Monday, October 2, 2017

One Weekend Two Races 2017

This was a big weekend. I ave done this in the past, and was even injured at the time. That was when I was dumber. I am less dumb now, notice I said less.

Anyway, Saturday started with my now traditional walk to the start of Leg 2 of the Rum Runners Relay in Halifax. With my running clothes in a bag, a little food and a hobo like attitude I search for my team of people I don't know and prepare for a day of trying to find rides.

This year I was running Leg 7 of the relay. After last weekends decent result in the MEC race, I figured I would be able to do well enough and keep my streak of top 7 finishes alive. Unlike last week, this Leg of the relay was anything but flat. It was hilly, and while it doesn't have the total vertical gain of some of the Legs, it has the most per kilometer. At 9. 4 km long it has 122 m of elevation.

Oddly it is the hills that made me dread this Leg. Nope, it is the fact that every year I have attended the Rum Runners Relay, this particular Leg is super hot and humid. It takes place at 1:50 pm and just seems to be tough weather wise. This year though I lucked out. The recent humidity had broken, the clouds were in and the air was cool. Perfect for running.

I lined up near the front and after our race brief we were off.  I decided to run mostly by feel on this one and tucked in with the leaders, four of us together. Soon we were the only four in sight of the lead car.  Drew had held back a little bit but was now moving to take the lead, with the runner from A Few Good Men with him. I held my ground, knowing the big hills were coming. 

As we fought up the first of these hills, it became apparent that the Mountain View Runner (I think also named Ian) was starting to fall back a bit on pace, so I bridged him and took solo command of third place. I pushed hard up and down each hill, remembering all the extra training I had done earlier in the year for Bluenose. It certainly helped.  And before you know it, I had beaten the 5 monsters and was in the final 3 km, which is relatively flat. By this time I finally glanced at my watch and was really happy to see my pace was rather good. I also finally glanced back and saw I was all alone.

I won't lie. At the 8 km lark I was tired. But my core work this year has done wonders and I was able to keep running strong. The finish is a tight 180 degrees and up hill. Knowing that all that matters is time, I pushed through hard and finished third in 34:26 with an average pace of 3:43 (it was 150m short per my Garmin). My official pace is 3:40. Not as nice as last years win, but I will say a far better run.

How did the saga of my hobo journeys go? Well I had made it to Leg 7 start, then was left behind after my great run, found a drive with Denis, refound my other drive, but lost my pack and change of clothes, then got all that back and finally managed to get home somehow!

The next day as I awoke early (again) and dragged my carcass out of bed, I was ready for another race. This time the every fun Riverport Duathlon. I knew I was not going to be able to give this race my A game, but it is too much fun not to do.

The field was down in overall size this year, but the number of tough athletes was way up. It was a great field. I hoped I would be able to at least give some good runs, as I hadn't done a lot of bike training this year. My warm up run though made me feel like crawling back into bed.

Still I took to the start line and was soon running. The pace seemed fine at the start, though ultimately my Garmin wasn't doing anything so, I had no idea what I was running. So I hoofed it as best as I could. I quickly fell into 6th place, and while I feel like I could have pushed it past some of the guys ahead of me when fresh, I certainly couldn't that day. Still I apparently had enough oomph for a 3:36 pace and a 14:22 run for the first 4km. (Last year I did 14:08 in the first run)

That isn't me waving

To the bike, but not before a brain failure made me have to go back and remove my running shoes. D'oh. But then I was riding. This year I wanted to see how well I could do  riding by cadence and trying to keep to high. So I didn't look at distance or speed (I know the course well enough though). I did well but the uber bikers did manage to pass me. Eventually dropping me to 12th overall. The second half of the ride was also really rough with some nasty paved areas. I wish I could say that my cadence experiment was a success but then I was about 1 minute slower on the bike this year. But a fair comparison? Probably not. While riding the flats was fine, the hills just couldn't be over with quick enough, as my quads were burning.

  I was happy to see the finish line though and made a decent dismount (with a flying bike shoe). My transitions were pretty mediocre though, like much of the race I was just kind of in a fog. I could certainly race, but had no zip. Both my transitions were about4-5 seconds slower than last year.

But now, I had the chance to shine! My 2016 result was bad, as my injured knee didn't allow me to actually run the second run, rather I did a shuffle jog sort of thing. This time I headed out and pushed the pace. With about 500m to go I finally caught the 11 place guy Paul, and overtook him, claiming a small victory. I ran the second leg in 14:53 for a 3:43min/km avg pace. I was happy with that, and a 1:20 time overall. That was 2 and a half minutes faster than last year.

Not my crowning achievement, but overall I was pretty happy. I was inured, I had the strength to push through two tough events and give it my best effort in both.  Certainly I wouldn't suggest racing back to back events that mattered to you (though I do love both of these events), but finding those limits can be something nice.

Then we finished the weekend with a 7 kilometer hike.

Now to rest up for Moncton in 3 weeks.