Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Know When to Hold 'em, Know When to Fold 'em

So Kenny Rogers sang a great song that really is a life lesson.

Sometimes you have to know when is the right time to stop and walk away.

Well I had been doing so well on my base training run plan. I was getting out each day for a decent run. Nothing too fast, and often just a short distance (5 km or so). After 2 weeks I had banked almost 95 km of easy running.

Now let's turn back time a bit (and not in that Cher kind of way). Before I began this Odyssey of mine, I had been running less frequently but greater distances. Two weeks before starting I ran 21.3 km followed 2 days later by a 16 km run. This is the point where I noticed perhaps my shoes were done. I had developed during the second long run a bit of pain in my shin. So off to Aerobics 1st I went for some new New Balances (see a couple of posts back).  I got these shoes but then went on a business trip where running wasn't easily doable. So I figured a little rest before base training wouldn't be a bad thing.

Once back from the trip I began running and as I said, 14 days later I managed a decent 95 ish km. But on the last run I did (13 km), that shin began to hurt a bit again. Now this isn't the type of pain that makes you scream out loud, nor does it persist. But you can tell it is there. And you just know that it has the chance to get worse. And frankly stress fractures or long term shin splints are not where I want to be. Running needs to be fun as much as training.

So I took my cue and called a halt to my daily running experiment. And now 4 days later I still haven't run. Instead I have made my bike commutes more challenging, and upped my swim distance the other night. And I have been getting back into yoga and my stretch/ strengthen routine that I received from my Chiropractor. Now my shins and ankles are still slightly sore, but more in a tired muscles kind of way and not an injury kind of way.

I think that I may try a run maybe this weekend and see where things are. And if it feels good, I will go back to the drawing board and rethink my running plan. Perhaps if I hadn't run on worn out shoes a month ago, things might be better. But I can't fix that past problem, and can only fix what I do going forward.  I'll let you know what I come up with.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Run Base Season and Forming Habits

So November came and went and here we are in December. 'Tis the season for base training to begin I guess as all my races are well and done for the year.

Base training was never my forte. I rode or ran as I saw fit, when I was feeling up to it. That suited me at the time, though it did nothing to help me become a better athlete.  Then over the last few seasons I finally gave in.

Last year I learned about long, slow running from Shane MacLeod during a Tri Nova Scotia training camp. For me running slow seemed counter intuitive, but I did it anyway. I began training with runs much slower than race pace and much longer. And I loved it. By the time winter made it too hard for me to continue my long runs I had been up to 17 km. I backed it down to 8 and 10 km runs as I lost my trail and then road side to ice and snow. But as the distance slipped my speed came up. I was actually really happy.

But as usually happens to me, I tend not to like to pull back. So as the snow and ice melted away and I was able to run further again (and I was training at this point for the Bluenose Half Marathon) I started going the distance but with my new found speed.

As one can imagine, I eventually over did it. Leading into the month before the Bluenose, I had to drop my distances back and the speed too, and and also the frequency. And as you can imagine, once you get a little injury and start spending less time running / training and more time on the sofa, the desire to actually head out kinda goes away.

Well a few chiropractor trips and some ART as well as a packed early season of racing cured my desire to stay on the sofa.

So here we are back in the fall and base season. And it is time to try something new. I have loads of time before the Bluenose comes around, and I now know I can make the distance so trying to cram long runs in right now just isn't that appealing to me (darn dark evenings and living outside the city). But I still want to get the sort of distance in that I was before. So my new plan is to try my best to run every day.

Now that seems excessive doesn't it. But my plan is slightly well thought out. Right now I am aiming for light paced runs of varying short distances. Yesterday was in fact my longest run of the week at 12km.

My runs for the last 8 days have been from 4.4 km to 12 km. Some on the trail near my house, some on the road, and one at Dalplex on the inside track (that was not a long one at all). And it is working from many standpoints. I am getting my distance in (actually slightly increased distance) per week, I am enjoying the runs and most of all I am not achy, sore, in pain, hobbling around or waking up stiff. I run just fast enough to give my legs a bit of a workout (around 5 min pace or so) but not enough to cause any need for taking time off. That was a major problem with my long runs in the past. They were long enough that it meant I usually had to rest for a day or 2 in between.

As it stands, I will continue this system until running outdoors just gets too hard / not safe / not convenient. By that point I hope to have formed a good habit. I will slowly increase my mileage at a safe rate and not worry about going particularly long until my body is ready for it, probably by March or so. Of course if I know for soem reason that I won't be able to run the next day, I leave myself the option of going a little harder or a little further that day, knowing I will have a rest.

This all seems smart in my head. We will see if for once I can get into Spring in one piece, with medical need, and still have what it takes for a good hard half marathon, followed by a fast paced Duathlon season.

Monday, November 21, 2011

New Shoes - Tis the Season

Alright, so this is a picture of my new shoe, though one I stole from a website. Mine looks just like it, I swear. The New balance 880.

Last year I had a great time getting used to New Balance 759's. They were a great shoe. Moderately light weight for a trainer, with just the right amount of cushion and support I needed. Then I was transitioning from a Brooks Dyad shoe, which is a giant huge clompy beast with tons of support, but was the shoe I needed after injuring my leg.

As any good company does, New Balance changed the name of its shoe from the 759 to the 880. A natural transition, I guess. Luckily the people at Aerobics First in Halifax new the new names (if they didn't they would be very good at selling shoes I guess).

I new it was time to get new shoes as my old ones had seen far too many miles (kilometers) and I was getting some nagging sore spots in my lower legs that hadn't been there before. I am also in that time of year where I am trying to get as many base miles (kilometers) as possible, prior to the sow falling and making outdoor running slippery and less fun. Sure I will still run outside during the winter, but my local routes are severely shortened.

Well into Aerobics 1st I went this past weekend and met up with Luke MacDonald. One look at my old shoes and he knew I was due. We tried on the 880's and I went for a little run outdoors. I was amazed at how different new shoes felt. You get used to the old ones and don't realize just how worn they are. But this run back and forth on the sidewalk didn't hurt a bit. Sold.

But Luke wanted me to try the 890's. Similar shoe but with less of a heel. This is a shoe headed towards the realm of minimalist. Still it offers some support and cushioning. But I was amazed. All of a sudden it hurt to run again. The shoe felt great, until I went out door. With my current aches and pains, this was not going to work. And as I am ramping into heavily mileage (kilomereatage?) season, a mew style of shoe was not going to cut it. Maybe one day, but not now.

Anyway, I can't wait to get these babies out and some decent runs in. Last week I manged a 21 K run, a 5K run, and a 15 K run. It was the last one that showed how worn out my shoes were and I think now I will take a few days off prior to another run. But I look forward to running without the aches in these new guys.

Moral of the story?  Get your old runners checked out and pay attention to  your legs.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

2011 Tri NS Awards

Well we had a great awards banquet to close out the season for Triathlon Nova Scotia. Another tasty feast of lasagna, followed by coffee and cake, and a great presentation by sports psychologist Dr Savoy on the use of imagery in helping to reach your goals.

And the photo above? Well that was my Age Group award for being number one in the men aged 35-39 category for duathlons. The top three in each group get a mug, but the jelly beans are the bonus for those of us in the number 1 spot.

There was some great tough competition this past season, and a lot of new faces for duathlon, which is always great. Hopefully next season sees the same growth in the sport.

So what does the off season bring for me? Well a little rest, but right back into training. Cycling usually falls to the level of bike commuting for me come the winter, but running and swimming will be stepping up. Especially swimming, as I make the move to claim a top three age group prize in triathlons next year. Of course the duathlons will still be my favorite.

See you at the races, or maybe running the road. Let me know if you need a running partner on a cold day.
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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Running for Fun

Well, I typed running for fun into Google images and this picture came up.

I don't know if bees in fact do like to run or not, but this fella sure is happy, and look at that stride.

As this past sporting season was wearing down, so was I. My joints weren't feeling peppy any more, my shoulders were dying, and my love of the run was waning. I ended with great runs at both the Riverport Duathlon and Rum Runners, where I ran PB's that were leaps and bounds above my norm. Afterwards I did a few more runs using this beast:

I bought my first Garmin this Fall after having used one for the first time at Rum Runners. It was great at helping me pace through the run, so I knew I had to bite the bullet and buy one (they are quite reasonably priced right now). Of course this meant that even though my competitive season was done, my training runs following this purchase were probably a bit too hard, but who could resist with all that data flashing in my eyes.

Still I finally just lost the urge. As I mentioned, things hurt, sleep wasn't great, and my desire to run was lost. I still enjoyed cycling and swimming was also fun, but running? Meh.

So the other day I ran to work. It wasn't the first time I did that, but it was the first time I didn't care how fast I ran and how quickly I got to work. Turns out it was fun. I even wore the Garmin but didn't look at it until I was done.  A few runs later and I caught the bug again.

No more coming in after a run exhausted. Instead the last few runs I have done have left me happy, exhilarated and peppy. And low an behold, sleep is better and things don't hurt as much.

So it is back to base training for me. Long slow runs will be the norm until next season comes along. This should give me loads of time to reconnect with the spirit of running and not worry about the numbers. Oh of course I will keep using my new toy, the Garmin 305, but more as a way to track what I did, not what I am doing.

See you out there. And watch out next year. A healthy Ian will be a fast one.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

2011 Riverport Duathlon

Well here we go. The final race of the Triathlon Nova Scotia 2011 season was upon us last weekend. And the weekend started with a bang by having a huge storm come up the coast and soak us with heavy rain. My wife and I decided to make a little vacation this year instead of the usual, get up super early and drive to Riverport on the Sunday routine. So we decided to go to Lunenburg, drive around, have some good meals and stay in town for the evening. That turned out to be really a great idea as I didn't have more than  20 minute drive to the race that morning, and therefore could sleep in a bit.

Now Riverport is always one of my favorite races. It is the first Duathlon  I ever took part in a few years back. And each year has always brought me a little more success. I remember my first race here and my complete lack of any running ability, coupled with no actual running shoes. Ah the fun.

Well race day morning brought more rain. I arrived early at the community hall where the race would start (a departure from the school it had been at most years). We were old space would be limited so early I didn't want to miss out on a prime bike rack spot.

Well after everyone was signed in and the race meeting took place, we headed out to the wet start to get ready to go. It was at this point where the bike rack my bike was on decided to collapse. It was a little crazy at the time but a temporary solution was made and the race started.

This Duathlon starts with a 4 km run that is dead flat. So I knew I had to hold nothing back on the short trip. I took off with the leaders on what was a hard but comfortable pace. I am horrible with judging distances though and the halfway point always seems to take forever to get to. But finally I got there, made the turn and headed back to the start / T1. At this point I was in 9th place overall and feeling pretty good. I came running into T1 with a time of 15:28 for a 3:52 pace.

Now the great thing about a Duathlon is the relatively fast transition times, since all you really need to do is change your shoes and head gear. But coming into this T1 I was unsure what had happened to the broken bike rack they were fixing when the race started. Well I found my spot, got my helmet and shoes on, grabbed my bike and thanked Ron. Ron was holding the end of the rack up for everyone. It was very kind of him. And thankfully that piece of the rack only had 3 or 4 carbon fiber bikes anyway. Still it was funny to see.

Off I went on the bike. And I was riding quite well, keeping my pace steady and hanging back on one rider ahead of me, just out of the draft zone. I suppose I could have pushed through, but that would have been silly as we were only a couple of kilometers into the race by this point. We both eventually got passed by one rider. Then came the Grimm Rd.

Now this hill seems to terrify people. I like it. The road is a series of smaller climbs and if you hit each just right you can zoom  right up them. I took this as my opportunity to pass the rider ahead of me. And off I went. Now part way down this road another cyclist caught me and started to make a pass, so I did the right thing and lifted for a second and off he went. But right on his wheel was another rider. Man I hate drafting. And I really hate blatant drafting. And this guy drafted for most of the rest of the ride as I watched from a safe distance back. It is really hard to watch though, when the people in question should know better. Anyway, I can't do anything about that now.

I rode my ride and by the end, the road is a slight downhill for the last few kilometers before T2. So I made sure to not lose too much time and I don't think I went below 45km/hr at this point. 

Coming into T2, I was a little confused about the dismount line as there was none (rain and all). I ended up dismounting twice I think. And then I was a little confused to see my rack was missing. But as I crossed the timing Ron was there to take my bike from me.

Thanks again Ron. It felt like I was a Pro at an huge event with all sorts of helpers. Well it at least felt confusing anyway. Time coming into T2 was 48:09 over the 28 (ish) kilometer course including T1 for an average bike speed of 34.9 km/hr. Not bad at all on this wet and windy day.

T2 was really just my shoes, which were un neatly in a pile on the ground mixed with other people's shoes and helmets. But I don't think I wasted too much time getting things sorted out.

Then off I went. Just a simple flat 4 km to go. In fact the same 4 km I already ran not that long ago.  Now between the cold and wet and the just finished bike ride, my feet were oddly slightly numb at the beginning of the run. It was a strange sensation but I pushed through. And my calves were screaming. But I pushed through. I managed to pass one guy who had a great bike ride but was feeling it on the second run. And I skipped the water stop (unusual for me) as I think I was getting plenty of fluid from the sky.

I end of the race was finally around the corner. I picked up the pace and sprinted to the finish (as I usually try to do), crossing toe to toe with another runner. A good run down for sure. Add in T2 time and I managed a 17:33 overall for the last run and a 4:24 pace. Not bad, but I will work on that for next year.

In the end I was scored in 11th place overall and 3rd out of 19 in my age group. Another increase in position from last year where I was scored 14th. My overall time was also better. A 1:21:10 this year versus some 3 minutes slower last year (with an altered course). I look to go south of 1:20 next season. A fine result and still room for improvement. And a fine way to cap off the year.

I think I am done racing this year. Anything else will be spur of the moment. Training will begin for next season after a small break (like this week I think). And I will do a summary of my racing accomplishments in an upcoming blog post. Oh and I have a Garmin 305 on the way. Maybe I will write about that as well. Hmmm. Take care racers and non racers.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Rum Runners 2011 - Here We Go Again

So last year was my first taste of the relay running / long distance style of race. I was an alternate for I must say I rather enjoyed last year and Leg 6 of the race where I placed in the top ten and had a personal best time for the distance I ran (10.7 km).

This year I was a full fledged team member due to my running the year before and I was ready. When asked which legs I might want to do, I requested first and foremost Leg 9. I was offered it the year before but was intimidated by he extra distance of 12.6 km, having never really run ore than 10km before. But this year I had already completed a half marathon and numerous training runs well over 13 kms. So I figured I could compete.

My main goal was to beat 1 hour, having run a best practice time of 1 hour and 5 minutes. But that was practice and the excitement of race day always speeds one up. Also Ian McGrath was kind enough to lend me his Garmin 305 for my Leg, which was going to help me with pacing. Side note, that thing was awesome and I now must buy one.

The day had been going very well. Our runners were doing great jobs in their legs, and even though our main goal is fun first, it is nice to give it your all on the day. We had a number of new teammates who all succeeded in conquering their Legs of the relay, even though the weather went from blah to blaher.

The day started with fog and humidity for Ian McGrath in the dark (nice) and right before my Leg was a downpour. I stayed dry inside Mike Milloy's van while waiting for him to finish Leg 8 as I didn't want to be soaked before I ran. And waiting helped. Just as they called us to the start line at 4:15 PM, the rain let up leaving only a thick humid mist.

I said before that I wanted Leg 9 as my first choice this year. Partly I liked the distance, but mostly I liked the fact that you finish coming into Mahone Bay and it is a darn pretty way to finish any run. Also this meant I actually would know the end of the run pretty well, having traveled there numerous times.

So the start came about on time (as usual in this event), I hit start on the Garmin and began signing Don't Stop Believin' in my head (as the beat was just right for me).  I stayed with the first few runners for the first kilometer or so and kept them in site for the first 2 kilometers or so. This was nice as they were impressive runners.

Now normally I go out as fast or faster than the leaders, but then slow down and get caught up, then find a rhythm, then finish the race really fast. So I was happy to have the use of the Garmin to keep me in check. I wanted to keep a pace of 4:30 min/km and this beast would tell me exactly how I was doing. This would get me well under 1 hour for the race at about 58 minutes or so.

About 2-3 minutes into the race as the leaders were pulling away I was stuck behind a guy and our pace was 4:18. I felt good and made the bold move to pass him even though we were well ahead of my goal pace. But then, I am stupid that way. It just felt slow at that point and I wanted to hit a comfortable stride. I stopped looking at the Garmin and ran at a decent pace.

Awhile later I looked down and saw my pace was anywhere from 4:08 to 4:18 and I was still feeling good 20 minutes in. I knew only 5 people were ahead of me as well and one runner was maybe 100 meters ahead. He would end up staying there for almost the entire race.

The run felt great and only once did I look down and see my pace had drifted far from where I wanted to be. So the Garmin really helped and I was able to get back to the low 4's and away from almost a 5 min pace. I must have really put some distance the people behind me as well, as I didn't here anyone being cheered for after I passed the jubilant fans on the the road  side as the water stops. This Leg was also very up and down with little rollers, which I run through very well. This probably helped me put some distance on those behind me.

Finally I rounded a corner on the road and saw those famous churches of Mahone Bay and I knew I was but a couple of kilometers away from the finish. I picked the pace up a bit in this downhill section to try and catch up to the runner ahead of me as well. I had avoided doing this earlier in the race as I was afraid pushing my pace would lead to me running out of steam too early and allow those behind me to pass. I would have rather stayed 6th than end up 10th. But now I knew I had a little reserve.

It would seem though that I was only slightly faster and the gap was not really closing down any. So I kept running, though the on coming cramps in my ribs. But just as I was set to accept a well raced 6th with a great time, I found a little more speed and caught right up with Chris Smith. I paced right in behind him, having to slow myself to do so to see if he had anything left in the tank. He didn't respond, and with a 150 meters or so to go, I took off. I didn't look back but kept running hard and fast and made the finish in a time of 52:39 for an average pace of 4:11 min/km. Thank you Garmin and Ian for the push to get me up there.

Needless to say I was extremely happy with the result and 5th pace overall in the Leg. I had beat my set goal by over 5 minutes, which in itself was probably 7 minutes faster or so that I had done in practice. And I was also extremely impressed with our team placing, coming in 21 overall (out of 60) with an average pace of 4:57 min/km. Way to go team.

Here is looking to next year.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Shubie Doobie Tri 2011

Well here we were, early Sunday, Dartmouth, and tons of fog. Wow, Shubie Park was truly fogged in. I headed to the beach to see the water and I could barely see 10 feet. Needless to say, the Shubie Dooby Triathlon was going to be a little late starting.

Still I arrived at the Tri early to grab a nice spot in transition and have a chance to relax. This was, after all, my second open water swim Triathlon and my first was a few months ago in Ingonish. After setting up my bike, I decided to slip into my wetsuit and go jump in the lake.

Having been here the day before, I knew the water was going to be warm. And it truly was. The previous day it was 22C and I doubt it had cooled much over night. So getting in was rather easy. And it helped me settle the nerves a bit. Also the wetsuit was rather nice to have on me as I was standing in the cold, waiting for my race to start. In fact I probably stood around in that wetsuit for well over 1 1/2 hours. Thanks Xterra for making it so comfy.

Eventually the Olympic Distance people took off. This gave we Sprinters another opportunity to bounce about in the water, I mean do a proper warm up. Finally, almost an hour late (due to fog, not organization) we got our pre race lecture and we set out for the swim.

Okay this isn't actually the Sprint start but it looks pretty close.

Now due to the larger number of participants in the Sprint race, and the fact that the swim start area isn't that large, the RD (Mark Campbell) split it into a wave start of men then women. Less people in the water together made me happy. We took off like rockets into the water and unlike Ingonish, I actually didn't hold back. I jumped right in and started doing a version of the front crawl. I say version, as there were many thrashing bodies around me and I couldn't quite open right up.

Eventually I got a good rhythm going and headed for the first buoy. I didn't panic as I had my head hit a few times, or my legs grabbed or my arms pulled. I pushed through and fought for my ground. It felt rather good.

Finally after what seemed an eternity, I round that farthest buoy and headed to the shore. 15 :22 is what the chip timing people say I did my swim in. And I will take that. Turns out I was 78th fastest out of 127 people. Okay so not really all that fast.

Off to T1, and a leisurely change to my bike shoes, helmet et al. (I was a bit dizzy and therefore in no rush) and away I went. The start of the bike ride was a bit drafty (hint hint), but I was okay with it as the road is busy, and the riders are just getting settled down. Also it allowed me to pass at one point 6 riders in a row. And I think I did so in my 15 second time allowance.

I had never done this event before and didn't really know the course well. People warned me prior about the large amount of hills. I just thought, good. And I pushed hard for the next  39:26 (including T1 time or what must have been over 2 minutes), passing many riders. The drafting got less severe after I finally reached the turn around. Most people seemed to have settled a bit. I knew, though, that I couldn't slow down as I needed to make up some time still and had less than 10 kms to do it in (well maybe more as the course was a bit long according to my bike computer). At one point I apparently hit 62 km per hour in my rush back to the TZ, where I finally arrived with an average speed of 30.4 km/hr and the 6th fastest bike split of the day (33.2 on my bike computer which accounted for the extra biking distance and didn't include my transition time). Bike racked, helmet off, shoe change and away I went on the run to the finish.

5Kms of hilly trails awaited me and I followed David Kilpatrick for all of it.

This is the only official photo of me at the event, check out those calves. 

 We paced each other well, but I had just enough to hang with him. Also I was unaware of the course and was quite surprised as I rounded a corner to see the finish line. Dave was off like a flash and I was as well, taking one runner in the process but not being able to keep up with Dave. In the end I had the 12th fastest run time of the day with a 24:07 (oddly faster than Dave's time due to T2 timing).

So all in all I exited the water in 78th place and clawed my way back to 17th overall and 3rd in the Age Group Men 30-39, with a total time of 1:18:54. Not too shabby.

With a little swim practice, I say, watch out!
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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Middleton Century Ride 2011 - Third Time Lucky

Well it was the annual Middleton Century ride time again this past weekend. The Spinachers headed up with goals in mind. For many, the 100 km metric century was going to be a first. For a few others, tackling the entire 162 kms was going to be a first. For me, I was glad to have others that were to start with me, finish with me.

From the outset, I stuck with Ian McGrath as a huge number of riders (250 or so) took off from central Middleton, NS. The group very quickly sorts itself out into smaller and smaller packs and by the time of the first rest stop in Bridgetown, things have settled nicely.

This year, like last, the temperature was nice to begin. And while it probably did soar above the 28.5C of last year, I doubt it was much higher than 31 or 32 (the exact number I have no idea about).

Again, well appointed rest stops made the journey very enjoyable. Watermelon, bananas, granola bars, pretzels Gatorade, water and even cookies and ice cream occasionally.

This was Ian McGrath's first century and I wanted to make sure not to go too crazy on the pace. So we accepted being passed early on by groups of riders, especially as many of them would turn out to be riding the metric century. We needed to save the legs for the extra 60km or so.

That extra 60 km of riding in behind Annapolis Royal is rather nice. Yeah, there are some major chunky sections of pavement, but for the most part very little traffic. We rode and chatted and rode some more.

On our way back to Annapolis Royal we were passed by Mark Campbell and friend, who helped us along with taunts and jeers. I didn't want to bite, I really didn't. And I didn't rush after them. After all this was the 90 km mark of the ride. But I knew that this section of the ride was going to be big rollers, nice little climbs that all seemed to lack any real descent. And I knew that the biggest of these hills was coming up. So I picked up the pace a little, just enough. And when I saw the corner that was to be the start of the biggest climb (probably my favourite part of last years ride)   I picked up my speed a bit. And there halfway up the hill was Mark and Mike (?). I began my climb. I had prewarned Ian M. that I may pull a Schleck and go for it near the end of this stage, so I didn't feel too sorry when I took off on him. I blew by Mark by the 2/3rds point of the climb with a little gloat of my own.

At this point I was going to wait at the top for the guys to arrive. But instead I went for it. I rode hard with at least 18 km to go in the stage. And I arrived back at the Annapolis Royal rest stop with minutes to spare.

Ian and I would regroup for the next stage, where Mark would blow by us again, only to have Mike have a mechanical. Now it was almost a challenge to make sure we finished ahead of him. Of course all in fun (ha ha).

A usual the final 25 km of this ride is the toughest. Sure it isn't that hilly, but it is rollers and you have just completed 130 some odd other kms throughout the day.  On the way we met up with the Spinacher ladies who were finishing up their metric century and seemingly still smiling (though Lynn had a tough start to the day). We ha da brief chat with them as we rode by. This allowed the crazy Mark to recatch us again. Ugh.

This time McGrath said, stay with them. So I hurried up and caught their wheels. This was just as the base of a small climb. Figuring to take advantage of the hill, I tore up it. And thinking they would be right after me, I kept that pace until after I rode by a group of other cyclists standing by the side of the rode.

By this time I had gone over a series of 3 or 4 little climbs. I looked back and saw no one. I thought, "should I hold up and wait?" Well the answer was no. I had 10 kms or so to go and figured that Ian would tag along with those guys. So I put my head down and kept riding. I also knew that if I let up my legs, by this time, might not be happy to restart. I watched as my speed rarely dipped below 35 km/hr. I pushed harder. This seemed more time trial like and therefore maybe more Evans than Schleck. Definitely not Schleck like.

I finally rode into Middleton again and finally allowed myself the chance to sit up as I navigated the last kilometer or so of the ride.

I came in at 5:55 of riding time. Sure that was less than the 5:36 or so I did last year, but I had a great time riding with Ian and a few others along the way. Also I was quite able to stand around a chat following the event with no aches or pain. It was great.

I waited a few minutes for Ian M to come in and then another few minutes for Mark. The it was time for BBQ chicken, which was perfect.  After eating we were happy to see Fred and Ross ride in after their gruelling journey. I was impressed especially with Fred, who had taken a tumble earlier this summer during a ride and obviously has made a great recovery. Also, Fred hates hills. And while these were no Alps, they were hilly enough.

Sorry for the lack of photos. I was lax this year in that respect. But my rear jersey pockets were already full of sundry items anyway because I was prepared for about 30 flat tires I think, but instead received no. Perhaps thanks to my new Michelin Lithions. Nice.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Building a Better Ian - The Next Phase, Shoulders

Since I was a teen my left shoulder has hurt. Not all the time, but usually it hurts. Mild most days, darn right sore other days and sometimes I can't turn my head. It runs the gambit of achy, numb, tingly, and even itchy. But I just deal with it and move on.

Well after all the success I have and seeing my Chiropractor and having ART done to fix my ITBS issues  I thought, why the heck am I not asking about this. Perhaps it is time to get rid of this pain. Truth be told I finally came to this realization this past weekend while doing a solo ride around the Peggys Cove loop. 85kms or so and by 50kms in my shoulder was numb. Sure I changed positions, shuffled a bit, did a little stretch and things went back to being okay,  but I knew that I just had to stop "dealing" with the issue and get it looked at.

When I was a teen I saw my doctor. He said, pinched nerve and gave me some exercises to do. They didn't do much, I was a teen, and I gave up. Easy. But I am older now and darn it, I don't want to be even older and in more pain.

Well into the Chiropractor I went. We chatted about the history of the injury. This was obviously a chronic thing, so it wasn't going to be solved over night. But after a little assessment we came up with the beginnings of a plan of attack.

It turns out I have very little range of motion in my shoulders themselves. Instead my pecs have been controlling things for a long time. I basically brute force my shoulders to do what I want them to. Great, I have strong pecs, hooray! I also have very low shoulders, which is odd for many people, but maybe not so much for cyclists.

See as cyclists, we lean forward a lot. And we stretch out our arms to do so. So our trapezius can elongate. This, in my case, also lead to my scalpular muscles rotating. It all seems to just add together into one big problem.

Where did this all begin? I don't know, but of course things like cycling and swimming can make things worse. So it has been slowly getting worse over time.

Right now we are working on a huge bundle of scar tissue and muscle adhesion that has formed over time in my teres muscles (I think it is those muscles). They are kind of under and beside the scalpula, in and around the armpit area. And I am working on stretching out my pecs to get my arms and shoulders to go backwards a bit. One session and I regained quite a few degrees of motion. Hopefully a few more sessions and some exercises at home will lead to me becoming pain free and will help in my active lifestyle.

In swimming, for instance, I have the choice of swimming with stubby arms and swimming slow, or using my major muscles to force my arms into a nice elongated form. The second option means I tend to throw the rest of my body out of position which leads to dropped hips and tons of drag. This can be easily seen when I wear a wetsuit for open water. Doing so can gain me almost 4 minutes over a 750m swim, as my hips are forced to float high. We will see if freeing my shoulders will lead to an decrease in my sprint distance swim time.

Any way, that seems like enough info for now. Any of you medical-ish type people reading this should be aware that my knowledge of the human muscular structure and use of proper names for different muscles groups is completely due to the internet. I am sure I got a lot of that stuff wrong. Sorry about that.

I'll update my "condition" as my treatment continues and we will journey together to see how this may affect my life as a Triathlete / Duathlete.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Ingonish Triathlon - Race 7 (sorry for the ramble)

Well after all that swim training and purchasing a wetsuit, it seemed inevitable that I would have to bite the bullet and sign up for a Triathlon. The earliest ones of the season were pool swims, which of course seem like the best idea for one nervous of the water, but those ones also included Duathlons. And of course Duathlons are still my favourite events at this point. Also after getting through the Aquathlon in Greenwood back in April, a pool swim didn’t seem like the challenge I needed.

Now my swim strength isn’t great so I knew a sprint distance tri was the smartest starting point. All of this lead to my choosing the Heart of the Highlands Triathlon in Ingonish. Open water swim, sprint distance, probable warm weather and a lake swim to boot. Sure Nova Scotia lakes don’t warm up until August, but the wetsuit would take care of that. And as I posted earlier, I was able to get out a handful of times with my wetsuit to know that it would keep me suitably warm, especially for the 750 meters of the sprint swim.

We drove up to Ingonish on the Friday before the race. I wanted to make this into a little vacation, so we rented a cottage, brought the dogs and packed until Monday. Turns out that Mark Campbell and friends arrived slightly before us and were staying 2 cottages over. That turned out to be good for both of us. Mark needed my lap top to register for the race, and I enjoyed the group ride we did together moments after I unpacked. A quick trip from Ingonish up and over Smokey, was great for the legs. Also it was fun zipping up the Cape Smokey on a bike (and beating Mark to the top, hee hee).

Well the next day brought a nice solo ride of the course and a dip into the lake at Ingonish Beach. Wow, what a shallow lake, more on that later. Then check in the day before the race, a handy option.
Race morning came and I had my pre race meal of Frosted Mini Wheats and Red Bull. Yum. Then to transition and the race brief. After the brief we were allowed a quick dip in the lake, very useful to us nervous swimmer types. We were allowed another quick warmup after the Olympic distance guys and gals started their race. Again, I opted to go for it.

Finally it was time to start. I decided to hang back a bit and allow the melee of the swim begin ahead of me. I started by walking a bit behind the first bit of swimmers. Then I walked more, and more. See this lake is insanely shallow. I was walking past swimmers at this point. But finally I just had to take the plunge. Of course finding a spot to get into with the mad thrashing around me wasn’t easy.  A few kicks here, a few slaps there. But eventually  I was swimming. Then I was fending off someone grabbing my ankle. Then I was avoiding the swerving mass of people that can’t swim in a straight line. Obviously this was going to be a tough swim. But I stuck with it, changing my stroke when I needed to and I finially broke past the crazy. After turning at the final buoy I saw nothing but empty lake ahead. Everyone else was far off to the shore which seemed odd to me. But I was able to now get a decent strong stroke going and powered to shore. I exited the water at 14:30, a personal best 750 meter swim by more than 2 minutes. Wow, I know the wetsuit helps a bit but hooray for me.

I'm the sleeveless one

Now onto the journey  to T1. This is a long run on gravel of about 300 meters. I didn’t stop to put on shoes like many did and was happy not to. Numb feet are very good at not caring about gravel. Also i k new my feet would be covered with beach sand anyway. Sandy shoes aren't fun.

Into T1, off with the wetsuit (RD's take note - grass is kind to wetsuits), on with the helmet, sunglasses, bike shoes and a quick gel. Then off for a hilly ride. Being in 26th at this point meant I had much time to make up. I knew this was not going to be a great result going in, due to the swim. But still you want to give it your best. I passed a few people in T1, then started to pick them off on the ride. This happened a lot on up hills. Finally as I was nearing the turn around at km 23, I started to count thee people coming back. Of course try and count when you are red lining things going down hill. It is tricky. But I think it was 10 people. Great I thought. So I pounded harder on the way back and passed maybe 3 more people?

I came riding into T2, and just about missed the dismount point (they hate that and I am sorry). My bike computer registered an avg speed of 34 km/hr. My official result was 31.1 km/hr including T1 and the long run from the lake.This was the 5th fastest ride of the Sprint. Off the bike over the timing matt and a quick change to my running gear.

It was now sweltering with heat and only a slight wind had picked up (that would be a rather large headwind home for the Olympic riders) 5K run to go and my legs were done. I knew catching anyone else would be a no go, but as I didn't see anyone behind me I knew I had to push to maintain my placing. First the run is up, up, up. I like hills but my legs said no thanks, so I pushed a long. As always this is the longest 5K of my life. Where the heck was the turn around?

As I did approach the turn around I had a friendly dig back and forth with Don MacDonald who was kicking some butt that day.

Disregard the clock which was showing Olympic Start time

Then finally I turned, headed home and managed a nice sprint for the line. I am glad that was it. The heat was getting to be a bit much for me, and that ride killed my legs trying to make up time. I had the 7th fastest run of the day in the Sprint with a time (including T2) of 22:55 for an avg pace of 4:35. I was happy with that.

My goals for the day had been to try and achieve a finish in the top half of the field. Well with 46 entrants plus 5 teams I did do that. I also wanted to break 1:25 and with a 1:21:50 I did that as well. I also placed in the top 3 for my age group and won a lovely picture. So all in all a great day. And a perfect way to finish my first open water Triathlon. Thanks to the RD, TNS Officials, and all the great Volunteers. And to Parks Canada for hosting the event in a great venue.

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Monday, June 27, 2011

A Different Kind of Race for Ian this Past Weekend

Okay so I got the call Friday night from my friend Dave. AMP (Atlantic Motorsport Park) was beckoning us. Dave's cousin Paul had a race car and drivers but sure could use a hand with pit crew duties. What ws I to say but, "What time do you need me."

Yes, I love to race my bike. I love to race by foot as well. Love to race in the water (well, I do like to swim, so we will leave it at that)? But I also love to watch cars race. From Formula 1 cars to Nascar, so IndyCars, to the 24 Hours of LeMans, they are all good. And to get the chance to work on the actual race car while watching the race as well? Yipee!

So here we have the BWM 318i in all its glory. A truly pretty beast for sure. Inside you will find no comfort. Just a driver's seat, horribly snug looking seatbelt system (5 points of contact) and a few gauges. This is built to go fast.

Now these are shorter, amateur races(though these are excellent drivers to say the least). So being on the pit crew doesn't mean standing next to the race track, ready to change to tires out in 10 seconds or less. It means making sure that in between races the car gets gas, tire pressure checked, in car camera turned on or off, look for fluid leaks etc...

Here we are changing from rain tires to slick tires for better grip. Turns out the rain didn't come for us, which was awesome. We also fueled the car. I have no pictures of that as it was my job to hold the fire extinguisher just in case, and I didn't want to try and do pictures at the same time. Luckily I also spoted a small fuel leak before the first race which was easily fixed by one of the drivers.

Here Tim (one of the three drivers, the other 2 being names Paul) is checking the engine during the 1 hour lunch break. We just wanted to make sure the fluids were up, no leaks were happening and that the engine was still there. It was. Whew.

Here we see Paul M. getting himself into the car. Luckily for Triathletes, we don't have to wear a horribly heavy helmet and horribly hot fireproof racing suit. But it is best to be safe when climbing into one of these cars.

With three different drivers doing different races, we also had to change the car number to go with the driver in question. The car was normally #98, which was reserved for Paul, the car owner. The other drivers were #198 and #981. For us that meant a quick piece of coloured duct tape to correspond with who was in the car.

Our final job was counting laps and recording lap times. This helps the drivers know how to improve, and it also helps them calculate fuel mileage.  By the way these cars eat gas. And they eat expensive gas. This is by no means a green sport. Our pit wall duties of lap counting and being prepared is necessary to run to the truck for tools, meant that we weren't able to wander around the track to watch the race from different areas. Still, I found this to be a great way to relax on a Saturday

Oh and congrats to our team. Paul C., Paul M., and Tim all won in there different races with this new to them car. And they all set great lap times enroute to winning 
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Monday, June 20, 2011

2011 Greenwood Duathlon - Race 6

So it was up early. Greenwood is a decent 1:45 or so away from my place (depending on traffic and speed) and the race started at 10 with a race briefing at 9:45am. The car was packed the night before to allow myself a leisurely morning of food and coffee. It is also best to just wear your race clothes, well as much as possible, to save any time you can upon arrival. This includes a pre race vintage 7 Eleven hat.

The sites on the way to the race are always fun. Hey look Llamas!

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Then after what seems like a long time behind the wheel, Greenwood! (Oh I know the race officials are up even earlier than me, and maybe it is too dark for them to see the fun llamas on the way in. But thanks to them for doing it).

Anyway, that is the end of my pictures for this event, so bear with my rambling while I describe the rest of the day.

9am arrival and the weather is holding. The weatherman had said maybe showers, but so far so good. Overcast, check. Windless, check. Cool, check. All of this seemed great. Not too hot, not too sunny, no winds (at Greenwood?). But then after setting up my bike and stopping for a few chats, it started. Drop, drip, splat. The light sprinkling of rain came down. Not too bad, annoying but okay I said. Then thunder, lightening and the skies opened up. Massive downpour. The temporarily suspended racing and pulled people out of the pool (now I didn't see them actually pull anyone physically pout, but these are triathletes, so I imagine some had to be).  How odd is it to hear, " Shoes and helmets are floating away in Transition." Oh yeah, there was that much rain. Easily ankle deep in 15 minutes. But the rain let up, we got things going and we were all wet.

Thankfully they held the start for a bit while I finished getting my bike shoes and helmet and water bottle set back up in the TZ. Then it was line up, race brief (2 laps, 3 laps, 1 lap) and the horn blasted. Alan Miner told me to chase down the leader right before the start. I think he was just trying to tire me out. Little did he know that I just take off regardless. The leader (I was later told) was pretty unstoppable by anyone on the duathlon and he raced a few ITU events. Oh well, whatever. I still held with him for the first km or so, then found my proper pace and kept running. Eventually after about 3kms Alan passed me, but I stuck with him for the rest of the run a few steps back. He took a wrong turn heading into Transition so officially I beat him in the first run, though just by a second. Another sub 20 minute 5K for me. Big thanks on that go to Shane M. for holding those winter Tri Camps this year. Also I am sure my half marathon training helped a lot. I ended with a time of 19:56.

Then on to the bike. My helmet was all messed up from the rain. It was soaked and the straps were tangled. After try number 2 I got it on, put on my shoes and headed to the mount line. Then off I was for the flattest time trial you will get around here (if it weren't for that first hill at Shearwater it would be a tie). Head down, legs pumping, redline it to the end of 20km. It was great with no wind until the final lap when a bit started to pick up. I kept Alan in my sights the whole way, but he is pretty strong on the bike and I couldn't get any closer to him. It was also good to see no drafting on course. That is great on such a small course. I came into T2 with a time of 32:20 for a avg speed of 37.1km/hr. Like I said flat and windless.

I dropped off the bike, helmet and changed shoes. I was about to grab for my running hat but it was in a puddle 2 inches deep. So I decided against that. Sunglasses would have to do. Though the sun was coming out strong and I am sure it would have helped (I had switched to yellow lenses with the horrible rain and overcast conditions).   

Off I went. I could just see Alan in the distance. My legs felt okay but much slower now. I wasn't cramping like in past year or having ITBS like last year, so I couldn't complain. I just pushed through the tired and went for it. After all the second run was only going to be 2.5km. I kept pace with Alan, but his lead was too much for me. I came across a guy running in the Sprint Triathlon and paced him back to the finish. He looked miserable and needed a boost. So I chatted with him as we picked up his pace a bit. We rounded the corner for the finish and he apologized for trying to out sprint me, though I beat him to the mat. Nice try ( I had told him I was in a different race). A sprint finish is always fun. I raced the last 2.5km (including T2) in a time of 11:25 to take 3rd place overall and first in Age Group. Same as last year so I was pretty happy. I had hoped to break 1 hour, but it was not to be and a time of 1:03:40 is still nice. Still two great runs and a strong ride made me really happy for the last Duathlon until Riverport in October.

Next up? As far as multisport and TNS go, that will be Ingonish in 2 weeks time. My first Sprint distance triathlon and first swimming competition in open water. Should be fun and scary.  

Monday, June 13, 2011

2011 Cyclesmith Duathlon

So the day had come. The big Cyclesmith Duathlon. Sure I had done 2 other Dus this year, but they were short and fast (and fun) events. This was a much longer event (and fun as well - aren't they all?). This one always pushes me to my max to see what I can accomplish. A 5K run that starts out going stright up a huge hill, followed by a hill, then a bike ride of 34K that is full of hills (rollers yes, but some are quite steep), and then an off road 6K run to finish it off (no hills!!). Oh and I like hills, but that is a lot of hills.
Well the event (being in Nova Scotia and being held in Lawrencetown) is always weather unpredictable. Rain, fog, wind are all expected. And with the Spring we have been having lately, very expected. But it was sunny. And turns out quite hot as well (the reddish hue to my skin attests to the lovely high UV we experienced). Glad I thought to put a little sunscreen on first. And glad that my wife insists we have SPF 60 or some such silly level thing (didn't Robocop offer SPF 1000).

The field was large. It usually is for Cyclesmith's Du, but I hear there was 100 people entered in the race (There was also a Youth Du and as always the Team Competition). And of those entered, there was some serious fast people. My goal was to try and better last years time and effort. As these fields get bigger and better, a better placing isn't always possible, but I really hoped for a top 20 finish and top half of my Age Group.

In the above photo, taken right after the start horn, you can see a line of really fast guys and me. Well I managed to stay with them for about the first half km up the big first hill. Then I found my rhythm and stuck to that  It meant a few more people passed me, but not too many. After the hilly section heading away from the beach, we head back on a pretty flat trail system to T1. I had my Timex stopwatch going but I guess I forgot to hit the lap feature. Luckily the nice chips on our ankles recorded everything.

As I said I wanted to go faster than last year. And I did. Oddly running a PB 5K time of 19:40 with a pace of 3:56. My old PB 5K time was set on a flat stand alone event in Bedford 2 years ago at 19:56. Needless to say, I was happy with that. It was the 18th fastest time for that leg out of 85 people in the event.

Into T1, off with the running shoes and hat, on with the cycling shoes and helmet (always important), and away I went.


The ride was moderately wind free which was nice. But it always seems so extra long. Where is that 17K turn around point? Oh where is it?  I was passed by this point by a few riders and then on the way back by 1 or 2 more. But I managed to pass a few as well, so I was basically staying put in the standings. By the time I returned to the TZ I was still 18th place. I had a time (which included  T1) of 1:02 and a pace of 32.6km/hr. I think my bike computer shows a pace on the bike closer to 2km/hr faster, but it didn't care about me changing my shoes. I was hoping to be a little faster on the bike portion this year, but that first run probably sapped a little juice from my legs and my lower back started to hurt a little. Also I had to let up a bit and make sure I fell out of the draft zone of the guys who were a bit faster than me. I wasn't chancing penalties at this point.

T2 was upon me. A quick shoe change, head gear swap, swig of magic juice and I was off. My legs were spent, but to my amazement, not cramping. Yea! I was passed by one runner who stayed about 7 seconds ahead of me, just out of reach. then one more runner who blazed by me. Turns out he ended up with the fastest second run of the day. No matching that for me.

But I managed to hold off all other runners. Usually by this point someone speedy comes blazing by while I am halfway into the second run. This makes me sad. But this day I kept a decent pace. I even managed to track down one runner (she was part of a team, whom I beat on the first run, and was passed by on the bike portion). I ended up with a 6K run time of 28:29 including T2 for a 4:45 pace. A couple of years back I would have been happy with that pace in a stand alone event.

Final time for me was 1:50:32. I was rather close to the 2 runners ahead of me, but had no oompf in the tank to get an extra kick. I bettered last years time by 3 minutes (last years second run was a bit more difficult with a small hill but not 3 minutes more difficult), was 6th out of 20 in my Age Group (1 away from a prize), and still managed a top 20 finish in a really tough field.

Another great event and what turned out to be a rare sunny beautiful day in Lawrencetown.

Next up is Greenwood. But first a rest is in order. Perhaps my new taper system called the Hammock (if the rain lets up).

Oh and to all the animal lovers out there. I managed to avoid a slithering snake that zipped into my path on the bike. Phew. To the snake haters out there, don't read that part.
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Monday, June 6, 2011

'Tis the Season for the Wetsuit

Okay so June is upon us. Soon the Triathlons will be outdoors completely (following the upcoming Greenwood Tri/Du/Aquathlon). And my goal this year (well one of them) is to compete (ish) in 2 Sprint distance open water swim Triathlons.

Of course this means a wetsuit is needed. I know some might say it is helpful but not needed, I say it is needed. My swim is weak, I am skinny and get cold in the water fairly easily. So I need a wetsuit. Of course dishing out the cash for a decent one isn't easy, especially when you aren't competing for top AG spots. To this end I decdied to try out the offerings from Xterra, as they have great sales on. I bought the Vortex 3 sleeveless for a nice low price. The reason for sleeveless? Well it is mail order, I was picking it up from my American relative's house (free shipping) and I wanted to make sure the blasted thing would fit (shoulders and all). Also the sleeveless option was significantly cheaper.

Well I got it, tried it on and it fit like a charm. The only alteration I needed was to trim the legs to the proper length (easy enough).

Still, I had this thing in April and it wasn't until this past weekend that I was brave enough to actually try it out in the water. Part of the bravado came from the warm day we were having, part from the anxiety I was having from the realisation that the first open water Tri was only weeks away.

I had decided to do the Ingonish Sprint distance Tri earlier in the year. I book a place to stay over a month ago.So with it coming in 4 weeks from now I thought, better try this blasted thing out.

I have found that the other nice thing about a sleeveless wetsuit is that it fits nicely into your panier. So off I went on my commuter bike to my secret lake swim spot. Upon arrival, I ditched my bike in the woods, slipped on the wetsuit (oh how easy it is to get this on, with a little work), and stepped into the water.

Well I will say this. Lakes are still cold. My feet went numb fairly quick. But I kept going. I sat down in the water to get all over wet and just let myself acclimate a bit. Then off I went.

I would love to say that I jumped in and threw down a quick 1000m of awesome. I truly would love to say that. Alas I threw down a slow 100m of breast stroke to start. But the suit was doing its job. I was sort of warmish and I floated well. After another 100m or so of muddling about I took the plunge and began a half assed frontcrawl. Maybe I got 100m more in, I don't know. But I did it. Then I got out of the water and road home all nice and wet.

Wetsuit attempt #1 a success (ish). This bodes well for my future attempts and I plan on getting at least a few more in before heading to Cape Breton. First though? 2 more Duathlons. See you there.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Navy Trident Duathlon (Triathlon for some) 2011 - Race 4

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So Race 4 of my season came up this past weekend. I decided to Do the Du at the Navy Trident's Triathlon/ Duathlon event on May 29th. I have done this event twice before and always enjoyed it. Okay, so maybe I don't enjoy getting up at 5am to drive get to the event by 6:30am, but the actual event has been fun. And not to disappoint, once again it was also foggy / wet out, though at least wind free this year.

I was really looking forward to this years event, as well, because I have been running pain free on a great knee / leg combo as I have mentioned in other posts. So nothing mentally or physically slowing me down. And the field was a decent size this year as well. 24 people signed up for the Duathlon, which normally is seen as the sad afterthought to the great and mighty Triathlon. So to have a decent percentage of the total people signed up doing the Du, that  was great. And some really strong competitors as well, also great to see.

The course was slightly different this year, but still 3/20/3 for the distances. I (being #63 in this race as is still evidenced by the marker on my leg - really sturdy marker it seems),  lined up and was off with the whistle (or horn or some sort of sound device). It was a fast start and I felt great on just out of bed / Redbull legs. I managed a strong first run coming in 4th overall with a time of 12:51 for a 4:17 pace. Now that to me seems slow, and I always wonder about the distances on this course being odd for the run as I managed a 3:50 pace over 4 km at the last Duathlon. But it matters not as everyone runs the same distance. And coming in ahead of some great fast guys like Kurt was very moral boosting. 

Now the bike leg starts by going right up a nice steep hill, which I don't mind as it helps get the blood headed right to the legs. As it was the year before, the bike course was almost too foggy to find, but I still managed. I did a little off course excursion, nothing huge, but found my way back. Apparently a few others did as well, but them's the breaks. The main portion of the course is 3 loops on the main runway of the airport and it is dead flat. Normally it is also a nasty headwind and great tailwind combo, but as I mentioned, in the early portion of the event, the wind was quite dead. I did get passed by a couple of guys on the bike but held a decent pace and didn't completely kill my legs. When I came back to the dismount line, and back out of T2 I managed a time of 32:57 for the bike portion and T1 combined (a listed avg speed of 36.4, slightly higher on my bike computer which didn't have to change its shoes and put on its helmet) for the 7th fastest time of this leg of the journey.

Finally the dreaded second run on dead legs. Well the legs felt fine, worn a bit, but okay. I picked a decent pace and headed off. I did have to stop for a quick shoe tightening, but other than that was solid and steady. This was the same as the first run (2 laps for a 3K total). And this course was almost dead flat but for one nice hill. I love hills, but they will take their toll when you are tired. Still I think I kept fairly steady for a 14:41 time with a 4:54 pace (this of course also includes T2 time). sadly I wasn't able to hold my place and fell down one in the rankings with about 1K to go. I was passed by Jimi Owen and tried to hold on, which I did until the very end. With the finish line being  2 90 degree corners and a tight sidealk run, I let up just slightly before the second turn as I didn't have enough to "fight" for that kind of finish and Jimi was just running stronger. 

All in all I managed what I wanted. Top 10? Check, 8th place overall. Top 3 Age Group? Check, 2 out of 4. And sub one hour? Checkish sort off. Well I managed 1 hour and 29 seconds. I can't be upset with that.

Lessons learned? Sunglasses in thick fog = no vision. Giant bowl of cereal 1 hour before event? Not a great idea. Pressed for time? Redbull is quicker than coffee, though not nearly as enjoyable. Coffee came after the event. 
Next up? Lawrencetown Duathlon. Be there people!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Bluenose Half Marathon - Race 3, 2011

Well I started training for extra running this winter. I reported on my increased base training, my inclusion of the long slow run and just more running in general. I did this mostly so that I could get to be a fitter runner, so that my running off the bike in duathlons would be stronger, so that I could hold my pace longer. But also I wanted to compete in my first half marathon.

I chose the Bluenose half as it was early in the season, really close to home, and heck it is a reasonably priced race. I had previously run the Bluenose 10K twice but needed a new challenge and a full marathon just wasn't what i wanted (training time ect... being too much for me).

Well training hadn't gone as well as I had hoped up until this point with a few "injuries" setting me back, so my original goal of a 1:40 time was up in the air. By race morning I had decided that following the 1:45 pace bunny would be a good idea, and possibly if I felt good enough I could try to forge out on my own at some point in the race.

Race morning arrived, I had all my race kit ready to go and of course the weather said to me that my choices may not have been a great idea. It was cold, foggy, windy, typical Bluenose I guess. Still I stuck with shorts, a bike jersey (much to Andrew Dacanay's disgust), and removable sleeves. Seriously I like running in bike jerseys. They are snug, have a zipper to open up when it gets hot, and most of all they have rear pockets. So much nicer to hold gels and food. I also chose my tried and true Brooks Dyads shoes. They have been with me for a year and were at the end of their life, but they deserved to see me through my first half. Now they are retired from running.

Well I lined up right with the two 1:45 pace bunnies and we took off right at 9:25. The early pace was erratic as we weaved through a sea of runners, but as we went past the first few km signs the overall pace was dead on 5 min per km. It felt decent so I stayed right with them.

I had 2 gels in my pockets just in case I needed them, and the rest of the plan was to take a drink at every water stop we came across. The first one was a mere 1 km into the race, but I still grabbed a drink. It is funny to jostle through a group of people to get to the right side of the road, but I managed. And I continued this practice right through to the end of the race, only avoiding the final stop (which was only about 1km or so from the end so seemed a bit silly to stop at). I also had a gel at 30 minutes and again at 1 hour. Nutrition wise I was right on.

As usual I didn't really know the course. I rarely like to know these things,it makes the run more interesting. But I had heard there was some sort of great hill in Point Pleasant Park. This would have been just past the half way point, so I was keeping my pace until at least that point. The "hill" came and I was quite disappointed. I love hills. That was a series of bumps with flat spots along the way. If it weren't for the tree branches hanging into the way that needed avoiding, I wouldn't have had much to do going up it. In fact that hardest part of the journey for me was the downhills, which were steep but short. Oh well.

By the 14th km mark (or there about), I found myself constantly pulling ahead of the pace bunnies without much work, so I figured it was time to leave the group. They had done a great job, we were right on a 5 min pace still at 1:10. So I slowly increase my pace and started to pick off a few people in front of me. This continued right until the end. Of course it was a mix of people now, both marathon and half marathon people. It felt great to pick up the pace and my legs and knees felt fine.

The rest of the race was me continually increasing my pace and picking off a few people along the way. I guess that the "easy" first 14Km really helped, as I usually kill myself at the beginning of a race, slow down int he last third, then eventually get a bit of steam back. This time it was all increase for the last third. Kind of fun actually.

The final turn down to Brunswick and the last couple of km's was fast for me. I don't have a fancy Garmin watch or anything but I know my pace was getting below 4 min per km pace. You know that pace where you have the choice to breath or swallow and lactic acid build up just keeps happening. I was there. It was great. I crossed the line at 1:42:24 (chip time or 1:42:36 gun time). I ended up 195th overall out of 1767 (I think) people in the half, and 55 out of 208 in my category. Most important, my knees never hurt, second most important I was pretty darn close to what I hoped to achieve. And I know that with a little more training I can get that time down quite a bit more.

So I awake the next morning to various aches. In the past this would be a real assortment of muscles that hurt and would be really uneven over my body. Thanks to the work down by Dr Jason Gray at Kinetesis Sports, everything hurts all nice and even, and I know helped keep me injury free for the duration. Also thanks to those Pace Bunnies (Charles Paradis and Renee MacDonald) for their great work for the first two 3rds of my half.

And it was also great seeing all the people I have come to know through running and multisport following the race. It is good to see everyone so happy to have finished and competed in these events. Makes finishing even better.

Now it is on to the rest of the multisport season. I have duatlons, and couple of triathlons on the radar this year, and maybe a couple of century rides as well. It is certainly a busy month ahead, a month of fun.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Race 2: 2011 Du It For Shelter

Well here we go. Second race of the season is done. First Duathlon, and a proper good one at that. The Du It For Shelter, is a 4K run, 24K bike ride, 4K run, and since it is generally flat (as flat as bike ride get around here in Nova Scotia), it is an all out hammer fest (well for me anyway).

The weather held up, it was cool with a light breeze, but no rain (for once this month). We lined up for the stat at 9AM, and I was happy not to have a painful knee this year (thanks to ART - look into you people with aches). Look for me in the picture above, I swear I am there.

My plan, as usual was to stick as close to the leaders as possible on the first run, push through the bike, and hang on for dear life in the second run. Well it turns out my half marathon training this year has really helped my short distance speed and endurance. Last year I ran about a 16:38 or so in the first run which was slightly shorter than this years run. This year I ran a 15:23 with some life left in me. I passed quite a few guys who last year could easily outpaced me. This was the 7th fastest time of the first run out of 58 people and only 50 seconds slower than the fastest run (good job Matthew White).

Coming into T1 I had a decent cushion but there was no time for rest. I knew that a few fast riders were behind me.

Transition this year was new and all on paved surfaces. It was quite a long run to the mount line as well. Definitely more suited to those that leave their shoes clipped to the bike and not to me (see me running in my Look cleats - ouch). T1 took me about 1:30 or so (it wasn't timed but I had a rough guess from my watch).

But off I took, starting my Gatorade nourishment from the start. I decided for this short of a race the little bit of fluid and food I needed would come in the sugary form of my favorite sports beverage.

I forgot my bike computer, sadly, so I just decided to ride by feeling. I kept a decent cadence, probably around 85 or so. It took Kurt Stevenson probably about 10 minutes or so to catch and pass me. Then I was passed by a few other rides (darn those speedy Tri bikes). Still I decided not to push things too crazy as I had to get back and keep a decent run time. On the way back I could afford to push slightly harder, even with the slight headwind. I was passed by 2 riders. I eventually took one back and kept fairly close to the other (not in a drafting kind of way though)

As you can see the other rider was pretty much on me by the time we got back to the line

Coming into T2, my legs were wobbly, but I figured I could get the feeling back easily enough.

Here I motion to Stacy to keep my medal warm for my return

Coming out of T2 my time for the bike portion was 42:19, which was about where I figured I would be at fitness wise (take that first T1 time off to get the actual bike ride time). Here I passed the 2 guys that had been close to me on the bike. One of them (I assume Alex Russell?) caught shortly into the run, but no one else did.

My usual cramps seemed to be held back. Sure there were some aches, some pains, some tired, but it was all good. I was easily able to keep a decent stride and cadence on the run.
Coming back to the finish I started to pick up the pace. It was hard to hear if anyone was behind me, and I didn't dare look back, and I was not going to get passed at this point. And as usual there is always room for a flashy sprint across the line to get my Popsicle stick. And I was proud to see it say #11 on it (though as I later found out it does not count as a double win). This was up from my 17th place finish last year and far better times. My final run including T2 time was 17:59. Now this was actually slightly slower than last years final run time, but with transition moved, it meant a much great distance. According to my watch this was close to a 2 minute T2, so I was in fact far faster than last year overall.

Next up for me is the Bluenose Half Marathon. Then back to the world of Duathlons. A racing season, it is so nice to be back.

Monday, April 18, 2011

ZX Aquathlon - Race 1

So it has happened. Race 1 of my season has come and gone. this past weekend I took part in the 1st (annual?) ZX Aquathlon in Greenwood. Yes, the same Greenwood that has hosted a great early season Tri and Du for the past few years.

Now what is an Aquathlon you may ask? Much like a Duathlon is a run/bike/run event, the Aquathlon is a swim and run event. Technically run/swim/run, but as that would be hard to do in a pool situation so it was turned into a swim/run event. 750 meter swim followed by a 5K run.

Being early season I was slightly concerned about what to wear and how to get changed in transition. I mean, it is April and the weather over the last week had been as high as 15 C or more and as low as -3. we had seen rain and snow. But in the end I decided to load the car with everything just in case.

By the time I arrived the temp had warmed up to 6C or so. The sun was sort of shining and the wind was picking up. So I decided to run in my Tri top and jammers and throw on a windbreaker and toque. Luckily T1 (or T only) was indoors so that was nice.

We had enough time to do a few warm up laps in the pool. That is always nice as my heart rate starts to sky rockets at the beginning of events and as a novice swimmer that generally leads to breathing issues. A few laps back and forth and a little breathing control and things calmed down. I had a nice lane mate Mallory.

Someone yelled go, or a whistle blew or a horn sounded or something. I can't quite remember that part of the event for some reason. I just remember starting to swim. And swim. And swim. Yeah, I know only 750 meters, but for me that seemed like an all day journey.

I knew I was going to be slow and as shown in the picture above, my widely spread fingers apparently don't make me any faster. Anyway, I eventually saw the board placed in the water to indicate I had 50 meters to go. So I "picked up" the pace a bit and finished. In the end I had a swim time of 18:41, which included transition time as well. So it was actually pretty much where I thought I would be. In the end that would place me 24th out of 30 swimmers for the day. Obviously for a decent result I would have to run fast.

The whole event was pretty flat. Well generally swims are I suppose, but so was the run. Sort of.

I threw on my windbreaker, number belt, toque and sneakers (socks? nah too short of a race).

Now windbreaker is a bit of a funny word. Turns out it may be good for light breezes but this race presented slightly more than breezes. It was darn windy, from what I can tell there were gusts up to 80km/hr throwing us around. That little jackets didn't do much, though at points I think it was more of a parachute.

I ran at what i thought was a comfy 5K pace, not having really ever run after a swim. Slowly I picked off a few other swimmers, then some more, then some more (well that sounds like there may have been tons of people in the swim, but still you get the idea). By the turn around (where I was offered a cup of warm water) I had passed all I was going to an down had to work to get my time down and keep those others behind me. I also thought it may have started to rain at this point, but in fact that was sand getting whipped around by the wind. Later on that would hurt.

Finally after running up hill (okay, it was truly flat but that wind was like a huge hill it seemed), I came to the finishing straight, or wind tunnel. Yes, the wind was harder here, perfect for testing out new aero devices for your bike. Not great for a sprint finish. Still I pushed through and finished. Man that was tough. 21:50 for the 5th fastest run time and only 2 1/2 minutes shy of our speedy Italian friend Gianluca. I was happy, and that wind probably meant I had more speed to give, nice.

So after all was said and done I pulled myself up from 24th to 14th. I thought at best I would be under 42 minutes in total, and I managed a 40:31. Now bring on the open water! (eek). Actually next up, Du-It-For-Shelter. Sign up now for a great race. Again, mostly flat, all fast.

Oh, when I mentioned the sand storm thing hurt later. Well it put lots of nice sand in my shoes, and as I had no socks on, I ended up with many fun abrasions. Today brings painful steps to me. Ouch.