Monday, May 4, 2020

April - The Month of On Running (Cloudflow Review)

So I was contacted by our local On rep to ask about trying out one of their shoes for a bit then giving my impression of them. That chat was recorded when we did an Instagram live chat and I think is still on my Instagram IGTV @ianloughead.

First off On Running is a Swiss company that started making shoes about 10 years ago (they now make a full range of sport clothes as well). They wanted to be different and came up with the concept of the pods, or as they say running on clouds. The idea behind the pods was that they would allow a runners unique gait to work with the shoe and not be fighting against it.


I was told to look at the shoe options and choose a shoe that seemed like something I would buy. I chose the On Cloudflow as it's description seemed on par with the type of running shoe I like and it seemed to fall between my Saucony Freedom and Brooks Launch (lightweight neutral trainers). Retail price point is basically between those two as well.

So I jumped right in with this shoe. First off it should be mentioned that I adapt to new shoes really quickly. It doesn't mean I always like them, but I can usually run in most shoes without issue if they fit. 

So how was the fit? Well, I found it was true to size. I got my standard size of 10.5 and slipped it on and it felt fine. The shoe appears fairly narrow but for me fits as well as my Saucony and Brooks shoes. In fact at first I found it was a little loose feeling, but realized that the upper is very forgiving and stretches quite well. So I had to snug things up more than I normally would. If you try these shoes, don't be afraid to tie things a little tighter than normal.


So off I went on run one for an immediate speed session of 400m repeats. I had to play around with the fit a little on my warm up to get them dialed in. Once I got the laces set up well, they seemed to hold that position for the rest of my trial. The rest of the run went well.  

You don't really notice the pods per se. What I did feel on this run and on all of my runs was a responsive toe off when running fast and more forefoot and a slightly cushioned feel as you slow down and start to fall back on your midfoot / heel. You can read all the fancy tech stuff on the On website but suffice to say that when you want to go fast with the Cloudflows, they feel fast and they feel comfy when you need to slow it down. 

Usually I run in a different shoe most days, rotating through 2-3 pair at a time. I started this because the foam in shoes needs a little time to rebound to get back to 100% and give you the cushioning you should have. Newer shoes though, like On, are using newer types of foam and in On's case the Helion foam is supposed to not suffer from this break down. I will say that running in these daily for over two weeks and doing lots of hard efforts, my muscles are tired but in no way sore the way they usually would be in racing season. And I have run 5 race efforts in these shoes, plus intervals and long runs in this time.




Over the years I have heard of On and heard of their rep for picking up shoes in their unique soles. This is supposed to be much better now. So I ran through gravel on most of my runs. I picked up 1 rock in all my runs. So that is good news. I pick up that much gravel in my New Balance 1400s. 



What I didn't like? Well, the only thing was the laces. They aren't bad and they work just like laces do. They don't seem to untie (cough cough Brooks) easily, but they are very thin and narrow and just hard to work with. It is a small concern, but not a major one. They do give you a little elastic loop to put the laces in though, so bonus!

Is this the shoe for everyone? Nope, it certainly has to fit your foot. Should you try this shoe? Oh yes. These are light weight yet supportive and while neutral, they offer a really good amount of support after a long hard run. As well, the shoe seems to not transmit as much force through your body, helping reduce fatigue in muscles.

For me the On Cloudflow will likely become part of my shoe rotation and will almost definitely be a race day shoe for longer races like 10K and Half Marathons due to their low weight and support.

On sells a full range of shoes from street, to trail, to track (no spikes) and even waterproof. They come firm to cushioned, though all with a good amount of give. I look forward to trying other varieties out. 

It was great doing an Instagram live chat with Max from Quebec and I would love to share more about these shoes as well, but ultimately try a pair on at your favorite running store. I don't think these shoes are really aimed at any specific runner. New, seasoned, small, large, as long as it fits your foot, it is worth a try. 

Saturday, April 11, 2020

March Madness?

So March left us a little over a week ago, and I had planned on doing a post right away but alas, the time slipped away. For some reason I am busier than ever, but hey.

So I entered March coming off a huge mileage month of running, with a goal of switching to lower mileage and faster paces, as I started to target my Spring A race of a 15km at the Bluenose. Week 1 was really blah. I tried to ease down but ended up not feeling great, this proving I needed a rest.  My traditional weekend parkrun actually took place on International Women's Day, so I volunteered instead of running. Which was probably smart.

A trip to Seaside Chiropractic and some self care and I was back to some good running though. Then the Coronavirus started to affect things in Nova Scotia, at first indirectly, then more directly. Parkrun worldwide decided to cancel / postpone their weekly runs, and though we weren't technically doing the Self Distancing thing here, we had no parkrun.

So I went out to do the route and get my sub 18 min 5km for the month.


I achieved it with a 17:57. But then things got more real. While I did that run with Craig, by the start of the week, I was working from home and we were not supposed to be within 2 meters of anyone now.

This has meant all solo training for March, work from home and lots of dog walks. Work is crazy busy as well, but that is probably good. It is easy to over train in situations like this and get injured. I want to stay healthy, but I also feel like I am primed for some good race results. So I decided to do weekend time trials instead to see where I am at.

PB's in the time of Covid-19? Sure they aren't races on measured courses, relying on GPS instead and purpose chosen courses. But they are a good indicator of relative fitness. I'm fine with them being PB* instead if it comes to that. I know the effort I gave.


Next up, on a nice weather day, I hit the trail again, throwing down a 17:18 5km. This one was point to point with a good tail wind. I also had to cross two roads which I got lucky to find no traffic on. This course has been retired due to it requiring luck.


Then I tried my hand at 10km effort. I had run sub 37 minutes twice, but both times I think were odd. The first was an all downhill effort in a 15km race, then what I think was a slightly short route for the next (it is hard to say as that course has huge GPS issues). This one was net downhill, but included a 3 km long climb at 2% avg in the middle. I blew away my previous efforts and that felt great.


Following after the master of the Litter Run, I attempted to get some of those in as well with the pups. Sadly, it became obvious later on that this probably wasn't the best thing since you can't tell if someone infected had handled the garbage.

When the weather has been bad I have taken to the bike trainer as well. I am incredibly thankful for this tool. I bought it a couple of years ago at Sportwheels in Sackville (a Tacx Vortex). While I don't do things like Zwift, I have been putting some time on it for sure.



I have also taken up skipping. I used to be a really good skipper as a kid and I quickly found my rhythm again. It is an excellent cross training tool, helping work on lower leg and foot strength. 


So, things are going well in sports town, even without a race on the horizon. I miss the parkruns, I miss the MonRuns with the BLTRunners, and I miss some of my more interesting training routes, but I'm still doing well.  Thanks to Aerobics First we are set with shoes (at home delivery during this time is amazing - Support Local!). My go to shoe being the Saucony FreedomISO, with a dabbling of a few others in my vast collection (I'll do a post about my shoes maybe). 



I'm also hanging out with my wife and these amazing dogs a lot more, which is awesome. 

Take care every one. Try to relax when you can as recovery is an essential tool in training. And don't overtrain. It is so easy if you find yourself bored and more time on your hands than normal. Instead add cross training, which is often neglected.

Oh and as a Nuun ambassador I have to say, stay hydrated. A healthy immune system is key right now, and hydration in the form of water, tea, and electrolytes is key to that.  

Monday, March 2, 2020

The 2020 Training Season is Well Under Way

So I haven't posted in awhile but I haven't just been sitting around. My first planned race isn't until May with the Bluenose (and I am still not 100% decided on what I will be racing there). Usually by now I have raced something, but the MEC series is now over, I am only skating this year for fun, and there is no Tri the Oval.

Overall the weather hasn't been that bad. Yes, a few storms here and there, but really, nothing that has lasted on the ground for long. So my goal so far has been to train hard for the running season.



Though I had great success last year with my running, I have been training the same way for quite some time and it is time to change things up a bit and experiment. Normally I am a fairly low mileage runner with 60km weeks being large and the fear of injury on big weeks being a driving factor for staying with what works.  Now however, it is time to try a few risks (smart and calculated risks).



So I have been building my run mileage, not focusing on speed as much, and so far so good. January started out fairly normal, having had a nagging knee pain right before Christmas. I built up my long run a bit, but focused more on running a bit longer during the week, taking my 40 minute weekly runs to 50 minutes. By the end of January I was up in the 60 km range.

I kept that mileage up, focused on recovery and started to build the long run even more, plus a mid week long run as well. Now in February I also started to build in climbing / hills more as well. Races here are seldom flat, and though I never shy away from hills, I realize that I could be doing more. By the end of February I had achieved two weeks with new mileage highs for myself , 89.5 km and then 96.5 km. I didn't run weeks like that when I did my marathon a few years back.  These weeks also included long runs in the 30-34 km range and over 1000m of climbing each week.

4 loops of Parkland and over 400m of elevation?  Yikes

Now that I have hit those numbers, it is easy to just want to go further, but now is not the time. The smart play is a small taper then a look at doing a little more speed.  I'm going to keep the weekly runs to 50 minutes and drop the long run a bit.

But hey now, it wasn't all just builds these past months. What else was I up to?


Well, I was selected again to be an Ambassador for Nuun, an electrolyte drink for athletes.  This is my second year and it is a product I quite like a lot. I'm not one for consuming a lot of calories on runs, even long ones. But having a slightly flavoured drink does help me drink more often, and thus stay hydrated (a good way to help recovery). With almost no calories, it works well for me.



I continue to run parkruns when I can and will be focusing on my goal of at least 1 sub 18 minute 5 km run per month. I began January 1st with a parkrun in Boulder, Colorado. My 19:23 time was not my best of course, but in snow and at altitude, I'll take it.  After coming home, I snagged a 17:44 at the local parkrun. So January was now clear.


Then I was asked by Paula J. to help her on her quest to better her indoor Masters record for Canada in the 5000m. Not being a track guy at all, I wasn't sure how much help I would be. But we ran side by side and got her to her goal and beyond with an 18:08.  My first track meet went well then it seems.


My run club held its AGM and elected 2 new board members. I feel really great about continuing to serve on the board and guide our fun group. Go BLTRunners!


I helped Luke MacDonald and friends organize another micro charity 5K fundraiser run in support of Team in Training (raising funds to combat Leukemia). The weather held on what was looking to be a bad day, and we had a great event.


And then February parkruns happened as well. I started the month with a 17:35 5K (meeting my goal) then ended with a 17:34 5K on super tired legs (then managed a 34 km run the next day). I am really happy with those numbers.  The BLTRunners also took over the parkrun one week as well, and the numbers swelled to 60 runners that day.

So yeah, it has been a decent start to the year and I am looking forward to what March and April bring. 

Saturday, January 4, 2020

2019 Year in Review

So I was away over the year end and didn't really have a moment to see how the year went for me.

January started with loads of training and a bunch of time on the Oval, speed skating and group skating. For once, I had no racing at all in January and that was to be the goal for the year, less racing with more chance for recovery for the big events. I had also become a Nuun Ambassador this season, a product I use frequently while training and travelling to replenish electrolytes.

The main goal was going to be the Bluenose 15km, but that wasn't until June, so I did need something to break apart the training regime. First up was the Frost Bite 5 Miler in February.


The day was actually really nice and not frosty at all. The course suited me well, with rolling hills. There were a few spots with some ice near the start, but ultimately it was perfect. The training had been going well, and I managed to finish first in 29:24. I showed up to this race with a good sized crew of BLT Runners as well, so it was fun cheering them on at the finish.


Following this was the Moose Run, 25km of non-competitive racing. I usually take this opportunity to pace someone and this time it was Sarah, who was running the first 8km of the relay option. She did great and then I finished the first half running and chatting with a few others before turning the remaining 12 km into a hard tempo effort, dropping my average pace on the way out  of 4:37 to a 4:14 avg in total. It was tough but fun.

Then I went to do a parkrun. I didn't really think much of these events to be honest. 5km, free, weekly timed events. I had nothing against them, but didn't see them fitting into my schedule very often.

I went to the first one (second parkrun) to pace Sarah again and we did well. I went to the next one with a goal of sub 18 minutes, something I try to get at least once a year for the past few years). It was hard due to the nature of the course, but I achieved it with a 17:48.


Next up I helped my buddy Luke organize a 5 km fun run fundraiser. I was able to run it and managed to do a great time again, then the next day following it up with a back to back great effort at parkrun. 17:53 then 18:03.  April finished with a 2nd place and sub 18 min effort on the MEC Citadel Hill 5 km race.

May was spent back at training, throwing in some m ore parkruns along the way as well. Then June hit and it was all racing all the time.

Things got kicked off with a rainy and frigid Duathlon in Shearwater. I was happy to see my 5 km race pace from the parkruns carried over to the duathlons, where I did my first run in 17:43. Ultimately I finished second overall with the fastest runs and faster overall.

I then hit my A race of the Bluenose 15km. The day before I paced the Bluenose 5 km for the 20 min or 4 min/km pace. Then show time and I took off with the top three runners. This race was going to be intense for me, holding a pace to start that was going to be much faster than my finishing pace. This course was heavy on the downhills to start, so I took advantage of that, pulling into a solo second place effort, running my fastest 10km pace ever for the first 10km, then eventually crossing the line second overall, first in Age Group and with a great effort of 56:33. I had hoped for a run in the 55 min range but maybe that was optimistic? Regardless I felt like that was the effort I had.



Next up was the Tire Trot 5 km race. I won that last year and came back to defend my title. I won again and ran a little faster. I think those parkruns were starting to really take hold. The best part of this race though was what I won:


June ended with the Baddeck Duathlon. The first 5 km portion of the duathlon is all hills and I mean really crazy big hills. I managed my fastest start to this race in the four years I have raced it, with a 18:14. My bike went well, even with my bike computer flying off and I came in to the second run in 5th place overall. I threw down some fast times (in fact the fastest run splits) and pulled out a third place finish against some of the fastest duathletes around. I felt really great. Always a fun event in Cape Breton.


 I trained on the trails in July and August and went over to PEI to compete in a 25 km trail race. It was super hard with constant rolling hills. I gave a good effort on a  hot and humid day but the finish result wasn't great due to someone removing the trail markers in the last few kilometers. Up until then I was second place overall. The top 6 runners fell prey to this sadly. But all in all a great effort on the trail. I also took this time to complete a full trail run on the Bluff Trail for my birthday. It was raining and muddy, I fell at least once and had a great time. I beat 3 hours and will be back next year to see if I can't do better.

Come September, I did a little bit of Race Directing for a Canicross event, then it was Rum Runners Weekend and another MEC race. In Rum Runners, our BLT Runner team placed well and I managed third place on my Leg 8 run. It was a hot day and the course had some fun hills. I paced out the 12.8km at 3:45 and had a decent cushion back to fourth.


The next day I showed up for a slightly cooler 10 km flat trail race. Again a third place, but a really good sub 37 minute 10km effort on really beat up legs proved that I had found some speed this year. And the BLT Runners won the Club challenge for the first time, which was great!



One final Duathlon in October, meant one more hard bike ride. A new to me course (I missed last year) turned out to be great, as it let me shine on the run with a 17:33 start to lead the group onto the bike. Eventually I feel to fourth, but fought back to third overall and an Age Group win in the end.

Next up was supposed to be a more casual bit of pacing at the Valley Harvest Half Marathon. Then a little less than a week before the run, I was asked to step up and pace Paula to a PB. Now, I find this to be a fast course, but it is hilly and there can be tough windy parts, but I did step up and we ran a 1:21, which truthfully, I was a little worried about doing. It was only 1 minute slower than my PB. But I guess, since I didn't race a Half this year, I may have been strong enough to pull something out under 1:20? Hard to say, but this day was Paula's.


As much as I wanted a rest, I had one more race to do. Flyin' Nutz 10 km trail race is a really tough event. I won it last year while getting lost (super twisty and turny) on a really rainy day. This day was snowy and cold. I won again, after getting lost, but also bettering my overall time from last year and taking the win only within the final kilometer of the race. Never give up.


I already posted about my race director duties. The Movember Run is always my biggest, but our micro "My Home Course" events were great as well.

I threw down more parkruns when possible and ended the year with 26 of them in total, one out in Boulder over Christmas. I managed numerous sub 18 minute runs on a tough course (all uphill in the second half) and I managed to snag a new PB in the 5 km at 17:19.

Now as January is here, back to some less intense stuff, more snowy events (I hope) and maybe some recovery, though knock on wood, I had no serious injuries all year and nothing that prevented me from being active.

I finished the year with 2643 km of running,  6356 km of biking and 262 km of other stuff (skating, swimming etc...). Let's bring on 2020. 

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

2019 - The Year of the Race Organiser

So I have been volunteering at events for awhile, helping out and over the last few year I also took on organising a charity race for Movember. This year I took it to a new level.

It started in December 2017 actually when Luke MacDonald noticed that donations to the Terry Fox Foundation were to be doubled (then tripled by Aerobics First). While giant charity events can be great things, Luke has been a big fan of the small event, someway for the individual to make a difference.

So Luke contacted me and asked how we could get some sort of event going. His idea was to take his local 5K run route and make it an event, then somehow get others to do the same. So the My Home Course Event  style of micro charity run/race was now well underway. 

I helped with the logistics of setting up the registration, the timing system, and the Facebook event page. We gave ourselves lots of lee time, with the event taking place in April.

This time around, I organised then got to take part. I had a great run on Luke's course as he lead me through the turns, while the Team in Training Crew helped volunteer as course marshals. It was a great small event. 



Our event rubbed off on Craig as he decided we had the perfect 5K home course right in our back yard on the BLT Trail. Taking the notion of a quick turn around for these events, we immediately started to organise with the help of Scott and Nicole. Less than a month after the first event, My Home Course was back, again raising money for the Terry Fox Foundation.

We brought in the concept of Chips and Timing as well (a nod to chip timing) offering  a bag of chips as runners finished. We had another great turn out, many from our own run club. This time I stepped up to Race Director as well.


Stepping away from the run scene, I also love cycling. I lead a group trail ride weekly all summer long. But for two years now, my friend Sheldon and I have gotten into event organising as we have put together a non competitive 65km Sportive ride. The event goal is to provide a safe ride for people that want to push their limits while keeping the cost low. Year 2 saw an increase in riders and great weather.


With little time to rest, I was also working on a more competitive Canicross event.  This event also saw an increase in participation as the growth of competitive harness dog sports continues in the Maritimes. I am really proud to be able to help grow this sport by hosting canine friendly events, and for this year we donated all proceeds to the Disaster Animal Response Team of Nova Scotia. 


The main event for me each year has to be the Movember Run. This is a slightly bigger event with a turn out of 100 runners, split between people only and canicross. This was our 8th year and we donated almost $3300 and over $23000 over the whole 8 years.  I am proud of the community support this event has continued to draw out and it is great working with my friend Mike in getting this event rolling each year. 



So with the main event over, I was ready for a rest. But can one truly ever get a rest? I received an email stating that Prostate Cancer Canada was having a donation matching month, with every dollar donated tripled by a National Labour Union. With little time to spare, I brought back Craig and we got a new My Home Course Event 5K up and running with some volunteer help from Nicole and Elizabeth. We did this one in a single week, and while the total donation amount isn't exactly known, we do know that we are directly responsible for over $1200 going to Prostate Cancer Canada.

The run went well, some runners pushing hard, others having a good fun run and chat. 




 So, with 2019 coming to an end, I just had to have a quick look back and I am really happy with the work I and my cohorts have accomplished this year. We got people active, we raised funds for charities, we offered opportunities for those that don't get to race or ride often with groups. We also hopefully have planted a seed in the form of micro charity events. Again, large events that bring in big sums with flair and excitement are great, but so much can also be achieved on the local level.





Sunday, November 10, 2019

Flyin' Nutz Trail Run 2019

Well the season ending race for me the last two years has been Flyin Nutz. This is a 10 (ish) km trail run near Halifax. The course is constant up and down with about 290 (ish) meters of elevation gain, almost all on single track with switch backs. It is hard to get an exact distance as GPS in the woods can be a bit of a guessing game some days.

Last year it was warm and rainy. This year we had sun. But in November sun often means cold and it certainly was. -2C with a decent wind when we arrived at sign in. Oh and it had snowed the night before.  Now the snow was minor, but it has it's own issues. It hides some tough footing on the trail and it makes roots and rocks really slippery.

Craig and I did a brief course recon / warm up for the first kilometer of the route and it didn't seem too bad. We headed back to the start, debated clothing choices, and then made our way to the start line.


Soon we were off. The start is a tough one with the route immediately funneling down to a narrow path. You need to get their quick if you want to take advantage of clear trail. I made it there first last year, second this year. Mike made it there first and we both tore up the tough 100m climb to get going. Once up, he was kind and let me by and I took off. This section is pretty flat, so it is a good time to get some speed in. Then another short but tough climb and the main single track begins. 

I pushed hard in this section and could feel the other runners breathing down my back. 


The first tricky section is really marked well and volunteers guide you through it all. The hard part is actually figuring out how close others are to you, due to all the switch backs that are short and tight. 

I had actually pulled out a small lead at this point and push hard to climb a hill and gain more advantage. Then it was sort of a head down tough section following this. Last year it was shortly after this point where I tan straight and missed a turn. Well I got through that section, then missed a turn and went straight in a new area. Lead was blown again. I actually laughed out loud but turned back and headed on again. This year I think I went about an extra 500m, but it was fast running and I wasted little time in pushing back. Still, I lost the lead and had no clue by how much.

I started to work my way back through the field (I think I fell to about 10th). This hurt as I was now running a little faster than I had hoped to. Soon I was coming up on the toughest section in the middle, tough due to the harsh decent and climb at the start and finish of it. I just passed what was third place and the two of us entered this section together. 


I could feel him right on my back for most of it, but I guess I pushed a bit and gaped him soon enough. I reached back to the crazy climb out of the lake side section and pushed to go up. Jodi said that the next runner had just crested this climb so I gave it a good go. 



Now I was running into the middle and back of the field as I worked my way back to the start.  I was gunning hard and finally found out I was actually in third (I was confused as to whether I was third or in third). Part of me said, whew, back on the podium and a clear trail behind you, so don't worry. Part of me said, giv'r. Part two was winning. 

I passed Dave and he said, the next runner was about 1.5 minutes ahead. That's a good chunk of time, but I figured, at least I would have a decent overall time if I kept pushing hard. No more power walks up the steep inclines, I need to keep going. I took some risks and then started to see flashes of blue up in the woods ahead. So now the reality of regaining second was there.

We started through the tight switch backs with around 2 kilometers to go and I was now seeing the ground between myself and second closing. The legs were not happy, the lungs hurt, but the heart was strong and telling me, let's do this.

I caught second finally and he was really decent again about letting me by. He tagged on and pushed along with me but I managed a small gap. Then with about 1 kilometer to go I caught 1st and passed to regain the lead. 

This section started with a super crazy down hill of about 200 meters which I went down in a  fairly uncontrollable, risky, but in my mind justified manner. The bottom I knew was fast (with a few tough rocky bits), so if I hit it quickly, I could take advantage of the burst of speed before second place could. Then soon I was out on the pipe line section and was able to really open up the stride. I finally looked back and saw a bit of empty space. Really at this point I just had to remain safe. But I wanted to get a fast time, so i pushed it a little more. 

I popped back into the woods one more time, then out into the open and to the finish line. Needless to say, I worked hard this year, way harder than last year and finished in 1:03, 1 minute faster than last year.

 


Thanks to NS Trail Runners for organizing this, thanks to the sun for coming out, thanks to the other runners who were really decent when a faster runner came upon them, and thanks to the BLT Runners who came out to compete and enjoy the run as well. It is best with a group. 




Thursday, October 17, 2019

Valley Harvest Half Marathon 2019 - Pacing Duty

So my race season was pretty much done with the Riverport Duathlon. It was time for a much needed rest after a lot of racing and hard Park Runs all year. Because so many BLT Runners were headed to the Valley Harvest marathon weekend, I had opted to join them in the form of a Pace Bunny with True North Pacing. The goal was a 1:35 half marathon, something I can do easily enough that i could chat and encourage runners as we ran, but also a pace that was fast enough to feel comfortable for me while running.

The week prior though, I got a request. A friend was really wanting to grab a new PB in the half and wanted a little help to do so.  The catch? It was a sub 1:22 Hmmm.

Well, some wrangling behind the scenes and we found a solid replacement for me as the 1:35 half pace bunny (thanks Bradley), we re-entered me as a runner in the half and I started my taper.  Also, let's be clear, I haven't raced a half this year and while I have been having a great season of racing, pacing out a half at a little more than 1 minute slower than my PB was going to be interesting.

Race day was here and I got up at 4:30 am to be driving our car load to Wolfville for a 7:45 am start. The weather was stunning (it had rained hard the day before) with the forecast showing overcast, low wind and temperatures around 10C. So now it was just up to the old legs to hold.



So after a brief warm up and some chatting we hit the start line. Paula (who I was pacing) seemed ready to go. She had trained really well, and seemed eager to get the show going. 


A solid looking line up for this half, with some fast people right behind as well, as I pointed out which way to go (I start my pacing duties even before the race it seems).


And soon we were off. It is always hard to control the pace of a race from the start. The adrenaline makes a super fast pace feel easy. I looked down after a few hundred meters and we were well above pace. The lead two runners were pulling even more ahead, but I started to ease things back a little bit. We crossed the first kilometer in 3:40. Way too fast, but really understandable and being flat, this would kill us later in the race. 

Soon we were on pace in the mid 3:50's and cruising along. The crowd of runners was still pretty big around us. As we started down the first major hill Paula wanted me to ease back a little bit, and I obliged as we began to figure out each other's running style. A few runners passed us, but we quickly repassed then on the next up. 




My goal, of course, was to stay as close to Paula as possible, while holding our pace at the goal of around 3:53. Part of this is done by adjusting pace to stay with the runner while also easing ahead just enough to pull them to give a little more effort. It is a delicate balance for sure. All the time focusing on the road ahead as well. So for me this meant really listening to Paula breathe and how her foot steps sounded. I have a tendency to push the uphills and so it became very important on this course with long gradual uphills to not overdo it. 

Eventually we seemed to figure this out with minimal communication verbally. We zoomed through the marathoners that had left prior to us, the subtle headwind keeping the temps and nice cool. As we approached the turn around we were well in third and fourth place (or actually both second place for female and male runners). Then as we turned, the wind went silent (tail wind!) and the temperature climbed a little. Still with the overcast skies it was great.

Now began a longish climb. We tackled it no problem, hanging out around a 4:00 min pace, dropping our average from 3:51 to 3:52. Then the downhill began. Valley is hilly for sure, but it is really a series of runnable hills, and this downhill section is fast. This section begins with a kilometer of steep downhill but is almost 3 km long in total and brought our average speed back down a bit. For the steepest part I let Paula run beside me, choosing her own pace, before zipping back in front of her as it lessened in pitch.

As we crossed the dike area (normally a place with a horrible headwind and leg strength sucking hill) it was great to still feel the wind at our back. We were closing in on the final stretch. My concern now was choosing a line to get Paula through as we started to run through the 10 km runners (whose race started after ours). The road is very wide, but I didn't want to waste too much effort weaving around, and luckily we got through easily (the runners were all very good at running consistent lines, which makes choosing your path much better).      

I am not going to lie. At this point I was slipping a bit mentally. I have run much faster paces this year, but not really for this length. If I had been running for placing, I probably would have looked behind me and saw that I had a decent lead and eased up a bit. But I was running for two (that sounds weird) so quickly dug myself out of that rut and pushed us along the road to home. 



I was watching the distance drop and soon we were within the final kilometer. I counted down in an effort to spur Paula along with track like distances hoping to mentally change this from along distance event to a track event in our minds. We hadn't really discussed the finish, but her coach Derek was on hand and yelled out for her to keep push hard to keep on my tail. So I pushed harder to drag her along the track at Acadia to the finish. I also was clearing the path again, though the 10 km runners were still great at avoiding us. 

We crossed the line well under 1:22 and only 2 seconds apart. I saw pictures of Paula's stride at the finish and she was giving a great effort. We crossed the line at a 3:20 pace by my watch. More importantly we crossed the line at 1:21:32 for a 3:52 avg. We both finished in second place for female and male, third and fourth overall and both won our age group. So, yeah, that was successful.




That was great work for Paula. She had the speed that morning. I'm glad I did as well. The run felt great overall and physically I was there no problem.  I have paced a few fast runners before, but usually my longer distance pacing is a much more casual affair for me.  

After a breather and a water, I grabbed my True North Pace Bunny shirt and hat and went back out to find some BLT Runners. I lead Amanda, Jacquelynn and Elizabeth home. They all had great runs, as did many other BLT Runners.  All in all, a great day of running. 

Okay, now I get to rest? Ha ha. 


Oh and a little analysis? The red line (top) is my heart  rate, pegged at around 171 the whole race and the pink line is my cadence. Pretty smooth.