Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Maritime Race Weekend Pace Bunny






The 2017 Maritime Race Weekend has come and gone. Many runners, decent weather and even beer were to be had. For the second year in a row I decided to Pace Bunny the event, helping others get to a goal finish time. I opted for the 10km 45 min duties again this year, just like last, though this year i was all fit and not slightly injured, which made the day even nicer.

So while I said nice weather, it was a bit humid, and that meant the heat level felt a lot higher than usual. Some runners that pushed really hard certainly felt it. Still, it wasn't raining, or windy and therefore, I was happy.

I started the day with a warmup run with Craig and Stacey (more for them than for me), then settled into the start line area to allow people to find me, should I be there goal running pace.

Soon we were off and I fell in behind the fastest runners, making sure they had a clear exit (the start is a bit crowded and tight). Once we made it to the street, everything opened up and I soon got into a good pace and rhythm.

Immediately I begin chatting with my runners. The start of a race is often the worst part. By talking and laughing we keep the effort level a little subdued, this allows them not to overdo it and burn out fast.  This is a flat and fast race except for the 1 decent hill at the 3 km mark. So keeping everyone in check is ideal for a fast finish.

Unlike last year, I managed to hold a good crowd around me for most of the race. By the worst of it (the hill section) I had a great crew of 5 runners keeping pace.  Then by around the 6.5 km mark, the first took off. By 8 km in the next took off and finally I was all alone. My little ones had gone on to glory, but I was happy to finish solo.

But it wasn't over there. Back out I went and found my buddy Jon in the half marathon, pacing him to the finish. Then Shane and finally a whole host of others, eventually clocking in over 25km of running for the day.   It was a great time, and I look forward to putting the ears on again soon.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Canicross Excitment 2017 - Long Lake Lap Dog

So not only do I race and train (which I do a lot) and occasionally coach but I get involved in organizing races as well. Last weekend was such a case, with the third Canicross race being held under the Maritime Association of Harness Dog Sports (MAHDS) banner.

This race was held in Long Lake Park in Halifax. Without a lot of time to organize, the field was small, but this allowed us to test out an interesting race format.  As well we got to try out some new race timing software on our phone, ideal for small races like ours.

First off, for those that don't know, Canicross is a sport where humans and dogs run together via a hands free harness system. This leads to some fantastic run speed as well as the ability to really work with your dog in a race as a team, not just run with your dog.

Our race was a two lap time trial, with each lap (3km) separated by a rest period. The racers hit the start line, two at a time with 30 second intervals.





The new software is called Cloudtimer. Due to the small size of our race series right now it worked really well. Low priced, offering mass start or time trial based starts and the ability to use a smart phone to do all the onsite work, it was a treat. I was even able to change the start order on the fly. Apparently it is able to  also hook up via bluetooth to various auto timers, which is something that may make sense in the future.  Timing Canicross races can be a bit tricky, but this part of the day went really well.

The 2 lap time trial system was great though. All racers got 2 races for a low price, the ultimate winner Sarah with Eddie, winning both heats.

This a great and growing sport in the Maritimes, with two more races in the series this year. Huge thanks to our support from Inukshuk Dog Food, Salomon, and Aerobics First. Now enjoy a few more great pictures, with more on our Facebook Page, linked above.








Monday, August 7, 2017

2017 MacPass Mile Bridge Run

So it is Natal Day weekend in Halifax and after a 2 year absence, the MacPass Mile Bridge Run is back. Conveniently one of the bridges in Halifax is a mile long, and for many years a free mile run has been held on it, with cars being excluded for the entire morning. I have raced this once before in 2014, where I finished 13th overall, 4th in my division (Masters) and a time of 5:18.

That year I raced this on a whim, as I had been preparing for my marathon and didn't do a lot of summer racing. This year I raced it on purpose, and while I didn't specifically training for a mile race, I did incorporate some 800m repeats in speed work this year at mile pace.

Race morning came and we had a bit of rain in the early hours, but as we arrived to sign in at the race, the rain had cleared off and the air was just slightly warm.

First up was the women's race. We watched as the first few ran to the finish with some speedy times. Then we had to take off to the other side to get ready for the men's start. Just as we did, the rain started. It came hard and fast. We got soaked. So much for staying dry for the run.

It came time to line up, heavy soaked shoes and socks and all. I took to the front to get ready and then we were off.


The run starts on a downhill for a couple hundred meters before starting a climb up. I picked a decent pace and just held it. The uphill felt perfectly fine and as I crested the top of the hill (likely around halfway through the race) I was in 3rd place overall and felt fine. As the downhill portion started, I lost 3rd place but picked up my overall pacing. Like any good mile race, the aches and pains of running started to come on strong. The race finish as the downhill settles out to a more or less flat 300 meters of agony.


One more person passed me at this point but I was more concerned with overall time. I pushed as hard as I could, but ultimately did not make my goal of a sub 5 minute mile. I clocked in officially at 5:07, 5th overall, 3rd age group. It was a good effort and I think I ran it well. The rain that soaked us certainly did not help and may have slowed me down a bit, but who knows.

Shaving 11 seconds off my mile time after a 3 year absence wasn't too bad though. Maybe these aging legs have some speed still. Maybe the sub 5 min mile can happen. It was nice to hear my name announced during the awards though. 


Friday, August 4, 2017

Product Review - Rekarb Gels

So I was given a couple of samples of Rekarb gels to try out. Newish on the market, I hadn't given them a try yet but have certainly tried a huge variety of other gels. Usually most are pretty similar, in that they are a simple sugar, with flavouring and electrolytes and possibly caffeine (sometimes protein as well). That doesn't mean they all taste the same or even all go down as easy. I definitely prefer some gels more than others. 

What was nice about these (aside from them being a Canadian company) is the ingredient list is so minor. Maple Syrup (the simple sugar), Sea Salt (the electrolyte) and in the case of the 2 "flavoured" versions Cocoa and Matcha Tea (both of which contain some version of caffeine as well as other electrolytes). None of those ingredients are extracts, or heavily processed versions, simply the raw(ish) form. These aren't maple flavoured, they are essentially maple syrup.

Their website contains all the marketing jingo, though even it is simple and sticks to the basics. This company really does keep things easy going.

So enough of the marketing stuff anyway, how were they? Well I gave them all a try in a variety of settings, though all at a hard pace to see how they really went down. I tried the first one at a Duathlon, the next at a Triathlon and the third at a hard trail run in humid hot conditions.

I am pleased to say that they all sat extremely well and gave me no issues. The texture is very fluid, so they go down easy and fast. The one issue is that (and this is the same with all liquidy gels) you can easily get it on your hands, which is a bit sticky. I figured that out quickly after my first one and was more prepared on the second.

The maple flavour (being the man ingredient) is strong. So if you gate maple syrup, you will hate these. I like it and loved these. My favourite was the Cocoa, and I normally hate chocolate gels.


I don't use a lot of gels in training, but I will be switching to using these a lot more in racing. On a hot day when my mouth is dry, the fluid nature of these makes them so much more palatable. And as well, in the cold, they don't get thick either. Win win.

As is always the case, try nutritional products outside of a race setting first (unless you are me) to make sure you can stomach them. But it is great to see a new player on the market, whose product is just that little bit different.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Aylesford Triathlon July 2017

So Sunday was my first Triathlon of the season. Aylesford Lake. This year I decided to do the Sprint distance, rather than the Standard / Olympic I did last year. Mostly this was due to my complete lack of swim training this year compared to last. While I am sure I could make the Oly distance swim, I knew it wouldn't be pretty, especially if the water temp made it wetsuit illegal.

So race morning came and I arrived early at site. The race was declared wetsuit legal, but only just as the air temp was cool enough. The water temp was right on the border. So I decided to use my sleeveless suit, which I find makes my arms less tired and is also much quicker to get out of.  After setting up my bike in transition, I put on the suit and got a warm up swim in.


The race brief happened, then we waited on the beach as the Standard/Oly distance swimmers took off.  Eventually it was our turn and we headed to the water.



I entered at a more causal pace, as I wanted to start the swim easy. Sadly, I hit the water and started to push a little too hard. Things were going okay, but I started to breath heavy and had to slow down a bit to catch my breath. I got going again, but was now pushed fairly wide of the first buoy. Still, I kept going. Then the waves of a distant motor boat started to hit us. Nothing too big, but I ended up gulping down some of the water and again had to deal with that. Finally i got to the far buoy and headed to shore.

Ultimately my stopping and my lack of endurance showed in my final time. Also my apparent inability to sight properly didn't help either. My swim was about 850m rather than 750m and i got out of the water in 17:44, the worst swim I have had in a long time. Oh well. I was 41st now and headed to the bike.

A quick transition (44 seconds and 3rd in time) and I was riding. I had many places to make up and wasted no time. By 10km into the 20 km bike ride I had moved into 10th place overall and pushed as hard as I could. I knew my run would be decent and was willing to sacrifice a little speed to get as close as possible to others. With 5km to go I had moved into 8th place overall and that was as much as I could do on the bike.



I finished the ride with the 4th fastest bike split at 33.4 km/hr avg speed for the 20.5 km course. Some people found this course hilly. Other than one big climb (excluding the initial climb from the beach) I found the hills to be mild, long but shallow in pitch.  That allowed me to hold a better rhythm. My second transition from bike to run was 27 seconds, only good for 5th overall. I did screw up putting on my first shoe and had to readjust it. But overall it went well.

I took off on the run, and is usually the case, the first kilometer or so is tough o get your legs to full extension. Still I reeled in the next two runners by the 1.5 km mark and firmly planted myself in 6th place. As I approached the turn around positions 4 and 5 were headed back but were likely 800m or so ahead of me. My stride started to open up and I was able to push a little harder. I reached the final hill down (about a 400m descent) and ran towards the finish. I never was able to catch the next two guys, but got within 30 seconds. A better swim and who knows.


 My run was the fastest of the day at 19:30 for the 5km. That was what I had. And truthfully it was the first time in a long time that a run actually felt good (well after I got warmed up). So that was good.


I finished in a time of 1:15. Not my best but decent. I was really happy with the bike and run and transitions. Ideally I "should" have been able to knock 3 minutes or so off that swim, but it wasn't to be that day. But how fast are the 40 year olds? 6th place was only good enough for 4th in my Age Group. Zoom.

Next up? Still planning on what to do. The mojo is starting to finally come back from Bluenose, so i don't want to let that slip away. I also don't want to over do things.

Monday, June 26, 2017

MEC Race #3 - The Hot Hills of Cole Harbour

It was a humid start to the morning as I awoke to fog and mist but a temp of 15C at 6AM. A light breakfast and easy morning was in order as the race didn't start until 9AM, though I knew I needed to get there early to find parking. And while I did get there 1 hour early, close parking was still a bit of a jaunt. That meant I had to leave most of my warmup gear in the car.

As this was a new course for me, I decided to take my warm up run on course, specifically the first 2.5km portion. It was rolling hills, tight corners, crusher dust and a portion through a grassy path.

Due to the huge crowd that showed up (over 700) things were a little late starting. Eventually we got started almost 20 minutes late and by now the sun was in full shine mode.  The humidex was over 30C and there were no clouds in the sky. A course like this on a day like this is one of do what you can.

Finally the race got underway and a few of us grabbed the lead. As is usually the case, a few runners go out too hard and are soon over taken. All MEC races have multiple divisions starting together. So I tucked in behind the Half marathon leader, knowing his planned pace was going to be suitable for me.

As we finished the first 2.5km section, I was in second place with third right behind. Luckily there were a few shady bits and we all jumped into them as quickly as we could. This was an out and back course as well, so on the way out I was planning on how to run the course back. Finally we reached the 5km mark, I grabbed a little water and took a sip then turned right back, third still firmly attached to me.  Drew in 1st was way ahead and not a concern.


There was barely a flat spot on this course expect for kilometer 5 and 6. And after turning back, you then had to contend with oncoming runners. Everyone was really good though and quickly got out of the lead runners' way. Even though I was breathing pretty hard, third place was breathing harder. Then by around the 6 km mark, the breathing behind me started to get less.  At the 7km mark, I glanced back and saw that I had about a 100m cushion.

Now I will admit, at this point I hurt. The heat was taking its toll. I was now also starting to come upon 5km race runners going the same way as me, so many didn't know I was coming up fast behind them. A few times I had to run through the grass to get around.  At least, though I knew I wasn't alone in my hurt as I finally saw Drew again with about 1.5km to go. I had caught back up to him. I was still too far back, feeling a I did, to really mount a comeback attempt, but it was good to see him. 

I finally made it to the final corner, which was a 90 degree downhill, followed by a final short up to the line. As I got close I could see the time on the clock and I was still sub 39 min on this crazy course. So I pushed through and finished officially in 38:57. Whew. 2nd place overall, top Age Group. My heart rate averaged 178, which is really high for me on such a long race.



Monday, June 19, 2017

Duathlon #2 - Baddeck 2017

So it is always good to keep checking on the dates of races.What was originally slated to be in August of this year was moved to June due to the cancellation of another race. I almost missed the Baddeck Duathlon! But I didn't.

So now in June (in its second year), the Baddeck Duathlon is a great event hosted in a great place. Big Baddeck offers a 22 km paved loop for the bike portion and a tough gravel run for the run portion. The loop is open to cars, but I saw maybe 3 or 4 the whole race.

This year we had a few less people than the first year, but we gained some even tougher competitors up front.  I was looking around and instantly figured I would be racing for 5th place, maybe 6th depending on conditions. And speaking of conditions, what could have been a rain soaked crazy fest, turned into a perfect temperature, low wind, great day to race.

So after all the bike setup, chats and race briefing, we lined up ready to race. Last year I won the first run portion with a rather fast 18:33 5K. I consider it fast because the first 1.2 km is straight uphill. While I hoped to get the fastest first run again, with Corey there, it seemed unlikely. Instead of killing myself, I decided to play things safe and after the start tucked in behind Andreas, who seems to be of a similar speed to me.

We ran up the hill and I felt okay as Corey pulled away. We were in second and third place and I was having no issues keeping up. In fact when there were little dips I had to slow a little bit to stay with Andreas. At the turn around we were still together, having dropped fourth through sixth. Playing my cards, I figured I had a good ability to pull away into second by myself on the final downhill of this run and when we hit the crest of the hill I started off. By the timing mat I had a clear lead over third by 7 seconds. I finished with a 19:13 this time. Looking at last years race, the first run this year was a little long and the first run last year was a little short. My pace was quite similar in both races. I would also say this year's pace might be a little slower due to the road being freshly graded and therefore covered in loose gravel and some areas of soft sand.


I grabbed my bike and headed out quickly (with the second fastest T1). I knew I wouldn't be able to hold off those guys behind me for too long, but I wanted to get a bit into the ride before being overwhelmed.

At about 5km Andreas passed me, then at around 7 km Allan did. I didn't let up and pushed hard, though the first section is all up hill and I waited for the next couple of riders to scream past. But all of a sudden I was approaching the 10km mark (which was also a stop and turn). I dared a look back and maybe 1/2 km behind me was 5th place. Knowing how far ahead I was on the run, I figured this pass was happening soon. But id didn't. I really started to push through the kilometers, knowing that the longer I could hold out, the better my chance of using the second run to repass. But the pass from (what turned out to be Daniel) never came. I rode into T2 in 40:18, just hitting thew 1 hour mark.  This was slightly faster then last year but darn close. 32.1 km / hr average pace and a nice 60.1 km/hr top speed.


I wasted no time in T2, for fear that Daniel (now right behind me) had been saving his legs for the final 2.5km run. A 30 second T2 (second fastest of the day) meant I was out and running fast. But man did my legs feel like hell. 


Straight to that big hill climb. The second run was basically, up then right back down. I pushed hard last year to catch and pass Kevin at this point. I pushed hard this year to keep my spot. I knew second and third were too far up the road. At the top I hit the turn around (whew) and knew all my downhill run fast experience was going to be needed. I finally saw Daniel in 5th at this point and I had a couple 100 meters on him. I felt secure but didn't let up. 

Soon the finish line loomed, I pushed through and crossed in almost exactly the same time as last year, 1:10. My final run was done in 9:59, 1 second faster than last year. I finished 4th overall, last year was 3rd. But what a great group of guys to fight with. That was all I had in me that day, and I feel good about it. Also I feel like I am finally recovering from the Bluenose Half marathon, which has left me feeling dead.

I have a trail race coming up, then a rest. Back to coaching some great people as well.