Monday, March 20, 2017

Moose Run 2017

Another year another Moose Run, the 25th edition at that! I wish I could say I have been to every one, but alas I have been to exactly 2 now, including this year. The 25km distance was never one I cared to do, even when racing half marathons. Last year I decided to tackle it to help pace my buddy Craig. This year, as we are both racing the Bluenose Half,  it seemed like a good idea to come back and give it another go. Only this year faster! But still not at racing speed, more of a hard paced long run.

A few members of the BLT Runners showed up to run it as well.

It was a cool morning, so I wasn't sure what to wear. As I knew I wasn't going to be pushing my own pace too hard, I wondered if I might be chilled. In the end, I was convinced to drop the jacket. And really I was fine with the temperature, but I am glad I had gloves and a buff.

Last year Craig and I ran a 4:45 pace, but with about 3 km to go, you hit 2 nasty hills and those knocked Craig down a bit, we finished eventually with a 4:50 pace. Still, it was a great effort and with him just getting into heart rate training, we paced things well.

This year I wanted to push the pace a bit, up into the 4:40 min/km mark. This was likely going to push Craig a bit into Zone 3, but I wanted to see how much his training had toughened him up for race day. We had to beat that 2 hour mark!

With a record crowd, and a lot of smiles, we were off.  We passed a few people, we were passed by a few, but settled in to what was probably the top 1/3rd of the runners (243 in total). This included some relay teams as well.

The weather remained great, at the turn around there was a bit of a headwind for 4 km or so, but nothing crazy. We saw many friends, we chatted a lot and Craig was doing great. We even stopped and drank water at the stops, rather than spill it all over ourselves.

By the time we hit those final killer hills of the causeway we were already above pace at 4:38, and looking good. We grabbed a final water and headed for the home stretch. Craig was talking and breathing fine, and I finally convinced him to try and catch a few people up ahead. We did, and then as were began the turn to the finish with under 2 km, I convinced him to tag along as best as he could. I kept ramping the pace up slightly as it was mostly downhill.

With the finish line in sight, Craig was pushing it, and I was forcing him along, just another 100m Go Go! We hit a pace best, crossed the line and managed to get home in an awesome 4:36 pace time blowing away our old record, and doing so with relative ease (except those last 2 km). But those last 2 km last time is where things fell apart, so what a difference a year makes. 1:54 was our time.

All of the BLT Runners had a great day, followed by some spicy soup, hot dogs, cake and coffee.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Final Speed Skating Race of the Year, 2017

So the final speed skating race just happened this past Sunday. Two weeks ago we had the chance of losing the ice completely due to heat and rain, but this weekend we had record low temperatures and high wind. Brrr. I couldn't pass up the opportunity.

I signed up for the 1000m Olympic Style and the 1500m mass start. I had hoped to see if I could better my 1000m time from a few weeks back.

So race morning and the car said -18C on the way to the ice. With the wind it felt closer to -26C. And what a head wind it was.  Warm up was more a case of trying not to freeze, and I had to wear more clothing than I had previously raced in as well.

My heat came up. I started on the inside this time, which meant an outer corner finish. The horrible wind made getting to the first corner a little tricky, but it made skating through the second one fierce. The speed the tail wind brought was crazy, and I am not great at corners when going too fast. So my overall speed ended up suffering. I won my heat but with a paltry 2:20, when a few weeks back in better conditions I skated a 2:04.  Oh well. I placed 5th out of 16.

The 1500m mass start came up and I took my spot on the line. The speedy guys were in my race, so I had no illusions of winning or anything. From the start they headed out hard. I found a pace I thought I could hold, but again that wind was crazy, it had even picked up some.  I managed a time of 3:43 for 5th place out of 8. I don;'t think I have a 1500m best time that I can recall, but I can only suspect that was slow.

So a winter of ups and downs. I think overall my skating got better, but I wish I had more time to commit to the sport. I know my weaknesses better anyway.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

So far behind on this one why even bother - Speed Skating racing!

Dang, I am so far behind on this post that it is 2 posts in one and they are still both late. Initially I was waiting to see if any pictures showed up, but they didn't come, and then I got lazy and then.....

So a few weeks back I entered the 25 km skate marathon. This was a part of the winter Polar Vortex Challenge in Halifax, which also included the Tri-the -Oval winter triathlon I took part in.  I missed the first race of the series but still earned the coveted extra hat!

25km on skates sounds like fun (ha ha) but dang it was tough. 65 laps of the oval and I knew I was going to be hurting by the end. So I made darn sure that i paced myself to finish.

Knowing my current strengths, I decided to go out at a low 20 km/hr-ish pace. By 10  minutes in I was averaging 21.8km/hr, so that felt fine. Soon I was lapped by the leaders who were flying, but I really focused on keeping an even pace.  Halfway through and I was averaging 21.2km/hr.

I would like to turn this into a great story and all, but really, it was a bunch of laps of the oval where I spent a lot of time skating alone.  I did fall down at one point. Apparently the only person to do so. I just got tired and lost my footing, so that was interesting.

Anyway, short story long, I made it the final two laps, picked up the pace and finished with 2 laps in the 25 km/hr range, then just about collapsed. 1 hour and 14 minutes, with the leader finishing almost 20 minutes before I did. But I now have a bench mark for the future.

The next week brought another race. This time an Olympic style 1000m race. This one is tricky for skaters as it requires a series of lane changes throughout the race. In fact 2 skaters got disqualified for messing this up. I'll have to go back and look but I don't think I have raced the 1000m before, so my time of 2:04:61 is likely my benchmark.

This race felt great. I went out hard, maintained a decent body position, worked my crossovers as best as I could and won my heat, placing 8th overall. That felt good.

We also had a 3000m points race, and in this style, it is a mass start with skaters that get lapped being pulled out. All but the top 5 skaters got lapped all at once. It was rather funny. But sadly most of us did not get to finish the race.  I ended up with another 8th place, but as I didn't get to do the final 3 laps it doesn't really matter.

Hopefully the weather allows for a little more skating this season, but darn, it is getting warm!