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.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Moose Run 2019

Quick weekend recap. The Moose Run was back, our 25km fun run that is now in its 26th year. New race director (fellow Nuun Ambassador Mat Sabinski) but same great community support.

As before, this is a pay by donation race with a few water stops along the way, options for relay teams and tons of tough hills. At 5 weeks out from Boston this is a favorite course for getting a race day prep run in (go Marg!).

But for me this is fun. Every year so far I have taken this event as an opportunity to pace someone to a desired result. So far I have done this for Craig directly twice, for Pat and Craig last year, and this year I started with a few fellow runners with similar goals. We wanted to pace around a 4:30 min/km with a variety of distances. Sarah hoped to go to the 8.5 km mark, Luke was opting for 5km and Craig heading to the halfway mark, to share the run with Gillian.  

Thanks to Ron for snapping a quick shot near the start as we headed off on a cool, windy but sun filled day. I was testing out my newish NB 1500's to see how they did over this kind of distance. 

The first 5km were chatty and fun before Luke took off to hand off to his team mate for a relay finish and begin doing a #worldlitterrun. Craig also kept a strong pace at this point and pulled ahead a little of myself and Sarah. 

For her this was going to be a long run at this pace. 5km was no problem, but 8.5 with huge hills was going to be tough. We ran together (and picked up some friends to chat with like Chad) and she held on with some tough grit until we hit that final big downhill and she could just give a strong final 0.5km effort before handing off to teammate #2, Heather. 

At this point the wind blew my hat off and I had to chase it. Then I ran with Heather for a bit before teaming up with Al and pushing toward the halfway mark and a reunion with Craig. 

I took this time to stop, have a gel and a drink of water, get my music out and prepare for a little tempo work. The goal was a tough tempo run back to the spot I dropped off Sarah (about 4.5km) before easing back to an easy effort.  So off I went.

At the turn around I had averaged about a 4:37 min/km pace. My next two kilometers were a 3:30 pace. 

With the wind at my back, the sun in my face and a hard effort I was getting hot. As I ran to the teammate switching spot, I threw my coat to Sarah and headed off feeling really good. 

So I decided to just not look at my watch, give a hard but doable effort and see where I finished, knowing that with no goal in mind I could ease back if need be.

The hills were tough, the wind blew my hat off again and I ended up carrying it, and without the tail wind it wasn't quite as hot anymore. But I was enjoying my tunes and loving the journey (oh and some Journey).

With 3 kilometers to go and a downhill finish, I picked up the pace a bit, passing a few runners in the process. 

With about a kilometer to go, I saw Craig and Elizabeth drive by and wave and Sarah, Jordan and Heather drive by. Sarah popped out for a shout of encouragement and some nice photos.

I ran hard to the finish with a final kilometer back in the 3:30 mark. I crossed the finish line after 1 hour 45 minutes, dropping that average pace from 4:37 to 4:14.

We had a great post run team gathering with food and drink at the Buffalo Club.

This was the first time I pushed a hard effort on any part of this run and I really liked it. The challenging hills, the every changing scenery and the pretty decent weather (except maybe the wind) were just inspiring to run in. This course is also partially used in some of the Maritime Race Weekend races as well, were I have had some good runs).

Oh and the 1500's were great. Just enough cushioning and support for a longer run, but zippy enough to propel you forward.

Lots of great finishes and good times by fellow BLT Runners as well.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Frostbite 5 Miler 2019 - Let's Get This Season Started

Well the first race of 2019 has come. So far this year I haven't really focused my training on much. I have been skating a bit and doing the regular triathlon stuff, but it is time to get serious. So up come the Frostbite 5 Miler, which wasn't really on my radar, but provided just what I needed, a jump start.

I saw this 8km event as a great way to assess where my fitness was for my 15km race in June. Last year I raced a 15km flat event with a 3:42 avg pace and hoped to do slightly better this year (though Bluenose 15km will be a tougher race for sure). So the goal here was just to attempt to hold my goal pace for Bluenose for the event.

I traveled in with Scott and Craig and after a super fast check in, we did some warm ups. We quickly figured that the conditions were near perfect for a February race in Nova Scotia. Just below zero, with a bright warm sun. Sure there was a cool wind, but the goal was to get moving hard, which would build up the old body heat. 

Soon we lined up, with a good crew of BLT Runners at the line.

Some instructions from our MC Steve Taylor and we were off. I took to the lead, though mostly to get to my pace and get past the first icy obstacle. From there I really wanted to focus on my goal pace more than racing for placing. 

But one kilometer in and I was still leading. I finally looked back around 2 kilometers in and had a sizable lead over second place.  So far I was slightly better than goal pace, which considering the larger hills were at the start was good and I didn't feel too over done yet either. A 3:32, then a 3:38 and a 3:40. Kilometer 4 saw me drift a bit. Perhaps it was the tight corners I'm not sure. I did have to go around a few people on the sidewalk and past a few icy bits, but nothing too crazy. I picked it back up and ran through 5kms at 18:15, finding some new speed.

I looked back just before I saw Tim taking some photos and saw no one.

It was after this that I think a long (though really gradual) hill and my knowing I had a huge lead with over half the race run, that I mentally fell into a bit of a funk and let the pace start to fall. I had warned Craig before the race that this might happen. Luckily I noticed it and then looked back and saw that Matt had begun to creep into my sight again. This was my slowest kilometer but it was a good teaching moment so I dug deep and found some speed again.

While I didn't hit my target in kilometer 7, there was a longish icy area that was a little hard to navigate and I had to kind of shuffle through, so I am fine with that. When I got past it and could open up, I found the speed to go below goal pace once again and finish strong, with a finishing kick Scott would be proud of, well below a 3 min pace. 

I crossed the line unofficially at 29:24 for the win and a pace of 3:41. Not quite my goal pace, but close and I have lots to work with now. 

I kind of had to sit down for a moment to take catch my breath. 

Soon the rest of the runners came streaming in. BLT Runners were well represented with Craig next in 5th, Steve in 10th and Scott in 11th. Everyone was doing great and at or above early season targets. I guess a little speed work doesn't hurt, though a lot can.

We waited until our last runner came in and then headed in to grab some coffee and soup, an awesome way to finish a winter race.

Races like this can be so iffy when it comes to weather. We got really lucky. But regardless of the weather, it is the event itself and the people hosting that make or break it. And Lakeshore did and awesome job. Check to race finish and course marshaling all went smoothly. Thanks so much for making it great.

Oh and on a side note, I became and ambassador for Nuun this season. It's a low carb electrolyte drink which I started using a lot last year. I'll probably chat about it later on in another post.  

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Looking Back on 2018

So here we are in 2019, which usually has meant I look back at the previous year and see how things went.  All told, I think it went really well. I had no sidelining injuries, I had achievable goals and I continued to help other runners get to their goals as well.

January started with a blast, as I paced Lindsay to a PB in the MEC 5K PPP race. I hadn't planned on even being in the race, but it was a great way to get moving and get Lindsay her first sub 20 minute 5K.

Then came February. Welcome back Tri-the-Oval 6. Speed skate, Mountain Bike Ride and Run. I had done all the previous ones and this was my breakthrough year with the win. Yes, it was a small field this year but it was great to finally take home top spot in this event, which really was the event that forced me into speed skating to start. 

After my return from Australia and some great running down under in March, I was back at pacing and paced Pat at marathon pace for the Moose Run, a 25 km fun run in Eastern Passage. We paced in a little faster than his ultimate goal pace for the Boston Marathon and then celebrated with some food and drinks. 

April was light in the racing department and was mostly me running around Clayton Park trying to build some hill pounding kilometers into my legs. But Early May saw me hitting Citadel Hill for MEC Race 2. This was tough one, with a cold rain, a change in the course (though this is an every year kind of deal) and a tough field of runners. I decided to run it going for broke and see what I could manage. I remember hitting the first kilometer at a 3:18 pace and thinking, uh oh. I ended up coming home in 3rd for one of the hardest 5k races I have done in a long time.

Finally the big show came about with the Bluenose. I had trained hard and it was all about bringing home a PB. And of course race day was rainy and humid. Oh well. As usual I got dragged at the start a little too fast, finally settling in for what would be a really lonely race. I wasn't ultimately as happy with the changed route from previous years, but it was the race so I ran it. The final push was tough, but I did manage to get my 1:20 half result with a 3:48 avg pace.

June saw a couple of Duathlons, both with decent results, though in both cases my bike just isn't up to par with the other racers. My focus on running has made huge strides, but really if I want to place higher in these events, I need to up my biking game. June also saw another 5K race. The Bridgewater Tire Trot was kind of a last minute idea, but I cam away with the win and a sub 18 minute 5K. So a total success in my mind.

Then came the summer. I managed to start the Aylesford Triathlon as the top placed male in the Triathlon Nova Scotia points series and wore the coveted Golden Swim cap. That was pretty cool. The race went well, though my swimming hasn't been up to the level I had it to two years ago.  

Back to pacing, and Lindsay needed a little help in her next goal of getting below 19 minutes for the 5K. Oh yeah, we did that.

As the summer progressed, I switched to trail running in my quest to kick some hilly butt in October. So it was 2 hour trail runs every weekend. I will say, I loved the off road and relished in the tight twisty, rooty, rocky trails that we have locally.  This training gave me the desire to even enter an off road mountain duathlon. Loads of fun.

In between all this distance trail work, I managed to get a one mile event in. The MacPass Mile is a tough, but fun event, and this year we had decent weather. While there was rain, it didn't rain during the race. So that was nice.

I managed a new mile PB in 5:02. That sub 5 minute mile is still eluding me, though to be fair, I didn't train for it.

More off road and lots of hikes with the pups kept coming.

As September hit us, I found time to host a canicross race, and get 2 races myself in. The Rum Runners Relay was a blast, as I ran Leg 1 and did really well with an average pace of 3:43 over 13.6 km. I had prerun the route and knew how tough it was going to be. Prior to Rum Runners I managed a great second place finish in the MEC 15km race 4, beating my previous 15km PB with a sub 56 minute run. 

That shows the effort I gave in that race. Ouch. Gas and go!

Finally my A race came and off to Cape Chignecto I went. The result of the race went my way, the race itself was quite the adventure with some missing volunteers and a little extra distance. Still, it was a great run and I enjoyed every up and down that Chignecto had to offer.  I came away with the win and I know I will race the trails again.

In fact I hit the trails a few weeks later to run the Flying Nutz 10km race near our home. I wasn't sure what shape I was going to be in and whether or not it was going to be a fun run for me or a good effort event. In the end, I gave it a good effort, and this twisty course with punchy hills really suited me. The cold rain fell, but with a hard effort I stayed warm and took the win.

Movember was upon us and I hosted my annual Movember 6K fun run, raising almost $3600 for the Movember Charity.

I finished the competitive year with another fun run at The Keppoch (home of the Off Road Duathlon). While it was not a timed event, I did manage to push fairly hard in snowy icy conditions and finish first. 

So in all, I biked 5985 km, swam 66km, and ran 2365 km. All injury free thanks to smart training, and a little help from Seaside Chiropractic. Support from Aerobics First in some of my events and Sportwheels also made the year far more manageable.  

I achieved many great results, some of them overall wins, some age group wins, some PBs. I also ran and biked and swam with great friends and helped coach some amazing athletes to their own PBs. I sat (and continue to sit) on the boards of two sports groups, The BLT Runners and The Maritime Association of Harness Dog Sports.  And I managed to get to 98 donations at Canada Blood Services in all of that as well. 

Bring it on 2019, let's see what you have. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Running The Keppoch 2018

With my season slowing down, I had the opportunity to do one more trail event. 12 km at The Keppoch near Antigonish. This former downhill ski location is no home to mountain biking, cross country skiing, hiking, and some awesome trail running.  Certainly it is not the place for those that hate running hills. 

The trails here are mostly smooth and flowy, as they are designed for downhill riding. That being said, you need to really take care for tripping hazards and rocks, and be careful of the sheer speed you can pound into your legs on the way down.

This event is a fund raiser for The Keppoch, and as such is more about fun. It was an untimed event followed by breakfast.

We had to get up super early to get to the mountain as the drive takes 2 hours. The closer we got, the colder it got, down from the balmy 3C at home to -8C at the race start.  

Also, home had no snow and soft ground. Here the ground was hard and ankle deep in snow. Good thing I brought all my trail shoes. I ended up choosing my Salomon Soft Ground. They are light weight, so easy to pick up your feet high and offer a ton of grip.

After a briefing we weer invited to race start and sent on our way. While I could have just jogged around the mountain in a nice social way, I really wanted to see how my legs were holding up and specifically my climbing legs, before they got a winter rest.

So I took off into the lead and never looked back. I pushed at a sustainably hard pace and really enjoyed breaking through crunchy snow on this well marked and groomed course. Volunteers were out in some key areas to guide up the right way when the course went between short and long (there was an 8 km option as well).

I took the downhills cautiously to start but found that I gained a lot of confidence as the run went on and I could place some faith my my shoes and legs to hold me upright.

Certainly there were some dicey icy places that required some careful passing, but in all it was a trouble free run for me.

I finished the course in 1 hour and 1 minute with over 300m of vertical climbing, first in the long run. I was happy to "win" but more happy to feel well enough to go back out for more at the end. My recovery during these trail runs has been great this year, the only time I have found myself near my limits was when I was approaching 30km at Chignecto.

The morning finished with some awesome oatmeal with a ton of topping choices and great coffee, as I got to chat with the other BLT Runners that came up for the run as well. We all survived the cold and snow and I think we all had a good run.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Flying Nutz 2018

It has been awhile. Frankly I took a break from racing since Chignetco, mostly going into an off season mode. But I had previously signed up for a local trail race called Flying Nutz. This is a shorter but no less tough race.

Waking up to torrential rain and wind the morning of does not make one excited about leaving your bed, let alone your house.

Still, when  your ride arrives, it is time to jump in the car.

So Craig and I arrived at the race setup and a small crowd had already formed. The rain was letting up a bit but we were still completely undecided about what to wear for the run.

Sign in time, I got number 53 to pin on, a shirt and a nice reusable trail cup. I must say that little silicon cup is awesome for grabbing a quick drink on the run.

The BLT Runners came out in force to hit the muddy trails (missing is Al and Don).

Race start came, the rain let up and we were ready to go after Jodi (race director) gave us a run down of the rules and course.

The beginning is tough and quickly goes from wide to single track. With the command to run, I took off for that narrow patch and hit it first, scaling a moss covered rock and into the woods and up a hill. Not sure how fast the other runners were, I took to a pace I new I could hold for some time, I was mostly concerned that that I would find a place where I could run at my pace and not be stuck.

But I didn't get passed and I ran my race. A small crew formed behind me, but I was mostly watching ahead and never bothered to look back. I passed a few areas where it was heavy switch backs, and at these points I could tell I had a small gap to second and third.

I didn't want to let up too much, even with a lead, as anything can go wrong. Also I knew that as an out and back course, eventually I would be running into the other runners on the trail, which may have made for a slower return.

Well, anything can go wrong and it did. I put my head down for a second, ran past a marking flag and found myself off course for a bit. I figured it out quickly enough and returned to the spot I left at and continued. Mad at myself, I pushed on and found out I was now in second.

Caution to the wind time. I flew up and down some hills and soon found myself catching Ben. It was only half way through the race, but I needed to push reasonably hard.

Some cheering on and I ran up a stupid steep hill where Ben was at the top. I can assure you this hill is one most likely walked up, but the anger and ambition set in and up I went.

Within a few minutes I was catching back up to first and we were catching the rest of the runners. Everyone was great and moved out of the way and cheered us on.

I stayed glued to Ben for awhile and found my breath again, but knew that if I wanted to win, I needed to do so under my own steam. I made the pass (Ben was gracious at letting me by) and I took off, regaining a portion of the lead I had once enjoyed.

As we got to the heavy switch back area with around 2 km to go, I could see other runners, but really had no idea where they were compared with me. That meant one thing, run harder.

Soon I was at the pipe line section, which meant less than 1 kilometer to go and flat ground. Now I really have to say that while the flat sections of the course were nice to stretch your legs on, I really enjoyed the moss, mud, switch backs and punchy hills that dominated 95% of the course.

I made a final turn, pushed hard through the final few hundred meters of woods and emerged from that giant rock to the open finish area.

No rest, I wanted a hard finish.

I crossed in 1:04 for the win with a 2 minute (ish) lead over second. That was tough and my screw up made it tougher. But the weather was awesome, the mud a blast and the win, icing on the cake.

A trophy, jam and draw prizes awaited me. Muddy shoes were also my reward.

I cheered on as Craig finished 5th and other BLT Runners came in strong in the field of 110 runners.

Thanks to Jodi and his crew for hosting and organizing a great event close to home. There aren't many shorter tough trail runs like this, so I was happy to have been able to do it.

Next up is my race, the Halifax Movember Run and I can't wait.