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!