 2 years now, Rum Runners Relay followed by MEC trail run. Last year was painful, mostly due to the heat of the day during Rum Runners. I hoped this year to be a little better.

I purposely picked an early leg on Rum Runner Relay (an approx 100km relay run along Nova Scotia's South Shore), Leg 3, as it would leave me with more recovery time. Being 11.2 km long, it also would be hard but not on par with the 17km Leg 4 I did last year. Also early in the day generally means cooler temps. Nice.

My goal was to give a good hard run at Rum Runners and then go for a PB 10k time on the flat out and back race the next day. Goals, ha ha.

The start of the race was cool, almost cold, but I knew that would be really nice come race time. Things happen fast in Rum Runners (like me almost forgetting to register and sign my waiver form ahhh!) and we lined up at the crack of 9:30.  A quick glance around showed me some fast runners I knew and a whole host of other unknown runners. Maybe I would be fast enough this year to break my curse of always finishing 7th. Then we were off!

Two women quickly jumped to the front and lead us out. I decided to try and pace out with Mike and Dave, whom I knew were fast but smart runners. With 500m we assumed spots 1-3 and took off. I had felt prior to the race that a nice 4 min /km pace might be a smart way to head out. At the end of kilometer 1 we had run a 3:30 pace. Hmmm. Well it was mostly downhill, so okay.  Then kilometer 2 went by at 3:34 pace. Hmmmm. Still I felt good and was keeping up with the top 2.

We then hit some hills and my pace dropped to 3:45 on each of the next 2 kilometers and started to just drift slowly from the top 2. Over the next few kilometers I slowly drifted back, not fast though and saw them for most of the run, just in the distance.

I couldn't hear anyone behind me, but I knew that someone named Sasha was there, as I ran by numerous cars on the side of the road cheering her on. No time for looking back though. My pace was high and I felt really good.

Soon I was approaching the 10km mark. Having done some calculations the day before to prep for the 10km race on Sunday, I knew that I was going to go sub 38 min at this point. I checked as my watched beeped through the 10th km mark and saw 37:04. A new PB by 1:49. Well that was something. But I still had a little more than 1 km to go.

At this point we had to take a quick little left right jog to get back to the main road and I coudl just see over my shoulder that Sasha was maybe 100m at most behind me. It was hard to want to give up 3rd place at this point so I pushed hard again down hill, then up to the finish and surged just enough to cross the line in 3rd with an official time of 40:43 and a pace of 3:38 min/km. Where did that come from?  Needless to say I was pretty happy.

After spending the rest of the day cheering on my team and enjoying yummy burritos at the finished line of Leg 10, I headed home tired and weary and ready for sleep. My sun burn and sore legs didn't help with the sleep though.

I arrived at the MEC 10K trail race bright and early on a super cold morning, perfect for racing.

My calves hurt, I was quite tired but I had accomplished my goal for the weekend already, so this was going to be fun (I always say that). I would be satisfied with a medal, maybe even a win if possible (you never know who shows up for these races). I also needed to have a 38ish min 10km. That would cement in my mind that I was a sub 39 min 10km runner for sure.

We took off, and I hung out with the 15km runners and top 2 5km runner at first. The 5km guys pulled a slight gap but soon turned around and headed back. I was with Adam and Chad until the 10km turn around and checked my average pace, 3:47 at that point. So still in the sub 38 min world, not by much but there. and as I tuend I saw no one behind us. So it was my race to lose I guess.

I headed back and passed many other runners heading out. The loose gravel was a little speed sapping, my legs were done running and I keep pushing as best as I could. My speed started to dip a bit but I knew I had a low 38 min 10km time at this point and as the kilometers passed by I knew I just had to hang on.

I crossed the bridge that was about 400m from the finish and picked up my pace as best as I could, then just before the line saw the clock was at 37:50, so I sprinted (ish) and crossed the line at 37:54. Done, spent and happy. Wow, what a come back from an early season of lower results. And finally a win for the year, that felt really nice, especially wearing my nice new Kinesic Sports lab top. Thanks Jeff Z.

2 great races with great volunteers and race directors. And it was also great cheering my wife into the finish as she did the 15km run with a great pace and time result on her way to what will be a great Valley Half marathon in a few weeks. And it was nice seeing more of my running group the Timberlea Tundra Pounders come out to this style of racing. Slightly lower key, but all kinds of fun.

10 and 5 km winners

So now a little rest during the week before, yes, the next race. Oh my. 

Thursday, September 24, 2015

The Duathlon of Champions in Wolfville 2015

This past weekend saw a new Duathlon in the Province, the Duathlon of Champions. This was a fundraiser event for cancer, specifically to raise funding for research into cancer in adolescents and young adults (AYA) and the role of exercise in treatment.

The night before I had attended and taken part in a barre class (look it up, it was great) to help raise funds for prostate cancer research. That was 45 minutes of crazy intense workingout and I was left a little weak in the hips afterwards. So basically I wasn't sure how I was going to do at the duathlon, but it would be fun.

I arrived at the race site and got setup fairly early. That allowed me a little warming up as well as casual chat time. There were some great cyclists present, and on a course like this I knew that my cycling wouldn't be nearly on par, but I hoped that I still had a little speed on the run left in me. A success would be having the fastest first run in my mind.

We soon lined up after our prerace briefing.

And then we were off. I let Zach take the lead right off the bat and tucked in behind him. He is a spectacular cyclist and a pretty darn fast runner as well. We quickly started to set a fairly fast tempo doing the first kilometer in 3:38 and pulling a slight gap over the other runners.

As we started to get close to the 2 km mark, I was feeling strong so I decided to take the lead. Right after doing so I was presented with the option of going left or right and went left. Turns out that was wrong. So from first to 5th just like that.

I picked a pace and continued on, slowly closing the gap. All told I probably lost about 200-300 meters on the group by starting the wrong turn. But I wasn't trying to kill myself to catch the pack. Still, I knew I wanted that first run to be mine.

Within a kilometer I caught the 2-4th place runners and pulled passed them. Then over the next 500 meters I managed to catch back onto Zach (by the way he had taken that wrong turn as well). Coming to the finish of the first run we were side by side, so I pushed forth and claimed the first run. Whew, that was some work.

I finished officially in 18:41 for 5k, though it was more like 5.2km. Not bad. A quick T1 (28 seconds for the 2nd fastest T1) and onto the bike I went.

This route had 2 spots where police were supposed to wave us through stop signs. Sadly the police didn't show up. So I had to stop at the first sign and wait my turn (4 way stop). Then off I went.

Heading out was fine and I felt good, though was soon passed by the top three riders. I put my head down and kept riding.

I looked for the turn off that was supposed to be coming up and again the police didn't show up. But there was no traffic so I made the turn without incident. Though this may or may not have been the right turn, as it became obvious that without enough volunteers (and the police not showing up) we all got a little confused as to the proper course turns. We all seemed to make it to the turn around and all managed to get about the same distance, so I guess we are all good. Except Zach. He went for a long distance ride into the far off distance.

My dead legs and confusion at points of the course lead to  only the 9th fastest time on the bike with just shy of a 32km/hr 20km ride. Knowing my spot in the race near the end of the ride, I also let up a bit to get ready for the final run.

The fastest T2 of the day followed, as I dismounted and switched to my running shoes. Then off to the trail I went.

I wanted a fast run and I got it. fastest second run of the day, 2.5k in 8:38 for an average of 3:28. That run may have been a bit short, so that speed may be a bit on the fast side, but I know it hurt.

I crossed the line in fourth place overall and second in my age group (behind Kevin). Not my most stellar outing, but I was really happy with the runs.  Now onto another weekend double header of running only event. Whew, this is a busy month.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Maritime Race Weekend Double Header 2015

So this passed weekend was the Maritime race Weekend. 2 races in 2 days. This year I opted for the 5km Friday night race (well this is the only choice for the Friday night race) and the Half marathon on Saturday morning.

I could go on and on about the great setup and great volunteers and atmosphere but why bother. It's all great. This race is well put together and is about as smooth an operation as you can get in a race this large (about 3000 runners in various races).  So lets go straight to the race.

The 5km race on Friday is a good one. Really quite flat for a coastal race, with a few minor rises and falls. It is an out and back on a closed (pretty much) road. So as a faster runner you get a lot of cheering from the crowd as you make the turn around.

This year I thought I would see if I could possibly beat my PB 5km time from last year, a 18:04. Still I didn't want to kill myself before the next days race! We lined up and were soon off.

A couple of runners took off quickly. I held back, just like last year. A few runners passed me and I figured I was feeling good, so I jumped on with them. We soon caught all of the early leaders and headed off. At this point I was in third spot.

As the leader took off ahead a little more I attempted to gain on second place and soon pulled up. We made the turn around and headed back. The air was really humid, but cool, and so far it wasn't killing me. I didn't bother to look at my Garmin. Heart rate and pace weren't a concern as my goal was to hang with second place. First was either going to burn himself out or else keep pulling away. I could in no way match his pace.

Soon the finish was coming up. I again pulled up to second place, said hello, then dropped in behind him. I held that spot for a bit but he kicked it with about 400 meters to go and I was already at max. I ran down the finish line straight and crossed the line with a new PB of 17:39. Wowza, where did that come from (training I guess).

Well the next morning I was back at it, same starting point (we line up by pace) and ready to go. Sorry for the lack of photos, but they aren't ready yet. Soon we were off. My plan was to head out at a moderate 4 min/km pace and see how that felt after awhile, hopefully dragging myself up to a 3:58 avg pace and another PB. Well that didn't quite happen.

That humidity from the night before was still in the air, but now with a nice bit of warmth. I felt okay heading into the 10km mark, but that was when the series of hills started. I had worked myself up to 4th place overall and was hanging with the group but started to drift back.

The legs kept turning over but something wasn't quite right. I just had no steam. Maybe it was the humidity, maybe the the fast 5km the night before, likely a combo of both, but I was not feeling it.

I hung on to the 3rd place runner for quite awhile but with 5 km to go he was far enough ahead that there was no way those tired limbs of mine could do anything about it. And I started to glance backwards, which is never a good sign. My pace average had drifted to 4:02 with 4 km to go and even though I knew it was downhill, I wasn't feeling good at all about going sub 1:25 (let alone the sub 1:24 I had hoped for).

As the final few kilometers approached, I started to run amoung the slower 10 km runners. Mentally I felt like slowing down to a walk and hanging out with them. But I let momentum carry me along. Finally the finish line came up. I crossed the line in 1:25:46 and in 4th place overall, first age group. ouch. It felt worse than the marathon I had run here 1 year ago to the day.

Still I am happy overall. Not every race turns out to awesome, and while the time wasn't what I wanted, my overall placing was good and I still finished in the 1:25 bracket. So back to training for something better next time!

Thanks again to the organizers. And now onto a month+ of racing. Bring on November and rest!

Sunday, September 6, 2015

MEC Night Trail Race 2015 - And the Winner Is....

Well not me. I actually came in second, though that is usually par for the course at MEC races locally. It is a a bit of a joke with the great crew that puts on the races. Realistically, though, I am surprised I ended up there.

This race was a late addition to my race calendar, a good 5k distance run. It was new this year and I decided to do it because it would be a fun challenge. And really I just wanted to have a little fun and not kill myself in the process.

The weather was great, cool end of summer night in a local park. The trails here are designed more for cross country skiing and mountain biking and therefore are not groomed for casual walking. There are tons of rocks and ruts enroute, which made it a fun adventure for sure.

After some pre race chatting, it was time to line up.

For some reason everyone lined up behind me. I have no idea why. But then we were off. Quickly a few runners went ahead. As my goal was to survive and not hurt myself, I decided to hang back a bit.

Also on the route was a series of small red blinking lights. If you found one and took it, MEC would give you a $10 gift card at the finish. Initially I thought, I'd rather have a medal than the gift card, but as we approached the first one I saw (it was the second) I found myself in 6th place. So I quickly ran over, hoped a small fence, grabbed the light and resumed my race.

I apparently lost little time as I was back with the lead group, minus the leader who was pulling away. The pace though seemed easy as we hit the 1 km mark, so I decided to move forward. A few more passes and I had moved into second, with first likely 100m up the trail or so (I could see his light).

The trail started to get rougher and the big hills were coming by. It was slow going up those. As I ran passed the marshals they would cheer and then I would listen to hear them cheer again as the third place runner went by. Seems I had pulled a bit of a lead over him by half way through the race.

I was still quite close to the overall leader, but at 3km in I almost rolled my ankle (on a flat piece of ground no less), and decided to take it a bit easier. I slowed down a bit and kept going.

Pretty quickly I could here the sounds of cheering at the finish line so I knew I was close. The ground turned to crusher dust so I could run a little faster and boom, out of no where the finish line. Whew. I crossed in second place with a time of 20:24 for 5km. The winner had cross about 50 seconds ahead of me. But I was $10 richer!

We also had a beer vendor at the finish line which was lovely while waiting for friends to finish. And it was great to see Tom come out for this crazy adventure!

Every so often, pick a fun race, especially when they are inexpensive!  Now to rest up for next weekend's half marathon.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Shoe Review - The New Balance 1400v3

Ah, a new shoe for me. Like many other runners and triathletes, I am always looking for that perfect shoe for the right situation. Earlier this year I found a great shoe for training and distance running. But it just didn't seem zippy enough for the shorter races where cushioning isn't the be all.

For the past 2 years I had found such a shoe, sort of. It was the New Balance 1400v2, described by New Balance as a racing flat. It was a great shoe for me at mid distances, from 5K to Half marathon I set some fast times in that shoe. But it lacked a certain fit and finish. The interior of the shoe was quite rough and I couldn't wear it sockless, which was a big reason I bought it in the first place, to be able to use it in triathlons and duathlons. My first and last attempt to do so lead to many abrasions and cuts on my feet.

Then NB came out with the 1400v3. Even though the local running shop, Aerobics First, didn't have them in stock, I knew I had to try them out. The store was great and brought in a pair for me to try out (and I'll be up front, I paid for these shoes).

The first thing I did was stick my hand in the shoe and feel around. Wow, it was smooth inside, not rough at all. And the new laces were great as well, slightly elasticy (of course I never ran in those laces as I swapped them out for Xtenex speed laces for triathlons).

A quick tempo run in super humid conditions and sockless was my first test (go big or go home). 11km of heaven and speed. No blisters, so scratching, no cuts.

I then took them to the big test, a duathlon. The warm up run went great. The first run went superb and when I slipped them back on (in the rain no less) for the final run of the day, they went on smooth and easily and gave no issues in the wet.

I assumed that the added comfort would likely come from a slight increase in the weight of the shoe, though they were still quite light.  But wow, I weighed them both (without any laces) and the brand new 1400v3 weighed 1 gram less than the 2 year old worn, v2. Great stuff.

So I found my new go to shoe. Here's a quick break down:

10 mm ramp: That seems like quite the drop, but the shoe has a very thin amount of cushion and as a forefoot runner it gives me no issues at all.

Firm - Good Ground Feel: As I mentioned this shoe lacks a thick cushioning on the base. What is there seems perfectly fine for my running style - forefoot, high cadence. I wouldn't use this shoe with a slow turn over, though with the higher ramp, a heel striker would be fine.  This shoe gives great feed back.

Smooth Inner Liner: Wow, it was probably the most comfortable shoe I have ever worn sockless. So far I have not run in it over 11km, but had no problems up to that distance. I will probably wear a thin sock for stand alone running races anyway, as I like that.  

Weight: Super lightweight, listed as 185grams. Which for a shoe that will last you many races, is great. Lighter shoes exists for sure, but this one will survive.

Toe Box: As with many racing flats, the toe box isn't large. For some reason this doesn't bother me as much as in other shoes. As the shape is the same as the v2, I do know that a little bodyglide or similar lube on my toes will prevent any issues for longer races.

I can't say much for wear, but my v2's are still going strong after quite a few races and a few training runs. I don't see enough differences in this shoe to think it won't give that same level of longevity.

All in all, way to go New Balance. Home Run.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Porter's Lake Triathlon, er Duathlon 2015

So here was my final triathlon of the season, the all new Porter's Lake Tri. Nice and close to home, great little course that I was able to test out last year. But the fates, I mean the weather was against us this year and things didn't go exactly as planned.

I woke up dark and early on Sunday morning. Well even though it was 4:30am it was brighter than I hoped for. The sky was full of lightning. I got myself ready and took off regardless. The closer I got the more lightning was blazing through the sky. By 7am the officials had to make the call and decided to eliminate the swim portion of the triathlon and call it a duathlon. So instead of a swim we would do an extra run of 2.5km.

The weather was humid, with a light rain, though warm. We lined up for the first run and were soon underway.

Classy looking #28

The run course is very hilly so I decided to take it easy at the start and work my way up to the front. All was going well but there was some miscommunication and the first couple of runners took a wrong turn. We all followed which ended up making the first run 1.7 ish km instead of 2.5. Not a huge deal, but I would have pushed a bit harder probably if I'd known that was the case to give myself as big a cushion as possible to the faster cyclists. I finished the run in 6:15 for a 3:41min/km avg and 5th fastest overall.

I zipped through transition, though almost forgot to remove my sneakers, yikes!

I got to the mount line and arrived with a few other riders and we all seemed to have a little trouble getting started. Then off we went.

The bike ride was great. Rolling hills and fresh asphalt. I was zipping along and a couple of faster riders passed me. I was then passed by one rider but felt like he slowed down too much. I dropped back and then mounted an attack and repassed him. This happened 2 more times during the ride as we were very evenly matched. I did feel good though as I didn't see him with the lead group on the first run, so if I was able to stay with him on the bike I would likely pass him on the run.

I came screaming fast into Transition 2 and did  a perfect dismount to save as much time as I could. My average speed was 35.4 km/hr. It was only the 9th fastest time, but there were some speedy bikes out there. I blazed through transition in 47 seconds for the second fastest T2 of the day.

I took off and quickly passed another runner. Then Clint caught up with me and we ran together for a bit. Somehow I had managed to screw up my Garmin, so while I had current pace showing, I had no idea about distance. Luckily the course when properly run is 2 loops of 2.5km, so I didn't really need to know.

As Clint and I kept going we were not very far behind the lead group. Turns out we were running fairly quickly as we started to catch them. Eventually the lead three turned into 2 and we were catching third place. To the final downhill and Clint had pulled away from me, but Kevin C was falling into my grasp. I picked up the pace as best as I could downhill and seemed to make up decent ground. I pushed even harder on the flat and managed to just pop by Kevin before the finish line to take 4th overall and 3rd Age Group. The top five of us were separated by less than 40 seconds. I managed to finish with a time of 1;05:52 with a final run of 19:39. That was a great 5km final run on that hilly course. It was the 3rd fastest second run of the day behind 2 super fast runners.

Not the triathlon I was hoping for, but it was a fun race and a great course. I hope that next year teh weather will cooperate and we'll see how my swim is.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Bridgetown Triathlon 2015

Wish I had some pictures for this race, maybe some will show up online at some point. Until then bare with all the ready ready stuff.

This year I decided to go back to the Bridgetown Triathlon. It wasn't held last year, but then I was too busy with marathon training then to even contemplate it anyway.

Up at 4:30am to get out the door by 5:30 and on the road to Bridgetown made for any early start. As we drove to the Valley we were hit with a  huge fog back about 40 minutes outside of the race start. I figured at that point the long course race would be delayed, hopefully they weren't going to have to delay my start as well, which was meant to be at 9am.

As I arrived the fog was burning off and the sun was pretending to peak out. I was quickly informed that the race would not be wetsuit legal, as the water temp was 24C. Dang.  But I got about getting my transition area all ready and myself in a good frame of mind.

Our sprint race was only delayed by about 5-10 minutes. We were allowed a quick dip in the water as a warm up. That was easy enough as it was like bath water. The race started in water and quite quickly we were off. I started off at an easy pace for me and worked my way passed a few other swimmers. This is a river swim so there is a bit of current to work with and against. I thought I was doing well, especially with all the swimming I had been doing leading up to this event. But as I left the water and crossed the timing mat, I was listed as having done a 17:54 750m swim. Ugh, that was disheartening. I think I am getting slower than ever! That was good enough for 28 place on the swim.

Regardless, onto the bike I went.  I passed 5 people before I even hit the 500m mark of the 20 km ride. That was nice. Then at about 1 km in, a stinging insect hit the front of my ankle. Oh my @#$#%# that hurt so much. Still I soldiered on passing people, many people it seemed and knowing that a good result meant push as hard as I could on the bike.

This course is pretty flat with a few small rises. I did come across some farm tractors and a few big trucks along the route, but somehow managed to avoid having to slow down at all. That was nice. As I entered town I passed 2 more cyclists, got my feet out of my bike shoes and road to the dismount line. Off I flew and ran my bike back into transition. I managed a 34:05 for the bike ride for 35.2 km/hr avg speed and the 4th fastest ride of the day.

Out onto the run I flew. You always get that first rush/pain of transitioning for a bit on the run. I passed a runner immediately.  Then I caught up to James M who had a stellar swim and a great ride, but I guess I managed to eke enough on the bike and counter with my stronger run. At the 1 km mark my wife and dogs were waiting by the road and cheering em on. That was nice.

Then my ankle started to hurt more, and more and more. It was almost like it was seizing up and not bending properly. The sting was really starting to hurt and take its toll. Plus the sun was now out in full force and not a cloud was in the sky. I tried to count runner on the out and back course to see where I may have made it to at this point. I saw Adam and he was looking strong. But I lost count of other and just pushed on. I wanted a good overall time more than anything.

On the way back my ankle just wouldn't relax at all. I used total hip mobility to push through the pain and that seemed to help. I rounded the final corner and pushed down to the finish line and cross with a 19:18 5km and the 2nd fastest run of the day, oh what might have been but for the bee! I ended up with a respectable 1:12:34 overall for 7th place and second in my age group. Some tough competition for sure.

My ankle was swollen to almost twice its normal size and the pain remained for much of the day. Luckily the swelling went down over night and it appears all good now.

Now onto swim training. I spent too much time in a wetsuit this summer and my technique (what little there was) appears to have suffered for it.


Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Adding a New Stress to the Run Training

So sometimes you plateau in your training, it can be for any number of reasons, but it does happen. I think for me right now it is a little bit mental. So in times like this you need to add a new stress to the equation and see where that takes you.

For the past couple of weeks I have been strapping on the trail running shoes and joining a few others for an easy trail run. Last night I went out solo at Frog Pond and it was magical.

Nice shoes

The run starts on regular crusher dust trails that are moderately undulating. Then things get fun when you add some single track.

It was a little slick this day, which only added to the fun. At some points I thought I was running a trail when it would end and I realized I was just running though the woods. Due to the location I was running in, I wasn't overly worried about getting lost (though I did have my phone). Eventually it was back to crusher dust and hills. HILLS!

The varied terrain was a great way to shake things up. Often I was just walking fast to deal with slippery or overly steep conditions. It was a great workout for mind and body. Oh and belly!

And the views from the heights were really nice.

I am definitely keeping up these runs weekly for the foreseeable future. The new "stress" is just what I need to keep happy and healthy. But I will keep the heart rate monitor on for sure. You can easily watch your heart rate sky rocket on some of the climbs. Have fun all!

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Ingonish Triathlon 2015

Sorry, lag time since the race. But here we go.

The Ingonish Triathlon just happened. There were three distance options, Try-a-Tri, Sprint and Olympic. This year I chose to do the Sprint as it was a qualifier for the World's event next year. It also had the most competitors at 59. Yes, a small field, but locally that is becoming more and more the norm with so many options.

Anyway, I had been looking forward to this race and especially the weather forecast of good weather. As usual I arrived the day before, this let me check in early and allowed me to grab a quick practice swim in the lake we would be using for the swim.

The morning of the race arrived and what? Rain. Dang. Well at least it wasn't heavy rain, just enough to make everything a little wet. But what can you do. At least it was overcast and not hot!

Anyway, off to body marking. They are kind during World qualifiers to slap your age range on your leg.

Then off to bike racking. Keep things tight and organized and you won't fail. There are often many spots that are so crammed full of items I don't know how they can find anything.

It is a delight to see a swarm of bike (a school? a flock?).

A quick going over of the rules and the course and we were allowed to have a practice swim.

As usual, first race jitters always get to me. Tight chest, hard to breath etc... At least it wasn't too cold.

Finally it was our turn to start and off we went. Immediately I felt that tightness again. Last year I let it get to me, this year I had a plan. I alternated for a bit between breast stroke and side stroke and got moving. As much as I coudl I would dunk my face into the water and soon I was swimming normally. Yay. I caught and passed some people as we rounded the first buoy and I felt just fine.

Now I just wanted to swim straight and steady and things went really well. As I rounded the final buoy and headed back to the beach I was actually able to draft off a person for a bit which was fine. But ultimately she was swimming in a zigzag so i had to push a little hard to pass here and move on.

I left the water in 16:16. Not great but I felt good about it. Much better than last year, and take away the really slow start and not too bad for me. I was 31st out of 59 people. Almost top half! T1 was a slow 3:06, but that includes an almost 1/2 km run to get to your bike. And overall that was the 8th fastest T1 of the day.

Onto the bike. I had no idea really what position I was in, but I knew this course well and knew I just had to push as hard as I could (while avoid the giant potholes). A sprint is usually 20km but this one is just short of 24km. Still it is short enough that overbiking wouldn't hurt my run too much.

As I was approaching the final downhill before the turn around I started to count off cyclists coming back. That meant I was in 9th spot. Okay, not too bad and a top 10 is always nice.

That's me after the turn around and huge hill climb

I flew down the hill at 62km/hr, made the turn around and did huge effort to come back up, passing 2 cyclists on the way. Over the next 10ish km I worked myself up into 5th spot and entered T2 as such.
On the bike  I managed 33.6km/hr average, about 2 better than previous years, which was good enough for the second fastest bike ride of the day.

I hit T2 and immediately caught the guy who was in 4th place. A 32 second (5th fastest) T2 put me out on the run ahead of him.

This is a hard run, even at 5km. It is all hill going out and steep hill coming back. Not a lot of chance to get a good rhythm.  I started out too fast and slowed it down a bit. As my watch showed me my laps I would glance down, 4:07, 4:04, 4:06, then I stopped looking. Ugh.

As I reached the turn around, I started to push a little more. I could see the gap I had on 5th place, and had no idea what sort of speed he could put on in the down hill section.

As I got to the final straight away I looked back and was clear. Still I pushed it a bit for the last 400m to try and grab a good time overall. I crossed the line with the second fastest run in 19:46. That felt good. I managed 4th place overall, 3rd male, 2nd age group. I lost almost all of my time in the swim, so I am happy that my bike and tun are doing well enough.

No time to rest, more triathlons on the way. Time to hit the lake and practice, practice practice.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Trying Something New - Adding More Running?

What's that more running in a week? But I thought that we had come up with the perfect amount of weekly running for me already. Now you want more.

Anyway, it gets busy some days trying to fit in all the exercise you want to do and maybe need to do. except it can be done.

So I wanted to get more swim time in as I head into triathlon season, and maybe some more biking as well. But I still want to keep up with my running without killing myself in the process. So as many people do, I have recently added in lunch time runs.

The first week I started this I ran a few different routes to see what I could come up with. I wanted something short that I could do in 20 minutes or less, giving me enough time to eat a quick lunch and get cleaned up.  So I ended up finding a nice little 3.6(ish) km run. It is hilly, includes asphalt, potholes, dirt and grass and is quite nice.

My goal with these runs is to keep adding the stress of running (we need stresses to adapt and get stronger) without adding too much fatigue. This short course, with its varied terrain, can give me a heart thumping workout or a relaxing recovery run. But overall it gives me the ability to run almost everyday, without being too fatigued for the main event later on (tonight I ride my bike).

My current record for the run is 14:08. Today I ran a 15:08. I once ran it in 16:23. All are great and are based solely on feel. I don't look at the time until I stop. My body will let me know what I need on the day.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Duathlon #2: Cyclesmith @ Lawrencetown 2015

Two weeks and 2 races. Bam. This year Cyclesmith's Lawrencetown Beach Duathlon was held a little later into June than normal. But with the weather we had this Spring, maybe that wasn't a bad thing. I apologize again for a lack of photos.

Race day came and the morning seemed great. It had rained hard the day before but this day promised sun. Outside I was greeted with a slight chill in the air but otherwise lovely day. Until I got to the beach. Dang you Lawrencetown. The sun was out and bright, but the wind was crazy hard. You could see bikes with disc wheels blowing on the transition racks. You coudl also see the sun slowly disappear under a huge blanket of clouds. Blah. There went the warmth.

Regardless, the race must go on. I was racing the Sprint distance duathlon today, 5km/20km/2.5km (or close enough). Today there was about 22 of us in my race. Not huge, but there were 4 of us up front that would give it a good race.

A few minutes following the start of the International Distance race, we took off. I quickly jumped into the lead, knowing again that I needed to have a little comfort room before the bike leg in order to have a hope that beating some of these bike studs. I hit the first kilometer in 3:29, but I couldn't hang onto that speed after the turn around with the wind in my face. I managed to cross the line into T1 in 18:36 for an avg speed of 3:46 min/km. I had a lead but would it be enough?

A quick change and I was on the bike. The head wind was fierce. I tucked low and pushed on. I really hoped to get as far into the bike portion as possible before the others caught me, but alas Brad got by maybe 5 km in. Still I pushed on. A kilometer later Greg passed me and then Adam. I was able to hang onto Adam at a legal distance, and then to my surprise passed Greg as he had to stop and fix his chain. I knew that bit of respite wouldn't be much, though, as he is such a strong cyclist. And the next thing I knew Adam dropped a chain, wow.

I hit the turn around expecting to finally get out of the head wind (it was so hard to keep a consistent rhythm) and yes, a huge tail wind. The speed jumped quickly. I was happy. Until about 6 km to go at which point (what?!?!) the head wind was back. Oh cruel Lawrencetown.

Shortly after this point Adam recaught me and passed (Greg had gone by again as well). Rather than fight him, I dropped back and followed along. He was pulling away, but it was slow enough that I saw him all the way back to the beach and T2. I figured (and hoped) my run would send me past him again.  My average speed was 33.8 km/hr. Dang the speed on those other guys.

I got to transition in fourth and made the switch to my running gear quickly enough. I took off. Adam was just slightly ahead of me on the path. I focused on picking up my cadence and just hitting a decent pace. I passed him in less than 1/2 a kilometer. I took off after Greg and Brad.

As I neared the turn around I finally saw those two guys running together. But I knew unless they had a really bad turn of events, I was too far behind to make up that distance. Still 3rd place was mine to lose, so push on I did.

I coudl see a few hundred meters ahead as Brad took off and won, followed by Greg. I hit the line with an 11:03 2.5 km run for an avg pace of 3:48 and a total time of 1:07:49. That was a hard fought race and while 3rd wasn't what I wanted, it was earned.

I was mostly really excited that my run averages didn't really drop off as they usually do. Holding a higher pace for the second run was great. I just need to keep doing that. And as usual some more bike work.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Duathlon 1: Shearwater Navy Duathlon

So wow, I'm a little late posting about this race (as the next race is almost upon us). I was waiting at first for some photos, but alas, I found there were none to be had of this race (at least for me).

So we were back at Shearwater, which was the first duathlon of the year for 2015. The good classic 5/20/3 km Sprint distance duathlon is always a fun one. And it is always one that comes with some crazy weather.  This year was no different.

We arrived to find warm sun hidden behind cold wind, and heavy wind at that! We knew that the runway, where the majority of the bike portion is held, would be crazy windy and that it was going to be an interesting race.

After sign in and some warming up, I opted for a last minute addition of a long sleeved compression top.  It was just too cold for me after hanging around outside.

The race briefing was quick and to the point and we soon lined up for the start. Off we went!

I quickly took the lead and hoped that I could grab a good lead heading into T1 by pushing hard on the first 5km run. But the last few weeks I have not been able to do much if any training and it quickly showed. My uber fast starting pace quickly slowed down to a more tempo esque pace for me. I kept the lead but not nearly as much as I had hoped for. I hit T1 in 18:55 for a 3:45min/km pace. Not bad, but considering how much it took out of me, not great.

A quick change into some bike gear and away I went.  We start with a huge climb to the runway plus some twisty turny bits. I hit the runway in the lead but Adam was not far behind. Soon I heard his disc wheel as he over took me. I dropped in behind and followed at the legal distance.

We were flying down the runway and over the bumps and ruts of the tarmac before we changed direction and headed back the other way to finish lap 1 of 3. Then the headwind hit. Wow. We dropped from high 40's km/hr to high 20's in no time. I found that my distance to Adam wasn't changing so I overtook him and tried to use my strength in the wind to pull a gap. At this time Kevin C caught up to us as well.

Kevin overtook me at the finish of lap 1. As I dropped back Adam surged ahead. So I tucked back in. Again, though, as we hit the head wind I surged passed Adam and worked harder to really open the gap up. I stayed ahead for the remainder of the bike portion. But I could catch back up to Kevin, who is a demon on the bike. I knew I needed to be within a minute to really be able to catch him on the short final run.

Coming into T2 I just about caught up with a truck bringing in a BBQ for the event.  Then at the last second it turned off. Whew.  I hit the dismount line with an average speed of 31.5 km/hr and a time of 41:09. Not as fast as I would have liked, but I'll take it with the wind and lack of bike training I managed not only the past few weeks but frankly all winter long.

So Kevin was gone at this point. I switched into my running gear as quick as I could and took off. Sadly, I only started to catch him by the turn around point, and was not nearly close enough to mount a real challenge at the end. My endurance on the run wasn't there. I did take about 1 minute out of his lead on the run, but his bike had been just too good for me. I ran a 11:19 3K for a 3:58min/km pace to end things off.

I am okay with my second place finish, but not satisfied. I had worked quite hard but things derailed me this past month. Nothing one can do about life challenges, but I am glad to see that the hard work I put into my running meant that my fitness loss over the last few weeks wasn't as bad as it could have been. My heart was strong, my lungs were strong and I was able to push. So I am looking forward to the next race.

My finishing time was 1:11:23.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Vacation, training and life's hiccups

So here I am still in Colorado, should have been home last week but life threw a little block our way.

We traveled here to visit family and unwind after that horrendous winter we had. I had just finished the Bluenose Half Marathon and a rest sounded nice. I figured some easy runs daily and nothing too crazy. After all this is a high elevation and the altitude can play havoc on you when you aren't ready for it. We didn't really pack for such cold weather. I finally got out for a short run after 2 days, when the rain let up long enough to make it viable. As far as runs go, it was blah.

Instead I started to rely on my physiotherapy exercises and eventually we found a local gym to go to, where I took in some swimming and a little easy spin biking. Not too bad, though kind of annoying to do in such a beautiful place.

Finally the weather cleared and the warmth arrived. We took the opportunity to do some hiking. That was great. Then a family member got sick, hospital sick and we had to put things on hold. We missed our flight home and spent days hanging out in a hospital room "entertaining" the sick. I did manage a couple of easy short runs around the hospital grounds, but with lack of sleep and lack of oxygen creeping in, those didn't feel so good.

Things have worked out well, we'll be on our way home soon, everyone having recovered perfectly.

So yeah, life throws this stuff at us, and in a way it is almost like an injury mid training. You go from high to lows and you can't get that pent up energy out. You are tired and exhausted, but not in that good way. But you roll with it. We aren't professional athletes. We don't rely on "exercise" to make a living. We need to step back, regroup, focus on what needs to be done and realize that we'll get back to where we were soon enough.

That all being said, i can't wait to get back on my bike. I miss it.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Halifax Bluenose Half Marathon 2015

So today was the Bluenose Half marathon here in Halifax. I have been training hard for this event, even with the horrible winter we had. Based on my training indoors for months I thought I had a great shot at getting slightly faster than my last time here of 1:23:53. While training on the track went well, it did lack some specific outdoor training (ie hills!) which I knew might be an issue.

The weather was overcast and cold to start. The cold was annoying while waiting around, but lovely for the run.  I lined up next to the guy who would win, a Kenyan named Abel who was the 2012 London Olympic Marathon Silver Medal winner (yikes!). He was a very nice guy, from what I saw.

There we go!

So off we went. I was immediately trapped behind a few runners but found my way around and into 3rd place overall, with Abel already taking off at a blistering pace. By 2km into the race I had eased my way into 2nd place overall and my pace felt quite nice. I wasn't passed again until 4km in, at which point my shins started aching. That was odd as it doesn't happen often. It also started to drizzle at this point as well. Thanks for that.

Still I was happy to be easing into a pace I liked. At km 6 I was passed by another couple of guys but still held my pace. But the slight head wind really seemed to be sapping my strength, as I frequently found myself drifting off pace. I'd surge and drift, surge and drift. I managed to cross the 10km mark at 39:23, which while good, was almost 1 minute slower than my time last year, and at this point the ache in my shins moved to my calf. This calf had given me issues last year, but nothing so far in training had come up. Thanks calf.

Pushing through I tagged onto two guys that eased up and passed me at the 11km mark. I held on with them for the next 2 km but drifted back just enough to lose their draft. From this point on I ran relatively alone. 

The hills of Point Pleasant Parks luckily didn't hurt as much as last year, but the calf certainly did. I drifted in my overall average pace from a 3:56 to a 3:58 then a 4:01. The next series of hills aches for sure but I pushed through. I was incredibly happy though to have my cardio not at all be a limited factor, my heart was strong and my lungs very happy. Hooray on that.

On Queen St I dared to look back and saw that the next runners were quite a distance away. Still, you don't let up at this point. I pushed through the next couple of kms which were on a very slight uphill (1-2% grade) and then came to the final downhill. I was not looking forward to this. I knew I couldn't go too crazy downhill as my calf wouldn't be able to take it, but the other runners were maybe 200-300m behind, so I couldn't let up.

I managed to hit the bottom of the hill and make the sharp turn towards the finish line and the next uphill (ugh). I summoned what I had left and pushed to the finish, coming in at 1:24:58. Not the time I hoped for, but the time I had today. My legs just didn't want to let me have anything faster.

I was happy to come in 8th overall and 2nd in my Age Group. A little more work on my calves, a little more threshold work and we'll come back for a Fall half marathon to see what I can do. Thanks to Aerobics First for the great shoes and to Jeff Z at Kinesic Sports lab for the strong cardio. Now onto the world of Triathlon!

My prize for my great finish, a limited edition print.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

More Gloves? Yup. Enough with the Gloves. A Review.

So I went and bought new gloves. The guy with always cold hands. I didn't need them, but I was at  a product demo sale and the price was very nice, so I bought them.

So this was a Salomon product sample sale I went to. They usually have great products, high end stuff. That usually means I need to wait for sales to buy them, but when I can, look out!

So I found these simple but great cycling gloves.

Seems normal enough. They are comfy, pull on style cycling gloves with a mesh back and no fingers. They aren't heavily padded on the palms, which I like.

Okay, so what is so special about these gloves? Well as usual I like to have warm hands and this means that  I need the fingers to be covered. What's a cycling boy to do!?

Zing, a little pouch on the back of the glove stores a windbreaker like cover for your fingers and thumb. Sure not ground breaking or Earth shattering, but darn handy, and I personally hadn't seen gloves like these before (I have seen gloves that become mittens but not finger less cycling gloves).

The little windbreaker is super light weight, so when folded away you don't notice it. And it is just enough to take off the light chill in the Spring air. So far I love these little guys.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Enjoying my Garmin Swim

So at the end of last year my watch broke. The good old trusty Timex Ironman I used as a daily watch and as my pool watch. Sure it did laps (manually) but that was about it. I coudl keep track of my basic swim session but it required me to remember what strokes I did, how long sets were etc... Still, until it broke, it worked fine.

So I needed a new watch and the opportunity to get the Garmin Swim watch at a great price came up. So I said yes!

First off, it is a very nice daily watch. Not too big (I have small wrists), but plenty easy to see. It has the watch basics I need (stopwatch, time, alarm) and best of all it tracks my swims for me automatically. I feed it a small bit of info ahead of time (pool size, my weight etc...) and it tracks it all. It know what strokes I am doing, how long each set is, and all I need to do is hit pause when I stop for a rest. This is a major step up for my swimming (which let's be honest isn't great).

So no need to go into a full on review. There are tons of those online. But aside from being a way better tracker than my brain, this watch is great at letting me review how well a swim progresses "during" the swim. Before I coudl say that the set was 10 minutes long, but know I can see if I am too fast to start and then slow down, slow in the middle etc... That is great information. It also tracks my strokes per minute and as a bad swimming that is really nice. I have seen over the past few months that my spm is actually increasing ever so slightly. This gives me hope that I am actually progressing, and now that my heavy run training is winding down a bit, I can actually hit the pool a bit more often. So I hope to see that number climb even more.

There are other great options for swim watches as well, and this one does fail at not being usable outdoors. But the opportunity was too great to pass up, and I really love to pour over the numbers after a work out. So yay for me!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Race #2 the MEC Citadel 5K - Go Hills or Go Home

So here we are in April. That means time for the MEC Citadel 5 and 10 K crazy hill fantastic awesome race. Okay, I may have embellished the name a little. This is my 4th year doing this race. The first year I ran the 10K, the next 3 I have done the 5K. I really like this race at this time of year as I get to see where my fitness is and how training has been going .  Plus I can see if my hills are okay or really lacking.

So the day was promising to be wet, but luckily it wasn't. We had sun and only light wind. That meant I could run in shorts and a short sleeved top. I did have to add some light weight gloves as the air was chilly, but that was a perfect combo for running in this weather.

Sadly we couldn't run the usual course this year as the ditch was still full of snow from our crazy winter. So it meant a slight detour at street level to make up the distance.

This year I did a decent warmup and ran the perimeter of the Fort. I probably could have done a second lap and maybe that is what I will do next year. But it gave me confidence in my choice of apparel anyway.

As usual you have no idea what sort of racers will show up for any given race in this series, though usually there is some fast guys. I lined up at the front and right around 9:30 the Highlander gave us a great send off with a fire from a rifle.

The race starts on a gravel surface as we work ourselves out of the Fort's parade ground, then across some pave stone and to the paved perimeter road.

There I come, trying to pace appropriately

The race then drops to street level which is a huge drop in a very short distance, followed by a 180 to start the climb back up. At this point I had worked my way into 3rd place (though didn't know if both runners ahead were 5 or 10 k). I had a strong climb up and continued around the backside of the Fort before the next drop to street level. The second steep climb back up to the hill top was a lot more difficult. My pace here dropped quite a bit, though to be truthful I hadn't glanced at my pace in quite a while as I was using the faster runners to pace off of.

The race does one more lap of the outside of the Fort (though without the drops to street level again) and then into the Parade Square again. At this point the runner behind me passed me as we started up the gravel ramp to the ramparts. In the past I had a little more kick left in me, but today I had paced to my limit and holding my pace was the best I had. Guns were dodged (cannons) and finally the finish line came. Whew. 18:55 was the official time. The winner was 17:50.

So a fourth place finish this day and no medal for me. That's cool, I was beaten by faster runners on the day. But I will say I managed to better my previous best on this course by 26 seconds, and that a lot. I averaged a 3:49 pace, with an average heart rate of 177. So that average heart rate is close to my maximum usable heart rate from my last lactate test. I guess a new test with Kinesic Sport Lab is in order.

Great race as usual MEC. Great to see my fitness as high as that, especially as I have spent most of this winter running indoors. But my training plan is going well, I have stayed injury free  and now appear to have got faster as well.

Next planned big race, Bluenose Half Marathon. Here we come. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

A Shoe Review! - The Saucony Mirage 4

So there it is, the Saucony Mirage 4 (well that's a picture I stole from the internet, but mine looks the same). It sure is flashy and we all know that flashy means fast. The colours alone conjure up images of speed.

Anyway, I don't do a lot of gear reviews and shoes are very personal, but I thought I would jot down a few notes about why this shoe is working for me. I won't worry about things like ProGrid technology! or other such marketing terms though, just the how and why of what works for me.

I had been running the in the immensely popular NB 890 for quite a few years, but last year they changed the last it is made on and it threw me for a loop. I had to size up and still the toe box was too narrow. Also I found it slightly bouncy. While many people like a cushiony feeling shoe, I like my shoe on the firmer side.

So a stop at my favorite shoe store Aerobic First in Halifax to talk to my favorite shoe guy Luke and we found this great Mirage 4 (see picture of shoe above) in the sale rack left over from the previous year. The price was right, the fit was right and Luke watched me as I ran in it on the treadmill and all seemed good. So I bought them  (plus what's not to love about A1's fit guarantee).

After 100km and 4 half marathon distance training runs I am sold and will use this as my go to shoe for now. So what features do I like?

4mm ramp: I like a 4-8mm ramp shoe and this hits the mark. I don't like zero drop shoes and I don't like high heel wedges. So perfect.

Firm: This is a firm shoe with less cushioning than other distance shoes. I do like to have a bit more ground feel as I run and this help. The bounce comes from you and a high cadence, this shoe is probably not for the runner with a slow turn over.

Smooth Inner Liner: Unlike some of my New Balance shoes, you can easily wear this shoe sockless. There are no rough seams to worry about. While I do wear socks for most of my runs, I don't when I race in triathlons. So with the simple addition of some elastic laces, this is a great triathlon shoe.

Weight: While the weight listed by Saucony does put this much higher (some 100g) than say a NB 1400 or other pure race shoe, it feels responsive and not heavy at all. Perhaps that is the firm factor?

Toe Box: As I said initially, my feet are a bit too wide in the toe box for the NB 890 in normal width. But only slightly. This fit with room to spare.

Wear: So far with 4 half marathons and 100km the shoes are showing very little wear, so that bodes well for this being a great trainer and race day shoe for me.

Posting: There is minimal posting on this shoe (it is listed as a neutral runner) but there is some. Personally I like this. Just enough to deal with my slightly shallow arches and keep my foot more rounded and happy, especially on longer runs.

So over all, not bad, shoe. Definitely one I will revisit as long as Saucony continues with this Last style in making and shaping the shoe.