Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Michelin Tire Trot 5K - 2019

Well another weekend another race. Back to the Tire Trot in Bridgewater. Last year we decided to go down to the 5K trail race for some fun out of town. Quite a few BLT Runners attended. Once again, the BLT Runner hit the town in full force, probably double the number from last year.

This is a 5K on a crusher dust trail with some switchbacks and ups and downs. Not the slowest course, but also not the fastest. It was my only sub 18 min 5K last year and I won last year as well. So back I came, hoping my legs were recovered to give a good go at getting into the 17:30's.

The weather was bright and sunny and way too warm. But it was 5K so you just deal with it. Luckily the course is quite shaded, so the heat on the actual course isn't as bad.

Craig D and I went out for an easy 3km warm up and course scout. As Craig hadn't run it before I wanted him to see the switch back, the tight areas etc... Then it was back to watch the kids race and finally line up for our race.

Knowing the layout, I knew to get to the start asap. From the gun, I took the lead and headed out. I knew to make up time in that first kilometer as the rest of the race is pretty tough. I hit the first kilometer at 3:20.

It seems that almost the whole race is slightly up hill after kilometer 1. I pushed hard through to the turn around and started back where you find a little relief in a moderate downhill section, though you also have to run through the crowd behind you a bit. Luckily everyone was really good about making sure I didn't get blocked. The tight nature of the course and the large crowd made it so that I managed to run by people until kilometer 4 before finding some alone time.

Really, it turned into a race of holding on. The up hill just gets worse towards the end and my legs were just tired from 2 weeks are hard racing. I pulled a decent lead out, but still wanted a good result. I pushed through to the finish in 17:53. Not exactly were I hoped to be, but it was what I had.

As I crossed line a nice little kid handed me a piece of paper which had this on it:

So that was really cool. Even cooler than the nice medal they give out.

5Ks have been my thing this year and I have had some great results, but soon I will be needing a bit of a rest I think. Well after this coming weekend anyway.

Thanks to Tim Chesnutt for snapping some great pictures. His races are coming up soon (Epic).

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Bluenose Marathon Weekend 2019

So it was Bluenose Marathon Weekend in Halifax. This year it was moved back into June due to some conflicts and after seeing rain for what seems like an appropriate amount of time to consider Ark building, we finally got some sun.

Sun is great when it comes to standing around at the start and walking back to your car afterward, oh and hanging out on the deck post race. Sun during the race can be tough. We hadn't done much training in heat, and there was very little breeze or shade on course. So we all knew that it would make things a little tougher. Still, it could have been much worse. 

My first duty on the weekend was as a Pace Bunny for True North Pacing in the Saturday 5K. I was picked to pace the 20 min 5K. Usually pacers don't pace at these faster speeds, but I know what it was like trying to crack 20 min on a 5K and I knew this wouldn't affect my race the next day, so I was really happy to do this.

I lined up near the front but not on the front row and soon was swarmed by runners and from what I could tell within the first 300m, falling backwards to probably 60th place or more. Of course this is the usual exuberance of a 5K race and I was soon casually running by people. As I expected a decent crowd had gathered around me, many of whom were young kids from a variety of local running clubs. This was great. 

Part of my role as a Bunny is to hold pace, but also encourage and talk to the runners to help them keep their mind off of the toughness of the race. As a coach I also tried to remind them of proper running posture and arm swing. 

It was great fun and there were quite a few runners near me (both ahead and behind) as I crossed the line. A few thanked me, and that was great. I ended up 33rd overall. For a local race that is amazing to see so many runners in the sub 20 world.

I used my Brooks Launch on that run and they were a great choice, offering me just enough cushion but still felt peppy at a faster pace.

The next morning it was time for me to race and I had chosen the 15K this year. As it turns out I am really glad I did. Sunday was even warmer than Saturday and with the longer distances I knew it was going to be tougher. My goal was a 3:44 pace or under.

As the weather was nice, standing around was easy to do, so we got to the start a little earlier than the last couple of years. I lined up with a few other runners I know and soon we were off.

The Half and Full marathon had a 20 minute head start on us, but due to their course taking a different route at the start, we soon caught up with the back of the pack. I was in third at this point and had drifted slightly off of lead two. My goal though was to run my pace and not worry about placing. I mean we always hope for a good placing, but you have to run what you can.

We worked our way through the crowd as we approached the North End of Halifax, and sought all the shade we could. Soon I ran by a cheer squad that some of the BLT Runners had set up. It was great and I felt pretty good at this point.  We were now about 5K into the race and I was below pace time by a little.

The first 10K of this course is pretty fast and I knew I had to take advantage of that, though without going too hard. I was always going to lose a little time in the last 5K. 

Just before kilometer 7, I managed to catch up to Neil in second. He had been running well, but I guess pushed a little too hard (he had also run really well the day before) and drifted back from first. I decided not to play any games, stick to the plan and pushed on. If Neil could stick to me, then that was fine. Turns out he didn't.

This was the big downhill section, so I managed to pass a lot of other runners from the half and full. Then as we hit the bottom of the hill we were forced into this very narrow section. I had a few choices, but opted to run on the gravel off to the side. Not the fastest route or surface, but the smart choice.

Certainly weaving through the crowd wasn't the greatest but generally I was able to run the line I wanted to.

I hit the 10K mark and my Garmin registered a time of 36:58. So that was my fastest 10K time ever.

Now it was time to suffer. The heat was building and the uphill portion began. First was a steep climb up to Young Ave, then a quite out and back and on to South Park which is a gradual climb until almost the end of the race.

I was now all alone. First place wasn't too far away but certainly not close enough to push for and really, based on my heart rate data, I was at the limit. Third place was far enough behind that i could have eased a bit, but really, who wants to do that.

Every time my watch beeped, I was so happy another kilometer was done. Then the huge downhill of Cogswell was upon me. I ran done hard, mentally getting ready for the final climb to the finish line.

This was tough, and lonely. I have never been on the stretch of street in this race without a crowd around. Here I was in second overall and it was just me. That felt odd and fun. Lots of cheering and crowd support as I pushed hard to the finish.  I came across the line in 56:33. I had fallen short of my goal by a second a kilometer, but I know the weather played a small part in that. You have to race smart on the day you are given. And again, my heart rate data proved, I was at the limit. 

It turns out I was fastest in the top three in that last section. Was I just pushing harder or had first place settled in to a pace based on his knowledge of the gap? Hard to say. But I am happy to know that was the hardest part and that I wasn't settling. I pushed that gap down from almost a minute to 30 seconds and pushed the gap to third to 1 minute.

After the race it was time to chat with fellow friends and BLT Runner members. Some had PB days, other had fun days other lent their services to pacing duties. 

So I was second overall and top Male in the 40-45 Age Category. I won this fancy cutting board.

I am really happy with my performance, my training and my placing. Sure I wish I could have paced a little faster, but the heat and the solo running make it tougher. I need a pace bunny I guess.

Thanks to the support of the BLT Runners and Aerobic First and all the volunteers that make these events doable.

On this run I wore my New Balance 1500v2. I think it was the right choice. My feet were happy at least.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Navy Trident Duathlon 2019 - The Wet One

 So Duathlons are not known to be wet. That's triathlons. We don't swim in our events, but we might as well have this year at the Shearwater race.

Like last year the air was a bit chilly and the wind was high (bad enough to ban disk wheels). But alas that wasn't  enough and shortly before our race started we had the rain come down. And it was hard at times.

Still, we hardy duathletes headed out to the start line. The race was a 5K run, 20K bike ride (a bit short) and a final 2.5K run. The runs were pretty flat and both used the same course. The bike ride was crazy hilly and twisty, though the same course we have used before.

As soon as the race started I took off with the goal of not only placing well, but also getting the fastest runs. The other guys are pretty darn fast on the bike, though I will admit I put in some extra efforts this winter on the trainer.

It was a strong headwind running out and we did the 2.5K course twice to make 5K. I held the lead the whole way, but was impressed that Colin managed to stay so close to me. We both finished sub 18 minutes and for me that was quite something. I had never done that to start a duathlon before, though based on my Park Runs, it was not totally a shock. I crossed the line in 17:43.

To the bike and as usual I managed to get through transition pretty fast. I was off onto the bike and held the lead for quite a bit, finally getting passed by Colin early in lap 3 of the 4 laps.  I was really struggling with the head winds, but managed to get in some great efforts with the tail winds and also on the climbs. The wet roads didn't really seem to be an issue, though I was very cautious on one 180 degree turn.  I was waiting to get passed by Greg and Kevin, though only Greg did and that was right near the end of lap 4, after which I managed to pass him back right near the end. I was really impressed with my effort and finished the bike in second place with the 3rd fastest bike split (the actual time is off due to my Garmin getting messed up but it was around 32 km/hr.

To the run and this is where I finally noticed the cold. My hands were so cold from the bike that I had issues getting my helmet off and when I did get my sneakers on and stat on the course, I couldn't feel my feet at all. It was probably 1 km before I did.

Colin had built a lead of about a minute on the bike and I had work to do. I pushed hard and really started to gain on him. Sadly the 2.5K course just wasn't enough. I did end with the fastest second run in a time of 9:22 but I missed catching him by about 16 seconds. Still I was really happy. Faster than last years and in what I would call worse conditions.  All those tempo runs and time on the bike trainer have helped a lot I think.

A wet but happy Ian

So second overall and first in age group. This year the Duathlon passed out age group medals. But I was most happy for the hot shower.

I like a good solid top group at the races and this didn't disappoint. The top 5 were all pretty tough competitors. We all beat the weather and came out to tell the tale.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

MEC Race #1 - Citadel Hill, 2019

So I hadn't intended to run the Citadel Hill MEC race this year. Not that I haven't enjoyed it in the past and not because I haven't done well at it, but just because I didn't feel drawn to it for some reason. But the fates dictated I would be back. A couple of weeks ago we Nuun Ambassadors in Canada got an email stating we could get a free MEC race entry. So here I was again.

I think part of the reason I wasn't really drawn to racing this event was that I felt like I had given it my best runs in the past. My goal is focused on other races as well, so I didn't really want to push my focus away from my training and in reality, my legs are toast from training and doing Park Runs, so I knew I couldn't give 100%. Still, with free entry and a bunch of my running club members going, I figured it would be a decent training run anyway. It is always easier to push harder in a race than when training solo.

The weather was decent this year, one of our few non rainy Spring days. The sun was sort of out, though the wind was cold and gusty. I did a small warm up to check out the route (it changes yearly due to construction issues) and then waited for the start. 

I selected to race the 5km, as I also wanted to get a good solid training run in later that day and knew that I could recover from this one. Our race started 5 minutes after the 10km. 

Soon we were off and I ran with the lead pack. I lead for the first kilometer or so before being over taken. I then regained the lead after about 2 kilometers and then lost to again around kilometer 3. We ran up and down the hill a lot. Almost 90 meters of climbing in 5k is tough on the legs.  

By the end of the first lap it was just us in the top 2 running together.  The crowd wasn't an issue, though running tangents was tough with various speeds of runners around coming and going and the bottle neck of running up a small uneven stair case through a tunnel (I loved that bit and managed to not get stuck behind a crowd both times through).  

I fell back a few seconds from first and knew after 4 km in that the gap was likely to hold as I didn't not have any sort of kick in me that day. I pushed through hard and finished in 17:19, 5 seconds off the lead. Now I wish that was a legit 5km time for such a tough course, but it was 200m short give or take. So I will have to be just as happy with my 3:39 min/km average pace on those hills with beat up legs that didn't want to run. I think that with a little less crowd to deal with being able to run sub 18 on that course would be completely doable for me.

So the training is coming along great. I am well in sub 18 minute 5km territory now, I have been pushing the speed in training but trying my best to deal with any lingering aches and tired muscles. I am surely much more tired and worn out these days than in previous years of training, but I also know that my May will be busy outside of sports and will be used far more for maintenance and race prep than outright speed training.

Perhaps a few more Park Runs will be in order over the coming weeks (last weekend was cancelled due to a fierce storm).

I switched back to the Brooks Launch for this race and still haven't taken out my racing shoes yet this season either. The Launch are a bit heavy but quite supportive and I thought would be ideal for the hills.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Shoe Review - Saucony Freedom ISO 2

So last week I was at a Saucony demo session and I won a pair of their Saucony Freedom ISO 2. I decided to wear them all week and put them through a variety of runs to see how I felt about them in general and where they will end up in my shoe rotation.

First off, I had two colour options if I wanted to walk away with shoes that day (thanks Aerobics First for having the event and for spotting me shoes from your shelves). My option was black or ViZiRed / Black. I opted for the ViZiRed version as nothing says fast like red.

The basics. This is considered a neutral shoe, so it doesn't have any support for pronation issues. I usually run in neutral shoes, so this works well for me. It has been awhile since I have used Saucony (they discontinued a previous shoe I loved), so I will confess I don't know the difference that well from pre ISO models and the newer ISO and ISO 2 models. The drop on this shoe is 4mm. The outer / upper is a new knit construction, which apparently shaves weight.

Okay, so how was week 1? Well I did 2 easy runs of approximately 40 minutes each (one was hills), 1 interval track session (10x400), a 5km race and warm up/cool down and a long run of a little over an hour.  So that that ticks all the boxes it seems.

This shoe has more cushion than the other shoes in my current rotation and by that I mean noticeable cushioning. It is what I consider a plush shoe. You feel the extra little bounce. That doesn't seem to make it less responsive though, as the intervals went fine and the 5K race I did helped me set an early season PB of 17:47. Usually I consider "bouncy" shoes to be not my go to shoes.

Weight. Well my other current trainer is the Brooks Launch and when I look at the specs they both come in within a few grams of each other around 255g. That being said, the Freedom "felt" a little heavier. Since it isn't, I assume it the bounce versus more firm feeling of the Brooks. Again, this didn't seem to affect my training or racing and my long run on steep hills was fine as well. As I am training for 15km races currently, I won't be putting longer distances in yet, so I won't know how these fair after say 1.5 hours or more.

The heavier feeling may also actually come from switching from 8mm to 4mm drop. I know that sounds odd, but I have felt this before switching to lower drop shoes. If that is the case, I expect that feeling to disappear quickly.

Shoe construction seems really nice. The knit is stretchy but keeps the foot in place. The colour is wonderful and there seem to be many options.

My big thumbs up goes too the laces. Seriously. The laces tie and don't have to be double knotted. I can't say this happens for many shoes and me.

So, a positive thumbs up over all. Where will this shoe fit in my rotation? Easy runs for the most part I think. The EVERRUN foam seem to give a little extra cushioning that will be great on recovery runs, easy hill nights and probably slower paced long runs.

Edited add on May 5, 2019

So I do have another thing to add. While the knit construction is really nice, the mesh is very open at the toes. When running in wet conditions (not puddles, just wet pavement) you socks will instantly get soaked as the spray comes up and over your toes. Other shoes I have seem to employ a tighter weave near the toe and this slightly more tight weave seems much better at keeping toes dry in mildly wet conditions. So maybe this isn't my wet day shoe.

Monday, April 15, 2019

A Weekend of Wins

Okay, so it wasn't a weekend of big races but a couple of low key fun races. But it was a good weekend of achieving goals. 

We started out Friday with a good romp on the #MyHomeCourse 5K charity run, raising over $2000 for the Terry Fox Foundation. The weather was great, the course hard with hills and twists, but I managed a course record and another early season sub 18 min 5km with a 17:53. I won the run too, but it was that time that made me happy.

Less than 24 hours later and I was racing another 5km run with the local Park Run. Only it was cold, windy and rainy. I managed an 18:03 and a win. I was really happy with that time though. Back to back and well below my 15km race pace effort. Also racing in variable conditions was great. 

I finished with along run on Sunday, hosted by Aerobics First and Saucony. I ran 15km on the race route for the Bluenose and managed a great easy effort Zone 2 run at below 4:20 pace. That felt good (though year, by the end my legs were tired).

So, I didn't win a training run, but I did walk away with a new pair of Saucony Freedom from a  draw prize. Can't wait top try them out. 

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Park Run Halifax Race #3 2019

So 3 weeks ago Park Run started up in Halifax. Finding a good spot to host this is tough around here, but the group opted to use the Chain of Lakes Trail. A 5KM measured course was set up and racing began.

Park Run is a free 5 KM Run/Race hosted around the globe on Saturday mornings. You sign up once, get a bar code and race for free forever.

Last week I went to my first run and opted to pace a friend, Sarah, to a nice 22:45 5KM, a great effort for her on tired legs (she had done a part of the Moose Run the weekend before and run much of the week without a taper).  This week I decided to test myself to see how training was going. I went in with the goal of a sub 18, knowing I needed to average a 3:36 min/km to do so. I thought it was doable because in my last 2 races (Moose and Frostbite) I had sections of longer races in the 18:10 range. So 11 seconds shouldn't have been out of the question.

Basically, Park Run gives a brief intro chat, and you are off. I took off with the goal of holding a 3:30 pace out and a 3:40 pace back as it is downhill all the way to the turn around and uphill all the way back. Not crazy steep since this is an old rail bed, but obviously noticeable.

My goal wasn't the win but the time. I quickly tried to get into race pace, though my first kilometer was a bit fast at 3:24. I eased it back a touch with my next split being 3:31

At the turn around I had a decent gap on second place but was still focused on my time. It is easy to accept your race position at certain points and do just enough to hold position, especially with a potential win. So i had to be mentally focused on feeling bad.

Some high fives and thumbs up were exchanged on the way back, though I will admit, I didn't want to give that too much effort. I hit kilometer 3 (half down, turn around, half up) at 3:31. So I was super stoked about that. It certainly gave me a cushion on the second half.

Kilometer 4 was tough. I fell to a 3:41. I expected that and felt it. Then that deep down ugh feeling hit as I started kilometer 5. That feeling you get at the end of a hard interval where you are glad it is over. Only I had a bunch to run still. I pushed through that, but was focused on holding pace. I had time in the bag, but didn't want to drift too far down. 

There is an overpass 200m from the end, and the trail flattens slightly, so I did pick it up a tiny but there. I crossed the finish line with a 3:39 final kilometer and an official time of 17:48.

My splits were just what I hoped for, but with kilometer 3 being better than planned, I beat my goal by 11 seconds and took the win overall, and age graded. I also took Craig's course record (sorry Craig), though he took his win here with a tempo effort and has more to give on this course himself, I know he will be sub 19 on it in no time. 

Thanks to the volunteer for setting this up. Week one had 30 runner, last week 20, but with the slightly better (though quite cool) weather this week we had 39 brave souls.

Shout out to the many BLT Runners that came out and set course PBs, personal PBs and just had good fun.

Shout out to Luke on consistently going faster each week on his path back to sub 20.

The Brooks Launch made for an ideal all around shoe as well for the warm up run over and the race.