Tuesday, January 17, 2017

2017, Speed Skating and Race 1

Race 1 of 2017 was supposed to be the MEC Winter PPP race. Sadly it was postponed as a big snow storm came rumbling through the night before and made it too dangerous to get out. The race isn't canceled though, so in a few weeks we will try again.

Instead my first race this year was on the speed skating oval. The local clubs host weekly races, sometimes serious affairs and other times, like this past week, more of a relaxed fun time. These races are more practice races for the top end athletes and a chance for us casual skaters to try out what we are made of.

I signed up for the 500m and the 3000m. The style ended up being Olympic style (head to head) for the 500 and a mass stray for the 3000 (due to time constraints).

First up was the 500m, which is a lap and a straight away in length with a cross over half way through the lap. They are strict about the starting procedure, which is fun to go through. You also have to give it your all and not just race the person lined up with you as the final results are made from your time alone, not how you did in just your race. One shot and you are done.

So I lined up with James and we were soon off, with a bit of a running start to get speed in to the legs and quickly we were in the first corner.

I was totally up to speed and with James the whole first bit, but ultimately my lack of cornering ability really slowed me down and by the time we hit the final corner James pulled ahead. I pushed on the final straight and wound up with a time of 58.75. I'll have to see how that compares with last year, but I haven't been on the skates that much this year. I ended up 9th out of the 25 skaters that started (there weer 5 DNS's).

Time passed and it was almost 3000m time. The wind had really picked up and it got much colder. Being a mass start there were 6 people in my race. We got off to a start (I was in the second row) and I was keeping up with the main pack. A bobble ahead of me lead to a bobble from me and I lost quite a bit of momentum. I picked it back up and was able to stay with a couple of other racers for a bit, but by the half way point my legs were screaming and I couldn't hold a big stride anymore. I was lapped once and ended up last in my heat, but 9th out of 19 skaters that started. My time was 7:27:68.

All in all a fun, but tough morning of racing. Can't wait for more.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016 Year in Review

As the year comes to a close I have just finished a crazy day of skating and running. 20km on the Halifax oval to kick off speed skating season and 13 km of running to finish out the year and the week. I'll admit that has tuckered this boy out.

So how was 2016? In general, pretty darn good. Some great highs, horrible lows and loads of other goodness as well.

The year started with my first real season of speed skating. I logged many laps at the oval, having joined the Nova Scotia Masters. That lead to some fun racing, a few falls, and a some great fun and new friends. Did I become a great skater? Nope. Did I win races? Not really. But it was a great new experience and I am so glad I took it up. The only sad thing was not having a full season to compete in as the winter was so mild they had to shut the oval down at the end of February.

Throughout the winter I really upped my game when it came to swimming. Still not the great crazy amount that some swimmers hit, but for me, I made it to the pool a minimum of twice a week and really put in a solid effort. I was hitting 6000m a week, but of solid good swimming, some endurance work and some speed work I also spent some time with my chiropractor to help free up my shoulder, which was always holding me back in a  lot of things in life. As the summer approached I switched as much as possible to swimming outdoors, usually in Chocolate Lake. There I was lucky to often be joined by my friends Craig and Mark, which was great. As the water warmed up I even stopped using the wetsuit and got in some of the longest outdoor swims of my life, well over 2500m at a time. What did this mean? 2 of my 3 triathlons ended up having great swims. 27 minutes for an Standard/Olympic distance triathlon is a okay in my books. The one bad swim, well that just sucked. In the end I had just over 103 km of swimming.

This year my cycling took a back seat. I wasn't commuting to work via bike but I did try to get a decent ride in each week. Plus my usual easy paced group rides, which are fun, but more of a recovery session for me.   I had 4809 km of cycling, from easy paced to race, and even started a cyclocross club with some friends. And this November I managed to finally race in a cyclocross race. It was cold, wet, windy, muddy and snowy. All the best things rolled into one.

Running? Ah, running. Such big plans, many good results but also 2 sidelining injuries. My goal was to focus on 5 and 10km runs and things were going well. I won the first 2 races I entered. I was in the final prep work for the Bluenose 10km race when my first injury hit. Achilles tendentious. I was off running for 2 weeks, then managed to start to work back up to running thanks to physio. By the time the race came I managed to feel confident in doing well, but was unsure of my goal time of getting under 37 minutes. Ultimately I didn't achieve that goal, clocking in at a high 37 minute run. While the time wasn't great I did win my age group, came in 7th overall and won entry into next year's race. And that was my season. Great build session, then a nagging injury, followed by good come backs but never able to get that top end speed I so wanted. I won a few other races, including Leg 2 of the Rum Runners Relay, so I can't be too unhappy altogether. Low point? Walking the final leg of my final season duathlon (booo). High point? Coming back the next week to take 3rd place overall in the hilly 5K race in Shubie, the place where I hurt my IT Band weeks before.

Total running mileage for the year? 1865 km. Not bad for having to take close to 5 weeks off from running during the year.

Multisport had some great moments as well. Duathlons went well. No wins, but a second and 3rd overall with some great runs and an almost points championship. I ended up in second overall as I had to walk that final run of the final race. Still, I put up a good fight.

In triathlon I opted to race longer, doing the standard distance races. The first 2 went really well. Great swims, good bikes and awesome runs. I manged to keep all my 10km runs under 40 minutes. My 1 bad race still wasn't too bad. The swim went horribly, meaning I was so far behind exiting the water I thought it was all over. But a really good bike ride and a great run brought me right back. Not the way I wanted to finish the year overall, but still I felt pretty good.

Now for less selfish reasons. Two big big big highlights for me this year? First was helping to start the BLT Runners running club. What we thought would be a good idea, turned into a great idea. Starting in June we managed to really gather members as it turns out that the BLT Trail is a true nexus for runners in this area and in neighbouring areas. We focus on the social aspect of running, with recovery runs, coffee runs and occasionally a wing night run. With the addition of coached speed work session this winter, we are starting to grow our group and grow some serious runners as well.  Check out the website http://bltrunners.com/

And finally, my Movember charity run was once again a success. Our best year yet with a great donation to men's health issues. The race went smoothly, it sold out and we couldn't have been more happy. And there was coffee and cake. Next year will be awesome!

So 2016, how was it? Great. I've added to my group of friends, I've found fellow runners ans cyclists and swimmers to train with, and my sporting life got a little more social. Bring it 2017.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Cyclocross Action - Time to Get Real

Finally, I had a moment to take a break this month for just plain old fun. Painful, nasty, messy fun.

The final race of the local cyclocross series was taking place and I had a free day. Of course being my first proper race it just had to be the worst kind of day, or in cyclocross world, an awesome day.

The temperature was freezing (as in zero), it was snowing, then raining, then snowing and the wind was extremely gusty. As the ground wasn't frozen due to the nice day we had the day before, that also meant the ground was actually muddy. But I had been waiting all season to finally get a chance to race and couldn't pass things up.

I had prepped my bike the night before, finally mounting my new Clement tires, and adding a little extra lube to the chain and pedals. When I awoke the next morning I knew I was in for a treat.

I arrived on site and was happy to see quite a few other racers. I paid my entry fee and got my bike and myself ready.  I took 2 practice laps and then headed back to the car for final prep. Soon we were all on the line to start.
There I am, way at the back

Soon we were off, though in cyclocross that isn't always as explosive as it sounds. We were on slush and snow and mud and going slightly uphill, so it took a bit to get the confusion going. Still I managed to get on and start riding and not get too caught up in others.

I passed a few riders initially and then settled into a pack.

And then the crappy thing happened. I stumbled getting off my bike due to a chain reaction back up and my chain came off. It only took a few second to get it back on, but I lost a few places I had worked to get. So back at it I went.

The rest of the race was circuits of the crazy muddy mess, which included quite a few dismounts for obstacles, or treacherous downhill corners. I passed a few more people, fell off once going around a corner, cut my leg (just a little) and generally couldn't breathe a lot.  The only thing I hated was that my pedals filled with snow and that froze to ice and I could get clipped in. So on the bumpy course it was hard to maintain total control and often I couldn't really pedal as hard as I wanted to.

Finally I passed the start finish line and was told, final lap. I pushed hard to pass a couple of more riders and finally brought it home. I manged to get 7 laps compared to the leaders 8 laps which was fine in my book. I finished 8th out of 13 in my age group and 35th our of 46 for men. It took me a little more than 50 minutes (45 minutes plus a lap) to complete the journey.

Then the aftermath!

Still smiling

That's why I couldn't clip in

It is amazing what a bucket of hot water will do to help this situation

So what a baptism by fire. I loved it and can't wait to get some more riding in soon and some racing next season. Many parts of me are tired and sore now, but it was totally worth it.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

MEC Race 5, 2016 - Shubie Park 5 km

My final race of the year as far as running goes, and truthfully had I not paid for this in advance I probably would have stopped at my last race. I have the end of a cold and I am still rehabbing my IT Band issues. Luckily the cold is mostly gone and the IT Band has been behaving well. I have even managed a few pain free runs over the last week and a half, though still some tightness. But the physio and work I am doing is making things progress really well and I knew I wouldn't hurt myself by dropping down and doing the 5 km race today.

Yesterday was windy, warm and really wet, and I opted not to run the annual BLT 5K fun run to save my knee. Instead I was the bike marshal and had a blast cheering others on. This day was a bit drier but so much cooler and very windy. I knew the cooler temps were going to be great during the run, but they always suck at the start.

Eventually the half marathon was off and we lined up for the 5 and 10 km race. Having not run hard or fast for any distance in awhile I didn't know how well my lungs would be able to survive this race, but hey, what better way to find out, ha ha.

Soon we were off and I quickly tucked in behind Drew, knowing he was probably going to take the lead. I didn't think I would be able to hang with him too long, but getting dragged to a bit of a lead over the rest of the runners in the first kilometer would be handy.

At about 1 kilometer in a new player passed us both and I fell to third. My breathing was getting worse, but I was able to manage it. Looking back into my Garmin data I see that my average heart rate was 173, which explains the breathing. That is mid Zone 4 for me.  Regardless of the breathing my hip and knee were feeling just fine at this point, though I knew the big downhill was coming.

Kilometer 2 through the turn around turned out to be a crazy mess. An entire area was flooded out so that meant running uphill through a nice little river. Nothing feels better than soaked feet. 

I hit the turn around still in third, right behind Drew and had a hint of a lead over 4th place. No time to rest now!

I managed to keep on Drew until about the last 500 m of the race. He had a little kick left and started to pick up speed.  I managed to hold my pace as we approached the finish line.

I crossed the line a few seconds behind Drew for third place in a time of 18:47. It was a tough run, but I made it through. No pain in the knee or hip either. And as I type this many hours later, all is good. So I am definitely on the mend.  It was nice to finish the season with another medal, even if I wasn't at my best I still had a little oomph in the engine.

It was also a privilege as well to cheer on my fellow run club members, a few of whom we got to snap some finish line shots with.  And that banana was great. Thanks also to Christine from MEC for putting on a great race series.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Riverport Duathlon 2016

Another week and another trip down the south shore of Nova Scotia. This time to Riverport for the season ending duathlon. I do love this race, rain or shine, though shine is so much nicer. This day was, rain though. And a cold rain it was.

I arrived early and got myself setup. I knew that my knee was feeling much better from the weekend before, but I doubted it was up to a full on challenge this day. I figured I could get a decent first run and probably get through the bike ride no problem but it would be the second run that would likely get me.

Due to the weather I opted to dress warmly, and due to the knee I thought I might as well wear the heavier shoes with a little more support in them. I doubted this would make a huge difference, but still, any little extra bit might help.

After the race briefing we were lined up and then we were off on the first 4 km run. 

This run is really flat, which would help my knee. I quickly secured myself a spot in the top 3, though the top 2 runners went out much faster than I would be able to sustain. Still I was happy when I cross the first kilometer at 3:21 minutes. My knee felt fine and I was able to hold the pace. But as the first stint wore on, my overall lack of fitness was obvious. Not having done any real training in the last 5 weeks was starting to take it toll. With 1 kilometer to go I was passed and fell to fourth. Still I was happy to finish in 14 minutes heading into transition 1. Then it was a quick change of shoes, don the helmet and off on the bike. 

Again, no biking except for some easy rides in 5 weeks and I knew I would be sunk here. I pushed hard but was soon passed by a few riders. This is a 28 kilometer course with loads of hills, and the deep puddles were hiding some mean pot holes. So it was a bit of  a fun ride. The rain was cold and my feet were feeling it, I should have covered the vents in my shoes.  By the end of the ride I had fallen to 12th, then to add insult to injury (ha ha) I got stuck behind a slow moving car coming into town. I dismounted and headed to transition 2. The bike took me 49 minutes.

This was it make or break time. Normally I could count on at least a burst of run speed to help me claw back a few positions at this point. My feet were frozen and soaked, but that usually isn't an issue on such a short run. But then at the 200m mark, my knee seized up. I started slowing down. My normally nice gait became a hobble and I was passed by a few more runners. I didn't give up as I knew this was not a permanent type issue that was being made worse. 

I made it to the finish line still holding onto 16th place overall, and still managed an 18:20 final run for 1:23 time overall. As I finished and stopped my leg decided it didn't want to hold me up any longer, but I managed to get inside to get it rested before the drive home. Luckily I brought warm dry clothes, and the Riverport Duathlon committee did a great job of providing some hot food for us.

I hated to not be able to give this race my best as it is one of my favorites and it is the last of the year.  What has been a season of highs and lows continued and with one race left in two weeks, I am totally excited about having a rest and getting my full strength back.  For now, back to physio.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Rum Runners, MEC and Bare All for the Barre - Whew, 2016

So finally getting around to writing up last weekend's crazy fullness. Three events, three different results.

The first thing that happened was Rum Runners Relay. This is a 110km 10 leg relay race along Nova Scotia's South Shore to Lunenburg. This year I had to switch teams as my regular team wasn't running. Now I was on Oxford @ 8's team Classic Rummies. This team included some really great local runners and even 800m specialist and Olympian Geoff Harris.

My leg this year was Leg 2. A mere 2 km from my front door, this was a great chance to run a familiar route that I have gone over many times. It is 8.3km long and for the most part flat.  I met with my team mates for the first time and got bibbed up (I actually wore 2 of our team bibs in case the next leg's runner couldn't find our captain).

Now I must say I was still a little nervous as my knee and IT band aren't great. I had rested it all week and did my physio, but went in with a big question mark.

From the start my plan was to head out and try to hang with the top guys and see how things went. Immediately a group of three of us broke clear and took off. The pace wasn't too bad, my knee felt fine (a little stiff) so I decided to hang in there. Eventually the second place runner started to drift back and when the gap to the leader hit about 10 feet I decided I better bridge that gap. By 2 km it was a two person battle. Not wanting to push my knee any harder than I had to, I decided to hang with the leader. I knew nothing about him as a racer but he was running fine and not breathing heavy so a challenge early on didn't seem like a good idea. And truthfully a second place finish considering my problems would have been just fine.

We stayed that way until about the 7.5 km mark. The pace had started to drift lower a bit and soon the finish line was in sight off in the distance. Not wanting to hit an all out sprint near the line, I decided to pick up the pace and see what I could do (also we had a large lead over third by now so it was worth the risk). I pushed off and headed to the finish. I guess ultimately the leader had no gas left in the tank as I surged ahead and took the win. My first at a Rum Runners relay and quite frankly unexpected. I knew I had some speed but a win is awesome. I finished in 30:33 for an average pace of 3:41 min/km. Overall I won by 5 seconds. My team would go on to win one more leg (8 with Geoff Harris) and finish 4th overall. Great stuff and glad I was able to help with that placing.

Sadly I have no pictures.

Event 2 was the MEC race. I had planned on racing the 10km race, but as I arrived my knee was so tight from the day before that I knew that was not going to happen. I dropped down to the 5km race and went out for a warm up. By the end of the warm up I knew that was it. Still, this was the team event and I showed up to support my team, so I walked the 5 km race and finished 44th out of 56 people. A far cry from the day before, but life is highs and lows and I was happy to watch my team mates get great results in their race and really show the BLT Runners colours.

Finally on Sunday night I took part in the 3rd annual and my second Bare All For the Barre fundraiser for Prostate Cancer Canada. Essentially is is a giant Barre class (you'll have to look it up) with hand weights, balls and while normally in a nice dance studio, this time in an open warehouse space. This was 45 minutes are rather fun and totally hard (especially for wounded runners)  barre class. In the end $23,000 was raised for Prostate Cancer Canada Atlantic which is so great and so totally in keeping with my up coming race in November, the Halifax Movember Run. Check out the video and pictures at the Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/bareallforthebarre/?fref=ts . It was great, and the follow up of beer and tacos could not be beat. Please think about joining in next year.

But just a little rest as this coming weekend in the final duathlon of the year in Riverport. Sadly I won't be in top shape, but hopefully the IT Band exercises and stretching will help speed things along and I will be able to complete the race without too much discomfort.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Maritime Race Weekend - Pace Bunny Duty 2016

With so much racing lately, I decided that it was time to scale back and not push it on another weekend. This freed me up to help some fellow runners at Maritime Race Weekend, the site of some former glorious runs.

I opted for the 45 min 10k pace bunny spot this year, rather than the half marathon I have done at other races. Turns out this was a good idea as my knee has been a pick tender since last weekend's triathlon. A 4:30 pace would allow me to run, chat and encourage others.

Unlike other races, this one mixes the 5, 10 , half and full into one start, so I wasn't sure how many 10 k runners were actually running with me. At about 3 km in the 10, half and full turn up a steep little climb. By this point I was left with a handful of people near me and most were in the 10K.

By the top of the hill as we found our turn around and headed back down I was left with Kim and we ran together for the next bit. She was running well and just hoping to keep things in the 45 min zone. I ran and kept her in the right pace zone. Soon though we reached the 6.5 km mark and she obviously had some gas in the tank. I encouraged her to keep the slightly faster pace and off she went. I was a proud bunny. But at this time we passed another woman and she was trying her best but I could see needed that extra bit of encouragement to keep her pace up. With no one else around I managed to run the next 3.5 km with her, gently pushing and pulling her along, keeping the pace up on the slight rises pressing the pace a touch on the downs.

We passed a lot of 5k runners (who did a great job of keeping a path open for faster runners) and soon we were at the finish. I got her to pick it up and soon she crossed the line well ahead of the 45 min on the timer clock. That was great. I held back and popped across the line at 44:53.  All told a great day.

Working on the knee now, hope to have it back to full strength for next weekend with a bunch of activities coming up.